Panucci the new import at Chelsea

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Chelsea have added yet another foreign import to their first-team squad by signing the experienced Internazionale full-back Christian Panucci on a one-year loan. Panucci, who has fallen out of favour at San Siro, said yesterday: "Chelsea is a good solution for me."

Chelsea have added yet another foreign import to their first-team squad by signing the experienced Internazionale full-back Christian Panucci on a one-year loan. Panucci, who has fallen out of favour at San Siro, said yesterday: "Chelsea is a good solution for me."

He will certainly be among friends, or acquaintances, at Stamford Bridge, with Gianluca Vialli having recruited half a dozen players from Italian clubs. The most recent of them was the Croatian Mario Stanic, from Parma, one of three expensive summer signings, all of them foreigners. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen have also joined, at a total cost of almost £25m.

Chelsea have plenty of options at left-back, but apart from Albert Ferrer are less well covered on the right, now that Dan Petrescu has moved to Bradford City. If the paperwork is completed before this evening, Panucci, 27, would be eligible for the Charity Shield match against Manchester United on Sunday. A strong defender, capable of scoring with his head at set-pieces, he was previously with Genoa and Milan - where he played alongside Marcel Desailly - making his international debut as a 21-year-old.

He went to Real Madrid from Milan with the coach Fabio Capello, returning to Italy for £6.2m last summer and playing in every qualifying game for Euro 2000, but missing out on the final tournament because Inter had begun to omit him.

Neil Lennon dashed Celtic's hopes of signing him when he agreed a new four-year contract at Leicester City worth a reported £30,000 a week. The Northern Ireland international had been interested in teaming up again with the former Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, at Parkhead while Aston Villa were also keen to buy him. Neither Celtic nor Villa met Leicester's £8m asking price.

Lennon said that he would have considered moving to Celtic if a fee had been agreed. "It's never been about me snubbing Celtic to stay here," he said. "The opportunity never came about. It was an enormous temptation, but the club turned down their two bids."

Lennon's reward for staying with Leicester is a reported £10,000-a-week pay rise, a year after he signed a deal that made him the club's top earner. The midfielder said he had stayed because of the new manager, Peter Taylor. "I feel very humble that the club has made such a good offer to me - it's beyond my wildest dreams," he said. "But it was never about money, I have to say. Predominantly it was down to the manager, chairman and the people here at the club. They made it emphatically clear that I was their man."

Lennon's deal also completed a hat-trick for the Foxes after Matt Elliott and Muzzy Izzet agreed new deals earlier this summer. Taylor said: "For me today is a great day. I'm delighted to have Neil on board because he's such an important player for this football club. He would have been very difficult to replace."

Bradford City are poised to conclude another signing a day after their capture of Benito Carbone. The Italian looks set to be joined at Valley Parade by Blackburn's Ashley Ward, while Lee Mills is close to leaving to join Portsmouth.

Geoffrey Richmond, Bradford's chairman, has agreed a fee of £1.5m with Rovers for Ward, while Pompey are set to sign Mills for £1m with £175,000 to be added depending on appearances. Both players have to finalise personal terms, with Richmond due to talk to Ward within the next 48 hours.

The central defender Ashley Westwood is set to join the former Bradford manager Paul Jewell at Sheffield Wednesday on a month's loan.

Blackburn have placed the former Norwegian international striker Egil Ostenstad on the transfer list at £2.25m.

The former Blackburn and Leicester striker Graham Fenton has joined Stoke, of the Second Division, on a month's contract in an attempt to win a longer deal with the club.

The Charlton Athletic midfielder Andy Todd has escaped a one-match Premiership ban, despite being sent off in a friendly match against Lyngby in Denmark on Tuesday. Charlton have been told that the referee will not be making an official report.

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