Real rule out Morientes sale in rebuff to Liverpool

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid sought to dampen speculation over the future of Fernando Morientes yesterday by issuing a statement saying the striker was not for sale.

Real Madrid sought to dampen speculation over the future of Fernando Morientes yesterday by issuing a statement saying the striker was not for sale.

"Given the appearance of stories claiming the possibility of Fernando Morientes leaving Real Madrid, the club have stated that they consider him to be an important first-team player," the statement read. "Real wish to express their desire to continue counting on him as a first-team player in the immediate future. The possibility of treating him as being on the market is ruled out."

Morientes' agent, Gines Carvajal, travelled to Liverpool on Tuesday to see the Champions' League game against Deportivo La Coruña, but he said yesterday that he was at the match because of a long-standing invitation from the Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, and had not gone to discuss a possible transfer.

"Morientes will stay at Real for the rest of the season," Carvajal said. "After that we'll have to see. But he has a contract until 2006 and unless Real want to sell him he can't go."

The 28-year-old, who has won three European Cups and two league titles with Real, has not started a league match since Michael Owen's arrival and has since lost his place in the Spain side. The Real coach, Mariano Garcia Remon, said he appreciated Morientes' position.

"His situation is like that of many of the former youth-team players," Remon said. "All I can say is that I'm very pleased with the way he has behaved. He trains very well and has accepted a very difficult situation like a man. He doesn't appear resentful to me and he has got massive respect from his team-mates. Anyway, you never know things could change in a week."

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