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By ESPN Staff

Lazio ordered to release Pandev from contract

Lazio have been ordered to release striker Goran Pandev from his contract by the Lega Calcio.

Pandev has been trying to terminate his stay with the Biancocelesti since the summer and has not played for the club all season. The decision by the Lega Calcio's contract dispute resolution chamber means the FYR Macedonia frontman can leave on a free transfer in January.

"Pandev's appeal to the Lega Calcio's arbitration board was welcomed and they said we were in the right," the player's lawyer, Mattia Grassani, told reporters. "So Goran's contract has been resolved and the club have been ordered to pay 160,000 euros in punitive damages as well as the legal costs."

Reports suggest a return to Inter Milan is the most likely prospect for Pandev, although Juventus and Tottenham are also said to be interested.

Pandev was under contract with the Nerazzurri for three years but was shipped out on loan twice and never played a game for the Italian giants. Speculation is also rife that the 26-year-old could further anger Lazio fans by moving to bitter city rivals Roma.

Pandev has been at Lazio since 2004 and quickly became a firm fans' favourite at the Stadio Olimpico. However, matters turned sour last summer when Lazio revealed that they would not accept a bid of less than 19 million euros for Pandev after he filed a transfer request.

The Macedonian was branded a "rebel" by club president Claudio Lotito and frozen out of the squad, as well as being forced to train separately from his former team-mates.

But Lotito insists he will not give up on his battle over Pandev's contract.

"I'm calm,'' he told Radio Radio. I can only say that it doesn't end here. I have already showed people that I don't give up. It doesn't end here. We'll see then who wins.''

Pandev's contract with Lazio was set to expire next summer.


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