Real Madrid sign Dutch striker Van Nistelrooy

July 27, 2006

MADRID, July 27 (Reuters) - Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy will join Real Madrid from Manchester United on a three-year contract, the Primera Liga club said on Thursday.

The deal is reported by Spanish media to be worth around 15 million euros ($19.12 million).

'Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Manchester United for the signing of Ruud van Nistelrooy,' the Spanish club said in a statement.

'The player will take a medical on Friday morning and will be presented in the afternoon at 1700 GMT in the Bernabeu.'

The 30-year-old scored 150 goals for United since joining in 2001 for a then British record fee of £19 million ($35.39 million).

He is Real's third signing under new president Ramon Calderon following on from Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro and Brazil midfielder Emerson, and will link up with former Manchester United team mate David Beckham.

Van Nistelrooy put in a transfer request two weeks ago and Real and Bayern Munich had been competing to secure his services for next season.

The Dutchman fell out of favour at United in the latter part of last season as manager Alex Ferguson increasingly looked to Louis Saha to partner Wayne Rooney in attack.

He was an unused substitute in United's 4-0 victory over Wigan in the League Cup final in February and stormed out of Old Trafford when he was left out of their final league match of the season against Charlton Athletic in May.

Van Nistelrooy, who has scored 28 goals in 54 games for Netherlands, found the net just once at the recent World Cup and was left on the bench by Dutch coach Marco van Basten during their second-round defeat against Portugal.

The Dutchman will face stiff competition from Raul, Robinho, Julio Baptista, Antonio Cassano and Ronaldo for a place in the Real attack, although his arrival is likely to hasten the departure of at least one of the forwards.

Real are in the process of trying to put together a team under new coach Fabio Capello which will help them win their first trophy in four seasons.

Van Nistelrooy started his career with Dutch sides Den Bosch and Heerenveen before joining PSV Eindhoven in 1998 where he scored an impressive 62 goals from 67 appearances.

United manager Ferguson continued with his bid to bring Van Nistelrooy to the club even after the striker failed a medical in April 2000 and then sustained a serious cruciate knee ligament injury while training with PSV a few days later.

He finally arrived in 2001 and repaid Ferguson's faith in him by scoring 36 goals in all competitions in his debut season.

He was the Premier League's leading scorer with 25 goals when United won the championship in 2003 and was also named PFA Player of the Year.

He has scored 20 goals or more in four of his five seasons at Old Trafford.

Van Nistelrooy is United's all-time top scorer in Europe, having surpassed Denis Law's long-standing record in September 2004 and is the fourth highest scorer in the European Cup, level on 47 goals with Portuguese great Eusebio.