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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 20:10 GMT
Pompey sign Berkovic
Man City midfielder Eyal Berkovic
Portsmouth have completed the signing of Israeli midfielder Eyal Berkovic from Manchester City.

Berkovic signed a two-and-a-half-year deal and Pompey boss Harry Redknapp is confident he will be available to play City on Saturday.

Redknapp described Berkovic, a player he worked with at West Ham, as a "special footballer".

"He can be moody and he has his own mind, but the little fella can play and create," Redknapp told BBC Sport.

"I had three or four fantastic seasons with him at West Ham and I'm sure he'll make us play."

Berkovic said: "All I want to do is get down to playing football regularly again and help the club out of the bottom three which I believe I can."

The clubs agreed a fee of what is believed to be 500,000 after City boss Kevin Keegan made it clear the Israeli international had no future with the club.

I'm looking forward to starting again at Pompey
Eyal Berkovic

Keegan, however, had been quite keen to ensure Berkovic would not play at the weekend but Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric threatened to pull out of negotiations if any clause was inserted in the deal.

Redknapp said: "He can create. I'd rather get someone in like that rather than one who will win 50 tackles and give the ball to the opposition 49 times."

Initially there was a stumbling block over Berkovic's wage demands, but they were ironed out after talks between Peter Storrie, Pompey chief exective, and the player's agent Pini Zahavi.

Berkovic's relationship with Keegan soured during the summer when his request for a contract extension was refused.

The former Celtic star immediately handed in a transfer request and although that was subsequently withdrawn he could not force his way back into the first team.

He made just three first-team starts for the Blues this term and did not feature for City after coming on as a substitute against Newcastle on 22 November.

Redknapp will now turn his attention to his strikeforce with Aiyegbeni Yakubu off to the African Nations Cup.

His problems are compounded by news that West Bromwich Albion are likely to sell Jason Roberts, who is on loan at Fratton Park, to Wigan.

"It looks like I'll be in trouble up front and that could be my big problem in the next week or two," Redknapp added.






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