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Santander's new owner to focus on talent

sports Updated: Feb 01, 2011 17:28 IST
Racing Santander

Racing Santander's new owner, Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed, said on Tuesday that the Spanish first division club will privilege talent over star power when it comes to recruiting new players.

"I would not say great names but instead great talent," he said during an interview with sports daily AS when asked if the club was looking to recruit big names to the modest club based in the northern port city of Santander.

"We want to sign talented players, managers with talent, financial officers with talent. Everything to create a consistent club, a great club."

Syed, who made an unsuccessful 300-million-pound ($480 million) bid to buy English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers earlier this season, finalised the agreement to become Santander's leading shareholder from its Spanish owners on Friday.

The club announced late on Monday its first signing since it was bought by Syed, that of Mexican international striker Giovani dos Santos who joins Santander on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season.

Dos Santos, who came up through Barcelona's youth system before joining the English club in 2008, played in all of Mexico's matches in the 2010 World Cup.

Syed, the founder of Bahrain-based asset manager Western Gulf Advisory, had previously said in a statement that his first step towards boosting Santander's squad would be to bring back Serbian striker Nikola Zigic from Birmingham for his third stint with the team.

But the winter transfer period ended at midnight on Monday without any move for Zigic.

Syed turned up to a rapturous welcome at Santander's home match with Valencia on Monday which ended in a 1-1 draw, leaving the club just three points above the drop zone.

He had guaranteed himself a friendly welcome after he announced in almost his first move as owner that tickets for the Valencia match would be free to members of the club.

"I am not a magician. I would like the team to become not only a household name in Spain but also on the world stage," said Syed.

"I am very conscious of the importance of a club like Racing Santander, of what it represents to the region and at the national level. I want it to be internationally known. That is the first step.

"I am conscious that we need to lift the level of the group and we will do everything possible to achieve this," he added.

Santander, founded in 1913, have never won a major title. Their best ever finish in the Spanish Championship was second in the 1930/31 season and have reached the Spanish Cup semi-finals twice.

Syed is the second foreign businessman to invest in a Spanish club in the past year, Malaga was bought last May by a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdallah Ben Nasser Al-Thani.