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Posts Tagged ‘Real Madrid’

Real and Spurs negotiating over Bale

Real Madrid’s protracted chase of Tottenham’s Welsh international Gareth Bale could gradually be moving towards the end game as new Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, 54, has said that the two clubs are now discussing terms. The Spanish giants, who are currently on tour in Los Angeles, California, and play LA Galaxy in a friendly match tomorrow, have reportedly offered £86 million for the winger, a sum that would smash the current world transfer record fee of £80 million that they paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2011. However, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is playing hardball and is preparing to hold out for a player to be thrown into the deal in addition to the cash.

Ancelotti ruled out a return to Spurs for Croatian international midfielder Luka Modric, saying that he’s an important player for Real Madrid and will be staying with the club, but Real are believed to have mooted Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria and Portuguese left-back Fabio Coentrao as potential makeweights in the package for Bale. So far, Spurs haven’t shown much interest in either of that pair, but are believed to pursuing Real’s twenty year old Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, as well as Valencia’s Roberto Soldado. Morata is one of Spain’s most promising young centre-forwards but is highly valued in Madrid and his departure would leave them short in numbers up front with only Karim Benzema and Ronaldo left on the books as genuine forwards, so the two clubs’ positions remain a long way apart on the make-up of any player plus cash deal.

Champions League debate: Real Madrid and the curse of the last 16

What have Liverpool, AS Roma, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Juventus all got in common?  They have all knocked out Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League; and after last night Lyon might be able to add their name to that list.  www.aboutaball.co.uk asks why Real Madrid simply fail to perform at this stage.

Since the abolition of the second cumbersome group stage of the Champions League at the beginning of the 2003/04 season, Real Madrid have qualified for the round of 16 on each occasion, and yet can count only one aggregate victory at this stage.  That came at the first time of asking, when they overcame Bayern 2-1 on aggregate, but since have managed just two wins since in 11 games and have suffered a premature exit on every subsequent occasion. 

It’s not just the failure to progress, it’s also at times the startling lack of performance even against sides that shouldn’t be troubling them.  Consider home and away defeats to AS Roma in 2006/07, a team that would go onto to be battered by Manchester United in the quarter-finals.  Last season, Real even managed to make Liverpool look like a flowing and attractive team when they succumbed to a 4-0 humbling at Anfield, after crashing to an initial 1-0 defeat the Bernabeau.

Last night against Lyon in a disappointing 1-0 loss in France was no exception to what is increasingly becoming the rule where Real Madrid are concerned in the Champions League.  After high profile transfer activity pre-season, the pressure is on Real to acquire at least some sort of silverware with the most expensively assembled front-line anywhere in the world game currently.  Two points off Barcelona in La Liga with their arch rivals by and large looking every bit as good as they did last season, the UEFA Champions League represents a credible alternative for a return on the heavy investment.  Furthermore with the final of the competition due to be held in May at the Bernabeau, the opportunity to claim their tenth victory and become the first side ever to reach double figures in Europe’s most venerable club competition makes the Champions League an even more attractive prospect.

Yet at the Stade Gerland, Real turned in their most disappointing performance for months.  Many had tipped Real for a handsome margin of victory over their French rivals, as Lyon flag in Ligue 1 and appear to be on the verge of relinquishing their status as the team to beat in France.  Real’s recent performances have also been pretty stellar with some excellent results, albeit against some of the lesser lights in La Liga such as Espanyol, Xerez and Real Zaragoza. 

Flaccid attack/Weak defence

The former AC Milan schemer was one of last night's more dissapointing performers

The front-line of Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka looked bereft of ideas between them with the latter pair starved of any service by the industrious Lyon midfield comprised of Jeremy Toulalan and Jean II Makoun.  Higuain a striker who thrives on balls into his feet, cut an increasingly lonely figure in attack as his colleagues drifted to the periphery of the game and deeper to try and acquire the ball without being dogged in possession by the snappy Lyon defence.  Higuain’s replacement Karin Benzema, whose return to his old club just months after leaving, was overshadowed by David Beckham’s meeting with old employers at the San Siro, was even less effective. 

What space there appeared to be in the game was to be found on the flanks, but Real increasingly focused their attempts on the heart of the pitch, thus playing into Lyon’s narrow game plan.  Indeed the first substitution of the game by Manuel Pellegrini, Real manager, saw Brazilian full-back Marcelo withdrawn entirely, when his attacking impulse down the left-hand side form a more advanced position has been one of the recent factors in Real’s good run of form in the league.  Furthermore Sergio Ramos loves to drive down the right-hand side of the pitch from right-back, but asked to play a centre-half role initially, Ramos was restricted to his own half for much of the game.

