Spanish giants Real Madrid have signed Argentina defender Walter Samuel for a reported £15m from AS Roma.
Samuel came to Europe in 2000
"Real Madrid and Samuel have reached an agreement in relation to the player's tranfer that will come into effect as of 1 July," said Real's website.
"The player has agreed to sign a
contract with Real for five seasons."
Samuel, 26, is the first player Real have signed since president Florentino Perez vowed on Tuesday to "bring optimism back to supporters".
"He brings quality and maturity which will help our young
players feel more comfortable and play better," Real's sporting director Jorge Valdano told the club's website.
"He fills an important need the team had and does so in
style because he is one of the best defenders in the world."
Real Madrid have not gone a season without winning a single trophy since 1999.
They have suffered a terrible slump, losing four league games in a row for the first
time in their history, dropping to third place behind champions
Valencia and arch-rivals Barcelona.
Coach Carlos Queiroz's side also lost the Spanish Cup final to Real Zaragoza and were knocked out of the European Cup by Monaco in the quarter-finals.
The team of "galacticos" has been ridiculed in the Spanish
media, with the defence coming in for harsh criticism, which has conceded 50 goals this season.
Perez is also reported to be seeking to appoint Benfica's
Jose Antonio Camacho as team coach to replace Queiroz.
Other signing targets are said to be Samuel's Roma
team-mate Francesco Totti, Manchester United's Ruud van
Nistelrooy and Real Sociedad's Xabi Alonso.
"We will try to have a balanced squad to avoid the problems
we suffered in the end this season," said Valdano.
"We are aware of the needs and we are going out right now to
fill them so that next season we have more guarantees in all
areas and a deeper squad that will help us survive in all
competitions and reach the last two months (of the season) wth
guarantees to win a trophy."