Benjani transfer row rumbles on amid confusion

February 2, 2008

Confusion continues to surround the future of striker Benjani Mwaruwari after his botched move from Portsmouth to Manchester City.

The Premier League are attempting to unravel the controversial details of the Zimbabwean's deadline-day dealings.

Benjani, the third top scorer in the Premier League with 12 goals, has found himself in the bizarre position where neither his original club Portsmouth nor City really want him.

It is understood that City officials got cold feet on the £7.6million transfer, after the player turned up several hours late having missed two flights to Manchester, and tried to abort the deal.

Portsmouth however claim the paperwork had all gone through and that Benjani, 29, should be a City player - they have signed Jermain Defoe from Tottenham as a £7million replacement.

The Premier League are investigating but a decision will now have to wait until Monday, but both clubs are now negotiating with each other to try to find an acceptable settlement.

A League spokesman said: 'We are still examining the paperwork.'

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp said Portsmouth had been contacted by City just before midnight when the transfer window was due to close.

He said: 'We got the call from them at 11.55pm that their forms had gone through and that's when [chief executive] Peter Storrie gave the go-ahead for our forms [to register Defoe] to go through.

'Once their forms were sent, we had to get ours off very quickly. I thought we were struggling for time.

'Their one had dragged on a bit because Benji had a bit of a delay getting there with one thing and another.

'As far as we knew, they sent their forms so I don't see why there should be a problem.

'If Benji is back we'll just have to see where we go with that one. He's a good player and we didn't want to lose him but we had to try to balance the books.'

City are insisting the paperwork had not gone through when officials pulled the plug on the deal, and have told the Premier League that Benjani's medical only started at 11.15pm.

Despite misgivings of his club's officials, City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson however said he would still like to see Benjani join his squad.

Eriksson said: 'It was a long day and a long night. I went to London to get work permits for Benjani and (Felipe) Caicedo and came back to Manchester at 5.30pm and was supposed to go ahead to see Benjani.

'He didn't arrive, so I said 'when will he arrive then?'. 'Nine o'clock'. What I heard is he only arrived at 11.15pm here. It was a little crazy, I would say. There were planes cancelled or whatever, I don't know.

'I really don't know exactly what's happening. We will have to wait and see what's coming.

'Of course I hope it will go through I would like to have him in the squad, yes.'