Florentino Pérez Pushing for Elite European Competition But UEFA President Blasts ‘Insane’ Idea

​Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez is leading the charge for elite sides to ditch their domestic leagues in favour of joining an elite super competition.

This concept of a ‘European Super League’ is by no means new. Pérez has long pursued this groundbreaking idea, but he has met plenty of resistance from clubs all across Europe, who fear that it would be too damaging to domestic football.

Florentino Perez,Jose Maria Aznar,Nicolas Sarkozy

As noted by the ​New York Times, Pérez’s idea is to form two 20-team leagues formed of top teams from England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany, in the hope of allowing these elite sides to drastically increase their revenue. Basically, he wants the rich to get richer.

However, not only would this plan damage the reputation of all the leagues in those aforementioned countries, but it would also harm the ​Champions League – something which UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is not prepared to allow.

“I have read about this insane plan,” Ceferin said. “If reports are to be believed, it comes from a single club president, not the owner, and a lone football administrator. It would be hard to think of a more selfish and egotistical scheme.

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“It would clearly ruin football around the world: for the players, for the fans and for everyone connected with the game – all for the benefit of a tiny number of people.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino was also involved in discussions with the ​Real chief about the plans, but all that is expected to come out of the talks is some potential drama between Infantino and Ceferin.

The pair infamously did not speak for a whole year after Infantino unveiled his plans to expand the Club World Cup back in March 2018, and Ceferin has taken an equally dim view of the idea of the European Super League.

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“The statutory mission of FIFA is to develop football at a worldwide level,” a FIFA statement said. “This involves formulating plans and competition concepts to bring on club football everywhere.

“We want the European clubs to further grow, because that is good for world football, but at the same time we want to see clubs from outside Europe to grow as well so that one day they can compete with the European clubs.”


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Paul Pogba Tipped to Seal Real Madrid Move Before Euro 2020

Manchester United could sell midfielder Paul Pogba to Real Madrid before the start of Euro 2020 next summer.

The Frenchman’s prospective move to Real dominated headlines for the entirety of the summer, with Zinedine Zidane understood to be a huge fan of Pogba. However, United rebuffed all advances and insisted that he was not for sale.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,Paul Pogba

​United still do not want to sell ​Pogba, but ​L’Équipe claim that they may actually be forced to do so as his contract is set to enter its final year.

His current deal is set to expire in 2021, which would usually be enough to convince a club to sell a star player as they look to avoid losing them for free in the near future. However, what L’Équipe forget to mention is that United actually have the option to automatically extend Pogba’s deal by a further year.

The Red Devils are happy to do so, having done the exact same with goalkeeper ​David de Gea in November 2018 to prevent him from sealing his own move to ​Real.

David De Gea

The Spaniard ultimately penned a new four-year deal back in September, proving that United’s determination to keep him and time spent convincing him to stay was justified. 

Club officials will almost certainly look to do the same with Pogba, meaning he would actually be able to walk away for free in 2022, not 2021. With that extra year as a parachute, United will likely feel little pressure to sell immediately.

L’Équipe feel as though a blockbuster move is likely before Euro 2020 to avoid the risk of seeing his value drop if he gets injured at the tournament, but it will be around that time that United will be looking to trigger that automatic extension – if not earlier.

Paul Pogba

However, what the report may actually be correct about is Pogba’s personal opinion. They state that Pogba is ‘determined’ to leave United, with a move to Real still his preferred option, and that’s hardly the most outlandish of statements.

Unfortunately, United’s determination not to sell – coupled with Real officials’ ​doubts over signing Pogba in the first place – means that any potential move next summer would still come as an enormous surprise.


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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings: Week 15

Following a week in which: 

– Manchester United BESTED their ex-boss.

– Lionel Messi BESTED Virgil van Dijk.

– Cristiano Ronaldo BESTED Juventus (by stifling their attack and being fairly terrible).

We, using quotes from Fargo (the TV show, not the film), rank the 15 BEST football teams in Europe. ​


15. Manchester United (Re-Entry)

Marcus Rashford

“You’ll make a good chief one day.”

“Me? What about Bill? He’s got seniority.”

