Athletic sign Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia

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Bilbao (Spain), Aug 31 (IANS) Spanish football club Athletic Club Bilbao on Monday made one of the surprise signings of the summer with the capture of Atletico Madrid’s attacking midfielder Raul Garcia on a four-year contract.

Athletic will pay around 10 million euros ($11.2 million) for the Pamplona born player, who began his career with Osasuna and who fits into their transfer policy of signing only players born or raised as footballers in either the Basque region or Navarra, reports Xinhua.

The 29-year-old is physical and aggressive and also has an eye for goals with 66 goals scored in the La Liga, including 19 in the last three seasons with Atletico (two of which came in his last two appearances in Bilbao). Athletic hope he will add extra bite to a side that in recent seasons has relied too much on the goals of 34-year-old Aritz Aduriz.

The Spanish international leaves Atletico after winning seven different titles, but knowing that the arrival of players such as Jackson Martinez, Luciano Vietto, Yannick Carrasco and the return of Oliver Torres, would limit his first team opportunities.

With the European Championships around the corner next summer, Garcia will hope that regular first team football will improve his chances of convincing head coach Vicente del Bosque that he deserves a place in the Spain squad next summer in France.

He joins an Athletic Club which this season has already beaten FC Barcelona to win the Spanish Supercup and assured a place in the group stage of the Europa League, but paid for those efforts with two defeats in their opening league matches, the last of which was a 0-2 setback against SD Eibar on Sunday.

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