Sereni is on his way

LAZIO have swooped to sign unsettled Ipswich Town keeper Matteo Sereni.The Italian giants, who finished fourth in Serie A last season, are ready to stump up hard cash for the highly-rated keeper after the Blues refused to allow the player to leave on a free transfer.

LAZIO have swooped to sign unsettled Ipswich Town keeper Matteo Sereni.

The Italian giants, who finished fourth in Serie A last season, are ready to stump up hard cash for the highly-rated keeper after the Blues refused to allow the player to leave on a free transfer.

I understand the deal will be done within the next couple of days; if not, Sereni will line up against Third Division Southend United at Roots Hall next week as Ipswich start their pre-season friendlies.

Lazio are one of three clubs who looked to take Sereni on a free transfer when his season-long loan expired with Brescia at the end of May. The terms of the transfer are a little complicated but Town will receive significantly more than they would have if they had acquiesced to Sereni's request that he be released from his contract.


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As the club's highest earner by far, on nearly £30,000 a week, it must have been tempting but their tough stance looks likely to pay dividends, plus they will save around £3m in wages over the next two years.

The record £4.8m buy was outstanding for Ipswich in his first four months, but he fell out with old manager George Burley and when Town were relegated was happy to move on a season-long loan to Brescia, who had an option to buy him.

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They claimed poverty and would only take him for nothing but Town refused. The 28-year-old keeper reluctantly returned to Ipswich last Wednesday for training and was clearly miserable, prompting him to return to Italy over the weekend and encourage his agent to hasten a move.

He is close friends with Lazio coach Roberto Mancini, who tried to sign him two years ago when the pair were holidaying in Sardinia together, but Sereni chose Ipswich.

Sampdoria were the third club looking to take back their old favourite for nothing, even though he was recently awarded £500,000 by an industrial tribunal against his old employees. They are looking to strengthen after returning to Serie A but Lazio striker Enrico Chiesa is their immediate target and that will shave £1m off Lazio's wage bill.

With Lazio now in the UEFA Cup and in a financially stronger position than most Italian clubs, it looks a good deal all round. Sereni will be ecstatic. Mancini will be delighted at securing one of the country's top five keepers. Blues boss Joe Royle will be grateful his chairman can allow him a little more freedom in bringing in a new player while the club will take a step closer to their stated aim of getting the annual salary down to £5m.

Once the ink is dry on the paperwork, Royle will be looking to bring in a new No. 1 at the club after putting Andy Marshall on a free transfer. James Pullen is in a similar situation and is looking for a new club, while Lewis Price, Scott Peat and Shane Suple, are being given their chance at Portman Road this year.

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