New Reds deal for Wisdom

BY foxsports • January 9, 2013

St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas insists Ross County playmaker Richie Brittain has earned his summer switch to Perth.

The McDiarmid Park boss has swooped early to tie up the Staggies skipper on a pre-contract agreement.

The pair were involved in a spat earlier this season when Lomas accused Brittain of diving to get one of his players sent off in Saints' 2-1 win at the Global Energy Stadium in September.

He branded the 29-year-old a "cheat", but on Wednesday he was only full of praise for the former St Mirren midfielder's abilities.

He said: "We have agreed a deal with Richie. It is a good deal for the club and we are delighted to get him.

"He will bring good experience to the club and great quality from dead-ball situations. He's also a fantastic leader and has shown that as captain of Ross County.

"Richie was a very young player at St Mirren and it showed character that he was prepared to drop down a level and develop.

"He has come back a stronger player and showed that he belongs in the SPL."

St Johnstone have 17 players whose contracts expire following the conclusion of the current campaign, and Lomas hopes that by signing up Brittain early it will save his squad from the kind of upheaval they suffered last summer.

He was forced to bring in nine new faces after losing 19 members of his playing staff.

Lomas added: "We think it's a good acquisition. The club has got a few players out of contract at the end of the season and we had to look at every situation.

"It was important that we were not caught out like last season, where we had a high turnover of players and had to bring a lot in very quickly."

Meanwhile, the Northern Irishman has played down suggestions linking him with a move to Doncaster.

Lomas, who was speaking from his Spanish holiday base while the SPL is in its mid-winter shutdown, said: "I'm in Tenerife right now and I don't know much about this. Speculation is speculation.

"I have a year and a half left at St Johnstone and I aim to see that out. I will see out that contract unless someone tells me differently."

The 26-year-old is currently playing in Major League Soccer for Sporting Kansas City.

Highly-rated Zusi is considered one of the best attacking midfielders in the league, and was named third in the MLS' Player of the Year awards recently.

A number of European clubs are understood to be trailing Zusi, but now he has agreed to link up with the Hammers.

Zusi, who has three years left on his current contract, is now set to spend the next week with West Ham with a view to him earning a move to Upton Park.

The Daggers played their fifth game in 14 days at the Globe Arena, with the last three of those successive away trips to Northampton, Accrington and then Morecambe.

Brian Woodall volleyed Dagenham into the lead after six minutes, but two second-half goals from Jordan Burrow and Andy Parrish snatched victory for the hosts.

Burnett said: "We have had a busy Christmas and were at Accrington at the weekend and I think the long journeys certainly had an effect. We looked jaded at the end and I think the miles caught up with us.

"We started well and looked comfortable after taking the lead. Our keeper (Chris Lewington) produced a couple of superb saves but they put pressure on us in the second half and despite the best efforts of the lads we couldn't hold on.

"There was no lack of effort but it was a heavy pitch and it certainly had an effect in the end."

The 22-year-old Morocco international, who played a key role in Montpellier's march to the Ligue 1 title last season, has already agreed terms with Fenerbahce, but with the two clubs struggling to agree a fee, Tottenham are believed to have entered the race for his signature.

Montpellier president Louis Nicollin is willing to let the playmaker leave during this month's transfer window, yet turned down an initial offer of ?6million plus add-ons from the Istanbul club.

He is understood to want closer to ?12million, although a bid of ?10million is expected to suffice.

Nicollin said: "I will let him leave, and I think he wants to leave as well. If they rise to 15m euros, everything will go through."

Despite Fenerbahce's advanced talks, L'Equipe have reported that Tottenham have also begun negotiations with the player's representatives.

Their interest comes despite a drop in form from the heights of last year, when Montpellier rated Belhanda at ?60m on their way to being crowned French champions.

They now appear keen to cash in on one of their prize assets, whose current contract expires at the end of next season.

Belhanda has made 22 appearances so far this season, scoring eight times, and is currently preparing to represent Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

The 27-year-old had been on loan at New York from Peterborough since October and finally put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year contract last week for a reported ?100,000.

The deal took longer to conclude than expected after clubs including Swindon, Stevenage and Bradford tried to hijack the deal.

But Frecklington, who intimated he wanted to join the Millers from the off, stuck to his word, much to the delight of Evans.

"We thought we would have had it done a month ago," he said.

"But Lee's performances alerted other clubs and there were five or six going to Peterborough late in the day to see if they could take him, but thankfully Lee stuck to his guns and wanted to join us.

"I'm delighted we've got over the line and he's a Rotherham United player."

The 19-year-old made his debut for Brendan Rodgers' side in the Europa League tie against Young Boys in Switzerland.

Injury to left-back Jose Enrique meant Glen Johnson switched to the opposite flank allowing Wisdom an extended run in the side and he has made 14 appearances this campaign.

"It was an easy decision to make - as soon as they offered it to me, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands because it's a great club and I just want to continue to play for Liverpool," Wisdom said.

"I am happy with the progress I've made so far and hopefully I can progress more in the second half of the season and continue to keep playing.

"There's still so much hard work ahead. There is big competition within the team and everyone wants to play football.

"I just hope I can keep progressing and continue in the way I have been."

Wisdom joins fellow former reserves team-mates Raheem Sterling and Suso in extending his stay at the club, with more senior players Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Brad Jones and Jonjo Shelvey all agreeing new deals since the summer.

Managing director Ian Ayre said Wisdom's new contract was indicative of the direction the club was moving.

"It's another great example of a player committing to the club and what we're trying to achieve under Brendan," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"He's a great young player, shown a fantastic improvement, broken into the first team and made a huge contribution and, rightly so, we've provided him with a new contract and a long-term one.

"Getting talent like him, Raheem and others to commit at this point is absolutely essential to the future.

"The manager, the owners and everyone have said the key is to build something for the long term and young players are a catalyst to that. None more so than Andre.

"He's come on leaps and bounds in the last year or so and that's because of all the hard work he's put in and the manager giving him a chance, so it's absolutely essential players like that commit themselves to the club."


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