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Hamburg Sign Real Madrid's Ruud Van Nistelrooy On Free Transfer

Ruud van Nistelrooy has officially completed his free transfer from Real Madrid to Hamburger SV.

The 33-year-old moves to the north of Germany on a free transfer, penning a 1.5 year deal at the HSH Nordbank Arena.

Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia confirmed the move on television, saying: "Yes, we have made an agreement with (Ruud).

"I'm very happy that he decided to join us. He's joined for free."

Ruud joined Madrid after five years with Manchester United in 2006, going on to score 33 goals in all competitions in his first season in Spain.

However, injuries took their toll in his second campaign in La Liga, and in the last 18 months he's been restricted to a mere seven league appearances.

The arrival of young Karim Benzema at the Bernabeu this summer, coupled by Cristiano Ronaldo's forward position and the continued form of Gonzalo Higuain, has meant that even in fitness van Nistelrooy's chances have been limited.

This prompted the forward to look into a January move, with Madrid agreeing to release him from his contract six months early as reward for his good service.

Clubs from across the continent, including Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, had designs on the veteran forward but in the end he has opted to try his luck in the Bundesliga.

Ruud has previously announced his retirement from international football but it is not impossible that a fine start to his Hamburg career could spur a Netherlands comeback in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.