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Real Madrid Agree $27m Gago Deal
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Real Madrid agreed to sign highly-rated Argentine midfielder Fernando Gago from Boca Juniors on Thursday on a six-and-a-half-year contract.

"Real and Boca have agreed a deal over the transfer of Fernando Gago," the Primera Liga club said on their Web site (www.realmadrid.com). "The player will sign until June 30, 2013."

Boca said the Spanish giants had bowed to their demands for a fee of $27 million (about 20.5 million euros).

The recruitment of the 20-year-old, who will be unveiled to the media at 1200 local time on Friday, is part of the club's policy of rejuvenating their squad with South American players.

Gago's signing follows that of teenage striker Gonzalo Higuain, who joined Real last week for a fee of around 13 million euros and was presented on Thursday.

Real have also bought Brazilian fullback Marcelo from Fluminense for a fee between six and nine million euros to act as cover for 33-year-old Roberto Carlos.

Gago, a member of the Boca team pipped to the Apertura championship by Estudiantes last week, has a similar style to Argentine midfielder Fernando Redondo, who played for Real between 1994 and 2000.

He is the eighth player to join Real since Ramon Calderon took over as president in July and brings the club's expenditure since then to close to 100 million euros.

Close-season recruits included recently crowned World and European Footballer of the Year Fabio Cannavaro, Brazilian midfielder Emerson, Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mali international Mahamadou Diarra and Spain winger Jose Antonio Reyes.

Third-placed Real, who have not won a major trophy for three seasons, were trounced 3-0 at home by promoted Recreativo Huelva on Wednesday and are five points behind leaders Sevilla.

No second thoughts

Higuain was 'presented' by Real on Thursday and said he had no second thoughts about joining the club after watching their humiliating midweek defeat.

"These things can happen and it doesn't change the way I think about coming here," the 19-year-old former River Plate striker told a news conference.

"I don't want to say anything negative about the game. Real Madrid have a great squad full of great players and I've come here to win lots of league titles."

The teenager said he was not intimidated by the competition he would face at his new club where he will be battling it out with Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robinho and Raul for a place in the starting lineup.

"I'm not scared at all. All I want to do is to convince the coach and my team mates through my hard work that I'm worth a place in the squad. I will be doing all I can to learn from the great players around me," he said.

Higuain shot to prominence last May when he scored twice as River Plate beat Corinthians 3-1 to knock the Brazilian champions out of the Libertadores Cup.

He struck twice more in a 3-1 win over arch-rivals Boca Juniors in October and notched a spectacular goal in a 1-1 draw at Velez Sarsfield earlier this month to end the Argentine championship as his club's top scorer with nine goals.

Higuain's father Jorge played professional football in France for Brest where Gonzalo was born in 1987.

Higuain was 10 months old when he moved to Argentina with his family and has lived there ever since.

Last month he was called up by France coach Raymond Domenech for a friendly against Greece but his father sent the French Federation a fax saying he did not want to play for the country for the time being.

The player would not make any commitments about whether his future loyalties lay with France or Argentina.

"I don't know at the moment," he said when asked which country he would prefer to play for. "I'm just trying to take things one day at a time and concentrate on playing football and leave the rest up to my representative."

(China Daily via Reuters December 22, 2006)

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