Claude Makelele Plans Retirement; Praises Lassana Diarra & Florentino Perez

The combative French midfielder has announced that he plans to hang up his boots come the summer. In addition, he needed little prompting to praise his successor at the Bernabeu, Lassana Diarra.…

Former Real Madrid and Chelsea star Claude Makelele has revealed that he is planning to draw his playing career to a close at the end of the season.

The current Paris Saint-Germain captain made a return to Madrid yesterday to catch up with old friends and compatriot Zinedine Zidane, who, incidentally, also made a comeback of his own after appearing in an exhibition match with los Blancos’ senior side.

In a candid interview with Spanish sports daily AS, Makelele revealed his decision to hang up his boots. He also spoke about the player already christened as his successor, Lassana Diarra, as well as Florentino Perez’s possible return to the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I will retire this year,” he replied when asked about the latest updates about his career. “I will continue to work at PSG as the sporting director because I would like to see the club regain the status they had before.

“When I first arrived, we were in a lowly position in the league and on the verge of relegation. I am happy to be able to help them. But in June, I will hang up my boots. I have achieved all I can in my career and now it’s time for the youngsters. Now it’s time for my ‘little Lass’,” he added, referring to Diarra.

Little Lass

The 36-year-old Makelele did not hesitate to extend praise to Madrid’s latest acquisition.

“Lass is a hard worker and a respectful boy,” he said. “I’m glad he is doing so well at Madrid. When he first came, no-one knew who he was, just like when I first arrived in Madrid. But this kid has a great future. He will reach a level even better than I did.

“When I first met him at Chelsea, I told him that we play in an ungrateful position because nobody notices us. But he loves his role. He is very ambitious and he likes a lot of competition. He’s a touch and intelligent character.

“He has a bright future at Madrid because he is still young, whereas I came at a later stage of my career. But I hope that Madrid do not make the same mistake with him as they did with me. They must never allow him to leave.”

Praise For Perez

It was then-Blancos president Florentino Perez who decided to off-load Makelele after refusing to grant the Frenchman a significant wage increase. But the defensive midfielder holds no grudges against the man who could return to the ‘White House’ this summer. In fact, he endorsed the construction tycoon to regain control.

“It will be good if he runs for the presidency,” explained Makelele. “When he was here, he turned us into a superstar team. Everyone was dreaming about playing for us and putting on the white shirt.

“Now, it seems that the door is opened to just anyone. Madrid must take care of that. In order to wear this shirt, the players must know that they are here to win titles and to give more than they can.

“Perez is someone who knows how to change things, he has the knowledge, and he knows what is best for Madrid’s future.”

Finally, when enquired about the possibility of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo in the white shirt in the near future, Makelele said, “If he comes, he will have a lot of fun here. He’s very fast but in England it is difficult to see his pace, whereas in Spain, he will have more space. He will contribute a lot to Madrid if they can sign him.”

KS Leong,