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Sylvinho delighted by Barcelona move

BARCELONA, JULY 13. Brazilian defender Sylvinho described his signing by FC Barcelona as a `gift from God' when he was presented to the media at the Camp Nou stadium on Tuesday.

Sylvinho, who has left Celta de Vigo to sign a two-year contract with the Catalan club, said it was "a very great honour to be a Barcelona player."

"Wearing this shirt is very important for any player. It's a very important day and I've come here with the idea of making a success of it," the defender was quoted as saying by agency Europa Press.

Sylvinho, who is the fifth new player to join Barcelona this summer, said he had fulfilled two aims by moving.

"I wanted to play again for a team competing in the Champions League and give myself a chance of returning to the national team. It's a gift from God to sign for Barcelona," the speedy left back said.

Barcelona has reportedly paid Celta $1.54 million for Sylvinho, taking its total spending for the summer to an estimated $29.9 million.

The other newcomers are Portugal midfielder Deco, French midfielder Ludovic Giuly, Brazilian right back Juliano Belletti and Swedish striker Henrik Larsson.

Sylvinho, whose full name is Sylvio Mendes Campos, left Corinthians after winning two Brazilian leagues and a cup to join Arsenal in 1999 and then moved to Celta two years later.

The 30-year-old is one of a series of players offloaded by Celta after a dismal season in which it was relegated to the second division less than three months after being eliminated from the Champions League.

The terms of Sylvinho's contract state that he could be loaned to another club if he doesn't gain dual nationality quickly.

Clubs are only allowed three non-European Union players in their squads next season and Barcelona already has four — Ronaldinho, Mexico's Rafael Marquez, Argentina's Javier Saviola and Turkey's Rustu Recber — although goalkeeper Rustu is expected to be loaned to another club this summer.

"We hope the player gets an EU passport. But anyway, everything is covered in his contract," Barcelona technical secretary Aitor Begiristain said.

Sylvinho's arrival lifts the number of Brazilian-born players at Barcelona to five. The others are Deco, Belletti, Ronaldinho and Thiago Motta.

"Barcelona wants the best players, whether they are Brazilian, Catalan or French. It's a question of the market and quality, Brazil produces world champions," Begiristain said.

Barcelona, which hasn't won a major trophy for five years, will return to the Champions League next season after finishing runner-up in the Spanish league. — AP

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