PSG Issue Statement on Kylian Mbappe’s Future Amid Speculation Over Summer Departure

​Paris Saint-Germain have said that the ‘strong bond’ between the club and striker Kylian Mbappe will continue next season, nipping in the bud speculation that the 20-year-old could move on this summer. 

Mbappe’s 32 goals in 28 league games won him the Ligue 1 player of the year award, and he has been linked frequently with his countryman Zinedine Zidane’s squad overhaul at Real Madrid.

Speaking in an acceptance speech for the award on Sunday, he alluded to potential ‘greater responsibility elsewhere’ which led many to the assessment that he would indeed be departing from the French champions. It seems now as if his comments may have been misinterpreted, however, with the club releasing a statement on Twitter which cleared things up. 


The ​brief statement, released in French, translates to: “For two years, a strong bond has been formed between PSG and Kylian Mbappe, and this story will continue next season with a shared ambition to make European football history in the year of the 50th anniversary of this club.”

Having joined from Monaco in the summer of 2017, with a fee of around €180m including add-ons agreed, Mbappe has gone on to establish himself as one of the world’s best strikers. 


​​In addition to his goalscoring exploits in Paris – with 59 goals in 86 games in total – he also fired France to a World Cup in the summer, earning himself a reputation as an international superstar at such a young age. 

A ​Champions League win would ensure he has won virtually everything there is to win at club level, and it seems as if PSG have intentions of doing just that when the 2019/20 season gets underway. 

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Real Madrid Transfers: Deciding Which Players to Keep and Sell This Summer

​The 2018/19 season has been near enough a disaster for Real Madrid from beginning to end. 

So much has happened in the last months that it is easy to forget that it all started when Madrid’s appointment of Julen Lopetegui led to the Spaniard being sacked as the national team’s head coach on the literal eve of the 2018 World Cup.

This debacle was a sign of things to come, as Lopetegui struggled as manager of a Madrid side adapting to life after Cristiano Ronaldo. Alas, just ten games into the season, the former Spain boss was relieved of his duties following a 5-1 demolishing from bitter rivals Barcelona – a scoreline which flattered Madrid on the day.

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After a similarly brief spell for Santiago Solari, Los Blancos went full circle and re-appointed last season’s manager Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman hasn’t fared much better in the final third of the campaign, as Real finished in third spot, suffering three defeats in their final four games.

With the ​La Liga and ​Champions League titles conceded before Zidane’s arrival, the vision from the board was likely looking ahead to a summer of rebuilding. This will undoubtedly involve significant movement in the transfer market, as ​Madrid will look to rid themselves of some dead wood from an ageing squad.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at every Real Madrid first team player and whether the club should keep or sell them.


Goalkeepers

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Thibaut Courtois – KEEP – Despite only playing three games for Zidane due to a hamstring problem suffered late in the season, Courtois’ wages are likely to put other clubs off making an approach. Madrid would be better served sticking with the former Chelsea man.

Keylor Navas – KEEP – The Costa Rican has been Zidane’s preferred choice between the sticks, but appeared discontent at playing second fiddle to Courtois for the first two-thirds of the season. At best, he is a quality first-choice stopper and at worst he provides solid competition for the number one jersey. A useful asset at the club.

Luca Zidane – LOAN – His inclusion in the Madrid squad is a source on scepticism for many who believe he is there simply because of his father. However, the 21-year-old has shown some promise and could do with getting some first-team action out on loan.


Full Backs

Marcelo

Marcelo – SELL – The Brazilian has been an incredible servant to Madrid, but at 31, his club may be better served by moving him on. With Ronaldo reportedly keen to see his old mate join him in Turin, now may be the perfect time to cash in on the left-back.

Dani Carvajal – KEEP – Injuries aside, Carvajal had a fairly consistent season for Los Blancos and continues to be one of the brightest right-backs in Europe. No need for much improvement here.

Alvaro Odriozola – KEEP – The Spaniard has been in and out of the squad this year, but performed well when called upon. Having grabbed four assists in his 14 appearances, the 23-year-old is a capable backup and eventual successor for Carvajal.

