Real Madrid Dealt Major Transfer Blow as Juventus Star Pjanić Prepares to Sign New Contract

​​Real Madrid have been dealt a major blow in their pursuit of ​Juventus defender Miralem Pjanić, as the tenacious midfielder is set to sign a new contract to keep him with the ​Serie A giants until  2022.

According to Football Italia, the Bosnia and Herzegovina international will sign a one year extension on his existing deal, which will see his earnings soar to €7m per year. While football contracts are becoming increasingly meaningless in terms of tying players to their clubs, the deal will at least assure that Pjanić remains with his club for at least another season.

Juventus v Juventus U19 - Pre-Season Friendly

Real Madrid were tipped as hot favourites to sign the 28-year-old before the end of the summer transfer window, with ​Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain also thought to be interested. Los Blancos were reported to have had a €60m bid turned down for Pjanić earlier in the week, which is believed to have been an attempt to find a replacement for Luka Modrić, should the Croatian move to ​Inter.

Juventus have won the last seven Serie A titles on the bounce, and will look to continue their dominance of the Italian top tier this season with the help of new acquisition Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese prodigy completed a €112m move from Real Madrid earlier in the summer, and will be aiming to win even more silverware to add to an already impressive collection.

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In other news, Juventus are believed to have​ turned down an offer from Paris Saint-Germain for their star left-back Alex Sandro. The Ligue 1 giants have been relentlessly perusing the Brazilian international throughout the summer, but Juve are unwilling to sanction deal without finding a suitable replacement.

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Real Madrid 2-4 Atletico Madrid (AET): Report, Ratings & Reaction as Atleti Win UEFA Super Cup

Julen Lopetegui made a losing start to his reign as Real Madrid manager on Wednesday evening, as Atletico earned a thrilling 4-2 win after extra time over their fierce local rivals in the UEFA Super Cup in Tallinn, Estonia.

​The Europa League winners made a dream start against the UEFA Champions League holders, as Diego Costa fired home from a narrow angle in the first minute of the match.

Los Blancos improved considerably, levelling through a Karim Benzema header and taking the lead through a Sergio Ramos penalty. However, Costa’s second took the match into extra time, before sumptuous strikes from Saul Niguez and Koke gave Diego Simeone’s side a deserved victory.

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Simeone will no doubt be disappointed that his side conceded two avoidable goals, but the Argentine will be delighted that his side showed the cutting edge which their opponents sorely lacked.


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Key Talking Point

On the evidence of this match, it will take Los Blancos time to adjust to life without Cristiano Ronaldo.

For all the impressive endeavours of Bale and Benzema, the Portuguese talisman was still conspicuous by his absence at times, as Lopetegui’s side struggled to turn their dominance and fluency into decent efforts on goal.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Super Cup

In particular, Benzema’s tendency to drop deep and link up the play was a distinctly mixed blessing, as this meant that his side lacked a focal point in attack.

One moment in the first half seemed to sum up Real Madrid’s difficulties up front. Overlapping full back Marcelo played a superb low cross into the Atleti box, but it evaded everyone. You couldn’t help thinking that it wouldn’t have evaded Ronaldo.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Navas (4); Carvajal (6), Varane (5), Ramos (6), Marcelo (6); Kroos (6); Bale (6), Isco (6), Asensio (7); Benzema (7).

Substitutes: Modric (7), Ceballos (6), Vazquez (4), Mayoral (N/A).


STAR MAN – Disappointingly for Los Blancos, it wasn’t Bale. Much is expected of the Wales winger, whose wonder strike lit up the Champions League final against Liverpool. However, apart from one excellent run and cross for Benzema’s goal, he struggled to make an impact.

Benzema, on the other hand, was consistently impressive, though far from brilliant. His run for his goal was excellent, and his intelligent and energetic movement caused problems for the Atleti centre backs. Here’s how fans reacted to his display on social media:


WORST PLAYER – Ultimately, it has to be Keylor Navas, simply because he was beaten far too easily at his near post in the opening minute of the match. From a Real fan’s point of view, Thibaut Courtois’ arrival hasn’t come a moment too soon.

Mind you, neither Ramos nor Varane did him any favours with their uncharacteristically sloppy defending for Atleti’s first goal. Navas’ defence also left him horribly exposed for Costa’s second strike.


ATLETICO MADRID

 Key Talking Point

Everyone expects Simeone’s Atletico Madrid to be defensively solid, which, for the most part, they were on Wednesday – although they might have prevented Real’s first strike, and Juanfran’s handball gifted them the second.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Super Cup

What was arguably more surprising was that they put four goals past the Champions League holders, even though the latter enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.

