Augusto Fernandez joins Atletico Madrid from Celta Vigo
Atletico Madrid have finalised the signing of midfielder Augusto Fernandez from La Liga rivals Celta Vigo for a reported fee of €6.5 million.
Augusto, 29, is seen as an experienced replacement for long term absentee Tiago Mendes, who is set to miss most of the rest of the season with a fractured tibia.
After making a final emotional appearance for Celta in Wednesday's 1-0 home defeat to Athletic Bilbao, the former Velez Sarsfield player flew to the Spanish capital and completed a medical on New Year's Eve.
The Argentina international went to the 2014 World Cup with the Albiceleste, although he was the only outfield member of the squad not to feature on the pitch during the tournament.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone called Fernandez's arrival "important" and insisted that the club plan to retain fellow Argentina midfielder Matias Kranevitter, even with the arrival of Fernandez.
"This gives us more options at midfield," Simeone said during his news conference on Friday. "He has played in various positions in the middle and will give us alternatives to compete internally so that we can be competitive on the outside, which is what we are looking for."
The move was confirmed by an Atletico club statement which said Augusto had signed a contract tying him to the Estadio Vicente Calderon club until June 2019.
"Augusto Matias Fernandez has become Atletico de Madrid's new player after the agreement reached between our entity and Celta de Vigo," the statement read. "The Argentinian midfielder underwent the medical examination on Thursday and this Jan. 1, he has formalised his contract with our club for the remainder of the season and three more campaigns."
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Colchoneros sporting director Jose Luis Perez Caminero said that the new arrival would bring useful competition for places in the Atletico midfield, with the club also having brought in younger Argentine holding midfielder Matias Kranevitter this month from River Plate.
"[Augusto] is a player of proven experience in the league that will bring quality and competition to a great midfield such as ours," Caminero said. "His incorporation will help us face the demands of having to play three competitions. In the club we are delighted with his arrival and during his stay in the league we have been able to confirm that he has great technical and tactical qualities."
Atletico had the funds to make the move as Benfica have confirmed that they have paid €8m to purchase the remaining 50 percent of the rights pertaining to former Atletico attacking midfielder Juan Antonio Pizzi.
Pizzi, 26, initially joined the Portuguese club from Atletico in 2013, spending the following campaign on loan at Espanyol. He has made 17 appearances for Benfica so far in 2015-16, scoring one goal.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Twitter @dermotmcorrigan.