Fulham close in on €6 million-rated Stekelenburg as Roma line up Rafael

The Serie A club have lined up the Santos goalkeeper as a replacement for the Craven Cottage-bound Dutchman, who has been frozen out at the Stadio Olympico this season
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Fulham have made a breakthrough in their pursuit of Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, Goal.comunderstands.

The Dutchman has indicated that he wants to move to Craven Cottage and the two clubs are in advanced talks over the player's transfer fee.

"Stekelenburg came back to Rome with great professionalism after his previous move to Fulham collapsed in January and, he soon overtook Goicoechea as the club's first choice goalkeeper. His performances, however, have disappointed in the Italian capital and as such the club are looking to sell."
"Rafael might not be in his finest form at present, but it would be difficult for a team like Roma to find a goalkeeper with more talent. Keeping hold of him or not is a difficult call for Santos, who are obviously looking to show ambition and do what they can to keep Neymar until 2014 or even beyond."

It can be revealed that Roma have already lined up Santos keeper Rafael Cabral to replace the London-bound Dutchman.

Goal.com disclosed last week that Fulham had opened preliminary talks with Roma about summer deal for Stekelenburg after failing with a deadline-day bid to capture him in January.

Negotiations are centring on the cost of the 30-year-old and the structure of what is expected to be a €6million (£5m) deal.

Stekelenburg is keen to leave Serie A and move to London despite an upturn in his form following the exit of former Roma manager Zdenek Zeman in February.

The Holland international flew to England on the last day of the January window to complete a loan move to Fulham until the end of the season, but the Giallorossi pulled the plug on the deal when he was at Heathrow airport after failing to land a replacement in time.

Sources have said that the channels of communication have remained open between the two clubs and a deal is becoming increasingly likely.

The Serie A club have already begun lining up a replacement for Stekelenburg and have made preparations to sign their No1 target Santos’ Rafael, 22. Corinthians keeper Cassio Ramos is also on their shortlist as an alternative.

Fulham have prioritised signing a new goalkeeper after agreeing a deal for Athletic Bilbao central defender Fernando Amorebieta, who has signed a pre-contract with the west Londoners ahead of a free transfer in the summer.

The Cottagers have offered a one-year contract extension to long-standing No1 Mark Schwarzer, but the Australian turns 41 in October and has been told that a new goalkeeper will be coming to the club this summer.

Schwarzer is mulling over Fulham’s offer and is yet to commit beyond the end of the season.

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