Date: 11th July 2006 at 2:51pm
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Newcastle are said to be closing in on Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque after Middlesbrough dropped their interest in the Frenchman.

Which obviously has us wondering what the hell is going on?

Does the player seriously rate Boro bigger than Newcastle … of does Freddy Shepherd not have the money in the coffers we think he has?

Malbranque is experiencing quite a few problems with the Londoners as he seeks a way to jump ship. He was banished from the Fulham first team by boss Chris Coleman and ordered to join the youth team on their tour of Austria.

The problem for Coleman is the midfielder is entering the final year of his contract and does the manager get a transfer fee for him, or try and coax him to stay. And as it stands at the moment, the latter is well and truly out the window!

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate refuses to pay his £40,000 a week wage demands … BUT … will Newcastle?