[unable to retrieve full-text content]
Real Madrid have set out of favour Tottenham centre half Toby Alderweireld as their main transfer target this summer, and manager Mauricio Pochettino has done little to suggest he sees the Belgian as part of his plans despite the ongoing speculation.
Rumours have been circulating claiming that the Belgian could be available for around £55m at the end of the season, given that he’s been forced to play second fiddle to Davinson Sanchez since the turn of the year. The 29-year-old has struggled with injury problems for a large part of the season, and he’s only managed ten Premier League starts.
Pochettino has admitted those issues are a big part of the reason why he’s unable to get in the Spurs team at the moment, but it seems to have alerted Real – as according to Spanish outlet Fichajes, Madrid have put Alderweireld to the top of their list. There’s also the underlying issue of new contract discussions potentially impacting his place in the team.
Pochettino has even admitted that he won’t simply hand Alderweireld any game time because the player is looking to make Roberto Martinez’s Belgium squad ahead of this summer’s World Cup, and that he has to earn his place in the Spurs team.
“I have an amazing relationship with Roberto,” said the Spurs boss, via talkSPORT. “I understand his comment, like all the managers. If I am the Belgium manager, England manager or Argentina manager, I want all my players to play.
“But my focus is to manage Tottenham and win games with Tottenham. I cannot be kind with every single manager.
“I need to care for my club and I can only pick 11 players and we have plenty of international players. I can only pick 11 and if I pick one, another needs to stay on the bench or out of the squad.
“Toby in the last four months has struggled with his injury. I am not going to change the system because Toby needs games for the World Cup. I need to pick two centre-backs and if you are happy you keep the couple of players and he needs to wait.
“The interest for me is Tottenham, it’s about Tottenham to win. I understand the (Belgium) manager but what can I do?”
Bayern Munich boss Jupp Heynckes has poured cold water on the rumours linking Poland forward Robert Lewandowski to Real Madrid, claiming the Spanish side have “no chance” of signing the star striker this summer.
Lewandowski’s changing of agents this season sparked talk of a move to the Bernabeu, with Madrid reportedly desperate to sign a world-class centre-forward at the end of the season.
The Champions League holders are said to have identified Lewandowski and Tottenham’s Harry Kane as chief targets, later settling on the Poland international as he would cost way less than Kane’s £174m valuation.
Bayern, though, are adamant the striker will remain at the Allianz Arena past the end of the current season.
Real and Colombia attacker James Rodriguez is now on loan at Bayern, having agreed a two-year loan deal with the German side last summer. It is believed that Los Blancos are considering using the player as a makeweight in a bid to land Lewandowski, but Heynckes has suggested that no decision has been made on the player’s future on Bayern’s end.
“Of course, I knew him before he came to Bayern,” he said. “When I took over the team in the autumn, he wasn’t physically fit. He is stronger physically now, he’s a completely different player.
“He has integrated into the group and he feels very good. He’ll definitely play at Bayern in the coming season but Bayern must decide what happens beyond that.”
(You may also be interested in: Julian Weigl Admits Bayern Munich Are a ‘Class Above’ Dortmund After Humiliating 6-0 Loss
Heynckes, though, refused to get drawn in on the futures of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, with both players’ contracts expiring at the end of the season, adding: “I have my opinion on Ribery and Robben. But I will hold back here with my recommendations,” he said after being questioned.
“The club will know what they are and will decide in due course.”
In this eagerly anticipated repeat of the 2016/17 Champions League final, Juventus will take on Real Madrid at the Juventus Stadium on Wednesday night in the first leg of their quarter final clash.
Despite Juve’s apparent status as ‘over the hill’, it perhaps unsurprising to see the Old Lady once again continue to defy their age. Indeed, while Madrid are ostensibly the favourites, such an experience and hardened side would not have been Zinedine Zidane’s chosen opponents, far from it in fact.
Both had the required confidence boosting domestic victories over the weekend, with three goal hauls all round ensuring they’ll both go into the game in Turin in an appropriately potent mood.
As alluded to, the pair have a remarkably even record against each other, with the Spanish side just edging the Italians by nine wins to eight, and two draws in their 19 competitive clashes.