Sergio Reguilon – KEEP – Similarly to the man above, Reguilon has shown himself to be solid when called upon. Should Madrid seek to replace Marcelo, the Spanish full-back would be a good rotation player, who – if he pushes himself – could make the left-back berth his own.


Central Defenders

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos – KEEP – Mr. Real Madrid. Ramos is the man everybody loves to hate, but his importance the Madrid team cannot be underestimated. Despite a poor season by his measures, Zidane would be wise to keep the 33-year-old.

Raphael Varane – KEEP – It is no coincidence that the Frenchman has a World Cup winner’s medal to his name. Still only 26, Varane has a lot to offer his club and could be at the Bernabeu for years to come.

Nacho – KEEP – Despite starting the season as a full-back, Nacho has adapted to his central position reasonably well when called upon. He won’t trouble the starting pair when both fit but acts as an able deputy.

Jesus Vallejo – SELL – Following his move from Real Zaragoza, the Spaniard has not developed as Madrid would have wished. However, a successful spell on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt a couple of seasons ago suggests he does have something to offer and could be sold for a decent fee.


Central Midfielders

Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos – KEEP – The German midfielder has just signed a new four-year deal at the Bernabeu, so Madrid’s intentions are pretty clear.

Luka Modric – KEEP – At the age of 33, it might be easy to think Madrid need some fresh legs in the middle of the park, but Modric continues to be one of the club’s most consistent performers. The little Croatian will be valuable for a few more years yet.

Casemiro – KEEP – As the youngest and arguably most underrated of Zidane’s preferred midfield trio, Casemiro is likely to stay put at the Bernabeu.

Casemiro

Federico Valverde – KEEP – The Uruguayan has impressed during his spells in the team this season. Aged just 20, Valverde could be the long-term replacement for Casemiro.

Marcos Llorente – SELL – With injury keeping him out for a large chunk of the season, Llorente has not progressed as hoped this season and would be better off looking for first-team football away from the Bernabeu.


Attacking Midfielders & Wingers

Marco Asensio

Marco Asensio – SELL – Tipped as the man to fill Ronaldo’s shoes this season, Asensio’s return of one goal and six assists has been underwhelming to say the least. Despite this, the Spaniard has a big reputation and could be sold for a fair whack to free up funds to bring other players in.

Isco – KEEP – His form during Zidane’s previous spell at the club gives fans hope that Isco will return to his best. Performances from the Spaniard this year have been well below par, and the Bernabeu faithful will be hoping he can find form next season.

Brahim Diaz – KEEP – The 19-year-old signed from ​Manchester City in January and is clearly seen as a prospect for the future. After failing to feature in a single City squad during the first half of the season, Diaz has started five times since making the move to the Spanish capital and will no doubt want to continue his progression next season.

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Dani Ceballos – KEEP – The 22-year-old featured consistently during the spells of Lopetgeui and Solari, but has lost his place under Zidane. However, some of the performances he put in over the first half of the season show he is worth keeping around if only to provide firm competition to more senior players.


Forwards

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale – SELL – Los Blancos don’t need any convincing here. Zidane is clearly desperate to offload the Welshman, but the former Spurs man seems perfectly content to warm the bench. Given the talent that Bale clearly has, it is safe to say most football fans want this man to leave Madrid and start lighting the world up with his skill whilst he is still young enough to do so.

Karim Benzema – KEEP – Never mind what the gossip columns tell you three times a day every transfer window – Benzema needs to stay at Madrid. The loss of Ronaldo last summer showed that quality players are not easy to replace. With 21 goals in 36 league games, Los Merengues simply cannot afford to let the French​man go.

Mariano Diaz – KEEP – His time in the Spanish capital has been blighted by injury since his move from Lyon last summer. However, 18 goals for the French club in the previous season suggest the Dominican Republic striker does have something to give, provided he can stay fit.

Lucas Vazquez – SELL – Used primarily as a substitute during Zidane’s tenure, the Spaniard doesn’t seem to be valued at the club. At the age of 27, Madrid may be better served moving the winger on whilst he can still demand a half-decent transfer fee.

