Soccer

Bayern signs Javi Martinez from Bilbao

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MUNICH (AP)

Bayern Munich has completed the long-awaited signing of Spain midfielder Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao in the most expensive transfer in the 50-year history of the Bundesliga.

The defensive midfielder cost ?40 million ($50 million), far exceeding the previous most expensive transfer by a German club.

Mario Gomez reportedly cost between ?30 million and ?35 million when the striker joined Bayern from VfB Stuttgart in 2009.

Martinez signed a five-year contract after tough negotiations with Bilbao spanning several weeks.

''This was without question a complicated transfer,'' said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who personally led the talks for Bayern. ''That's why we are even happier that Javi Martinez is finally with us.

''We know that he is a very good player. Over the past days, he has impressively demonstrated that he also has a strong personality, perseverance and a remarkable affinity for Bayern,'' Rummenigge said.

Martinez is to be presented at a news conference in Munich on Thursday.

The 23-year-old was on the Spain squads that won the 2010 World Cup and the European title less than two months ago.

Bayern doggedly pursued Martinez despite resistance from Bilbao.

''Forty million is a crazy sum. But we were convinced about the quality,'' Bayern President Uli Hoeness said during the negotiations.

Martinez flew to Munich last night to pass a medical examination, then returned to Spain on a private jet to finalize the deal.

''Athletic never authorized Javier Martinez's trip to Munich on Aug. 28. Athletic has demanded an explanation from the player,'' Bilbao said in a statement.

Bayern, with a record 21 Bundesliga titles, has been upstaged by Borussia Dortmund, which won the last two championships. Bayern has not won a trophy in the last two seasons.

It reached the final of the Champions League last season, only to lose to Chelsea on penalties at its own Munich stadium.

Bayern needed to bolster its defensive midfield, especially with Bastian Schweinsteiger yet to regain his form after a series of injury setbacks.

Martinez could make his debut Sunday at home against Stuttgart.

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