Soccer: Transfer window of opportunity

By Michael Brown

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has been impressed by transfer target Winston Reid's athleticism and skill.

Keown, in South Africa as a pundit for the BBC, heard rumours that Reid is being chased by a London Premier League club, possibly Arsenal, and said: "Whether or not he's good enough for Arsenal, based on one World Cup, you'd want to have another look at him.

"Arsenal don't play a three [at the back], they play a four and it's a slightly different responsibility. I would need to see him in a four first before I made my mind up. He has shown good signs and promise in the [two] games I saw him play."

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has a reputation for signing talented youngsters and developing them as players rather than buying well-established and more expensive footballers. The Frenchman was in South Africa earlier in the World Cup but he's not known to rush into signing players based on just a couple of matches.

However, the rumours involving Arsenal have gained some credibility because the club is likely to need central defenders. French centre-back William Gallas is tipped to join Juventus, Swiss defender Philippe Senderos has moved to London rivals Fulham, former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre is poised to move to Abu Dhabi and the future of 35-year-old Sol Campbell is unclear.

Arsenal has also been linked to Laurent Koscielny from French club Lorient and Phil Jagielka at Everton.

Meanwhile, at All Whites level, all that can be discerned is that a London-based Premier League club has approached All Whites management for their opinion as their interest in 21-year-old Reid mounts.

It's the first sign that New Zealand players may attract offers following their achievements at the World Cup. The All Whites have made a big impression in South Africa and a handful of players could secure lucrative contracts as a result. Striker Shane Smeltz, who was born in Germany, is also understood to be in demand with interest from the German Bundesliga. He has already signalled his desire to play there. He has a $300,000 out-clause on his deal with Gold Coast and in the past he's been linked with moves to Turkey, Japan and China.

Reid was bound to court interest, especially as he had already been linked to Italian Serie A clubs Palermo, Sampdoria and Fiorentina before the World Cup, but that interest has now switched to London.

It's hard to see Chelsea making a play for Reid, given their predilection for big-name players, leaving Arsenal, Tottenham, Fulham and West Ham as options. Reid was coy about his future after the 0-0 draw with Paraguay but he has made no secret of the fact he would like to play at a higher level.

"I will have to go back and talk to my club [in Denmark]," he said. "We will see what happens but hopefully I will go on. I don't think anything will happen until after the World Cup but we will see what happens."

Reid has been with Danish Superligaen side FC Midtylland since he was 15 and made his first-team debut two years later. He has seen his transfer value increase at this World Cup (allegedly to about $2.5 million), especially after his dramatic late equaliser against Slovakia that earned New Zealand a 1-1 draw. All Whites coach Ricki Herbert singled out both Reid and fellow defender Tommy Smith as his players of the tournament. He said Nelsen was excellent, but that's expected from a Premiership captain.

"There have been some great players in the team," Herbert said, "but, for me, the two real standouts in the tournament have been Winston Reid and Tommy Smith."

Reid won't be the only All White who courts attention. Goalkeeper Mark Paston, strikers Smeltz and Rory Fallon, defender Smith and midfielders Leo Bertos and Simon Elliott could also be on the radar.

Paston was excellent throughout the World Cup campaign, starting with the two-leg triumph over Bahrain last November and then finishing with brilliant games against both Italy and Paraguay.

"Paston has had a fantastic World Cup, who knows what might happen with him now?" Herbert said.

But Paston isn't sure about his club future, let alone whether he will continue to play for the All Whites.

"Leaving the Phoenix is not something I've thought about," he said. "I've enjoyed playing with a great bunch of lads. I'm not sure [about my All Whites future]. I'm going to sit down with my family and make a decision with a clear head and have a little bit of time to think about it."

The 33-year-old had a difficult time in the UK earlier in his career where he had stints with Bradford, Walsall and St Johnstone. He was beset by injuries but was saved when he joined the New Zealand Knights and then Wellington Phoenix.

Paston might not want to head offshore again, especially as he now has a young family, but this could be his last chance at a good contract.

Chris Killen is in talks to stay at Championship side Middlesbrough but he was also linked with Premier League side West Bromwich Albion and Championship outfit Nottingham Forest, while Fallon is keen for a move from Plymouth, who were recently relegated from the Championship.

- NZ Herald

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