What is Real Madrid’s long term plan for Karim Benzema?

With 14 goals in La Liga this season, Karim Benzema had been enjoying a successful campaign before the global coronavirus crisis brought everything to a halt. Now, there is no suggestion of when the La Liga season will resume and every other division in Europe is in the same situation. These are unprecedented times for the sport.

And so with no matches to preview or react to it’s time to consider some big picture questions. Real Madrid find themselves in the midst of a transition. Zinedine Zidane’s side might be fighting near the top of La Liga for only their third title in 11 years, but this is a squad that is still stuck between the Old Guard and the new generation.

One question Real Madrid must find an answer to over the next few seasons concerns the future of Benzema. At 32 years old, the Frenchman is coming into the twilight of his career, but he is seemingly only getting better with age. So should Los Blancos look to replace Benzema sooner rather than later or stick with him for the long term?

A number of big name strikers have been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu in recent years. Most persistently, Robert Lewandowski has been speculated to be on Real Madrid’s radar with the Polish centre forward widely believed to be keen on making the switch to the Spanish capital at one point.

For all his undeniable brilliance, though, Lewandowski is only one year younger than Benzema at 31. He wouldn’t be a long term successor to the Frenchman. Real Madrid would surely face the same dilemma with Lewandowski as they do now with Benzema. Instead, they need someone who will carry their attack for years to come.

Erling Haaland fits the bill. The Norwegian has hit the ground running at Borussia Dortmund and at just 19 years old is set to spend the next decade at the elite level of the sport. Harry Kane has also been previously mentioned as a future ‘Galactico’ and with the England international reportedly considering his future at Tottenham Hotspur the pieces might be falling into place for him to join Real Madrid.

Of course, Los Blancos spent big on the signing of Luka Jovic last summer. He was meant to be the long term successor to Benzema, but has so far struggled to grow accustomed to his new surroundings. Finding a successor to Benzema won’t be easy, but Real Madrid must start devising a plan of action.

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Should Harry Kane Leave Tottenham Hotspur This Summer?

Harry Kane might still currently be injured, but his return is being routinely monitored by those in England where members of staff will be hoping that the centre forward will be fit enough for this summer’s European Championship.

Kane, who turns 27 in July, has a few months to decide what the rest of his career will potentially look like. While no one can deny that, individually, he is one of the world’s best centre forwards, it can be argued that without any trophies to his name, his position in world football – especially for when he retires – can quickly drop down the pecking order.

The England international’s numbers speak for themselves year-on-year, with this season finding the back of the net 17 times in 25 appearances in all competitions (the Premier League and Champions League) accompanied by two assists.

His overall goals tally for the Three Lions is also mightily impressive: 32 in 45 fixtures. It is no wonder why he is the captain of the men’s national team when leading from the front and by example.

Speculation has followed Kane around for a number of years about switching allegiances, especially when his contract was under £100,000 per-week. Now earning up to £200,000 per-week including bonuses, Kane’s contract worth is now only possible for a number of clubs in world football.

In the same way it has followed Steven Gerrard around, not winning a Premier League title for a player of Kane’s quality will mark an asterisk on his name when comparing the centre forward to former and future greats. Kane needs trophies to his name, and although football is a team sport, they hold weight to the individual.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and many others in Europe’s top leagues, including Real Madrid, would be interesting in acquiring Kane to bolster their attacks, but he needs to take this leap of faith sooner rather than later.

At 27, Kane is in his prime and still at the forefront of his powers. But with his injury history, it would be no surprise to see the Englishman start slowing down at the turn of 30 and time spent on the sidelines is more of a regularity.

The England captain needs to make a considerate and clever approach in how to tackle this summer’s transfer window, especially if he is back and firing in goals for fun during the Euros – his stock will only increase and, in turn, list of suitors grow.

With Kane being a reliable goal-scorer in the Premier League, he is able to be held in an elite club of those who have consistently found the back of the net throughout Europe. With that being said, Tottenham are likely to hold out for near £100 million, if not more, especially given his contract runs until 2024.

There will be a queue of clubs ready for Kane’s decision should he seriously consider leaving the club that gave him his break, but now, turning 27 this summer, might be the time where he says goodbye and starts to act within his own interest.

