Harry faces tough battle for Muntari

August 21, 2006

Portsmouth, still buoyant after their 3-0 opening day win over Blackburn, could be deflated by losing out on another top transfer target in their battle to complete a record-breaking move for Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari.

Empics / AdamDavySulley Muntari: Highly rated

Udinese have refused Pompey permission to speak to the player and are said to be holding out for a staggering £11million.

And Pompey boss Harry Redknapp has angrily denied the Italian club's claims of an illegal approach for the player.

Redknapp, backed by new owner Sacha Gaydamak's millions, has bid unsuccessfully for Jermain Defoe, Nicolas Anelka, Gareth Barry, Curtis Davies and Ryan Nelsen to name but a few.

And he is still determined to land 23-year-old World Cup star Muntari in a move which would dwarf even the £4.4million paid for Benjani Mwaruwari in January.

Redknapp said: 'If they are asking £11million for him they will be waiting a long time.

'Peter Storrie (Pompey chief executive) is working on the deal and I don't think that is the kind of figure he'll be working to.

'There is no doubt Muntari is a good young player and I like him a lot. We need strength like he has.'

Redknapp watched Muntari in the World Cup in Germany and again checked him out in Ghana's 2-0 friendly win over Togo at Brentford last Tuesday.

But Udinese have refused him permission to speak to Muntari and, although he admitted speaking to Muntari's representative at the game, he insisted 'I did not meet the player.'

One signing Redknapp does look set to make, however, is Serbian winger Ognjen Koroman who is poised to return to Fratton Park on a season-long loan - joining new boys Sol Campbell, David James, Nwankwo Kanu, Glen Johnson and David Thompson who all made solid debuts against Blackburn.

Koroman, 27, impressed Redknapp during a five months loan at Pompey last season, making three appearances and scoring against Liverpool but was not offered a contract and returned to Russian club Terek Grozny.

Pompey have yet to confirm his return but the player said: 'I'm delighted to be rejoining Portsmouth. It is flattering that Harry Redknapp has kept me in his plans.'

Redknapp, meanwhile, still believes he needs three more players to boost his squad before the August transfer deadline but insists: 'I won't spend the new owner's money unnecessarily.'