Newcastle close in on striking £10m deal for Martins

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The Independent Football

Newcastle United expect to offset the disappointment of their ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of Miroslav Klose by completing the signing of Obafemi Martins in the next 48 hours.

Glenn Roeder, the manager, hopes to push through a deal in the region of £10m for the Internazionale striker before the weekend, after being informed the World Cup golden boot winner, Klose, is not for sale.

The German international joined the lengthy list of forwards looked at by Newcastle this summer who will not be arriving at St James' Park. "Werder Bremen have made it clear that Klose is not for sale," said Roeder, who has failed to sign Darren Bent from Charlton and Dirk Kuyt, who joined Liverpool.

Newcastle launched their season without a No 9 as they made hard work of beating Wigan Athletic on Saturday, with Roeder preaching patience in his increasingly frantic efforts to land a partner for Shola Ameobi.

"I'm close to moving to Newcastle," Martins said last night. "Despite all the initial setbacks, 80 per cent of the deal is complete. Playing in the Premiership has been a long-term ambition and I'm extremely delighted with the prospect of concluding things in the next couple of days."

Newcastle will part-fund the transfer with money generated by the £3m sale of Jean-Alain Boumsong to Juventus, despite having to accept a £5.5m loss on the French defender, whom they bought from Glasgow Rangers in January 2005.

The investment group behind the proposed takeover of Newcastle has described the club as among the biggest brands in football. The Belgravia Group have talked to Sir John Hall and his son, Douglas, over their 40 per cent stake, in a potential deal which could net the Halls more than £35m. A spokesman said: "Newcastle is just about the best brand in football in terms of fan base, stadium and history. Investment on the pitch could lead to the club becoming even more successful off it."

Under stock-market rules, if Belgravia secure more than a 30 per cent stake it must launch a full takeover bid. The Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd holds a 28 per cent share in the club, which is worth approximately £80m.

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