“Bill cleans his gun with bubble bath. No, it’ll be you.”

Marcus Rashford will make a good ​Manchester United captain one day.

‘Rashy? What about Jesse Lingard? He’s got seniority?’ 

Lingard shouts ‘beans, beans, beans’ into a camera in his spare time. No, it’ll be Rashford.


14. Sevilla (New Entry)

Luuk De Jong,Joan Jordan Moreno

“We are together.”

Sevilla don’t have a single player that has scored more than five goals this season, and yet, they’re still winning games. Still just a point behind the La Liga leaders. Still punching well above their weight. 

Greater than the sum of their parts, that’s what Sevilla are.


13. Wolves (Re-Entry)

Joao Moutinho

“You know what wolves do. They hunt. They kill.”

You know what ​Wolves don’t do. They don’t lose games of football. 

They haven’t lost a single Premier League game of football since the 14th September. That’s pretty good.


12. Benfica (-) 

Gabriel,Carlos Vinicius

“We are not here to tell stories, we are here to tell the truth.”

Benfica’s last nine Primeira Liga games:

Played: 9.

Won: 9.

Drawn: 0.

Lost: 0.

Goals Scored: 24

Goals Conceded: 2.

Goal Difference: +22. 

The truth is, Benfica are the best team in Portugal. By quite a distance.


11. Manchester City (-)

Rodri

“In the end, we all get what we deserve.”

In the end, ​Manchester City are getting what they deserve.

They’re conceding a boatload of goals because they didn’t bother their heads to try and sign a centre back. Go figure. 


10. Ajax (-)

Klaas Jan Huntelaar

“What did I lose?”

“A spleen. Look, I’ll get you a new one, I swear.”

“Yeah, you’d better.”

They lost all of their players, but they’ve lost exactly zero games in Eredivisie, and absolutely thumped Twente 5-2 at the weekend. Nice one. 


9. Cagliari (Up 4) 

Joao Pedro

“This is highly irregular.”

“No, highly irregular is the time I found a human foot in a toaster oven. This is just odd.”

Cagliari beating Sampdoria at home isn’t highly irregular. 

But the fact that they won the game 4-3, scored the winner in the 97th minute, and extended their Serie A unbeaten to 12 games in the process, is highly irregular.

That is just odd. 


8. Real Madrid (Up 1)

Sergio Ramos

“The old way works just fine.”

The old way is working just fine for ​Real Madrid. Karim Benzema is scoring goals, Sergio Ramos is scoring goals, Toni Kroos is back to his best and Dani Carvajal is still one of the very best right backs in the world.

It’s all gravy at Los Blancos. 


7. Juventus (Down 6) 

Juventus v US Sassuolo - Serie A

“My point is sometimes the answer is so obvious you can’t see it because you’re looking too hard. See, we can’t leave because we’re the future, and they’re the past. The past can no more become the future than the future can become the past.”

‘Why has Cristiano Ronaldo been so horrifically terrible this season?’ 

Well, that’s a question with a blindingly obvious answer: 

Cristiano Ronaldo has been terrible at ​Juventus this season because he’s 34 years old. He’s old. And he looks it. 


6. Lazio (Up 4) 

Ciro Immobile

“I wanna hurt you, not be your pet. I wanna look you in the face and rip out something you love.”

Lazio and Ciro Immobile are taking no prisoners this season. 

They’re on rampage. Scoring goals for fun, hurting fanbase after fanbase on their way to third place in the Serie A table. 


5. Barcelona (-) 

Lionel Messi

“See, today is my coronation day.”

Lionel Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or this past week. And I could sit here and write about how he’s the ‘GOAT’ and how ‘he is the best human to ever live and if you disagree then you are an idiot and you are wrong’, but I’m not going to.

Instead, I’m going to direct you to 90min’s ranking of the ​50 greatest players of all time; a list which Messi is third on. 


4. Leicester City (-)

Brendan Rodgers

“This one’s smart, capable.”

For too long big Brendy baps and his ivory teeth have been little more than meme fodder. But now, with ​Leicester City playing some of the best football in Europe and breaking club record, after club record, after club record, it’s time to put some respeck on his name. 

