Fri, Jul 20, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Real, Barca splash cash as they bid to win Spanish title

AFP , MADRID

Newly crowned Spanish champions Real Madrid and runners-up Barcelona have killed the proverbial fatted calf this summer in an attempt to establish preeminence in La Liga next season.

Real have captured German international defender Christoph Metzelder from Dortmund and Pepe from Porto while landing Javier Saviola -- on a free transfer -- from Barca, as well as taking Spanish international forward Roberto Soldado back from his loan at Osasuna.

New coach Bernd Schuster hasn't finished there as Real also try to secure a transfer for Jose Antonio Reyes, who was on loan last season from Arsenal, as well as pluck winger Arjen Robben from Chelsea.

With such an influx defenders Michel Salgado and Ivan Helguera, who has Fabio Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos, Metzelder and Pepe ahead of him in the central defensive pecking order, will be seeking new employers.

Alvaro Mejia is already set to join promoted Murcia for 2 million euros, (US$2.8 million) according to Marca sports daily, and the club are as yet without bidders for misfit Italian striker Antonio Cassano.

Barca, beaten to the wire in the title race, have landed four players to date after agreeing to sign Argentine international Gabriel Milito from Zaragoza for a reported 20 million euros.

Barca had earlier splashed out 24 million euros on Thierry Henry, having chased him for more than a year, though it remains to be seen if he can fit into an attack already comprising Samuel Eto'o, Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho.

Also coming in is French defender Eric Abidal from Lyon for some 15 million euros and Ivory Coast youngster Yaya Toure.

French midfielder Ludovic Giuly has agreed to join AS Roma for an initial 3.2 million euros, rather than the 6 million the Catalan club hoped for, though another 1.2 million could come if he helps the club qualify for the Champions League.

Barca also want to offload Santi Ezquerro to former club Athletic Bilbao, along with Brazilian Thiago Motta and Maxi Lopez, a striker who spent last season on loan with Mallorca.

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