Christian Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s Philippe Coutinho

Real Madrid aren’t always the most discreet in their transfer business. When they want a player, the world tends to know about it. Take their pursuit of Eden Hazard over a number of years, for instance. There was no element of surprise left by the time the Belgian actually completed a move to the Spanish capital this summer.

Their pursuit of Paul Pogba is another saga which has played out in front of everyone, with Manchester United still holding firm in their £150 million valuation of the player. Real Madrid, according to reports, are unwilling and unable to pay that amount for the French midfielder and so it’s becoming increasingly likely Pogba will stay where he is for at least another season.

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For a long time, it has been presumed that Christian Eriksen would be Real Madrid’s alternative to Pogba. The Dane has already confessed his desire to leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer and the Santiago Bernabeu outfit are believed to be long term admirers. Rumours continue to swirl.

But where would Eriksen fit in at Real Madrid? He is a very different type of player to Pogba. It’s easy to see where the Frenchman could be accommodated in Zinedine Zidane’s side – on the left side of a midfield three – but Eriksen isn’t someone who likes to drive forward with the ball. Instead, he is the player who picks the final pass.

He usually does this from a position on the left side. Sure, he drifts into the middle, sometimes dropping back into the centre of midfield, but his position as it reads on the team sheet is on the left wing. He might not be a winger in the traditional sense, but that is his best place.

Real Madrid don’t have room for another left-sided attacker. They were already well-stocked for options (Vinicius Junior, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez) before this summer and now they have added Hazard to their squad. How would Zidane possibly fit Hazard and Eriksen into the same side without moving one of them out of position?

Eriksen would be a signing for the sake of a signing much like Philippe Coutinho was for Barcelona 18 months. The Brazilian arrived at Camp Nou without an obvious role to play, with Coutinho now likely to be sold this summer after failing to make much of an impression. Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s very own Coutinho should he leave Spurs for the Santiago Bernabeu.

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Pressure on Zinedine Zidane at its greatest to beat Barcelona

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Zinedine Zidane the magic man is back at Real Madrid and this coming season all of the pressure will be on the Frenchman to deliver the title and usurp Barcelona who have been completely dominant.

When Zidane came back to Real in March the club hardly exploded and indeed didn’t really improve under him but at the end of the day he was brought back earlier to just stabilise the ship. Zidane will know as will the fans that the real business with the club will commence when the league season kicks off in August. And you can forget about the Champions League. Whilst they will fight to be champions of Europe once again the priority will be about winning La Liga. Incredibly Madrid have only won 1 La Liga title in the past 7 years.

Madrid have spent big and the purchase of Eden Hazard from Chelsea is their star signing. He is the one that is supposed to bring the balance back to the team. But Hazard as great as he is, can go missing in games. It will be Zidane’s task to guide the Belgian through the season where consistency becomes key to success.

Paul Pogba has been hinted at but he will have to fall into place and one wonders if his signing will be good for such a sensitive player. Even Ronaldo got booed at the Bernabeu.

The truth is that Zidane is about to undergo the biggest challenge of his career. Not only does he have to perform well on his return, and remember they say never go back to your old clubs. But he has to stop Barcelona from winning the league which is easier said than done. And of course Barca will not be the only threat to Madrid this season with their city rivals Atletico Madrid making huge progress and buying Joao Felix who is supposed to be the next big player. They will be in with a shout for the league too.

Zidane will need to find a good balance with his team and they will have to attack and be much more aggressive this season with the ball. One finds that Madrid just aren’t quite there and need a striker that can get them 30 goals a season. Is it simple that the club still haven’t recovered from losing Ronaldo? Benzema is good but he isn’t Ronaldo.

Maybe just maybe Zidane will give another chance to Gareth Bale who in truth has done little wrong. Zidane simply has the greatest season challenge of his career to date.

 

 

Atletico Madrid break transfer record with signing of Joao Felix as Griezmann looks set to join Barcelona

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Move over Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix the latest Portuguese sensation has arrived, and arrived he has with a thud of epic monetary proportions. Atletico Madrid made Europe look at them in awe when they announced his signing this week for a cool £113m, making Felix who is just 19, the 5th most expensive player in football history.

Felix looks the part and what little we have seen of him looks quite incredible. For Benfica last season he greatly helped them win the league and from 26 league games he scored 15 times. Overall he played 43 matches and netted 20 times, and for a player to be performing like that at his age suggests that Madrid have spent well.