Perhaps Atleti have found a new attacking dimension to their play.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Oblak (6); Juanfran (7); Savic (7), Godin (8), Hernandez (6); Lemar (5), Niguez (7), Rodri (7), Koke (7); Diego Costa (8), Griezmann (4).

Substitutes: Correa (7), Vitolo (6), Partey (7), Giminez (N/A).


STAR MAN – Although Atleti’s marquee signing, £63m midfielder Thomas Lemar, featured in Tallinn, one of their existing stars grabbed far more attention. In short, we saw both the best and the worst of Diego Costa.

After an explosive start, in which he powered past Real Madrid’s centre backs before firing home emphatically, Costa’s influence waned.

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To make matters worse, Real’s penalty seemed to light the former Chelsea man’s notoriously short fuse. He promptly earned a booking, and could conceivably have earned a second for a crude challenge on Ramos.

However, the Spain striker atoned with another clinical strike from close range. On this form, he will be a menace to any defence in Europe. Here’s what the fans thought of him:


WORST PLAYER – It hardly seems apt to give a World Cup winner such a dubious accolade, but France striker Antoine Griezmann barely made any impact on the game. It was no surprise to see him substituted early in the second half.

Lemar also gave a disappointingly anonymous display, although he looked tidy enough in possession and improved in the second half. Still, he’s only 22 years old, so it’s safe to assume that he will improve over time.


Looking Ahead

Real Madrid start their La Liga campaign at home to Getafe on Sunday, which looks like a less daunting task than Atletico’s opener – Simeone’s charges face a tricky trip to Valencia on Monday.

Both sides will hope to avoid the kind of slack defending which cost them goals on Wednesday, while Lopetegui may be slightly alarmed by the way in which Bale faded in the course of the game.

All in all, Atleti will be hugely encouraged by a deserved victory, while Real will need to be far sharper at both ends of the pitch to retain the Champions League and mount a serious challenge for La Liga.

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PHOTO: How Marcelo Reacted When Sergio Ramos Mocked Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp

Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos had some choice words when responding to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s latest jibe, but it was the reaction of fellow Los Blancos defender Marcelo that has caught the attention of many.

The 30-year-old left back can be seen trying to hold in a cheeky smile as he sat next to the Real Madrid captain, who fired back against Klopp in a recent press conference.

Klopp and Ramos began their battle of words following Liverpool’s somewhat embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Real in last season’s Champions League final.

The Spaniard’s foul on Mohamed Salah, which saw the Egyptian leave the field of play, and rough treatment of goalkeeper Loris Karius has come under criticism from the Liverpool head coach, who ​reportedly referred to it as “brutal” and “ruthless”.

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

Ramos fired back at Klopp, stating: “I had no intention of holding Mohamed Salah’s arm, but he grabbed my arm first.

“I already gave my opinion and I reiterate again, it is not intentional. It’s not the first final he’s lost, [maybe] he wants to use that as an excuse for losing.

“There have been many repercussions after what happened to Salah in the Champions League final. Let Klopp worry about his own players. In fact, he’s one of the coaches I voted for as the Best of the Year, so perhaps he can stay a little calmer.”

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

Marcelo, who has been under contract at the Santiago Bernabéu since 2007, couldn’t hold back a small grin in the press conference, as his captain responded to reporters.

The Brazilian international will be part of the squad that face rivals Atletico Madrid in tonight’s UEFA Super Cup final in Estonia. 

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Sergio Ramos Sticks the Boot Into Jurgen Klopp in Response to Persistent Jibes From Liverpool Coach

Real Madrid defender and Champions League winner Sergio Ramos has responded to Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp’s latest jibes with a few barbs of his own – by digging out his recent record in major finals.

The two have been engaged in a war of words since Real’s 3-1 Champions League final win over the Reds in May, with Klopp taking particular issue with two incidents involving the Spaniard during the game. 

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

His foul on ​Mohamed Salah – which ended the Egyptian’s involvement in the showcase in Kiev – and apparent elbow on Loris Karius, which caused a concussion, have been Klopp’s particular points of contention. The two moments were key to Real winning the game, and while Ramos has claimed both were accidental, Klopp hasn’t seen it that way.

Over 500,000 ​Liverpool fans haven’t either, as they actually signed a petition for the match to be replayed, but Klopp has called out Ramos in two separate press conferences in the last couple of weeks.

​At the end of July, Klopp said: “If you watch it back and you are not with ​Real Madrid – then you think it is ruthless and brutal. If VAR is coming then it is a situation where you have to look again. Not to give a red card but to look again and say: ‘What is that?’ It was ruthless.

