Southampton have completed the signing of defender Martin Caceres on a short-term deal.
The Uruguayan international was a free agent after leaving Serie A giants Juventus at the end of last season, and has signed a deal that keeps him at St. Mary’s until the end of the 2016/17 campaign.
Caceres will provide much-needed defensive cover for Claude Puel’s side after the £8m sale of Jose Fonte to West Ham and the lengthy loss of star defender Virgil van Dijk to an ankle injury.
The 29-year-old told the Saints’ official website: “I am very happy to have signed for what is an important club in English football. I am looking forward to getting started with my new teammates.
“Of all of the options that I had, I think that the best option for me was to come to Southampton. I am extremely happy to have joined this club.”
Having failed to appear in a competitive fixture since February of last year, Caceres may take time to rediscover full match fitness.
But the Uruguayan certainly brings a wealth of experience at the highest level, having been involved in title-winning Barcelona and Juventus sides in recent years.
Caceres won a La Liga title and experienced Champions League glory with Barca in 2008/09 and also claimed five consecutive Serie A titles with Juve between 2011/12 and 2015/16.
He has also earned 68 caps for his country, and was a member of the squad that helped Uruguay lift the Copa America in 2011.
Southampton’s Executive Director of Football, Les Reed, believes Caceres’ experience at the highest level will benefit the club, particularly after the blows of losing Fonte and Van Dijk.
Reed told the club’s website: “We set out to recruit a high-calibre player in that position during the January window so I am delighted that, following extensive work and persistence, we have now been able to sign Martín Cáceres on a short-term contract.
“Martin is a great talent, who has played at the very top level and won many trophies and medals. He is a very experienced international player for Uruguay and has enjoyed notable success with both Juventus and Barcelona.
“In a tough situation for us, losing Virgil to injury, he will bring experience, talent and character. He has played in the biggest of games, and will provide depth to our squad.
“Two days of extensive medicals and tough fitness tests have further demonstrated his desire and positive personality. I know Martin can’t wait to start playing again. We welcome him to St Mary’s, and his family into our family.”
Southampton’s next fixture sees them take on Manchester United at Wembley in the EFL Cup final next Sunday. Caceres’ Premier League debut could come on 4 March, when the Saints travel to Watford.