Real stand firm over Makelele's protest

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid's sports director, Jorge Valdano, yesterday warned midfielder Claude Makelele that the Spanish club has no intention of transferring him to another club.

"He will not wear the shirt of any team other than Madrid, I'll make sure of that," Valdano said. "He has a contract and until that contract expires, he will only wear Real Madrid's shirt." Makele has been linked with a move to Chelsea.

Real have also asked the France coach, Jacques Santini, to leave Makelele out of their team to face Switzerland in Geneva tonight. The club's medical staff had told him not to join the French squad on Monday, saying he was "suffering a slight emotional problem due to his personal and professional situation".

However, Santini is determined not to become involved in the dispute and is focusing solely on the national team. "Makelele trained normally," he confirmed. "We will see whether he plays the whole match or comes as a substitute.

Valdano had earlier attempted to quell speculation that Real were ready to accept an £8m offer from Chelsea for the player by warning that Makelele's protest could threaten his career.

"We haven't even remotely considered that Makelele could change club. A club like Real Madrid cannot accept pressure of this sort," he said.

"He has a choice. Either he continues to play soccer or he doesn't continue playing soccer. Putting his future as a player in danger, putting his contractual situation in danger doesn't seem to me to be a good idea. That's the bottom line."

Makelele has refused to train since suggesting last Wednesday he might leave Real if he doesn't get a pay rise. The midfielder, who has three years remaining on his contract, reportedly wants £2.2m a year instead of his estimated salary of £850,000.

The 30-year-old was left out of Real's friendly match against Valencia on Sunday. A complaint has also been filed with football's world governing body, Fifa. "It's a very clear act of indiscipline of the most basic sort: failure to train. The club cannot remain indifferent. We'll act with all the rigor that is necessary," Valdano said.

However, Makelele said from the French team's training base in Nyon that he was optimistic that the situation - which he described as "not pleasant for him or for anybody" - would soon be sorted out.

"Something very big is going to happen, which will be very good for everyone," Makelele was quoted as saying by the Spanish sports paper Marca yesterday.

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