Michel completes Birmingham switch

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The Independent Online

Alex McLeish admits Birmingham's fine form during the first half of the season means new signing Michel can be given additional time to settle at St Andrew's.

The 24-year-old has completed a £3m switch from Sporting Gijon after formally passing a medical last night and has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract.

McLeish has high hopes for Michel, who has become his first capture during the January transfer window.

But City's lofty placing in the Barclays Premier League means he can be given time to adjust to the demands of English football.

McLeish said: "Sometimes it's not easy for a player, especially coming from a foreign country, to come in and hit the ground running.

"He'll need time to get to know his team-mates and see the sort of demands we ask from players in training.

"We can also see if we can add a wee bit to his game and improve him all round as a player.

"But the bonus is that, because we're doing so well, he has got additional time to settle."

Michel will provide competition in midfield for Lee Bowyer and Barry Ferguson, who have formed an effective partnership.

McLeish said: "I said I wanted to sign players of quality during January and Michel fits the bill.

"I'm very pleased he's signed as I've been tracking him for over a year. I've added a player who is unfazed in taking the ball in any company.

"He's played at the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp and has acquitted himself well, so he's a technical player who can definitely strengthen the squad.

"He has good quality, is only 24, has got good legs and is a player for now but also the future."

Michel is ineligible for tonight's FA Cup third-round replay against Nottingham Forest at St Andrew's as he was not registered to play before the original tie.

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