Portsmouth sign Distin from City
The powerful defender moves from Manchester to the south coast.
Last Modified: 23 May 2007 14:59 GMT

Sylvain Distin will be wearing a darker shade of blue next season as he moves south to Portsmouth [AFP]

English Premier League club Portsmouth have won the race to sign Manchester City defender Sylvain Distin on a free transfer, according to manager Harry Redknapp on Wednesday.
The highly rated French centre-back has agreed a three-year contract at Fratton Park after claiming he needed a fresh challenge, and although Redknapp had been interested in signing Distin last season, the 29-year-old opted to see out the final year of his deal at the City of Manchester Stadium.

The Portsmouth manager spoke of his relief at having beaten off interest from several Premeirship sides including Liverpool who had moved in with a late bid.

"Thankfully we struck an agreement with Sylvain and I am really pleased we've got him," Redknapp said.

"Last year when we showed an interest in him his price was five million (pounds) so to get him for free has got to be great business for the club.

"I have been an admirer for a long time. He's a fantastic player, left-sided and good in the air and very powerful."

Distin said it had been a tough decision to leave the club.

"I was five years at Manchester City and made a lot of friends there," said the Frenchman.

"But you have got to have ambition and for me that means trying to push for Europe. Portsmouth are capable of doing that, more than capable, and that's why I am here.

"When you are on a free transfer you are going to get a lot of offers but this is the one I wanted to take," Distin added.

"Harry Redknapp was a big influence. I like the way his teams play and this is definitely a club on the way up."

Campbell to stay

Distin, who cost $8 million when he joined the Blues from Paris St Germain in 2002, could soon be joined by Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari, currently playing with Italian side Udinese, who is expected to be Redknapp's next summer signing.

Redknapp meanwhile dismissed rumours that Sol Campbell, last season's major transfer coup, could be shipped out to make way for his new signing.

"Sol is still absolutely key for us. He has still a year to go on his contract and he's not going anywhere.

"I will try, in fact, to sign another defender very soon because you have to have competition for places and a big squad.

"The Premiership is going to be tougher than ever next season and if you stand still you end up going backwards."

Other transfer targets

Redknapp's other targets are Titus Bramble, released after five years at Newcastle, and Middlesbrough's out of contract Australian striker, Mark Viduka, who is mulling over an offer from Portsmouth.

"Mark will make up his own mind. He has plenty of offers but we are looking to improve all around," Redknapp said.

"We will need more goals and we have the money available to spend. The chairman is ambitious."

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.