He’s smart. He’s capable. He’s one of the very best managers in Europe. 


3. RB Leipzig (-) 

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“I’m 31, Dad. I carry a gun.”

Julian Nagelsmann is 32. He carries a gun. 

That gun is Timo Werner. He’s scored 17 goals in all competitions this season. 


2. Inter (Up 4)

Antonio Conte

“Saint Lawrence. Patron saint of hard asses. Burned alive by the Romans. You know what he said? ‘Turn me over. I’m done on this side.’ That’s a goddamn saint.”

Saint Antonio. Patron saint of hard asses. Bringing grinta and guts to a previously vapid Inter team. Hauling them from obscurity, and back up to the summit of Serie A.

That’s a goddamn saint. 


1. Liverpool (Up 1) 

Gini Wijnaldum

“Look, you can’t…that’s just how it is, sometimes. Life. You know, you go to bed unsatisfied. They’re calling the lottery numbers on the TV and you get the first few and already in your mind you’re buying a jet or a fjord or whatever, but it’s just not meant to be. It’s just not meant to be.”

For decades, the above ^^^ has been the story at Liverpool football club. 

The season would end, and the Reds would be unsatisfied. The numbers would never come up.

​Liverpool would start the season well and fans, in their minds, would be celebrating a first league title since 1990. But it just was never meant to be. 

Until now. 

Now it is meant to be. 

Now Liverpool are actually going to win their first league title since 1990.

And they’ll bloody well deserve it when they do.


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Gareth Bale’s Agent Confirms He Isn’t ‘Ecstatic’ to Be at Real Madrid Amid Transfer Rumours

​Gareth Bale’s agent has revealed that the winger is ‘not ecstatic’ to be playing for Real Madrid but admitted there is no guarantee that he will be leaving the club in January.

Bale has had a strained relationship with the Los Blancos hierarchy for a number of years, with a move to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning falling through at the eleventh hour in the summer. 

The 30-year-old fanned the flames of supporter discord at Santiago Bernabeu by posing in front of a banner that read: ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid – in that order’, after his Welsh team secured their place at Euro 2020 last month.


The move led to ​​significant criticism from pundits and fans, with Bale being booed by the Real faithful in recent weeks, fuelling speculation that a ​return to the Premier League with ​Tottenham or ​Manchester United could be on the cards.

When asked about his client’s morale at the club the 30-year-old’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, confirmed that the forward was not entirely happy. 

“He’s not ecstatic,” Barnett confirmed during an appearance on the Euro Leagues Podcast, as reported by BBC Sport.

Despite this, the agent also claimed that Bale would continue to perform to his maximum for as long as he is a Los Blancos player.


He has got a contract and as long as he is a ​Real Madrid player he will play at 100% – and do very well. He wants to win the championship and the European championship and everything else. It will not affect his performance.

“The facts and figures prove if he is on the field for Real Madrid they have a better chance of winning,” Barnett stated. 

Despite his client’s displeasure, Bale’s representative refused to confirm whether the player would be departing Santiago Bernabeu in the near future.

There’s no guarantee he is leaving. If the right opportunity came along for him and it’s something he wants to do we have to have a chat with the president of Real Madrid and see where we are,” Barnett added. 


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Marcelo a Major Doubt for El Clásico Against Barcelona as Real Madrid Confirm Calf Injury

Real Madrid have confirmed that experienced full-back Marcelo has suffered a calf injury, with the Brazilian now a major doubt for the first Clásico of the season against Barcelona at Camp Nou in less than two weeks’ time.

Other than monitoring his recovery, Real have not publicised an expected return time frame. But estimates of a three-week layoff have been made in the Spanish press, which would put Marcelo out of contention for the huge trip to Catalonia.

Marcelo

AS is clinging onto hope that Marcelo, who has recovered fast from injury than expected in the past, might just be able to make it back to fitness in around 12 days, one before El Clásico. That seems unduly optimistic, although not beyond the realms of possibility.

Marcelo has only recently returned to action from a knock last month, while he also missed four consecutive La Liga games because of injury between mid-September and early October, including the Madrid derby against Atletico.

