Fulham say goodbye to Saha and swoop on Keane after Newcastle loss

LONDON: English Premier League side Fulham were playing musical chairs yesterday as top striker Louis Saha left for Manchester United only for Tottenham’s Irish striker Robbie Keane stepping in to take his place. 

After crashing 3-1 to Newcastle on Monday night, Fulham were reportedly ready to cough up £7mil for Keane. 

The bid for Keane comes after a £5mil bid for West Ham’s Jermain Defoe was turned down and Fulham manager Chris Coleman knows Spurs are keen to offload either Keane or strike partner Fredi Kanoute. 

Arsenal are the hot favourites to land Defoe. 

With £12mil coming in from the sale of Louis Saha to United, Coleman said: “I have money to spend but I am conscious of bringing in the right person. We know who we want.” 

That puts Keane top of his wish-list, with Celtic’s John Hartson, Rob Earnshaw of Cardiff and Preston’s Ricardo Fuller also in the frame. 

Fulham are lining up a bid for the Irishman as they want a deal done before the transfer window closes on Jan 31. 

Saha sat out Monday night’s match as Fulham struggled. Newcastle’s Andy O’Brien, Gary Speed and Laurent Robert netted before Sean Davis’ consolation. 

“It would be easy to use Saha as an excuse but he wasn’t playing at the back and that’s where we lost the game,” Coleman said.  

“I didn’t want to sell him but the chairman has given me his reasons and so has the chief executive.  

“It is a business decision and I go along with that. We are going back to Craven Cottage and that is going to cost a lot. 

“I am not angry. I know it is football. It got to a stage where the board had had enough of the whole situation. We are not a one-man team. 

“It is sad we have lost Saha because he is a quality player.” 

Coleman revealed that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had been chasing Saha since September.  

Saha, meanwhile, was buoyant about his move to United and confident of dealing with competition in the big squad. 

“It’s certain that like every big club there will be competition for first-team places, unlike at Fulham. But I want to play a maximum number of matches and I’ll do everything to fit in,” he said. 

Saha cost Fulham £2.1 million after arriving from Metz in 2000 and the French side stand to make around £1 million on Saha’s move to Old Trafford under a sell-on clause in the contract agreed by the Cottagers former manager Jean Tigana. – Agencies  

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