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“I’m not sure it is an experience we will have again – go there and put an elbow to the goalkeeper, put their goalscorer down like a wrestler in midfield and then you win the game. That was the story of the game. 

“Ramos said a lot of things afterwards that I didn’t like. As a person I didn’t like the reactions of him. He was like: ‘Whatever, what do they want? It’s normal.’ No, it is not normal. If you put all of the situations of Ramos together then you will see a lot of situations with Ramos. 

“The year before against Juve he was responsible for the red card for [Juan] Cuadrado. Nobody talks about that afterwards.”

Just last week, he carried on to Sport1: “I don’t want to win by any means. Of course I would have liked to become a Champions League winner, and I would not have returned the title if shown various indiscretions.

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“I do not expect that from him, I only expect that he gives more thought to his assessment of certain situations. It may have been a coincidence, but Salah was taken out of the game during an outstanding phase of his footballing life, in the middle of the field.

“Many people will say that these things happen. But if that is the message we are sending to our children, that nothing is out of bounds and it’s all about winning, then I will be glad to leave this planet in 40 years.

“Am I a good loser? No. But during our preparations we had to talk about Ramos because he had influenced the final the previous year with a dive and a red card against Juventus.”

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​Ramos’ actions in that game helped Real win, and they now embark on a UEFA Super Cup clash with local rivals Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night as a result. And ahead of the game, Ramos has responded, via ​Marca, by digging out the German for winning only one of seven major finals he’s competed in as a manager.

He said: “I already gave my opinion and I reiterate again, it is not intentional. It’s not the first final he’s lost, [maybe] he wants to use that as an excuse for losing. 

“There have been many repercussions after what happened to Salah in the Champions League final. Let Klopp worry about his own players. In fact, he’s one of the coaches I voted for as the Best of the Year, so perhaps he can stay a little calmer.”

​Real play Atletico in Talinn on Wednesday night, hoping to win the Super Cup for the third consecutive year.

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Brazil Legend Ronaldo Confirms He’s ‘Back Home’ After 4-Day Stay in Hospital

Brazilian legend Ronaldo Nazario is back home, having been discharged from hospital after being admitted as a result of pneumonia.

The former ​Real Madrid galactico spent four days at medical facilities, firstly being taken to a hospital in Ibiza, Spain and then getting transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of a private establishment.

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Ronaldo has since taken to social media to thank fans who wished him well, as well as the medical personnel who looked after him during his unfortunate ordeal.

Hello, everyone! I’m home after a few days at the clinic,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Thank you for your love and comments and many thanks to the team of doctors and nurses for your kindness and hospitality. 

“Thank you @celinalocks for being by my side in every hour. It’s going to be a very nice season and full of magnificent football and surprises.”

The former striker, now 41, helped Brazil win two World Cups. He also won the Ballon d’Or on two occasions and played for five clubs in Europe during a remarkable career that could have been even more illustrious had it not been for serious injuries.

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Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid Preview: Recent Form, Team News, Prediction & More

Starting off their competitive campaigns in Estonia this Wednesday are ​Real Madrid and ​Atletico Madrid. Finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively last season, both will want to challenge ​Barca in ​La Liga this year.

However, league finish has nothing to do with qualifying for this match, as it pits two of Europe’s finest from last term. A third Champions League title in a row for Los Blancos has put this squad down in history. With talisman ​Cristiano Ronaldo departing to ​Juventus this summer, it’s now somebody else’s turn to pick up the mantle. 

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

As the Spanish transfer window runs longer than the English, both teams have plenty of time to get more business done. It’s been suggested that new Real boss Julen Lopetegui would like two signings, one being a forward. With Eden Hazard and ​Kylian Mbappe transfer talk circulating, will the Spanish giants replace Ronaldo or give others already at the club a chance?

It’s Los Rojiblancos who have done their business early however, with the club record signing of Thomas Lemar from Monaco for a reported £63m. The astute signings of Rodri, Gelson Martins, Nikola Kalinic and Santiago Arias have also been brought in to bulk up the squad. 

Hoping to challenge for more silverware this season, the current Europa League holders will debut their new metal against the most hated of foes. Coveting an elusive Champions League title more than all, Alteti go up against the team who’ve beaten them in two of the last five finals.

Here is all you need to know ahead of the clash:


Recent Form

These clubs have had differing pre-season campaigns. Real went on a United States tour for their ICC games, playing in Miami, Washington D.C., and New York against ​Manchester United, Juventus and Roma – the Spanish giants won two out of three. ​Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio were standouts, with the pair grabbing goals in multiple matches. 

