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Diarra completes Real move

MADRID, December 22 – Real Madrid on Monday presented their latest signing, French international midfielder Lassana Diarra, from English Premier League side Portsmouth.

Real president Ramon Calderon hailed "an exceptional player" who had a "great future" ahead of him.

"It’s an honour for me to be with Real Madrid," said Diarra, wearing a Real shirt emblazoned with the nickname "Lass".

The 23-year-old, who passed a medical earlier Monday, has signed a contract that will keep him with the club until 2013.

Spanish media said the transfer fee was 19 or 20 million euros (26.5 to 28 million dollars).

Real has been on the lookout for a new midfielder since Mali international Mahamadou Diarra and Spain’s Ruben de la Red were both sidelined earlier this month for the rest of the season.

Diarra is the club’s second signing of the season after Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar moved from Ajax early this month.

The club has also brought back its midfielder Daniel Parejo, who was on loan to English second division side Queens Park Rangers.

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Spanish champions Real have been plagued by injuries as well as poor form this season.

They sacked German coach Bernd Schuster earlier this month and replaced him with former Tottenham coach Juande Ramos but are still a huge 12 points behind league leaders and arch rivals Barcelona going into the winter break.

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