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Arsenal make Vardy move – report

Arsenal are trying to lure England striker Jamie Vardy away from Premier League champions Leicester City in a move worth around £20 million ($29m, 25.5m euros), Britain's Guardian newspaper reported Friday.

Vardy scored 24 league goals as Leicester, 5,000/1 rank outsiders, were crowned champions of England last season, finishing 10 points in front of second-placed Arsenal, one of the Premier League's established powers.

His club form saw Vardy force his way into England's squad for the upcoming European Championship.

Signing Vardy, who is already 29, would mark a major change in Arsenal's transfer policy under long-serving French manager Arsene Wenger.

But the Guardian said "the striker?s availability for a relatively modest fee, and the alternative option that he provides in attack with his searing pace, has fuelled the manager?s interest".

However, it was only in February that Vardy signed an improved three-and-a-half-year contract with Thai-owned Leicester.

The Guardian said Leicester could offer Vardy a new deal if they think that is what it will take to keep him at the Midlands club.

It seems the forward now has a momentous decision to make. As well as being a key figure on the field, Vardy is also a well-liked member of the Leicester squad -- the players celebrated their title-winning success with a party at his house.

However, he only became a full-fledged professional player in 2012, after nine years in non-league football, and if Arsenal are offering significantly more money than he's getting at Leicester, Vardy could find it hard to turn down the Gunners.

Arsenal's reported interest in Vardy led to plenty of social media comment.

Broadcaster Piers Morgan, a Gunners fan, tweeted: "Come on @vardy7 - let's do this", only for former Leicester and England striker Gary Lineker to urge the forward against a move to the north London club by replying: "Stay with the Champions @vardy7 don't join the perennial also-rans."

Lineker, like Vardy, was a leading scorer for Leicester in the English top-flight. But his goals did not yield a title and he left to join Everton in 1985.

With the story on the Guardian's website running well after the close of normal UK business hours on Friday, there was as yet no response from Leicester, Arsenal or Vardy's management team.

Last month, Vardy indicated he had no desire to leave Leicester, saying: "We've just won the league and will be playing in the Champions League next year. I am happy here."

But May also saw Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri say he would not stand in the way of any player who wanted to move on, although clearly the Italian would like to keep his title-winning squad intact.

"If they go away, it is not good for them. It is much better if they improve another year here and then go wherever they want," said Ranieri.

"But I have said so many times if one player comes to me and says 'Gaffer (manager), I want to go', then I leave him to go because it is okay."

Muhammad Ali still in hospital, reports of more serious concerns

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali remained in hospital for a second day Friday for treatment of a respiratory ailment, amid media reports that his condition has been complicated by his Parkinson's disease.

Ali spokesman Bob Gunnell told the Louisville Courier-Journal on Friday that the 74-year-old former heavyweight world champion remained in fair condition in the Phoenix area and that a brief stay was still expected.

Gunnell noted the "media frenzy" touched off each time the iconic fighter is hospitalized, but declined to give the newspaper in Ali's hometown further details on Ali's condition.

US celebrity news website quoted an anonymous source as saying Ali required help breathing and that worried family members had gathered at his bedside.

Gunnell did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.

Ali, known globally not only for his storied ring career but also for his civil rights activism, has been hospitalized multiple times in recent years.

He spent time in hospital in 2014 after suffering a mild case of pneumonia and again in 2015 for a urinary tract infection.

His Parkinson's, thought to be linked to the thousands of punches he took during his career, has limited his public speaking for years.

But he has continued to make appearances and offer opinions through his family members and spokespeople.

In April, he attended a Celebrity Fight Night Dinner in Phoenix that raised funds for treatment of Parkinson's.

In December, he issued a statement rebuking US presidential hopeful Donald Trump over Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

News of his latest health setback sparked concern among admirers.

"Prayers & blessings to my idol," boxer Sugar Ray Leonard tweeted.

Ali -- whose legendary boxing career stretched from 1960 to 1981 -- dazzled fans with slick moves in the ring, and with his wit and engaging persona outside it.

His opposition to the Vietnam War saw him banned from the sport for years, but the US Supreme Court overturned his conviction for draft dodging in 1971.

Once vilified in some quarters for his conversion to Islam and his outspoken stance on civil rights issues, Ali held firm to earn dozens of tributes, lighting the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta and being named a UN messenger of peace in 1998.

He received the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.