Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, closed in on his third signing of the summer last night as David de Gea, the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper, underwent a medical at the club.
Ferguson revealed a few weeks ago that United were in negotiations with the Spanish side but the finalities of the deal were delayed by the player's involvement in the European Under 21 championships, which Spain won on Saturday.
With his international duty over De Gea, 20, flew into Manchester yesterday to undergo a medical. United have already signed Phil Jones, the England Under 21 defender, from Blackburn Rovers and last week brought in Ashley Young from Aston Villa.
Dave Whelan, the Wigan Athletic chairman, believes the strength of the Premier League is having a detrimental effect on the national side and has joined the calls supporting a shake-up of football at grass roots level.
England Under 21s recent early exit from the European Championship in Denmark highlighted the difference in standards between English football and some of its counterparts.
"People will say there are too many foreign players playing over here, and there's got to be some truth in that," Whelan told the Wigan Evening Post. "There needs to be changes at grass roots level - that would help, there's no question. We desperately need more youngsters to be playing in the Premier League."
Stoke have scaled down their European scouting operation in order to concentrate on the British market, according to John Rudge, their director of football. Although Rudge and the manager, Tony Pulis, have travelled to the continent recently, their main targets are closer to home.
"We haven't scoured Europe like we did last year," Rudge told The Sentinel. "Tony would prefer English players if he can get the right quality at the right price but he has never ruled out a foreign player and we shall certainly take a long, hard look at those recommended."
West Bromwich Albion
Gabriel Tamas, the West Brom defender, is close to a move to Lazio, according to his agent. The 27-year-old Romania international started just one match in the last three months of the season and appears set to leave the Hawthorns. "We are in negotiations and Lazio like the lad very much," Tamas's agent, Ivan Reggiani, told lalaziosiamonoi.
"I'd like to point out that we have never had contact with Cesena or Novara; the only Italian club he'll accept, apart from Milan, Inter and Juventus, is Lazio. He is fascinated by the chance to play alongside his fellow countryman, Stefan Radu. The Biancocelesti remain our priority and we've been in talks with them for over a month."
Steve Harper will return for pre-season ready to fight for his Newcastle place. The 36-year-old goalkeeper, who waited for so long in the shadow of Shay Given to get his chance, finally established himself as No 1 after the Irishman's departure for Manchester City in February 2009.
However, Tim Krul, the Dutch youngster deputised well for him during two injury spells last season. Harper told the Shields Gazette: "The manager, once we were safe [from relegation], wanted to put Tim in and have a look at him, and I had no problem with that. I had to get my knee right and come back firing on all cylinders in pre-season because the two young lads [Krul and Fraser Foster] behind me are ready to take the jersey from me."