It is a double blow for Real because Eden Hazard is already expected to miss the clash with Barça, which would have been his first since making the move to Spain during the summer.

Hazard has been struggling with an ankle injury since November, having already had to contend with a hamstring problem that had forced him to miss the start of the season.

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain"

Real and Barça are currently tied on 31 points at the top of the league standings, one point clear of third place Sevilla. The Catalans currently have the advantage on goal difference.

Prior to El Clásico, Real first must face Espanyol and Valencia either side of a Champions League trip to Club Brugge. Barça, meanwhile, play Real Mallorca and Real Sociedad either side of travelling to Milan to face Inter.


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Eden Hazard Expected to Miss El Clásico as Real Madrid Release Official Injury Update

​Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard appears to be a huge doubt for the upcoming meeting with Barcelona after struggling to shake off what was initially thought to be a minor ankle injury.

The Belgian first picked up the knock during November’s 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain, but it was only believed to be bruised and it was thought that he would be back in action in around ten days.

Eden Hazard

However, that time is almost up, and ​Hazard is still really struggling. As noted by ​El Partidazo de Cope, the winger is still in intense pain and cannot yet put any weight on his ankle.

​Marca add that Hazard needed crutches to attend a recent team dinner. He could not drive himself to the event and was not even able to stand up for the team photo, as he is simply unable to do anything with his right ankle at the minute.

He has continued to receive daily treatment, while he has also been working in the gym to maintain his fitness, but ​Real fear that his recovery has been far slower than expected.

Eden Hazard,Zinedine Zidane

Initial scans suggested there was no bone damage, but Real have since sent Hazard for further tests as they felt they might have missed something. They were right, taking to their ​official website to reveal they have discovered an “incomplete external microfracture” in his ankle.

Manager Zinedine Zidane has refused to confirm whether Hazard will be fit to face ​Barcelona, but there is a belief at the Santiago Bernabéu that the Belgian will not be ready for the game on 18 December.

In fact, Zidane is said to believe that Hazard may not even return until 2020, so he has started preparing a new system to try and cope with all his injuries.

Eden Hazard

A 4-4-2 with both ​Karim Benzema and ​Gareth Bale in attack is touted as a likely solution, but losing Hazard would certainly come as a huge blow to Real, in what looks set to be a crucial clash at the top of the ​La Liga standings.

Los Blancos are level with Barcelona at the top of the table, although Ernesto Valverde’s side are top on goal difference, so the game will give either side a chance to move ahead of their fierce rivals.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Lyon President Reveals Karim Benzema Turned Down Manchester United to Join Real Madrid

​Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has said that Manchester United outbid Real Madrid for Karim Benzema back in 2009, but the player had his heart set on a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Frenchman departed France for Madrid in an initial €35m deal, and went on to become one of their most important players of the 2010s.

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He’s scored 236 goals in 483 games for Los Blancos, but history could have panned out far differently according to Aulas, who insists Sir Alex Ferguson was keen on bringing the striker to Old Trafford.

“He told me ‘My dream is to play for ​Real Madrid’,” Aulas told ​beIN Sports. “And so he went to Real Madrid for an inferior fee to what we had from ​Manchester United.”

Benzema ended up moving to Madrid at the same time as Cristiano Ronaldo, and the duo would spend the next nine seasons terrorising opposition defenders together, winning two La Liga titles and the Champions League four times.

After a slow first season in Spain, the striker became a key player under José Mourinho, and has been one of the first names on the Madrid team sheet to this day.

While United failed to land Benzema that summer, they did manage to replace Ronaldo with Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan and Antonio Valencia, who would score a combined 43 goals for the Red Devils.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

After playing more of a supporting role alongside Ronaldo in recent seasons, Benzema is now thriving as the main man for Madrid. Since the start of the 2018/19 season, he’s bagged 44 goals in 71 games in all competitions, including 14 in 18 this campaign.

United, meanwhile, are yet to see a striker of their own have a 20-goal season in the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 – a damning indictment of just how far they’ve fallen at the back end of this decade.

