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WE'RE REAL KEEN ON MACCA; Spanish giants' shock.

REAL Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz is hoping to ambush Liverpool's contract talks with Steve McManaman.

The owner of the Spanish giants yesterday revealed for the first time his interest in the England international.

And Sanz declared that he is ready to make an approach for the 26-year- old within the next month.

That could spark a scramble for the services of the brilliant ball-player, who has just seven months left on his Anfield contract. McManaman has maintained over the past months that he wants to sign a new deal with Liverpool and has been involved in talks.

But so far the Anfield board have failed to come up with any package to tempt him and time is now fast running out.

McManaman could sign a pre-contract with another club at Christmas and, while that is unlikely given his loyalty to Liverpool, it will certainly interest other clubs.

Sanz admitted: "We have a great admiration for Steve McManaman and we would like to bring him to Madrid.

"We have already made enquiries about the player within the past few months and we are hoping to open talks over the next months.

"He is a player we have pursued for some time and we would be happy to have a talent like his at this club."

Sanz's comments are likely to open the floodgates of interest in McManaman, who is the first big-name player in Europe to get near to the end of his contract since the Bosman ruling.

Liverpool have been strangely relaxed in contract talks. While other European giants like Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester United have tied their best players up on long deals, the Anfield board has

inquiries about the player within the past few months and we are hoping to open talks over the next months.

"He is a player we have pursued for some time and we would be happy to have a talent like his.''

Sanz's comments are likely to open the floodgates of interest in McManaman, who is the first big-name player in Europe to get near to the end of his contract since the Bosman ruling.

Liverpool have been strangely relaxed in contract talks. While other European giants like Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester United have tied up their best players on long deals, the Anfield board has dallied. McManaman is a matter of weeks away from being able to talk to other clubs, as is England international Rob Jones.

Robbie Fowler, too, is less than two years away from the end of his contract and, again, Liverpool have been slow to agree terms with the proven goalscorer.

What seems even more bizarre is that McManaman and Fowler are both home- grown players and crowd favourites.

McManaman is adamant that he wants a new deal with Liverpool. But unless they quickly come up with an offer he cannot refuse then Real, Barcelona and Juventus are all waiting to pounce.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Maddock, David
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 17, 1998
Words:484
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