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Fulham agree to sign Bilbao's Amorebieta

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Venezuelan international will join on a free transfer in the Summer, according to reports

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

Fulham are set to sign Athletic Bilbao centre back Fernando Amorebieta on a free transfer in the summer, according to reports in Spain.

Amorebieta, a Venezuelan international, made clear his intentions to leave the Spanish side last year when turning down the opportunity to extend his contract.

Arsenal were thought to be leading the chase to bring the player in, with Arsene Wenger being keen to add depth to a sparsely operable back line.

And while Amorebieta is known to want a switch to England, Fulham are the side who have apparently appealed to him most.

Marca, a Spanish newspaper, are reporting that a four-year deal has been agreed which will see the 28 year-old take a reduction in pay.

Speaking last month, the defender's brother and agent Kepa, said:

"We have had some contact with other clubs, such as Anzhi, but Fernando wishes to play in the Premier League and that is our priority.

"There have been calls and sounds from Arsenal, but we still do not have a formal offer from them on the table."

The initial lack of action from the Gunners could have made Craven Cottage the more likely destination for Amorebieta who, despite playing for his country of birth, Venezuela, grew up at the hands of Basque parents.

He will bring an authentic edge to a stagnant Fulham defence that has relied heavily on the aging Aaron Hughes and the self-imploding Phillipe Senderos.

Both Hughes and his Swiss team mate have performed admirably when partnering Brede Hangeland but there is little doubt that Martin Jol is eyeing up Amorebieta as a new partner to his captain, who recently signed a new contract.

While appearing ambitious from the outside, the move could prove to be fraught with risk. His record at Bilbao reads eight years and eleven red cards.

It is the unfortunate side effect of a no-nonsense defender but Amorebieta should not be simply viewed through pessimistically-tinted spectacles. His distribution is elegant and defies his more naturally aggressive side, while his aerial ability will complement a powerful Hangeland wonderfully.

It's a coup, whatever way you look at it. He'll add an element of resilience and stability to our back four, something which we've sporadically possessed since Martin Jol was installed in 2010.

Hopefully it can become a less ephemeral feature.