Who is Real Madrid target Dani Olmo?

One of the best youngsters in European football Dani Olmo is a new target for Real Madrid.

The 21-year old attacking midfielder had a promising season in Leipzig scoring three goals in 12 matches, numbers that do not sound very impressive, but his talent didn’t go unnoticed by the scouts of many European clubs.

Real Madrid has shown serious interest in the youngster who is one of the leaders of the U-21 Spanish national team and has already played twice for the senior squad scoring one goal. His confidence and maturity in his game in the Bundesliga are something that Zinedine Zidane would like to see in his squad.

According to Transfermarkt Olmo’s price tag  is €31.5 million, but Real are reportedly ready to pay up to €40 million for the young Spaniard. Leipzig has already lost Timo Werner and Patrik Schick in this transfer window and are not likely to be keen to lose another of their star players from the starting squad but it is hard to refuse an offer as large as this.

The interest from Real is confirmed by the player’s agent Andy Bara who says that his player is happy in Leipzig but that anything can happen in the next 10 days.

Olmo is seen as one of the most talented players in Spain’s latest generation of midfield maestros. What makes him outstanding are his technical skills with the ball at his feet. His close control is impressive to watch. Also he has the ability to score from outside the box.

The young Spaniard started his career at La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy which has produced players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Leo Messi.

At the age of 16 he went professional and signed his first contract with Dinamo Zagreb. He won the award for the best player in the Croatian championship at only 19 years of age. The same season he made his Champions League debut in a 4-0 win against Atalanta and only a few weeks later he scored his first goal on the big stage against Shakhtar Donetsk.

After five seasons with Dinamo, in January 2020 Olmo signed a four year deal with Leipzig. Spending only half a season with his new club and establishing himself as one of the main players in Julian Nagelsmann’s squad it seems like staying with the Bundesliga team is also an option, but if Real Madrid put €40 million on the table it is an offer that likely cannot be refused.

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Who will Koeman bring in to establish new Barcelona side?

After Leo Messi decided, begrudgingly, to stay with the club, the new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman can now focus on bringing in new players who will help him take the club back to winning titles.

Main targets for the 57 year-old manager are his fellow Dutchmen Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum. Both players have been part of the Netherlands national team when Koeman was in charge and sees them as great assets for the upcoming season.

In the past three decades, around 20 Dutch players have played significant roles in Barcelona’s success, and after the first trophy-less season since 2008, Koeman goes with with a proven recipe for winning in Spain as a player, that he will need to replicate from the bench.

Barcelona is ready to spend around €55 million on the two players, 30 for Wijnaldum and 25 for Depay.

The club management wanted to bring Thiago Alcantara back in their squad, but the new manager prefers Liverpool’s Wijnaldum who will may well be replaced in the Premier League champions’ side by Alcantara. Wijnaldum is reportedly unhappy with the Reds’ extension offer and has already agreed personal terms with the Catalan giant.

Wijnaldum was one of the key players in Jurgen Klopp’s championship winning team, and Barcelona’s fans remember him for the two goals he scored against them in a fantastic 4-0 victory in the return match of the 2019 Champions League semi-finals. The winning mentality, coachability and work ethic are the reasons why Koeman insists on Wijnaldum. The 29-year-old is known as a player who covers a lot of ground on the pitch and helps the team defensively and in attack, something that Koeman especially needs in setting up his system in the Barcelona’s playing style.

In a similar situation in his current team is Memphis Depay who, like Wijnaldum, is entering his last year of his contract with Lyon. The French team is aware that they won’t be able to keep him and are determined to sell in this transfer window. Depay was on Barcelona’s wish list even prior to Koeman’s arrival, and now especially with the departure of Suarez, it is almost certain that Depay will take his place in the Barca’s attack. Depay is known as a good scorer, but also a great technician who would fit in well with the midfield.

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Man City near Koulibaly signing to shore up defence

Following Leo Messi‘s decision to stay in Barcelona, the management of Manchester City is fully committed to bringing in a defender in the form of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli. The two clubs are expected to reach a final agreement on the transfer of the defender for €75 million, which will be the highest transfer in the history of Man City, even more than the transfer of Kevin de Bruyne from Wolfsburg.

