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Batistuta: highest-paid soccer player in the world.

Batistuta signs three-year deal with AS Roma

Tuesday May 30, 2000 09:45 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta said Tuesday he signed a contract with Italy's AS Roma that could make him the highest-paid soccer player in world.

The 31-year-old forward finalized the pact with the Italian club while home in Buenos Aires, where he returned for a June 4 World Cup qualifying match against Bolivia.

Batistuta didn't give specifics of the deal, but Italian media reports have said AS Roma offered Batistuta $5.2 million a year and will pay Fiorentina a transfer fee of $33 million.

"I can only say that it is the most important contract in the world," he said, smiling. The offer by AS Roma "has been a very strong one for a 31-year-old player and I hope to repay them with goals."

If the numbers are correct, the deal would make Batistuta the highest-paid player in the history of Italian soccer, eclipsing the lucrative deals for the Italian League's current players: Juventus' Alessandro Del Piero ($4.7 million a year) and Iternazionale's Christian Vieri ($3.8 million). Both Del Piero and Vieri are Italian.

'I'm very happy with the deal and especially at this stage of my career,' he said.

Batistuta announced at the end of the Italian League season last Sunday he intended to leave Fiorentina after nine years. He transferred to the Florence club from Argentina's Boca Juniors in 1991 for $2.3 million.

A prolific scorer known for his blistering shots, Batistuta leaves Fiorentina as the team's leading career scorer with 168 goals in 269 games. Last season, he finished tied for second in the league with 22 goals. Batistuta is also the leading goal scorer in the history of the Argentine national team.
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