Eriksson spins web to lure £7m 'Spider-man'

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The Independent Online

Manchester City are interested in signing Jonas Gutierrez, the Argentina international winger who would cost around £7m from the Spanish club Real Mallorca.

With the transfer window opening at midnight last night, City, along with Chelsea, are set to be one of the Premier League's busiest clubs in the 31 days to the end of January when it closes. "We are going to do something," City's manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, said of their transfer plans. "We are working very much to do it. I don't know if it will happen in the first week in January, but it will happen.

"We will be having meetings over the next few days, but it's difficult because we're working and the rest of Europe is on holiday, so it is hard to talk to people right now.

"We are talking to agents, and the players we are discussing are big ones, who could cost a lot of money, as all good footballers do. We're trying in this country as well as abroad."

Gutierrez, a 25-year-old who made his international debut earlier this year and who can also play as a central striker, has been linked with a move to Portsmouth, who bid for him last summer, but it now appears that Eastlands is his most likely destination should he leave Spain.

Gutierrez is a colourful character, who celebrates scoring by donning a Spider-man mask and throwing imaginary nets into the crowd. A complication for any move is that 50 per cent of his transfer value would go to his former club, Newell's Old Boys, which is why Mallorca are holding out for between £7m to £8m.

The fee is not prohibitive for City, however, who regard Gutierrez as the solution to play on the right of midfield, with Martin Petrov on the left, as Eriksson continues to build towards a challenge to finish in the European places this season. The club's owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been persuaded that more investment is needed.

City have already secured the signing of the Mexican striker Nery Castillo on a year's loan from Shakhtar Donetsk, with a view to a permanent deal, even though he moved to the Ukraine for £15m only last summer. The 23-year-old has arrived at City but, under Premier League rules, is not eligible for tomorrow's league game away to Newcastle United.

City have also been one of four Premier League clubs the others being Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal who have held discussions about signing Luka Modric from Dynamo Zagreb, although he may now stay in Croatia until the summer as his £20m asking price is regarded as too high.

One of Eriksson's main priorities this month is to buy a holding midfielder. First choice is Javier Mascherano, who is also exciting the interest of Barcelona, and who Liverpool have still not secured on a permanent deal. His agreement at Anfield expires next summer unless a fee of £17m is paid. The likelihood is that he will stay, although it is thought that City are pushing for the Argentine to sign a pre-contract agreement and have offered him better terms than those he is on at present.

Leicester City are set to complete a £1m move for Steve Howard after the Derby striker was given permission to discuss a move to the Championship club.

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