Duff completes Newcastle move


Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff has completed his £10 million transfer from Chelsea to Newcastle United where he links up with fellow internationals Shay Given and Stephen Carr.

The transfer marks a return to the north of England for the Dubliner who had spent six years with Blackburn Rovers prior to his London move three summers ago.

"I can't tell you how pleased I am about getting a player of that quality," Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder said.

"I would think it will excite our fans as well. The supporters love ball-players who can go past players and get crosses in and Damien is that type of player."

Newcastle beat off competition from Premiership rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, who were granted permission to approach the player late on Friday night.

It is also understood that four other Premiership clubs as well as one overseas outfit were tracking the 27-year-old Ballyboden man.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was reportedly prepared to offer Duff a role on the right flank but his preference is to play on the left and Newcastle will offer him that.

Liverpool sources claim they were "offered" the player but did not make a formal bid and will instead continue their pursuit of Birmingham City's Jermaine Pennant this week.

Duff - who has agreed a five-year deal - passed a medical on Tyneside yesterday while the first team were on their way back from Norway after beating Lillestrom to book their place in the Uefa Cup.

Originally, he was looking to extend his Chelsea contract which has two years still to run.  However, he would have had to take a significant pay-cut to remain at Stamford Bridge.

Duff approached his former manager Jose Mourinho last week, telling him he wanted a transfer away from the club in order to find regular first team football.

He made just 63 Premiership starts in those three seasons following his £17 million move from Blackburn and faced increasingly stiff competition for his position from Arjen Robben, Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Duff, though, is now guaranteed weekly action on Tyrneside and the supporters have welcomed the high-profile signing having suffered a series of recent blows.

First, fans-favourite Alan Shearer retired and then his strike partner Michael Owen suffered a knee injury at the World Cup which is set to sideline him for much of the season.

Duff will be unveiled at St James' Park tomorrow afternoon.