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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan, 4, 2006

Cassano may make Real debut this weekend

MADRID -- Italy striker Antonio Cassano could make his debut for Real Madrid at Villarreal on Sunday, club doctor Luis Serratosa said on Wednesday.

Cassano, 23, completed a 5.5 million euros ($6.64 million) transfer from AS Roma on Tuesday. Serratosa told the club's website Cassano had passed a medical on Wednesday and recovered from a recent thigh strain.

"Depending on how the player responds in training this afternoon, he will be at the disposal of the coach for the Villarreal match," he said.

"He is a rapid, powerful and strong player who has not had any serious injuries."

Cassano, who will sign a 4-1/2-year deal with the nine-times European champions, is only the second Italian to sign for Real after defender Christian Panucci who played for the club between 1997 and 1999.

The striker is the 12th player to join Real since they won their last major trophy in June 2003 and brings the club's total expenditure during that period to over 185 million euros.

His arrival will allow Real to fill the gap left after the departure of Michael Owen and injury to club captain Raul.

But the Italian, who has a reputation as a difficult character, will face stiff competition for a place in the starting line-up with close season signings Robinho and Julio Baptista also bidding for a spot alongside Ronaldo.

One of the brightest prospects in Italian football, Cassano has made just five Serie A appearances this season because of injury and a contract dispute with Roma.

He is the second player to join Real in the January transfer window, his signing coming a week after Brazil right back Cicinho completed a move from Sao Paulo.

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