Real Madrid v AS Roma - International Champions Cup 2018

Atleti’s form has been slightly more patchy. After beating ​Arsenal on penalties in Singapore, Los Rojiblancos were defeated 3-2 by a last minute goal against PSG. In their latest outing, they lost 1-0 at home to​ Inter Milan. Not exactly instilling confidence for this tie, Simeone may brush these results off due to squad rotation and players finding match fitness.


Team News

Starting with Real, the big question is whether influential midfielder Luka Modric is fit to play. Los Blancos’ man has been subject to a transfer inquiry from Internazionale, and rumours suggest he may be interested in a new challenge. Returning early to pre-season, the Croat is seemingly focused on the task at hand however, which should at least partly reassure Madridistas. 

As far as injuries go, only centre-back Jesus Vallejo and new signing Alvaro Odriozola are in line to miss out. Likely not changing manager Julen Lopetegui’s plans for the match, Real Madrid have little to worry about. With no limit to bench slots, Los Blancos’ new man in charge has brought a squad of 29, giving himself a great number of options to choose from. 

Club Atletico de Madrid Training Session

Atleti also come into the game with very few injury worries, causing a selection headache for manager Diego Simeone. Frenchmen Antione Griezmann and Lucas Hernandez only returned this week, so may be given more rest time. However, with an opportunity for a trophy against their greatest rivals, don’t be surprised to see the Argentinean pick his full strength side.

It’s unknown whether new additions Gelson Martins, Santiago Arias, and Rodri play, or if Simeone goes with his known troops. Angel Correa, Juanfran, and Thomas Partey are all fit, so there could be some mixing and matching. A battle between Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic to partner Diego Godin at centre-back also heightens the intrigue.


Prediction

Both these teams will likely see this match as a viable opportunity to hit the ground running this season.

Differing in pre-season form, Real fans may travel to Tallinn more confident of a result. At the moment, the squad advantage is fairly level. Therefore, whether Antoine Griezmann or Luka Modric are fit enough to return after a short World Cup turn around will go a long way to deciding the victor of this game.

Real Madrid will likely utilise a 4-3-3 formation, with Karim Benzema leading the line. Important to Los Blancos will be the physicality of Casemiro and creativity of Isco. Likely starting on the right side, the Spaniard will slot in more centrally if formation changes are needed. It should also be interesting to see if Lopetegui picks Keylor Navas, or deadline day signing Thibaut Courtois in goal.

Real Madrid v AC Milan - Pre-Season Friendly

Atleti are expected to utilise a 4-4-2 formation, with Koke and Thomas Lemar starting out wide. If Griezmann is short of match fitness – after only returning to training on Monday – it is likely new boy Nikola Kalinic will start up top, with bruiser Diego Costa alongside. However, it’s probable the Frenchman will make an appearance at some stage, with his presence the possible tie-breaker in such a tightly contested match.

Prediction: Real Madrid 1-2 Atletico Madrid (aet)

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Real Madrid Summer Signing Ruled Out of Super Cup Showdown With Thigh Strain

​Real Madrid summer signing Alvaro Odriozola will miss their Super Cup showdown with ​Atletico Madrid and continue to be assessed after the club confirmed the defender has been diagnosed with a thigh strain. 

New boss Julen Lopetegui confirmed last week that the £35m right back had suffered a knock during training, stating: “Alvaro Odriozola had a problem today, but otherwise everything is fine.”

However, as reported by the club’s ​official website, following tests, the player was diagnosed with grade one strain. 

“After the tests carried out today by the Real Madrid Sanitas Medical Services on our player Álvaro Odriozola, he has been diagnosed with a grade one injury in the abductor of the right leg,” the statement read. “His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

Although no timeframe has been placed on Odriozola’s return, with the issue only grade one it is unlikely the Spain World Cup star will be absent long-term. 

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However, it does hint that the 22-year-old could be unavailable for selection when Los Blancos take on Atletico Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup on Wednesday evening. 

The Estonia-hosted contest will see last year’s Champions League winners take on 2017/18’s Europa League victors, as well as provide the first Madrid derby of the campaign. 

Despite the obvious geographical rivalry, Thibaut Courtois’ expected inclusion – following his move from ​Chelsea to Los Blancos earlier this month – should add some extra spice into the tie, with the player spending three years at Atleti ahead of his ​Premier League spell. 

However, it will not be a baptism of fire for Odriozola, who could potentially be looking towards Getafe and beyond to make his first appearance for the club. 

