Leeds breaks transfer record to sign Rodrigo from Valencia

LEEDS, England (AP) — Leeds has marked its return to the Premier League by signing forward Rodrigo from Valencia, breaking the club’s transfer record after 20 years.

The 29-year-old Spain international, who scored 10 goals in 38 games for club and country last season, reportedly cost Leeds around 30 million pounds ($40 million).

The transfer fee eclipses the 18 million pounds Leeds spent on defender Rio Ferdinand in 2000 during a period of heavy spending that contributed to the club’s financial implosion and relegation from the Premier League in 2004.

Leeds gained promotion to the top division last month as League Championship winners and Marcelo Bielsa’s side opens against Premier League champion Liverpool on Sept. 12.

“I will be working with one of the best coaches in football,” Rodrigo said. “He has done important things in different clubs and I’m excited to learn.”

Rodrigo played for Celta Vigo and Real Madrid as a youngster before moving to Benfica. He netted 27 times in 67 games and was a losing finalist in the Europa League in 2013 and 2014 for the Portuguese club before joining Valencia.

In six seasons with Valencia, he scored 59 goals in 220 appearances and won the Copa del Rey in 2019.

Rodrigo has experience in English football, spending the 2010-11 season on loan at Bolton, making 21 appearances and scoring once.

Born in Brazil, Rodrigo has played 22 times for Spain, scoring eight goals.

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