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This isn’t the Jose Mourinho Tottenham were looking for as season boils down to the FA Cup

So it looks like the season for Tottenham is going to come down to the FA Cup, and they have a manager in Jose Mourinho who wins trophies. Even at his nightmare period with Manchester United Mourinho won silverware and this is the hope that Tottenham cling on too.

In truth has Mourinho’s appointment improved Tottenham as a whole since sacking Mauricio Pochettino last November? Statistically it just about has in Mourinho’s first 12 games in charge he earned 20 points. In Pochettino’s 12 games in charge before being sacked this season he earned 14. But this season under Mourinho Tottenham are on course to earn at least 10 points under what Pochettino earned last season.

Though Tottenham still find themselves in the mix for a top 4 spot, which would mean Champions League football next season, this is not down to how good they have been, but more about how inconsistent Chelsea have been in 4th place. The lack of putting any number of winning games together has given the likes of both Tottenham and Manchester United hope. But the reality is that Tottenham look like they will miss out on Champions League football next season, evidently they are just not a good enough side this season to finish in the top four. That was hammered home again last weekend when they lost 3-2 at home to Wolves, despite being a goal up.

One of the biggest factors in getting Mourinho in and reportedly paying him in the region of £15m a season was that he wins games on a consistent basis and finds a way. His home form in league games is undisputed, but this season under him Tottenham have already lost 3 at home, this under a man who once went 9 years over 150 games without defeat at home. It does feel that Tottenham were looking for the Jose Mourinho of 2005 and have landed with an inferior product.

The Champions League this season is very much in the balance after the club lost the 1st leg against RB Leipzig 1-0. That was a home game and if Leipzig score first in Germany in the return match, Tottenham would need to score at least 2 goals on the night. Tottenham remains a very good side, let’s not forget that they made the Champions League final last year, but they are clearly a few levels below most of the teams left in this seasons competition.

Of course injuries have played their part. Not only did they lose Harry Kane but Heung-Min Son who had found his goal scoring boots is also out injured, and both players are missing months instead of weeks. But something else is missing with the club and it could well be that Mourinho is well past his sell by date, or maybe he just doesn’t have the quality of players at his disposal. Will more money be spent this summer, well you can guarantee it, but then all of the pressure will be under Mourinho with nowhere to escape if the club do not pick up and start challenging for trophies.

This season then looks like it will come down to the FA Cup. And make no mistake if Tottenham did finish outside the top four, but qualified for the Europa League and won the FA Cup the fans would take that. For all of the great play under Pochettino and the memorable wins, the club won nada, nothing, zilch. And fans want to see trophies held aloft at the end of the day.

Today the club will turn to the FA Cup where they will play Norwich in their replay and try to qualify for the quarter finals. Lose that and one senses all momentum could depart a ship that sometimes looks worryingly lost at sea.

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After Tottenham’s nightmare start to the Premier League season what do they need to do to get better?

In May Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was being hailed as a genius, by October his own fans wanted him out. What has gone wrong and how does Pochettino fix it?

Some will blame club owner Daniel Levy, after all he has been tight with his money in the past 18 months. Yes Tanguy Ndombele came for around £60m, and that was a big spend but Tottenham spent just over £70m net this summer. That sum just isn’t going to cut it when you have reached another level that Tottenham have excelled to. Champions League finalists last season and at the beginning of this one the club could be regarded as one of the favourites to win the league and yet they are languishing in the bottom half of the table. The least you expected of the club coming into November was to be 4th.

After a nightmare start where we have only witnessed very small examples of what made Tottenham such a force last season the temptation would be to sack Pochettino, but is this the right move? It would only be if he had lost the dressing room or simply lost the passion and desire with the club. He has in the past hinted to Levy to open up more funds, and it is unclear just how bad the friction is between them. But perhaps this could just be seen as a bad moment for the club, why should for example a manager be sacked for three bad months?

Tottenham already have enough quality to be a top 4 team but they may have to settle for less this season. The truth is that some players like Dele Alli might have to move on, he clearly needs a new challenge. Then there is Christian Eriksen who thought a big deal would come through but it never did- is his head with the club? It seems unlikely it is.

