x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Saviola gives Real ultimatum

Out-of-favour striker Javier Saviloa has given Spanish side Real Madrid an ultimatum: start playing me or sell me.

MADRID // Out-of-favour striker Javier Saviloa has given Spanish side Real Madrid an ultimatum: start playing me or sell me. The Argentina forward has found himself largely warming the bench since transferring from Barcelona at the start of the 2007 season, failing to establish himself under the previous boss Bernd Schuster or his successor Juande Ramos. The former River Plate player says his situation remains "intolerable" despite pleas to Ramos to give him more playing time. He has urged the Spanish champions to let him seek out new employers.

"I expressed to him [Ramos] my need to play. I even said that, if I wasn't part of his plans, that he should tell the management to let me leave in the January transfer window because this situation is intolerable," Saviola told the sports daily Marca today. Saviola, 27, has made the starting line-up in the Primera Liga just once this term, despite the absence of Ruud van Nistelrooy through injury since November. With Klass-Jan Huntelaar joining from Ajax and the Dutch winger Arjen Robben in sparkling form, his chances of muscling into Ramos's starting XI look even more slim.

"I'm going through a very tough time because, despite my effort in each training session, I don't get the slightest compensation of a few minutes on the field. You have to be very strong mentally because with every match you don't play you get destroyed a little more psychologically," he added. Ramos was sympathetic to his player's plight but said it was hard to guarantee him minutes on the field with Real's embarrassment of riches and that Saviola might be better served leaving El Santiago Bernabeu.

"I like players who care, not those who don't worry when they don't play. They have to be ambitious but in a squad like Real Madrid's with players of great quality, if a player wants to play every Sunday then he has to look for a lesser club," Ramos said. "If Saviola were to play it is difficult to say who I would have to leave out. The players who are ahead of him show the necessary ability every day to get into the team."

Saviola has played 30 minutes since Ramos replaced Schuster in December - a stark contrast to his spell under him while on-loan at Sevilla during the 2005/06 season, where Saviola was a regular scorer under the Spaniard and helped the club to Uefa Cup success. "Juande is a coach who I knew from my spell at Sevilla. I thought with him I would have big opportunities of playing as under his management not only did I play quite a lot and do well, I also managed to score a lot of goals," said Saviola.

Hopes of a move may have been scuppered with Ramon Calderón quitting his post as Real President last week, with the club's sporting director Pedrag Mijatovic apparently not wanting any disruptions to the playing staff while they seek out a replacement. "Everything got complicated when the president (Ramon Calderón) resigned last week because now the board has decided, in principle, not to make any changes to the squad," Saviola added.

sluckings@thenational.ae *With Agencies