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Jul 11, 2013

Di Natale happy to end career at Udinese

Antonio Di Natale has said leaving Udinese was never an option even though he again received offers from other clubs this summer.

Di Natale, 35, has just signed a new two-year deal with the Zebrette, with the option of a third year. He said he was delighted to end his career in Friuli, where he feels at home after almost a decade at Udinese.

AC Milan were reportedly in discussions about signing the forward earlier this month, while Juventus and several other top European clubs have been linked with him in the past.

"I never had a single doubt about my contract," Di Natale told his club's official website. "It's going to be my last contract with Udinese, and I hope to do well right until the end.

"I've always said that it's nice to be linked with these top clubs every single year, in Italy and even abroad, and it's always nice to hear your name mentioned - but my aim has always been to end my career here, and the president knows that and I'd like to thank him."

Di Natale joined Udinese from Empoli in 2004 and has twice been Serie A's Capocannoniere, in 2009-10 and 2010-11, only missing out on a hat-trick to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2012-13 and Edinson Cavani last season.

His goals have contributed to the most consistently successful era in Udinese's history, although he suggested that the club have been perfoming beyond their means and that survival is their only goal each year.

"We are faced with a difficult season," he said. "Lots of clubs are very strong, and we have got to start with the aim of securing safety as soon as possible.

"We're thinking of Europe now because that's the first competition we have to play in [this season], but our aim, as always, is to get to 40 points as quickly as possible. Getting safe as soon as possible could then give us 10-15 games to think of doing more."

The start of last season saw the sales of Samir Handanovic, Mauricio Isla and Kwadwo Asamoah - but coach Francesco Guidolin continued with the positive approach that has earned won acclaim for himself and the club as well as frequent qualification for the Europa League.

"I've been here for ten years, and each two or three years, another good bunch of youngsters arrive," Di Natale said. "This is a good club which tries to develop all the players. This year again we have lots of youngsters, and I hope that my experience and willingness will help these lads become great players."

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