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Aug 31, 2005

Real to use Owen cash in bid for Sevilla's Ramos

MADRID, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Real Madrid used the funds from the sale of Michael Owen to buy Spanish international defender Sergio Ramos out of his contract with Sevilla for 27 million euros in a last-minute transfer deal on Wednesday.

The player's brother deposited the money with the Spanish Professional Football League (LFP) just 10 minutes before the transfer deadline expired at 2300 GMT.

"Real Madrid and the player Sergio Ramos deposited the buy-out clause after an assurance from Sevilla that this would not be seen as a hostile move," Real Madrid said in a statement.

Sevilla responded by saying: "Sevilla could do nothing to stop the defender leaving, but tried to put up resistance in the last few days and refused to negotiate a transfer because they did not want to lose him."

The highly rated 19-year-old, who will sign an eight-year contract with Real, is the sixth most expensive signing in the club's history and the first Spaniard to arrive since president Florentino Perez took power in 2000.

Only Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, David Beckham and Nicolas Anelka cost the club more money than Ramos and his purchase brings Real's spending on new players since the end of last season close to 90 million euros.

Ramos also becomes the third most expensive transfer of the close season behind Chelsea's new recruits Shaun Wright-Phillips and Michael Essien.

Real sold the unsettled Owen to Newcastle United for around 24 million euros on Tuesday and immediately set to work on signing Ramos who had made no secret of the fact that he wanted to join the club.

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido insisted, however, that he had no intention of selling the young player, adding that Real counterpart Perez had promised he would not make a bid for him this year.

"Florentino Perez has given me his word - and I have no reason to doubt it - that he will not try and sign Sergio Ramos this season," Del Nido said on Tuesday.

"The only offer that will interest Sevilla is if a club deposits the full buy-out clause (of 27 million euros) plus VAT in cash with the Professional Football League (LFP)."

ARCH-RIVALS BARCELONA

Perez also promised he would never again use the tactic of buying a Spanish-based player out of his contract after paying a then world record $56 million to sign Luis Figo from arch-rivals Barcelona in 2000.

Serbia & Montenegro defender Ivica Dragutinovic, who had apparently decided to remain at Standard Liege after turning down a move to Olympique Marseille, was signed on a three-year deal by Sevilla as Ramos's replacement.

Ramos follows in the footsteps of Brazilian forward Julio Baptista, who moved to Real for a fee of up to 24.5 million euros from Sevilla at the start of August.

Real have spent an additional 35 million euros on recruiting Brazilian striker Robinho and the defensive-minded Uruguayan duo Pablo Garcia and Carlos Diogo.

The club announced last week that they also have an option to buy Brazilian international right back Cicinho from Sao Paulo and defence now looks like becoming one of their strengths.

Ramos, who can play at right back or in the centre of defence and scored a spectacular goal in his side's 2-2 draw against Real last season, will join Jonathan Woodgate in the battle to force a way into the starting back four.

The England defender made his first appearance for Real after a 16-month injury layoff in a friendly last week.