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Football: McLeish fury as Agathe does U-turn.

HIBS boss Alex McLeish was left raging last night after French ace Didier Agathe rejected the offer of a long-term deal.

The ex-Raith striker has helped fire Hibs to the top of the SPL and McLeish was keen to secure his long-term services.

And the Hibs boss was stunned by Agathe's rejection of the mega-bucks new contract, especially as the club had agreed terms with the player's agents.

Hibs had bent over backwards to seal the deal - even agreeing to Agathe's request for a two-year contract after the club wanted a three year one.

McLeish said: "Didier upped the offer to levels higher than we were first asked to pay.

"I've only ever asked one thing of him - honesty.

"If he'd received a better offer from elsewhere then there was no point in carrying on the talks."

It's believed the family of Agathe's Scots girlfriend persuaded him to seek a better deal elsewhere.

And McLeish added: "It is either another club or he has been mixed up by some external influence.

"From what I can gather, there is somebody out there thinking they are sitting on a goldmine.

"It is a friend of Didier. I know one or two clubs in England were interested but none of them have pursued this. Maybe he has something up his sleeve."

Even his agents were stunned by Agathe's U-turn after he had stated how much he wanted to stay at Easter Road.

A spokesman for Profile Sports Group said: "We felt he had been offered a good deal and we said he should have signed. I am very disappointed that he went against our wishes."

The offer to Agathe has now been withdrawn although McLeish did say the door remained open until the players' contract runs out on October 2nd."

There was some good news for Hibs yesterday as defender Gary Smith signed a new two-year deal.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Bryce, David
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2000
Words:314
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