Espanyol close on double raid

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Espanyol are confident that they will complete the signing of Bordeaux's Albert Riera and San Lorenzo's Pablo Zabaleta this week, while Hugo Ibarra looks to be heading out of the club.

Riera's prolonged move to the Barcelona-based side is close to being finalised with an agreement being reached that the French team will keep 25 percent ownership of the former Mallorca player.

Espanyol have already brought Jofre in from Levante so competition for the left-sided midfield role will be fierce.

Negotiations with San Lorenzo over Zabaleta are also said to be progressing and the Catalan outfit are hopeful that the difference in valuation will be resolved.

While the Argentinians want ‚é¼4.2million for the captain of the country's Under-20 side, Espanyol have tabled a bid of around ‚é¼3.5million for his services.

On the way out of Montjuic could be right-back Hugo Ibarra who wants to return to Boca Juniors after hearing of his former club's interest in him.

Ibarra played for the Buenos Aires giants between 1998 and 2001 and returned for another season in between spells at Porto and Monaco. "Although I am playing in Spain, which is the best league in the world, when Boca make an approach for you it makes you think," he said.

"Boca is Boca and anyone would jump at the chance to play for them.

"It is great that they are interested in me, but the truth is that it has given me a terrible dilemma.

"But once you have played for them you know that nothing else ever quite compares."

Finally, Espanyol's chances of securing Betis midfielder Ito on loan for another season have been dashed after the verdiblancos' president insisted that he would only go for a fee.

"We are not interested in loaning Ito out again," Manuel Ruiz de Lopera said.

"He cost us a billion pesetas, so if anyone wants him they will have to pay for him."