Santos reject Real offer

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Santos have rejected Real Madrid's bid for defender Alex, claiming they value the player at the $23 million (£12.5 million) reportedly offered by Chelsea for Bayer Leverkusen's Lucio.

Real have been monitoring the imposing 21-year-old stopper for some time as they look to bring in defensive reinforcements, and are reported to have tabled an initial $8.8 million (£4.8 million) bid.

Los Merengues' need for a central defender has been well-documented as the club have still to bring in a replacement for stalwart Fernando Hierro who departed the club in the summer.

The reigning Spanish champions have used a number of players in the central defensive berths this term including Ivan Helguera, Francisco Pavon and Raul Bravo, but seem to have identified the highly-rated Alex as their chief transfer target.

However, the player's club Santos claim they will not do business unless the Spaniards considerably up their offer, and insist the youngster is worth at least as much as Lucio.

"Alex is actually the best central defender that exists in Brazil and we are not going to let him go just like that," stated Santos director Francisco Lopes.

"On the other hand, our president is analysing the offer of $23 million that Chelsea made for the (Leverkusen) defender Lucio, so if that player can be sold for that, Alex will surely not be sold (for $8.8 million to Real)."

Chelsea are in the market for defensive reinforcements and have been strongly linked with Lucio for some time, although the West Londoners have not been credited with tabling an official bid for the stopper as Lopes claims.

The Leverkusen star has previously declared that he would prefer a move to fellow suitors Juventus, while Chelsea have also been mentioned in connection with Roma's Christian Chivu and Barcelona's Carles Puyol.