Real Madrid sign Huntelaar
© AFP

Spanish champions Real Madrid, plagued by injuries and poor form this season, have signed Dutch international striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from Ajax for €27 million, the two clubs said on Tuesday. The 25-year-old is expected to replace another Dutchman, Ruud van Nistelrooy, who will miss the rest of the season after a knee operation.

"Huntelaar is now officially a new player at Real Madrid," the club said in a statement, which praised 'his great positioning, opportunism and intelligence'. "The agreement is of course contingent upon the player passing a physical and signing his contract with Real Madrid," which would keep him at the club until June 30, 2013.

Ajax said the transfer fee was €27 million ($34 million), a fixed payment of €20 million and a "variable" fee of €7 million. Huntelaar is currently out of action due to an ankle injury, and is not expected to be fit again until the middle of this month. He has scored six goals in the Dutch first division this season after finishing as top scorer last season with 33 goals in 34 games played. He has also taken over from van Nistelrooy in the Dutch national side.

Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon said last week the club was "going to make two good signings in the month of December." Real already have five Dutch players on their books - van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Rafael van der Vaart and Royston Drenthe.

The reigning Spanish champions, currently fourth in the Primera Liga, last summer lost Brazilian Robinho to Manchester City and failed to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. They have also been plagued by injuries this season; in addition to van Nistelrooy, Robben has been unavailable since early last month.

On Saturday, three players, Sneijder, Spanish defender Miguel Torres and Brazilian-born Portuguese defender Pepe, were injured during a 3-1 defeat by city rivals Getafe and will be out for between two weeks and a month.

Recent poor results have also led to press reports that German coach Bernd Schuster, who joined Real in July 2007, could be on his way out. However, Calderon on Monday gave him a cautious vote of confidence.