Barcelona signs Mathieu

Barcelona - Spanish giants Barcelona said on Wednesday they have bought 30-year-old French defender Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia for 20 million.

Barcelona have been seeking to bolster their defence since Carlos Puyol ended his career.

Though he is not an established French international, Mathieu is recognised as a powerful operator at left back and in central defence. Barcelona called him a "physically imposing defender".

The Catalan club had made several offers to Valencia for Mathieu who last week issued a public letter calling on the side to negotiate his release.

"I have a chance to play for the world's biggest club and that's all I want right now," he said.

Barcelona said in a statement it had reached agreement on a transfer and Mathieu would sign a four season contract.

"The cost of the transfer is 20 million and the buyout clause will be 50 million," it said.

Mathieu played at Sochaux and Toulouse in the French first division until he joined Valencia in 2009.

The former Toulouse defender becomes the Catalans' fifth transfer following the signings of Marc-André ter Stegen, Ivan Rakitic, Claudio Bravo and Luis Suarez.

Barcelona had been on the search for a central defender for most of the off-season, with Mats Hummels believed to have been a target as well.

But it now seems that coach Luis Enrique has given up on signing the Borussia Dortmund defender, which may boost Manchester United's chances of landing the Germany 2014 Soccer World Cup winner, if Jürgen Klopp gives the green light.

The Spanish side have been busy in the transfer window after FIFA lifted their transfer ban after the world governing body's disciplinary committee imposed the transfer ban after finding Barcelona guilty of serious breaches of rules on under-age players.

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