Van Damme joins Southampton

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The Independent Football

Southampton have completed the signing of the Belgian international defender Jelle van Damme from Ajax.

Southampton have completed the signing of the Belgian international defender Jelle van Damme from Ajax.

Southampton are believed to have paid around £2.5m for the 20-year-old left-back. The 6ft 4in Van Damme has won seven Belgian caps and the club's chairman, Rupert Lowe, said: "He is a tough character and a good player. He fits the mould of the kind of players we like to sign. He has a fair amount of experience for his age."

Van Damme agreed personal terms yesterday and will challenge Graeme Le Saux for a first-team place. Although highly rated, Van Damme was unable to force his way into the Ajax first team where he was kept out by the Brazilian Maxwell.

Van Damme initially joined Ajax on loan from Germinal Lokeren before signing permanently in March 2002. He made his international debut against Croatia in March 2004.

Portsmouth have agreed a fee with Leicester for their defender Ben Thatcher. Thatcher, like Paul Dickov and Riccardo Scimeca, has a £100,000 escape clause in his contract, which has two years to run at Leicester.

Portsmouth could face competition for the 28-year-old from Everton and Aston Villa, who are reportedly interested. The Foxes' manager, Micky Adams, said: "Pompey are prepared to pay the asking price, Ben is aware of the situation and things are now in his hands. I'd obviously like to keep him and he knows that."

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