Blues' battle for Zarate

Avoiding relegation key to keeping Argentine

McLeish and Zarate

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Birmingham's battle to stay in the Premier League is holding up their bid to keep Mauro Zarate, skysports.com understands.

The Blues are desperate to retain the services of Zarate, but a permanent deal is not on their agenda as they hope to finalise a new season-long loan for the Argentine ace.

Zarate has impressed hugely at St Andrews since moving from Qatarian outfit Al-Sadd on loan in January.

The 21-year-old has bagged four goals in four starts for Birmingham and boss Alex McLeish has made no secret of his desire to keep Zarate.

Interest

The likes of Newcastle, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Tottenham and Sunderland are all thought to be keen on landing Zarate, although Birmingham remain in pole position to land him.

Zarate is very happy with Blues and he is keen to continue working under former Scotland boss McLeish.

However, Zarate would not entertain playing outside the top flight so Birmingham have to stay up to keep him.

Then Birmingham have to strike a deal with Al-Sadd, who want more than £15million for Zarate's permanent signature. Indeed, the Asian outfit - who only signed the player last year - would ideally like him to return.

But Zarate will make it quite clear to Al-Sadd that he wants to remain in Europe and they may relent and let him stay for at least another season.