Football: Deschamps for Chelsea

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The Independent Online
DIDIER DESCHAMPS, the man who lifted the World Cup for France last year, will be playing in the Premiership next season. Chelsea last night completed the signing of the 30-year-old midfielder from the Italian club Juventus in a deal that will cost the west London side around pounds 3m and will be a major boost to their prospects in the coming campaign.

Deschamps has signed a three-year contract with the Premiership club and will join his two French international team-mates, Franck Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly, at Stamford Bridge. His understanding with the two centre-backs will ensure a solid spine to the Chelsea side - especially with rumours being rife that the Italian midfielder Roberto Di Matteo will leave the club this summer.

The Chelsea manager, Gianluca Vialli, knows all about the abilities of Deschamps after captaining the European Cup-winning Juventus side in which the midfielder, who was also being chased by several French clubs, played in 1996.

Deschamps won the French championship, twice, and the European Cup at Marseilles before joining Juventus in 1994. He helped Juve complete the Italian League and Cup double the following year, and also played a major role in helping the Turin team win the Italian title in 1997 and 1998 - and took them to the European Cup final last year, when they were beaten by Real Madrid.

Chelsea's chief executive, Colin Hutchinson, completed the deal while on holiday in Cyprus, and he has set up a special office in his hotel to work on other deals. The Stamford Bridge club have already signed Mario Melchiot, a Dutch defender, on a free transfer from Ajax.

"I think there will be quite a bit of activity coming in and, to a lesser extent, going," Hutchinson said. "We need a bigger squad and these are two acquisitions that will add strength to the squad."

Target for Spurs, page 27