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May 29, 2009

Real President-elect Perez promises greatness

Florentino Perez could be installed as president of Real Madrid as early Monday and is confident of being able to tempt the majority of his transfer targets to the Santiago Bernabeu, while he also promised fans ''a great team and a great coach''.

Perez is the overwhelming favourite to return to the post he held from 2000-06 and, unless a rival candidates steps forward before the May 31 deadline, he will take office without the need for elections.

Three other candidates had entered the race but Eugenio Martinez Bravo, Juan Onieva and Eduardo Garcia have all pulled out of the running in the last fortnight, with the necessary €57.4m bank guarantee understood to be the big stumbling block.

The latest of those trio to withdraw was Garcia on Thursday, a development which paved the way for Perez to be elected unopposed on June 1 unless another valid candidate emerges. But despite seemingly having a free run to the presidency, Perez has still continued his election campaign as originally planned.

Although he has so far refused to identify his playing and coaching targets, the architect of Madrid's famous 'galacticos' policy insists the world's leading stars will be eager to join the club.

Players like David Villa and Santi Cazorla have all rebuffed Madrid's advances in recent years, but Perez believes it could be a different story this summer if he returns to power.

''I'm sure that now the majority of the players are going to want to come to Madrid, to a new project,'' said Perez who in his previous stint in charge presided over the signings of players such as Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo and David Beckham.

When asked to comment on reports linking Madrid with AC Milan playmaker Kaka, Perez told Marca: ''Until the competitions finish we are not going to talk with the clubs, but I've always spoken of my great relationship with (Milan vice-president Adriano) Galliani and this relationship maybe makes it easier that Kaka comes to Madrid. I've talked with Galliani many times about football and also about Kaka, but this is a theme that we have to postpone until after Sunday.''

Perez was also asked about Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, with the presidential hopeful of signing him, saying: ''He's also a player that would be very good if he came to Real Madrid. What I know is what I've read, that there is an agreement by means of which he would come for £80m.''

Asked if he would pay that amount, Perez added: ''Next week we will look at the numbers and nobody should doubt that we are going to design with our sporting advisors a spectacular project.''

With media reports linking Madrid to host of players from Franck Ribery to Xabi Alonso, Perez admits there are unlikely to be any surprises when they do finally start bringing players in.

''It's impossible (for a surprise signing), in the last three months all the players in the world have been talked about. There aren't any more players to talk about. I'm grateful that everybody has placed with me some great hopes and I'm going to try and not disappoint them.

''But also I have to say that not everyone can come, among other things because they won't all fit. We also need to move some players out before some come in.''

Madrid are also believed to be on the look-out for a new coach, with Juande Ramos' six-month contract expiring this summer are being linked with high profile candidates such as Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Manuel Pellegrini.

Perez was again reluctant to go into any detail about their targets, but said: ''There is a short list of coaches, but no decision has been taken. We are going to have a great coach.''

Madrid may have won back-to-back league titles prior to this season but they have fallen behind Barcelona this term, with Pep Guardiola's all-conquering side having become the first Spanish team to win the treble of league, cup and European Cup.

Perez admits Madrid have plenty of ground to catch up on the Catalan giants: ''The great season Barcelona have had serves to encourage me. We are going to make a big effort to recover the lost time. We need to recover in a year the lost time, but we are going to do it,'' he said.

''We need to do a great job. We have many players and we have to have other players as well. I'm going to work with all my hopes to have a winning team from this very season.''

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