West Bromwich to break record for £7m Long

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The Independent Online

West Bromwich Albion are poised to smash their transfer record to sign the Reading striker Shane Long, according to reports last night.

Albion have held talks with Long's advisers over the weekend and are close to agreeing a fee of between £6m and £7m. It would surpass the £4.7m that the club paid Real Mallorca for the Spanish midfielder Borja Valero three years ago.

West Bromwich's desire for a new striker is even more pressing as last season's leading scorer, Peter Odemwingie, is battling to overcome an ankle problem. Albion head coach Roy Hodgson is hoping to sign Long in time for Sunday's Premier League opener with Manchester United at the Hawthorns.

It will be the first monetary outlay of the summer by Albion after Gareth McAuley, Zoltan Gera and Billy Jones arrived on Bosman free transfers and Ben Foster joined on loan from Birmingham City.

Hodgson has been pursuing Long all summer after the 24-year-old scored 25 goals last season for Reading. West Ham last month failed with a bid thought to total around £7m with add-ons but Reading are believed to have told Long he can join a top-flight side if the price is right. Long has also been linked with Everton and Newcastle United.

Meanwhile, the Albion striker Ishmael Miller is in talks with Championship club Nottingham Forest about a permanent move. It is understood that the two clubs have agreed a fee but a deal has yet to be finalised with the player.

Albion said on their website that the 24-year-old forward was set to have a medical yesterday and meet Forest manager Steve McClaren. "Ishmael looks like he will go to Nottingham Forest," added Hodgson. "I think he is at the age where he needs to be a No 1 player, not a guy who hangs around and gets 20 minutes every now and then."

Miller made six substitute appearances in the Premier League last season before going on loan to QPR in January. He scored once in 14 appearances during his spell in West London to win his second Championship medal, having scored nine goals in Albion's successful 2007-08 second-tier title campaign.

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