Real Madrid wants 'Raúl for life'

31st January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Enraged Aragonés, however, wants no part of national side debate over striker.

31 January 2008

MADRID - As the tone of the debate over whether or not Raúl Gonzalez will return to the national side was raised a notch during an interview with the coach Luis Aragonés on the radio yesterday, the player's Spanish club, Real Madrid, would like to secure the famous striker in its ranks for life.

Real Madrid has offered the veteran a life-long contract, which, after 2010 - when his current contract expires at the age of 33 - he will renew with the club on a year-by-year basis, depending on whether he has played more than 30 official games that season.

The proposed contract also includes a clause that stipulates that upon retirement, Raúl will be allowed to choose an area within the club's organisation in which he will develop and hold a top-ranking position.

"It was president Ramón Calderón's idea that Raúl's name be connected to Real Madrid for life. He had been working the idea over for a while," a club official said.

Raúl joined Real Madrid's ranks at 15 years old, and at 17 he debuted with the first team. Currently in his 13th season, Real Madrid is the only team the club captain has ever played for - 467 Liga games to be exact, which is closing in on the club record of 542 held by Manolo Sanchis.

The striker was also a key player on the Spanish national side for much of his career. When Raúl was substituted during Spain's 2006 World Cup loss to France in the second round, he had played in 102 career games among the country's elite.

Because Raúl enjoys the long-standing status of being synonymous with the capital city's top side, he has also been at the centre of an emotionally-charged debate surrounding national team coach Luis Aragonés' decision to leave him out of the upcoming European Championship.

Although the coach has rarely strayed from his decision to go with a younger squad focused on a five-man attacking midfield for the upcoming tournament, he has been persistently - and often aggressively - hounded by some pro-Raúl fans and members of the media to reinstate the striker.

Aragonés seemed to hit boiling point yesterday in an interview with Onda Cero and Radio Marca. When asked about Raúl, Aragonés first said: "If you are going to keep asking me about Raúl, I'm not going to answer..." before repeatedly calling one of the journalists a "coward" as the two screamed over one another. "Raúl," the coach stated in a more mellow moment, "is not on the team because I don't think he should be."

And the Raúl polemic has not only been aggravating the coach. After Aragonés' interview, Raúl's Real Madrid teammate Michel Salgado begged for a moratorium on the issue: "Raúl is getting tired of all this because it's bad for him, for the coach, and the national team...let's just drop it and calm down because there's Europe to think of."

[Copyright EL PAÍS / E. GIOVIO / K. RAMUNDO 2008]

Subject: Spanish news

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