West Ham United have announced the signing of Spanish goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez Gago, commonly known as Roberto, on a free transfer from RCD Espanyol.
The 33-year-old will join the Hammers on July 1st after his contract with the La Liga Santander club expires, signing a two-year deal with the Premier League side.
He becomes West Ham's first signing of the season and will provide back-up to Łukasz Fabiański after the departure of Adrian San Miguel - who left the club on a free transfer.
Experienced goalkeepers' new experience
Having played over 300 professional games during his career, Roberto will provide much-needed leadership for the young and upcoming players like Nathan Trott, Ben Johnson or Grady Diangana.
"I consider this step a big step in my career. I think everyone who follows football knows the importance of this Club, so I’m really excited and looking forward to getting started," said Roberto, in an interview for whufc.com.
After starting his career with Atletico Madrid he played for clubs like Recreativo Huelva, Real Zaragoza and Gimnastic, before ultimately coming back to play for the Rojiblancos.
However, his breakout season came in Portugal as he led SL Benfica to Taça da Liga glory and a UEFA Europa League semi-final, which saw him return to Zaragoza and Atletico - unfortunately, with little effect.
Before the 2013-14 season, the keeper chose Greek all-time champions Olympiacos Piraeus as his next destination, which proved to be a success. Firstly on loan, but then permanently, he managed to provide regular Europan competition for the club in all three seasons he spent in Greece, as well as winning the league in each of them.
"It’s a big challenge as I consider Premier League to be one of the two best and biggest leagues in the world," he said. "I think it’s a dream for every player to come here and play."
He returned to Spain with Espanyol in June 2016, becoming ex-Watford's manager Quique Sánchez Flores' first signing at the club, before signing for Malaga on-loan just a year later.
Reunion with former teammate
During his time at Olympiacos, Roberto played with one of the current West Ham players, Arthur Masuaku.
This relationship, as well as his good knowledge of the language, will hopefully help the keeper quickly acclimatize in East London and get him going from the start.
The Spaniard is also reuniting with the clubs Director of Football, Mario Husillos, with whom he worked at CF Malaga during the 2017/18 season.
“I worked with Roberto during my time at Malaga," the Argentinian added. "He is a fantastic goalkeeper, who has a great deal of experience in football, having played at the highest level.