Ajax centre back defender Christian Chivu has been picked out by Real Madrid as the long-term answer to their defensive problems.

Chivu, the Romanian 21-year-old who has been the envy of all Europe’s top clubs, is reported to have agreed to join Madrid next summer – though the European champions would probably prefer to hurry the deal through during the international transfer window in January.

Chivu said: “I have had a lot of offers from Italy as well as from Spain. But not only are Madrid the champions of Europe but there is so much confusion in Italy over non-European Union players that there was no point thinking about it. Going to Spain means I can be sure of playing right from the start.”

Madrid’s sports director, Jorge Valdano, said: “Chivu is one of the top three central defenders in Europe and, given that Nesta and Cannavaro have only recently changed clubs, he was the obvious choice.”

Madrid’s defensive problems have been exacerbated by the knee injury which means skipper Fernando Hierro will miss the forthcoming match against Barcelona and possibly next month’s World Club Cup clash with Olimpia of Paraguay in Yokohama.
By Keir Radnedge