Everton sign Uruguayan striker Rodriguez

LONDON (Reuters) – Everton have signed Uruguayan striker Leandro Rodriguez on a four-year deal from River Plate Montevideo for an undisclosed fee, the Premier League club announced on Friday.

The 22-year-old scored 19 goals in 71 games for his hometown club and Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes he will be an exciting prospect at Goodison Park.

“He’s a young talent — one of those elite, talented youngsters who we like to bring in,” said Martinez.

“Mason Holgate is a clear example of a really strong, young English defender and Leandro Rodriguez is a young striker with a real knack of scoring goals,” he added, referring to the 18-year-old defender Everton signed from Barnsley this month.

“But… his contribution is a lot more than that and hopefully we can provide a path where he can develop and enjoy his football. If he can do that, clearly that’s going to bring goals to the first team.

“He probably won’t (need time with the Under-21s) because he has played enough games with his first team in Uruguay in a really competitive league.

“If you look at the amount of strikers that come through those environments, you don’t get surprised about the quality of these players.

“I am not saying that to put pressure on the boy, but he is a player we can be very much excited about in the future.”

Everton also hope to tie up a deal to sign 24-year-old Argentina defender Ramiro Funes Mori who, like Rodriguez, was a guest of the club’s during Saturday’s game against Manchester City.

(This version of the story was refiled to add Montevideo in lead paragraph)

(Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)