English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur is no longer interested in acquiring D.C. United's Bobby Convey, leaving Reading of England's First Division as the top candidate for the 21-year-old midfielder's services, sources close to the situation said yesterday.
Tottenham, which has fallen well behind Arsenal and Chelsea for London soccer supremacy, has apparently turned its attention to several other foreign players after management couldn't form a consensus about whether to continue pursuing Convey. Reading, which has an American goalkeeper (Marcus Hahnemann), finished ninth in the 24-team First Division this past season after nearly earning promotion to the Premier League in 2003.
"There's a long way to go," one source said, "but if it's going to happen, it looks like it will be Reading."
Convey, who was denied a move to Tottenham last year because of British work permit issues, is in his fifth season with United. He also has become a regular on the U.S. national team, which should almost guarantee a work permit this year. MLS, which owns all player contracts, is asking for an estimated $1.2 million for Convey's rights.
Meantime, United officials said they have reached a tentative agreement to play a Dec. 3 exhibition against current and former African stars in Ghana, birthplace of teenage star Freddy Adu and recently acquired midfielder Nana Kuffour. Details need to be finalized in the next two weeks before the trip can be formally announced. An MLS team has never visited west Africa and Adu hasn't visited his homeland since moving to the Washington area seven years ago.
United officials and local organizers are also in negotiations for the team to visit Libya following the stay in Ghana. Preliminary plans are for United to play the Libyan national team in Tripoli and then host the Libyans at RFK Stadium next year. Visa applications for the D.C. delegation have been submitted to the Libyan government, a local organizer said, but it's unclear whether an arrangement could be worked out around United's schedule.
-- Steven Goff