Of course I meant Heinrich. Herlich
Only Leverkusen's defence is younger among giant Buli teams.
Fulham win fight for Koller
Thursday 17th May 2001
Fulham have won the battle to sign Jan Koller from Anderlecht. Hours after Borussia Dortmund's director of sport Michael Zorc claimed that Koller was over-priced at £8 million, the Czech striker told a Belgium news agency that a deal with the newly-promoted English side had been done.
Koller told the news agency Belga: "It took a long time for Fulham to give me a contract but after a while I have reached an agreement today."
Fulham's managing director Michael Fiddy later told the club's website: "After long discussions we are delighted this fee has been agreed and we now look forward to discussing personal terms with the player."
Koller will travel to England for a medical and to finalise personal terms. It is believed Fulham have agreed to pay the Belgian champions £8 million.
The news of Koller's move certainly came as a surprise as the German side had emerged this week as strong favourites to land the giant striker.
But Koller's much-talked about and protracted move from Anderlecht took another twist on Thursday when Borussia Dortmund's general manager Michael Zorc revealed they would not meet the Belgian club's asking price.
On hearing this, Fulham moved swifty to tie up a deal with a player they had been chasing for months.
Anderlecht chairman Roger Vanden Stock blamed the press for the deal with the Bundesliga side falling through.
He said: "Dortmund lowered their offer after reading valuations in the Belgian press. The Press is to blame. They announced amounts in the newspapers which made the Germans lower their offer."
Dortmund had become the favourites to sign Koller this week after the giant Czech revealed that a switch to the Bundesliga outfit would represent "a greater sporting challenge".
And Koller's agent Pavel Paska travelled to Germany yesterday to begin talks.
"It's true, negotiations are underway," revealed Zorc on Thursday. "We are certainly interested in buying Koller, but there's still a long way to go."
Zorc, however, insisted that Anderlecht would have to lower their asking price before any agreement was reached. "I can assure you we are not going to pay the £8 million Anderlecht are asking for," claimed the Dortmund chief.
Anderlecht's general manager Michel Verschueren then claimed that "the deal will be still arranged" and Koller himself indicated he had agreed terms with the Germans.
"I have an agreement until 2005," Koller was quoted as telling several newspapers. "The talks (with Dortmund) were easy and only lasted two to three hours.
"Dortmund will pay me more than Fulham were prepared to offer and naturally there's a chance of playing in the Champions' League. I hope Anderlecht and Dortmund will quickly come to an agreement."
However, both Dortmund and Fulham made it clear they would not be held to ransom by Koller's or Anderlecht's demands.
"Claudio Pizarro (the Werder Bremen striker) is still a candidate for us," Zorc explained. "We are in talks, but I believe that he wants to head south to Bayern Munich or even more south (Spain and Itlay)."
While Fulham coach Jean Tigana told Belgium daily Het Laatste Nieuws: "We believe that Pavel Paska [Koller's agent] wants to play games with us and Dortmund, but nobody plays games with us. We have three or four alternatives for the strikers job."
Koller claimed on Monday that he was a big fan of English football. "England has the best stadiums and atmosphere. I've spoken about it to Patrik Berger and Pavel Srnicek, who both warmly recommended playing in England," said Koller.
But the following day he muddied the waters. "A short time ago, everything was clear as I had an agreement with Fulham and I was just waiting to sign the contract," he explained.
"Then I learnt through various sources that Dortmund were interested in me. I also heard that financially the offer is about the same as in England. Given that, the bigger sporting challenge lies with Dortmund."
Dortmund have qualified for next season's Champions' League, whereas Fulham, who only won promotion to the Premiership this season, cannot play in Europe until at least the season after next.
Now, I'm 90% sure Pizarro will join Dortmund, in the case he won't leave Buli.