Reports this morning suggest that Rafael Benitez and Rick Parry have won the battle of wills with Real Madrid over Luis Figo. Figo was told by Real Madrid that he could leave on a free if he could find a new club. The Portugese international spoke to Liverpool and reportedly agreed terms on a deal to join the Reds. Reports vary as to the length of the deal, but Figo would be taking a pay cut to play for the European Champions.
Just as the deal was set to go through Real Madrid did a u-turn and demanded a fee for the player. They reportedly wanted £2million for the player. Liverpool refused to budge, leaving Madrid having to consider their next move. Inter Milan were interested in the player, but the player wasn’t keen on moving to Italy – he’d already said that a move to Liverpool would be his dream move. By January he would be able to negotiate a deal with Liverpool and then leave Madrid on a free transfer the following summer. That would leave Madrid having to pay a player who may spend a large part of the season on the bench £5million in wages.
Hints from the Real vice-president earlier in the week showed that Real may be softening in their demands for this money, as they seemed to be moving towards cutting their losses. Emilio Butragueno said of the Figo situation:
"We hope that we reach an agreement that satisfies both sides. Luis is an extraordinary professional and we have a very good relationship with him."
Figo travelled to the USA with the rest of the team for their pre-season tour, but could arrange a flight back to Europe very quickly if he got the green light from the Spanish side.