The club clearly need to spend and that means over £100m and it has to be wisely, that’s why Pochettino should stay. He knows the club inside out and just needs some more encouragement to go forward. No matter who the club bring in next it will be starting from the beginning again. The problem of course is that modern football doesn’t work like that, if you don’t win, you’re out. Only a handful of exceptions exist. Arsene Wenger before at Arsenal and Diego Simeone currently at Atletico Madrid.

Pochettino in the current football climate looks like he is on borrowed time, but Levy and co would do well to ride this stormy wave and come out the other end, time will tell.

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More Premier League action coming up? Check out our match previews here!

Round seven of the English Premier League season takes place this weekend.

Here’s a look at all the upcoming fixtures this weekend.

Sheffield United v Liverpool

Key men: John Egan (Sheffield United); Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

Prediction: Sheffield United 0 – 2 Liverpool Continue reading

Predicted lineups for this weekend’s English Premier League fixtures

It’s time for gameweek six of the 2019/20 English Premier League season.

Here’s a look at all the predicted lineups for the ten fixtures over the coming weekend.

Southampton v Bournemouth

Southampton XI: Gunn, Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Soares, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Boufal, Adams Continue reading

A preview of round 3 of the Premier League

It’s already round 3 of Premier League action in the 2019/20 season.

Liverpool and Arsenal are the only two sides with a 100% record after just two matches! These two giants meet at Anfield in the Saturday evening game.

Elsewhere, both Manchester clubs should win comfortably while Spurs will most likely beat Newcastle but Chelsea could struggle at Norwich City.

Aston Villa v Everton

Key men: Grealish (Aston Villa); Richarlison (Everton)

Prediction: Aston Villa 1 – 2 Everton

It could be another tough day at Villa Park for the newly-promoted home side. Continue reading

Tottenham’s Harry Kane could burn out if he doesn’t protect himself

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It was unfortunate to see such a lethargic display from Harry Kane in the Champions League final after the Tottenham striker returned from injury and was immediately put into the first team. Kane is one of the very best prospects in England but the player needs to be protected and mainly from himself.

We do not have to doubt Kane’s goal scoring abilities and his eye for goal and work rate in the area is brilliant. He is so precise and if anyone does want to doubt Kane’s abilities as a striker then his 164 goals in 253 appearances for Tottenham should put that to bed.

But here’s the problem and it cuts both ways with coaches and Kane himself- he needs to know and they need to know when the player needs rest.

Before the Champions League final Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was asked why he brought Kane straight back into the team forcing Lucas Moura the hat trick hero in the semi-final win over Ajax to be dropped to the bench? Pochettino reacted as if the interviewer was pulling his leg, such is Kane’s importance to the team, but it was arguably wrong to think that and it was a genuine question. Had Moura been returning from injury, he still would have started the final from the bench, and yet Kane was brought in. True he is special to the club but he was still slightly rusty after having missed almost the last two months of football. It was the wrong choice to start him.

That was proven in a game where Kane was almost invisible. Again not his fault, this was the final and he wasn’t about to miss it but Kane’s inclusion actually helped Liverpool, because it felt for the most part that Tottenham were playing with 10 men, he was that quiet.

A few days later England were playing the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations Cup and England manager Gareth Southgate absolutely did the right thing in not starting Kane but bringing him on later in the game. No matter if England eventually lost the match, Kane’s presence or not wouldn’t have made the difference as he is still clearly recovering.

The problem was that after the game Kane was interviewed where he remained positive and upbeat and told journalists that he would get right back to fitness, go for a run on the beach and hit the gym.

Whilst Kane’s words would seem normal to any day footballer who is 25 remember the problem is that Kane doesn’t seem to be listening to his own body. He missed two chunks of the season because of injury and his quality is such that Tottenham cannot really afford to be without him for long periods. And when he gets injured his willingness to get fit quicker than expected seems to hamper his recovery time. So when he is ready to return, he actually really isn’t.

Southgate did the right thing Pochettino to a lesser extent didn’t. But Kane also needs to listen to his own body, the last thing anyone wants to see is a career where he keeps picking up injuries here and there and doesn’t get a good run of games under his belt. He is a special talent and he needs to be looked after.

