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Rossi hopes to return from injury this spring

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Giuseppe Rossi shows the jersey of his new team, Fiorentina, at an event on Monday in Florence.

Giuseppe Rossi hopes to make his debut for Fiorentina this spring after a layoff of 1 1/2 years caused by a knee injury that needed three operations.

"My recovery is going well, I just need a little more time,'' the forward from New Jersey said Monday. "I want to be 100 percent.''

Rossi appeared at a news conference Monday following his transfer from Villarreal to Fiorentina. He was given a 4 1/2-year contract worth 2.2 million ($2.9 million) annually, plus bonuses. Fiorentina reportedly paid a 9.5 million euro ($12.45 million) transfer fee.

Rossi not played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a game against Real Madrid in October 2011. He has been undergoing physical therapy in New York.

The 25-year-old, born to Italian parents in Teaneck and raised in Clifton, scored 27 goals in 82 appearances for Villarreal. After starting his professional career with Manchester United, where he made 14 appearances during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, Rossi had been with Villarreal since 2007. He had nine goals in 19 appearances with Parma while on loan during the second half of the 2006-07 season.

Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said that Rossi's contract includes a (euro) 35 million ($45.6 million) exit clause.

"Fiorentina was the only team to come forward with facts, not just rumors,'' Rossi said. "I've spent many years abroad and I'm happy to be back in Italy,'' Rossi said.

Rossi, who has six goals in 27 appearances for Italy's national team, will join former Villarreal players Gonzalo Rodriguez and Borja Valero on Parma.

"Fiorentina has a mix of young and experienced players that are playing the best football in Italy,'' Rossi said.

With his usual No. 22 taken by Adem Ljajic, Rossi said he will wear No. 49 in honor of his father Fernando, who was born in 1949 and died in February 2010.

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