Real sign Argentine striker Higuain from River

December 14, 2006

MADRID, Dec 14 (Reuters) -- Real Madrid have agreed to sign 19-year-old Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain on a six-and-a-half year deal from River Plate, the Primera Liga side said on Thursday.

'The player will join the team on Jan. 1 and will remain at Real until June 2013,' Real said on their website.

Spanish media reported that the highly rated youngster had signed for the nine-times European champions for a fee of 13 million euros ($17.17 million).

Higuain shot to prominence last May when he scored twice as River Plate beat Brazilian champions Corinthians 3-1 to knock them out of the Libertadores Cup.

He scored twice more in the 3-1 win over arch-rivals Boca Juniors in October and notched a spectacular goal in River's 1-1 draw at Velez Sarsfield at the weekend to end the Apertura championship as his club's top scorer with nine goals.

His father Jorge played professional football in France for Brest where Gonzalo was born in 1987. He was 10 months old when he moved to Argentina with his family and has lived there ever since.

Last month he was called up by France coach Raymond Domenech for an international friendly against Greece, but his father sent the French Federation a fax saying he did not want to play for the country for the time being.

Higuain's recruitment forms part of Real's policy to rejuvenate a squad that contains a host of players who are over 30 years old.

They have signed teenage Brazilian international left back Marcelo and are also negotiating the purchase of 20-year-old Argentine midfielder Fernando Gago from Boca Juniors.