centre-back Jonathan Woodgate is being targeted by Real Madrid to
strengthen their defence, the Spanish media reported on Thursday.
"Woodgate will be Real's new centre-back," was the front page headline
in Madrid-based sports daily AS, while Marca agreed with its rival,
reporting that "Woodgate is the centre-back that Madrid want."
Both papers said Real were already in negotiations with the English
Premier League club and prepared to offer about 15 million euros ($18.56
million) for the 24-year-old.
Real have been looking to recruit a new player to bolster their
much-maligned defence following their miserable performance last season.
Arsenal's defensive midfielder Patrick Vieira appeared to be on the
verge of moving to the Bernabeu last week but the deal broke down at the
last minute and the Frenchman pledged his future to the English
Real responded to the setback with the surprise signing of England
striker Michael Owen but remain keen to recruit a defensive-minded
player before the start of the Spanish season.
Inter Milan defender Fabio Cannavaro and Argentine centre-back Fabricio
Coloccini, who is owned by AC Milan, have been linked with the club over
the past week.
But the Spanish media are now reporting that Woodgate is coach Jose
Antonio Camacho's preferred option.
The England defender missed Euro 2004 after sustaining a serious thigh
injury in April and is expected to be out for up to three weeks of the
new season after suffering a similar injury.
Woodgate joined Newcastle from Leeds for nine million pounds ($16.46
million) in January 2003 but a succession of injury problems has
restricted his appearances for the north-east club.