Football: Pistone joins Newcastle for pounds 4.3m

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The Independent Online
News yesterday that Newcastle United have secured the services of Alessandro Pistone and that Fabrizio Ravanelli has decided to remain with Middlesbrough means the North-east will enjoy an even stronger Italian influence next season.

Pistone, a 22-year-old defender, has agreed to join Newcastle from Internazionale on a four-year contract via a pounds 4.3m transfer, according to the Milan club's president, Massimo Moratti.

He said Pistone would be earning about pounds 650,000 a season at St James' Park. "Pistone is going to double his yearly salary with Newcastle. We could not match the bid," Moratti said. Perhaps this is because Inter are spending so much on acquiring Ronaldo from Barcelona, a protracted transfer that finally seems to be going through.

Ronaldo, the world's most expensive player, can join Inter after Fifa ruled that the 20-year-old Brazilian striker is free of any contractual obligations to Barcelona. Fifa, football's world governing body, have authorised Italy's federation to register Ronaldo provisionally with Inter, paving the way for him to make his debut against Manchester United in a friendly match on Sunday.

Ronaldo's move had been delayed because the Spanish federation refused to issue a transfer certificate, arguing that a buy-out clause in his contract was valid only for domestic transfers. Barcelona have asked for a further pounds 11m, and although Inter have refused, Fifa have said the Italians may have to pay more than the pounds 18m they thought had secured Ronaldo's release.

Ronaldo has already received an pounds 8.5m signing-on fee from Inter, plus an eight-year contract worth pounds 1.8m a year.

Ravanelli has settled his differences with Middlesbrough, having earlier made it clear that he was intent on leaving Teesside. The 28-year-old striker, who should have reported for pre-season training three weeks ago, was said by his agent, Pino Pagliara, to be "happy to be back and looking forward to playing a large part in winning promotion for Middlesbrough back into the Premiership".

Pagliara also said that the "White Feather" - weekly wage pounds 42,000 - was "going to save Middlesbrough a lot of money", presumably meaning that the club would not have to spend lavishly on a replacement for a player on whom Everton were prepared to spend pounds 7.5m.

Three hours of discussions between Ravanelli, his agent, the club's chairman, Steve Gibson, and the manager, Bryan Robson, left Boro satisfied that they now have a player "fully committed" to the coming campaign in the First Division where he will play alongside new signing pounds 4.5m Paul Merson.

In a statement Middlesbrough said: "Fabrizio Ravanelli has returned to Middlesbrough. He's looking forward to the start of next season and he is fully committed to Middlesbrough Football Club."

Ravanelli, who scored 31 goals for Boro last season and has three years left of his contract, believes his ambition to play in the World Cup with Italy will not be jeopardised by staying on Teesside.

Paul Ince yesterday completed his pounds 4.2m move from Internazionale and expects to be part of a title-winning Liverpool side during the four years of his contract. The 29-year-old England midfielder feels Liverpool, without a title in seven years, have under-achieved in recent seasons, and he is determined to put that right.

"I'd like to feel I am approaching my peak," he said. "Last year Liverpool should have won the championship. They need to dig out results. That's what I can do," he said. "Liverpool are a great club and it's another challenge. I've come to win things and that's why I am here."

Roy Evans believes that he has inherited a player who has got the Midas touch when it comes to honours. "His record speaks for itself at home, when he was with Manchester United, in Italy and at international level," the Liverpool manager said. "He is not happy just coming to the club. He wants to add more trophies and is seeking to win the championship."

Derby have agreed a pounds 1.5m fee with Fiorentina for the 29-year-old striker Francisco Baiano. County's manager, Jim Smith, who failed to lure Roberto Baggio away from Milan, is due to have talks with Baiano in the next few days.

Milan look to have succeeded in persuading Leonardo to leave Paris St- Germain. A spokesman for the French side said the Brazilian midfielder had agreed personal terms, although the Italians had yet to table a formal bid. A pounds 3.25m fee for the player has been set by PSG, who are expected to target another Brazilian, Edmilson, currently with Portuguese champions Porto, to replace Leonardo.