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Robinho wants to join Real Madrid
Updated: 2005-06-03 10:01

Brazilian forward Robinho would prefer to join Real Madrid if he leaves Santos, his agent said Wednesday.

Brazil's Robinho gives a thumb's up at a news conference at Brazil's National team center in Teresopolis, Brazil, on Thursday, June 2, 2005. Brazil will face Paraguay in a World Cup match on Sunday, June 5, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. [AP]

Wagner Ribeiro said Robinho would like to team up with Madrid's Brazilian coach, Vanderlei Luxemburgo - with whom he won the 2004 Brazilian club championship - along with national teammates Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos.

"He prefers to play in Spain than in England. In Real Madrid it would be much easier for him, and above all there are a lot of Brazilians," Ribeiro told Spanish news agency Efe.

Ribeiro said no club had made "a formal offer" for Robinho.

However Madrid reportedly has first option on the 21-year-old, whose ball skills have earned him comparisons with the legendary former Santos star Pele. Robinho, whose full name is Robson de Souza, has played a key part in Santos' revival in recent years.

In 2002 Santos won its first national title since Pele's retirement, and reached the Copa Libertadores final a year later. After another league title last December, Santos advanced to the quarterfinals of South America's knockout competition.

"At the moment, Robinho has proved himself as the best player in the Brazilian league and has awoken interest of the biggest teams in Europe. Not only has Real Madrid asked after him, but so have Barcelona, Arsenal, Chelsea and Juventus," Ribeiro said.

In an interview with Punto Radio on Wednesday, Madrid's soccer director Arrigo Sacchi described Robinho as "very young, but very good and interesting. The financial details are down to the club president. It's true that we have possibilities (of signing him), but it's not a done deal yet."

WEST HAM BACK IN PREMIER LEAGUE: Bobby Zamora scored in the 57th minute Monday in Cardiff, Wales, to lift West Ham over Preston North End 1-0 and give the Hammers a spot in next season's English Premier League.

Zamora scored off a perfect pass from the left wing from Matthew Etherington. With the victory in the playoff final, West Ham joins Sunderland and Wigan next season in the Premier League. Crystal Palace, Norwich and Southampton were relegated to the Football League Championship - the division below the Premier League.

"We've done the job, that's all that matters," said West Ham manager Alan Pardew, who was widely criticized all season for his club's inconsistent play. "We've done it today. We've proved a lot of people wrong."

West Ham was relegated from the Premier League after the 2002-03 season with a record-high 42 points. Preston North End was trying to play in the top flight of English soccer for the first time in 44 years. Promotion to the Premier League is believed to be worth 20 million pounds ($36 million).

Both clubs had numerous scoring chances Monday. West Ham's Tomas Repka hit the post from close range in the fifth minute, and teammate Shaun Newton cleared a ball off the line in the 48th after Preston's Richard Cresswell headed toward goal.

Play opened up after the goal, and became end-to-end during the seven minutes of extra time. Zamora scored both goals in West Ham's 2-0 second-leg victory over Ipswich, which advanced the Hammers to the playoff final.

"It's a dream come true for me," Zamora said. "It's been an up and down season, but it's all come together. Unbelievable. Unbelievable."

Of the four playoff teams, Preston was probably the longest shot.

"I thought both sides had a lot of chances, and the first chance was crucial," Preston manager Billy Davies said.

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