Although Napoli has so far rejected two offers from City, worth €65 million and €68 million, it seems that the offer of €75 million will be accepted by Aurelio De Laurentiis, who initially demanded for as much as €100 million for the Senegalese.

With this transfer, Koulibaly will become the fifth most expensive defender in history. Harry Maguire is undisputed as the most expensive defender, with his transfer from Leicester City to Manchester United for €87 million. Juventus paid €85.5 million for Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax, Liverpool paid Southampton €84.6 million for Virgil van Dijk and €80 million was paid by Bayern Munich for Lucas Hernandez to Atletico Madrid.

As for the salary of the Senegalese, it is speculated that €9 million has been agreed with possible bonuses of €3 million depending on the results of the team.

After the departure of Vincent Kompany, the central defensive position became one of the most vulnerable spots in Guardiola’s squad. Without the experienced captain, there was a lack of stability in City’s defense, which was visible throughout last season. Given that City’s owners are only interested in winning, it was clear that the Citizens would again be very active in the transfer market.

Besides Koulibaly, City also targeted Dayot Upamecano from Leipzig, but the Senegalese’s leadership skills are what they really need. While it cannot be expected that only one player can close the gap between City and Liverpool who dominated the Premier League last season, bringing in the 29 year-old would be a huge step forward in that direction.

Koulibaly was one of the key players behind the rise of Napoli in the last few seasons, who have established themselves as regular participants in the Champions League and one of Juventus’ main competitors in Serie A.

Almost all of the top European clubs were interested in signing the central defender and it seems that Napoli have finally made the decision to part ways with their best player. With the funds from the transfer, Gennaro Gattuso will be able to improve other positions in his team, and the fact that Koulibaly will go to England, and not to one of the competitors in the domestic championship goes in their favour.

Koulibaly started his career in Metz’s second team, but very soon made his debut in the first team as a 19-year-old after manager Dominique Bijotat recognized his great potential. After three seasons in the French championship, he moved to Genk where he spent two seasons, and in 2014 he moved to Napoli for a transfer of €6.5 million. Under the leadership of the manager Maurizio Sarri, Koulibaly has grown from a solid footballer to one of Seire A’s top players.

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After 27 injuries Kingsley Coman is king of Europe

In his seven years as a professional footballer Kingsley Coman has spent 490 days off the field due to injuries which makes him one of the unluckiest players in Europe. He has suffered a tear in the abductor muscle, tear in a joint capsule, torn knee ligament, capsular rupture in the ankle, syndesmotic ligament tear and many more, totalling 27 different injuries that has made him even consider ending his career, even though he is only 24.

But the mental strength and his great talent now have young Frenchman as king of Europe after scoring the only goal in the Champions League final last Sunday bringing Bayern Munich their sixth trophy in the biggest European competition of all. To make the story even better, Coman scored against the club that deemed him expendable.

What makes it even more impressive is the fact that it was his 20th trophy in his young career. Given the fact that Coman has played only 193 matches in his career that means that he is winning a trophy every 9.65 matches he plays.

Coman was born in Paris to parents from Guadeloupe and joined PSG’s academy in 2004. He spent nine years in the club’s youth system and even played for the senior side, becoming the youngest player to ever play for PSG at 16 years, eight months and four days.

In his first two professional seasons with PSG, Coman played in 19 games and won the French Ligue 1 in 2013 and 2014 as well as Trophee des Champions in 2013 and the Coupe de la Ligue one year later.

After transferring to Juventus and playing only 15 games for the Bianconeri, Coman won two titles in Serie A and one Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.

So far with Bayern Munich he has played in 159 matches and the Champions League trophy was his 12th with the German club. He has previously won five Bundesliga trophies and three DFB-Pokal and DFL-Supercup.

His winning record puts him in the race with the best in the game. Ronaldo at 35 years of age has 30 trophies and the two year younger Messi has 36. The real legends of the game Andres Iniesta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ryan Giggs have 35 trophies each.

The 24 year-old is on the right track to catch the very best if he stays healthy and even more if he stays with the club where he won the biggest trophy of all.

How good is Neymar when it matters most?

We all know Neymar is an amazing football player, but is he one of the greats?

