San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Bryan Ruiz bears highest Tico soccer price tag

Striker Bryan Ruiz became the most expensive soccer player in Costa Rican history on Wednesday, when Dutch soccer team Twente secured his transfer for €5 million (a little over $7 million).

Ruiz, 23, played the past three seasons with the Belgian Gante club, where he was a captain and the main goal-scorer. Before the deal with Twente was confirmed, other big European clubs were also interested in Ruiz, including England´s Newcastle, the Netherlands´ Heerenveen, Germany´s Hoffenheim and Russia´s Zenit.

The Ruiz transfer topped Paulo César Wanchope´s old record of the highest transfer price paid for a Costa Rican, when Wanchope was picked up in 2000 from England´s West Ham United by Manchester City for $5.6 million.

Ruiz has played an integral role in the Costa Rican national team, which is leading its Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Soccer Associations (CONCACAF) World Cup 2010 qualifying group.

After playing with Alajuelense, Ruiz left Costa Rica in 2006 at age 19 to play in Belgium, where he developed and grew physical enough to compete at the European level.

While playing with Gante, Ruiz was called the best player on the team and one of the best foreign players in the Belgian league. In December, the Italian club Napoli offered Gante €8 million (about $11.2 million) for Ruiz, but the club refused the offer without consulting him.

Ruiz expressed his frustration with his club´s decision to leave him out of the deal and said he wished to leave Belgium to play in a more competitive league, where he would have more opportunity to show his abilities. He especially expressed interest in the Dutch league and Twente, the runner-up in last season´s finals. With Twente, Ruiz will be able to play in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League, which consists of Europe´s top teams.

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