Bidding war likely for golden Forlan

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The Independent Online

Diego Forlan wrapped up business on the last weekend of the season in Spain – another goal, another year of Champions League football guaranteed for Atletico Madrid and another Golden Boot for the former Manchester United striker. Forlan has now finished top scorer in Spain twice, won the Golden Boot on two occasions and continues to average 20 goals a season in the five years since leaving Old Trafford.

His goal in Atletico's 3-0 win over Almeria took his season's tally to 32 and ensured even Barcelona cannot win everything. Samuel Eto'o played in the club's insignificant final match against Deportivo and scored his 30th goal of the campaign – two short of his Uruguayan rival. Now the bidding will begin for both men's services.

Even though Eto'o scored in the Champions League final on Wednesday against Manchester United, Barcelona might still find it hard to resist a big-money offer for the 28-year-old, who will be able to leave for free at the end of next season if the club do not offer him a new deal.

Eto'o is wanted by Manchester City, although the drawback of not being involved in the Champions League is likely to be an obstacle to a man who has now now scored in and won two European Cups.

Barcelona have not ruled out offering Eto'o a new deal, although his participation next season in the African Nations Cup is another reason why they are likely to consider offers and should he move on their attention is likely to turn to the players who finished first and third, either side of Eto'o in the scoring charts – Forlan and Valencia's David Villa, who was also on the mark on the last day of the season.

But Valencia's win was not enough to see them overhaul fourth-placed Atletico Madrid and they will play in the Europa League next season. The failure to make the Champions League makes Villa's departure even more likely, with the player intent on staying in Spain despite interest from Chelsea.

While Barcelona's summer will be spent choosing between keeping Eto'o and buying either Villa or Forlan, Real Madrid's is likely to be even more complicated. Florentino Perez will today be officially announced as the club's new president, returning three years after leaving the post.

Tomorrow he is expected to announce Villarreal's Manuel Pellegrini as his new coach. Such a move would leave Juande Ramos looking for a club, with Atletico Madrid a possible destination. Pellegrini's signature could cost Madrid up to €4m (£3.5m) in compensation. Ramos at least will not need paying off – his deal runs out at the end of June and he claims already to have received offers from other sides.

Atletico Madrid's caretaker manager Abel Resino said after the side made it into the Champions League: "I will talk this week about my future. My work is there for all to see."

Whoever takes charge of the side that join Barça, Real Madrid and Seville in next season's Champions League, they will have to fight to hold on to not only Forlan but also Sergio Aguero. The Argentine striker said: "I want to stay at the club but I want us to be fighting to win the league." If Atletico fail to match his ambition and a club can match the player's €50m buyout clause, then the Madrid side will be helpless to hold on to their striker.

Aguero has in the past hinted that he would prefer to follow his father-in-law Diego Maradona's example and play in Serie A but at such a high price the Premier League could be a more realistic destination.

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