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Stewart Coggin

Mourinho and Valdano at Odds

By January 23, 2011

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Real Madrid General Director Jorge Valdano may claim all is well, but it seems that either he or coach Jose Mourinho will leave the club this summer as relations between the pair deteriorate.

Mourinho is frustrated at Real and Valdano's reluctance to sign a new striker. The two-time Champions League winner has seen Gonzalo Higuain ruled out for the rest of the season through injury and desperately wants to strengthen his attack before the end of the January transfer window.

Mourinho is light on options in the striking department and clearly does not trust Karim Benzema, the striker Real signed from Lyon for around $50 million in 2009. He left the Frenchman out of his starting line-ups for the recent draw with Almeria and the Copa del Rey victory over Atletico Madrid. Whether this was a political point or not remains to be seen, but Valdano observed after the Almeria defeat that Mourinho had left a perfectly good striker on the bench, to which the Portuguese responded: "I pick the team, and if I need any help then I have my coaching staff".

Valdano, sometimes nicknamed The Philosopher of Football, has long been a big presence in Madrid but may have met his match in the form of Mourinho. After leaving Inter Milan last summer, Mourinho signed a four-year contract with Real. He rarely sees out his deals, but the idea of him leaving after just one season does not seem plausible.

President Florentino Perez brought Mourinho to the Bernabeu because he is one of the few coaches in world soccer with the capacity to stop Barcelona. He has also won the Champions League at two of his last three clubs and will not want to leave until his work is done. If the situation between the pair proves irreparable, it is unlikely Jose will be the one packing his bags.

It is unusual that Real have left themselves so short in attack. In previous years the problem has been at the other end. Real have spent millions on the best attacking talent only to neglect the defense. That was never likely to be the case under Mourinho, and it is difficult to disagree with his assessment that he needs another striker.

Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente is almost certain to arrive next summer, but that does not help Mourinho now. He wants to sign a target man and has even been linked with Didier Drogba, who he enjoyed so much success with at Chelsea. The club are working on re-signing Ruud van Nistelrooy from Hamburg, a player who only left the Bernabeu last year, but the Germans are reluctant to let him leave for free as Real want.

Mourinho will want to see a little more 'get up and go' from the powers that be, with Real having just seven days more to sign a striker before the window closes.

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