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Aug, 15, 2008

Newcastle complete signing of defender Coloccini

Newcastle United have completed the signing of 26-year-old defender Fabricio Coloccini from Deportivo La Coruna for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £10million.

The Argentine international, who played every minute of Depor's La Liga campaign last season, has signed a five-year deal with the Magpies and is expected to slot in alongside Steven Taylor to become the club's first choice central defensive partnership.

Coloccini becomes Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan's third signing of the summer behind midfielder Danny Guthrie and winger Jonas Gutierrez, though whether Coloccini features against Manchester United on Sunday in the club's opening league fixture depends on his fitness.

Keegan hailed Fabricio Coloccini as a player of the 'very highest calibre', adding: 'I am delighted that the deal is now done - Fabricio has got tremendous experience and is a full international with Argentina.

'He is a centre-back but can play anywhere across the back four and also in midfield - he gives us massive options.'

Coloccini's career began in Argentina with Boca Juniors where he spent a year before moving to Serie A giants AC Milan in 1999.

However, the move proved to be a disappointment, as Coloccini went on to make just one appearance for Milan spending the rest of his five years on the club's books on loan with various clubs, including Atletico Madrid and Villarreal before sealing a move to Deportivo in 2004.

Coloccini was part of the Argentina Under-20 side that won the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2001 as well as the 2004 Olympic gold medal-winning team, alongside Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez.

Earlier this week Newcastle owner Mike Ashley revealed that the club still owe £27million in outstanding payments on transfer deals completed before the billionaire owner of Sports Direct bought the club for £250 million a year ago.

However, Keegan is still expected to continue spending during the summer transfer window as he seeks to shore up Newcastle's defence which leaked 65 goals last season, a feat only bettered by Derby (89) and Reading (66) who were relegated.

Keegan is thought to be interested in Toulouse left-back Herita Ilunga and has also been linked with West Ham United defender Anton Ferdinand.

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