Parma lead Di Natale chase

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PARMA appear to be close to winning the race to sign Empoli's attacking talent Antonio Di Natale.

The Italian international has long been linked with a move to Middlesbrough, to team up with another ex-Empoli striker in the shape of Massimo Maccarone, but he recently stressed that he had no intention of heading to England.

The Gialloblu are in pole position to capture his signature for the 2003/2004 campaign after holding talks at management level with Empoli officials.

Di Natale has emerged this term as one of the best Azzurri prospects, and he made his debut for the national team in last November's encounter with Turkey.

Parma are determined to bring in young domestic talent as they look to build for the future, with Brazilian forward Adriano set to top the departures list in the summer.