Real chasing Rio
By Mark Kendall & Patrick Haond. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Bordeaux starlet Rio Mavuba admits he is aware of interest in him from Real Madrid.
The 20-year-old defensive midfielder has enjoyed a remarkable rise over the past year in which he has not only established himself at club level but also won international recognition.
Mavuba was called up to the French senior squad for the friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in August, and the World Cup qualifier against Republic of Ireland in October that ended in a goalless draw.
He has also been mooted as a target for Arsenal and Juventus, and is being hailed in France as 'the new Jean Tigana'.
The youngster acknowledges he has enjoyed a fantastic year, and insists his agent has fielded interest from Real Madrid as The Spaniards' new director of football Arrigo Sacchi is reported to be a big admirer of his talents.
"My agent told me about it," he told Le Parisien. "Real are interested in me, it is true.
"I do not know much more, but obviously it gives me enormous pleasure.
"I am only 20, but I do not want to think about it too much - I don't want my head to be elsewhere."
Real are desperate for a holding midfielder, or possibly two, to balance their squad and have been linked with a host of names including Benoit Pedretti and Thomas Gravesen.
However, Mavuba has emerged as a serious candidate to join Los Merengues and, while admitting his priority is currently to stay with Bordeaux, insists he would not be fazed by the prospect of a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu.
"I am not afraid to go there," he told L'Equipe. "It seems like madness, but of course I am obviously happy to attract interest from Real - a club that makes 'galatico' signings.
"But I am thinking of staying. I am happy here and have a contract until 2009.
"I would like to continue to prove myself in Ligue 1 with them."