Inter rule out Lampard after Muntari signs

Reuters
Monday 28 July 2008 14:15
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Inter Milan look to have given up their pursuit of Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard after signing Sulley Muntari from Portsmouth today.

The Ghana midfielder, 23, has penned a four-year deal with the Italian champions but the transfer fee has not been disclosed. Media reports have put the figure at around 16 million euros.

Lampard has one year left on his contract with the London club and talks on a new deal have stalled. Inter had been confident of snatching the England midfielder but media reports suggest he will stay at Chelsea for at least this season.

Former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, who won the Premier League title with Lampard in 2005 and 2006, was philosophical about the situation.

"I am not disappointed with him. The key thing for a player is to do what makes you happier. If his decision is to stay at Chelsea because he is happier, that is fine for me," Mourinho told reporters.

Muntari, who played at Serie A's Udinese between 2002 and 2007, spent just one season in England where he helped Portsmouth win the FA Cup for the first time since 1939.

"I am very disappointed to let him go. He's a terrific player and was a great signing for us," Pompey manager Harry Redknapp told the club's website (www.portsmouthfc.co.uk).

"But Inter Milan came in and made a big offer which allows us to strengthen the team in a couple of other positions."

Muntari is Mourinho's second major signing at Inter after Brazilian winger Mancini moved from AS Roma.

"Muntari is the last buy," Inter director Gabriele Oriali told reporters. "Now we will work on trimming the squad because Mourinho wants 22 players and three goalkeepers. There will be some painful goodbyes."

Mourinho, who was also tracking Porto winger and compatriot Ricardo Quaresma, will now concentrate on whittling down his squad ahead of the Serie A kick off on Aug. 31. Strikers Hernan Crespo and David Suazo look most at risk.

"There's too many of us and the situation is not easy. We must work to have 25 players and at the moment there are lots of attackers and I can't let all of them play as I would like," he said.

Inter face Juventus and AC Milan in a 45-minutes per game mini-tournament on Tuesday.

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