Vicenza defender joins Russia's Uralan

January 29, 2003

MILAN, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Vicenza defender Alessandro Dal Canto has joined Russian club Uralan Elista on loan, the Serie B club said on Wednesday.

The move will make Dal Canto the first Italian player to play in the Russian league.

Vicenza said that Dal Canto had joined Uralan on loan until December 31 - meaning he will be with the Russian club throughout the forthcoming season.

Uralan, who finished 13th in the Russian premier league last season, appointed former Inter Milan and Bologna forward Igor Shalimov as their coach in December.

Dal Canto, 27, who began his career at Juventus and also played in Serie A for Bologna, could be joined at Uralan by another Italian player, Chievo midfielder Dario Passoni.

Passoni told the daily Corriere della Sera on Wednesday that he was ready to make the switch from Serie A to a provincial Russian team.

'I would go there to play. In fact, it is an adventure that fascinates me,' he was quoted as saying.

'I have been told that (Elista) is a very ugly city, really sad. It is in the middle of sand dunes and the climate is terrible - torrid in summer and freezing in winter.

'I have a family, a wife and a little lad of three but I would move just the same - maybe at the start they would just visit me,' said Passoni.

Agent Giocondo Martorelli, who is handling the moves, told the newspaper Russia and China could become popular destinations for footballers at a time when cash is tight in Italian and west European football.

'Russia, together with China are the frontiers of the new football, also for our players. They are places that have money and a desire to invest in sport,' said the agent.