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Grazi and goodbye for China move.

SOUTHAMPTON have confirmed the departure of Italy striker Graziano Pelle to Chinese club Shandong Luneng.

Pelle, who turns 31 on July 15, had only one year remaining on his Southampton deal and had been linked with a move away from St Mary's Stadium during the January transfer window.

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The possibilty also emerged this summer of him rejoining his former Saints boss Ronald Koeman at Everton. But the Barclays Premier League club confirmed the Italian's departure yesterday for an undisclosed fee, which is believed to be worth around PS13million. A statement on www.saintsfc.co.uk read: "Everyone at Southampton Football Club would like to thank Graziano for his efforts during his time at St Mary's and wish him well for the future." Pelle joined Southampton from Dutch side Feyenoord in the summer of 2014, and went on to make 81 appearances, scoring 30 goals. Following an impressive Euro 2016, the Italy striker had been linked with a move to join outgoing Azzurri manager Antonio Conte at Chelsea.

However, the forward is understood to have been eyeing a move to China since January, which saw Southampton move for QPR's Charlie Austin. Southampton may have sold Victor Wanyama to Tottenham and Sadio Mane to Liverpool, but the south-coast club have also been active in the transfer window, with the signing of England under-21 forward Nathan Redmond from Norwich for PS10million and midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Bayern Munich.

Graziano Pelle

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 12, 2016
Words:239
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