Blues give up on Zola
McLeish struggles in bid to sign new midfielder
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: July 24, 2008 3:07pm
Matumona: No Blues move
Birmingham are resigned to missing out on the signing of DR Congo star Zola Matumona from FC Brussels.
The midfielder recently enjoyed a productive trial spell with the Championship club, featuring in a 3-1 victory over FC Viktoria Olzen during the Blues' Austrian tour.
Alex McLeish had been keen to get the 26-year-old on board ahead of the new season, but has been forced to accept that work permit issues were always likely to scupper any possible deal.
"The one with Zola, that's unlikely now," he told the Birmingham Mail.
"The work permit is going to be difficult.
"It's a shame because he would have been a skilful addition to the squad.
"But it looks futile. The agents seemed to think it was a no-brainer from the beginning but, from the experience we've had in the past, checking out the criteria, it's not going to happen."
Matumona has played in the requisite 75 per cent of his country's matches during the last two years, enough to fulfil Home Office regulations.
However, with DR Congo currently sitting outside the top 70 in Fifa's international rankings, any application for a work permit appears destined to fail.
As a result, McLeish is set to turn his attentions elsewhere, with Chelsea winger Scott Sinclair and Derby's Stephen Pearson high on his wish list.
The Scottish coach may be forced to accept further disappointment, however, as Luiz Felipe Scolari is reluctant to release any members of his first-team squad until he has had an opportunity to see them in competitive action.
"I want a couple of more players to bolster the squad and we do have one or two loan possibilities, when that time comes," said McLeish.
"Teams are still evaluating their squads. Sir Alex Ferguson is away in South Africa with Manchester United for 12 days. He probably won't decide things until he gets back.
"The boy Sinclair at Chelsea, Scolari wants to see all the young players so he won't get out until January, if at all. He wants to see all the home-grown boys he's got at his disposal."
Pearson had looked set to move to St Andrews in a £600,000 deal, only to then fail a medical.
McLeish remains keen on his compatriot but is now only interested in a loan deal, with the option to make the move permanent at a later date.
"It's on hold," said the Blues boss.
"It's now up to him if he wants it done that way. We will wait and see."