x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Inter buy Muntari but Lampard move on hold

Inter Milan look to have given up their pursuit of Chelsea's Frank Lampard after signing Sulley Muntari from Portsmouth.

Sulley Muntari will once again ply his trade in Serie A.
Sulley Muntari will once again ply his trade in Serie A.

Inter Milan's pursuit of Frank Lampard is likely to be put on hold until next summer after the Italian champions completed the signing of Sulley Muntari. The Inter boss Jose Mourinho had been desperate for a midfielder to boost his side's bid for honours in his first season in charge. While Lampard was his priority, Chelsea's reluctance to do a deal for a player in the final year of his contract has left the former Blues coach frustrated. Muntari's arrival from Portsmouth for around £12 million (Dh87.8 million) ends Mourinho's search and he is now expected to try to tempt Lampard next summer when he is available on a Bosman free transfer. "I'm not disappointed by Lampard," he said. "The important thing for a player is to do what makes him happy. If his decision is to stay at Chelsea I accept that." Like Lampard, Ricardo Quaresma was another target, but the Inter director Gabriele Oriali said there will only be departures from the San Siro now with the strikers Adriano and Hernan Crespo expected to leave. "Muntari is our last signing," he said. "Now we are working to reduce the team as Mourinho wants 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers. Of course we will be hurt when some of the players leave." Muntari, who played in Serie A for Udinese before joining and impressing at Fratton Park, has signed a four-year contract and the Pompey boss Harry Redknapp said: "I'm very disappointed to let him go. "He's a terrific player and was a great signing for us. He can't be a bad player - Inter Milan don't buy bad players." Redknapp will now use the cash to strengthen his own side with the Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips and Tottenham's Younes Kaboul both wanted. Spurs have also given in to Liverpool's persistence in signing Robbie Keane. The Irish striker, 28, underwent a medical on Merseyside yesterday and is expected to sign a five-year contract for his boyhood idols in an £18 million (Dh131.6m) deal. While one frontman arrives in Liverpool, another is on his way out with Andy Johnson leaving Everton, as expected, for Fulham. The England man, 27, wants to return to London for family reasons and Everton will now make an increased bid for the talented Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho after Sporting Lisbon rejected an initial £11.8 million offer. Sunderland are also closing in on the purchase of the Bolton striker El-Hadj Diouf, while their North-East rivals Newcastle are chasing the Deportivo La Coruna central defender Fabricio Coloccini. akhan@thenational.ae