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Bryan Robson has had a major bust-up with Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb after discovering that Christian Ziege had a secret get-out clause in his contract which could enable the German to quit the club for Liverpool.

Boro's manager was incensed this week to learn that Ziege could talk with anyone making a £5million-plus bid for his services.

But as speculation has grown over the German World Cup star's future on Teesside, Robson genuinely believed no such clause existed.

However, after being hounded again over the 28-year-old wing-back's future, he tackled the club's chief executive, Keith Lamb, on the subject and was put straight. Robson was left seething, and now Liverpool are determined to push through the £5.5m transfer quickly.

Ziege's loyalty to Robson is all that stands in the way of him joining Liverpool.

Anfield manager Gerard Houllier is doing everything he can to complete his sixth summer signing. And even though Robson and Boro skipper Paul Ince are determined to keep Ziege on Teesside, the odds are stacked in Liverpool's favour.

However, Ziege faces a huge dilemna: does he join former Bayern Munich team-mate Dietmar Hamann on Merseyside or stick with the club who rescued him from a terrible time at AC Milan, then helped restore his confidence enough to revive his international career?

Ziege has been aware of Liverpool's long-standing interest in signing him, but in public he has said only: "I am happy at Middlesbrough.

"My family are settled on Teesside and I am not interested in a move.

"I am a Middlesbrough player and I am looking forward to a big season there. I want fans to know I am not looking to move anywhere."

Robson's gamble of bringing the 28-year-old player to England paid off spectacularly.

And, having signed French star Christian Karambeu from Real Madrid and Aussie Paul Okon from Fiorentina, with others in the pipeline, he would be hit hard by the loss of Ziege.

A decision must be arrived at soon because Liverpool want Ziege on board before they travel to Belfast for a couple of games next week.

Boro assistant manager Viv Anderson said: "Christian is expected back later this week and we will sit down with him and take it from there."
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