Real Madrid were last night moving closer to giving in to Jose Mourinho's demands for a new striker with discussions over taking Ruud Van Nistelrooy back to the Bernabeu at an advanced stage.
The Spanish club had originally asked to take the 34-year-old for free but they have since backed-down and the former Madrid and Manchester United forward could yet get his return to La Liga for ¤2m euros. After Bayern Munich blocked a move for Miroslav Klose and Manchester City outpriced Emmanuel Adebayor insisting Madrid pay his £110,000-a-week wages in full Real have been left with few options and Van Nistelrooy's public display of desire to return to the Spanish capital has persuaded the club to find the money to make the move happen.
Van Nistelrooy scored 46 goals in three seasons at Madrid and is a hugely popular figure with the club's supporters. His age and injury record would made the transfer a risk but it is one they feel they have to take after slipping four points behind Barcelona in the league.
Real entertain Mallorca tomorrow while Pep Guardiola's team goes into the second half of the season today at home to Racing Santander with the history books open for them to rewrite. They became the first team to amass 52 points in the first half of the season and a repeat in the second half would see them smash the 100-points barrier, beating their own record of 99 points set last season.
Guardiola's only problem is the uncertainty over full-back Dani Alves' future. He moved a step closer to a move to Manchester City after rejecting a second offer to extend his contract this week. The Brazilian defender's deal runs out at the end of next season and he has been offered an extension until 2015.
This week his agent Joaquin Macanas left a meeting with Barcelona's vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu with the two parties no closer to an agreement. It was Barcelona's final offer. They cannot match City's financial muscle and hope the player will put football reasons over economic ones.