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By ESPN Staff
Sep 1, 2006

Palace sign Kuqi from Blackburn in £2.5million deal

Crystal Palace have signed Shefki Kuqi from Blackburn in a £2.5million deal.

The 29-year-old has signed a three-year deal at Selhurst Park and returns to the Championship a year after leaving Ipswich to join Rovers.

Kuqi today told Crystal Palace they had signed a Premiership-quality player following his £2.5million move from Blackburn.

The Finland striker has dropped back into the Coca-Cola Championship only one season after his switch to Ewood Park from Ipswich.

But Kuqi claimed he had answered any questions about his ability to perform in the top flight - and predicted he would be making a swift return there in the colours of Palace.

'The hardest decision for me was to leave the Premiership,' said the 29-year-old. 'But I think I did as well as I could there, given the number of starts I had.

'People continue to ask whether I can do the business at that level, and my answer is: `Yes I can'.

'I believe I will be back in the Championship for one season only.

'Palace have the strongest squad in the league, and I'm quite sure we can get ourselves back into the Premiership this time.'

Palace manager Peter Taylor admitted returning to the second tier after just one season represented 'a knock-back' for Kuqi.

But the England Under-21 coach could not hide his delight at landing his number one target just five minutes before the transfer window closed at midnight on Thursday.

As well as Kuqi, the Selhurst Park boss also sealed the £75,000 signing of attacking midfielder Stuart Green from his former club Hull.

Taylor conceded: 'Shefki has worked very hard to be successful - which he is - and he wanted to be in the Premiership.

'Having to leave Blackburn is a bit of a knock-back for him, and he knows he will have to spend a little while out of the top flight.

'But he has come to a club who are looking get back into the Premiership this season, and I've no doubt he can help us achieve that.

'As a manager, you look at a player's ability, but you also check out his personality - and that is why I'm so excited to have Shefki here.

'He was hard-working, honest and dangerous, and was always at the top of our list.'

Kuqi, who has signed a three-year deal at Palace, stressed that Blackburn's signing of South Africa striker Benni McCarthy during the summer had not forced him to re-think his future.

The former Sheffield Wednesday man is a proven performer in the Championship, having scored 20 goals as Ipswich missed out on promotion to the top division by only two points in the 2004/05 campaign.

Kuqi continued: 'In one way, I was surprised when I heard Blackburn were allowing me to leave.

'Palace had been chasing me for a long time, but Blackburn had said consistently that they didn't want to sell me - but then they changed their mind.

'But I never thought I had to leave when Blackburn signed Benni McCarthy.

'I never worry about who else is in the squad, because I always believe in myself.

'If things go as I want them to go, I know I have a good chance of doing well wherever I am.'

Kuqi made 34 appearances for Mark Hughes' side last term, scoring seven goals.

At Palace, the Finland international will battle with James Scowcroft, Clinton Morrison and Dougie Freedman for a place in Peter Taylor's starting XI.