Iliev agent positive’ on switch to Canaries

Paddy Davitt Norwich City were last night closing in on a potential £700,000 deal for defender Valentin Iliev - according to the Bulgarian's agent Emil Dantchev.

Paddy Davitt

Norwich City were last night closing in on a potential £700,000 deal for defender Valentin Iliev - according to the Bulgarian's agent Emil Dantchev.

Dantchev said the 27-year-old had trained with City's squad for the first time after flying into the country on Monday night ahead of a permanent January transfer window switch from domestic league leaders CSKA Sofia.

Iliev's representative revealed talks were on-going with Canaries' chief Glenn Roeder, but the Bulgarian super agent - who also represents in demand Premiership striker Dimitar Berbatov - remains cautiously optimistic.

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"I would expect a decision in the next one to two days," he said. "At this stage we do not want to say too much but he is very pleased to come to England. What we would say is that he has found everyone - especially the other players - to be very kind and they have made him feel welcome. He has only just had his first training session, but it's not a trial - he is an international player. It's more an opportunity for the manager here to have a look at him.

"It's normal that he trains with the players and the sporting director of the club has a chance to look at the player. It was only the first time, but everyone is very positive."

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Dantchev hinted his client was desperate to emulate current international team mates Berbatov and Man City's Martin Petrov by clinching a high profile move to England.

CSKA's defensive rock had been linked to German outfits Energie Cottbus and Nuremberg during the latest Bulgarian mid-winter break. Iliev reportedly turned down a £200,000 move to City's Championship rivals Watford 12 months ago. The 11-times capped international - a member of Bulgaria's failed Euro2008 qualifying squad - revealed earlier this week England was his preferred destination.

"I've had other offers in the past, but until now I have never thought about leaving CSKA," he said. "Now I think it is the right time. I am a big fan of British football. I like the physical type of football they play."

Meanwhile, young stopper Joe Lewis yesterday completed his four-and-a-half year permanent switch to ambitious League Two Peterborough in a deal that could eventually net Norwich £700,000.

Posh chief Darragh McAnthony confirmed his club had smashed their existing transfer record - Martin O'Connor's £350,000 move from Walsall in 1996 - after Lewis was unveiled at London Road.

"The deal will end up worth well over £700,000 by the time we are in the Premiership," he said. "I don't see the signing of Joe as a gamble at all. We are signing what many people believe could be an England player. He's only 20 and he is a big, dominating goalkeeper which you need in League Two as your penalty area gets bombarded with set pieces. Joe is a massive talent who will compliment an already outstanding young squad. I have no doubt he will be a massive success at Posh as we head towards the Premier League."

United boss Darren Ferguson is poised to hand Lewis his debut against Macclesfield on Saturday.

"I feel that you don't get too many opportunities to make signings like this very often," he said. "I am delighted to sign such a highly-rated goalkeeper. Joe was outstanding in two matches against us and he has tremendous potential. I feel we have signed one of the most promising goalkeepers in the country."

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