ROME, February 2 – Four-time defending Serie A champions Inter Milan signed highly-rated Kenyan international midfielder McDonald Mariga from rivals Parma on Monday on a four year contract.
Inter stepped in for the 22-year-old – capped 24 times – hours after a move to English Premier League heavyweights Manchester City had fallen through when he was refused a work permit.
A statement from Inter read: "Mariga has signed a contract until June 30 2014 and will wear the number 17 jersey.”
As part of the transfer deal Inter let Chilean midfielder Luis Jimenez – who had just returned from a loan spell with another Premier League outfit West Ham – move to Parma.
Mariga who had successfully undergone a medical at City and agreed personal terms was denied a the necessary documentation due to Kenya’s dismal FIFA world ranking.
The British Home Office only grants work permits to players whose countries are in the top 70 bracket. Kenya currently occupies 98th position.
Mariga’s move to the San Siro could see the former Tusker and Ulinzi player bask in glory with Inter who are eight points clear at the top of Serie A and in the quarter final of the UEFA Champions League where they will take on Jose Mourinho’s former side Chelsea.
Mariga’s failure to join the richest club in the world elicited outrage back home with some kenyans accusing the British government for discrimination while others pointed the finger at Kenya’s football administrators whose incessant wrangles caused Harambee Stars dip in the rankings.