By María Bretones Merino
"I can't face another obstacle." These were the first words uttered by José María Gutiérrez, better known as Guti, in response to the news that David Beckham had signed for Real Madrid CF.
Guti, an attacking midfield player, is considered the man most likely to lose his place in the starting lineup following the England captain's arrival from Manchester United FC and, as a result, he appears to have lost patience with the club he joined at the age of just nine.
The newly departed coach of Madrid, Vicente del Bosque, was then in charge of the club's junior teams and he discovered a boy with both the quality and the courage required to become a star. Now that boy is 26, however, and still he has not found a settled place in the first team despite having made his debut for the Merengues as far back as 1995.
The arrival of big-name players such as Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and now Beckham has not helped Guti´s progress. Although he is considered one of the jewels of the Madrid youth system and is coveted by a number of top European clubs, Guti does not feel loved and so is considering a move away from his hometown team.
'I have offers'
Meetings with the club's president Florentino Pérez and sporting director Jorge Valdano have failed to produce a change of heart in the player. Instead, both men heard of Guti's dissatisfaction. "
I have offers and if they are good for me and for the club, I would consider them", Guti said after winning his third Spanish championship medal on Sunday.
The process of collecting silverware - and he has been in three UEFA Champions League-winning squads - during his time at the Santiago Bernabéu has been mixed with frustrations. Only recently, for instance, has he won over the Madrid supporters.
As a player who has never worn his heart on his sleeve, Guti's character gave some the wrong impression he was not fully committed to the cause and prompted the suspicion he lacked the necessary strength of character. But that changed this season as Guti finally held down a starting place. Hence his dismay at Beckham's €35m arrival.
'Guti, don't go'
After Madrid's 3-1 victory over Athletic Club Bilbao clinched their 29th Primera División title, cries of "Guti, don't go" rang around the Bernabéu after the player re-emerged from the dressing room to salute the crowd. He has fans in the dressing room too, including Ronaldo, who said: "Guti has really surprised me. He understands me better than anyone has done."
Guti's reply was: "I just thank them all for their love and support but I will have to take some days to think deeply and then decide on my future." Should he stay and fight for a starting place with Beckham? Or should he go and make a fresh start elsewhere? This is the dilemma this Spanish international now faces. The answer should come soon.
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