Claude Makelele was missing from Real Madrid’s Ciudad Sportivo training ground today as his protest against the club’s refusal to up his wages or allow him to join Chelsea ran into a second day.
The French international midfielder, 30, has demanded a salary rise to put him in line with the club’s big earners and he refused to train yesterday.
Madrid began disciplinary proceedings and cancelled a meeting with Chelsea planned for Monday as a consequence of the player’s actions.
As a fixture in the first team, Makelele’s wages pale into insignificance when compared to the income of the club’s ‘Galacticos’, yet he is considered a vital member of the midfield.
It is believed that he earns less than a third what the likes of David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Raul take home, and he is taking a stance which he hopes will lead either to a pay hike or permission to sign for wealthy Chelsea, where his wage demands should be no obstacle.
In the Marca newspaper on Thursday morning, Makelele outlined his frustration at the manner in which he believes he has been forced to act.
“There are a lot of things happening and I’m not happy. Everybody knows what’s happening,” he said.
He has repeatedly complained about his status as one of the team’s lowest earners and did not want to strike.
However, he added: “The fact is that they have had a lot of time to sort the situation out and they haven’t wanted to do that.
“Maybe it’s too late now. At the moment it’s not in my head to train, or do anything like that.
“I’m not happy and when you feel like that the best thing is not to make any kind of effort.”
There were claims yesterday from his agent, Marc Roger, that Chelsea were ready with a £7m (€9.95m) bid should Makelele wish to move to the Premiership.
“It’s good for everyone and I think we should study it,” said Makelele.
“I don’t want to speak any more. Everything is really up in the air.”
Several members of Madrid’s squad are understood to be upset at the thought of Makelele leaving, believing the loss of the combative midfielder would leave the team with a gaping hole in their engine room.
Although they have Beckham, Zidane and Luis Figo in their team, last season Madrid were at their strongest when they had gritty Makelele allied to the flair of their more attack-minded players.