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Friday, 23 June, 2000, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Pinto signs for Sporting Lisbon
Joao Pinto
Joao Pinto and Portugal have impressed at Euro 2000
Sporting Lisbon have signed Portugal's unemployed striker Joao Pinto, beating rival bids from England's Aston Villa and Italy's Fiorentina, according to Portuguese state radio.

Pinto, fired by Benfica just ahead of Euro 2000 after a dispute with the Lisbon club's German coach Jupp Heynckes, has signed a four-year contract with Benfica's crosstown rival, the report said.

The 28-year-old, who scored Portugal's second goal against England, will receive a signing-on fee of about 3.5m and a monthly salary of 85,000.

The salary is lower than the bids from Aston Villa, Fiorentina and Chelsea, according to reports, but Pinto was believed to want to stay in the Portuguese capital.

Pinto's agent Jose Veiga has been handling negotiations with clubs, while Pinto trains with the national team in the Dutch town of Ermelo where Portugal has its Euro 2000 headquarters.

Major coup

The signing is a major coup for Sporting in its traditional rivalry with Benfica. Sporting won the league title last season for the first time in 18 years and will play in next season's European Champions League.

The club has spent heavily to lure quality players to the Alvalade stadium, including Danish keeper Peter Schmeichel last year.

Pinto played in the teams that won the World Cup for the under-21s in 1989 and 1991, and joined Benfica in 1992 after a bad spell at Spain's Athletic Madrid.

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See also:

22 Jun 00 | Portugal
Sousa laughs at English efforts
17 Jun 00 | Portugal
Figo wants to stay with Barcelona
09 Jun 00 | Portugal
Portuguese stars stay focused
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