Feb 1 2008 by Philip Tallentire, Evening Gazette
BORO’S prolific new £12m record signing Afonso Alves could make his debut in Sunday’s Tyne-Tees derby.
The club left it late before smashing their existing transfer record to complete the capture of the Brazilian hitman from Heerenveen at 11.10pm last night, 50 minutes before the transfer window snapped shut.
There was further good news for Boro when it was confirmed at 12.10am that the player’s international clearance had come through.
Now Alves just needs a visa to enable him to play at St James’ Park and earlier today he flew to the British Embassy to complete the necessary paperwork.
Steve Gibson today exclusively revealed to the Gazette his delight at getting his man. He said: “This is a massive signing for the club, it smashes our existing transfer record. It’s important that people recognise we didn’t just go for Alves, we also went for Fred and we would have brought him here too if we could have tied up a deal for him.
“If the right player comes along we will invest in the squad.
“If you look at the games we might have won this season the difference has been a striker who is a real goalscorer. We’ve got our man here now.”
As reported on Gazettelive.co.uk yesterday afternoon, Alves’ work permit application appeal went through without a hitch.
Gareth Southgate, who travelled to London for the hearing, expressed his delight at completing a deal understood to be in the region of £12m.
“It’s fantastic news,” he said. “I went down to London with Keith Lamb yesterday for the hearing and, to be honest, I never thought there was going to be a problem because of the quality of the player.
“He’s the Dutch Player of the Year and his goalscoring record - in Holland, in particular, but in Sweden too - has been prolific.” “We hope he will reproduce that sort of form for us in the Premier League.”
In the day’s other transfer, Ben Hutchinson signed for Celtic in a £250,000 deal.
Boro could be cheered on by up to 5,000 fans when they take on Bryan Robson’s Sheffield United in the forthcoming FA Cup tie at Bramall Lane on Sunday, February 17 (ko 2pm).
Up to 5,000 tickets will be available, depending on demand, with discounted prices and priority booking available for season card holders.
Tickets go on sale to all season card holders at 9.30am on Monday (£12 for adults).
Tickets the Premier League game at Liverpool on Saturday, February 23 also go on sale to season card holders on Monday.