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Zinedine Zidane Not Giving Up on Paul Pogba Chase Despite Real Madrid’s Reluctance

​Zinedine Zidane has not given up on his hope of luring Paul Pogba to Real Madrid, despite Los Blancos harbouring doubts over signing the Manchester United man.

Pogba has long been linked with a move to the Spanish capital, with Zidane’s admiration of his countryman failing to dissipate despite numerous efforts to bring him to La Liga falling short of United’s demands.

Even as recently as the previous summer, speculation was rife regarding Pogba’s future, with the midfielder in past weeks being the subject of rumours that his current injury layoff is fake, so he can engineer a switch to ​Madrid. Suggestions which, incidentally, are ​wide of the mark.


While ​United would command a considerable fee to part with one of their key stars, according to ​Marca, this has done little to prevent Zidane from pursuing a move for the 26-year-old, be it in January or next summer.

Currently under contract until June 2021 (with an option for a further year), a struggling United side will be desperate to hold onto the World Cup winner until that date at least, although the Spanish outlet add that ​Pogba is hell-bent on moving to Madrid, something, in fairness, everyone knows. 

They claim he is constantly pressuring the club to let him go, with Zidane and the Frenchman in regular discussion about how a deal could be ironed out. There are issues, however. While it was Zidane’s primary request to secure Pogba upon returning to the hotseat, the club appear to be less keen on the idea.

Paul Pogba

Federico Valverde has burst into the first team this season with some glittering displays, planting doubt into the minds of the club’s hierarchy as to whether Pogba would be a suitable fit. Madrid chiefs appreciate the Frenchman’s talent, but believe that his acquisition could stunt the development of the likes of Valverde and other rising talents.

Pogba and Zidane remain firm in their desires, but United and Madrid bosses have vastly differing mindsets – particularly considering the fact that Los Blancos do not want to spend the €120m minimum it would cost to secure his signature.

In a rather damning verdict, Marca label ‘Operation Pogba’ ‘mission impossible’ at present, something which could reluctantly force Zidane to look elsewhere.

Zinedine Zidane

Ajax’s Donny van de Beek is the most popular with the club, while Christian Eriksen’s days at Tottenham are numbered, with both increasingly plausible targets after the latest Pogba developments.

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Achraf Hakimi to Challenge for Dani Carvajal’s ‘Throne’ at Real Madrid Once Dortmund Loan Ends

​Achraf Hakimi is expected to challenge Dani Carvajal for the Spaniard’s right back spot at Real Madrid once his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund ends next summer.

The Morocco international has established himself as one of Europe’s most exciting attacking full backs, registering two goals and four assists in 13 Bundesliga appearances so far this season, also netting four more strikes in his five Champions League games.

He was sent out on loan to Dortmund last year, with Carvajal continuing to hold down the right back berth at the Santiago Bernabeu, but ​Marca expect Hakimi to leapfrog Alvaro Odriozola in the pecking order upon his return.

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The report adds that due to the 21-year-old’s added attacking pedigree and defensive versatility, some of the forwards and left backs in Zinedine Zidane’s squad will have to deal with the added competition he will bring.

How Real deal with Hakimi’s return is also thought to be of great importance. The defender has featured regularly for ​Dortmund since making the loan switch to Westfalenstadion, and will likely want a similar amount of game time.

Carvajal has been ​Real‘s first choice right back since the 2013/14 season, having impressed for Bayer Leverkusen the campaign prior, and has been part of four ​Champions League winning squads in that time.

Odriozola was brought in from Real Sociedad in 2018 to offer some competition for the Spain international, but the 23-year-old is yet to establish himself. He has started four La Liga games this season, but hasn’t featured since getting sent off in the 1-0 defeat at Mallorca in October.

Achraf Hakimi

Despite a somewhat frustrating start to the season, Real remain firmly in the ​La Liga title race, behind leaders ​Barcelona only by virtue of their inferior goal difference. 

The rearranged Clasico on 18 December at Camp Nou could give onlookers more of an idea on who will go on to win Spain’s top flight, though Sevilla remain firmly in the hunt and are only a point behind their illustrious rivals.


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What Real Madrid’s Ballon d’Or Failure Means for the Club’s Transfer Strategy

​On Monday night, for the first time since 2005, Real Madrid had no players in the top ten of the voting for the Ballon d’Or. Not one.

