PALERMO have signed Blackburn Rovers playmaker Mauro Formica - with the Argentine joining on loan until the end of the season.

The Italian top flight outfit have won the race to take the 24-year-old on loan until the end of the season, with Formica keen on starting a new challenge abroad.

The deal was finalised for the player this morning after a deal in principle was agreed to free up the wage bill to help Michael Appleton’s search for fresh faces.

Spanish club Celta Vigo and teams from Turkey and Italy were also understood to be interested in signing Formica on loan, but Palermo have stolen a match on their rivals by making official contact with Rovers.

Formica, who has been out with a slight knee injury, was signed by Rovers from Old Newells Boys for around £3.5million in 2011.

The move is with a view to making it permanent in the summer.

French defender Gael Givet is also believed to want an Ewood exit, unless Rovers agree to his request for a pay rise.

Givet was one of the players who suffered a drop in wages due to relegation and has been discontent since.

Meanwhile Rovers boss Michael Appleton has stepped up his hunt for fresh faces after admitting he would be “very disappointed” if two or three new players were no added before the end of the month.

It is believed West Brom defender Craig Dawson was a loan target but the former Rochdale man is expected to opt for a temporary switch to Championship rivals Bolton Wanderers instead.

Rovers were yesterday linked with a swoop for Bournemouth front man Wes Thomas, after Appleton had him on loan at Blackpool earlier this season.

The Rovers boss failed in attempts to extend his loan spell at Bloomfield Road, but the Lancashire Telegraph understand Thomas is not on his current list of targets as he prioritises in other positions.

It is understood Appleton is looking to add further options in midfield, especially the wide areas, and in defence.

Summer signing Leon Best remains on track for a February return having missed the season so far with a cruciate knee ligament injury.