While I would love to be able to cite last season’s final as our classic encounter, unfortunately it was far from it, as Juventus succumbed to Real’s attacking prowess with little resistance in the second half at the Principality Stadium.
No, for a truly classic game we head back to the 2002/03 semi final second leg. After infamously beating Manchester United 6-5 on aggregate in the quarter finals, with that astonishing hat-trick from Ronaldo, Los Blancos were in fervent form.
They took this confidence into the first leg at the Bernabeu, triumphing 2-1. However, 12 minutes in, their advantage was cancelled out by David Trezeguet, after some tenacious work by Del Piero to reach an overweighted ball with his head, knocking it back for the frenchman to dispatch into the net.
The Italian maestro then doubled the Old Lady’s advantage, with another dextrous piece of work. This time he killed a high looping ball with a sumptuous first touch, then feigned inside and out before slotting it into the near corner.
It was then the turn of the first of the two recurring cast members this time out, to have their say on proceedings. First up, was Gianluigi Buffon, who’s penalty save from Luis Figo in the 67th minute was perhaps the most critical moment of the entire encounter.
The save reinforced his side’s belief, and just six minutes later Pavel Nedved settled the tie, with an expertly taken half volley from a clipped ball from Zambrotta. There was still time though for the second survivor, Zinedine Zidane, to make his elegant mark on the ocassion, as he capped off a wondrous performance with a typically classy consolation finish.
Of course it wasn’t enough to prevent Juventus from meeting AC Milan at Old Trafford, for the first (and last) all Italian European final.
Record over the last 10 games across competitions:
As is customary at this point of this season, the Bianconeri have gone undefeated in their last 10 games, although the draws against Tottenham at home, and a stalemate away at SPAL have shown their fallibility.
Real Madrid: WWWWLWWWWW
Real have a similarly imperious record, with both wins against Paris Saint-Germain in the Last 16 showing they’re still the most dangerous side in Europe. However, the ignominious loss against Espanyol that blots this record, as well as various defensive lapses throughout, are cause for concern.
Madrid’s clean bill of health was dealt a blow on Saturday, when Nacho Fernandez came off in the early stages of their clash with Las Palmas. The defender is now a doubt for Tuesday night, but Isco and Sergio Ramos have both returned to training, and should be available.
Juventus, meanwhile, are far more laden with absentees. Alex Sandro is expected to miss out after sustaining a hamstring injury over the international break, and Federico Bernardeschi remains out indefinitely.
Additionally, both Miralem Pjanic and Mehdi Benatia are ruled out through suspension, while Mario Mandzukic faces a race to be fit after his thigh injury. In more positive news, Juan Cuadrado made his return to action against Milan, and should be in line for selection.
Potential Juventus Starting Lineup: Buffon; Asamoah, Chiellini, Barzagli, Lichtsteiner; Khedira, Matuidi; Costa, Dybala, Cuadrado; Higuain.
Potential Real Madrid Starting Lineup: Navas; Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco, Ronaldo, Bale.
As is so often the case, so much of this tie depends on Cristiano Ronaldo. The forward has scored in every single Champions League game so far this season, with an incredible 12 from eight games.
However, if Juventus can keep him quiet, and strike on the break – following the blueprint of two seasons ago – they could have a chance. Indeed, despite their run of good form, Madrid’s evident uncertainty at the back will provide promise for Massimo Allegri’s side.
Prediction: Juventus 2-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid appear to have their tail between their legs, as they contemplate trying to re-sign former striker Alvaro Morata from Chelsea.
Los Blancos sold the Spaniard to the Blues last summer for an initial £58m, despite his excellent minutes per goal record last season.
Fans were not happy with his departure at the time, and the Spanish giants appeared to miss Morata quite a bit earlier on in the current season, with Karim Benzema struggling for consistency in front of goal – a time when Morata enjoyed his best period of form for his new club.
Things haven’t gone quite so well for the 25-year-old in the second half of the season – he hasn’t scored a goal in the Premier League since Boxing Day.
As reported by the Mirror, Madrid are ready to swallow their pride and admit they were wrong to sell Morata by making an offer for the striker – if they fail to land Bayern Munich hitman Robert Lewandowski.
