Mendieta hints at Real move
By Peter O`Rourke. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
LAZIO midfielder Gaizka Mendieta has indicated that he would like to return to Spain with Real Madrid.
The Spanish international has endured a miserable stay in Rome since his £28 million summer move from Valencia.
The 27-year-old has failed to settle in Serie A and has found himself in and out of the side.
Real were among a number of top clubs who were interested in signing Mendieta last summer, but Valencia did not want to sell him to a Spanish rival.
Mendieta has established himself as one of the best players in Europe after helping Valencia reach two successive Champions League finals.
The skilful midfielder, who has won a recall to the national side for Wednesday's friendly with Northern Ireland, admitted that he has suffered a poor year this season and that he would be interested in a move to Madrid.
"I've had a shocking year and I've had many problems in Italy.
"The team has done bad. We went out of the Champions League early on and that affected the players.
"There was a change of manager at Lazio and I didn't have the continuity that you need.
"I wouldn't mind playing for Real Madrid, but for now the Spanish team is my priority.
"It's very important for me to be going to the World Cup and play the way I know I can.
"I have to prove to people that I'm still a good football player."
Manchester United have also been linked with Mendieta, and should Lazio decide to sell him they will be looking to recoup most of the £28 million they laid out for him.
Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen star Lucio has admitted he would like to join Real.
The Brazilian defender has been linked with a move to Real for some time now and he admitted he would be keen on a switch to the Spanish giants.
Bayer are keen to keep the 23-year-old at the Bay Arena and are hopeful that he will still be there next season, but the player is aware of the rumours linking him with Real.
"Everything is rumours in the beginning, but something must be true when it is spoken so much," said Lucio.
"Madrid is a great one and to me I would like to play there.
"I do not know if anything is certain, but if they give me a choice my will is to play in Madrid.
"That does not just depend on me only as I have two years left on my contract and I am a serious person.
"For me there would be no problems, but I want the clubs to reach an agreement. I believe that Bayer would understand my position."