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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Bolton join race for Malbranque
Steed Malbranque
Malbranque has made 214 appearances for Fulham
Bolton manager Sam Allardyce has joined the race to sign Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque.

The 26-year-old Frenchman is refusing to sign a new contract at Fulham but Allardyce faces competition from West Ham and Portsmouth for his signature.

"There is a club - and clubs - interested. We are close to a deal with one," said Fulham boss Chris Coleman.

"I would dearly love to bring Malbranque to the Reebok," Allardyce told his club's website.

"There is no secret that he wants away from Fulham and I hope that we can do a deal for him."

He added: "There is a lot of French influence in my squad and maybe that could persuade him to join us ahead of other teams that are also interested in him."

We can't let players who we have invested a lot of money in to walk away for nothing

Chris Coleman

West Ham are one of the clubs linked with Malbranque and manager Alan Pardew hinted that he was looking to boost his squad before the transfer window shuts.

"It's going to be a difficult week because everyone knows there's only a limited amount of time left," said Pardew.

"Both the buyers and sellers are hedging their bets and that makes it awkward for the Premiership clubs who are trying to secure the faces that can take clubs forward and strengthen squads."

Malbranque has already turned down a 4m move to Middlesbrough.

He wants to see out the remaining year of his contract and leave for free but Coleman, who has told Malbranque he will not play for the club again, wants to sell the player.

"We've agreed fees with other clubs but he doesn't want to move. He wants to see his contract out so he can move on for nothing next summer," said Coleman.

"I've told Steed to his face, he won't play for Fulham even if he's fit."

Coleman added: "We've been consistent with what we've said. We've done everything we can to keep Steed happy, offering him a long-term and short-term contract.

Selling Steed would release cash for us, maybe enough for two players

Chris Coleman

"He's turned down everything. It's Steed's way or no way. We said to him last season, don't go down this route because there will be no winners.

"We've had good service from a quality player, but he's had good service from us too, so it works both ways.

"Letting him walk away is bad business on our part and we have to set a precedent for other players. We can't let players who we have invested a lot of money in walk away for nothing."

Newcastle and Aston Villa have also shown interest in the Frenchman.

Coleman said that he wanted to sign another midfielder but that would depend on whether a buyer comes in for Malbranque.

"We're looking to bring in someone to play wide right. Maybe it will have to be a loan deal," he said.

"Looking at the budget we thought we'd lose one or two players that we've still got, so we don't have the money to bring in anyone else.

"I've been told we can't buy but I've been looking at the position since last season. Selling Steed would release cash for us, maybe enough for two players."



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