Football

Real and Monaco reach verbal deal for Rodriguez, says report

Spanish giants also confirm Kroos signing, might sell di Maria to PSG

Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez, one of the stars of the World Cup, is close to joining Real Madrid.

Spanish newspaper AS, a Madrid-based daily, reported last night that Real have reached a verbal agreement with the 23-year-old, who had declared his interest in joining the European champions.

Los Blancos need only to close the deal with his club Monaco, who have 
set an asking price of 80 million euros 
($134m) for the World Cup's Golden Boot winner with six goals.

To finance the move, Real, who have confirmed a deal of 25-30 million euros for Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos, would have to sell Angel di Maria, who could join Paris Saint-Germain for 60 million euros.

Kroos, 24, has signed a six-year contract with Real after starring in Germany's World Cup-winning run.

On his departure, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "We enjoyed great success here together. We would like to wish him and his family all the best in Madrid and with Real."

A Real statement described Kroos as "a playmaker capable of finding the best option in any situation, with a vision of the game enabling him to help his teammates, as well as an impressive kick".

His future looks bright, but compatriot Sami Khedira's fate at the Santiago Bernabeu seems uncertain.

Arsenal were believed to have agreed on a £20 million ($42.5m) fee for the 27-year-old, but his wage demands of in excess of £180,000 a week were proving to be a stumbling block.

During Germany's World Cup victory celebrations in Berlin on Monday, Gunners striker Lukas Podolski yelled out "Arsenal" when Khedira was asked where he would be playing next season.

However, Khedira's agent, Jorg Neubauer, insisted he had not been speaking to Arsenal.

He said: "We are not in talks with Arsenal. I don't think a fee can have been agreed, otherwise I would have been told."

Newspaper reports yesterday suggested that fellow London club, Chelsea, could rival Arsenal for Khedira's signature.

Khedira was a favourite of Blues boss Jose Mourinho during his time at Real.

But Neubauer poured cold water on those rumours as well.

KHEDIRA BLUES

"When a club have an interest, I am sure they will call me and we will speak about things. The same goes for Chelsea," he said.

"We are talking to Real Madrid about his contract, but nothing is close to being decided."

Meanwhile, former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino suggests Khedira's future destination could be decided by which suitor has the deepest pockets.

He told talkSPORT: "Whoever buys him is getting a fine player. It might come down to money, whether he goes to Arsenal or Chelsea.

"That will make up his mind."

- Wire Services.

Real Madrid still most valuable sports team

Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid retained their title as the world's most valuable sports franchise, according to a poll, released by Forbes on Wednesday, that was again dominated by America's National Football League teams.

Soccer clubs held the top three positions with the European champions valued at US$3.44 billion ($4.27b), topping the list for the second consecutive year.

They were followed by La Liga rivals Barcelona at US$3.2 billion and Premier League club Manchester United at third with $2.81 billion.

Major League Baseball's New York Yankees occupy the No. 4 spot valued at US$2.5 billion.

Also in the top 10 were soccer's Bayern Munich (US$1.85b) and four
NFL outfits.

Four NBA franchises made the Forbes list with the New York Knicks coming in 13th at US$1.4b.

Ferrari are the only Formula One team on the list, coming in 21st with a worth of US$1.2b. - Reuters.

epljames rodriguezUncategorisedREAL MADRID