Fulham raid Roma for Italian striker Montella

Last updated at 15:57 29 December 2006

Fulham are closing in on a shock deal for Roma

striker Vincenzo Montella.

The 32-year-old Italian has been at the club's Motspur Park training ground this week for talks with manager Chris Coleman and is understood to be keen on moving to the Premiership.

Montella's family have also been staying in London to see if they could handle the change in

lifestyle having spent the last seven years in the Italian capital.

The forward has fallen out of favour at Roma and has only played 12 Serie A games this season.

His contract runs until the end of the season, but the recent signing of striker Francesco Tavano

from Valencia appears to signal the end of his distinguished career at the club.

It is unusual for Fulham to be in the bidding for such a high-profile signing as in recent years Coleman has tended to recruit from other London clubs and the lower divisions.

However, they have now emerged as favourites to sign the former Italian international although his wage demands could still prove a stumbling block.

Montella is paid around £2.7million a year at Roma - a figure which is far in excess of Fulham's

top wage earners. It is understood, however, the player may be ready to lower his expectations and

there is also a possibility of Roma picking up part of the bill.

After starting his career in the Italian lower leagues with Empoli and Genoa, Montella has been

playing in Serie A since 1996 when he joined Sampdoria.

He enjoyed a prolific season that year, scoring 22 goals in 28 games. His speed, skill and finishing ability helped him win a place in the Italian national team though injuries and fierce competition for places restricted him to 19 caps.

He featured in the 2002 World Cup after scoring twice in a pre-tournament 2-1 friendly win over England but was injured for Italy's successful campaign this year.

Montella left Sampdoria for Roma in 1999 and has scored 80 goals for the club.

Tomorrow Fulham take on Chelsea hoping to cash in on John Terry's absence. The Blues skipper faces between three and six weeks out after having an operation on his back injury in France yesterday.

Terry has already missed four matches and while Chelsea hope he could be back in action within three weeks, he will be fortunate to return by the end of January.

Even then, some medical experts disagree over the likely length of Terry's absence. Angus Wallace, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, who was responsible for examining Wayne Rooney's foot injury

before the World Cup, said: "Most people

don’t get back inside three months from a

sequestrated disc. You would be talking in

Terry's case about right at the end of the


But Phil Sheard, a consultant orthopaedic

spinal surgeon, said: "Realistically, you are

looking at four to six weeks before he will

be back."

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