Inamoto signs for Fulham


LONDON, AFP

Fulham have signed Junichi Inamoto of Japan on a one-year loan deal from Japanese club Gamba Osaka, the English Premiership club confirmed in a statement on Monday.

The west London outfit’s manager Jean Tigana of France had been impressed by Inamoto’s sparkling display with two goals in the World Cup.

Inamoto was on a loan deal with Arsenal but he did not make one Premiership appearance and manager Arsene Wenger chose to release him at the end of last season.

The deal for the 22-year-old midfielder, who scored two goals to power Japan to the last-16 round in last month’s World Cup finals, includes the option of a three-year extension on a permanent contract.

A Fulham statement read: “Fulham Football Club today announce the signing of Junichi Inamoto from Gamba Osaka on a one-year loan agreement, with an option for three further years on a permanent basis.

“The agreement could see Inamoto at Fulham until the summer of 2006. He joined up with the squad this morning for training.”

Japanese media estimated Inamoto’s fee at US$4.5 million and his annual salary at US$400,000.

Inamoto’s performances attracted interest from several European clubs including PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands as well as Italian sides Perugia, Atalanta and Juventus.

But Tigana won the race for his signature after the midfielder expressed a firm interest to stay in the Premiership despite a miserable season with Arsenal.

Earlier this month, the Highbury side told Inamoto that he could leave the Premiership champions after featuring in only four matches for Arsenal last season — two in the Champions’ League and two in the English League Cup.