BLACKBURN Rovers are closing in on former Argentine international Hugo Mariano Pavone as they look to boost their fire power options ahead of the new Premier League season.

The 29-year-old ex Real Betis striker has held negotiations about a potential move to Ewood Park as Rovers edge closer to making their first summer signing.

Pavone spent last season on loan at Argentinian outfit River Plate from his Spanish parent club, scoring nine goals in 32 appearances, but Rovers are now hopeful of snapping him up as a free agent after the player bought himself out of his contract in Spain.

Rovers have also made progress in their bid to sign Monaco defender Cedric Mongongu, having now held preliminary talks with the 22-year-old.

A fee of around £2.5million is understood to have been agreed in principle for the DR Congo international although they still have to see off interest from rival suitors, including French champions Lille.

No deal has yet been agreed for Mongongu, with the player still having to decide where his future lies, as Rovers look to bring in defensive cover in the wake of Phil Jones’ departure to Manchester United.

Boss Steve Kean’s priority remains in strengthening his forward line this summer and Pavone could become the first of the two new strikers being targeted by the club.

He was top scorer in the Argentina’s ‘Clausura’ top flight in 2005 and was voted top player in the 2006 ‘Apertura’ tournament, having joined Estudiantes from boyhood club Boca Juniors.

The live wire striker, likened by sources in spain to Manchester United’s Mexican Javier Hernandez, was signed by Real Betis for in the region of £6million in June 2007 after making his debut for Argentina against Chile in April 2007.

River Plate were unable to make last season’s loan switch permanent due to their relegation to the second division after play-off defeat, a game in which Pavone scored and missed a penalty.

Pavone has since been highly sought after by clubs in Argentina, Italy and Spain but, having bought his own contract out at the Seville-based club, wants to continue his career in the Premier League.