Addicks close on Kepa
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Charlton look poised to secure the loan services of Sevilla striker Kepa Blanco.
Charlton look set to hold off the challenge of two Premiership rivals to secure the loan services of Sevilla striker Kepa Blanco.
The hit-man, who turns 23 on Saturday, is a product of Sevilla's impressive youth system but has grown increasingly frustrated at his lack of first-team action.
He started the campaign in superb style, bagging a hat-trick in the 4-0 victory over Levante on the opening day of the Spanish league season.
However, he has since fallen behind the likes of Fredi Kanoute, Luis Fabiano, Javier Chevanton and new signing Alexander Kerzhakov and despite notching four more goals - all in the Uefa Cup - is now ready to move on to secure regular football.
"At this time, I will be honest, something could well come of the offer we are evaluating," Blanco stated on Tuesday, and it now appears that Charlton will be the team that win the race for his signature.
Manchester City and Everton, as well as a host of French and German clubs, are also reported to be vying for the powerful forward, but having settled on a move to the Premiership, The Valley seems most likely to be his destination.
Sevilla director of sport Ramon 'Monchi' Rodriguez confirmed that Charlton were leading the chase for the youngster, declaring: "French clubs, English clubs and German clubs have shown an interest in Kepa. One of those clubs is Charlton Athletic."
Blanco will move on loan for the remainder of the season with an option to make the move permanent in the summer should both parties consent.
The Spaniard would have preferred to secure a permanent transfer immediately, but conceded that the current state of the transfer market made that almost impossible.
"My priority was not to go on loan, but it is difficult for someone to pay an important fee in these times," he added.
Addicks boss Alan Pardew is desperate to bolster his side's firepower and, having missed out on Sunderland new boy Anthony Stokes, clearly sees Blanco as the man to strengthen his relegation-threatened outfit.