Can't get Messi? Sign his cousins instead

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - World footballer of the year Lionel Messi may be out of reach for Bahia, but the Brazilian top-flight side have signed two of his cousins instead.

On Thursday, the club from Salvador de Bahia paraded new recruits, Argentine brothers Maxi and Emanuel Biancucchi, their website carrying a picture of the duo standing alongside Messi.

Midfielder Emanuel, 25, spent last season with Paraguayan club Olimpia, with whom he reached the final of the Libertadores Cup, losing to Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro.

Formerly with German outfit 1860 Munich, he is described by Bahia as "outstanding at dead balls" and has agreed a one-year deal.

His elder brother Maxi, 29, has signed a three-year contract and should have few problems adapting to his new surroundings having previously played for Bahia's local rivals Vitoria, with whom he netted a total of 17 goals last year.

He has also played for Rio de Janeiro giants Flamengo, as well as enjoying spells in Paraguay and Mexico.