Vinicius Junior

Vinicius Junior – KEEP – The Brazilian emerged as one of the brightest talents in world football this season and is one to watch for the future. Sadly the winger suffered a nasty injury which saw him miss the majority of the final third of the season. Even at the age of 18, Vinicius could go into next season as the first choice for Zidane.

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Transfer Rumours: Firpo to Madrid, Willems to Newcastle, Spurs in for Portuguese Starlet and More

​To paraphrase Smash Mouth, the rumours have started coming, and they won’t stop coming.

Of course, they were talking about time passing you by, and not about being bogged down by wave after wave of transfer speculation, invented specifically to give us all something to talk about in the purgatory between seasons, but we can only take things as they apply to us. 

Here are six of Monday’s transfer rumours, ranging from the red-hot to the lukewarm at best. 


Junior Firpo Comments on Real Madrid Speculation

Rodrigo Moreno,Junior Firpo

Back in March, shortly after they had reappointed Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid had been linked with as many as ​20 summer signings with a total transfer value well in excess of £1bn, so god only knows what that figure stands at now. 

The latest player linked with a move to Los Blancos, anyway, is Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo, who has enjoyed a stellar season in La Liga, and had this to say about a potential switch to Madrid, via ​Mundo Deportivo.

“My father is excited when he is related to ​Real Madrid, because he knows there is a lot of work behind and it is not easy to reach the level we are at.”

So…not a lot to go on there really, but regardless it seems far from an unlikely move for the 22-year-old. 


Darren Fletcher Advises Manchester United on Teenage Centre-Back

If there are two things ​Manchester United are really good at being linked with, it’s young players who are in all likelihood miles off first team quality and centre-backs. The ​Sun have combined the two, here and tell us that United will make an offer for Stoke City’s Nathan Collins.

The 18-year-old has made a handful of first team appearances for Stoke since their relegation from the Premier League, and United’s interest reportedly comes as a result of a summer transfer policy centred around taking the advice of their former players. The report adds that interest in Daniel James comes from Ryan Giggs, while Rio Ferdinand recommended Ben Godfrey of Norwich, and now Darren Fletcher – still on the books at Stoke – has scouted Collins. 

It would be horribly cynical to suggest that this could be lazy journalism and that the links have only arisen because Fletcher, a former Manchester United player, is indeed currently at Stoke. 


Tottenham ‘Step Up’ Interest in Highly Rated Benfica Winger

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It seems almost dead-certain that ​Tottenham will call an end to their self-imposed transfer embargo before the summer is out, especially with that unexpected Champions League final windfall set to swell up the coffers. But it remains to be seen where – and who – they will recruit. 

Portuguese newspaper Record report, as per ​Sky, say that a move for Benfica winger Jota – not the Wolves one – could be on the table, with Mauricio Pochettino ‘stepping up’ his interest in the 20-year-old.

They seem to be ahead of the game with this one. All the spotlight is on Joao Felix at present, and Jota’s eight goals and eight assists in 20 Primeira Liga appearances have gone somewhat under the radar as a result. He is reported to have a release clause of around £26m in his contract, so if Spurs move quickly, he looks like a very good addition.


Arsenal Make ‘First Contact’ Over Petr Cech Replacement 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,Norberto Murara Neto,Jose Luis Gaya

Petr Cech will retire from football this summer, leaving Arsenal with a space to fill between the sticks for European games and on the bench the rest of the time. 

With a questionable translated headline that reads ‘Arsenal gropes Neto’, Spanish outlet ​Plaza Deportiva report that the Gunners see Valencia keeper Neto as the solution to that, and have made initial contact over securing the 29-year-old’s services for next season. 

He featured in both legs of the Europa League semi-final, which Arsenal won quite comfortably, and although he is believed to have been ‘unconvinced’ by their initial advances, it is believed a deal could be done with a bit of persistence – especially if Arsenal qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League next week. 

The report also notes interest in Keylor Navas of Real Madrid, but it seems unlikely he’d be happy to work as an understudy to Bernd Leno.


Newcastle and Fulham ‘Interested’ in Eintracht Frankfurt Left-Back

Jetro Willems

​Newcastle could be in line for a cut-price move for Eintracht Frankfurt left-back Jetro Willems, as a report from Germany claims both the Magpies and Fulham are ‘interested’ in a move for the Dutch defender. 

