Real can sign Gravesen for £2m

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The Independent Football

Everton will not stand in the way of Thomas Gravesen if Real Madrid make an offer for the Danish international, but the Merseyside club have resolved to take at least £2m from the Spanish side if they want the midfielder before his contract expires this summer.

Everton will not stand in the way of Thomas Gravesen if Real Madrid make an offer for the Danish international, but the Merseyside club have resolved to take at least £2m from the Spanish side if they want the midfielder before his contract expires this summer.

The player's agent, John Sivebaek, the former Manchester United full-back, admitted yesterday that he is in talks with Real and there is not expected to be a problem with Gravesen's personal terms. Although Everton had not had a formal approach from Real late yesterday, sources at the club fully expected the Spanish side to announce that they have agreed a pre-contract deal with Gravesen in the next 48 hours.

The pre-contract deal, which Gravesen is free to negotiate with any foreign club now that he is in the last six months of his existing Everton deal, would pave the way for an immediate move. Once they had secured his services for the summer, Real would be likely to tell Everton that they wanted the player immediately.

The Everton manager, David Moyes, has a good relationship with the 28-year-old midfielder and would not seek to make life difficult for him if he had the opportunity to leave now and play in the Champions' League against Juventus next month. There would also be a strong argument for releasing the player immediately, given that he would not want to injure himself before the biggest season of his career.

The pre-contract agreement is a tactic Real have used before with Steve McManaman, who left Liverpool in 1999 after seeing out the last six months of his contract at Anfield under a similar deal with the Spanish side. Should Everton agree to release Gravesen this month, their chief executive, Keith Wyness, would have to negotiate as much money as possible from Real.

With every place they finish higher up the Premiership worth £500,000 to Everton, they have to weigh up how much the loss of Gravesen, an integral member of their midfield, is likely to cost them should he leave this month rather than in the summer. Everton would start the bidding at £3m, although they would probably settle for around £2m.

Sivebaek said: "I'm in Madrid just to hear what they have to say. They'd like to have him now, but it's not in my hands. It is up to Everton.

"In this game something can happen in an hour or in a week. It is difficult to say. Obviously, Real Madrid would be a big opportunity, but if he stays at Everton until the end of the season, I think he would also be happy with that."

Everton have still not received the £12.8m pledged by the Fortress Sports Fund, an investment company headed by the Geneva financier Chris Samuelson, whose involvement in the club's finances has taken around six months to negotiate. However, they still have some funds to allow David Moyes to make one more signing on top of the £6m they paid Southampton for James Beattie.

It is understood that the Everton manager is no longer interested in Birmingham's Robbie Savage, who has been the subject of a failed Blackburn bid. However, Fulham's French midfielder Steed Malbranque is considered a possibility, as is Simon Davies, Tottenham's attacking midfielder. The Welsh international is struggling with a virus.

Wyness confirmed yesterday that the club had not been contacted by Real. He said: "We've had no contact whatsoever from any club regarding Thomas. We will play the situation as it arises, if indeed something does arise. We know Tommy is happy at Everton and, hopefully, he will be here for some time to come."

The signing of Gravesen would give Real's midfield the combative edge they have lacked since the departure of Claude Makelele to Chelsea at the start of last season. From a first-choice quartet of Luis Figo, Guti, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane it would probably be Guti, one of only a few home-grown players in the side, who would have to make way for Gravesen.

Charlton's manager, Alan Curbishley, would like to see the transfer window expanded to eight weeks so clubs can have enough time to sign the players they have targeted. The system was put in place in England by Fifa, football's world governing body, for the 2002-03 season, and restricts teams to just two periods of activity in the market for new players - either during the close-season or for a month at the start of the year.

Curbishley, who has transfer funds of around £3m, believes the complications which come with locating targets and finalising deals mean four weeks is "just not long enough.

"It's very difficult to get anything done in a month," he said. "It's just not a long enough period of time. You can tell that people aren't happy with it because there isn't much business happening. They should consider extending it to eight weeks."

"Another problem with the current system is that the prices for players get inflated because there's only a short period of time in which to do anything," he added.

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