FC Shakhtar Donetsk have pulled off a major transfer coup by signing AS Livorno Calcio striker Cristiano Lucarelli on the eve of the new Ukrainian season.
The prolific 31-year-old has cost €8m, with Lucarelli agreeing a three-year contract. Lucarelli has been a consistent performer with his hometown club for the past four seasons, notably scoring 20 times in 34 league games last season to beat his haul for the previous top-flight campaign by one. In all he has scored 94 goals in 146 league matches for Livorno.
Lucarelli made his Italy debut on 8 June 2005 in a 1-1 draw against Serbia and Montenegro and has since added three more caps and one goal. Before moving to Livorno, Lucarelli played for AC Perugia, AS Cosenza Calcio, Calcio Padova 1910, Atalanta BC, US Lecce and Torino FC, and enjoyed a brief spell in Spain with Valencia CF in the 1998/99 season.
The first Italian to play in Ukraine is unlikely to take part in Shakhtar's huge season opener on Sunday against old rivals FC Dynamo Kyiv, the reigning champions. However, Shakhtar are confident he will be able to take part in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round when they face either Derry City FC or FC Pyunik over two legs. Livorno, who finished eleventh in Serie A last season, have also let midfielder Stefano Morrone go to Parma FC in a deal which has seen 23-year-old goalkeeper Alfonso De Lucia move in the opposite direction.
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