Soccer

Real Madrid signs defender Marcelo

Real Madrid announced the signing of Brazilian defender Marcelo on Wednesday, with club president Ramon Calderon describing the 18-year-old as "one of the jewels of world soccer."

Real Madrid announced the signing of Brazilian defender Marcelo on Wednesday, with club president Ramon Calderon describing the 18-year-old as "one of the jewels of world soccer."

Marcelo signed a 5½-year deal with the Spanish club on Tuesday. Madrid reportedly paid $8.7 million in transfer fees to Brazilian team Fluminense to land the defender.

The teenager is seen as a long-term replacement for fellow Brazilian Roberto Carlos, who is expected to leave the club at the end of this season.

"I'm very happy to be here. I thank Real Madrid for placing its faith in me," Marcelo said Madrid's at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. "I hope to win many titles with my new club."

Calderon said Marcelo's arrival in Spain would help Madrid end its three-year drought without a major trophy.

"He will help put the club back on the road to success," Calderon said. "He is ready to make the jump to European soccer."

Marcelo is Madrid's sixth Brazilian player, joining Carlos, Ronaldo, Robinho, Emerson and Cicinho. Forward Julio Baptista is on loan at London-based club Arsenal this season.

The young defender is not eligible to play for Madrid until January once soccer's transfer window reopens. In the meantime, Marcelo could spend time with Madrid's reserve team, Castilla, which plays in the Spanish second division.

"He is strong in defence and very quick in attack, which is why sports director Predrag Mijatovic was keen to sign him for Real," Calderon said of Marcelo.

"He is the first part of our project for the future which will see us signing quality young players that will help to put us back on the road to success.

"It is the board's plan to try and combine young players with experienced ones and to build on their contrasting qualities."

Calderon revealed that he has plans to sign two more South American youngsters — River Plate striker Gonzalo Higuain and Boca Juniors midfielder Fernando Gago, two of the biggest stars in Argentina's top soccer division.

"Both players have reached agreements with us,"Calderon told a Spanish radio station."The question is whether they will come in January or June. We hope it will be January and so do they."

With files from Associated Press