Ravanelli in the spotlight

Player to watch – Fabrizio RavanelliThe grey-haired Italian, known as the White Feather, has been among the most highly-paid footballers in the land.

Player to watch – Fabrizio Ravanelli

The grey-haired Italian, known as the White Feather, has been among the most highly-paid footballers in the land. He was a superstar in his prime but lacks the sharpness of yesterday.

Yet Derby County still rated him highly enough to keep him at Pride Park when they felt they needed all the experience they could muster in their bid to stay in the Premiership.

Now they are in the Nationwide League the Rams, in common with other relegated clubs, have been feeling the pinch financially.

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They cannot afford the wages of players such as Ravanelli because of their greatly reduced income.

Ravanelli will be out of contract in the Summer. Although he keeps expressing a desire to stay it seems probable that he will be released.

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Already saleable young players like Chris Riggott and Malcolm Christie have moved on to lower the wage bill, but it is not so easy to find clubs willing to take on the commitments of older players like Ravanelli and Finidi George at Ipswich.

Interim-manager George Burley has been fielding Ravanelli in his first team because he hopes that the Italian will provide the experience to help up-and-coming youngsters to flourish.

An Italian international, he was born in Perugia in December 1968, and first came to prominence in England when he signed for Middlesbrough for £7million from Juventus in August 1996. Despite some spectacular performances for the Teeside club he left under a cloud to join Marseilles for £5.3 million in September 1997.

He stayed in French football until 2000 when he moved to Lazio.

Then he joined Derby County on a free transfer in 2001but don't be fooled into thinking it was a bargain move. His wages made the signing a massive gamble.

He wears shirt No. 11 and is a free-kick specialist.

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