Club News

'Leader' Lugano joins Albion

Uruguay skipper completes move from PSG on free transfer

ALBION have boosted their central defensive options this evening by signing Uruguay captain Diego Lugano from French champions Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

The 6ft2in defender has penned a two-year deal after passing a medical. The transfer is now subject to international clearance.

Lugano, who will wear the No.14 shirt, arrives at The Hawthorns with a wealth of international, Champions League and top-flight experience from across the globe.

He spent last season on loan at a Malaga side which finished sixth in La Liga and reached the Champions League quarter-finals under new Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini.

Lugano has captained Uruguay on 77 occasions – more than any other player.

He is also the second highest capped player in his country’s history, with only ex-Manchester United striker Diego Forlan having represented Uruguay more times.

Lugano, who boasts nine international goals, won his 86th cap in Uruguay’s Confederations Cup third/fourth place play-off with Italy in Brazil in June.

The 32-year-old defender has also lifted the 2011 Copa America trophy – after beating Paraguay 3-0 in the final – and helped Uruguay reach the 2010 World Cup semi-finals.

Head coach Steve Clarke said: “I’m delighted to welcome Diego to the club.

“He’s an experienced centre-half who will increase competition in that area of the team.

“This is a tough league. You need as many good players in your squad as you can get – and Diego is undoubtedly one of those.

“Like some of the others we have here, Diego is another player who captains his country and is a leader.

“He has a real hunger and ambition to play and succeed in the Barclays Premier League and he will hopefully get a platform here to show everyone what he can do.

“However, Diego knows he’s got a fight on his hands to get into the team.

“Over the past couple of seasons, Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson have been an established Premier League pairing with stiff competition from Gabriel Tamas and young Craig Dawson, who we believe will be a good centre-half for this club in years to come.”

Lugano has become the Baggies’ third summer signing, with the club having already secured the services of Nicolas Anelka on a permanent deal and Goran Popov on loan for the season.

Sporting & Technical Director (designate), Richard Garlick, added: “We identified central defence as one of the areas within the squad in which we wanted to increase competition this summer.

“Diego is a player we have been aware of for the past couple of years and when we discovered he wouldn’t be rejoining Malaga, we made our move.

“We have very much done our homework on Diego. His CV speaks for itself and we’ve also received glowing reports about him as a person.

“But the good thing is that Diego has also done his homework on us. I understand he’s spoken to the likes of Gus Poyet and Luis Suarez about the club and Steve, who they have both worked with, and, on the back of this, Diego very much wanted to join us.

“He had other attractive offers but we’re delighted he has agreed to join us. His game is very much suited for the Premier League.”

Lugano was signed by Antoine Kombouare for PSG in August 2011. Injury limited him to 12 appearances for the Ligue One superpower before he joined Malaga a year ago.

Lugano started his career in his native city with Club Atletico de Canelones. Shortly after turning 18, he joined the youth set-up at Montevideo giants Nacional.

He was involved in the side that won back-to-back championships in 2000 and 2001 but went on loan to Plaza Colonia in 2002, where he was made club captain.

Lugano joined Brazilian outfit Sao Paulo the following year, going on to win the FIFA Club World Championship and Copa Libertadores in 2005.

The Brazilian 2006 Serie A title followed and he was voted the top defender in the country for the second successive season.

Later that year, he made the switch to Turkish side Fenerbahce where he spent five trophy-laden years, scoring an impressive 29 times. He helped them win two Super Lig titles, two Turkish Super Cups, one Turkish Cup and also reach the 2007/08 Champions League quarter-finals before moving to PSG.