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The BBC's Alex Simpson
"Figo will have more and more money"
 real 28k

Monday, 24 July, 2000, 18:25 GMT 19:25 UK
Figo's the Real deal
Luis Figo has quit Barcelona to join rivals Real
Luis Figo has quit Barcelona to join rivals Real
Luis Figo has become the world's most expensive footballer after quitting Barcelona for Real Madrid in a 37m deal.

Figo was one of the stars of the recent Euro 2000 championships, in which he helped Portugal reach the semi-finals.

Real Madrid confirmed the record-breaking transfer at a news conference after the Portuguese star passed a medical.

I want to win as much as possible with Real Madrid
  Luis Figo

He flew into Madrid on a private jet and was presented to the media in the trophy room of the Bernabeu Stadium.

The deal appears to have been struck during the Real Madrid presidential election campaign when Figo's agent Jose Veiga signed a contract with the successful candidate Florentino Perez.

"I'm happy to be here," said Figo, on his presentation.

"One thing I can promise is hard work. I want to win as much as possible with Real Madrid.

"It was a difficult and important decision, but on top of everything, at this moment, I had to think only of myself and for that reason I made this decision.

"Now I'm here with Real. I feel tranquil in front of the fans. I hope to be as happy here as I was during my years at Barcelona."

Transfer record

"It is an honour to be here presenting such a great player as Luis Figo," said Perez at the press conference to announce the signing.

"He is, in my opinion, the best player in the world. As Real are the best club in the world it's normal for the best player in the world to play for the best club in the world."

The 37m Figo now overtakes the previous transfer record set by Argentine striker Hernan Crespo when he moved from Parma to Lazio earlier in July for 35.5m.

Figo's six-year contract with his new club is expected to mean that the player will earn a salary in the region of 3.7m a year.

Luis Figo
Figo at Euro 2000

But where the European champions will find the cash remains something of a mystery.

They are already a reported 110m in debt although they have recouped 22m from the sale of Nicolas Anelka to Paris St Germain.

Real Madrid are hoping the signing of Figo will generate much more than the player's cost through television, sponsorship and other money-spinning contracts.

Figo's former team-mates at Barcelona were understandably disappointed.

"It is going to take me some time to get used to seeing Luis Figo wearing the white of Real Madrid," said club captain Josep Guardiola.

"He's a one-off, brilliant and with great talent. He has chosen what he thinks is best for him and his family and to that extent I respect his decision."

Barcelona's new president, Joan Gaspart, was left stunned by the deal.

"We aren't going to start anything but, and I don't want this to sound like a threat, I'm not going to forget this," he said.

"Someone who does this to me will pay for it."

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See also:

24 Jul 00 |  Europe
Luis Figo: The $56m man
24 Jul 00 |  Europe
Madrid: A Real sense of history
22 Jul 00 |  Liverpool
Houllier ends Real's Owen goal
12 Jul 00 |  Europe
When transfers go mad
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