Once one of the most highly-rated young defenders on the planet while at PSV, the 25-year-old has had a rough couple of years since moving to Germany in 2017, and having been used in a number of positions and failing to nail down a starting spot this season, he looks set to move on in the summer.

​Bild say that both Newcastle and Fulham could come in with a bid around the €4.5m Frankfurt paid for him two years ago, with the Magpies’ Premier League status giving them the edge. 


Christian Fuchs Opens Door to Extended Leicester City Stay

Christian Fuchs

After signing a one-year contract extension, Leicester’s back-up left-back and former title winner will hang around for another season – but has left the door open to staying beyond the expiry of his new deal.

Fuchs has been expected to leave in each of the last two close seasons to join his family in New York, but each time has opted to stay put, and if his words are anything to go by, he could do so again in 12 months.

“I want to keep playing, I definitely want to keep playing,” he said, via ​Leicester Mercury. “It might be my last year over there, but you can never say never, especially in this sport, but as of right now, it’s going to be my last season in England and then I want to come to New York and be with my family.”

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Zinedine Zidane Reveals Why Gareth Bale Was Left on the Bench in Real Madrid’s Final La Liga Game

Zinedine Zidane has revealed that Gareth Bale’s day-to-day attitude resulted in the winger being left on the bench for Real Madrid’s final La Liga game of the season.

Real Madrid finished their 2018/19 campaign in disappointing fashion, slipping to a 2-0 defeat against Real Betis. Bale – whose future in the Spanish capital is looking decidedly bleak – was not called on by Zidane and he left down the tunnel as soon as the final whistle was blown.

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Speaking after the game, Zidane insisted that ​Bale’s attitude in training meant that he didn’t deserve the chance to feature.

“​It is true, I did not [give Bale a chance to say goodbye],” the ​Real Madrid boss said, per ​ESPN.

“But I have to look at the day-to-day, and make decisions. And when there is something I do not like, or does not fit for me, I must do what I think best. It might be difficult for the player.

“We cannot forget all he has done here, but I must live in the present, think of the future. We will see [if Bale continues]. I don’t know what will happen, truthfully.”

There has also been some confusion surrounding a specific quote from Zidane in the same press conference, where it has been reported that he claimed he still wouldn’t have brought Bale on if he had a fourth substitute to play with. 

Spanish football journalist ​Ben Hayward has insisted that the quote has been misinterpreted and that Zidane instead said: “If I had brought on another player, the same thing would have happened.” – referring to the notion that questions would be asked regardless of who was left on the bench.

Bale’s contract at Real Madrid lasts until 2022 and, although it seems unlikely he will ever get a chance to feature while Zidane remains in charge, it is still unclear whether he will be leaving the club this summer.

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Real Madrid 0-2 Real Betis: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Los Blancos Sign-Off With 12th League Loss

Real Madrid ended their poor season with a disappointing 2-0 loss against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Los Blancos rarely troubled the Betis back-line and when they did they lacked the quality to find the back of the net.

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Real Betis had been threatening before striker Loren found the net with a close range strike in the 62nd minute following good work from Andres Guardado. Former Los Blancos player Jese scored for Los Verdiblancos in the 76th minute, much to the ire of the Real Madrid fans, to condemn Real to a 12th league defeat of the season


Real Madrid

Key Talking Point

Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal was lucky to remain on the pitch in the second half having brought down Betis wing-back Junior Firpo as the Spanish youngster bore down on the Madrid goal.

Firpo was about 40 yards from the Madrid net, with nothing but open grass in front of him as Carvajal took his legs out from under him to stop the dangerous attack from developing any further.

The Betis players argued that the veteran full-back should have seen a red card rather than the yellow he received, and they would be justified in saying so. 

As a side-note: in the last game before Gareth Bale is expected to leave the club, Zidane didn’t bring him off the bench to say farewell to a stadium that he has played a major role in bringing three Champions League trophies and a Copa del Rey to. Harsh. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Navas (8*); Carvajal (5), Varane (5), Nacho (5), Marcelo (6); Modric (5), Llorente (4), Valverde (5); Diaz (5), Benzema (5), Vinicius (5).

