Real's £6m deal for Woodgate to stay at Middlesbrough

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The Independent Football

Middlesbrough have edged closer to the permanent capture of Jonathan Woodgate after formalising a £6m deal with Real Madrid to sign the England defender.

The Spanish club confirmed last night that they have reached an agreement with Boro for the 27-year-old to make his loan move permanent at the end of the season. But the Teessiders, who negotiated a first-option clause when they brought Woodgate back to his home town last summer, still need to persuade him his future lies with them.

A Real statement yesterday read: "We have reached an agreement for the permanent transfer of Woodgate. Real wish Woodgate great success both personally and professionally."

The Real coach Fabio Capello yesterday retained the support of the club's board although a three-match stay of execution may be a more appropriate way of describing his position.

Real have scored just five goals in their past 10 matches and lie fourth in La Liga after their seventh defeat of the season against Levante on Sunday, but the club's sporting director, Pedrag Mijatovic, said last night: " It's not necessary to get rid of Fabio. He deserves our trust. He remains our coach, things don't change. What we have to do is work hard to resolve our problems.

"We knew it was going to be a difficult season and I can't say I'm not concerned but it is not easy to make all the changes that we have had to make after three years of not winning anything. All this will be sorted out with a couple of wins."

Capello needs those wins sooner rather than later to have any chance of seeing out the two and a half years remaining on his contract.

Real travel to Real Sociedad on Saturday and host Bayern Munich in the Champions League on 20 February. Defeats in those games could force Capello and Mijatovic out. That would almost certainly lead to a recall for David Beckham, who the manager and Mijatovic agreed last month would not play again after his move to LA Galaxy was announced. Last night Mijatovic showed no sign of wavering in his decision not to use Beckham, saying: " Beckham has been a great professional but he has decided to join another team. Now we want to give more opportunities to younger players."

With Capello's future in the balance speculation in Madrid linking Jose Mourinho to the job continues. The Chelsea manager and Bernd Schuster, the Getafe coach, would be president Ramon Calderon's top candidates.

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