Football: Valdano considers Real's approach

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REAL MADRID have made contact with their former coach, Jorge Valdano, with the aim of incorporating him in the troubled club's set-up. However, Spanish newspapers reported yesterday that it was not yet apparent what job Valdano might be offered.

Valdano said he had spoken briefly to the Real president, Lorenzo Sanz, but that negotiations had yet to start. "We'll have to see what the club are offering me. The post of general manager exists in England and Italy but not in Spain so we need to be clear about what it involves," Valdano said in a radio interview on Monday night.

Real's initial plan appeared to be to make Valdano coach until the end of the season and then for him to vacate the post to become general manager. That would allow a fresh appointment, possibly for the Spanish national coach, Jose Antonio Camacho, who is reported as being Sanz's first choice. However, Valdano appears unwilling to accept what would effectively be the role of caretaker-coach and prefers the post of general manager.

The club were expected to begin negotiations in earnest after their home Champions' League match against the Norwegian club Rosenborg Trondheim yesterday. "Everyone should concentrate on that match first. I don't want to be the cause of any distraction," Valdano said.

Should formal talks begin, the 43-year-old Argentinian is expected to strike a hard bargain after his departure as Real coach last time around. He was sacked after 18 months in charge by the newly-installed Sanz in January 1996 after a poor run of results, despite having won the league title the previous season.

Valdano's return is Sanz's preferred option in the wake of the club's 5-1 home defeat by Real Zaragoza on Saturday, their worst home result for 25 years. Real are in 17th place in the Primera Division, ahead only of Valladolid, Oviedo and Sevilla. Valdano's return to the club would be welcomed by the club's fans, who see him as a proponent of attractive, attacking football.

The Marseilles striker Fabrizio Ravanelli is set to join Lazio in a cut- price deal, according to the Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport. Ravanelli said he had a successful meeting with the Lazio president, Sergio Cragnotti, at the weekend and expected Marseilles to respond to his request for a move today.

The Italian international, capped 22 times, said he was impressed by Cragnotti and the squad he had assembled.

"I am sure that the Lazio president has a winning mentality," he said. "It is enough to see what kind of team he has composed in order to understand his ambitions.

"I am also used to winning and I hope that Olympique [Marseille] will satisfy me and allow me the possibility to return to Italy."

A clause in Ravanelli's contract states he can return to Italy for two billion lire (pounds 660,000).