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Blues close to deal for Michel; pounds 2.5m midfielder expected to sign in the next 48 hours.

Byline: Andy Walker

BLUES appear to have made a breakthrough in their pursuit of midfielder Michel and are close to finally completing a deal for the Spaniard.

The transfer initially looked set to fall through yesterday amid public doubts from the player's club, Sporting Gijon.

The La Liga outfit had been running out of patience with Blues over delays in finalising an offer of around pounds 2.5million and had slapped down a deadline, which was yesterday.

Time appeared to be running out and Sporting's president Manuel Vega-Arango told the Spanish press yesterday that he believed Michel would be going nowhere.

Vega-Arango had said: "At the moment there is nothing. They (Birmingham) showed interest and we requested an offer. We do not yet know what Birmingham will offer Sporting. When the proposal arrives we will study it with a magnifying glass. But I believe that Mchel is not going to move from Sporting."

However, it is believed there were developments last night after the two clubs agreed a deal that involved spreading payments.

Whether Michel could be a Blues player in time for the visit of Stoke on Saturday, or even Portsmouth tomorrow, is still unknown but the transfer is expected to be concluded one way or another within the next 48 hours.

Sporting are currently under pressure from their own supporters and this may well explain their eagerness to finally draw a line under the Michel saga. The sale of their star full-back Roberto Canella to Real Zaragoza fell through over the weekend and the last thing Sporting wanted was a repeat of that situation with Michel, another one of their top players. Michel has not played any part in Sporting's three friendly games that have followed his hour-long performance during the goalless pre-season warmup against Blues at St Andrew's, but that is believed to be down to a minor injury rather than his future. The arrival of 23-year-old Michel, full name Miguel Marcos Madera, will be welcome for Alex McLeish but the Bues boss is still eager to bring in a centre-half and one other, possibly for the wide areas. Although following Sunday's defeat at Manchester United, McLeish hinted that further finances may not be forthcoming from his board.

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Breakthrough: Blues finally appear to have struck a deal to sign Sporting Gijon midfielder Michel.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 18, 2009
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