NOTTINGHAM FOREST'S prodigious young midfield talent Jermaine Jenas was on Tyneside yesterday discussing a pounds 5m move to Newcastle United which, if realised, will be the second-highest fee paid for a teenager from one British club to another.
The 18-year-old travelled to the North-east for talks after the Magpies agreed the fee yesterday morning with First Division Forest, who are known to be beset by financial difficulties. Only Robbie Keane, who moved from Wolves to Coventry for pounds 6m as a 19-year- old in 1999, has cost more as a teenager.
While the size of the fee would be a godsend for Forest, the Newcastle manager, Bobby Robson, was refusing to jump the gun yesterday. "We haven't signed him yet," said Robson. "He's here for talks. He's a young talent, and that's all I'm saying. We've agreed a fee."
Jenas, the England Under-19 captain who has also skippered Forest once this season, has been attracting interest from several leading clubs this season, including Leeds and Arsenal, but the size of the fee inquestion has, until now, deterred all except Newcastle.
Robson's decision to pay the asking price appears to have been influenced by Kieron Dyer's latest injury setback. The England midfielder, having only recently returned from long-term injury, could now be out of action for eight more weeks because of a stress fracture of the foot.
The Forest chief executive, Mark Arthur, could only admit to his club's satisfaction at the deal. "We have accepted what we feel to be a very good offer from Newcastle for Jermaine," he said.
The Forest manager, Paul Hart, while sorry to see his prize asset go, tipped Jenas to reach the top. "It's inevitable we were going to lose `JJ' when a suitable offer came in and the fact is pounds 5m is a lot of money for an 18-year-old," he said. …