Football: Signing coup as Athletic Club Bilbao capture Garcia's services for $15.8 million

Xinhua - Athletic Club Bilbao have made one of the surprise signings of the summer with the capture of Atletico Madrid's attacking midfielder, Raul Garcia.

Athletic will pay around 10 million euros (S$15.8 million) for the Pamplona-born player, who began his career with Osasuna and who fits into their transfer policy of signing only players born or raised as footballers in either the Basque region or Navarra.

Garcia, 29, is physical and aggressive and also has an eye for goal with 66 goals scored in the Primera Liga, including 19 in the last three seasons with Atletico Madrid (two of which came in his last two appearances in Bilbao), and Athletic hope he will add extra bite to a side that in recent seasons has relied too much on the goals of 34-year-old Aritz Aduriz.

He has signed a four-year-contract and leaves Atletico after winning seven different titles with the club, but knowing that the arrival of players such as Jackson Martinez, Luciano Vietto, Yannick Carrasco and the return of Oliver Torres, would limit his first team opportunities.

With the European Championships around the corner next summer, Garcia, who has made two appearances for Spain, will surely hope that regular first team football will improve his chances of convincing Vicente del Bosque that he deserves a place in the Spain squad next summer in France.

He joins an Athletic Club side which this season has already beaten FC Barcelona to win the Spanish Supercup and assured a place in the group stage of the Europa League, but paid for those efforts with two defeats in their opening league matches, the last of which was a 2-0 setback in Eibar on Sunday.