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Football: BOUM TOON RAT.

Byline: Keith Jackson

RAGING Alex McLeish last night accused Jean-Alain Boumsong of doing the dirty on Rangers after selling the Frenchman to Newcastle for pounds 8million.

McLeish insisted the Ibrox club were left with no choice but to accept Graeme Souness' offer after the player demanded to be sold off in the January sales.

And the Ibrox manager bitterly rejected suggestions Rangers had always been hoping to cash in on Boumsong this winter.

As the defender was undergoing a medical at St James' Park yesterday lunchtime McLeish said: 'I think we have to make it absolutely clear that Boumsong wanted this move.We didn't want to sell the player and we certainly didn't want to lose him in mid-season. But when a player insists on moving you are caught between a rock and a hard place - it becomes extremely difficult.

'I'm not denying there was always the possibility - as there is with any player - that someone might have come in with an offer.

'But the reason it was dragged out so long was because we didn't want to lose him.We were trying to scare Newcastle away.

'But,I repeat, it became very difficult when Boum said he wanted to go. It is very fair to say that he did all the pushing.'

When it was suggested to McLeish the player and his agent, Willie McKay, might dispute those claims the Rangers boss said: 'I'm telling you he did, right?

'And that's all I want to say about it so don't fish with any more questions because it's beginning to annoy me now.

'It's not for me to judge other people.Other people might do things differently but you've seen this sort of thing happen hundreds of times in the game - when players get their teeth into something and they see an opportunity for themselves that they fear may not be there in the future.

'So it's not my place to throw stones at the guy.'

McLeish then hinted Boumsong may even have over--exaggerated the extent of the hamstring injury which forced him out of last week's SPL clash with Motherwell at the last minute.

He said: 'I know his mind was troubled. I don't think it was a terrible injury he suffered in the warm-up but the doctor did confirm the hamstring was tight.'

McLeish then admitted he rejected Newcastle's offer to let the defender stay at Ibrox until after next week's Scottish Cup clash with Celtic.

He said: 'I always find that a difficult one - the player going into a game like that and worrying about the possibility o getting injured. So I'm not sure that's ever a good idea.'

But McLeish is pressing ahead with his rebuilding programme with Thomas Buffel almost certainly his first new signing.

Feyenoord confirmed on their own website last night that Rangers have agreed apounds 2.2million fee for the Belgian international and hinted the playmaker may be signed up as early as today.

McLeish would only say: 'Feyenoord, Rangers and the agent are now talking.That's as much as I can tell you. I don't know if the fee has been agreed.'

Meanwhile, Ibrox supremo David Murray will meet Monaco star Shabani Nonda and his representatives in the next two weeks in a bid to try to lure the 27-year-old African striker to Ibrox.

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JEAN YOU GO NOW: Boumsong has left Ibrox for Newcastle
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:565
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