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Official: Celtic miss out on ex-Manchester City midfielder Ahmad Benali, contract signed with Serie A side

Stadio Renzo Barbera

Celtic linked Ahmad Benali has signed with Palermo.

Palermo have won the race to sign midfielder Ahmad Benali, the Italian club have confirmed on their official website.

The 23-year-old defensive midfielder had been playing for cash-strapped Brescia, and he has signed on a free transfer.

The club announced he has signed a contract until 2019, a real show of faith from his new employers.

Benali's signature had been keenly sought after, with Celtic strongly linked. The Daily Record reported the interest of the Scottish side in January, while in March Football Italia claimed Ronny Deila's team were on the verge of a deal.

The Libyan international is a former Manchester City trainee, who was born in England, and had a short spell on loan at Rochdale early in his career.

He even represented England at under-17 level before pledging his future to the Libya side, making his debut three years ago.

Italian website Tuttomercatoweb had linked him previously with a switch to Inter Milan, who finished eighth in Serie A last season. His new side Palermo ended up in 11th place, and will be hoping their new signing can help them break into the top 10 next season.

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