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Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Pompey sign Poland striker Olisadebe

Portsmouth have signed Nigerian-born Poland striker Emmanuel Olisadebe until the end of the season.

The 27-year-old international recently had a short trial spell at Fratton Park and returned to Panathinaikos after passing a medical.

But the deal was revived and Olisadebe, who has played 25 times for Poland, becomes the latest addition to Harry Redknapp's relegation threatened squad.

'I am very happy to be joining Portsmouth and excited about the prospect of playing in the Premier League, which for me is the best league in the world,' said the player.

'I hope to play and do well for the team and it feels good to be back after my trial last month.'

The announcement of the Olisadebe deal came just hours after winger Laurent Robert moved to Portuguese giants Benfica.

The temperamental Frenchman swapped the grind of a relegation dogfight with Portsmouth for the glamour of Champions League football by signing on a free transfer.

Pompey agreed to cancel Robert's season-long loan from Newcastle, leaving the player free to sign a three-and-a-half-year contract with Benfica.

Robert, 30, passed his medical in Lisbon this morning and immediately revealed the lure of Champions League football was too great to turn down.

'It gives me great satisfaction to join Benfica because it's an ambitious club, just as I am,' he said.

'I came here to win titles. This is a super club and they showed a lot of interest in me. To be able to play in the Champions League is fantastic, and that is why I am here today.'

Robert is in line for a quick return to English soil, however.

Benfica, coached by former Holland international Ronald Koeman and currently third in the Portuguese championship, face Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals after helping to eliminate Manchester United.

Robert cost Newcastle 9.5million when he signed from Paris St Germain in August 2001. He moved to Portsmouth last June on loan but has since been deemed surplus to requirements at Fratton Park following Redknapp's return as manager.

Redknapp has got Portsmouth moving in the right direction and could have plenty of money available for new recruits if Russian businessman Alexandre Gaydamak completes his attempt to become part-owner of the club.

Gaydamak is a 29-year-old multi-millionaire who, according to sources, plans to work closely with chairman Milan Mandaric, playing an active role in the club and key decisions affecting Portsmouth.

A source said: 'Sacha regards the club as a sleeping giant with lots of potential on the pitch and off the pitch.'

Gaydamak, who worked in a private banking company before setting up his own financial and real estate businesses, is expected to pass the Premier League's 'fit and proper person' test and sign a 'Director's Declaration' before being allowed to complete his investment in the club.

The test was raised as a possible obstacle because Gaydamak's father, the billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak, is the subject of an international arrest warrant in relation to his alleged part in an oil-for-arms deal to Angola in 1994, although he denies any wrongdoing.

However, while neither the Premier League nor Portsmouth were willing to discuss details, the club insist they have no reason to believe the deal will not go through as planned.

'We have no cause to be concerned,' said a club spokesman.




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