Not only did the Real midfield fail to provide any service to the forwards but Xabi Alonso and Mahamadou Diarra, another lower-profile returnee to a former club on a night of re-acquaintance in the competition, failed to close down Jean II Makoun for the opening goal which he plundered from long-range.

Knock-out misery

Real are far from out of the running in the tie overall with the difference pegged at just one goal for the return home leg in three weeks time.  Perhaps the pressure of having to perform in a knock-out situation got to the team collectively.  It wouldn’t be the first time that Real have spectacularly under-performed in Cup competition this season – they were humiliated pre-Christmas by a third-division side in the Copa del Rey (the Spanish Cup) loosing over the course of the two legs, an identical scenario to the match against Lyon.  Maybe the league format, which is more forgiving of the occasional bad performance, means that the squad feels less pressure to perform. 

Whilst this theory might hold for this season’s potential early exit from the Champions League at the hands of Lyon, it doesn’t explain all the other baffling results at the round of 16 in the competition in the last few years. Last night’s poor performance will certainly leave fans of Los Merengues wondering why their side can’t seem to get it together at this stage of the tournament, and perhaps thinking there is some greater super-natural explanation for their team’s collective failure.

Check out the latest Real Madrid and Lyon form and odds with: http://aboutaball.bettorlogic.com/leaguesummary.aspx

English Debate: Do Manchester City need to smarten up their transfer dealings?

Is too much of this stuff, the problem for City?

In the wake of the failure to sign up Real Madrid’s Fernando Gago, Manchester City have come in for some heavy criticism from both the Spanish side and the player’s agent.  www.aboutaball.co.uk asks whether City need to wise up in the transfer market.

 

The recent activity in attempting to sign the Argentine midfielder Fernando Gago and subsequent welter of abuse that has been directed in the direction of Eastlands has certainly dragged Manchester City’s name somewhat through the muck.  Real Madrid’s bitter words could just be a by-product of an attempt to try and prevent City achieving their status as one of the world’s foremost football teams.

Jorge Valdano, Real Madrid’s Sporting Director, has been the source of much of the ire, and claimed that City weren’t in any position to sign the midfielder citing a lack of any preparation and paperwork, even hinting at an illegal approach to the player before consulting his club.  It rather suggests that Valdano believes that City were somewhat amateurish in the way they handled the approach, but perhaps one needs to delve further into the time-line of the transfer before reaching any conclusion.

It would appear that City were looking at Fernando Gago as a possible transfer target for some time and identified the out of favour former Boca Juniors player early in the window.  Reports indicate that they were quoted a staggering £21 million to acquire Gago, despite the fact that the fee represented a 50% mark-up on what Real paid his former Argentine side when they swooped for him in a double deal with an agency to bring Gago and compatriot Gonzalo Higuain to the club.

Manchester City tax

Rebuffed City sought other transfer targets, but after the deal to sign the Kenyan Mariga evaporated, they returned to Real and were quoted a more reasonable price of around £15 million.  This indicates that Real Madrid, like AC Milan in the Kaka deal previously, simply hiked up the price because it was Manchester City who came calling. 

Could Kaka have been wearing the light-blue of City if it hadn't been for AC Milan?

There is certainly a lesson to be learnt for City, in that they need to bide their time when making offers for players, and they may need to be prepared to identify another target if their initial choice falls through.  Chelsea suffered the same issue in the immediate aftermath of the Abramovich take-over, and City will need to go through the same process. 

However, given the fact that Real substantially reduced their asking price at the second time of asking with time running out to conclude the deal suggests that the reason it failed to go through was because of their own greed.  They had hoped to exploit City’s nouveau-riche status, and when Real lost the chance to move on a player who hasn’t featured much this season at a profit, they simply spat the dummy out and blamed everyone else but themselves.

Always City’s fault?

Valdano’s comments therefore smack of frustration at their inability to fleece City, but also petty-minded parochialism.  There is no doubt that City’s rapid emergence in the past couple of seasons has ruffled a few feathers amongst the elite of European football, who are more interested in preserving their own status at the top rather than encouraging competition. 

Manchester City were the target of much vilification from AC Milan and now Real Madrid over transfer dealings, accusing City of amateurism and unsettling players, an accusation Real Madrid in particular should steer clear of making given their conduct in the Cristiano Ronaldo transfer.  Clearly there is an attempt to sully City’s name, as they attempt to financially muscle their way into what has been largely a closed-shop for many years.

