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Cannavaro, Emerson Join Real Madrid
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Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and Brazilian midfielder Emerson have agreed to join Real Madrid from troubled Serie A side Juventus, the Primera Liga club said on Wednesday.

"Real Madrid would like to announce that they have reached an agreement with Juventus for the signing of Fabio Cannavaro and Emerson," the Spanish club said on its website on Wednesday.

"The agreement was finalized this Wednesday evening in Turin by sporting director Predrag Mijatovic. The international players will be presented at the Bernabeu in the next few days."

Real did not disclose the cost of the deal but Spanish media said they would pay about 20 million euros (US$24.99 million) for the pair who will be reunited with ex-Juve coach Fabio Capello who took charge of the nine-times European champions this month.

Cannavaro and Emerson are the first of a number of Juventus players expected to leave in the wake of Italy's match-fixing scandal, which resulted in the Serie A side being stripped of their last two league titles and relegated to the second division.

Their Juventus team-mates Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram are expected to join Real's arch-rivals Barcelona next week for a combined fee of about 19 million euros (US$24 million).

Real's two new signings are the club's first since Ramon Calderon took over as president at the beginning of the month.

Calderon originally pledged to bring AC Milan midfielder Kaka, Chelsea winger Arjen Robben and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas to the Bernabeu, but resistance from these players' clubs and the arrival of Capello saw attention switch to the Juve players.

Real are also trying to sign Manchester United's Dutch international striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, but have had their initial bid rejected by the English club.

Outstanding campaign

Cannavaro, who turns 33 in September, led Juventus to the title in the last two seasons and was widely regarded as the outstanding player in Italy's triumphant World Cup campaign.

The former Napoli and Parma player produced a series of peerless displays at the heart of Italy's superb defence, winning admiration for his reading of the game, anticipation, athleticism and ice-cool temperament.

He was also praised for keeping the players' minds fixed on the tournament despite the distractions of the match-fixing scandal and produced another top drawer performance when he won his 100th cap in the win over France in the final.

The battle-hardened 30-year-old Emerson began his career at Botafogo and moved to Bayer Leverkusen from Gremio in 1997. He spent three seasons with the German club before joining AS Roma, who were coached by Capello.

He helped Roma to their first Scudetto in 18 years in 2004 and then followed Capello to Juventus in 2004 for a fee of 28 million euros (US$35.3 million) where he played a key role in the club's back-to-back league titles in 2005 and 2006.

The midfielder has won 73 caps for Brazil although he missed the 2002 World Cup after dislocating his shoulder keeping goal in training before their opening match against Turkey.

Three more signings

Real Madrid are targeting another three signings following the arrival of Juventus pair Cannavaro and Emerson, Capello said yesterday.

"We have five objectives. Two are completed and we'll have to see how the others go. There is no rush," Capello told a news conference at the club's training camp in Austria.

"Emerson and Cannavaro have experience and quality, are competitive and there is no problem with their ages. Good players can continue to perform until they are 35," Capello said.

"They will be important figures for Real and above all are team players. The most important thing we had to do was to sign a defender and a midfielder and now that is done."

Capello refused to be drawn on who the other signings might be when asked if Juve's Gianluca Zambrotta was also going to join Real.

"He is a great player but it appears that Barcelona have an agreement with him. We are relaxed because we have Roberto Carlos and we'll see if we can get another player instead," he added.

On Van Nistelrooy, who is also being chased by Bayern Munich, Capello said: "We are in discussions and trying to sign him. Everyone wants to get important players but in the end it is the players who decide."

(China Daily July 21, 2006)

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