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Soccer: Juve land Osvaldo, Hernanes set for Inter

Bad-boy Italy forward leaves Southampton after bust-up

31 January, 19:27
Soccer: Juve land Osvaldo, Hernanes set for Inter (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Turin, January 31 - Italy forward Pablo Daniel Osvaldo joined Serie A champions Juventus from Southampton, while Brazilian midfielder Hernanes was set to move to Inter Milan from Lazio on the last day of the January transfer window Friday.

Argentine-born striker Osvaldo has left the English Premier League outfit after being banned for two weeks for fighting with team mate Josè Fonte in training.

The incident consolidated the 28-year-old's image for being an explosive character. The player, who joined Southampton from AS Roma for a club-record fee of around 15 million euros in the closed season, sparked off a major touchline fracas in a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United in December that saw him banned and fined 400,000 by the Football Association.

He was also suspended by Roma in 2011 for punching former team-mate Erik Lamela, reportedly for not passing to him, after a 2-0 defeat by Udinese.

Furthermore, he left the Rome club in acrimonious circumstances after refusing to take part in the awards ceremony after they lost to city rivals Lazio in the Italian Cup final and being involved in an angry spat with former coach Aurelio Andreazzoli.

The row cost Osvaldo a place in Italy's squad for last year's Confederations Cup and led Roma to let him go even though he was their top scorer last season with 16 league goals.

Osvaldo is hoping to get a fresh start with Juve, who are currently six points clear at the top of the table, in order to secure a place in the Azzurri's squad for this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

But he may find it hard to usurp Juve's current striker pecking order and take a regular starting slot from Argentine Carlos Tevez or Spain forward Fernando Llorente.

He will also face competition for a place from Italians Fabio Quagliarella and Sebastian Giovinco, and Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic, unless Juve manage to offload someone before the January transfer window closes later on Friday. Juventus said they have an option to turn the loan into a a permanent move with a transfer fee of 19 million euros at the end of the season. Hernanes, meanwhile, bid farewell to Lazio, with the Rome club negotiating the 28-year-old's sale to Inter Milan. The player was in tears at the end of a training session Wednesday after a big crowd of fans staged a protest and begged him not to go. The weeping was interpreted as a sign that Hernanes was being forced to leave, generating anger at club chairman Claudio Lotito. But the classy attacking midfielder, who helped Lazio win the Italian Cup last season, clarified Friday that he had asked to leave.

"No one is forcing me to go, it's my decision," Hernanes, who has 22 Brazil caps, said on his Facebook page. "I told the chairman I wanted to go to reach an even higher level football-wise... My decision has nothing to do with money or fame". Inter, who are 23 points of the pace in Serie A in fifth place, have reportedly offered 15 million euros for the player.

He is set to be the first major signing since Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir took over the club in November.

Hernanes's departure will leave a big hole on the squad of 10th-place Lazio, who, like Inter, are are also enduring a disappointing campaign.

The Rome side are in talks to replace him with 22-year-old Frenchman Gael Kakuta, who is owned by Chelsea but is currently on loan at Dutch top-flight club Vitesse. AC Milan said Friday that they have signed Morocco forward Adel Taarabt on loan from second-tier London side Queens Park Rangers. Taarabt, 24, played the first half of the season on loan at Premier League Fulham.

Milan, who are also out of the Serie A title race but are Italy's only representative in the knock-out stages of the Champions League, have been busy in the transfer market in January.

They have also signed Japan playmaker Keisuke Honda, who moved as a free agent after his contract with CSKA Moscow expired, French centre-half Adil Rami from Valencia and Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien from Chelsea.