West Ham United are pleased to announce the signing of Switzerland Under-19 defender Fabio Daprela from Grasshopper Club Zurich for an undisclosed fee.
Daprela, a left-back, flew straight to London to complete his move to the Boleyn Ground from the UEFA European U19 Championship finals in Ukraine. The club had to contend with interest from a host of top Italian sides for the youngster, who has signed a five-year deal after moving from the Zurich club.
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The 18-year-old helped the Swiss to get to within five minutes of a place in the semi-finals in Ukraine. Daprela played the full 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw with England, 77 minutes of the 2-1 victory over Slovenia, and the full game as Switzerland suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat by the host nation in their final Group A fixture.
He has been a regular for his nation in previous years, and also started all three of Switzerland's matches at the 2008 UEFA European U17 Championship finals in Turkey. The teenager marked new West Ham team-mate Daniel Kearns when Switzerland's U19s beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in a Nationwide International Challenge match in Belfast in April this year.
At club level, Daprela joined Grasshoppers in 2003, having started his career at youth club SC YF Juventus. He made eleven appearances for the club's first-team. Daprela becomes the second Swiss player to join the Hammers in the past 12 months, joining full international Valon Behrami at the Boleyn Ground.
Daprela is now looking forward to meeting Gianfranco Zola and his new team-mates as they prepare for the start of the new Barclays Premier League season.
"I am very happy to come here as it is a great club," Daprela said. "I saw the team play on television last season and it is a very good team. They have a great manager and it is good to be here.
"I want to play for the first team in the Premier League. I think I can learn a lot from the manger and people like Matthew Upson and Mark Noble and I am really looking forward to the season starting."
*Image courtesy of Matt Makey/Press Eye Ltd.