GORDON STRACHAN has told Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson he wants Adam Johnson to stay for the remainder of the season, despite learning the winger wants to talk over a possible move to Manchester City.

And while trying to fend off the attentions of the world’s richest club, Strachan is close to reaching an agreement with Celtic for striker Scott McDonald over a £3.5m move.

Wolves, Everton and Sunderland are among clubs interested in Johnson, but City’s initial £5m offer has turned the head of the 22-year-old.

Despite their wealth City will be unwilling to pay over the odds for a player whose contract expires in the summer.

But with time running out for Strachan to find a replacement, Middlesbrough are also determined to strike the best deal possible.

In an ideal world the former Celtic boss would convince the highly-sought after forward to stay on Teesside, but privately he accepts it will be difficult to keep Johnson out of the reaches of City.

“A perfect scenario for us is if he stays here,” said Strachan, who is due to have further discussions with Johnson today.

“I haven’t resigned myself to anything. I have not given up, no. The chairman and chief executive (Keith Lamb) know what I want.”

Further talks between the two clubs were expected last night, with the potential for Johnson to be loaned back to Middlesbrough until the end of the season if a fee can be agreed.

Such a move at this stage would appear unlikely, with City intent on adding further attacking options to a squad which has lost £32.5m Brazilian Robinho to Santos.

The Johnson saga is likely to gather pace before Monday’s 5pm deadline and Strachan added: “If Man Utd couldn’t turn down £80m (for Ronaldo) there is no club who can turn down the right money. Every club has their price for any player.

“I could come out with bold statements and say Adam is not for sale and he is away next week. That is just paying lip service saying this player or that player is not for sale.

Everybody is for sale.

“We’ve had verbal offers in the last week for Adam but nothing has changed. He is still here and I would expect him to be still here for the last 19 games of the season.”

Middlesbrough are aware that Chelsea were ordered to pay City a performance related fee of £6.5m for striker Daniel Sturridge by a tribunal two weeks ago, with a 15 per cent sell-on clause.

That ruling strengthens Boro’s bargaining position if they sell the player. With that in mind Middlesbrough hope for a fee nearer £9m this month, although City would like to strike a deal for an initial £6m.

While Johnson’s displays on the left flank would be difficult to replace in three days, Strachan would welcome the cash after moving a step closer to signing his top striker target, Aussie forward McDonald.

player they rate in the £5m bracket after signing Danish forward Morten Rasmussen and Middlesbrough are hopeful talks with the 26-year-old will begin soon.

Strachan, who watched Hearts defender Lee Wallace and Aberdeen’s Lee Miller in action on Wednesday night, also hopes to bring Stephen McManus in, but Celtic are holding out for a loan fee of £500,000.

The stand off could remain until Monday and Strachan said: “If he can go then we would love him here. It is not right for us at the moment, the financial arrangement.

Stephen wants to be here and I think Tony Mowbray said he could move on.”

McManus, a centre-back who has captained Scotland, has struggled for form since Strachan’s departure.

■ Boro have tickets for tomorrow’s visit of Bristol City available starting from £13 under-18s, £16 over-65s and £23 adults.

Boro Pride members tickets are £8 under-18s, from £14 18-21s/over-65s and £21 adults. Boro Pride members can also purchase a family ticket for one adult and one under-18 in blocks 44 or 46 of the East Stand for £27.