Spanish international striker Salva Ballesta has joined Premiership strugglers Bolton Wanderers FC on loan for the remainder of the season from Valencia CF.
The 27-year-old Ballesta was an instrumental figure in the white of Valencia for much of last season as the club claimed their first Primera División championship since 1971 before coach Rafael Benítez identified John Carew, Miguel Angel Angulo and Juan Sánchez - supported by Pablo Aimar - as his three first-choice attackers.
The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, had made no secret of his desire to sign a top-class player in the mould of Youri Djorkaeff after the Frenchman's arrival helped the Lancashire club avoid relegation from England's top division last season. Bolton face a similar fight this term, as they sit a point and a place outside the relegation zone after 25 matches.
Ballesta passed a medical at the Reebok stadium last night and both clubs confirmed that the deal had been finalised today. Allardyce said: "We are delighted that all our hard work has finally paid off.
Salva's got a proven track record and has a tremendous pedigree in Spain."
EURO 2000™ squad
Ballesta broke through in the 1996/97 season when he struck 12 goals in 34 games for his hometown club Sevilla FC. A move to Racing Santander did not curb his thirst for goals and he hit 25 of them in the 1999/00 season, earning a place in Spain's EURO 2000™ squad. He continued to find the net with alarming regularity for Club Atlético de Madrid in the Segunda División, prompting Valencia to pay €11m for his services.
Ballesta is likely to make his debut in a crucial fixture against Birmingham City FC on Saturday, with Allardyce expecting an immediate impact. "He is strong in the air with a fantastic eye for goal. We are confident that he'll score the goals we need to get us out of our current predicament," the Bolton manager said.
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