Newcastle United's frantic search for the new Alan Shearer took them to Old Trafford last night, when they secured the loan signing of Manchester United's highly rated Giuseppe Rossi to bolster Glenn Roeder's attacking options. The Newcastle manager also made a somewhat desperate bid for Middlesbrough's Mark Viduka, which was rejected by their North-east rivals.
With one day's trading left in the summer transfer market, the window will close at midnight tonight with Newcastle among the sides most keen to acquire a new forward. They appear to have agreed a deal with Aston Villa to sell them the midfielder James Milner, who played at the Midlands club on loan last season.
As well as keeping Viduka, Middlesbrough yesterday picked up Jonathan Woodgate on loan from Real Madrid and the Chelsea defender Robert Huth for £6m.
United's decision to allow Rossi to leave suggests that Sir Alex Ferguson is confident that his four first-choice strikers, Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Alan Smith, will be adequate this season. Despite their long pursuit of Owen Hargreaves and interest in the Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano, it would appear that United are not going to make any more acquisitions this summer after the £18.7m signing of Michael Carrick.
It has been a frustrating summer for United, thwarted in their attempts to sign Hargreaves and now without a straight replacement for Ruud van Nistelrooy, who left for Real Madrid last month.
They hope that Smith could be ready to play again by the middle of next month, perhaps even for the visit of Arsenal on 17 September. United want Rossi to get first-team action at Newcastle but will reserve the right to recall him.
Middlesbrough refused to sanction a move for Viduka despite a very serious approach from Newcastle yesterday morning. The Teesside club have been in talks with the Charlton Athletic midfielder Jason Euell after their new manager, Gareth Southgate, persuaded Huth and Woodgate, who comes on a one-year loan, to join them.
Woodgate, 26, who grew up in Middlesbrough, is an injury risk. He played just 14 games for Real Madrid after his move there in August 2004 for £13m. Middlesbrough, as well as paying a loan fee to the Spanish club, will also pay part of the England international's salary, reported to be around £70,000 a week, and have an option to make the move permanent after one season.
Huth, 22, had previously seen a move to Middlesbrough fall through this summer after complications in his medical but, under pressure from interest shown by Roeder, the Teesside club have agreed a £6m fee. Southgate said: "We have added two international defenders to our squad in one afternoon. That's a significant coup for Middlesbrough and a big boost for everyone at the club. Both players feel they have a point to prove and the great thing is that they want to do that with Middlesbrough," Southgate added. "I'm absolutely delighted."
Tottenham's bid for the Real Madrid midfielder Julio Baptista fell through last night despite a concerted effort from the White Hart Lane club to secure him. The Brazilian joined Madrid from Seville last summer after turning down Arsenal following their lengthy pursuit of him and he has now qualified for the Spanish passport which would make him eligible to play in the Premiership.
Spurs, after agreeing deals for Steed Malbranque from Fulham, Roma's Mido and Pascal Chimbonda from Wigan, have maintained their interest in Stewart Downing right to the end of the transfer window, although they feel it would take a major change in heart from Middlesbrough for them to sign him.
Portsmouth expect Andy Cole to come to the South Coast today for a medical. The 34-year-old striker is now the fifth choice at Manchester City behind Paul Dickov, Georgios Samaras, Darius Vassell and Bernardo Corradi. He could be joined by the Ghana internationals Sulley Muntari and Stephen Appiah, who are both long-term targets for Harry Redknapp, the Portsmouth manager. Fenerbahce have yet to accept to a £6m offer for Muntari.
The new Sunderland manager, Roy Keane, has made Blackburn's Andy Todd one of his first transfer targets. The defender was left out of the team to face Chelsea on Sunday by the Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, who signed Andre Ooijer from PSV Eindhoven last week. However, Terry Butcher, manager of Sydney FC, has dismissed reports that Keane will sign his former Manchester United team-mate Dwight Yorke from the Australian club.