Savage heads for Blackburn as Ferguson exits

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Robbie Savage is expected to complete his move to Blackburn Rovers today after Birmingham City agreed to sell him for around £3m. However, the good news for Blackburn was tempered by the decision of their captain, Barry Ferguson, to hand in a written transfer request.

Robbie Savage is expected to complete his move to Blackburn Rovers today after Birmingham City agreed to sell him for around £3m. However, the good news for Blackburn was tempered by the decision of their captain, Barry Ferguson, to hand in a written transfer request.

The Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, had hoped to pair the two players in central midfield. Birmingham's completion of the loan signing of Liverpool's Salif Diao yesterday opened the way for Savage's departure and the end of one of the longest-running transfer sagas. Birmingham beat off late interest from city rivals Aston Villa to sign Diao, with the option of a £1.5m permanent deal this summer. The Senegal midfielder cost Liverpool £5m.

Savage is set to agree personal terms at Ewood Park and will undergo a medical. One of the last obstacles in the deal was removed when he paid back the majority of the image rights and golden handshake he was given when signing a new four-year contract with Birmingham at the start of the season. Savage is understood to have received around £80,000 and has agreed to hand back around three-quarters of that figure.

Earlier yesterday Hughes had spoken of his frustration over the delay in securing the deal. He also insisted there was no reason for Ferguson to depart. However, the 27-year-old midfielder is desperate to return to Rangers, having failed to settle in England. He left Glasgow 17 months ago for £6.5m and Rangers have already had a £3m bid to take him back rejected.

Blackburn are considering the transfer request and although they realise they have little chance of keeping the player they hope to persuade him to stay until the end of the season. They are also determined to achieve a fee of around £5m.

Birmingham are vying for Crystal Palace winger Wayne Routledge but have yet to lodge a bid. The 20-year-old has refused to sign a new contract and Palace confirmed yesterday that Tottenham had offered £1.5m.

Spurs bid £3m for Routledge last summer, but know that they could get away with offering less now. They have also lodged an offer, which could rise to £4m, for Nottingham Forest's Andy Reid. The Irishman is also interesting Everton.

Southampton and Portsmouth have lost out in the race for Greece international Sotirios Kyrgiakos. The 25-year-old Panathinaikos defender will fly into Glasgow today to agree a £1.7m move to Rangers, who are also looking to offload defender Michael Ball, possibly to Manchester City.

* Aston Villa have been found guilty of making an illegal approach to Southampton for the striker James Beattie. The Premier League reprimanded the club, but did not fine them and Villa have said they will not appeal.

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