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 Tuesday, 7 January, 2003, 12:41 GMT
Saints snap up Argentine
Southampton have revealed they are close to signing 23-year-old Argentine winger Federico Arias.

Gordon Strachan has not disclosed the fee paid to Arias' current club Velez Sarsfield, but he confirmed that the wideman had agreed a three-year deal.

"(Overseas scout) Terry Cooper has watched him a few times and thinks he can help our squad," said Strachan.

"He can play on either flank which will give us good balance.

"He looks a useful player and is very quick and hopefully he will make us stronger."

His nickname is the Torpedo - and it is easy to see why

Southampton's overseas scout Terry Cooper

It is believed that Arias will mainly be in the squad to challenge Fabrice Fernandes for his role, but he could also play up front.

Cooper said: "He has two excellent feet. I watched him three times and could not tell which was his best.

"He is a great crosser of the ball too. He gets his head up and picks people out.

"His nickname is the Torpedo - and it is easy to see why. He is explosive over 20 metres."

Arias, who speaks some English, has an Italian passport so Saints will not need to apply for a work permit.

The Argentine season finished in November but he has been training hard and could figure for Saints at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

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