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Dzeko agrees deal as lacklustre City look to boost title drive

MANCHESTER CITY have agreed a £27m fee with Wolfsburg for the Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko and expect to conclude a deal for the 24-year-old before the end of the week.

City, who face Arsenal away on Wednesday after securing a narrow victory against Blackpool on Saturday, are now in the process of completing the paperwork with Wolfsburg and Dzeko's representatives after agreeing a deal in principle with the player.

Negotiations between both parties over the weekend resulted in the fee being resolved and, although City have agreed to Dzeko's £100,000-a-week salary demands, the deal is unlikely to be rubber-stamped until tomorrow at the earliest due to today's bank holiday and the inability to secure international clearance until the English FA reopens tomorrow.

Despite maintaining their 100pc record over the festive period with a win against Blackpool, the minor details clearly require more fine-tuning on the pitch.

Adam Johnson's deflected first-half goal ultimately ensured that City go into Wednesday's trip to Arsenal buoyed by another victory.

Yet a missed penalty by Carlos Tevez and wasteful finishing by the home side kept Blackpool in the game and, in the second half, it was the visitors who dominated possession and produced the eye-catching, adventurous football that Roberto Mancini has still to coax from his City team.

City, with Mario Balotelli nursing a knee injury that he is expected to overcome in time for the Arsenal game, produced the resilience of title contenders, but not the composure.

Still, with Manchester United's victory at West Brom displaying the same positives and negatives, City goalkeeper Joe Hart insisted that, regardless of the performance, winning was all that mattered.

"I had to make a few saves at the end, which makes a change because I haven't really had to do much this season so far," Hart said. "We weren't great, but we ground out a result and we're happy with that."

City are unlikely to be bolstered by the signing of Dzeko in time for the Bosnian striker to play against Arsenal, but the likes of Roque Santa Cruz, Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge and Shaun Wright-Phillips are likely to move out to reduce the wage bill. Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, though, is not expected to leave in January.

City's transfer dealings will be done at their behest, but Blackpool manager Ian Holloway is in a less fortunate position. If the Premier League's heavyweights come calling for his players -- the impressive Charlie Adam, in particular -- keeping them at Bloomfield Road could be his sternest challenge yet.

"My target is to help these lads get better clubs and improve," Holloway said. "Like I said to Charlie, 'you should go to a top four/five club'. I said that to him when I signed him and that's my goal, to get him there." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent