A panicking Fiorentina failed in their bid to sign Antonio Cassano on loan from Sampdoria yesterday but were on the verge of landing Keirrison, the Brazilian, from Barcelona. The Florence club were scrambling to sign a forward before the transfer window closes today after Adrian Mutu was given a provisional ban by anti-doping authorities on Friday for twice testing positive for an appetite suppressant.
"I am staying at Sampdoria. I'm staying even if I can't deny that for some moments I saw myself leaving," Cassano told the club's website. Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino said he had tried many clubs to find a quick replacement for Mutu, including a failed bid for Villarr-eal's Giuseppe Rossi. "I found myself in an emergency situation. We thought of Cass-ano," a dejected-looking Corvino told Sky TV before offering a ray of hope to Fiorentina fans. "Keirrison is an attacker with Barcelona and we are negotiating. He is in Florence for his medical."
The Brazilian, 21, has spent the first half of the season on loan at Benfica. The skilful Cassano was in stunning form at the start of the season when Samp were top of Serie A but was recently dropped by his coach, Luigi Del Neri, after the side slid down the table. Inter Milan are looking for a midfielder to replace Manchester City signing Patrick Vieira. Valencia's Manuel Fernandes was having a medical but reports suggest Inter may sign Lazio's Cristian Ledesma instead.
In yesterday's Serie A games, the substitute Stefano Okaka scored with a stunning backheel two minutes from time to give Roma a 2-1 Serie A win over bottom side Siena. Roma went level on points with second-placed AC Milan, who laboured to a 1-1 home draw with struggling Livorno. Both sides moved eight points behind leaders Inter, whose match at Parma was postponed because of snow.
In Spain, Manuel Pellegrini, the Real Madrid coach, saw his side end their 18-year hoodoo at the Riazor on Saturday night without eight senior players, including Cristiano Ronaldo. No Madrid team had returned from Deportivo La Coruna's home ground with a win since the 1991/92 season, but Pellegrini said his side had played better this season than in the 3-1 victory. "Honestly I don't think it's been the best game. I think we had as good a game in Bilbao [1-0 loss to Athletic in previous away match], although there we lost," he said.
* With agencies