Faces missing as Real Madrid returns to training

08:01, July 16, 2010      

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Real Madrid's first team squad returned to training Thursday under the gaze of new coach Jose Mourinho.

The former Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan coach is the man charged with bringing a trophy back to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after two years of total domination by FC Barcelona in Spain.

Last summer saw club President Florentino Perez spend around 300 million U.S. dollars on new players, but all his team could do was finish second to Barcelona in the Primera Liga, while it was humiliatingly knocked out of the first round of the Copa del Rey.

More disappointingly the team also failed to get past the first knockout round of the Champions League, a double blow given that the final was played in the clubs own Santiago Bernabeu.

The spending has already begun this summer and although Perez is unlikely to go as far as 300 million dollars again, his club has already spent around 25 million dollars on Argentinean international De Maria from Portuguese side Benfica, while the arrival of Pedro Leon from Getafe is expected to be confirmed in the next few hours.

More players are likely to arrive with Mourinho thought to want a holding midfielder as well as a left sided defender: Chelsea left back Ashley Cole is favorite to arrive in that role.

Only 10 players were available to take part in Thursday's medical tests and neither De Maria nor any of the other Real Madrid players who took part in this summer's World Cup finals were present.

Goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek was among those who reported for duty on the first day back at work, after agreeing a one-year extension to his contract.

Players such as Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas will return over the next three weeks after enjoying the break they are entitled to following their efforts this summer.

However, just as new faces will arrive, some well known players could have played their last matches for Real Madrid. Both club captain Raul Gonzalez and midfielder Guti have been given 10 days extra holidays by the club and they are expected to use that time to find new teams.

Guti is expected to move to Turkey, while Raul has offers from various clubs in the United States, England, Germany and the Middle East. His departure will mark the end of an era at the club, 33-year-old Raul made his first team debut when he was just 17 years old and made a total of 550 appearances for the club, scoring 228 goals.

Source: Xinhua


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