Juninho finally joins Atletico for pounds 12m

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The Independent Online
Football

Juninho finally left Middlesbrough and joined the Spanish club Atletico Madrid for pounds 12m last night.

The 24-year-old, who was also the subject of a pounds 11m bid by Tottenham, hopes the move to Spain will help him to resurrect his international career.

He said Atletico first showed an interest in signing him about two or three months ago. "They are an ambitious club and one of the biggest clubs in Spain and Spanish football is shown in Brazil every week," Juninho told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Middlesbrough's chief executive, Keith Lamb, expressed his disappointment at losing Juninho, but the club will have a first option to buy him back.

Juninho was outstanding in Boro's topsy-turvy season that resulted in relegation from the Premiership. Once Boro, beaten in the finals of the FA Cup and the Coca-Cola Cup, were doomed to First Division football, Juninho made it clear that he wanted to leave the North-east. The move became imperative when Brazil left him out of last month's Copa America tournament.

Juninho, who moved to the Riverside for pounds 4.75m in October 1995, flew back to Teesside last night from Sao Paulo to negotiate the move in time for the start of the new season.

Howard Kendall is poised to make Denmark's right-back, Thomas Rytter, his first signing since returning to Goodison Park as manager. The defender, available from Seville for around pounds 1.5m after they were relegated from the Spanish First Division, is arriving for a spell on loan.

Kendall is also hoping to extend the contract of his Scotland striker, Duncan Ferguson, into the next century.

Blackburn's manager, Roy Hodgson, has completed the pounds 500,000 signing of Anders Andersson from the Swedish side Malmo, one of his former clubs. Hodgson still hopes the Swedish international striker Martin Dahlin will follow Andersson's lead and join the club before their pre-season tour of Sweden.

Chelsea have agreed a pounds 300,000 fee with SK Brann to secure the Norwegian international striker, Tore Andre Flo, in time to be registered for the start of their European Cup-Winners' Cup campaign. Chelsea had faced waiting until November for him to become a free agent.

Steve Coppell, the Crystal Palace manager, hopes to sign the Welsh international midfielder, Robbie Savage, from Crewe today. Savage is flying to London for talks about a pounds 250,000 move into the Premier League from Crewe Alexandra, newcomers to the First Division.

Palace hope Savage could develop into a replacement for the Scottish international, David Hopkin, if he leaves for Leeds.

The Scottish Premier club, Hearts, also want Savage and can virtually guarantee the former Manchester United player first-team football. The Tynecastle club have nipped in to sign the Austrian international Thomas Flogel after the 26-year-old winger had been on a week's trial with Dundee United.

More football, page 23

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