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McLeish to run rule on Michel.

Byline: Colin Tattum

BLUES are eyeing up Spanish midfielder Michel of Sporting Gijon for a pounds 3 million move.

Manager Alex McLeish is expected to run the rule over the 23-year-old tomorrow when they play in a threeteam tournament against Athletic Bilbao and hosts Portugalete, in the Basque region of Spain.

On Wednesday, joint first team coach Andy Watson missed the game at Dagenham & Redbridge to go and watch Michel in Gijon's 1-0 defeat by La Gimnastica in Torrelavega, Spain.

Blues have been monitoring Michel for several months and watched him towards the end of last season.

Michel - full name Miguel Marcos Madera 'Michel' - is a dynamic, allpurpose midfielder who earned Gijon's player of the year award for the past two seasons.

Reports in Spain claim that Blues are in negotiations about a fee, with Dijon rating Michel at the same 4.5 million euros they got for the transfer of Roberto Canella to Real Zaragoza.

Michel remained coy about his future when questioned after the Gimnastica match, in which he was one of Gijon's best performers.

He was asked about Watson's presence and stated: "He could have come here to see many players. I have a contract in force and I am content with that."

Gelu Rodrguez, Michel's agent, revealed that talks are at an advanced stage and Blues initially asked to see Michel in Austria on trial, a request that was flatly rejected.

Rodriguez, therefore, helped broker a friendly on August 8 at St Andrew's between Blues and Gijon, who fought a successful battle against relegation last season.

Bolton Wanderers made a pounds 3 million offer for Michel a year ago but were rebuffed.

Valencia also expressed an interest just last month.

Michel has been part of the first team at Gijon since 2005 and came through the club's Academy.

McLeish has made it clear that he wanted another midfielder despite signing Lee Bowyer, on a free from West Ham United, and Barry Ferguson, of Rangers, this summer.

Villa's Craig Gardner has been high on McLeish's wishlist but the total financial package for the Brummie might be too hefty - not that boss Martin O'Neill has indicated he would sell - and Michel could be the best available alternative.

Blues, meanwhile, were this weekend expecting to hear for definite what Arsenal plan for Armand Traore this season.

The French defender is wanted by Blues on loan, with McLeish this week again outlining how critical the signature of a new left-back was.

Traore has featured for the Gunners in pre-season on their tour of Austria and acquitted himself well.

But a spot has opened up for him because regular Gael Clichy is recovering from a back problem and Kieran Gibbs has been given extra time off due to his exploits with England in the under-21 European Championship.

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Blues target: Sporting Gijon's Michel
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 1, 2009
Words:473
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