Soccer America
Wednesday July 23rd, 2008

American goalie Brad Friedel, who has played every Premier League game in the last four seasons at Blackburn Rovers, has asked to leave -- the latest shock wave for the Lancashire club.

Paul Ince was recently named as a replacement for Mark Hughes, who was hired as Manchester City's new manager, and faces the prospect of losing Blackburn's youngest star -- David Bentley -- and now Friedel, who has played 261 of 266 EPL games since Blackburn went up in 2001-02.

Both Manchester City and Aston Villa (owned by American Randy Lerner) are reportedly interested in signing the 37-year-old Friedel, but Ince won't part with Friedel.

"I want to keep Brad," Ince told BBC Radio Lancashire. "He's one of the best goalkeepers in the Premiership -- I want to keep my best players."

Villa is also pursuing 23-year-old goalie Brad Guzan, whose is pending the receipt of a British work permit, and has been linked in recent days with 24-year-old Spanish keeper Asier Riesgo.

Friedel had a month ago expressed support for Ince, the first black British EPL manager.

"I played with him at Liverpool. Incey as a footballer was a winner and he has obviously proven as a manager he is a winner as well," he said. "He knows football and loves football, which I think is why he has had the success he has had."

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