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BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar
"Leeds will have the first chance to sign him permanently"
 real 14k

Leeds chairman Peter Risdale
on Yorkshire's new 'temporary' resident
 real 14k

Wednesday, 20 December, 2000, 18:29 GMT
Leeds sign Keane on loan
Robbie Keane
Keane had his heart set on Elland Road
Leeds United have snapped up Inter Milan striker Robbie Keane on loan until the end of the season.

And the move will almost certainly become permanent in the summer as long as the Irishman impresses and the Premiership club can come up with 12m.

"Having signed Rio Ferdinand for 18m we felt it imprudent to spend another 12m immediately," said Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale.

"But by structuring a loan formula, we have the player now without impacting on our financial position.

Yet again we have signed somebody who is in the mould of what we are trying to build at Elland Road
  Peter Ridsdale

"I am delighted with this deal. Yet again we have signed somebody who is in the mould of what we are trying to build at Elland Road - he is a young full international whose best years are ahead of him.

"He is someone we see being with us for the next five years, not the next five months. I am sure he is a player who will become a favourite at Elland Road."

Keane is due to fly in on Thursday to undergo a medical and finalise personal terms in time for him to be available for Saturday's visit of Aston Villa.

With regard the financial aspect of the arrangement, the key to a permanent deal would be Leeds securing their place in the Champions League next season, giving them the finances to pay for Keane.

Ridsdale added: "As a PLC we have a duty to our shareholders to ensure that we manage our resources with maximum efficiency."

Inter were initially looking for Keane to join another Italian club on loan, but that was not acceptable to agent Tony Stephens, who confirmed such a deal would only be with a British side.

It immediately sparked a surge of interest, with West Ham having a bid of 10m rejected, which was swiftly followed by Chelsea's 12m offer being accepted.

  O'Leary's dealings
David Batty from Newcastle 4.4m
Eirik Bakke from Sogndal 1.75m
Danny Mills from Charlton 4m
Michael Duberry from Chelsea 4.5m
Michael Bridges from Sunderland 5m
Danny Hay from Perth Glory 200,000
Darren Huckerby from Coventry 5.5m
Jason Wilcox from Blackburn 3m
Danny Milosevic from Perth Glory 100,000
Shaun Allaway from Reading 200,000
Olivier Dacourt from Lens 7.2m
Mark Viduka from Celtic 6m
Dominic Matteo from Liverpool 4.25m
Jacob Burns from Paramatta Power 200,000
Rio Ferdinand from West Ham 18m

But Chelsea managing director Colin Hutchinson admitted he was not hopeful of signing the young star due to Leeds being in the running - and given the Irish connection at Elland Road.

Having now finally secured the latest rising star, Ridsdale added: "We have been monitoring the situation since we saw he might be available.

"I would like to thank Inter Milan for their co-operation in the deal. There was a huge amount of interest in Robbie and it's to their credit they asked him as to his preference and we are delighted he chose Leeds.

"I think he has chosen us because David O'Leary is Irish and there are three Irish lads he knows at Leeds very, very well.

"Obviously things haven't gone as well for him at Inter Milan as perhaps he would hope and he is looking forward to coming back to the Premiership and to a club where he already has a few established friends.

"But that doesn't mean his confidence has dropped since going to Italy. If you talk to him he has an abundance of confidence, an abundance of talent and we are looking forward to seeing him on the football field.

"I see him as an additional ingredient to the current Leeds set up. This is a boom time at Leeds, but now we have to start turning the quality acquisitions into performances on the field."

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