DIDIER Digard has completed a loan move to French club Nice that is expected to turn into a permanent transfer in the summer.

Digard joined up with his new team-mates yesterday morning after Middlesbrough officials completed the technicalities of his return to his homeland.

The 23-year-old is officially on loan until June 30, but Nice have an agreement in place to sign him for around £4m immediately after that date.

Boro bought Digard for £4m in 2008, with former manager Gareth Southgate hailing the former Paris St Germain star as an ideal replacement for the departing George Boateng.

Instead, Digard struggled to stay fit and made just 22 starts and 12 substitute appearances for the Teessiders.

He was granted just three substitute appearances under new boss Gordon Strachan, and his departure will assist the Scotsman’s attempts to bring in players of his own this month.

Panathinaikos, meanwhile, are refusing to take no for an answer and are ready to make a renewed attempt to land Emanuel Pogatetz.

Strachan yesterday admitted there had been an offer from the Greek league leaders – thought to be around 1.5m euros – but said he was unwilling to let the Austrian go.

Panathinaikos president Nikos Pateras confirmed: “We are no longer interested in Marco Materazzi and have turned to Pogatetz. In the next days, we will contact Middlesbrough for acquiring the player.’’ ■ Cardiff have again moved to dismiss talk of a second winding up order by insisting an unpaid tax bill owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will be paid on time by the end of January.

A statement on the club’s website said: ‘‘In discussions with HMRC at the end of December 2009 we confirmed that we would pay monies owing to them by the end of January 2010.