Substitutions: Asensio (5), Isco (5), Vasquez (4).


Star Man

Zidane has made it clear in previous interviews his admiration of Costa Rican Keylor Navas, but this may be the last time he features in the club’s famous white shirt. Madrid spent £31.5m to bring Belgian international ​Thibaut Courtois to the Santiago Bernabeu last summer, and he remains the club’s preferred option. 

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In this match, Navas showed that he can still cut it at the very top, bailing his defence out a number of times. Zidane’s crew would have lost by much more if it wasn’t for the Costa Rican.

He had to be constantly aware as Betis weren’t afraid to shoot from distance, whilst also being aware and quick off his line when Quique Setien’s men found their way into his box. One save that stood out was the fingertip dive that denied Giovani Lo Celso in the 68th minute, a shot that would have seen Madrid go two goals down if it wasn’t saved. 

Wherever the 32-year-old is playing next season, he will certainly improve the team he is playing for. He has been a great servant to ​Real Madrid, and potentially for the last time in the famous shirt, showed his worth once more with a fantastic performance. 


Real Betis

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Lopez (6); Mandi (6), Bartra (7), Feddal (7); Guerrero (6), Kaptoum (7), Carvalho (9*), Guardado (8), Firpo (7); Lo Celso (7), Moron (8).

Substitutions: Jese (7), Tello (6), Sidnei (5).


Looking Ahead

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Zidane and Real have a busy summer ahead as the Frenchman looks to challenge for the title with Spanish giants and to once again reach the latter stages of the Champions League. 

Los Blancos’ last league title was in the 2016/17 season, whilst Zidane has won the Champions League in all of his previous Real Madrid campaigns. No pressure, Zizou.

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Eintracht Frankfurt Director Provides Update on Luka Jovic’s Proposed Move to Real Madrid

​Eintracht Frankfurt’s director of sport Fredi Bobic has dismissed claims that Luka Jovic’s proposed deal to Real Madrid is finalised after the Bundesliga season drew to a close on Sunday.

Bobic also confirmed that talks were ongoing between the German side and the Serbian forward about potentially retaining his services after triggering the option to buy in their loan deal with Benfica.


Speaking to the press after Frankfurt lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich, FOX Soccer reporter ​Archie Rhind-Tutt questioned Bobic on Jovic, who reports claimed had ​already completed his long-awaited move to ​Madrid. However, such claims appear to have jumped the gun, after Bobic stated that talks were taking place about the club keeping hold of their prized asset.

“It’s not agreed right now. There are some talks behind the scenes,” Bobic said of the possibility of the 21-year-old extending his stay with the ​Bundesliga outfit.

With 27 goals across all competitions for Die Adler this season, Europe has been on hot alert in their efforts to sign the striker, with Zinedine Zidane’s men seemingly having won that race after Saturday’s announcement. It appears, however, such news is premature after Bobic insisted no talks had taken place – although the ​La Liga side were keeping an eye on the player.

“No (talks) but we know the interest is here,” he added.

Having joined Frankfurt on a two-year loan deal in June 2017 with an option to buy, Adi Hutter’s side triggered a clause in that contract to sign the player for a fee understood to be in the region of just €7m back in April – extending his stay until June 2023. However, it now appears this story is set for a few further twists before reaching a much anticipated conclusion.

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Transfer Rumours: Tottenham Ready to Spend Big, Twists in Ndombele & Dani Alves Futures & More

​As the domestic European season draws to a close and a long summer looms large, what better way to occupy the downtime than with an action-packed period of transfer drama?

From the far and wide to the downright unlikely, the rumour mill is already kicking into overdrive with gossip which is sure to capture our imaginations and raise more than a few eyebrows with scepticism.

However realistic, there is nothing better to whet the summer appetite than a juicy roundup of the latest transfer talk. So, here is the latest set of rumours to feast upon.


Tottenham (Finally) Ready to Spend Big on £40m Midfield Target

Nicolo' Zaniolo

It seems almost an age since Mauricio Pochettino managed to twist Daniel Levy’s arm into splashing the cash to land Lucas Moura from PSG for £25m in January 2017.

