Latin America & Caribbean

Real Madrid sign seven-year-old Argentine boy

In this undated photo released by the Coira family, Leonel Angel Coira shows the contract he signed with Real Madrid at their headquarters in Madrid, Spain
Image caption Leonel Angel Coira says he wants to be the next Lionel Messi

Spanish football team Real Madrid have signed a seven-year-old Argentine boy, a spokesman for the club has said.

Leonel Angel Coira, who has lived in Spain for three years, was spotted during try-outs, Real Madrid said.

He will start training with the children's team in September on a one-year renewable contract. He can join the first team from the age of 16.

Spokesman Juan Tapiador said the club took on players of any age as long as they offered "something different".

"They only have to be a standout," he said. "We look for something different, that quality or talent that makes them stand out from the rest."

World Cup hopes

Coira goes by the nickname Leo like his idol, fellow Argentine Lionel Messi, whose footsteps Coira is keen to trace.

"(My) dream is to meet Messi, play in the first division with Madrid and for Argentina in the World Cup," Coira told the Spanish newspaper ABC.

Messi joined Barcelona from the Argentine club Newell's Old Boys as a teenager and has gone on to become one of football's most famous players.

The team approached Coira after the youngster received an offer from rivals Atletico Madrid, according to his father, Miguel Coira, a coach for a small team in the Madrid suburbs.

"The scouts (at Atletico) saw him and were the first to send a letter of invitation but after doing tests at both teams, he felt more comfortable at Real Madrid.

"I'm very confident about the club, I know they will take care of him," he told Spanish newspaper ABC.

Coira, who begins training on 6 September, will receive travel costs but no salary.

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