Is he really good enough to be mentioned as one of the best next to Messi and Ronaldo?

Another season is on the books and the highest paid player in history once again failed to deliver the decisive blow when it mattered the most for his squad – PSG lost to Bayern in the Champions League final last Sunday and their star player had one of his worst performances of the season.

The Brazilian striker failed to register a key pass and completed only four dribbles, all in areas that didn’t concern Bayern. After his great performances against Atalanta and Leipzig it was expected that the 28-year old would finally show his tremendous talent on the biggest stage but he was stopped in his tracks by Joshua Kimmich and co. leaving his PSG squad without the trophy they spent a small fortune chasing.

And this wasn’t the first time Neymar didn’t meet the expectations.

After four seasons with Barcelona and winning his only Champions league trophy, Neymar wanted to get out of a team built around Lionel Messi, and show everyone that he is ready to lead a squad to the glory on his own.

He moved to PSG for a record €222 million and showed his magic in the French Ligue 1. He scored 47 goals in 52 matches which seem impressive but the fans from the French capital have seen top performances domestically before, notably from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. The only way Neymar could meet the expectations and make the investment of the Qatari owners worthwhile was by bringing the Champions League trophy, something he hasn’t managed to do in the past three seasons.

In his first season with the PSG, they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Real Madrid. He didn’t score on Santiago Bernabeu and he didn’t play in the return match due to an injury. He was solid in the group stage the following year, but missed the clash against Manchester United in the first elimination round due to leg pain.

The argument that he was not made for big games carries even more weight when his performance for Brazilian national team is taken into consideration. As is the case for his club when he is the main-man against Granada or Bilbao, Bordeaux or Montpellier, so it is the case in the national team against Ecuador or Bolivia, but when his whole nation expects the glory, he has not been able to perform. At the 2014 World Cup, he played well only in the group, after which he got injured. Two years ago, he was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Belgium.

At the Copa America in 2011, Neymar and Brazil were stopped in the quarterfinals against Paraguay and the same happened four years later. To make the paradox bigger, Brazil became the champion of South America last summer, but Neymar didn’t even participate in the competition due to a ligament damage injury.

Unlike his fellow countrymen Pele or Ronaldo, who brought joy to Brazil with goals in the World Cup finals or the greatest players in his time, Messi and Ronaldo who always deliver, Neymar still hasn’t got even close to them and the only way to do so is to score when it really matters.

Darwin Nunez, the €20m second division signing

Turki Al-Sheikh arrived at Segunda Liga side Almeria and started spending ruthlessly last summer in order to bring the team up to La Liga. In the playoffs at the end of the season, Girona stopped Almeria from fulfilling their chairmans’ dream, but not everything was lost –  the Saudi billionaire could now reinvest all the money gained from just one player knowing there is a big hype about Darwin Nunez.

The 21-year-old striker arrived in Almeria last season from Penarol in a transfer worth €4 million. After having played only 14 professional matches by that point, at the beginning of the season the youngster was struggling to adapt, but quickly managed to become one of the top players in Segunda scoring 16 goals in 32 matches, which made him third top scorer in the league.

Nunez is a right-footed striker who can play alone up front or partner in a two man attack. He is 187cm tall, very strong but still well-coordinated and quick with his pace being one of his main weapons. With his size he wins many aerial duels and constantly makes runs creating passing opportunities and opening spaces for his teammates. He has technical ability to take advantage of his physicality and can dribble past players using his pace when he has space in front of him. In the box he has a wider skill set using both legs to finish.

That talent did not go unnoticed in his native Uruguay either; he made his debut for the senior national team and scored a goal immediately, even though he played only 15 minutes against Peru in October last year.

Although a second division player, he has an astonishing €20 million exit clause but still it is just matter of time when the young Uruguayan will move to a top league club.

The most aggressive team to pursue him is Benfica, a team well known for signing young, talented players and developing them in real European stars. Numerous Premier League teams are also interested in signing the 21 year-old including Sheffield United and Southampton as well as the Italian sides Roma and Napoli.

Almeria might have a motive to keep him as a main asset for another run at the Primera. If the team from Andalusia manages to win a promotion in Primera next year, Nunez’s price would automatically jump to €40 million but it is hard to expect that such a talent will play another match in a second division.

