MADRID • Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has insisted that Sergio Ramos has not used Manchester United to earn a new Bernabeu contract.
Ramos is reportedly set to commit his future to Real by penning a new deal - weeks after he told the club that he wanted to leave.
Then, the Spain centre-back was reportedly unhappy at reports claiming he had demanded a £3 million (S$6.4 million) rise in his annual salary as negotiations for an extension stalled.
United tried to dispel concerns that they are being used as a pawn in his bid to extract a new contract from Real. But, after the Premier League giants had two bids of £28 million and £32 million rejected, it appears that their fears have turned to reality. Calderon, however, insists that Ramos was not stringing United along.
"I know Ramos quite well and I'm sure he's not using Manchester United (to get a bumper new deal)," he told talkSport. "There was a problem with money at the beginning, that was clear, but after that it was a problem with affection. He thinks the club is not giving him what he deserves but giving it to other players. I think United saw an opportunity, but I don't think he's using United to get a raise in his salary."
Ramos has two years left on his existing deal. On Monday, Real manager Rafael Benitez reiterated that he is confident the 29-year-old will remain at the club.
With Real fans still concerned over the prospect of losing two captains in the same month following the departure of Real legend Iker Casillas, Benitez told the Spanish media: "Like I said previously, I spoke to the president on Sunday at lunch and he told me that he was going to talk to Ramos. I've asked both since then and they're optimistic."
Even though Ramos' move to United now appears impossible, the Red Devils do not have a back-up plan.
According to the Manchester Evening News, United will not turn their attentions to Valencia's Nicolas Otamendi, with Louis van Gaal placing his trust in the defenders who helped United record the fourth-best defensive record in the Premier League last season.
The United manager has five senior centre-backs to choose from - Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Jonny Evans and Daley Blind.
Midfielder Michael Carrick has also operated as an emergency centre-back in the past, while youngsters Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett can provide additional cover.
Van Gaal is reportedly more concerned with his attacking options, although Juan Mata is confident he can help ease the goal-scoring burden on Wayne Rooney.
Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao have both departed Old Trafford, to leave only Rooney, James Wilson and Javier Hernandez as recognised finishers. And Mata - who scored 10 goals last season - is seeking to maintain his impressive goal record for a midfielder.
"This season I will aim again to score a good number and to help the team with assists and goals," said the Spaniard. "I had a 21-goal season at Chelsea (2012-13 including internationals with Spain) and 14 another year with Valencia (2009-10) so I have always been lucky enough to score a good number for a midfielder.
"I always try to score more than 10 goals... Last season I tried to score as many as I could and it is always a big part of my game. I will try again to be in and around the box and score again."THE GUARDIAN