Football: Zidane ready to leave Juventus

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The Independent Online
ZINEDINE ZIDANE is prepared to walk out on Juventus at the end of the year. The French playmaker admitted yesterday that he is not happy in Turin and wants to move to Spain.

"I want to play in Spain. I don't know when but one day I will," Zidane said. "My wife is Spanish, we have Spanish friends and I want to move there. I have never hidden my problems about the life here in Turin. I will finish this season and then see."

Zidane is under contract with Juventus until 2004 but friends of the player say there is no way he will remain with the Italian side for another four years. Even if Juventus beat Manchester United in the semi-finals of the European Cup on Wednesday and then go on to win the title, Zidane says it will not change his mind about his future. "Juventus have shown that they can win the big matches but my wife, my family and my lifestyle count more than my job," he said.

Zidane is believed to be also unhappy with the tactics used by the Juve new coach, Carlo Ancelotti.

Graham Souness looks likely to be another on his way at the end of the season - but his departure as Benfica coach will be against his will. Reports yesterday indicated that the former Real Madrid coach, Jupp Heynckes, will replace Souness next season.

The press and many Benfica fans have fiercely criticised Souness for what are seen as British-style tactics. After Benfica lost a home game against Boavista last month, many of the 80,000 fans at the Stadium of Light waved white handkerchiefs as a sign of farewell. With seven League games left to play, Benfica are six points behind the Portuguese League leaders, Porto.

The former Benfica midfielder Jonas Thern is leaving Rangers and returning home to Sweden after failing to recover from a serious knee injury. The 32-year-old has not played this season following surgery.

England are among the eight seeded nations in this summer's 60-strong Intertoto Cup. The draw, made yesterday, offers a relatively easy passage for a major club to reach the Uefa Cup by the "back entrance".

England's top-seeded club would face the winner of a series of matches involving teams from Wales, Malta, Finland or Estonia to enter the "semi- final" round of 12 chasing the three places on offer. Aston Villa are one of several clubs to express an interest.