From Hazard to Dybala and possibly Neymar Real Madrid need to buy big next season

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By their incredible standards Real Madrid have looked their most fragile and normal for the first time in a good decade. It has been a season of transition for the club who came into this season without Ronaldo and with Zinedine Zidane resigning. It has felt a little empty for a side who have won the last 3 Champions League trophies.

Let’s be honest something has felt off about the club, where was the mega signings? Because look around and you will see that Florentino Perez is still around, he who invented the original galacticos and made sure that Madrid kept signing the very best players- sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t- yes we all remember Thomas Gravesen.

This season was clearly a breather- so much had happened in such a short space of time at Madrid then everyone needed it. And yet the club find themselves just 6 points behind league leaders Barcelona, are in the semi finals of the Copa del Rey, have won the World Club Cup and have one foot in the quarter finals of the Champions League- things really are not that bad at the club, are they?

Madrid though will be having a summer of upheaval, there is no secret about that. Coach Santiago Solari is only staying if he is able to win a trophy and the Copa del Rey may not be enough for  a side who are used to winning bigger trophies. But it is the players that the club will be bringing in which is raising the most eyebrows.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Madrid have been flirting with each other ever since the World Cup ended last summer and Hazard has made no secret of where he would like to play next season. With his current club Chelsea looking like they might hit a meltdown under current coach Maurizio Sarri, Hazard may just be able to find the perfect excuse to leave. He is very much expected to leave what ever happens at Chelsea.

Paulo Dybala is another leading candidate to join Los Blancos, it what would be seen as more of a shock move after his successful career at Juventus, but Dybala the class player that he is should be able to fit into Madrid with few problems.

Then there is the real shock move which could happen this summer- the transfer of Neymar from PSG- could it really happen? Neymar would be gold for Madrid and a big loss for PSG. But what about the Barcelona fans? Last time a big name player switched clubs- Luis Figo from Barcelona to Real Madrid fans started a riot ending with a pigs head on the pitch.

Neymar would be the key for Madrid going forward, although Hazard may see Neymar as a threat as he wants to be the shining light at the club- One thing is for certain, this summer will be an incredibly interesting one at the circus that is Real Madrid.

 

Real Madrid fans are wrong to turn on Gareth Bale

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If any player deserves myth status at Real Madrid currently than you could do no more wrong in suggesting that accolade should go to Gareth Bale. But it seems that every time Bale makes an error it is this the fans are remembering him for and not his greatness as a player.

Let’s be blunt, Bale has become the best ever British import- he has joined Real Madrid, competed in a side with Cristiano Ronaldo, scored countless goals- most of them important ones and most of them awe inspiring and has won so many trophies that it is easy to lose count of them all. But for some reason that doesn’t matter diddly to Madrid fans.

Madrid’s fans have always been very hard to please. Especially if you are a player of flair- even Ronaldo has been booed at the club before, and if he can be then anyone can. But these are fans that probably wish the likes of Roy Keane had played for the club. The harder you are the more loyal you are etc etc.

It’s not that the fans do not like Bale, and any of them would have to admit he has been one of the best foreign players the club have had in their last 25 years, but they won’t let things lie down. So when Bale missed a sitter against Atletico Madrid that was brought to the forefront so much so that Spanish daily reported on it, is Bale in crisis at Madrid moment? What was bizarre is that Bale scored in that game and Madrid won 3-1, which has consequently brought them  back into the league.

But this is Madrid fans in a nutshell, they did the same to another British player-who scored important goals and won 2 Champions Leagues, Steve McManaman. Now the ex Liverpool player is welcomed back at the Bernabeu with open arms and you get the feeling that once Bale leaves the club and the years go on and retirement comes, Bale will be seen as a very important figure at the club. Surely that was cemented last summer when he came off the bench in the Champions League final and scored an incredible bicycle kick against Liverpool- and let’s be honest it was his involvement in the game that ended up winning Real Madrid their 3rd consecutive Champions League title.

Madrid fans will never change- but they need to show Bale a little bit more respect- after all he is the best player they have at the moment.

Vidal will get his chance for revenge

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After not being able to overcome eternal rivals, Real Madrid, in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, Barcelona were dealt a further blow with the news that Arthur Melo has been ruled out for 3-4 weeks.

The Brazilian has been an incredible success story since his arrival from Gremio, to the extent that there are now genuine concerns as to how successful Barca will be in his absence.

He has given the Catalans an extra layer of security thanks to his ball retention and willingness to set the tempo and rhythm of a game, and they’ll certainly miss his input. Continue reading

Rayo Vallecano looking to trade places with Leganes

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One of the most intriguing fixtures in La Liga Game Week 22 will be between two lesser known sides from the Spanish capital – Rayo Vallecano and Leganes.

The sides from South Madrid face each other on Monday night, in what could be a decisive battle in the fight to avoid relegation.

The two sides are just 17km apart, however local rivalry will not be on the only thing on the line at the Campo de Futbol de Vallecas, with the season edging towards its final third.

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Tottenham interested in Barcelona’s Malcom

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Tottenham are eyeing a move for Barcelona forward Malcom, according to media reports in Spain, with the reigning La Liga champions open to offers for the Brazilian.

The 21 year old signed from Bordeaux in the summer for a fee of €40 million, plus add ons, however injuries and the impressive form of French international Ousmane Dembele has restricted his first team opportunities so far in 2018-19.

