Portugal full-back Cédric Soares says he has fulfilled a dream after officially signing for Italian side Internazionale on a six-month loan deal from English Premier League club Southampton.
Meanwhile, German champions Bayern Munich appear keen to hold on to Renato Sanches, after coach Niko Kovac confirmed that he is unwilling to approve any move for the former Benfica midfielder.
For right-back Cédric, the move to Inter comes after he has seen his involvement at Southampton reduced slightly under new manager Ralph Hasenhüttl. The 27-year-old had been an undisputed starter since arriving at St Mary’s, but the Austrian coach has changed the team’s system and the former Sporting defender has been in and out of the side of late.
Cédric completed his medical on Friday in Milan, telling reporters he was “very happy” and declaring “Forza Inter!” when leaving the club’s headquarters. The move was announced officially on Saturday and Cédric told the club reporters that he was delighted to be arriving at San Siro. “Coming to Inter It’s a dream come true. It’s an unbelievable team and club and I’m very happy to be here.
Inter is already home to a Portugal international and former Sporting colleague of Cédric’s in João Mario, who has recently enjoyed an upturn in fortunes with the Nerazurri, having found his way back into the team after being frozen out of Luciano Spalletti’s plans last year.
"João loves it here"
“I had the opportunity to speak with João Mario to learn more about the team," Cédric said. "I am very happy to be here and I think my style of football is adaptable to Inter. I will need a period to learn and know my teammates but I think it will be fine.
“João is a very good friend of mine. We grew up in the same club. He’s slightly younger than me but we are close and it’s a pleasure for me to come to play with him. He told me a lot of good stuff. He loves it here, he’s very happy now he’s playing most of the games. He told me the way the team plays, the idea – Inter plays like a big club. So I was very happy to have this opportunity and fight alongside him to help Inter.
“San Siro is a legendary stadium. I think everyone when they are young in school and have a dream, you think about playing in a full stadium. When you dream about that you dream about somewhere like San Siro. For me it will be a pleasure to play there. When I was young, I had a picture of Inter players on my school book. Maybe there was a reason and I like to believe in these things.”
Sanches staying put – Kovac
One Portugal international less likely to move this month is Renato Sanches. The former Benfica midfielder has been the subject of transfer speculation in recent weeks, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly approaching Bayern Munich about taking Sanches to the French capital.
A price of around €30-35m has been suggested during talk of a potential move for Sanches, who earlier this month refused to rule out a move, telling reporters: "I'm happy, but of course I want to play more. I just want the best for myself, and if it's best to stay, then I'll stay. If it's best for me to leave, then I'll go. When you play, you feel happy, and I want to play and feel well," the midfielder said.
However, Bayern coach Niko Kovac appears to have blocked the move and insists the Portugal midfielder still has a role to play during the remainder of the season. "I'm really pleased with Renato and convinced he'll play a lot of games in the rest of this season. If everything goes well we'll have a lot of games in March and April. We could have nine games in 30 days in April, which is a hell of a lot, and we’ll need every player.
"PSG were and are very interested, but I've said Renato isn’t going anywhere because I think he's showing great progress. He's played a number of games, unfortunately he got a red card in the last home game so he couldn't play against Frankfurt, but he did really well during the winter break. He is doing really well, and I don't want to lose him."
By Sean Gillen