Babayaro to join Bridge foreign legion

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The Independent Online
Ruud Gullit has beaten off competition from Juventus, Internazionale and Deportivo La Coruna to sign the Nigerian international Celestine Babayaro from the Belgian club, Anderlecht, in a pounds 2.25m deal.

Babayaro, who will not be 19 until August, will stay with Anderlecht for the rest of the season and will arrive at Stamford Bridge in the summer, after signing a five-year contract with the FA Cup finalists. He will become the latest member of Gullit's growing number of foreign recruits at Chelsea, joining (among others) Italy's Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli, Romania's Dan Petrescu and the Frenchman, Franck Leboeuf.

Babayaro, a left wing-back who won an Olympic gold medal for Nigeria in the USA last summer and scored one of their goals in the final, has been with Anderlecht from the age of 15. He has been pursued by Europe's top clubs after many impressive performances over the last two seasons.

However, Gullit's reputation persuaded him to join Chelsea, whose managing director, Colin Hutchinson, flew to Belgium to complete the deal.

"I told Ruud I wanted to sign for Chelsea after only two conversations on the telephone," Babayaro said. "I am very happy he wants me in his team and I am looking forward to a great season with Chelsea." Babayaro has never been to London and will need a British work permit to complete his move to Stamford Bridge.

Aston Villa have confirmed their interest in the Danish striker, Jon Dahl Tomasson, who plays for the Dutch club, Heerenveen. Brian Little, Villa's manager, watched him help his team to a 2-0 win over RKC Waalwijk on Sunday.

Shrewsbury Town's 19-goal top scorer, Ian Stevens, will join Carlisle United at the end of the season, after the clubs agreed a pounds 100,000 deal.

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