Albertini last night flew into Barcelona, where he spoke of his joy at securing a "dream" move at the age of 33. "Having already played for a great club, it's a dream come true to be able to join another like Barcelona, who are without question at the same level as [AC] Milan," Albertini told Barça's official website. "I am passionate about this profession and the Spanish league is spectacular and very attractive as opposed to the Italian, which is tactically much tougher."
Barça have suffered a number of serious injuries, with Henrik Larsson, Gabri García, Thiago Motta and Edmílson all long-term casualties due to knee ligament damage. The Catalan club have been seeking suitable reinforcements for some time, and have now turned to Albertini, who was part of the Atalanta side that lost 1-0 at US Lecce on Sunday. Negotiations are also thought to be at an advanced stage with CA River Plate striker Maxi López, who could join for €6m.
Albertini, who won 78 caps for Italy, knows the Spanish top flight well having spent a year on loan at Club Atlético de Madrid in 2002/03, making 28 league appearances. Albertini returned to Milan after his loan spell had expired before being released to join S.S. Lazio in summer 2003 and then moving to Atalanta last July. He played in three successive European Champion Clubs' Cup finals in the early 1990s and will hope to be registered for this season's edition.
He said of talks with Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard, his former Milan team-mate: "I spoke with Frank before leaving Italy. He explained why he wanted me: for my experience, because I am able to play in the [UEFA] Champions League and because I will be able to add many things to the side." Barça, the Spanish league leaders, meet English counterparts Chelsea FC over two legs with the winners progressing to the quarter-finals.
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