FC Barcelona have completed a deal to sign Argentinian midfield player Juan Román Riquelme on a contract for five or six seasons.
'An exceptional player'
Barcelona will pay Club Atlético Boca Juniors €6m for 50 per cent of the player's contract, with another €5m due over the next two seasons to buy him outright. "We're talking about an exceptional player," said Barcelona club president Joan Gaspart. "We had to make sure he didn't get away."
Possible loan move
The 24-year-old international, who had one year left on his Boca contract, was not included in Argentina's squad for last month's FIFA World Cup finals and could be sent out on loan in his first season in Europe, as Barcelona already have four non-European Union players, the maximum allowed under Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) rules.
Gaspart said Riquelme will arrive in Barcelona late this week or the beginning of next and had accepted the possibility of being loaned out while coach Louis van Gaal decided what to do with the four current non-EU players - Argentina's Javier Saviola and Brazilians Rivaldo, Geovanni and Fabio Rochemback.
'Best for the team'
"Riquelme has agreed to the condition for his first season, but he can only go to certain teams [in Spain, Portugal, France or Italy]," explained Gaspart. "It is a possibility but the club would have to pay money for the loan deal. Van Gaal will decide the best for the team, but he said that he would only accept the transfer of Riquelme if we found a solution for the non-EU players."
Gaspart also confirmed that the Riquelme deal had not ended Barcelona's close-season transfers and that another midfield player would be join the club in the coming days.
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