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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 4, 2007

Southgate in no hurry to sign up Viduka

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate will not rush striker Mark Viduka into a decision over his future.

The 31-year-old Australian international is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked in recent days with a move to, among others, Liverpool, West Ham and Italian side Genoa.

Speculation has mounted since Viduka, who was chased by Newcastle last summer, revealed talks over a new contract are yet to take place - although that is a situation Southgate hopes to remedy soon.

He said: 'I have spoken with Mark and he is aware that I would very much like him to be here next season. His performances this year have been excellent. We missed him greatly when he was out injured and I think it is the right thing for us to keep him here.

'Of course, when you come towards the last few months of your contract, there are other issues for him to think about. But he seems to be enjoying his football - he is playing very well, which suggests to me that he is enjoying it.

'I am not rushing him into any sort of decision. It is right he has a think about things. We have to sit down as a club and with the player and put something concrete to him, and that is what we would like to do.'

The Viduka situation is one of a series Southgate needs to resolve as he attempts to re-shape his squad during the transfer window, with Fabio Rochemback also a target for former club Sporting Lisbon.

However, the 36-year-old, who is facing new challenges almost daily as he makes his way in management, is not allowing that to get on top of him.

He said: 'No, not at all. I understand it goes with the territory and it goes with the nature of the transfer window, that all of the speculation is thrown into one 30-day period.

'That is the nature of this transfer system. As far as I am concerned, everybody is a Middlesbrough player and considered for selection, and is part of our family until they move on.

'Certainly I am not in a rush to move the likes of Mark or Fabio on. Fabio is frustrated because he is not playing, and that is understandable. Mark's situation, of course, because he is coming towards the end of his contract, there is going to be speculation.

'But I have made it clear to him what I want to do and his performances have been first-class throughout, so I could not be happier with him.'

Southgate is yet to make a formal bid for any player, despite being linked with a series of targets in recent weeks, with Hibernian duo Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson the latest to be added to a list which also includes Preston striker David Nugent and Arsenal's Jeremie Aliadiere - none of whom he is prepared to comment upon.

He is also yet to receive any offers for those men he is trying to offload, with record signing Massimo Maccarone and Spanish star Gaizka Mendieta among those likely to leave the Riverside Stadium this month.

The Italian, who has attracted interest from Torino, Siena and Napoli, has spoken of his desire to leave Teesside and his manager will not stand in his way.

Southgate said: 'I understand his frustration. He has not figured as much as he would have liked. He has got a bit of an injury at the moment, so he is back in Italy getting treatment and invariably when playersgo home, these stories appear.

'I have no big issue with it. Players will always have an opinion - I had a big opinion when I was a player, so I am not going to hammer my own players for having opinions.

'I am very conscious with Massimo that, at the age he is (27), it is important he plays football, and I have said if we can help him in some way to do that, then we will.'

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