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Conte headed for Mourinho fate?


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Transfer Rater: Benteke to Chelsea

By ESPN Staff

Cassano stays at Samp as Keirrison heads to Viola

Fiorentina failed in a bid to sign Antonio Cassano on loan from Sampdoria on Sunday but are on the verge of landing Brazilian Keirrison from Barcelona.

The Florence club are scrambling to sign a forward before the transfer window closes on Monday after Adrian Mutu was given a provisional ban by anti-doping authorities on Friday for twice testing positive for an appetite suppressant.

"I'm staying at Sampdoria,'' he said. "For the president Riccardo Garrone, for my people and my team-mates but also, and above all, for me. I'm staying, although I cannot deny that for a moment I felt far away from all this and from that which over the past three years has literally changed my life.

"On Saturday, the chance of a transfer - albeit on a temporary basis - to Fiorentina was offered to me by my agent. A great club and a wonderful team asked for me to be part, from now until June, of an ambitious project with the opportunity to play in the Champions League.''

"I can't deny that I thought about it at a time in which, here in Genoa, the spaces to play seem to me to be decisively reduced, given the recent statements by the coach.

"I reiterate my respect for the coach's choices but it was for this, at a time of profound disappointment, I could not help but at least consider the Viola option.

"In a few hours, however, Genoa and my people really swamped me with expressions of love and affection without equal, unthinkable even to me who wasimmediately tied to these fantastic fans and this environment in a really intense way.

"They were demonstrations which touched me and really moved me. It was above all for this that I decided to remain here.

"Fiorentina offered me an extraordinary opportunity but my history and my footballing life today and tomorrow are and will be here, at Genoa with my Sampdoria.''

Fiorentina sporting director Pantaleo Corvino said he had tried many clubs to find a quick replacement for Mutu, including a failed bid for Villarreal's Giuseppe Rossi.

"I found myself in an emergency situation. We thought of Cassano," a dejected-looking Corvino told Sky TV before offering a ray of hope to Fiorentina fans. "Keirrison is an attacker with Barcelona and we are negotiating. He is in Florence for his medical."

The 21-year-old Brazilian has spent the first half of the season on loan at Benfica.

Fiorentina, who had limited attacking options even before Mutu's ban, visit Bayern Munich in their Champions League last 16 first leg on February 17. They are 10th in Serie A.

The skilful Cassano was in stunning form at the start of the season when Samp were top of Serie A but was recently dropped by coach Luigi Del Neri after the side slid down the table.

Italian champions Inter Milan have shown interest in Cassano in the past but their attacking options were swelled by the arrival of Macedonia's Goran Pandev at the start of January. Inter are instead looking for a midfielder to replace new Manchester City signing Patrick Vieira.

Valencia's Manuel Fernandes was having a medical but media reports say the loan deal for the Portuguese has stalled with Inter president Massimo Moratti telling reporters he was still talking to Lazio about midfielder Cristian Ledesma.

The Argentine had hoped to free himself from his Lazio deal, like Pandev, following the pair's contract disputes but a committee ruled against Ledesma and Inter will have to pay to secure his services.


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