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Cerezo ups ante in Nichols hunt

3 January 2014-SBS: Dave Lewis

mitch nichols melb victory

Wanted man ... Victory's Mitch Nichols (Getty)

J.League outfit Cerezo Osaka has upped its offer for Melbourne Victory midfielder Mitch Nichols to close to $400,000 in a bid to land him during the transfer window.

Sources in Japan say the bid – almost twice what it first tabled a week ago – is the club’s final offer for the Queenslander who has made no secret of his desire to move to Japan.

Incoming Cerezo coach Ranko Popovic Nichols wants to seal a deal quickly as he reconfigures his squad for the new J.League season beginning in March.

He told SBS this week: "I make no secret that we are trying to attract Mitch to the club and he's a player I admire very highly.

"I need to finalise things with Mitch because he's a player I really want, but if we can't work out a way then I need to turn my attention elsewhere."

However, it’s unlikely that Victory boss Kevin Muscat will be swayed by the new bid, with the club reluctant to lose one of its key assets.

Nichols, who believes a move to Asia’s top league would enhance his Socceroos prospects with the 2014 FIFA World Cup six months away, has been frustrated by Victory’s stance thus far in refusing to negotiate with Cerezo.

Despite having signed a two-year deal back in May, the Brisbane Roar product has harboured long-held ambitions to play overseas and almost moved to KV Mechelen in January before the Belgian club pulled out at the last minute.

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