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  -   NEWS
Wednesday, March 6, 2002
Chelsea in Casiraghi settlement
By Martin Lipton

Pierluigi Casiraghi has finally severed his links with Chelsea after the club admitted it had written him off three months too early and made a £500,000 compensation payment.

The former Italy striker's career ended after an accidental clash with West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop in November 1998, six months after he signed for Chelsea from Lazio for £5.4million.

But while Casiraghi accepted he was unlikely to play again after suffering knee ligament damage which required five operations, Chelsea decided to write him off before receiving an official medical report from his surgeons in Italy.

It meant Casiraghi was denied three months' salary he should have been due, and the striker engaged the services of London solicitors Russell Jones and Walker.

Chelsea have finally accepted they were in the wrong and agreed to pay Casiraghi the £40,000-per-week wages he was due for that three-month spell.

Both sides insisted that the matter had been settled amicably. Casiraghi said he was delighted at the settlement, adding: 'I enjoyed my time at Chelsea before injury. I'm now working as a coach with Monza in Italy and wish Claudio Ranieri and the players all the best in their matches this season.'

Chelsea managing director Colin Hutchinson said: 'Gigi's injury was a tragedy and ended the career of an excellent player who I believe would have become a Chelsea great. I'm pleased matters between us have been amicably resolved. We wish him every success.'

Although the £500,000 cost of settling the Casiraghi dispute will not have a huge effect on Chelsea's financial position, failure to qualify for Europe next season certainly would have.

They face Fulham in a west London derby at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in sixth position, 11 points adrift of Newcastle in the fourth Champions League spot.

France midfielder Emmanuel Petit will again be pressed into emergency service as a central defender in the absence of Marcel Desailly and John Terry.

Petit's unhappiness at playing in a defensive role for Barcelona last season hastened his departure from the Nou Camp, but he said he was willing to do whatever Chelsea required.

He said: 'I'm happy to play there if it is what the team needs. It is not like Barcelona. There I had to play in a back three, but here it is as part of a defensive four. We have so many injuries that I know I am needed in the position.'

Despite Saturday's defeat at Charlton, Petit refuses to discount Chelsea stealing the final Champions League slot.

He said: 'We lost three crucial points against Charlton but I don't think it is beyond us. There are still 33 points for us to play for, and anything can happen.'

 

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