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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Real Madrid close to Van der Vaart deal

MADRID, July 30 (Primera Liga) - Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon claims the club could sign Hamburg star Rafael van der Vaart this weekend.

The Holland international has repeatedly been linked with Madrid throughout the summer after some fine performances at Euro 2008, and the Primera Liga champions have already had a six million euro bid rejected.

Reports in Spain suggest an improved bid of 10million has been accepted and, with the two clubs set to meet in London this weekend at the Emirates Cup, Calderon is confident Van der Vaart is only days away from becoming a Madrid player.

'That's certainly a possibility and we are waiting to come to an agreement with Hamburg,' he told Spanish sports daily AS. 'It's an operation that isn't causing difficulties.

'He's a player that (coach Bernd) Schuster likes a lot and he is within our range, that's true. But what we are not going to do is sign a centre-forward. This I can definitively declare.

'We have four extraordinary strikers. Raul and (Ruud) Van Nistelrooy are still the best in Europe, this will be (Javier) Saviola's year and offers of up to 25million euros are coming in for (Gonzalo) Higuain - a kid of 20 years who is of superb class.

'If a fifth striker comes in we would have to kill of one of those lads. We won't do that.'

Calderon has rubbished the idea of Valencia star David Villa coming to the Bernabeu, telling the Madrid fans to 'forget it'.

He added: 'I insist that there is no place for him even though he was a great player in the European Championship and his goals helped us become champions.

'But the fact is that we don't have space for another goalscorer.'

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