Argentinian central defender Roberto Ayala has paid €6m to buy himself out of his contract with Villarreal CF in order to sign for Real Zaragoza on a three-year contract.
Ayala, who scored an own goal in Sunday's Copa América final defeat by Brazil on his record 115th and final appearance for his country, agreed in February to join Villarreal following the expiry of his contract with Valencia CF in June, but the 34-year-old shocked the east-coast club by deciding to break the agreement and take off for Zaragoza having never even trained with the Yellow Submarine. The 34-year-old underwent a medical today before being presented to the media this evening after finalising his contract.
Zaragoza coach Víctor Fernández said the signings of Ayala and Brazilian Ricardo Oliveira on loan from AC Milan were fundamental "towards the building of a great squad", adding: "We're an ambitious club and Ayala and Oliveira are players of the utmost credibility. They are quality, experienced, competitive players." Zaragoza made their move after selling Ayala's international team-mate Gabriel Milito to FC Barcelona for a fee of up to €20.5m last week.
Countrymen Pablo Aimar, Andres D'Alessandro and Diego Milito remain at La Romareda, however, and will be striving to ensure Zaragoza enjoy an impressive campaign in the UEFA Cup having qualified by a virtue of a sixth-placed finish in Spain last term. Villarreal ended up in fifth and will also play in the European competition. Ayala left CA River Plate for Europe in 1995 and represented Italian clubs SSC Napoli and AC Milan before linking up with Valencia where he won two league titles and the 2004 UEFA Cup during a successful seven-season stay.
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