Real close in on £3m Cassano deal

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid are reportedly close to signing the Italian international striker Antonio Cassano from Roma. The Spanish club has offered a fee of €4.5m (£3.1m) for the 23-year-old, although Roma want €8m, reports claimed yesterday.

Every Spanish sports paper said the deal would be completed quickly. Cassano, who has been in dispute all season with Roma and is out of contract in June, has been linked with moves to Real and to Internazionale. He was one of Italy's most expensive transfers four years ago.

Real Madrid's honorary president and record goal scorer, Alfredo Di Stefano, left the intensive care unit of a Valencia hospital yesterday after continuing to make good progress following quadruple heart bypass surgery.

"The patient is continuing to improve and his kidneys are functioning almost normally," the medical services of La Fe hospital said. "He has been transferred from the recovery unit to a normal hospital ward, although because he needs to rest, visits to the patient will be restricted."

The 79-year-old Real legend underwent the surgery last week after suffering a heart attack on Christmas Eve.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Di Stefano led Real Madrid to five consecutive European Cup triumphs between 1956 and 1960 and was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959. As well as his European triumphs with Real, Di Stefano also won eight Spanish league titles, the World Club Cup and the King's Cup before joining Espanyol after falling out with the president, Santiago Bernabeu, in 1964.

Born of Italian parents in Buenos Aires, Di Stefano played for Argentina and Spain during his 22-year career and retired at the age of 40 in 1967.