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FOOTBALL SPY SPECIAL: Giant Zigic just the job for Sven.


SVEN GORAN Eriksson is chasing the tallest footballer in the world - to try to help Manchester City take a giant leap to success.

The new City manager is negotiating with Racing Santander's 6ft 8in Serbian striker Nicola Zigic, 26, who is rated in the pounds 12million bracket by his club.

Santander president Francisco Pernia said: "We have had interest from six clubs, but it is Manchester City who are the team that has come closest to what we think is the right deal for the club. But the deal is not yet done."

Big-spending Eriksson is desperate to strengthen his squad and Zigic would give City a huge height advantage, standing an inch taller than Liverpool's England striker Peter Crouch.

Zigic, who is also being tracked by Villarreal, scored 10 goals last season, won seven penalties and was credited with five assists.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger tracked him two years ago but is no longer interested, while Eriksson is still very keen. Ex-Red Star Belgrade striker Zigic said: "I have a deal with Santander - but we will see what happens. If they decide to sell me, then the Premier League would be a sensational place for me to play."

City appear to have won the battle for pounds 5m Bulgarian midfielder Martin Petrov.

The Atletico Madrid winger was wanted by Tottenham manager Martin Jol, but Petrov flew to Manchester for talks with City yesterday rather than head to north London.

Sources in Spain expect Petrov to be unveiled as City's latest signing by the end of the week.

City target Nery Castillo (left) will hand his dad a pounds 2.5m gift if he says "yes" to Eriksson.

The Mexican striker is due to decide on a pounds 10m transfer to Eastlands from Greek outfit Olympiakos. Castillo's Uruguayan father, Nery senior, is also his agent and has a 25 per cent stake in his son, part of the deal when he went to Olympiakos at 16.

And while the Greek side will offer Castillo a pay rise tomorrow, the young hitman is expected to leave the club - and make a killing for the family.


SERB'S SVEN RIGHT: Eriksson wants the lanky Nicola Zigic
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 26, 2007
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