Birkirkara have pulled off a major transfer coup as they acquired the services of former Sevilla and Spain international Diego Capel.

Capel, 31, has put pen to paper on a six-month contract with an option of extending his stay for a further year.

The winger who can feature on both right and left flanks was recently on the books of Spanish second-tier side Extremadura.

The Spaniard’s arrival follows the signing of Italian midfielder Claudio Bonanni who was announced by the Premier League side last Sunday.

“I want to thank the club president for providing me with this opportunity,” Capel told a news conference.

“I wanted to have this experience and I really hope to play my best football to make sure that the club reaches its objectives while making our fans happy.”

Capel will be making his debut for Birkirkara as early as tomorrow when the Stripes take on Czech side Banik Ostrava in a friendly match.

The Spaniard was tipped as one of the country’s most promising players as he made his debut in the La Liga with Sevilla in 2004-05 season.

His performances earned him a place in La Roja’s U-19’s selection that clinch the European Championship in 2006.

Five years later, Capel also won the U-21 European Championships when Spain defeated Switzerland in the final.

During his time at Sevilla, Capel also managed to win the UEFA Cup on two occasions, defeating Middlesbrough in the 2006 final before managing to successfully defend the crown the following year when having the better of fellow La Liga rivals Espanyol.

Nonetheless, it was not before the 2007-008 campaign that Capel established himself at Sevilla as he was part of the side that defeated Real Madrid over two legs in the Spanish Super Cup. That year, Capel made 31 league appearances and played all Champions League group stage matches, collecting 16 appearances.

With Sevilla, Capel went on to play 172 games scoring 11 goals and 19 assists before leaving Andalusia for Sporting Lisbon after losing his starting place to Diego Perotti.

In Portugal, Capel played 143 games which included a Europa League run halted in the final four in 2012 and a successful Portuguese Cup journey in 2015 when in the final Sporting defeated Braga 5-3 on penalties.

After leaving Portugal, Capel signed for Serie A side Genoa where he made a total of 21 appearances before joining Belgian side Anderlecht.

With the Belgians, the 31-year-old registered a couple of goals and four assists in 25 games.

Capel’s international career lasted only two games – the debut game against Denmark in 2008 and a 73-minute appearance in a World Cup qualifier against Bosnia that year as well.

Meanwhile, club technical director Michael Valenzia confirmed that the Stripes are expected to run the rule on a player during tomorrow’s friendly against Banik Ostrava while also hinting a couple of departures.

 “As per the rest of the squad, I can confirm that two players are set to leave the club in the coming days. For sure, those who played against Mosta won’t be leaving the club though,” Valenzia said.

New sponsor

Valenzia rebuffed any speculations that the club will force players out of the club. In fact, he explained that actually the Stripes are looking to strengthen their team while keeping the core of the squad which started the 2019-20 campaign.

While not delving into the sponsor details, Valenzia explained that there are three important persons who will be giving a massive helping hand to the Premier League side after agreeing on a three-year deal with the new management.

Gianluigi Maruffa, a former Sampdoria player and Raffaelle Astuto, will be helping Valenzia in recruiting foreign players with their main interest being players from Italian and Scandinavian football.

In addition, Andrea Cosma, whose family has connections with teams in Italy and Romania, will be providing financial aid to the club as from next season.

“The idea of this collaboration is to have a long-term planning of player trading – using the Maltese league as a stepping stone for the new signings to showcase themselves before they embark on bigger leagues,” Valenzia said.

Club president Frank Zarb also rejected any idea of stepping down from his role while confirming that Jeffrey Farrugia, the club’s team manager, is currently suspended by the Birkirkara administration without giving further details.

Capel is expected to make his competitive debut for Birkirkara when they face neighbours Balzan on Monday.

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