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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK
Real clinch Samuel deal
Roma defender Walter Samuel
Samuel came to Europe in 2000
Spanish giants Real Madrid have signed Argentina defender Walter Samuel for a reported 15m from AS Roma.

"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."

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