Can Joe Hart resurrect his career at Tottenham?

Tottenham Hotspur this week completed the signing of former England goalkeeper Joe Hart on a two year deal after the 33-year old left Burnley on a free transfer.

Hugo Lloris has held the first team role for the Spurs for the last eight seasons but Mourinho made a smart move signing the veteran as a back up. Hart had two insignificant seasons in Burnley recording only 19 matches but his Premier League and international experience can bring stability in his position as well as in the changing-room.

Lloris spent a few months on the injury list last season after suffering a dislocated elbow and ligament damage. His back up Paulo Gazzaniga did not show as much consistency as hoped and Mourinho has taken the opportunity to bring along the two-time Premier League champion without having to pay a penny for his transfer, providing real competition for the back-up spot.

Mourinho has a history of bringing older English goalkeepers to his Premier League clubs, most recently with Lee Grant at Manchester United. Another reason for Hart’s signing is the “Home Grown Players” rule. Premier League teams can have a maximum of 17 overseas players in the squad and a back up goalkeeper doesn’t need to be on that list.

But Hart during his career has shown that he is much more than a player to fill a squad position with. Even though it is expected that Lloris will remain the starting goalkeeper, Hart seems ready to resurrect his career – he has shown a perfect physical condition at the medical tests prior to signing with the Spurs, and at 33 he is not particularly old for a ‘keeper. Another thing that he brings to the table is experience as he has played on the highest level with 340 Premier League starts and over 30.000 minutes. He also has 75 caps for England including two World Cups.

Hart’s downfall began after Pep Guardiola took the charge of Manchester City in 2016 and sent the goalkeeper on loan, first at Torino, and then at West Ham. After 12 years as a Sky Blue, he parted ways and continued his career in Burnley where he couldn’t manage to establish himself as a starter alongside Nick Pope.

“It has been a couple of difficult years for me on the football field but I feel I’ve got so much more to give. I’m here to help the team any way I can. Be it on the field, off the field, I’m here to try and push the club forward,” said Hart after his arrival in north London.

Knowing his goalkeeping quality and experience both from the winning days with City and the struggling in the last couple of seasons, Hart will definitely be a huge asset for Mourinho’s side and if a chance comes along, he might be back on the right path both for the Spurs and for England.

Five key moments in Casillas’ career

After 23 seasons and winning everything that can be won on the football pitch, Iker Casillas has announced that he is retiring from football. He will be remembered as one of the best goalkeepers of all time who managed to reach the top with Real Madrid and the Spanish national team.

In his career that lasted from the late 90′s, Casillas faced many ups and downs. We tried to take a look at the most important moments of his brilliant career between the goalposts.

1. Real Madrid debut

Casillas’ first appearance for the senior Real Madrid squad took place on September 12, 1999, against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames. The game ended 2-2 and the 18-year old keeper showed maturity, confidence and quality making many impressive saves. That was his first of 510 matches on the Madrid’s goal.

2. His first UEFA Champions League win

Casillas was only a substitute in Real Madrid’s Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen on May 15, 2002, but he was surprisingly called into action in the 68th minute after the injury to Cesar. The 20-year old entered the field and made a number of terrific saves to help his side hold their lead and win his first of three Champions League crowns with Los Blancos.

3. Winning EURO 2008 with Spain

After experiencing years of failure in knockout tournaments with the national team, Casillas become the hero of his nation with his performances in EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. With his heroic saves in the quarter-final penalty shootout against Italy and the clean-sheets from that match until the final whistle of the tournament he was one of the leaders for La Roja, and key to winning the tournament. It also began their era of international dominance.

4. 2010 World Cup victory

Casillas kept four clean sheets and only conceded two goals in six games for Spain up until the FIFA World Cup final in 2010, but his best was reserved for the biggest stage. The Spaniard had an excellent display against the very aggressive Netherlands’ team, leading his team as a captain to their first ever World Cup title.

5. Surviving heart-attack 

Playing for Porto, Casillas suffered a heart attack at the club’s training center on May 1, 2019. Two months after he returned to training and was named in the Porto 2019-2020 squad. A year later, in August 2020, he announced his retirement.

