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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Fulham complete capture of Baird
Chris Baird
Baird can operate at right-back or in the centre of defence
Southampton defender Chris Baird has snubbed Sunderland to join Fulham in a 3.025m deal.

Baird appeared to be heading to Wearside after Saints and Sunderland agreed a 3m fee for the 25-year-old.

Fulham had an initial bid for the Northern Ireland international turned down by Southampton.

But Fulham matched Sunderland's offer and Baird will join forces at Craven Cottage with former Northen Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez.

Sanchez said: "I am well aware of Chris's attributes as a player from my time with Northern Ireland and his qualities and versatility will be a major asset for the club next season.

"Winning the Southampton player of the season award last year is testament to his continued progress and development, which I have seen first hand at international level.

606: DEBATE
COB

"Chris becomes my second defensive signing following the arrival of Aaron Hughes and both players provide some much needed strength to our defence."

Saints boss George Burley admitted the move was in the player's hands after Baird held talks with Sunderland.

Baird submitted a transfer request last month and Fulham's initial bid was rejected as "derisory" by Southampton.

Burley told Saints website: "I don't want him to leave but we've agreed a fee and the ball is in his court."

Baird was voted the south-coast club's player of the year last season and his performances attracted interest from several Premiership clubs.

Sunderland boss Roy Keane has prioritised strengthening his defence, having lost loan stars Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson back to Manchester United.

Baird, who can operate at right-back or in the centre of defence, is delighted to have sorted out his future.

"It's been a long, hard wait but thankfully it's all done and dusted now and I'm a Fulham player.

"To play in the Premiership was one of the major reasons for me coming here.

"There are good quality players here and I'm just looking forward to the season. It's not the easiest start against Arsenal but I don't see why we can't get a result if we do things right in pre-season.

"And we don't want to be in the same position we were in last season - we want to be secure in the Premier League and hopefully we can finish much higher up next year."

SEE ALSO
Baird hands in transfer request
07 Jun 07 |  Southampton
Fulham's offer for Baird rejected
05 Jun 07 |  Southampton


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