Boro close to loan signing of Mendieta

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The Independent Football

The Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb has flown to Italy in an attempt to clinch the signing of Lazio's Gaizka Mendieta in time for the player to face Arsenal on Sunday. Lamb flew to Rome to finalise terms on a complicated loan deal for the unsettled Spain midfielder and beat off competition from Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.

Boro are willing to pay most of Mendieta's £50,000-a-week wages, which will please Lazio, who want him off their payroll.

Lazio originally wanted a three-year loan arrangement, but Middlesbrough did not want to tie themselves to an £8m contract. So they are trying to find a compromise.

Lazio want to claw back some of the £27m they paid for Mendieta when they took him from Valencia when he was at his peak. They still owe most of that money to the Spaniards. Middlesbrough may have to pay an additional rental fee to secure the move, but as they are desperate for a new face that may also be agreed in the next 24 hours.

The Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren, has had a quiet summer, with several deals falling through, and Saturday's defeat by Fulham has put the club under an early-season cloud. Bringing in Mendieta, a Champions' League finalist and Spanish golden boy, would lift the gloom and answer criticisms about the club's ambition and ability to attract top players.

The Leeds United manager, Peter Reid, has flown in the Spanish defender Carlos Javier Cuellar in an attempt to solve his defensive woes before the transfer window closes.

Reid will look at Cuellar over the next few days before deciding whether or not to make a move for the centre-half, who plays for Numancia in the Spanish Second Division. Cuellar had been linked with several clubs in Spain's top flight.

Reid has only Lucas Radebe and the new signing Zouma Camara available at the moment, with injury doubts over the club captain, Dominic Matteo, limiting his options.

Millwall have confirmed an end to the ban on away fans at the New Den after Home Office figures released this week revealed a dramatic fall in arrests involving supporters of the First Division club.

Just 18 Millwall fans were arrested home or away last season compared with 109 the previous season. The figures compare well to the national figures which saw an overall rise in arrests throughout the Premiership and Nationwide League of 19 per cent.

The club's manager, Mark McGhee, is confident of completing the transfer of the Juventus winger Aboubaka Fofana within 48 hours. The 20-year-old Frenchman has agreed a one-year deal but international clearance was delayed by an Italian holiday weekend.

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