Riise set to join Leeds

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The Independent Football

Leeds are on the brink of finally signing Monaco midfielder John Arne Riise after tracking the Norwegian international for the last seven months.

Leeds are on the brink of finally signing Monaco midfielder John Arne Riise after tracking the Norwegian international for the last seven months.

Riise is currently two years into a seven-year deal with the French champions, but Leeds are poised to clinch a £6.5million move for the 19-year-old.

Riise, a close friend of current Leeds and Norway star Eirik Bakke, has been linked with United since last Christmas.

It is believed chairman Peter Ridsdale, in conjunction with agents Rune Hauge and Riise's mother Berit, is looking to tie up the switch before Thursday.

That would allow Leeds to register Riise in time to play in next Wednesday's Champions League third-round qualifier against TSV 1860 Munich, with the first leg at Elland Road.

Riise, who can also play in defence, admits his friendship with Bakke is just one of the factors which has influenced his decision.

The duo were also in Norway's Euro 2000 squad, and Riise - speaking in Norwegian newspaper VG - said: "I am very excited.

"I am still very young and I think Leeds is the right place for me to develop into a better football player.

"Eirik is a very good friend of mine, and we spent a lot of time together during Euro 2000.

"There is no doubt he has become a lot better and a tougher footballer since he came to Leeds.

"I want to be a part of this young and ambitious team and I am confident that Leeds will win things."

Berit Riise has confirmed it is now only a matter of tying up the loose ends before her son signs a five-year contract with Leeds.

She added: "We have agreed John Arne's personal contract, and as far as I am concerned there are only formalities left before the deal goes through."

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