Reyes, Baptista in swap deal

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Arsenal's Jose Antonio Reyes and Real Madrid's Julio Baptista will swap teams for the rest of the season.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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Arsenal's Jose Antonio Reyes and Real Madrid's Julio Baptista will swap teams for the rest of the season. Initially a loan, the deal includes options to make the two forwards' moves permanent in June, the Spanish club said on Thursday. Reyes, who will reportedly wear Madrid's No. 19 shirt, had long desired a return home. "I have just signed and I'm the happiest man in the world. I felt nervous until I signed," Reyes told Radio Marca. "They told me on Wednesday that everything was completed. Arsenal had agreed and Baptista was traveling to London. Then I began to believe it." Brazilian international Baptista reportedly completed a medical exam and applied for a work permit in London on Thursday. The deal continues Madrid's transformation under new president Ramon Calderon and coach Fabio Capello, who also have signed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Fabio Cannavaro, Emerson and Mahamadou Diarra in the hope of ending the club's three-year drought without a major trophy. Arsenal rejected Madrid's earlier cash bids for Reyes, who joined Arsenal from Sevilla in January 2004 and who last year extended his contract to 2011. However, the inclusion of Baptista, who also used to play for Sevilla, in the deal swayed the London club. Arsenal had tried a year ago to acquire Baptista, nicknamed "The Beast" because of his powerful physique, but he joined Madrid in a $25 million transfer. The 24-year-old scored eight goals in 32 league appearances in his first season but was considered dispensable after Capello arrived in July. Reports said Reyes' move to Madrid could lead crosstown rival Atletico to demand $3.9 million from the forward as a penalty for breaching his promise to join the club. The Spanish national team forward, who turns 23 on Friday, responded on Thursday by saying he hadn't "signed anything with them (Atletico) because it would be illegal anyway" (AP)

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