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How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Surpass Pele’s Legendary Career Goal Tally in Just 4 Years at Juventus

​Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus for the next chapter in his illustrious career over the summer and by the time his four-year contract in Turin expires, the five-time Champions League winner and five-time Ballon d’Or recipient could have surpassed Pele in the career goalscoring stakes.

The original G.O.A.T., Pele is heralded as having scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 games during a 21-year career with Santos, New York Cosmos and the Brazilian national team.

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But what that famous tally includes is hundreds of goals scored in unofficial friendly or exhibition fixtures, games which are not typically counted in professional football when only goals scored in competitive outings are acknowledged.

Stripping back Pele’s goal tally to competitive games only, it falls to 767 at club level and 77 for Brazil in official international games. That makes a career total of 844, still an incredible number.

After a decade as one of the most prolific goalscorers on the planet, Ronaldo’s career goal tally currently stands at 658 after 573 games combined for Sporting CP, Manchester United and ​Real Madrid and a further 85 for the Portuguese national team.

In terms of international goals alone, Ronaldo has already surpassed Pele, with Iranian legend Ali Daei the only player in football history who has ever scored more (109) for his country.

Portugal v Spain: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Overall, Ronaldo is 186 goals behind Pele. For anyone else at the age of 33 it might be considered too much of a margin to close before retirement, not least because players generally slow down as they begin to near the end of their career.

But Ronaldo is a different beast. His incredible physical condition is such that he cannot be viewed in the same way as most other players. The fact that he will turn 34 years of age at his next birthday in February is almost irrelevant, while he has always adapted his game over time to meet changing needs.

Not for a long time has Ronaldo been the electric winger that ​Manchester United unearthed all those years ago, with his move to Italy likely to see him become even more of a ‘number nine’ now that Juventus have bid farewell to Gonzalo Higuain to make room in the team.

To go at least one better than Pele and score 845 career goals, Ronaldo needs to average 46.75 goals for club and country each season for the next four years when his first Juve contract is up.

Last season, he scored 44 goals in 44 games for Real Madrid alone, adding another 10 for Portugal. He only scored 42 goals for Real Madrid in 2016/17, his lowest club return since 2009/10, but still netted 10 times in international games during that season for 52 goals overall.

Some may argue that the more defensive nature of Italian football could restrict Ronaldo’s goal output now that he has moved to Serie A, but it is worth noting that a Juve side without him scored just eight fewer league goals last season than a Real Madrid side with him managed. His arrival could therefore see Juve reach a whole new level in 2018/19.

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

Ronaldo is driven by writing his name in history and being recognised as the greatest footballer of all time. That is what will keep driving him at international level as he seeks to win another trophy and chases Daei’s all-time global record, and that is what will also keep him going at club level as well.

If he is aware of how relatively close he is to Pele’s real career goals tally, you can bet that will be firmly in his sights.

Ronaldo appeared in Juve kit for the first time over the weekend when the first team took on the club’s Under-19 side in a final pre-season friendly. The 5-0 win yielded an unofficial goal for Ronaldo after only eight minutes, but he will soon make his competitive Juve debut next week when the reigning champions travel to Verona to face Chievo in their opening ​Serie A fixture.

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Florentino Perez Refuses to Discuss Possible Inter Move With Unsettled Midfielder Luka Modric

Florentino Perez is unwilling to entertain the possibility of Luka Modric leaving ​Real Madrid this summer and has refused to meet with the Croatian midfielder for discussions.

​Inter still want to sign Modric before the Italian transfer window closes this coming Friday, August 17. Modric is reportedly keen on joining the Nerazzurri and ​wanted to meet with Perez to request a move away.

But with three times Champions League-winning manager Zinedine Zidane and superstar talisman Cristiano Ronaldo having already left the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, Perez outright refuses to allow another high-profile departure.

Madrid have been trying to convince Modric to stay, ​reportedly offering the 33-year-old a bumper new contract equal to that of club captain Sergio Ramos. Modric’s current contract runs until 2020.

​CalcioMercato claim that Perez has a cunning plan to keep Modric in place. With the Italian transfer window so close to its end, Perez believes that he can simply wait out the storm and, by refusing to talk to Modric, force him to stay in Spain.

Modric’s entourage is still in Madrid at the moment, trying to push for a move away from the European champions.

Monday could provide some answers about where Modric’s future lies, as Real Madrid are flying to Tallinn ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup against rivals ​Atletico Madrid.

If Modric is among the travelling contingent, that will indicate that a move to Inter is not imminent. If he is not on board, the rumours will only spiral.

Modric’s value was boosted by his performances at the World Cup, where he won the Golden Ball as Croatia reached their first ever final.

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