Exclusive: Heskey Says No, But Spaniard Deal Close
Following this afternoon's 2-0 win over Everton in Keith Southern's Testimonial, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway revealed that Emile Heskey has rejected a move to the Seasiders.
Fans immediately began to criticise chairman Karl Oyston for failing to meet yet another player's wage demands, but Vital has been informed by more than one source this evening that talks with the ex England international never got as far as discussing money, with the striker - released by Aston Villa earlier this summer - being linked with a move to free spending Hull City, having also turned down Ipswich's approach for him.
However, whilst Ollie's search for a target man is set to continue, Vital can exclusively reveal that the Seasiders have made progress in the transfer market and are close to adding another Spaniard to their ranks - attacking midfielder Alberto Noguera Ripoll.
The 22 year old - who plays both in the hole and on the flank - was released by Atletico Madrid earlier this summer after featuring just shy of 100 times for a combination of the Spanish club's C, B and first teams.
Ripoll was the unnamed (until now!) trialist that impressed Ian Evatt at 'Pool's training camp in Portugal, with the centre half remarking to the Blackpool Gazette: 'We had a young Spanish lad on trial and he's looked very, very sharp. He seems to suit our style and I've been really impressed with him.'
Ripoll's identity has been the subject of widespread speculation over the past few weeks, and the reason that it has/had all gone quiet about him is because he is one of the three players that the club are currently performing background checks on (the other two being Banvo Anderson and Brice Irie-Bi), to ensure that they don't have to pay any 'development fees' for them and that they are indeed free agents.
Indeed, it was The Gazette's mention of 'Pool conducting background checks on an Atletico player that led us to check Ripoll out and further examination of the player revealed that he was the player that Ollie had spoken about when he'd remarked that he (Ripoll) had been set to breakthrough into his side's first team, only for the club's manager to be sacked and for him to be demoted back to the B team - Quique Flores the manager in question (he had given Ripoll his first team debut in April 2011, only to be sacked at the end of that season).
However, most tellingly, Ripoll has been conversing with fellow Spaniard and Blackpool's very own Angel Martinez on Twitter since the Portugal training camp, after Angel was pinpointed as having helped him settle in by acting as a translater.
Obviously we've never seen Ripoll play, but having read/translated a 52 page thread about him on an Atletico Madrid forum, their fans cannot believe that he's been released and, on the whole, feel that he was unlucky not to establish himself at the club, remarking that he's a very technically gifted player (drawing comparisons to even Andreas Iniesta!), who thrives in a system where the focus is on a short, sharp passing game. Sounds promising, and we look forward to seeing him in tangerine should his background checks come back clear!