Nottingham Takes Interest In Stern John

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ATLANTA -- Columbus Crew striker Stern John, who has scored 42 goals in 48 career Major League Soccer games, has drawn the attention of Nottingham Forest manager David Platt, along with several other European clubs, MLS said Tuesday.

"A few different teams from Europe, including top clubs, have inquired about Stern John," said Ivan Gazidis, MLS executive vice president. "Obviously he's a young, exciting player who has scored a lot of goals in our league. He has attracted interest from around the world."

Gazidis said MLS is not actively shopping the 22-year-old striker abroad. He said the league is "very, very unlikely" to transfer John during the current season, but he said MLS is listening to offers out of fairness to the player and considerations for the league's business plan.

"Stern is not a player we're trying to move to Europe," Gazidis said. "We hope he stays in MLS. But he has ambitions of his own, and we would not want to stand in his way."

Columbus general manager Jamey Rootes said Nottingham Forest's manager attended the Crew's 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Mutiny on Sunday in Columbus.

"Yes, David Platt was in attendance at the Crew's game on Sunday," Rootes said. "He was in town to look at players on the Columbus Crew team, including Stern John."

Gazidis said Platt contacted him last week to express his interest in seeing John play.

"We are in ongoing talks [with Nottingham Forest]," Gazidis said. "I wouldn't characterize that as a negotiation. Forest is assessing its interest."

The Trinidad Express newspaper recently reported that MLS has placed a price tag of at least $2 million on John, but added that the striker could draw up to $3 million, as John has caught the eye of Forest of the English First Division, Watford of the Premier League and Bayer Leverkusen of the German Bundesliga, among others. The newspaper said John was recommended to Platt by another Trinidad and Tobago striker -- Manchester United's Dwight Yorke.

Gazidis did not confirm the figures, saying the league has not set a price on John because it is not actively seeking to sell him.

"We have not been closing doors," Gazidis said. "We've just been listening." John led MLS in 1998, his first season, with 26 goals in 27 games. He currently ranks third in scoring this season with 16 goals and two assists in 21 games. He scored his league record fifth hat trick last week in the Crew's 4-2 win over the MetroStars and has netted 13 goals in his last 10 games. He has appeared over 30 times for the Trinidad and Tobago national team, earning his first cap at 17.

Nottingham Forest, relegated from the English Premier League last season, is currently 1-1-1 in the First Division.