ITALIAN superstar Roberto Baggio, who became the world's most

expensive footballer last week when he moved from Juventus to AC Milan

for almost #13m, yesterday fired back at critics of his love of hunting,

shooting, and fishing.

A devout Buddhist, he said his branch of the religion had nothing

against such activities. ''There are many branches of Buddhism and the

one I have converted to has no such limitations. Instead it has deep and

important ends,'' he said.

The World Cup midfielder earlier went fishing on the lagoon near the

north-eastern resort of Grado, where he is on holiday with his family.

Last month, bombarded by speculation about his future, he went on a

duck-shooting holiday in Argentina.

Nicknamed the ''Divine Pigtail'', he announced he had converted to

Buddhism -- a religion often associated with strict vegetarianism --

while at Fiorentina in 1988.

In 1993, Baggio devoted his European Footballer of the Year award to

Daisaku Ikeda, the leader of the Japanese lay Buddhist organisation Soka

Gakkai, which he follows.

In the meantime, David Platt, the #4.7m-rated England skipper, will

decide next week whether to return home or extend his contract with

Sampdoria for a further three years.

The 29-year-old midfielder, who began his Serie A career in 1991 with

a #5.5m deal from Aston Villa to Bari, says he has spoken to three

clubs, but refused to name them.

Inter Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Blackburn, and

Everton have all been linked with him in recent weeks.