Without a notable senior singing for Spurs since then, the Brazilian proved his worth with an incredible hat-trick against Ajax to seal ​​Tottenham’s passage into this season’s Champions League final, and suggested what the club might be capable of with further investment.

Having suffered a succession of injury problems in midfield this season, the middle of the park seems to be a priority area for Pochettino to strengthen. According to the ​Mirror, Roma starlet Nicolo Zaniolo is a potential solution, and Tottenham are hoping a £40m raid can beat ​Real Madrid, ​Bayern Munich and ​Juventus to his signature.

Judging by the pedigree of their competition, Spurs shouldn’t hold their breath on this one yet.


PSG Threaten to Blow European Rivals Away in Race to Sign Highly-Rated Lyon Star

Tanguy Ndombele,Memphis Depay

Zaniolo is not the only hot young midfielder attracting widespread attention from Europe’s elite sides.

According to ​L’Equipe, PSG have emerged as serious contenders in the race to sign Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, and could use their financial might to steal a march on the likes of ​Manchester United, ​Manchester City and ​Juventus who are also interested.

The race to sign the highly-rated Frenchman​ has heated up in recent times amid a string of impressive performances in Ligue 1, but Ndombele could yet be set to remain in the French top flight, despite intense interest from abroad. Ole is certainly not at the wheel of this one.


Real Madrid Name Their Price for Midfield Outcast to Seal Cross-City Move to Atletico

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The remarkable success of English clubs in European competition this season has come at the expense of the previously all-conquering giants of Spain.

​Real Madrid and ​Atletico Madrid won the Champions League and the Europa League respectively last term but, less than 12 months on, the Spanish capital duo are locked in a tug-of-war over Los Blancos’ forgotten man, Marcos Llorente.

According to ​AS, Atletico have already held talks with the player’s representatives, though Real do not want their man to make the move across town. Diego Simeone’s side want Llorente as a potential replacement for Manchester City target Rodri Hernandez, though, and have quoted a fee of €50m to sign the 24-year-old. This one could be a goer.


Inter Offer Former West Ham Loanee to Everton as Part of Ambitious Attacker Swoop

Richarlison

What better bargaining chip for ​Inter to use in their efforts to sign ​Everton’s prized asset than a player in limbo between making his mark in the Premier League and settling into an under-performing Ne​razzurri side, right?

Well, according to Tuttosport via ​Football-Italia, that is exactly the plan that Inter have up their sleeve, as they are preparing to offer former ​West Ham loanee Joao Mario as part of a bid to prise Brazilian star Richarlison from Goodison Park this summer.

Joao Mario showed glimpses of his considerable abilities during a short spell in east London last season, but failed to convince any Premier League side that he was worth a real shot. Still with unfulfilled potential in his locker, compatriot Marco Silva could squeeze the best out of him on Merseyside, though he his unlikely to part with his main man as part of any deal.


Dani Alves in the Spotlight (Again) as Delay Over PSG Contract Renewal Opens Door to Premier League Move

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Speaking of Brazilian talent and seasoned stars who could yet thrive in the Premier League, Dani Alves could be set to finally arrive in English football at the age of 36. After all, full backs don’t need to defend anymore, right?

According to ​UOL Esporte, former ​Barcelona hero Dani Alves has ‘irritated’ current employers PSG by delaying his decision over committing to fresh terms in the French capital, with an offer of a year’s extension, and the right back is apparently weighing up a potential switch to England. 

Manchester City have been linked with Alves in previous summers, but the Brazilian opted to move to the Parc des Princes in 2017 and has gone on to further his formidable reputation for performing at the highest level across the continent. With Alves apparently seeking at least a two-year deal, the Premier League could yet be his final (and most lucrative) destination.


Wolves Look to Beat Newcastle in £16m Race to Sign West Brom Star

Salomon Rondon

From those still looking to make their mark in the Premier League, to a player who has more than made his mark already in the English top flight.