Ernesto Valverde is now believed to be willing to listen to bids for the speedy attacker, although the club will be determined to see a financial return on their initial investment.

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Barcelona chase experienced attacking trio

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Barcelona have been linked with an eclectic mix of strikers in the January transfer window, as Ernesto Valverde looks to bolster their La Liga challenge.

The Catalan side are in pole position to retain their title, with a five point lead at the top of the table, however they have been linked with moves to add experience to their attack.

La Blaugrana are reportedly interested in a deal for Uruguay international Cristhian Stuani from local rivals Girona, Premier League duo Olivier Giroud and Fernando Llorente.

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Real Madrid’s average season continues as they look to appoint big name coach

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Real Madrid have not been themselves this season and that continued after they could only draw 2-2 against Villarreal in their latest game in midweek. To rub salt into the wounds Madrid were leading 2-1 with just minutes to go but could not see the game out.

Despite Madrid winning the World Club Cup in December the pressure is on Santiago Solari to keep his job in the hot seat because the cup was won by beating two sides who with all due respect were not on the same level as Madrid. But the club keep continuing to underwhelm in La Liga.

This latest draw means that with 17 games played they have 30 points and are are 7 behind league leaders Barcelona. Los Blancos are also in the very unfamiliar position of 4th place. Both Deportivo on 28 points and Real Betis on 26 are not far behind and the worry is that if the team do not go on a consistent run they could fall even further behind.

In fairness to Solari who stepped in two months ago when Julen Lopetegui was sacked he has done a decent job in a very chaotic environment, but why are Madrid not firing on all cylinders?

The departures of coach Zinedine Zidane is a major factor, with the French legend guiding the club to an historic treble of Champions League trophies. Although it should be noted that Madrid only won the league once with Zidane in charge.

Madrid have always been about having the very best players- even if it hasn’t always worked out and they have been trumped in that department this season. With Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for Juventus, Madrid never replaced him and he has left a gaping hole in that team. This isn’t to say that Madrid have been poor this season, they just have not been their usual confident selves. Much of the limelight has gone onto the shoulders of Gareth Bale.

Bale has scored 10 goals in all competitions for the club this season and is on course to score his personal best. That is 22 which he achieved in his debut season. Still he only has 4 goals in the league and more would have been expected of him.

This season feels like a write off for the club and yet they won’t be giving up anything just yet especially in the Champions League. However you feel there will be a new dawn at the club in the summer which could mean more star players in, some out and certainly a new coach.

 

Barcelona keen on PSG star Adrien Rabiot

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La Liga leaders Barcelona have confirmed their interest in signing French international Adrien Rabiot from Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain.

The midfielder’s contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season, and he is free to confirm terms with non French teams during the January transfer window, with a view to sealing a move in the summer.

His situation has become increasingly tense with the French giants, with widespread reports that he has been banned from the club’s dressing room on match days by the club’s hierarchy.

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Pound for Pound are Real Betis the best team in La Liga this season?

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It’s been very routine for clubs such as Real Betis to have a few good games and then fade away, but this season the team from the south seem to have more staying power and have made a real impact on La Liga this season.

La Liga has been very exciting this season, mostly because Barcelona and Real Madrid have not had it all their own way. While Barcelona do lead the league they only do so by 3 points over Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid have had their own problems with the sacking of Julen Lopetegui after a nightmare start to the season. Santiago Solari was drafted in but the team don’t feel like classic, solid and reliable Madrid the team we have come to know over the past five years. That is because Zinedine Zidane left the club last summer and so did Cristiano Ronaldo. Real are in 4th place and there is a chance that they could miss out on automatic qualification for next seasons Champions League, that is unless they win the competition for an historic 4th time in a row.

But back to Betis who are in 6th place and just three points behind Madrid and while a title challenge is beyond them the club will be trying to reach a European place finish. Currently they are already there and set for Europa League football next season but if they could finish in the top 4 that would be good enough for Champions League football and they are just one win from achieving that. Of course there is a long time to go and we are not even at the halfway stage yet in Spain but this season Betis seem like a different beast from last.

Before the Christmas break Betis stunned Barcelona by becoming the first team to beat them in the league at the Nou Camp for 2 years and they are currently on a 4 game unbeaten streak with 3 of those matches being wins. To understand why Betis have changed for the better this season we must look at their coach Quique Setien.

Setien joined the club last season and has won 31 of his 65 games in charge so far to give him a 47.6% win rate. Whilst it is true that Setien has never won any managerial honours in his 17 years as a boss he has also never had the opportunities mostly coaching teams in La Liga 2.

One wonders how far he can take Betis, a European finish which is currently on and a deep run in the Copa del Rey would be a successful season for the club who usually fade away in the second half of the season, this is something that Setien will be determined to change in 2019.

Umtiti’s selfishness could cost Barca

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Samuel Umtiti is going to have ‘conservative’ treatment on his persistent knee problems in a bid to cure them, rather than resorting to surgery.

The Barcelona centre-back has clearly been short of his best this season, and one can deduce that it’s due in no small part to those ongoing issues.

To that end, it’s surprising that the French World Cup winner, when the problem first became apparent, didn’t immediately go under the knife and ensure the problem was resolved once and for all. Continue reading