Newcastle make a move on signing Boumsong


Newcastle Utd v Sporting: Graeme Souness confirmed yesterday Newcastle United have spoken to Rangers about their French centre-half Jean-Alain Boumsong. Souness did not confirm his club have offered £7.5 million for Boumsong but Rangers said they have received two bids - one written, one verbal - from Newcastle for Boumsong. Rangers are believed to have rejected the offer.

"We have been in touch with Rangers and he is one of the players we would like at this club," said Souness, "but he is contracted to Rangers and he is their player as we speak."

Boumsong (25), joked earlier this week he would welcome an approach from Real Madrid rather than Newcastle, but Rangers may be prepared to take the unpopular step of releasing Boumsong if they can get a fee above £5 million.

For Souness to talk publicly about Boumsong in the way he did yesterday suggests despite Boumsong's words about being happy in Glasgow, some sort of arrangement has been found. If not, then Souness has taken a risk with his already fraught public at Newcastle. "The chairman and I have been looking at players, we know who we would like and I can reassure our supporters that we are very actively pursuing players to improve our squad," he said.

Leading the group, all Newcastle need is a point against Sporting to win it and ensure a more favourable draw tomorrow in the last 32.

Alan Shearer is again missing, as is Patrick Kluivert, while Laurent Robert turned up for training on Tuesday saying he had a thigh injury. "I am not answering questions on him," Souness said of the £10 million winger.

Having managed Benfica in Lisbon, Souness knows all about Sporting and Blackburn played them in a pre-season game. Newcastle also did, in the final of the Gateshead Cup. Sporting won.