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panoramix
08-05-05, 01:13 PM
Real Madrid midfielder Luis Figo left the club's pre-season training camp in Austria on Thursday to sever his connection with the Spanish giants and sign for Serie A side Inter Milan.

Madrid said the 32-year-old Portuguese international, who still has a year to run on his contract, would undergo a medical with Inter and be presented to the Italian media on Saturday.

"I'm going to Inter to see if they will let me play a bit of football," Figo told reporters as he left the training base in Irdning. "I will have time to bid farewell to the fans who are the ones who deserve it more than anyone else.

"On Saturday I will give a news conference to say goodbye to them as I won't have the chance to do that by playing in front of them."

Spanish media reported that Figo would sign a two-year deal with the Serie A club for a reported salary of between 3.5 million euros and 4.5 million euros a year.

The former World and European Footballer of the Year, who fell out with Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo after being consigned to the bench for the latter part of last season, had been given permission to negotiate with other clubs.

Madrid are reported not to have demanded a fee for the player who had also been linked with Liverpool and Valencia.

Figo began his career at his home club of Sporting Lisbon, making his name as part of the golden generation of Portuguese youngsters who won the World U-16 and U-20 championships in 1989 and 1991.

He moved to Spain in 1995 to sign for Barcelona, quickly becoming a favourite among the club's fans for his committed and skilful performances on the right wing.

He won seven trophies in a five-year spell at the Catalan club, including two league titles, two Spanish Cups and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

But Figo was transformed from hero to villain in the eyes of the Nou Camp faithful when he defected to arch-rivals Madrid in July 2000 in one of the most controversial transfers in Spanish football history.

Newly elected Real president Florentino Perez paid a then world record $56 million to buy Figo out of his contract with the Catalans and bring him to the Bernabeu.

The midfielder, viewed as Madrid's first 'Galactico' signing, helped his new club to the league title in his first season and played an important part in their victories in the 2002 European Cup and 2003 Spanish championship.

He won the European Footballer of the Year in December 2000 largely on the back of his performances at Barcelona and was named FIFA World Player of the Year 12 months later after a season and a half at Madrid.

Although Real have experienced a major slump in form in the last two seasons, Figo was one of the few leading players to emerge with credit intact.

But the arrival of former Brazil coach Luxemburgo mid-way through last season resulted in his gradual marginalisation.

Figo's individualistic performances on the right wing did not fit Luxemburgo's game plan and the two clashed when the midfielder was dropped for a league match against his former club Barcelona in April.

Relegated to a secondary role, Figo subsequently agreed to come out of the international retirement he had announced after UEFA EURO 2004 and made it clear he wanted to continue playing for his country until next year's FIFA World Cup.

He is Portugal's most capped player with 112 caps from an international career that has spanned 14 years. If he does complete the move to Inter, Figo would be the fourth Madrid player to join the Serie A side in the last 12 months.

Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso joined Inter last year and compatriots Santiago Solari and Walter Samuel have followed the same route in the close season.