Alex McLeish has broken his self-imposed transfer silence and openly expressed his desire to bring James McFadden to Birmingham City.

Having watched his side hold Premier League championship chasers Arsenal to a hugely creditable 1-1 draw, the Blues manager spoke publicly for the first time about how highly he rates the Everton attacker.

Although Birmingham have taken points at Anfield and Emirates Stadium and have lost by only a single goal to Chelsea and Manchester United, McLeish believes his team need more creative quality to ease ahead of the three other teams wedged on 20 points at the bottom of the table.

With that in mind he has made McFadden (right) his top target as he seeks to strengthen a squad reduced by five players already this month.

While his defensive and midfield resources have been hit hardest with the loss of Radhi Jaidi and Mehdi Nafti to the African Cup of Nations, the sale of Neil Kilkenny and Rowan Vine and the end of Johan Djourou's loan spell from the Gunners, McLeish is most concerned about the lack of cutting edge - particularly at home.

For that reason he has already made an unsuccessful £2.5 million bid for McFadden but his determination to resume his relationship with the Scotland international has not waned.

Under McLeish's stewardship McFadden emerged as the driving force behind Scotland's outstanding Euro 2008 qualifying campaign that saw them do the double over France and come within one match of reaching this summer's finals.

McFadden scored against Lithuania, France and Ukraine - all victories, despite not being able to become a regular at Goodison Park.

That situation has alerted McLeish to a potential deal. "He is a proven Premiership player," he said.

"I certainly feel McFadden has got the character to play in a team of mine - the type of character I am looking for in a footballer.

"But he has also got great technical ability and he will bring extra from that point of view - if we can do the deal. I hope we can.

"I would love to work with James again but you never know in this game and I know we have got competitors. We have had a recess over the weekend, we'll see what happens over the coming days."

McLeish will probably have to offer between £4-5m for Everton to even consider selling and even then David Moyes may not be keen.

Birmingham's cause isn't helped by the fact Steven Pienaar and Yakubu, two of Everton's regular attacking options, are also in Ghana and by McFadden's recent crucial role for Moyes.

After going two months without a start he has begun the last four matches, two of which have been in the Premier League and both victories.

McFadden must also decide whether he wants to swap sporadic participation in the Uefa Cup, Carling Cup and Premier League side for a guaranteed place in a relegation battle.

If McLeish can't come up with the money or persuade McFadden his career would be best served by a move to St Andrew's he will push through a deal for Georgios Samaras.

The Manchester City striker has been even more of a bit-part player, with only four starts this term, and has been told by Sven-Göran Eriksson he can leave the club.