Southgate seals £1.75m Arca deal and sets up Huth loan

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The Independent Football

Middlesbrough yesterday completed the £1.75m signing of Julio Arca from Sunderland and are set to take Chelsea's Robert Huth on a season's loan with a view to a permanent transfer.

The Teessiders, however, appear likely to miss out on two other targets. They have bid £4m for Sylvain Distin, who has a year left on his contract at Manchester City. However, the French defender is understood to be close to agreeing a move to Portsmouth.

Middlesbrough have also enquired about Blackburn Rovers' midfielder Brett Emerton but the Australian appears more likely to join West Ham United who hope to seal a £1.5m deal.

Emerton is also wanted by Fulham who were in talks yesterday to sign Boro's Franck Queudrue for £2m. The French full-back flew out to Fulham's training camp in Austria to finalise the deal. And to complete a transfer merry-go-round both Boro and West Ham have, of course, expressed interest in Fulham's Steed Malbranque.

Fulham agreed a £4m fee with Boro for the midfielder but he does not want to move to the Riverside while West Ham have balked at his wage demands. They retain some interest in the player but have switched their attentions to either Emerton or Newcastle United's James Milner.

Arca becomes the first signing of Boro's new manager, Gareth Southgate, after agreeing a five-year deal. "The thing about Julio is that he symbolises the way I want to play," Southgate said. "I want a team that thinks and that attacks, and Julio has shown me on the occasions that I have played against him that he is an attacking player."

Arca, who can play at full-back or in midfield, was also in the final year of his contract but Niall Quinn, who has just taken over as Sunderland manager, said he was not "cross" with the Argentinian for leaving. "But I am disappointed as he is a terrific guy and a smashing player," he said.

Southgate, who retired at the end of last season to succeed Steve McClaren, expects to follow up the deal with the arrival of Huth, who was due to sign permanently for £5m from Chelsea before failing a medical because of an ankle injury. Boro have now proposed a loan deal, to ensure that there are no long-term fitness problems.

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