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Can Barcelona defeat Bayern?

The most anticipated clash in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League is the one between Bayern Munich and Barcelona. The Catalan club, one of the most dominant in Europe in the past decade, maybe for the first time ever is considered as an outsider even before kick-off. The powerful squad of the Bavarians and their dominant season in the Bundesliga make them not only favorites in this match, but also favorites to win the whole thing.

But football would not be so interesting if the team that looks stronger on paper always wins on the pitch.

Barcelona had an unsuccessful season in La Liga – losing the title to Real Madrid is always the sign of significant failure, so the UEFA Champions League remains the only chance to turn the season into something of a success. The biggest hope as usual is Leo Messi, who although suffered an injury in the match against Napoli, will likely be ready to play on Friday night at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.

The Argentine will lead Barcelona’s midfield, perhaps the only part of the pitch where the Catalans can outplay the opponent. On the other side will be Thiago Alcantara who is going to be the playmaker for the German side progressing the ball upfield. Bayern usually dominant their opponents, which is why Alcantara does not face difficult defensive duties, but this time, in a direct duel with Messi, he is expected to have a long night.

Besides Messi, Arturo Vidal is back from suspension and is almost certain to start, and the Chilean might be a key player for Barca. He has developed a great connection with Messi and the two love the passing combinations at the edge of the box, usually on the right side, so they’ll be trying to explore the Alaba-Davies pairing all night. Vidal is also a great pressing player and will not lack a motive and energy to fight his former club.

Although the Bavarians are considered a good defensive team that has kept clean sheets in four matches this season in the Champions League, Barcelona with Messi and Suarez is a team that can score against anybody on any given night. Benjamin Pavard is still injured and will miss the match on Friday which gives one more reason for optimism for Quique Setien.

Anyway, a clash of the titans awaits us between the two teams that have won the UEFA Champions League five times each. The last competitive macth where they shared a pitch was in 2015 when Luis Enrique’s Barcelona dismantled the Bavarian club and secured their place in the Berlin final where they defeated Juventus 3-1.

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What next for Real Madrid flop Jovic?

The rumors that Luka Jovic will leave the Spanish capital after just one season at Real Madrid is one of the hot topics in the European football as the season comes to a close.

After spectacular performances for Eintracht Frankfurt, the Serb was bought at the beginning of the season for 60m euros, amongst much media attention. The expectations of Real’s management and the fans were sky high, but the 22-year-old striker played in only 17 matches this season, scoring only two goals. Added to that, both goals were scored in matches against weak opponents that Real won 5-0 and 4-1.

After a fantastic season in Frankfurt in which he scored 27 goals in 48 matches and became the youngest player in the history of the Bundesliga to score five goals in one match, the attention of the richest European clubs was focused on the young Serb who chose Real Madrid which seemed like a dream transfer at the moment.

Although from the very beginning Jovic was not expected to replace Karim Benzema as the first choice striker, the size of the investment and the attention he attracted put a lot of pressure on the back of the 22-year-old. Manager Zinedine Zidane slowly incorporated Jovic to the team, but his first goal came after 10 matches against Leganes.

During the rest of the season, the pressure from the fans and the media grew, but Jovic failed to rise to the occasion. To make matters worse for the young striker, injuries occurred that further limited his playing time. When it became clear that Jovic would not meet the expectations, rumors began about his quick departure from the Santiago Bernabeu.

In the past, talented players have had problems with adapting to life in Madrid, and the pressure of playing in a Real shirt, but the managers usually had been patient. This time, too, Jovic seems to still have the trust of Zidane, who was one of those who was pushing for his signing before the start of the season.

According to Transfermarkt, the value of Jovic is currently 32m euros, which is half what Real paid for him. The potential loss from any sale, the trust that Jovic still has from Zidane and the shortened period between the two seasons could be the reason for Jovic to get another chance in the upcoming season. On top of that, it seems that Real’s management will not be able to bring in Killian Mbappe from PSG this summer, which is one more reason to believe that we will watch Jovic in the Los Blancos jersey next season. Few players get a second chance at Real Madrid, but Jovic likely will.

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