After having locked down some of the world’s top strikers for club and country in recent years, Costa Rican defender Óscar Duarte is being rewarded with a promotion to the big leagues. On Monday, Duarte agreed to a four-year contract with Barcelona’s Espanyol, according to Spanish magazine Marca.
Duarte is now the third Costa Rican currently playing in Spain’s La Liga, joining star Real Madrid goalie Keylor Navas and Deportivo de La Coruña midfielder Celso Borges as the other Ticos in what many consider the best division in football.
The Nicaraguan-born Duarte is expected to start on the back line in Espanyol’s next game, a clash with Navas and Madrid on Sunday at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
According to Marca’s report, Duarte has passed his physical examination and will arrive in Barcelona tomorrow to be officially presented by team president Chen Yansheng.
Espanyol, which has four Copa del Rey titles in club history, is sitting in the back half of La Liga’s standings this season with a 6-4-11 record and has allowed 35 goals in league play.
Duarte was instrumental in Costa Rica’s 2014 World Cup as he kept in check some of the game’s top scoring threats, including the star-studded front lines of England and Holland.
The 26-year-old had been playing for Belgium’s Club Brugge since 2013, where he helped the team to a 2015 Belgian Cup championship and scored nine goals in 117 total games.
Espanyol and Real Madrid will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Costa Rican time on Sunday.