Newly crowned European champions Real Madrid are not resting on their laurels as they look to strengthen their squad while trying to hold onto their current stars.
The Spanish press reported Wednesday that Real are chasing Celta Vigo's midfielder Claude Makelele while star strikers Nicolas Anelka of France and Spaniard Fernando Morientes are going nowhere unless someone comes in with an offer in the region of 40 million dollars.
"We have begun negotiations with Celta and now it depends on what they say and how much they want for Makelele. It is certain that we won't be paying more than nine million dollars," said Real president Lorenzo Sanz.
"Obviously I want to play for Real but I must calmly evaluate all the offers that are currently on the table," Makelele told Spanish sports daily AS.
The 27-year-old, begun his career in France with Brest before stints with Nantes and Marseille before joining Celta Vigo in 1998 where his current contract expires in 2002.
As for Anelka and Morientes, Sanz says they are "not for sale" unless a club can come up with $40 million.
"Today Morientes and Anelka are going nowhere but the world of football has gone mad and if someone comes up with 40 million dollars, I would let the player go and bank the money," added Sanz.
"Anelka showed us at the end of the season that he is a great player and what he is capable off. In France he is always wanted by other clubs but nothing is certain," said Sanz.
One player who could be on his way out of Madrid is Spanish international Fernando Hierro who has attracted the interest of Serie A giants AS Roma and coach Fabio Capello.
No official offer has been made but the clubs have been talking and the 32-year-old defender could be the next arrival in Rome after Argentine striker Gabriele Batistuta signed a three-year deal Tuesday from Fiorentina -- MADRID, May 31 (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)