Dutch midfielder Daniel de Ridder’s brief career at Birmingham City has come to an end with the cancellation of his contract by mutual consent.
The former Ajax winger has failed to establish himself in the Blues first team after signing a three-year contract following a free transfer move from Celta Vigo last summer. He made only ten appearances last season, nearly all under former Blues boss Steve Bruce, and he hardly had a look in after the arrival of Alex McLeish.
McLeish said last season that de Ridder would have featured more if Blues hadn’t been battling against relegation, as he required midfielders with more of an all-round game and considered the former Holland under-21 captain to be somewhat of a luxury.
De Ridder’s agent, Mino Raiola, has said several clubs are now keen to sign him.
“There is some interest in Daniel as he is a quality player,” Raiola said. “There are clubs in England and abroad who are looking at him.”
Blues will put up more of a fight to keep the player who kept de Ridder out of the team for most of last season, Sebastian Larsson.
Reports suggest that Newcastle United are to renew their interest in the Sweden international, who made one appearance during Euro2008. United boss Kevin Keegan is said to be a big admirer of the 23-year-old and has already made a tentative approach to Blues, which was not welcomed at St Andrew’s.
Newcastle are said to value Larsson at £3?million but McLeish is likely to place a larger price on the head of Larsson, who was the club’s Player of the Season last year.
Meanwhile, former Blues striker Mauro Zarate is close to clinching a permanent move to Italian giants Lazio. The 21-year-old Argentinan international became a popular figure at St Andrew’s last season after joining on loan from Al-Sadd of Qatar in January.
Although his livewire cameos proved to be immensely entertaining, Zarate was unable to keep Blues in the Premier League and the £10?million price tag placed on his head by Al-Sadd was way beyond Blues.
Zarate stated he did not want to return to the middle east and he has said his possible move to Rome was ‘a dream come true’.
However, Lazio president Claudio Lotito told Italian media the deal was not done yet but he was hopeful of completing the signing of Zarate, who he believes could become an even better player than countryman Lionel Messi.
“We won’t announce anything until we have deposited his contract with the authorities,” Lotito was reported saying. “We are used to announcing a new signing only after the contract has been completed and that hasn’t happened yet. But, save any complications, we are on the right path to signing the player.”
Reports from Italy say that Zarate will join Lazio initially on a loan deal reportedly worth £2.3?million, with the club able to buy half the rights to the player before next May for £4.3?million. They can then buy the remaining half a year later for £6.7?million.