Real Madrid sign Robben, Heinze for new squad

24th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

24 August 2007, MADRID - Real Madrid completed the signings of Arjen Robben from Chelsea and Gabriel Heinze from Manchester United on Thursday after both players passed routine medical tests.

24 August 2007

MADRID - Real Madrid completed the signings of Arjen Robben from Chelsea and Gabriel Heinze from Manchester United on Thursday after both players passed routine medical tests.

Robben, a Netherlands winger who has signed a five-year contract, has reportedly cost Madrid EUR 36 million (US$49 million). This is the second highest transfer fee of this offseason, just below the estimated EUR 36.5 million (US$49.5 million) Liverpool paid Atletico Madrid for Fernando Torres.

The fee for Heinze, an Argentina defender who has signed a four-year contract, is reported at EUR 12 million (US$16 million).

The two players were presented separately at a news conference at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Thursday before about 5,000 supporters.

Each received a white unnumbered Madrid shirt from the club's honorary president, Alfredo Di Stefano.

Robben and Heinze are in line to make their Madrid debuts on Saturday when the team kicks off its Spanish league title defense against crosstown rival Atletico.

Both are expected to strengthen Madrid's left side, previously a weak point in the opinion of new Madrid coach Bernd Schuster.

The arrival of Robben was the pre-electoral pledge of Ramon Calderon ahead of becoming Madrid president in 2006. The others _ AC Milan's Kaka and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas _ have so far failed to happen.

"He was one of the promises of our presidential candidacy for a simple reason _ he is the best left winger in the world," Calderon said at the presentation.

Robben will be the fourth Dutchman in Madrid's team this season. The others are Ruud van Nistelrooy and recent signings Wesley Sneijder and Royston Drenthe.

The 23-year-old, whose name was chanted by some supporters as he made his appearance, read out a brief speech in Spanish.

"I have studied Spanish a little ... today, I have entered a dream world. I hope together we can win many things," Robben said.

Robben said later it was "a big relief when word came he could join Madrid."

"There were many moments when I felt I was going to Madrid the next day and then it didn't happen," he added.

The winger said he began to consider a move to Madrid when he "started not to get the confidence" he needed at Chelsea.

"You then have to go where you feel you'll be more happy," Robben said.

Robben joined Chelsea in 2004 from PSV Eindhoven and scored 19 goals in 104 appearances, helping the team win the 2005 and '06 Premier League titles, the 2005 FA Cup and the 2005 and '07 League Cups.

Madrid has now signed eight players since last season at a total cost of about €120 million (US$163 million), making the club Europe's highest spenders this offseason. Central defenders Pepe and Christoph Metzelder, striker Javier Saviola and goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek are the other arrivals.

David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Ivan Helguera, Emerson, Cicinho and Jose Antonio Reyes have all left the nine-time European champion.

Heinze was described by Calderon as "one of the best left backs in the world."

The 29-year-old Heinze responded by saying he was "a man of few words, but who always spoke his mind. And I feel enormously proud to get the chance to play for Madrid."

Heinze previously played in Spain with Valladolid before joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2001. He moved to United three years later and was voted its fans' player of the year at the end of his first season.

After he had helped United win the 2007 league title, Liverpool made a bid to sign Heinze but the Red Devils refused to transfer him to one of their closest rivals. This led Heinze to appeal to a Premier League arbitration panel, which on Tuesday rejected his claim.

Heinze responded by saying his United career was "finished," and a day later agreed to join Madrid.

"I gave my all (for United). I don't know whether (United coach Alex) Ferguson is disappointed. Ask him," Heinze said.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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