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Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK

Chelsea seal £10m Sutton deal

Sutton: Doubled in value during five years at Blackburn

Chelsea have signed England striker Chris Sutton from Blackburn for £10m.

Chris Sutton after signing: "I feel relaxed"
Tottenham, Arsenal and Aston Villa were also thought to be being interested in the 26-year-old, transfer-listed at his own request after Rovers were relegated.

But Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli won the race for the forward, who scored just four goals in 20 appearances in an injury-hit final season for Blackburn.

Sutton cost Blackburn a then British record fee of £5m when he joined from Norwich in 1994.

[ image: Vialli: First English signing]
Vialli: First English signing
The player has signed a six-year contract with the Blues.

His arrival ends Vialli's search for another top class striker, following Pierluigi Casiraghi's serious knee injury and Brian Laudrup's departure last season.

"I'm looking forward to getting started," said Sutton.

"I just hope I can emulate those who have done well here over the years.

Giuanluca Vialli: We had "another Chris Sutton" until Casiraghi's injury last season
"It's very important coming to Chelsea now. There was a feeling about the place when I first joined Blackburn five years ago and there's a similar one here.

"I was keen to get signed as quickly as possible. Chelsea have got some very experienced players and hopefully I can blend in here."

Tough guy

The new signing is the first big name Englishman brought to the club by Vialli since he replaced Ruud Gullit early in 1998.

[ image:  ]
"He can be a tough player on the pitch, which is something sometimes that we missed last season and he's got a great personality," said the Italian manager.

"He's not a cheap player - £10m is a lot of money - but I think sometimes you have to spend money if you want to improve and strengthen the team."

The manager admitted: "It was a difficult season he had with Blackburn relegated. He wants to play international football, not just with Chelsea.

"I've got no doubt that he's going to try his very best to play well and score goals for the club."

[ image: Roberto Mancini: Former team-mate of Vialli]
Roberto Mancini: Former team-mate of Vialli
Sutton's move follows Didier Deschamps' £3m arrival at Stamford Bridge last week.

It also comes despite reports in the Italian press that Vialli wanted to buy former Sampdoria team-mate Roberto Mancini.

The Sutton transfer fee is the third-biggest paid by one English club to another, the fifth-highest involving Premiership clubs, and the second-largest for any English player.

The biggest remains the £15m Newcastle paid for Sutton's former "SAS" partner at Blackburn, Alan Shearer.

Rovers: No choice

Blackburn chief executive John Williams said the club had little choice.

"At the end of last season Chris Sutton made it clear that he felt the time was right for him to further his career away from Ewood Park," said a statement.

"That being the case we immediately underlined our determination to secure the best possible financial deal for the club.

"We now feel we have achieved that goal," he added.

"No one likes to lose good players but we have an excellent squad here and believe our ambition of achieving an immediate return to the Premiership is a realistic one."

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