Savage in the middle of deadline tug-of-war

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Robbie Savage was at the centre of a major transfer war between Everton and Birmingham City last night - but edged closer to his dream move. The combative Welshman wants to join the Goodison club, who made a late deadline-beating attempt to sign him only to be met with a furious and frustrated response from the Birmingham City manager, Steve Bruce, and his board.

Savage is at the centre of controversy again, but this time not of his own making as calls and bids were made yesterday in an effort to take him to Merseyside. The Everton manager, David Moyes, put in a £2.5m offer in the morning and then increased it to £3m later in the day but Birmingham are holding out for £4m.

Savage is aware of the transfer tangle while he trains with the Welsh national squad - and he is pleading with Bruce to accept the "sensible" offer and let him go. Everton are only willing to pay £3m for Savage, who cost around £1.5m a year ago when he moved from Leicester City - when Moyes also missed out on him.

But Birmingham are angry about the timing of the approach so close to the transfer deadline, as it leaves them with no option but to ask for a premium on the price and gives them little chance to find a replacement. Savage is also upset as he wants to go to Everton, the team he has always followed, and discussed the matter with Bruce before and after Birmingham's win at Newcastle, admitting he was tempted.

The pressure is on Moyes to make a signing after failing to secure Sean Davis, Barry Ferguson and Steve McManaman in a nightmare week of transfer hard luck stories.

Everton's midfield put on a poor show in the Merseyside derby to make a signing even more vital, and the Savage deal looks like the only live alternative, but it may have been left too late to succeed. Moyes made his move on Friday night and has been increasing his bids since, but unless the club come up with the money and accept they must pay over the top, it will be another near miss.

However, Everton are completing one deal successfully, snapping up keeper Nigel Martyn from Leeds for a nominal fee but on a big contract worth over £25,000 a week. Moyes has already signed Richard Wright and has Steve Simonsen and Paul Gerrard on the books, although Gerrard was let out on loan to Sheffield United. The Martyn deal will eat into his budget and has come as a surprise to many.

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