The Poland international is supposedly the top target but Bayern would surely not let him go without a fight.
If Morata moved back to the Bernabeu this summer it would be his third time signing for Real in his career so far. He scored 11 goals during his first stint, and then hit 20 in all competitions last season after returning from Juventus, before arriving in the Premier League with Chelsea.
” style=”” contenteditable=”false”>
Arsenal are reportedly seeking a replacement for goalkeeper Petr Cech and have made Real Madrid man Keylor Navas their number one choice.
The Costa Rican has been the regular starter for Los Blancos over the last three seasons but is no longer considered good enough, and may be replaced as part of the expected overhaul at the Santiago Bernabeu this summer.
Manchester United’s David de Gea and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois have both been linked with moves to Real, and Liverpool target Alisson has also been touted as a potential target for Zinedine Zidane’s side.
Don Balon claims that Navas would be interested in a move to the Emirates, though he would seek guarantees of regular first-team football at the club.
Current number one Petr Cech has kept more Premier League clean sheets than any other goalkeeper, but has made a number of costly errors this season and may be phased out of the Arsenal team from next season onwards.
If Navas moved to the Emirates it would also probably spell the end for David Ospina. The Colombian has made the bulk of his Arsenal appearances in cup competitions, and has hinted that he may be on his way out this summer.
(You may also be interested in German Report Claims Arsenal Face April Race to Snap Up Bernd Leno on Cut-Price Deal)
Navas moved to Madrid from Levante in August 2014 after some highly impressive performances for surprise quarter finalists Costa Rica at the last World Cup.
The World Cup may provide a shop window for the 31-year-old again this summer, with Costa Rica opening their account against Serbia on 17 June. Los Ticos also face Brazil and Switzerland in Group E.
Neymar has refused to commit to current club PSG in the long term and insists that there is nothing he can do to make the rumours surrounding him disappear.
Despite only moving to PSG last summer, there has been various speculation that Real Madrid have him top of their summer wishlist and that Neymar may well be open to the move.
The Brazilian has now come out and spoke about the rumours, but did not at any point say anything that suggested he was fully committed to PSG in the long term.
As reported by The Sun, the 26-year-old said: ”I came to Paris to make history, but the rumours of my desire to leave are constantly in circulation. I am happy and calm, but there is nothing I can say to dissipate the rumours.”
Although he confirmed he is happy in the French capital, Neymar did not say anything about what his personal thoughts were on the suggestions of a move back to Spain, and this will inevitably strike fear into PSG fans hearts.
The mercurial forward has scored 19 goals and assisted 13 in just 20 Ligue 1 starts this season and has admittedly shone at the Parc Des Princes since his move in the summer.
Neymar is currently on the treatment bench after suffering a metatarsal injury against Marseille. The Brazilian had to have surgery on the injury and is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines. He now faces a race to be fit in time for this summers World Cup.
Real Madrid heaped pressure on second-placed Atletico Madrid with a 3-0 win over Las Palmas on Saturday evening inside a sweltering
A moment of reflection for former Las Palmas man Jose Luis, who passed away earlier this week, preluded a balanced opening in which both sides created a handful of goalscoring opportunities.
The hosts arguably had the better of the early chances, with
Should be 1-0 Madrid tho – Bale with lovely cross around defence to Asensio, has time to pick spot but decent save by Chichizola
— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) March 31, 2018
Bale’s 10th league goal in his 15th league start of the season.
— Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro) March 31, 2018
Despite continuing to increase their hold on the game as half-time approached, Zinedine Zidane’s men were unable to make their assured showing count and sought respite from the baking Gran Canaria sun with a healthy and deserved two-goal advantage.
Las Palmas 0-2 Real Madrid HT: So far, so good for Zidane’s men. Los Blancos haven’t stepped out of second gear and look certain to add to their deserved advantage. Las Palmas’ high defensive line against Madrid is asking for trouble, but Paco Jemez seems pretty set in his ways.
— Joe Owens (@jwpowens) March 31, 2018
Following the break, Las Palmas boss Paco Jemez’s decision to opt for a formational change did very little to counteract Real Madrid’s potent attacking threat as five minutes into the second half Bale had wrapped up all three points.
