Thu, Aug 03, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Juventus sell Vieira to Inter for US$12.1m

AGENCIES , MILAN, ITALY

Patrick Vieira plays in a Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Cagliari at the Delle Alpi stadium in Turin, Italy, on Dec. 11 last year.

PHOTO: AFP

Juventus have sold France midfielder Patrick Vieira to Inter Milan for 9.5 million euros (US$12.1 million), less than half what they paid for him a year ago.

Juventus said in a statement that they had booked a capital loss of 8.6 million euros on the sale, part of an exodus of players from the Turin club following a match-fixing scandal that led to their demotion to the second-tier Serie B league.

Inter confirmed the deal, saying Vieira had signed a four-year contract that would tie him to the club until June 2010.

Juve bought Vieira in July last year for 20 million euros from Arsenal. He played for Juventus only for one season in 2005-2006.

Vieira, a candidate to take over from Zinedine Zidane as captain of France's national side, is the latest player to leave Juventus after the club were relegated to Serie B for conspiring with referees and linesmen to rig games during last season.

Inter were awarded the 2005-2006 Italian league title last week after a sports tribunal revoked Juventus' title win.

Vieira returned to Italy last year, having been signed by Arsenal from Inter's city rivals AC Milan in 1996.

The combative 30-year-old, a 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner with France, moved to Turin after helping Arsenal win seven major trophies in nine years in north London.

His crunching tackles, deft ball control and unhurried distribution marked Arsenal's Senegal-born captain out as one of the best midfielders in English football.

His duels with former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane became a highlight of the Premier League season and Vieira was frequently linked with a move to Real Madrid.

A desire for a new challenge and a hunger for success in the Champions League, whose quarter-finals had proved an insurmountable obstacle for Arsenal, were behind his move back to Italy.

Ironically, Arsenal reached the final last season, losing to Barcelona after knocking Juventus out in the quarter-finals. Vieira was booked on his return to Highbury in Juve's 2-0 defeat and missed the second leg through suspension.

More recently, he helped France reach the World Cup final, lost on penalties to Italy, and looked set to stay with Juventus until the verdicts handed down in Italy's match-rigging scandal.

Vieira "is very motivated, but at the same time sorry for what happened to Juventus, a club in which he had settled in very well," agent Franco Granello told the Apcom news agency.

Granello said Vieira cited financial reasons for leaving Juve.

"Vieira chose Inter because the club made the most important offer both from a contractual point of view and from the point of view of its plans," Granello said.

Granello acknowledged that Real Madrid had expressed interest in Vieira but at an advanced stage in the negotiations with Inter.

Juventus has already lost Gianluca Zambrotta, Lilian Thuram, Emerson and Fabio Cannavaro. Defenders Zambrotta and Thuram moved to FC Barcelona. Midfielder Emerson and defender Cannavaro joined former Juventus coach Fabio Capello at Real Madrid.

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