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By ESPN Staff

Villarreal sign Franco, Figueroa moves to River Plate

MADRID, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Villarreal signed Mexico striker Guillermo Franco and agreed a deal to send Argentine striker Luciano Figueroa to River Plate, the Primera Liga club said on Wednesday.

The Argentine-born Franco, who moved from Monterrey, joined Villarreal on a three and a half year contract, linking up with coach Manuel Pellegrini who managed the striker when he played for San Lorenzo.

Franco will be able to play for Villarreal in the Champions League when they face Rangers in the last 16 next month.

Pellegrini's side have struggled to score goals recently with last season's top scorer Diego Forlan a long way off his impressive form from last year.

Villarreal have also agreed to sell 50 percent of the rights for striker Figueroa to River Plate, though some minor details still remain to be clarified, the club reported.

Villarreal will retain the other 50 percent.

Spanish media have reported that Figueroa, an Argentine international, was unhappy at his lack of regular football at the club as he wanted to try to make Jose Pekerman's squad for the World Cup finals in June.