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ROUSSEL ROULETTE; City hope to tie up deal but Leeds and Spurs hovering.

COVENTRY CITY are hoping to tie up the deal to sign Cedric Roussel this week.

But although the player wants to join the Sky Blues, chairman Bryan Richardson admits City and the player's club Ghent are still a long way apart in terms of a fee and two other clubs, believed to be Leeds and Tottenham, have made "substantial" bids.

Leeds boss David O'Leary is believed to have been at Highfield Road at the weekend although the club is currently being linked with Wimbledon's Carl Cort, who was also in action on Saturday.

Ghent's president is due in Coventry tomorrow when Richardson hopes to thrash out a more realistic deal than the pounds 4 million price tag the Belgian club has recently slapped on Roussel since his impressive impact in the Premiership.

"We are hopeful of signing Cedric within the next few days which will be very good news," said the chairman, "but we are still a long way away from what Ghent want.

"Two other clubs have made substantial bids but the key factor for us is that Cedric is adamant that he wants to play for Coventry."

City have moved swiftly to attempt to secure the Belgian after he burst onto the Premiership scene with a string of impressive performances, three goals and numerous assists in a growing partnership with Robbie Keane.

The target man, who has said all along that he only wants to sign for Coventry, said: "My manager came over at the weekend and I am told everything is being sorted out.

"Ghent have said OK and I should sign this week and I am very happy."

The striker is hoping to celebrate his first game as a permanent City player with an impressive display at Pride Park on Saturday where he will be opposite fellow countryman and recent Derby signing Branko Strupar, who has made a

similarly impressive impact in English football.

Strupar is a current hero of Roussel's and is first choice striker for Belgium - a position to which the young star aspires.

"I know the player but I don't know the man," said Roussel of Strupar, who has already scored twice for his new club.

"He is a fantastic player and a big star in Belgium. He has scored five goals in five games for the national team and he is a very good signing for Derby.

"The match is a good opportunity for the Belgian coach Robert Waseyga or one of his staff to watch us both, so I hope to play well. I have heard they might take two or three young players in the Euro 2000 squad and I hope to be in the 22.

"Strupar and Gilles De Bilde are the first choice strikers and I want to be in the squad with them."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Turner, Andy
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 18, 2000
Words:466
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