How Tottenham are fighting for Champions League glory & top 4 position even without a transfer policy

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This weeks club ownership focuses on Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur who have had quite a successful season when one thinks that the London club have brought in no new players.

When some clubs are spending staggering amounts of money in the summer window, somehow the days, weeks and months rolled on with Tottenham not dipping into the transfer market. Chairman Daniel Levy knew that the clubs new stadium was going to cost much more than anticipated and purse strings had to be tightened.

The predictions were already in for the season that Tottenham would do poorly in the Champions League and that they had no chance of winning the Premier League and that they wouldn’t even be able to challenge for a top 4 position.

What compounded everything for the club was the news that they would have to play their home games at Wembley Stadium with the redevelopment and in the end brand new stadium on the site of their old stadium. Delays were fraught with frustration and when it seemed that the club would be moving into their new stadium by the end of the year that was delayed once more.

But still the players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli and the terrific Son Heung-Min stepped up, the whole team did and in doing so have done manager Mauricio Pochettino proud. Tottenham may not win any trophies this season but they have done themselves proud.

At the time of writing the club have one foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League after beating Manchester City 1-0 in the 1st leg quarter final tie. The match is far from over but the club have given themselves a chance.

In the league Tottenham have been 3rd for most of the season and competitive at that. They have slipped up in recent weeks but despite injuries to Kane and Alli they continued to win games, and they have continued to upset teams who have spent much more than them.

Levy and Pochettino had a plan, true it was risky but they both realised that they had the squad to cope with this season. Of course having a no transfer budget plan is football suicide in the long run, but instead of spending £100m upwards this season the club have held back in order to go into a fresh season in their new stadium and have one would hope a good budget and deals for next season.

It should be an interesting summer at Tottenham and if the club can hold onto their best players and buy 3-4 ones that they really need then next season could be the one where Pochettino breaks his duck for the club. Of course let’s not forget that they are still in the Champions League and if they get past City they could face either Juventus or Ajax in the semi’s for a mind dazzling final. Now that would be something.

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Liverpool and Tottenham take the advantage in the Champions League

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Liverpool and Tottenham won their respective Champions League knock out ties and look like being the favourites to get to the semi final stage.

Liverpool who were last year’s beaten finalists when they lost to Real Madrid 3-1 swept aside Porto at Anfield. The Reds were the favourites to win the game and they eased to victory over Porto with goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino, indeed Keita scored within 5 minutes of the start of the game. Porto did squander a few chances but the brutal truth was laid out for all to see that Porto don’t really belong in a Champions League quarter final, even if they are deserving to be there after getting through the group stages and beating Roma in the last 16. The deep end of the Champions League has that ability to show up teams who are not prepared, and tonight that was Porto.

The 2nd leg in Portugal will be interesting and the tie isn’t a dead one for Porto, but if Liverpool were to open the scoring then Porto would need 4 goals, a neutral can only hope that it is Porto who score first in the 2nd leg otherwise that game will be put to bed rather early.

With all due respect to both Liverpool and Porto the game that everyone had their eyes on was the all-English tie between Tottenham and Manchester City. With no love lost between the two teams this was sure to be a spectacular night and it was Tottenham’s first European game at their brand new stadium- and it ended in a 1-0 victory.

Son grabbed the goal with his wonderful solo effort but City will be rueing Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss early on in the game which could have changed how it all played out. In the end Tottenham deserved their win and City actually looked rather toothless up front. Why did Pep Guardiola opt to bench Leroy Sane a player who has scored 19 goals this season? Or not start Kevin De Bruyne- he will have his reasons but City looked limp on the attack, which is what their game is all about.

Harry Kane went off injured and Tottenham will be hoping that it isn’t serious, though the England international looked in pain. The only good news for City is that the match is far from dead at 1-0, and City will still be the favourites to win the 2nd leg. However like Liverpool if Tottenham can score first the whole situation of the tie will change. It’s difficult to think though that City will be contained at home.

Liverpool should make it to the semi finals, but you’d have to be brave to pick out who will go through between Tottenham and City, although clearly it is the Londoners who have never made it to a semi final of the Champions League before who have the advantage.