The Italian Almanac

Antonio Cassano

Italian News / Sport - January 4

Troubled Italian soccer talent Antonio Cassano flew to Spain Tuesday to sign for nine-time European champion Real Madrid. The AS Roma and Italy striker has reportedly agreed a five-and-a-half-year deal with the Spanish club, which will pay him an annual salary of around four million Euro. The mercurial star, 23, will sign the contract after passing a medical.

The move has been at the centre of speculation in the Spanish and Italian sports press for some time. Roma, which risked losing the player for nothing when his contract with them expires at the end of the season, will receive a transfer fee of about 5.5 million Euro. The unsettled player has missed much of the season, after being excluded from the squad for rejecting Roma's offers to extend his contract and suffering a series of injuries.

Cassano joined Roma in 2001 for 26 million Euro. His inventiveness, vision and ball skills have invited comparison with soccer greats, but some think his temperament could make his talents go to waste. Cassano has a track record of no-shows at training and dissent against coaches.

His new employers seem confident they can set him straight though. "Cassano will find the right motivation in Madrid," said Ernesto Bronzetti, the agent who negotiated on behalf of the Spanish club.