Prior to 2019, a Madrid player had won football’s most prestigious individual gong for three years on the spin and had had at least one representative in the top three since 2011.

2019, though, was a bitterly disappointing annus horribils for the biggest, most valuable and glitziest football club in the world, which prides itself on not just the team’s collective trophy cabinet but those of the individual players.

Marcelo Vieira,Luka Modric,Sergio Ramos,Eden Hazard

​Real Madrid, particularly under Florentino Perez, has been about being the best while also having the biggest individual stars.

‘The Champions League. The Ballon d’Or. Social media followers.’ might as well be Madrid’s mission statement these days.

What then does 2019’s Ballon d’Or results mean, if anything, for Real Madrid’s transfer strategy?

Of their 11 most used players so far this season, five (Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Luka Modric) are the wrong side of 30, while Toni Kroos joins that club next month. There are no players under the age of 26 in that most-used group.

It’s not hard to imagine that the time for this generation of superstars came to a close with Luka Modric’s Ballon d’Or win in 2018 and that none of them will ever again be considered the very best in the world.

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It seemed for a while, during the height of Zinedine Zidane’s first reign, that Madrid – perennial kings of Europe – had reformed their recruitment strategy as a club that plans for the future rather than the here and now, focussing on hoovering up and developing the best of the next generation, something which had previously been Barcelona’s domain.

Yet as 2020 approaches, expensive acquisitions like Eder Militao and Luka Jovic (both 21) have seen little game time, while Spanish additions of recent windows like Brahim Diaz and Alvaro Odriozola don’t quite look up to muster for whatever reason.

After bursting onto the scene with all the crackling energy and potential of a budding Ballon d’Or winner of the future, Marco Asensio’s development had stalled even before his devastating ACL injury this summer.

Expensive Brazilian teenagers Vinicius Jnr and Rodrygo are the flashy, twin hopes that the club is betting on to reach superstardom, but neither looks a sure thing at present.

From the current first team, 21-year-old Uruguayan Federico Valverde – who is becoming invaluable in Zidane’s midfield with his box-to-box displays – looks the most likely to become one of the best in the world in his position in the not too distant future, if not a guaranteed shirt seller.

Federico Valverde

Desperate not to lose ground on their major European rivals from Liverpool and Manchester City to Barcelona and Juventus, Real Madrid may be tempted by another expensive summer makeover, with Neymar or Kylian Mbappe likely atop of their wishlist – especially if they go another year without any trophies.

However, if you look outside of Madrid’s first-team there is still an incredible amount of young talent on their books.

Martin Odegaard, now 20 and one of the standout stars of the first half of the Spanish season with Real Sociedad, is expected to return to his parent club next year.

Dani Ceballos – Euro Under-21 winner with Spain this summer – too could be re-integrated next season under a different manager and doesn’t turn 24 until next August.

Also out on loan are Takefusa Kubo (18), trained in La Masia but snapped up by Los Blancos during the summer, who is described as a potentially generational Asian talent.

Achraf Hakimi (20) has developed into a serious attacking threat out on loan at serial prodigy enhancers Dortmund, with the Madrid-born Morocco international, who can play anywhere down either flank, scoring four goals in five Champions League outings this season.

Achraf Hakimi

Florentino Perez was in his first term as Real Madrid president back in 2005, the last year the club failed to get a single nominee into the top ten for the Ballon d’Or. That summer Madrid spent close to €100m on Sergio Ramos, Robinho, Julio Baptista, Cicinho, Antonio Cassano and Carlos Diogo (all 23 or younger) in an attempt to get things back on track both on the pitch and off it.

This year, Perez and Madrid may already have the young players they need to regenerate right under their noses, but whether they have the nerve to use them is another matter.

If Madrid fail spectacularly again in 2019/20 chances are the pressure will be too great to resist making more fan and sponsor-appeasing signings.

The irony, then, is that the loaned out stars of tomorrow like Odegaard, Achraf and the rest may need the old guard to play well rather than badly get a chance to really make their names as the future of Real Madrid next season.


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