Again, Los Blancos found success from the penalty spot as the Welshman was caught while attempting an audacious attempt, allowing the out of favour attacker to double his haul for the day from 12 yards and record his 11th league goal of the campaign.
Bale leading this Real Madrid team in Cristiano’s absence just like 2016
— TheCristianoFan (@TheCristianoFan) March 31, 2018
After ending the encounter as a contest, Real Madrid had the opportunity to add some further glamour to the scoreline through Benzema, who was found unmarked inside the six-yard box.
However, the Frenchman’s inconsistent form in front of goal this season continued, with
There’s a little bit of Higuaín about Benzema at times. Brilliant one moment, awful the next. Plus he appears to have no luck whatsoever.
— Andrew Gaffney (@GaffneyVLC) March 31, 2018
As the full-time whistle encroached, it was Bale’s turn to spurn another clear opening, with the 28-year-old’s second touch while bearing down on goal in search for his hat-trick allowing the Las Palmas goalie to snuff out the danger with a smart stop.
But it was not to be for the Welshman, as Zidane and his men returned to Madrid with three goals and three points to heap the pressure onto
Arsenal are preparing a sensational bid to lure former Tottenham man Gareth Bale back to north London this summer, according to reports from Spain.
Diario Gol claim that the Gunners have informed Bale’s current club Real Madrid of their interest in the Welshman, who has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu as part of a planned squad overhaul this summer.
Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Bale’s former club Spurs are all mentioned as being interested in Bale, though the report claims that a long-rumoured move to Manchester United is unlikely.
Arsenal have made an enquiry with Real Madrid to capture Gareth Bale this summer. [Diario Gol]
Reunited with Aaron Ramsey? pic.twitter.com/UfLmT6NlGb
— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) March 30, 2018
Sky Sports pundit and transfer guru Guillem Balague believes that Bale will leave Madrid this summer, and thinks that England is the most likely destination.
“A return to the Premier League is of course on the cards but it would be foolish for Bale not to explore all opportunities,” he said. “The Premier League is the target but a move to Bayern Munich would make sense as well, if that’s the route they decide to take.”
Bale joined Madrid from Tottenham for what was then a world record fee of £86m in 2013. He has scored 79 goals in 179 goals for Los Blancos but has had to live in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow, and has never been a fans’ favourite at the Bernabeu.
(You may also be interested in New Book Reveals Liverpool Offered €70m Plus Star Player to Sign Real Madrid Man)
He has chipped in with 12 goals this season but has struggled with hamstring and calf injuries which kept him sidelined for over two months. Among the games he missed were both reunion matches with Spurs in the Champions League group stages.
A move to Arsenal may seem unlikely but it would be a statement from the Gunners, who need a creative spark to replace Alexis Sanchez after the Chilean joined Manchester United in January.
Pep Guardiola stressed Raheem Sterling’s importance to Manchester City but admitted that he could give no guarantees about the England winger’s future at the Etihad Stadium.
Sterling’s current contract expires in 2020 and talks to agree an improved deal have reportedly stalled, causing uncertainty over the 23-year-old’s commitment to City.
This news will be music to the ears of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, who have all been linked with Sterling. Guardiola said that tying his player to a new deal was a priority, but acknowledged that the transfer market can be unpredictable.
Manchester City are ready to double Raheem Sterling’s money – but are facing a major battle to keep him, with Real Madrid one of the clubs interested in the England international. (Source: Daily Mirror) pic.twitter.com/5Fk0LtkgPP
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) March 29, 2018
“Anything can happen, but he knows how important he is to us.”
Sterling is enjoying the best season of his career, with 20 goals in all competitions – although only three of these have come in 2018.
He was injured for last month’s Carabao Cup final, in which Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0 to win their first piece of silverware under Guardiola.
Sterling could end the season with a bulging trophy cabinet if things go as planned for City. They are potentially just two games away from clinching the Premier League title, and if they beat Everton this weekend then victory over Manchester United next Sunday would complete the job.
Before then, City travel to Liverpool in the first leg of their all-English Champions League quarter final tie next Wednesday. The second leg is at the Etihad on Tuesday week.