Madrid's Vulture hopes to swoop on Ribery

MADRID: Real Madrid's hopes of signing Bayern Munich's French dynamo Franck Ribery are still alive, according to one of the Spanish club's directors.

"Many weeks remain before the beginning of the season and we need to be patient in all our operations," Emilio Butragueno, known as "El Buitre" (the vulture) said at a Spanish soccer federation meeting in the capital.

Earlier this week, Real's Jorge Valdano said he accepted they would not be able to recruit the French international from Bayern this season due to the German club's intransigence.

German daily tabloid Bild reported on Tuesday that Bayern had set a price tag of 80 million euros on the 26-year-old midfielder and had given Real until July 16 to decide if they are ready to stump up the cash or not.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid are preparing to let Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar go to Stuttgart, another Real Madrid executive, Miguel Pardeza, said on Friday.

Negotiations about the transfer of the 25-year-old Netherlands international are at an advanced stage, Pardeza added.

According to Marca sports newspaper, Huntelaar's transfer to Germany will add 20 million euros to Real Madrid's balance sheet, in the red following the club's recruitment campaign which includes the multi-million euro purchases of Cristiano Ronaldo as well as Kaka and Karim Benzema.

Elsewhere in the Spanish league, Barcelona still believe they can lure striker David Villa from Valencia, Barca president Joan Laporta claimed at the soccer federation meeting.

The European and Spanish champions have already been rebuffed by Valencia on the subject. However, Lapota observed: "It seems the player has an agreement with his club to leave for a certain figure, so we have made an offer and we are awaiting so see if they change their mind."

Spain's football season will officially kick off on August 30, the federation announced on Friday.

Barcelona will face Sporting Gijon in their first fixture but the match will take place on Monday August 31 because of the European Super Cup clash against Shakhtar Donetsk on August 28.