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Barcelona have completed the signing of defender Yerry Mina from Palmeiras, the Spanish club announced on Thursday.

Mina, 23, moves to the Camp Nou for a fee of โ‚ฌ11.8 million, and the Colombian’s five-and-a-half-year contract includes a โ‚ฌ100m release clause.

Barca had an option to sign Mina for โ‚ฌ9m after the 2018 World Cup, but have decided to fast-track the transfer due to Javier Mascherano’s pending move to Chinese Super League side Hebei Fortune.

As a result, they have had to pay Palmeiras โ‚ฌ2.5m more than had originally been agreed for the deal to be completed this summer.

Mina arrives to provide competition for Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique and Thomas Vermaelen in defence.

The Catalan club said in a statement: “He will bring a physical presence as his 1.95 metre frame suggests but he is also a quick, ball-playing defender. The Colombian, who is joining from Palmeiras, uses his aerial prowess to impose himself and score goals.”

Mina has won nine caps for Colombia, scoring three goals, and becomes the first-ever player from his homeland to represent Barcelona.

He joined Palmeiras in 2016 from Bogota-based Santa Fe, who are in line to receive a small windfall from the transfer.

Former Colombia international Faustino Asprilla says Mina is more than ready to take the leap to the Camp Nou, comparing him to former Barca and Juventus defender Lilian Thuram.

“Mina’s ready to play for Barcelona,” Asprilla said last month. “He already plays for Colombia, he’s good on the ball, quick and dominates in the air. He would adapt quickly and he has a lot of character. He reminds me of Thuram.”

Yerry Mina arrives to bolster Barcelona’s defensive options as they seek success in Spain and Europe in the second half of the season.

Barca decided to do the deal six months early due to Mascherano’s desire to leave the club.

The Argentine has lost his place in the team to Umtiti and wants to be playing regular football in the lead up to the World Cup in the summer.

With Mina signed and Umtiti nearing a return from injury, Barca are now expected to let the 33-year-old, who has spent eight years in Spain, join Manuel Pellegrini’s Hebei Fortune.

Mina becomes Barcelona’s second signing of the January transfer window following the arrival of Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.

The club will now work on reducing the size of the squad and the wage bill, with Gerard Deulofeu, Arda Turan, Rafinha and Aleix Vidal among the players that could follow Mascherano out the exit door.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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