x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Benitez becomes Birmingham boy

Birmingham City beat off competition from top European clubs to sign the Ecuador striker Christian Benitez from Mexican side Santos Laguna.

Birmingham City have beaten off competition from top European clubs to sign the Ecuador striker Christian Benitez from Mexican side Santos Laguna. Blues confirmed a fee ? thought to be a club record ? had been agreed for the 23 year old, who will travel to England for a medical next week having agreed personal terms. Although the fee is undisclosed it is set to surpass the £6.25 million (Dh38m) paid for Emile Heskey in 2004 and is reported to be in the region of £9m. Benitez ? son of the Ecuador's all-time leading goalscorer, Ermen ? starred in the 2006 World Cup in Germany and has scored 31 goals in 58 games in Mexico's Primera Division over the last two campaigns. He recently underwent surgery on a shoulder injury and is unlikely to be involved when Ecuador play World Cup qualifiers against Peru (7 June) and Argentina (10 June). The club are confident of acquiring a work permit for the striker as he has played in 85 per cent of Ecuador's competitive A grade games over the last two years ? well above the required amount.

*PA Sport