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Hunger is back at Barca

Barcelona
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By ESPN Staff

Birmingham hope to seal Sutton deal

Birmingham are poised to make Celtic striker Chris Sutton their first signing during the January transfer window.

The 32-year-old is understood to be close to agreeing a short-term contract with the Premiership strugglers until the end of the current campaign.

Sutton's contract expires in the summer and so he is able to open negotiations with other clubs as he is in the last six months of his Celtic deal.

Celtic paid Chelsea £6million for Sutton's services in the summer of 2000 but at best are likely to recoup only a nominal fee if the player makes the switch to St Andrews.

Sutton has average a goal every other match during his career north of the border but has made only seven appearances during an injury-hit season.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan does not want to lose the services of the former Blackburn player who won a Premiership winners medal at Ewood Park 11 years ago.

But he is aware of Sutton's contract situation and Everton have also been linked with a move for the Nottingham-born player.

Blues manager Steve Bruce is desperate to add extra firepower to his attack with Walter Pandiani and Mikael Forssell having managed just two Premiership goals between them in the first half of the season.

Sutton has a proven track record and also has the added bonus of being able to play at centre-half, which would provide cover for Matthew Upson, Kenny Cunningham and Martin Taylor.

The arrival of Sutton could open the exit door for Pandiani, who has been a target for Espanyol although an initial bid of £1million was rejected.

Bruce has insisted Pandiani will only be allowed to leave if he can bring in one or two strikers.

The Birmingham chief has made a habit of freshening up his squad to good effect in the January window.

In 2003 he brought in Christophe Dugarry, Upson, Stephen Clemence and Jamie Clapham as City successfully held onto their top-flight status.

Twelve months ago he signed Jermaine Pennant, Pandiani and Mehdi Nafti on loan to telling effect with all three going onto secure permanent deals last summer.