As for Diego Simeone’s side Felix represents their biggest spending ever on a player and they have come to an agreement with Benfica to pay them 30m in one payment with the rest of the transfer fee coming from instalments. But why have Atletico bought Felix for so much?

Well to put it simply Felix is really being ranked up there with the likes of other Portuguese players who have graced the game in Luis Figo and of course Cristiano Ronaldo, if Felix is as good as he is obviously going to improve Atletico and his sell on price could be fantasy numbers, that will be the long term plan for Atletico anyway as they try and break Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance in La Liga.

The other reason to spend so big is that it has been reported that after years of playing with Atletico that Antoine Griezmann is finally leaving the club to join Barcelona for a similar fee that Atletico paid Benfica for Felix, it all rather makes sense then.

Though Griezmann choosing Barcelona is up for debate, wasn’t this the same club who came in for the French World Cup winner last summer only for Griezmann to reject them on the grounds that he didn’t want to be Lionel Messi’s ‘lieutenant’? Of course Griezmann really should have just left it at the core reason for him not joining which was down to loyalty of his club who were, at the time, currently going through a transfer ban.

Back to Felix and not only can he score goals he can create them too and Atletico’s fans look like they will be in for quite a treat. Atletico are also in the Champions League, and the fact that they still have Simeone in the dug out is testament to the clubs owners, who still find the best ways to attract quality players despite the hardships they find themselves each season in Spain. Roll on next season when Felix will do his best to light up the league, and take some of that magic away from Messi.

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Real Madrid are showing others how to get rid of deadwood

A squad overhaul was always likely at Real Madrid this summer. Indeed, their 2018/19 season unravelled so quickly it gave everyone at the Santiago Bernabeu time to devise a strategy and in the space of two weeks the Spanish giants went about spending the best part of £300 million on new signings.

They signed Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt with Brazilian attacker Rodrygo arriving from Santos. Eder Militao was added, joining from Porto, while left back Ferland Merland was signed from Lyon. And of course, the long pursuit of Eden Hazard finally came to an end, with the Belgian signing for a fee reported to be around £100 million plus add-ons.

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This is what has hogged the headlines in the Madrid press over the off-season. Real Madrid might not be finished spending either with recent reports claiming they have made an offer to Manchester United for Paul Pogba, a player Zinedine Zidane has been keen on for quite some time.

But Real Madrid’s summer has been about more than just big money signings. Zidane spent the final weeks of last season testing his squad, rotating players in and out of the team to determine who would be kept and who would be sold on. He is now acting on this, with numerous exits already secured.

Real Madrid are showing others how to get rid of deadwood from their squad. Mateo Kovacic has been sold for a fee of around £40 million to Chelsea, with Marcos Llorente leaving for Atletico Madrid. Then there’s Raul de Tomas, the striker who spent last season on loan at Rayo Vallecano. He’s been sold to Benfica for £20 million.

On top of this, Real Madrid are reportedly in talks to sell Dani Ceballos, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Nacho Fernandez, Isco and Lucas Vazquez. Whether or not some of these players should be listed for transfer in the first place is up for debate, but Real Madrid are acting quickly to overhaul their squad.

Contrast this to the way Manchester United have struggled to free up space in their squad. Mateo Darmian, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Alexis Sanchez and Ashley Young have all been tipped to leave Old Trafford and yet they still remain. Some have even been handed new contracts in the past few months.

The past year hasn’t exactly seen Real Madrid painted as the perfect football club. They have made bad decisions and were made to pay for them. But they are now correcting some of their past mistakes. They are setting a precedent not just in the players they are bringing in, but in those they are moving on as well.

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Theo Hernandez set to end nightmare Real Madrid spell

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Real Madrid full-back Theo Hernandez has completed his medical at Milan on a five-year contract in a deal worth €20m, according to multiple reports in the Spanish press. His two-year stint in the Spanish capital has been somewhat of a nightmare and has been one which has seen his stock fall drastically.

It was just two years ago that he completed his contentious move across the Spanish capital, joining Los Blancos in a €30m move from cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. Theo had just completed an impressive season-long loan spell at Alaves and was tipped to be the long-term successor for Marcelo at Madrid and to become a star at international level with France. Continue reading

Real Madrid’s Raul de Tomas set for Benfica

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Raul de Tomas appears to be the latest Real Madrid player who the club are set to cash-in upon despite playing a minimal role in their first-team. Indeed, the case of the 24-year-old is particularly pronounced – he has played just one senior game for Los Blancos and none across the past four seasons, but now he appears set to join Benfica in a €25m deal.

