Reports: Rivaldo about to sign contract with Italian club

MILAN, Italy, AP

Brazilian standout Rivaldo could be on the verge of signing a contract with Italian soccer powerhouse AC Milan, Italian sports dailies reported Friday.

The reports came shortly before a key meeting scheduled between Milan manager Ariedo Braida and Rivaldo’s agent, Carlos Arini, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, later Friday.

“Rivaldo is near,” Milan’s Gazzetta dello Sport said in a front-page headline. “AC Milan is one step from signing the Brazilian player.”

Reports said the 30-year-old Brazilian forward, who just helped his national team to clinch a fifth World Cup title, was offered a personal contract of 4.5 million euros (about US$4.5 million) a year for two to three years.

Spanish club Barcelona recently decided to end Rivaldo’s contract, and there would be no transfer fee.

At AC Milan, Rivaldo could team up with strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi. The transfer would also set up a remarkable Milan derby, with Rivaldo facing off against Brazil teammate Ronaldo of Inter when the crosstown rivals meet.

AC Milan’s official website reported the media rumors about Rivaldo’s transfer, without any comment. Blackburn complete cut-price Yorke signing

Blackburn Rovers have signed striker Dwight Yorke from premier league rivals Manchester United for two million pounds (US$3.16 million).

The fee for the 30-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago could rise to 2.6 million pounds, depending on appearances, which would still be 10 million pounds less than what United paid Aston Villa for Yorke in 1998.

He scored 29 goals in his first season to help the Old Trafford club win the Treble of Champions League, premier league and FA Cup, but struggled to maintain his form over the next three years and lost manager Alex Ferguson’s confidence.

“I can’t tell you how delighted I am to sign for Blackburn and get this great opportunity,” Yorke told the Blackburn website on Friday.

“There’s a passion deep inside me that wants to do well and I’m desperate to re-establish myself in the Premiership.”

Yorke slipped down the pecking order behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Andy Cole, and the 19 million-pounds (US$29.97 million) signing of Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy last year restricted his first team opportunities still further.

“I had a fantastic few years at United, but it’s been frustrating of late and coming to Blackburn just feels right,” Yorke said.

“Everyone knows I’m a pal of Andy Cole but he’s not the only player I’m familiar with in the squad and I’m looking forward to playing alongside them all.”