Real claim Figo for a world-record £40m

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The Independent Online

Luis Figo, the star of Portugal's Euro 2000 side, will definitely join Real Madrid from Barcelona tomorrow, according to Real's new president, Florentino Perez. "On Monday, Figo is mine. We'll pay the money to the league and we will present him as a Real Madrid player," Perez said yesterday.

Luis Figo, the star of Portugal's Euro 2000 side, will definitely join Real Madrid from Barcelona tomorrow, according to Real's new president, Florentino Perez. "On Monday, Figo is mine. We'll pay the money to the league and we will present him as a Real Madrid player," Perez said yesterday.

Real will have to pay £40m, a world-record fee, plus VAT at 16 per cent to the league in order to release Figo from his contract with Barcelona. Where the European champions will find the money is a moot point, as they are already a reported £160m in debt.Figo will reportedly earn more than £30m over six years.

Real eased their finances somewhat with the transfer of Nicolas Anelka to Paris Saint-Germain for a French-record £21.25m on Friday, but Arsÿne Wenger, Anelka's manager when he was at Arsenal, is worried that this Spanish activity will affect his club. Juan Gaspart, a front-runner in Barcelona's own forthcoming presidential election, has reportedly said he will mount a £32m bid for Arsenal's French midfielder Emmanuel Petit and Dutch winger Marc Overmars if he is voted in.

"Although they have years left on their contracts here it is very difficult to stop players leaving if somebody else offers them three times as much," Wenger said yesterday. "In football you never say never, and if another club put a £50m bid on the table for yourplayers you can't say you won't consider it. I have spoken to Marc and Manu and I am 95 per cent sure they will be playing for Arsenal next season."

Someone who has definitely left is Vujadin Boskov, fired as Yugoslavia's national team coach yesterday. Yugoslav FA officials said the main reason for Boskov's removal was not so much the 6-1 humiliation by Holland in the Euro 2000 quarter-finals as the fact that Boskov, 69, lives outside Yugoslavia and has little contact with national team players.

Ilija Petkovic, who played for Yugoslavia as a striker from 1968-1974 and later coached at home and in Switzerland, Japan and Greece, was named as Boskov's replacement.

The enduring German defender Lothar Matthäus has decided to soldier on for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, though, after a lengthy meeting with club officials. Matthäus had been at odds with the MetroStar coach, Octavio Zambrano, and has been struggling with a back injury.

Germany's award of the 2006 World Cup is being challenged by South African officials who have travelled to Australia to meet Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) members. South Africa's 2006 bid committee chief executive, Danny Jordaan, said he was asking the OFC to clarify why Charles Dempsey, their 78-year-old president, crucially abstained from voting in Zurich earlier this month.

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