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Heitinga signs for Everton, Van der Vaart stays

Atletico Madrid defender Johnny Heitinga has completed his move to Everton for an initial fee of £6.2m, and has been handed Joleon Lescott's vacant number five shirt.

Reports had suggested the Holland international's arrival on Merseyside had stalled because of his personal demands, but it appears a compromise was reached and he drove into the club's training ground with hours to go before the window closed. The formalities of the deal were completed 20 minutes before the summer transfer deadline closed.

Heitinga, whose fee could eventually rise to £7m, has signed a five-year deal.

Heitinga was understood to be on a lucrative salary at Atletico which the Everton hierarchy were not prepared to match at Goodison Park.

Heitinga is viewed as a replacement for Lescott, who joined Manchester City earlier in August, while Sylvain Distin signed from Portsmouth last week.

The player, who has suffered from injuries in the past, passed a medical in time to beat the deadline.

Heitinga knows enough about Everton to be well aware of the challenge ahead, and is also looking forward to meeting up with Steven Pienaar with whom he played at Ajax for five years.

"It's a nice club and a club with a big history. I saw a lot of Everton games last season and they have a strong team,'' he told Everton's website. "I spoke with the manager earlier and the feelings were good.

"The training ground is really good and it's a typical English stadium and I love it. I haven't spoken to Steven yet because he is away with his national team, but I will speak to him soon.

"I am looking forward to linking up with him again because he is a good player.''


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