Salomon Rondon has been a shining light in Rafa Benitez’s mission to steer ​Newcastle to safety and on course for bigger things next term, but a great deal of uncertainty still lingers as Benitez’s unresolved future looms as a potentially dark cloud over St. James’ Park.

There are no such concerns at ​Wolves, where Nuno Espirito Santo has inspired an incredible season at Molineux, and the seventh-placed Premier League side could be set to take advantage of the situation on Tyneside.

According to the ​Express & Star, Wolves are preparing to meet Rondon’s £16m release clause at parent club ​West Bromwich Albion to beat Newcastle to the signing of their own player of the season. The Magpies may be no match for the hungry Wolves in this one.​


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Thibaut Courtois Reveals How Santiago Bernabeu Atmosphere Provides Motivation for Players

​Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is targeting a better second season at the club, while admitting that the pressure of playing at the Santiago Bernabeu gives him “more desire to play well.” 

The 28-year-old swapped Chelsea for the Spanish capital in 2018 in a deal worth £35m, although it’s been a disastrous season for the club with them failing to win any of La Liga, the Champions League or Copa del Rey.

FBL-EUR-C1-REAL MADRID-AJAX

​Courtois himself has come in for criticism following his move, with him keeping just ten clean sheets in 35 games, but hopes to sign off the season with a win over Real Betis on Sunday.

Speaking to Codere, as quoted by ​Goal, he said: “It would be good to give one last joy to the fans, go on vacation with a victory and finish the year well to prepare the next season. 

“We are training with a lot of enthusiasm because we know it was not the best season, but we are improving, we are training very hard to prepare for the next season and we are looking forward to finishing well.”


It’s been a turbulent campaign for ​Real Madrid what with them appointing three managers over the course of the campaign, as well as their quest for a fourth-consecutive ​Champions League triumph coming to an abrupt halt against Ajax in the last 16. 

With Zinedine Zidane now returning as manager, Courtois is positive there will be improvements next season, describing it as a “dream” to play at a club with the stature of Real Madrid.

“It’s very nice, it’s a dream to be able to play in a big stadium, when I’m in the goal and I see the Bernabeu from there it’s very beautiful,” he added. 

Thibaut Courtois

“It gives more adrenaline, more desire to play well, it’s pressure too but I like to play like that.

“To the fans I ask you to continue supporting us, we know that this year was not the best but the following year we will go for all of them [trophies] again.”

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Real Madrid Set for €300m Spending Spree With Major Sales Planned to Meet FFP Rules

​Real Madrid will look to spend roughly €300m this summer as manager Zinedine Zidane plans to overhaul the squad at the Santiago Bernabéu, but more than €200m worth of first-team players will also have to be sold to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play.

The La Liga giants are already committed to signing FC Porto centre-back Éder Militão and Santos teenager Rodrygo to the tune of €95m, but Real Madrid are also believed to be closing in deals for Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy and Luka Jović.

As part of the club’s spending spree, however, Marca insists that Real Madrid will do their best to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations by selling up to €200m worth of players at the end of the season.

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The same outlet previously listed 17 first-team players who could be thrown to the wolves this summer as Real Madrid look to recoup funds, including household names like Gareth BaleIscoJames Rodríguez and Keylor Navas.

But they will also be looking to offload youth players who haven’t quite made the grade in the Spanish capital, meaning Sergio Reguilón, Jesús Vallejo and even famed wonderkid Martin Ødegaard could be available this summer.

To meet Financial Fair Play, Marca claims that Real Madrid cannot exceed a €100m difference between the money they’ve drawn in and what they’ve spent.

If they do then the club would put their future in the Champions League at risk, similar to what Premier League champions Manchester City are currently being threatened with.

But Financial Fair Play revues are usually conducted over a three-year period and UEFA does not isolate one window to determine if there has been a breach.


So far, Real Madrid do not have any confirmed departures to offset the €95m which has been spent on Militão and Rodrygo, but some players in the squad have already been told to look for new clubs this summer.

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Real Madrid vs Real Betis Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

The Reals will square off on Sunday when Madrid welcome Betis to the Bernabeu in both teams’ final fixture of the season.

Despite the outcome of Sunday’s result not affecting Madrid’s final league position, Los Blancos stars still have plenty to play for. 

