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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

United Signs Cantona To ?(F)3 Million Contract

MANCHESTER, England -- French star Eric Cantona ended weeks of speculation Friday by announcing that he has signed a new three-year contract that will keep him with Manchester United through 1998.

Cantona, who has been banned from soccer worldwide until next October for assaulting a Crystal Palace fan on Jan. 25, turned down a lucrative transfer offer from the Italian club Inter Milan to stay with United.

"I'm staying here because Manchester United is the biggest club in England, maybe in Europe, maybe in the world," Cantona said at a news conference.

"I never thought about leaving Manchester United, never," Cantona said. "Maybe some people in England [wanted me to leave.] But I'm here.

"I hope to spend the rest of my career here."

Asked whether he could handle further provocation, Cantona smiled and said: "Easy."

Financial terms of the contract were not announced, but British newspapers said the three-year deal would pay Cantona up to ?3 million ($4.8 million), making him British soccer's highest-paid player.

Inter Milan officials reacted bitterly to the announcement, claiming they had been misled by Cantona's representatives.

"They had agreed to have him play for Inter next year," Inter general secretary Paolo Taveggia told Sky TV. "I am disappointed with Cantona's representatives, his manager and his lawyer. I think they were not as fair with us as we were with them."