The 24-year-old netted 14 La Liga goals in 32 starts on loan at Rayo Vallecano this season but it was not enough to save the side from relegation back to the second tier. He has frequently spoken of his desire to fight for his place in the first-team at Madrid but the acquisitions of Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard have seen these hopes go from slim to virtually none. Continue reading

Gareth Bale remains main Real Madrid problem

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There appears to have been no movement whatsoever on the outstanding problem issue at Real Madrid this summer: Gareth Bale. All reports indicate the club are desperate to offload the Welsh forward in this window but the player has absolutely no intentions of leaving, and no other clubs are in a position to afford him.

Los Blancos have sanctioned a huge summer spend which has seen five first-team players added worth a total in transfer fees of €300m plus a mass increase in their wage bill. To date, only Marcos Llorente has left the club – joining Atletico Madrid in a €40m move – this summer, with Bale’s massive wages said to be severely restricting the club’s ability to do more business. Continue reading

Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos faces key decision

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Two years ago Dani Ceballos starred at the European Under-21 Championships. Then at Real Betis, the explosive young midfielder announced himself to the wider football world in spectacular fashion – showcasing his abilities in the most impressive manner.

That summer, the central midfielder joined Real Madrid in a cut price deal – which infuriated Betis fans, who believed he would pen a new deal at the club. This was seen as a landmark deal with Madrid yet again nailing down the future on one of Spain’s brightest emerging talents. However, things have not quite worked out that way. Continue reading

Kylian Mbappe should be Real Madrid’s number one long term target

Eden Hazard’s transfer to Real Madrid was a number of years in the making. The Belgian had been eyed up by the Spanish club for a long time before Florentino Perez finally sanctioned the £100 million fee to take him to the Santiago Bernabeu this summer. This is often the way of the mega-money deals Real Madrid have a long history of.

Take their pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance. Originally, Real Madrid wanted to sign the Portuguese forward from Manchester United in the summer of 2008 just after he’d led the Old Trafford club to the Champions League title. Instead, they had to wait until the following summer to get their man.

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These transfers are not easy to pull off and take time to put together. This goes some way to explaining why just weeks after the signing of Hazard talk has already turned to who Real Madrid could target as their next long term addition. Many see Neymar as the man destined to one day pull on the famous white shirt.

Indeed, Real Madrid’s interest in the Brazilian has been well documented with speculation heightened following the news that Neymar wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer. But is he really who Real Madrid should be lining up as their number one target for the long term?

Kylian Mbappe has also been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu and he, over Neymar, should be who Real Madrid prioritise. While there are questions over Neymar’s character and attitude, with his form suffering as a consequence over the past two seasons, Mbappe is widely seen as the face of the future of the sport.

What’s more, Mbappe is a Real Madrid fan, supporting the club since childhood. There have been suggestions that he would be willing to force through a move to the Santiago Bernabeu with the forward reportedly refusing to enter renegotiation talks over a new contract with PSG. This puts Real Madrid in a good position.

Not so long ago, Neymar looked like the future of the sport. At Barcelona, he was the next best player in the world. PSG broke the Brazilian, though. Mbappe, however, has kept his star rising. He is already a World Cup winner and one of the best strikers in the game, but his upward trajectory could still carry him much further.

Real Madrid is a club that prides itself on signing the best players on the planet. They have forged a whole identity from this notion and for many Neymar fits the bill. But does he fit the bill as well as Mbappe? If Real Madrid are drawing up a transfer plan for the long term, they should target the latter over the former.

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Marcos Llorente to Atletico Madrid: Real Madrid’s mistake?

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Atletico Madrid are closing in on the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Marcos Llorente. Whilst the deal – which is said to be valued in the region of €40m – will theoretically benefit both clubs and the player, it is demonstrative of a further weakening of the relations between the two.

Llorente has never been a regular in Madrid’s starting line-up and previous reports have claimed that both Manchester United and Arsenal are interested in a deal. The central midfielder had been in line for a January loan move to Basque club Alaves but this was scrapped due to his high level of performances, but after a promising run of form he suffered an injury setback. Continue reading