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banner Friday, 6 July, 2001, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Nakata joins Parma
Hidetoshi Nakata
Nakata is leaving Roma after just 18 months
Parma have signed Japanese international midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata from Italian champions AS Roma.

The 24-year-old signed a four-year deal late on Thursday night, according to Parma.

Nakata cost Parma 60bn lire (£18.6m), according to Italian reports. Japanese media said he would earn £1.9m a year.

"I am honoured to come to play for a great team like this where I will also have the chance to play in the Champions League for the first time," Nakata said.

Nakata is a great player
  Patrick Mboma
Parma striker

Roma will also play in the Champions League this coming season, but Nakata must have feared being sidelined.

He was forced to play second fiddle to Italy international Francesco Totti last season, fuelling speculation of a move.

He joined Roma from Perugia for £11.4m in January 2000.

Nakata had also been a target of English Premier league club Arsenal.

One player certain to welcome Nakata to Parma will be their Cameroon international striker Patrick Mboma, formerly of J-League club Gamba Osaka.

"Nakata is a great player. With him supplying me passes I could score lots of goals," he said following Japan's 2-0 win over Cameroon at last month's Confederations Cup.

Major sale

Japan could have three international players plying their trade in Europe next season.

Shinji Ono is reported to be joining Dutch club Feyenoord, while Junichi Inamoto is believed to be close to a move to Arsenal.

The Nakata signing will offer some consolation to Parma fans who have seen their team, who finished fourth in Serie A, disintegrate during an intense spell of transfer activity.

In the past month, Parma have sold four of their top players.

French international defender Lilian Thuram and Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon have gone to Juventus, Portuguese winger Sergio Conceiçao to Inter Milan and Brazilian forward Marcio Amoroso to Borussia Dortmund.

They are said also to be buying Brazilian goalkeeper Taffarel from Galatasaray, Inter Milan's Under-21 international defender Matteo Ferrari and midfielder Marco Marchionni.

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