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Five Aside
By ESPN Staff

Newcastle agree £10 million fee for Inter's Martins

Newcastle are understood to have agreed a £10million fee with Inter Milan for Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins.

The player's representative has been on Tyneside and has now returned to Italy to discuss the offer with his client.

'I can confirm we have agreed a fee with Inter Milan for Obafemi Martins,' Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd told the club's website.

'It is now up to the player and the agent to agree terms on the offer.'

Martins yesterday revealed that a deal was 80% done, and Magpies chairman Freddy Shepherd and manager Glenn Roeder will hope to finalise the transfer as they attempt to find a replacement for retired captain Alan Shearer.

Roeder has turned to the Inter Milan striker after being warned off Germany forward Miroslav Klose.

Martins himself seems keen to head for England, with the 21-year-old saying yesterday: 'I'm close to moving to Newcastle despite all the initial setbacks. Eighty per cent of the deal with Newcastle is completed.

'Playing in the Premiership has been a long-term ambition and I am extremely delighted with the prospect of concluding that in the next couple of days.'

The north-east club are desperate for a top-drawer striker. Alan Shearer has retired while England forward Michael Owen is not expected back until 2007 after his World Cup knee injury.

The 21-year-old Martins, who joined Inter in 2002, is a powerfully built forward who can run at defences.

In December last year he extended his Inter contract until 2010 but the close-season acquisitions of Argentina striker Hernan Crespo from English champions Chelsea and Sweden frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Juventus, in the wake of Italy's match-fixing scandal, have pushed him down the pecking order.

Newcastle will hope to have Martins available for Sunday's Barclays Premiership trip to Aston Villa.

With Shola Ameobi struggling with hip and hamstring injuries ahead of tomorrow night's UEFA Cup clash with Latvian side Ventspils, reinforcements cannot arrive quickly enough, and it would be no surprise if the club's remaining targets include another frontman.

It is understood Newcastle are still in talks with Real Madrid over midfielder Thomas Gravesen, while Wayne Bridge's situation is complicated with Ashley Cole still hopeful of a move to Stamford Bridge.

Celtic and Everton have expressed an interest in the Dane, while Aston Villa have emerged as potential competitors, and the outcome of Chelsea's pursuit of Arsenal full-back Cole could determine Bridge's availability.

Meanwhile, the Magpies are hopeful of off-loading £8million signing Jean-Alain Boumsong to Juventus after he spent a second night in Italy.

The Frenchman was allowed to travel to Turin to discuss a move to the relegated club after a fee was agreed which could see Newcastle recoup up to three-quarters of what they paid Rangers for the former Auxerre player.

That would represent an excellent piece of business for a player who has endured a disastrous 20 months on Tyneside.

Boumsong has made 59 appearances for the club, but has rarely justified the faith invested in him by the man who signed him, Graeme Souness - failing to make the bench for Saturday's home game with Wigan.