Figueroa exits Villarreal
By Mark Kendall & Francisco Acedo
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Villarreal are to sell Lucho Figueroa to River Plate and replace him with Guillermo Franco.Villarreal have agreed a deal with River Plate that will take Lucho Figueroa back to Argentina and will bring in Mexico international Guillermo Franco to replace him.
Figueroa, who endured an ill-fated spell with Birmingham in 2003, had been looking to quit Villarreal after falling out of the first-team picture.
The 24-year-old has been playing second fiddle to Diego Forlan and Jose Mari in recent weeks and was anxious to move on to try and safeguard his place in Argentina's World Cup squad.
Mexican outfit Pumas and River Plate has both shown an interest in the striker, but it was River who prevailed after Villarreal chief executive Jose Manuel Llaneza travelled to Argentina to thrash out the transfer.
River have consented to a deal that sees them take on 50 percent of the player's rights meaning he will stay at the club for the next 18 months before returning to Villarreal to complete the rest of his contract with the Spanish outfit which runs until 2009.
The Spaniards have wasted little time in securing a replacement having finalised a move for Franco.
The 29-year-old was born in Argentina and spent the majority of his career at San Lorenzo, where he played under current Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini.
He moved to Mexican outfit Monterrey in 2002 and, after taking on joint Mexican citizenship, subsequently opted to represent Mexico at international level.
He has agreed a three-and-a-half year contract with Villarreal who are expected to officially confirm the transfer on Wednesday morning.
With Franco in the bag, Villarreal will now look to make progress with another of their long-term transfer targets, Argentine starlet Sergio Aguero.
During his time in Argentina, Llaneza is to take the opportunity to meet Independiente officials to try and put a deal in place for the highly-rated 17-year-old who took the Torneo Apertura by storm this season.
The teenager is being monitored by a host of European teams, including Real Madrid, but Villarreal are hoping that the opportunity of first-team football and the presence of a host of other Argentines might persuade the youngster that El Madrigal is his most suitable destination.
The Yellow Submarines are ready to offer é¼12 million (£8 million) for Aguero and the player's agent, Hernan Reguera, admits his client could well be tempted by a switch to Villarreal.
"Villarreal would be an excellent destination for him because of the Argentinians in the team," Reguera stated.
"To play next to (Juan Roman) Riquelme and (Juan Pablo) Sorin would be a dream for Sergio."