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Buffon backing Italy to overcome Spain

Italy
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By ESPN Staff

AJ chooses to join Everton for £8.5million

Andrew Johnson is on the brink of tying up an £8.5million transfer from Crystal Palace to Everton which he believes will boost his England prospects.

The striker is expected to join as soon as a medical can be undertaken, after declaring Goodison Park his preferred destination.

Palace have reluctantly agreed to let Johnson leave Selhurst Park, and - despite being 'very flattered' by interest from Wigan and Bolton - the frontman is eager to become an Everton player.

The three north-west clubs each agreed terms for the transfer with Palace, and Johnson also held talks with Wigan, but he considers Everton the best option.

Johnson is currently on standby for England's World Cup squad, and coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has afforded him time off from international commitments to discuss the move.

The 25-year-old frontman told www.evertonfc.com: 'After several days of careful consideration, I have decided that my footballing future lies at Goodison Park with Everton.

'I find the prospect of playing for one of the biggest names in British football impossible to resist and I am now just hopeful that I can swiftly complete my medical so that I can sign on the dotted line and commit myself to the club.'

Johnson also claimed: 'I do believe that Everton will afford me the best opportunity to fulfil my twin ambitions of winning major honours and again representing England at senior level.'

He will leave Palace after their failure to gain promotion from the Coca-Cola Championship. They were beaten by Watford in the semi-finals of the play-offs.

And Johnson admits it has been a decision he took with a heavy heart.

Palace signed Johnson in 2002, as part of the deal which took Clinton Morrison to Birmingham. He proved an inspired signing and the club will make a profit estimated at £7.75million on him.

Johnson netted 21 goals in the 2004-05 Premiership season and gained his first international honours. He has won two caps to date.

He was unable to keep Palace afloat in the top-flight but agreed to stay for their Championship campaign, during which he scored 15 league goals.

'I would also like to thank everyone at Crystal Palace - especially (former manager) Iain Dowie and the fans - for their support and dedication during my time at Selhurst Park,' said Johnson.

'In many ways I am sorry to be leaving but I wish them well for the future.'