Di Matteo seals move to Chelsea

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The Independent Online
The flow of foreign imports into the Premiership shows no signs of slowing. Chelsea signed another Italian international yesterday, while Manchester United completed the signing of two Norwegians and Nottingham Forest put a member of Croatia's Euro 96 squad at the top of their shopping list.

Chelsea's player-manager, Ruud Gullit, has signed Roberto di Matteo from Lazio in a club-record pounds 4.9m deal. The 26-year-old midfielder, a member of Italy's Euro 92 squad with 15 caps, has signed a four-year contract and will link up with compatriot Gianluca Vialli and the French defender Franck Leboeuf - another close-season signing - at Stamford Bridge.

"I am very happy to be here," Di Matteo said yesterday. "I think with Vialli here the team is very strong. I have had many battles with him in the past - and he won!"

Nikola Jerkan, the 31-year-old Croat international defender who plays for the Spanish club, Real Oviedo, is due to arrive in Nottingham this weekend to discuss terms. A fee of pounds 1m has reportedly been agreed. Forest also expect to complete the pounds 1.5m signing of the Welsh international striker Dean Saunders from Galatasaray on Monday.

Manchester United have signed the Norwegian international defender Ronny Johnsen from another Turkish club, Besiktas, for pounds 1.2m on a five-year deal, while his international colleague, the striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, moves from Molde for pounds 1.5m.

Solskjaer will stay with his Norwegian club until the end of their season next month. Paul Parker, the former England defender, is set to leave Old Trafford for Marseille. The French club, now financed by Adidas, are also keen on the Aberdeen defender, Gary Smith. Another Norwegian defender, Oldham Athletic's Gunnar Halle, is a target for Coventry City, who are prepared to pay pounds 700,000 for the veteran full-back.

Manchester City are ready to conclude the pounds 1.5m sale of the Northern Ireland midfielder, Steve Lomas, to Wimbledon and are set to spend pounds 400,000 on the Dundee United utility player, Christian Dailly, who has also attracted interest from Spain's Celta Vigo and Italy's Cagliari.

Leicester City continued their preparations for life back in the Premiership by signing the 21-year-old midfielder, Mustapha Izzet, from Chelsea for pounds 650,000. He spent two months on loan at Filbert Street late last season. Leicester are also keen on the Manchester United reserve goalkeeper, Tony Coton, but face competition from Sunderland.

After completing the pounds 2.65m signing of the Huddersfield Town striker, Andy Booth, Sheffield Wednesday paid pounds 300,000 for the Rotherham United goalkeeper, Matt Clarke. Tim Flowers, the England goalkeeper, has signed a new five-year contract with Blackburn Rovers.

Rangers have completed the pounds 2.6m signing of the experienced Swedish international defender, Joachim Bjorklund, from the Italian club, Vicenza. Heart of Midlothian are the favourites to sign the freed Middlesbrough striker Paul Wilkinson, who is also a target for Norwich City, Portsmouth and Luton Town.

East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town and Norwich City are locked in a legal dispute over the former Tottenham midfielder, Ian Crook. Last month, the day before Mike Walker returned to Norwich as manager, Ipswich signed the 33-year-old on a free transfer after he had been released by the Canaries as a cost-cutting measure. Walker wants Crook back at Carrow Road as player-coach, and has been successful in lifting an injunction gained by Ipswich to stop Norwich talking fresh terms with the player.

Gary Megson, who was replaced by Walker at Norwich, is the new manager of Blackpool. He succeeds Sam Allardyce, sacked last month by Vicki Oyston after she took over from her jailed husband, Owen Oyston, in the chair at Bloomfield Road. Megson will work with the club's football director Billy Bingham, the former Northern Ireland manager.