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SPICE BOYS KOP pounds 20m OFFER; Double-yer-money bid to keep Macca and Robbie.

Liverpool are ready to fork out more than pounds 20 MILLION to keep Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman on Merseyside.

The Anfield board have come up with record-busting contract figures to head off spiralling foreign interest in their two young stars.

But incredibly it still might not be enough to prevent the duo switching to the Continent. McManaman's current deal expires at the end of next season and Fowler's a year later.

Both lads know they could earn fortunes under the Bosman system of free transfers within Europe.

McManaman, 25, and Fowler, 22, have no particular desire to leave Anfield but their advisers have been producing spectacular figures for them to look at. They calculate that the players could pocket as much as pounds 10m each if they went to a Continental side at the end of their contracts.

And that's why the advisers are looking for colossal deals to make sure their clients remain with Liverpool - and the Anfield hierarchy accepts the situation.

It was rumoured this week that Liverpool had prepared a pounds 6m, five-year offer for Fowler.

But we understand they are ready to give him almost DOUBLE that amount for the same period.

The likely breakdown would be a pounds 4m signing-on fee over the five years PLUS pounds 1.5m per year wages. That's around pounds 30,000-a-week on top of his signing fee.

McManaman will be offered a similar deal. Of course, once the boys are under a long-term contract, Liverpool can recoup a huge slice of their outlay if a big bid comes in.

The players' experts have told them that a new five-year deal should be worth close to pounds 15m.

But both stars are still loathe to leave their hometown club. If they cannot come to any arrangement with Liverpool, Barcelona and Juventus will be in for McManaman while Real Madrid will lead the chase for Fowler.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Dunn, Andy
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Dec 21, 1997
Words:316
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