Date: 9th May 2007 at 12:33am
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While Blues fans have been quite insistent that their first choice for a midfield signing would be Fabrice Muamba, it will probably be some days before there is any further news on this front.

Popular opinion seems to be that Muamba would cost Birmingham City somewhere in the region of £4m including add-ons if Arsene Wenger decides he is surplus to requirements at the Emirates.

However, this is by no means cut and dried, but it seems unlikely at this stage there would be a first team place available next season without some fairly significant midfield team movements.

While Nicklas Bendtner may be on the verge of breaking into the Arsenal first team, albeit as fourth striker, Muamba may have to wait longer than this for his chance and a lack of first-team football may be one of the deciding factors in him moving elsewhere.

Reading and others are known to be interested in the boy who has proved to be such a success at Birmingham this season. Tough in the tackle, quick and willing, he is nevertheless not the finished article and needs coaching in passing and keeping the ball.

That aside, he would be an excellent acquisition for Blues, who would hope that he can only get better.

More of a surprise is the mention of George Boateng’s name as a possible target for Birmingham.

Steve Bruce has watched Middlesbrough lately and the first name to surface from this was Mark Viduka.

However, it may be that he was considering other targets at the same time.

Boateng has been at the Riverside since August 2002, moving out of Villa Park after a falling-out with the then manager, Graham Taylor.

A seasoned campaigner, Boateng has notched up nearly three hundred games for both Boro and Villa. He is very much a defensive midfielder, scoring seldom but tackling often.

One big issue for the fans will be Boateng’s age; he will be 32 in September and at first sight, this looks to be a move that immediately contradicts the Board’s new ‘youth first’ policy.

Even working on the premise that the revamped Premiership side will require the right blend of youth and experience, players over 30 years old are in many cases more prone to injury and the immediate fear will be that Steve Bruce is buying a player who may spend too much time in the treatment room.

Also, as an ex-Villa player he may find that has to work hard to win over the fans.

First impressions from the Birmingham faithful is that they are a little nonplussed at the mention of Boateng.

Opinion on the ground strongly favours bad boy Joey Barton, who despite his numerous disciplinary and personal issues is the stuff that Blues heroes are made of.

There are many who would be ecstatic to know that Steve Bruce would be willing to take a risk on him but there is already interest in the £5.5m-rated midfielder from a number of other clubs.

With competition fierce for players of the right standard for a Premiership campaign, Blues chairman David Gold has already affirmed that Steve Bruce will have suitable funding for player purchases when the transfer window opens.

In the meantime, the rumour mill is gearing up for some intense activity.