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With eye on championships, Zidane signs with Juventus

Playmaker Zinedine Zidane signed a new five-year contract with Italy's Juventus, ending speculation that he would join European champion Real Madrid.

Juventus, saying the signing ended "the summer's longest soap opera," didn't give details of the 28-year-old's new contract. Italian news agency ANSA reported that Real held talks with the team from Turin over a transfer for the 1998 World Player of the Year.

"I have signed a contract until 2005," Zidane told Juventus' official Web site. "I don't see any reason why I should leave."

Zidane said he wanted to stay at the two-time European champion because he thought it capable of regaining the European Champions League title, which he has not won since joining the club in September 1996.

"The Champions League, the trophy I miss, is what we want to win, and the time has come," he said. "We're in great shape and will prove it starting next Wednesday."

Juventus' campaign for a third European championship begins Wednesday when it visits Germany's Hamburg.

Zizou, as he is nicknamed by fans, helped France win the 2000 European Championships and the 1998 World Cup. He's won two Serie A titles and played in two Champions League finals since moving to Juventus.

MANCHESTER UNITED SALARY IDEA: Manchester United Plc, the world's richest club, might offer players share options to compete with salaries offered by its European rivals, coach Alex Ferguson said in an interview with Shareholders United magazine.

"It's another string in the bow to attract players to the club for a longer period," said analyst William Davies.

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