Real close on Argentine coup

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Real Madrid have won the race for Argentine-based starlets Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuain, according to Spanish sources.

Between them Gaga and Higuain have attracted the attention of just about every major club in Europe over the past 12 months.

But the lure of the magical Bernabeu looks set to win the day for Real, whose status around the world continues to bear fruit on the transfer front.

The main competition for the pair had emerged from England and Italy, with Milan looking at both players and Chelsea wanting Higuain.

However, the news that Real look to have won the race has emerged after Milan director of football Ariedo Braida returned home from Argentina at the weekend.

Braida was in South America looking to strike at least one deal, but he admitted that Madrid had already made their move.

"The players only want to go to Madrid," he told AS.

20-year-old Gago is currently with Boca Juniors and his deal is expected to be sealed imminently - as is their move for Higuain.

The River Plate striker has risen to prominence in recent weeks mainly due to the fact that France and Argentina are battling it out to secure his international future.

However, domestically he was also been chased by a number of suitors. Earlier this year leading agent Pini Zahavi, along with a number of backers, bought half of the rights to the player and were intent on taking him to England.

Chelsea were given first option ahead of Manchester United, but the player's own will to play for Madrid looks to have won the day for Real.

"Real are a great team with great players and it would be wonderful to play there," 18-year-old Higuain admitted on Tuesday.

Sporting director Predrag Mijatovic confirmed that a move for Gago was on, but not finalised.

"Gago would be good for us. He has a great touch and is a quality player," Mijatovic told Onda 6

"We are interested in him but it isn't a done deal yet. There are other big clubs interested as well but he wants to come to Real."

Meanwhile, Braida's trip to the continent does not appear to have been a total waste of time as he looks to have identified a fresh target in the shape of Sao Paulo defender Ilsinho.

The 21-year-old is contracted to Sao Paulo until 2009 but it is believed Milan have already registered their interest.