Sale Sharks have signed England centre Manu Tuilagi following his departure from Leicester Tigers.
He had been linked with a move to France, but his switch to Sale on a deal until the end of 2020-21 ensures he will remain available for England.
“Manu will be a fantastic commercial and playing addition to our squad,” said boss Steve Diamond.
“We contacted Manu’s agent and Leicester Tigers last week to discuss the player’s current position.
“After discussions on Friday, all parties – Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi and Sale Sharks – agreed that the player was a free agent and was able to enter into negotiations with another club.”
Despite his family’s 20-year association with Tigers, Tuilagi’s career at his boyhood club came to an acrimonious end when he was among five players released after refusing to sign an amended contract.
Tuilagi’s existing Leicester deal, which he signed last year amid interest from French Top 14 side Racing 92, still had a year left to run.
He was again linked with a switch to France following his departure from Welford Road on 1 July – a move which would have curtailed his international career – but Sale have acted quickly to secure his services on a cut-price deal.
Sharks are currently second in the table and face Harlequins on 14 August, the first domestic rugby union match to take place since the season was suspended because of coronavirus.