June 4, 2007 / 2:56 PM / in 12 years

UPDATE 3-Soccer-Ranieri named as new Juventus coach

(Adds Ranieri quotes)

By Mark Meadows

MILAN, June 4 (Reuters) - Claudio Ranieri has signed a three-year deal as the new coach of Juventus, the club announced on Monday.

The former Chelsea boss, who resigned as Parma coach on Thursday after saving them from Serie A relegation, had been linked with Manchester City but has chosen to join newly-promoted Juve following Didier Deschamps’s resignation.

Media reports said Juventus had initially targeted their former coach Marcello Lippi but when Italy’s World-Cup winning manager turned them down, Ranieri entered the frame.

“For Juventus, this an authoritative choice fully in line with the company’s objectives and tradition,” a club statement read. “With Claudio Ranieri, a season with a wealth of ambitions and new opportunities opens up.”

Ranieri, who will start officially on July 1, told a news conference: “It is a beautiful, difficult and electrifying challenge. I like electrifying challenges. There is hard work to do to recover the position Juve are used to.

“It is a beautiful and ambitious project but I am sure we will do well. The fans are calm and we will make them feel proud of what Juve will do in the grounds of Italy for the moment, and then in the grounds of Europe.”

The much-travelled manager joined Parma in February as they struggled against relegation but results soon improved and they survived on the last day of the season.

Parma were not surprised when he quit but had expected him to replace the sacked Stuart Pearce at Manchester City given his self-confessed love for English football.

DEMOTION DAMAGE

He had been strongly linked with Premier League City amid speculation that former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was close to buying them and wanted the Italian as manager.

However, the chance to manage one of Europe’s biggest clubs, albeit damaged by their demotion to Serie B last season because of match-fixing, has proved too alluring for Ranieri.

Juventus coasted to promotion back to Serie A this season despite a nine-point deduction carried over from the match-fixing verdict.

Many members of the side which won and then were stripped of the 2005/06 Italian championship remain, including Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Gianluigi Buffon and Pavel Nedved.

They are expected to at least challenge for a Champions League place in the coming campaign although Ranieri will probably have to buy a new back four.

Ranieri began as a coach with minor Italian club Campania before moving to Cagliari. Spells with Napoli, Fiorentina, Valencia and Atletico Madrid followed before he moved to Chelsea in Sept. 2000 to replace fellow Italian Gianluca Vialli.

Although he failed to win a trophy in his four years at Stamford Bridge, Ranieri laid foundations for future success.

However, his squad rotation earned him the nickname “Tinkerman” and poor tactical decisions in the Champions League semi-final defeat by Monaco in 2004 led to billionaire owner Roman Abramovich replacing him with Jose Mourinho.

Ranieri returned to Valencia for a largely unsuccessful spell and then spent time as a pundit before joining Parma.

Additional reporting by Mitch Phillips in London

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