Wigan complete signing of centre-back Scharner
Wigan boss Paul Jewell has helped Austria international Paul Scharner realise a dream, as well as taking a stride towards cementing the club's Premiership future.
Wigan agreed a fee of around £2million with Norwegian outfit Brann Bergen on Tuesday and Scharner flew in on Thursday to discuss personal terms, completing the formalities in a matter of hours.
The 25-year-old, who can also play in midfield, has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with the Latics, becoming the first of the three new faces Jewell is looking to sign in the transfer window.
Scharner will officially join the club on January 1, although he will not be able to make his debut until the FA Cup third-round clash at home to Leeds three days later.
The prospect of European football, with Wigan riding high in sixth in the top flight and in the last four of the Carling Cup, attracted the Austrian to a club who struggled to make signings in the summer.
'Wigan is a club in a great position with a big ambition,' Scharner said. 'They are sixth and have every chance of getting a European place.
'They also want to be one of the best clubs in the country, and the same goes for me as a player. But to play in the Premiership is a dream for me, which has now come true, because as a player you want to test yourself against the best.'
Scharner had initially been courted by Birmingham only for Brann to reject a bid from the Blues, whose relegation plight was also a major concern for the player.
'When I heard about Wigan, then I met the manager, it was an easy decision for me,' added Scharner, whose long-term goal, according to his personal website, is to play for Arsenal.
'I am really looking forward to starting with the club in January.'
Scharner first caught Jewell's eye in Austria's World Cup qualifying defeat to England at Old Trafford in October.
Although he gave away the penalty which led to Frank Lampard scoring the only goal of the game, Jewell was impressed enough to keep track of the player ever since.
'Paul will be an excellent signing for us,' Jewell said. 'He is very quick, strong in the air and can play anywhere in defence or midfield. He will be a very valuable addition to the squad.'
A place in next season's UEFA Cup is certainly not beyond Wigan's reach as they size up the first major semi-final in their history, with Arsenal their opponents over two legs next month.
Goalkeeper Mike Pollitt feels there is no reason why the club cannot dream of playing in Europe.
'The only time I've ever got this far in any cup competition was in the LDV Vans Trophy, so you can imagine I'm quite pleased,' said Pollitt, who joined Wigan for £200,000 in the summer from Rotherham.
'It's hard to believe, just seven months after being relegated, I am playing for a top-six Premiership club going into Christmas, while we are also in the last four of the Carling Cup.
'If you had said to me back in May I would be in this situation, I would have said you were crazy, but there's no reason why it cannot continue.
'In our position there's no reason why we can't think of playing in Europe, although we're not going to shout it from the rooftops.
'We will just keep our feet on the ground and try to make sure we stay in the Premiership.'