Aviva Premiership
Tigers close in on Robert Barbieri
ESPN Staff
April 10, 2014
Robert Barbieri on Italy duty during the recent Six Nations © Getty Images

Leicester Tigers CEO Simon Cohen has admitted the club are closing in on the signing of back-row Robert Barbieri ahead of next season.

Barbieri, who has 35 caps for Italy, is reportedly on Leicester's shortlist alongside three of his other Treviso team-mates with Michele Rizzo, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Christian Loamanu also in their sights.

"I'd like to think that when we're done people will look at it and think it's a slightly stronger squad than last year, if the same size," Cohen told the BBC. "I think it's well documented that we're talking to a couple of Treviso players - we clearly have to find a replacement for Thomas Waldrom, who's indicated he's going, and we know Toby [Flood] is going.

"Barbieri plays eight for Treviso and seven for Italy and would give us some flexibility and a little bit more coverage. That would be a good deal to get across the line and that deal is very close."

Toby Flood and Thomas Waldrom have already confirmed they are leaving the Tigers in the summer and Pablo Matera, Rob Hawkins, Dan Bowden and Niki Goneva are also out of contract. Goneva has been heavily linked with a move to Castres but Cohen has reiterated the club are keen to keep the winger.

"We are trying everything we can do to keep Niki - we made him a really good offer and have given him time to think about it," Cohen said. "But obviously it can't go on forever. He hasn't accepted that offer and we won't change our offer, so he has to change his mind for that to happen.

"Rob and Dan have done a really good job for the club and it would be a shame if they went, but I understand are looking at other options."

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