With talk of manager Zinedine Zidane ushering in a new wave of Galacticos, Madrid’s current crop will be keen to show that any new additions will not be at their expense. 

Zinedine Zidane

Betis on the other hand will be hoping to secure a tenth place finish and send their fans home with a memorable victory to carry them through the fallow, football-free months to follow. 

Check out our preview of the game below.


Where to Watch

When is Kick Off? Sunday 19 May​
What Time is Kick Off? ​11:00 (BST)
Where is it Played? ​Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Eleven Sports
Referee? ​Alberto Undiano


Team News

Following his sending off in last week’s loss to Sociedad, Jesus Vallejo will not be involved in Sunday’s clash, and may already be sunning himself on an exotic beach somewhere. Perched on the hammock beside him may well be Casemiro, who’s suspended for picking up one yellow card too many in the same fixture.

Sergio Ramos won’t feature, but all eyes will be on whether or not Zidane chooses to start Gareth Bale in what many expect to be the Welshman’s final match as a Real Madrid player. Although no transfer has been agreed, it is growing increasingly less likely that Bale will be at the Bernabeu next season.

Betis will be without last week’s hero Joaquin. The winger mixed two goals that secured his team all three points with a yellow card and a suspension that ended his season a week early.

Gareth Bale


Predicted Lineups

Real Madrid Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Llorente, Kroos, Modric; Diaz, Benzema, Asensio.​
Real Betis ​Robles; Francis, Feddal, Bartra, Firpo; Guardado, Kaptoum; Jese, Lo Celso, Tello; Moron.

Head to Head Record

The history between these two sides reads exactly as one might expect, with Madrid winning 60 times to Betis’ 24. The other 21 occasions have ended all square.

In the last clash at Estadio Benito Villamarín, Los Blancos once again took the spoils thanks to goals from Luka Modric and Dani Ceballos. 

Joaquin Sanchez,Jordi Alba

However, this Betis squad knows what it takes to pull off big upsets away from home, having left Camp Nou with all three points after a thrilling 4-3 victory back in November.


Recent Form

Madrid have been in less than scintillating form in the last few weeks, having picked up just seven points of a possible 15 – allowing intercity rivals Atletico to comfortably take second place in the process. 

The Madrid faithful had hoped the return of Zidane following their embarrassing elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Ajax would lead to an immediate upswing in results. However, Los Blancos’ form is still patchy, particularly on the road where they have failed to win in their last five attempts. 

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Betis’ recent set of results doesn’t make for better reading. A couple of months ago, Los Verdiblancos may have been eyeing up a potential charge for Champions League qualification. Their last few results have put pay to these slight hopes though, with Betis picking up one solitary victory in their last six outings.  

This is how both sides have fared in their last five fixtures in all competitions.

Real Madrid ​Real Betis
​Real Sociedad 3-1 Real Madrid (12/5) ​Real Betis 2-1 SD Huesca (12/5)
​Real Madrid 3-2 Villarreal (5/5) ​Eibar 1-0 Real Betis (5/5)
​Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Real Madrid (28/4) ​Real Betis 1-1 Espanyol (29/4)
​Getafe 0-0 Real Madrid (25/4) ​Levante 4-0 Real Betis (24/4)
​Real Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao (21/4) ​Real Betis 1-2 Valencia (21/4)

Prediction

Both clubs enter the fixture with a discernible air of wanting to get the season over and done with. 

Madrid’s pitiful title challenge was all but over by February, and their incredible run in the Champions League over the last few years was brought to a shuddering halt by an Ajax side who showcased the kind of energy and gall that Los Blancos have sorely lacked this campaign.

Gareth Bale

With the signing of Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic believed to be ​completed, and Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba heavily linked with moves to Madrid this summer, Sunday’s fixture could be a last hurrah for several Bernabeu stalwarts who will be desperate to go out on a high. 

Betis will be looking to channel the spirit they showed to beat Barcelona earlier in the season, but their recent form makes it difficult to bet against an out of sorts Real Madrid.

Expect a comfortable Madrid victory with Bale to sign off in style, if he features.

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Real Betis

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