McDonald Mariga becomes the first Kenyan to play in La Liga

Real Sociedad have strengthened their squad with the arrival of McDonald Mariga, who has arrived on loan from Inter Milan until the end of the 2011/12 season. The 24-year-old defensive midfielder will become the first Kenyan to play in La Liga after also being the first player from his country to appear in the Champions League, coming as a late substitute in a game against Chelsea in March, 2010.

Txuri-urdin President, Jokin Aperribay, disclosed that talks between Real and Inter had been long and difficult but were finally brought to a conclusion with the Basques agreeing on a €5m option to buy after 12 months. Aperribay also said he is now satisfied with the club´s squad following the arrival of Mariga and Arsenal´s Carlos Vela, while director of football Lorenzo Juarros ´Loren` announced that the player had been brought to Anoeta at the express wish of boss Philippe Montanier who wanted “somebody with the profile required for the centre of the pitch.”

Mariga started his playing career in his native country before moving to Sweden in 2005 to play for Enkopings. One year later he signed for Helsingborgs and his immediate success earned an initial loan move to Italian side Parma after plans to sign for Portsmouth were thwarted by work permit problems. After 35 appearances for Parma in Serie B during the 2008/09 season, then subsequent promotion to the first team, he was signed on a permanent deal for €2m but was snapped up by Inter Milan in January, 2010 on a co-ownership agreement, which five months later was turned into a permanent €10m transfer.

However, following just 12 appearances last season Mariga has now decided to try his luck in Spain and is convinced he will be a success: “I know I can succeed in this league,” he said. “I have to adapt as soon as possible and I believe I can do well here. At Inter I didn´t get many opportunities to play so I needed to find a solution. I want to play more with Real and if I do well then I hope I´ll be able to stay longer.”

The Kenyan international also revealed that he already knows the club: “I searched online for information on the team and players and saw all the games on Real´s recent tour of Italy,” he explained. “For me the Spanish league is the best. In England, Italy and Spain the football is very competitive but La Liga possesses the best technical players. It is a great challenge for me and I hope to be a success,” he added.

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