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By ESPN Staff

Boro close in on S.Korean international Lee

Middlesbrough have agreed a deal to sign South Korean international striker Lee Dong-Gook, subject to the player being granted a work permit.

The 27-year-old has not played in the required 75% of his country's games over the last year to qualify automatically for a permit under Home Office rules, but a number of those matches were missed due to injury.

Boro are therefore hopeful of sealing the former Werder Bremen player's signature from Pohang Steelers when their case is submitted early next week.

Lee, known as the 'Lion King' by supporters in South Korea, played for country in the 1998 World Cup in France aged 19 but was omitted by coach Guus Hiddink for the 2002 tournament, co-hosted by his homeland and Japan.

He was widely predicted to be part of the squad for last year's finals but was ruled out by a cruciate knee-ligament injury sustained playing for the Steelers in the K-League.

Renowned for his finishing, Lee finished top scorer in the domestic league for the past two seasons and that was enough to tempt Boro manager Gareth Southgate to offer him a three-week trial at the Riverside.

The player's only previous stint in Europe ended in ignominy after a short spell in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen yielded few starts and no goals.

But Boro defender Andrew Davies has been impressed by Lee and claimed last week: 'In training, he has been doing excellently.

'He is an excellent finisher and he is good at holding he ball up, he is quick and he is strong.

'He would be a good addition for the squad and hopefully he can push for a place.'