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Saturday, January 30, 1999 Published at 18:41 GMT

McManaman's Spanish jackpot

McManaman: Protracted saga ends with departure to Madrid

Liverpool's Steve McManaman has agreed to join European champions Real Madrid in the summer.

Steve Wilson reports (BBC Radio 5 Live)
He has signed a pre-contract agreement which will ultimately make him the best-paid British footballer of all time.

The news brings to an end a protracted saga over whether the Merseyside-born player would stay at Anfield.

Alan Kennedy: "Money may not have been the major motive"
The 26-year-old will join the Spanish giants on a five-year contract on 1 July, the day after his current deal runs out.

According to reports McManaman will pick up between £53,000 and £60,000 a week for the term of that contract.

But Liverpool will not receive a penny because of the Bosman ruling.

It is British football's most stark example of the effect of the landmark judgment freeing out-of-contract players from transfer fees.

The European court directive dictates that players out of contract at the end of the season can negotiate with interested clubs from 1 January.

Offer he could not refuse

"I am extremely sad to be leaving Liverpool FC," said McManaman.

"However the opportunity to be playing football for Real Madrid, the current European and world champions, is too good to turn down and it helps me further my ambition to test myself in another top European League."

Real chairman Lorenzo Sanz said: "This is big news for Real, and everything is done. We have tracked him since the summer."

Player and club seek lift

McManaman has won England honours while at Anfield, but 350 games have brought only two trophies, including the 1995 League Cup, when he scored both goals in the final.

He played a starring role for his country in the Euro 96 tournament under Terry Venables, but injury has dogged him since.

Venables' successor Glenn Hoddle gave him only one appearance as a substitute during the 1998 World Cup, and he has played just 12 games this season for Liverpool.

He will join a club still trying to recover from the hangover of their European Cup final win against Juventus last summer.

Real are currently sixth in the Spanish Primera Liga and lost 4-0 at Deportivo La Coruna last weekend.

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