Real close on Diarra
By Patrick Haond & Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Real Madrid look set to seal the signing of Lyon star Mahamadou Diarra in the coming days - according to reports in Spain and France.
The Mali international is considered one of the best midfielders of his type in Europe and Manchester United tried in vain to secure his services earlier this summer.
Diarra has always seen Real as his ideal destination and his patience looks to have paid off as the Spanish giants are understood to have opened talks to secure his signature.
Lyon want at least é¼30 million (£20.2 million) for the African, but Real are not keen on offering more than é¼25 million (£16.8 million) - although the likes of Pablo Garcia and Carlos Diogo could move in the opposite direction to smooth things over.
Sources now suggest Diarra could be unveiled early next week - when Jose Antonio Reyes could also become a Real player.
Real want a move to be completed as soon as possible, but Arsenal are not willing to budge at the moment - but again the Spanish club could offer players in exchange with long-term target Julio Baptista being mentioned as an option which Arsene Wenger may accept.