BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Barcelona signed Chile forward Alexis Sanchez from Udinese for ?26 million ($37 million) on Thursday, becoming the European champion's first major signing during the offseason transfer market.
The three-time defending Spanish champion said on its website that the 22-year-old Sanchez has agreed to a five-year contract. He becomes the first Chilean player to join Barcelona. Terms of the move were not released.
Barcelona said bonuses could add an extra ?11.5 million ($16.5 million) to the deal. Sanchez will undergo a medical and sign his contract before being presented in the Catalan capital on Monday.
Sanchez scored 12 goals in 31 Serie A games for Udinese last season after joining from Argentine team River Plate in 2008. He also previously played for Colo Colo and helped Chile reached the quarterfinals of the Copa America in Argentina this month.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is likely to utilize the winger's pace and skill on the flanks to bolster Barcelona's attack. Last season, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez played there without much of a rest.
''He's very young,'' Guardiola said. ''He can play in all three attacking positions, he shows intense defensive skills, he's direct and from what I've been told, he's a very nice kid.''
The football transfer is also the most expensive involving a Chilean. It could be end up being worth more than double what Juventus paid Lazio for Marcelo Salas in 2001, when striker Darko Kovacevic was included in a $25 million deal.
Should the deal reach a maximum ?37.5 million ($54 million), it would be Barcelona's second most expensive signing after having paid Inter Milan $65 million (?45 million) for striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a move that included Samuel Eto'o going the other way.
Barcelona can now concentrate on trying to sign Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas. Guardiola said Sanchez was the club's No. 1 transfer priority, but Barcelona still wants to bring Fabregas back to his boyhood club.