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By ESPN Staff

Real agree deal for Heinze

After his hopes of becoming the first player to leave Manchester United for Liverpool in 43 years were scuppered, Gabriel Heinze has opted to tread a far more familiar path by agreeing a four-year deal with Real Madrid.

Providing he comes through his medical without a problem, Heinze will become the third United player in four seasons to join the Spanish giants, following on from David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The 29-year-old was still considering whether to appeal against the Premier League ruling that blocked him from joining Liverpool when Real made their move.

United accepted Madrid's offer almost immediately and Heinze quickly decided he would take it up, having already travelled to Spain for talks with the nine-times European Cup winners earlier in the summer.

The move will have come as a relief to the Red Devils, who knew Heinze's position at Old Trafford was untenable but remained resolute in their determination not to let him join Liverpool.

And, although the defender still wanted to explore the Liverpool option, he knew that by dragging the situation out even further his chances of moving out of England before the August 31 transfer deadline would effectively disappear.

In fact, so keen was Heinze to join Liverpool, an approach was made to Crystal Palace chief executive Phil Alexander for the player to join the Eagles before then being moved back up to Merseyside.

That plan never reached fruition, so instead a compromise has been found that will be suitable for everyone except Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who has been left with a bitter taste in his mouth.

'I would like to ask the Premier League a number of questions. How can a player with a signed agreement be treated like this?' Benitez told the Liverpool Echo.

'He has a document which is clear, but the Premier League prefers to believe the word of someone else who made a mistake. I know there were accusations made against Liverpool in the hearing which were unbelievable. How can this be allowed?'

And broadening his attack from the Heinze issue, Benitez said: 'Then I would like to ask the Premier League why is it that Liverpool always plays the most fixtures away from home in an early kick-off, following an international break?

'We had more than the top clubs last season and we have four already to prepare for this season.'

He then - somewhat strangely given the story dominated the news agenda for most of the close season - claims it was 'so easy' for United to sign Tevez.

Benitez added: 'Then I want to ask the Premier League why it was so difficult for Liverpool to sign Javier Mascherano, when we had to wait a long time for the paperwork, but it was so easy for Carlos Tevez to join Manchester United?

'It's going to be very difficult for us to win the Premier League because the other teams are so strong, but I want our supporters to know that despite the disadvantages we have, we will fight all the way.

'We will fight to cope with our more difficult kick-off times and all the other decisions which are going against us.'