Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Claude Makelele in open rebellion

SPANISH LEAGUE Real Madrid's recruitment policy may be taking a toll on team morale and Carlos Queiroz is likely to find that his diplomatic skills tested to the limit

REUTERS , MADRID

Brazilian striker Ronaldo drives the ball while his teammates, Esteban Cambiasso from Argentina, left, Julio Cesar from Brazil, center, and Raul Gonzalez from Spain during a training session with his new team, Real Madrid at the Ciudad Depotiva complex in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

David Beckham's first training session on Spanish soil since signing for Real Madrid was overshadowed by team mate Claude Makelele's refusal to train with the rest of the squad on Wednesday.

While Beckham completed a light work out in the sweltering heat at the team's city-centre training ground, Makelele was in open rebellion over his contract.

The French international's agent Marc Roger said on Wednesday that the player felt undervalued in the wake of the arrival of the string of highly-paid recruits.

Rogers then met with Real sporting director Jorge Valdano to try and persuade the club to give his client a pay rise or to sell him on to premier league side Chelsea.

But Valdano said after training that the player's subsequent refusal to train would now result in disciplinary action by the club.

Earlier, England captain Beckham had joined the remainder of his team mates for an open session in front of around 1,000 fans.

It was a relatively muted reception, though, for a team that had drawn crowds of up to 45,000 during their three-week tour of the Far East.

Beckham acknowledged the cheers of fans as he jogged round the pitch at the soon-to-be demolished Ciudad Deportiva.

It was the sale of the training facility that provided Real with the windfall that allowed them to clear crippling debts of some US$250 million and still have sufficient funds left over to embark on a spending spree to buy the pick of world's best -- and most glamorous -- players.

Spending close to 200 million euros in the last three years, Real have brought Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Beckham to join existing players such as Roberto Carlos and Raul at the Bernabeu.

The club will continue using the ground for at least another month before moving out of the city to the Spanish Football Federation's headquarters while their new training ground is built close to the city's Barajas airport.

Meanwhile, Real's latest new signing appears to be settling in well.

Beckham produced assured performances on the Asian tour both in his usual berth on the right wing as well as in the more central role many would like to see him occupy for England.

He also appears to have struck up a good rapport both with his team mates and with fans, waiting behind to sign autographs for the hundreds of young supporters crowded round the fences in the club car park.

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