Soccer-Roma sign Brazil's Baptista from Real Madrid

ROME, Aug 14 (Reuters) - AS Roma ended their search for a forward on Thursday when they signed Brazilian Julio Baptista from Real Madrid.

The Serie A club said in a statement that the 26-year-old, nicknamed ‘the Beast’, had cost an initial nine million euros ($13.42 million) and had penned a four-year deal.

Roma, second in the league last season, were close to signing Fiorentina’s Romania striker Adrian Mutu last month before the deal collapsed.

The Italian Cup holders needed fresh firepower after becoming stretched towards the end of last season when captain Francesco Totti suffered a serious knee injury. Montenegro’s Mirko Vucinic was their only real alternative up front.

Baptista was largely a bit part player at Real after signing in 2005 and spent the 2006/07 season on loan at Arsenal.

Roma, who face league champions Inter Milan in the Italian Super Cup on Aug. 24, sold influential winger Mancini to their rivals earlier in the close season. (Writing by Mark Meadows, editing by Rex Gowar)