Middlesbrough close in on deal for Fred

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Middlesbrough hope to seal the £8m transfer of Lyons' 24-year-old Brazilian striker Fred in the coming days, with the fee likely to be balanced out by Stewart Downing's possible £12m move to Tottenham Hotspur which the winger seemed to welcome last night.

Lyons' president, Jean-Michel Aulas, said yesterday that three clubs had bid for Fred and they had accepted. Portsmouth and Spurs are the two English clubs, but the former's manager, Harry Redknapp, said last night that he had heard Boro had nipped in to sign him. Fred is expected on Teesside today for talks.

Downing last night said: "I am aware and flattered by the interest from Tottenham. But until Middlesbrough and Tottenham agree terms I remain a Boro player." However, Gareth Southgate said: "We probably had stronger interest [in Downing] in the past. I don't think he's played his last game for us." Spurs have reportedly put in an £8m bid to get the ball rolling.

Should the Fred deal fail Boro also have an interest in Wagner Love, the CSKA Moscow striker.

Juventus's interest in the Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko appears to have ended after the club said they were unlikely to make any January signings.