BLACKBURN Rovers are asking for at least £3.5million for Argentine playmaker Mauro Formica – with Olympiakos’ attempts to get the 23-year-old on the cheap set for failure.

The Greek giants are understood to be ready to pay Rovers £2.5million for him in the summer, first taking him on loan until the end of the season.

Brazilian outfit Flamengo also yesterday joined the race for the in-demand Formica and are ready to attempt to sign him permanently now.

It is believed that Olympiakos want to pay Rovers £400,000 now as a loan fee for Formica.

It is also understood that Rovers wanted it in writing that Olympiakos would make it a permanent switch in the summer should the club suffer Premier League relegation.

Sources close to Olympiakos have confirmed negotiations have started between the clubs but Formica would only be allowed to speak to them once a deal in principle was agreed.

Formica arrived at Ewood Park from Argentinian club Newell’s Old Boys for £3.5m in January 2011 and, after a slow start, has established himself as a regular in the first team squad.

The player has made more appearances than anyone else in Rovers’ squad this season but, with Steve Kean’s transfer budget severely limited this month, Formica’s sale could provide more scope for adding significant signings.

Rovers boss Kean would be reluctant to allow any of his current squad depart Ewood Park this month as he continues his attempts to add a midfielder and full back before the transfer window shuts.

Formica was reported by media in Argentina last month as stating his desire to quit Ewood Park and return home to be closer to one of his daughters.

A move to Greece would not help with that but, with his brother Lautaro playing in the Greek Superleague at Asteras Tripolis, sources close to Formica have indicated he would be interested in the move.

Rovers though would demand getting their money back having seen the player grow in confidence in the Premier League over the past few months.

He has spent the last couple of games on the substitutes bench but, scoring in a second half cameo against Fulham, has proved a valuable squad member.

It is understood Olympiakos were still some way off meeting Rovers’ demands last night as the midfielder’s future continues to hang in the balance.

Rovers will continue their attempts this week to bolster their squad ahead of the closing of the transfer window next Tuesday, with a centre midfielder and a right back a priority.

Venky’s Brazilian fixer Joao Souza will be in England until the transfer window closes to help efforts to strengthen, although linked midfielder Richarlyson, from Atletico Mineiro, is unlikely to sign.