 There is certainly something in this theory; ultimately AC Milan accepted a bid of nearly half what City had offered for Kaka when the talented Brazilian made the move to Spain in the summer.  Were AC Milan willing to accept susbstanially less just to ensure that Kaka didn’t move to Eastlands?  Most suggest that Kaka didn’t fancy the move to City in the end, and that might have been so.  But why then did AC Milan accept a much lower bid subsequently from Real, when their asking price when City enquired was nearly double that?

City themselves have refrained from letting themselves get dragged into a slanging match with Real Madrid after trading public remarks with AC Milan over the failed-Kaka deal.  Internally though, City may need to switch their targets away from the bigger sides and instead concentrate on acquiring promising players, who can fulfil their potential at Eastlands. 

Returning to the example of Chelsea, the unfortunate incident of Gael Kakuta aside, they too were often criticised for the way they conduced transfer dealings, most notably by Manchester United after they failed to secure Jon Obi Mikel after Chelsea trumped them for the player.  City may also need to go through the same process before being able to conduct transfer business without provoking the wrath of other elite sides from around Europe.

Ruud van Nistelrooy set to snub Premier League for a switch to Hamburg

Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy is set to reject a return to the Premier League and instead join Bundesliga side Hamburg on a free transfer. The 33 year-old Dutchman has been linked with moves to West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City, but now it appears he is set to move to Germany despite some big-money offers from the English clubs.

van Nistelrooy has failed to win back a place in the Real Madrid side following lengthy injury lay-offs during the last 18 months. The Spanish club have allowed him a free transfer in order for him to be able to try and push for a place in the Dutch national squad for the forthcoming World Cup this summer after reversing his decision to retire from the international scene after Euro 2008.

The star striker has not been short of offers since becoming available, with half the top flight clubs around Europe vying for his signature. And that’s hardly surprising given his goalscoring record. During his club career, his has amassed 326 goals from 514 appearances and has scored 33 times from 64 appearances for the Netherlands.

Despite receiving better financial offers from elsewhere, including a reported offer of £100,000 a week from West Ham United’s new owners, van Nistelrooy is about to put pen to paper on a transfer to Hamburg.

Spanish sports daily Marca, believe that the main reason behind van Nistelrooy’s decision to snub the Premier League is that he doesn’t believe he is at the same physical level as he was when he was at Manchester United. The less physical demands of the Bundesliga may suit him much better.

A deal between the two clubs is believed to have been concluded and van Nistelrooy will travel to Germany over the weekend to finalise personal terms and complete a medical before signing for the Rothosen.

Chelsea target Franck Ribery voted by Real Madrid fans as their number one target; Cesc Fabregas also popular

Ribery: Wanted by Real's fans at least

It seems as if Chelsea target Franck Ribery may not be sure where his future lies, but the Real Madrid fans believe he should become a Galactico this winter.

A report published today in Madrid-based sports-paper Marca indicates that Real Madrid fans want to see Franck Ribery in the all-white of their side before the end of the transfer window.  An overwhelming majority of the fans chose Ribery as the side’s number one transfer target for the winter window.

The Bayern-schemer has been long coveted by several of Europe’s top sides, but has so far remained tight lipped on his future.  Indeed reports today suggest that the former Marseille and Galatasary player is even in discussion with Bayern Munich about extending his deal further. 

That news may dash hopes of Chelsea fans of seeing the genial player in West London anytime soon, but it hasn’t stopped the ever-optimistic Real fans still naming him their man.

Real Madrid, having splashed some serious cash over last summer to acquire the like of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, and have stated they don’t intend to bring in any more big signings this winter.  Nevertheless this has done nothing to dampen speculation that they are preparing a big-money bid with which to tempt Bayern either now or next summer.

If Real don’t get their man the second most popular target was young Spanish international David Silva.  Meanwhile the prospect of a Fabregas-Xabi Alonso partnership at the heart of the midfield has got Real fans worked up as well.  They voted the Arsenal man as third most popular choice if they could have the pick of anyone in world football, proving he has lost none of his appeal to fans of Los Merengues by coming in third.

Less popular was Wayne Rooney, who managed a paltry 14% of the vote, in comparison to Ribery who got 75% as top transfer target, so it looks like Coleen and Wayne won’t be making the same journey that Posh and Becks made back in 2003.

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