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banner Monday, 9 July, 2001, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Zidane - symbol of Real's dream
Zidane and Figo - Real Madrid's dream ticket
Zidane and Figo - Real Madrid's dream ticket
BBC Sport Online chief football writer Phil McNulty reflects on Real Madrid's latest world record transfer with the 45.8m signing of Zinedine Zidane - and the shock waves it will send around European football.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez showed no trace of humility as he announced: "It is fitting that the best player in the world should play for the best club in the world."

Perez was playing the presidential showman as Real broke the world transfer record to snatch Luis Figo from bitter rivals Barcelona for 37.5m.

It was the summer of 2000 and the shock waves were still reverberating from the Nou Camp to Madrid.

He was repeating the message - but changing the name - after another record-breaking venture into the transfer market a year later.

Perez will revel in the latest coup that brings personal kudos as well as a soccer great to the Bernabeu after parting with 45.8m to take the great Frenchman Zidane from Juventus to Spain.

Figo's fee is topped
Figo's fee is topped
Zidane is the Real deal - with Figo now simply seen as an appetiser for the arrival of a man who is widely accepted as the world's best player.

Real will brush off Bayern Munich's Champions League win as a minor black chapter in a story that will see their eventual return to the summit of the European game.

Zidane will not only complete a footballing dream trinity alongside Figo and Raul - he will act as a shining symbol that Real will not accept second best on or off the field.

Manchester United are expected to parade the brilliant Argentine Juan Sebastian Veron as their showpiece summer signing - but Real will still feel they have landed first prize with Zidane.

Spain is a country where club presidents make extravagant promises to keep or gain a power base - and few have delivered quite as spectacularly as Perez.


It is fitting that the best player in the world should play for the best club in the world
  Real Madrid president Florentino Perez
While the audacity of both transfers left the world of football gasping in admiration, seasoned Real-watchers were unsurprised.

Perez, a 54-year-old construction tycoon, is a man used to getting his own way.

He won the presidency after a hard-fought election campaign which unseated Lorenzo Sanz.

Sanz had enjoyed a glittering reign as Real president, overseeing successful European Cup triumphs in 1998 and 2000.

Sanz was unseated
Sanz was unseated
His position as top-dog looked unshakeable - until Perez launched a bold election campaign centred around a promise to lure Figo from Real's despised rivals Barcelona if he was elected president.

And Perez remained unruffled by Juve's claim that Zidane was not for sale at any price.

Perez knows every man has his price, and Real were prepared to pay it.

It was a war of attrition, but one Perez and Real never doubted they would win for a second.

Zidane's the Real deal
Zidane's the Real deal
The major powers in Europe are gathering their forces for next season's Champions League campaign.

But if any signing was designed to strike a psychological blow at the heart of their rivals at a crucial time, then Real's capture of Zidane has done the job.

It is the signing of the summer - and another triumph for the president who refuses to take no for an answer.

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