Schalke do not need Champions League football to sign Khedira, says Heldt

The Bundesliga outfit are in a race to qualify for next season’s tournament but remain confident they can win the race for the Real Madrid midfielder

Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt has stressed that failing to qualify for the Champions League will not have any effect on their attempts to sign Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira.

The Germany international confirmed earlier in March that he will leave the Santiago Bernabeu when his contract expires at the end of the season and Schalke are among the main candidates to sign him.

Although the Gelsenkirchen side are in danger of missing out on Champions League football next term, currently sitting fifth in the Bundesliga table, they remain optimistic about their chances of luring Khedira back to the Bundesliga.

“Decisions regarding individual players do not depend on whether we will qualify for the Champions League,” Heldt was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

“Like before, we are looking at whether a transfer of this calibre is a realistic option.

“But in the end there are obviously things that speak in our favour and other things that speak in other clubs’ favour.

“We are not the only club that are interested in signing Khedira.”

The 27-year-old started his professional career at Stuttgart before joining Madrid in the summer of 2010. He has since made over 100 La Liga appearances for the European champions.

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03 2015
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Isco: Don't compare me to Iniesta

The former Malaga star has urged people to stop comparing him to the Barcelona midfielder and is determined to become a household name himself

Real Madrid midfielder Isco has admitted he is growing tired of the comparisons with Andres Iniesta, even though he feels honoured to be likened to the Barcelona man.

The 22-year-old, who joined Madrid from Malaga in the summer of 2013, has drawn comparisons with his fellow Spain international due to his style of play, yet he is determined to become a big name himself.

“It is an honour that people are comparing me to Iniesta because of everything that he has achieved,” Isco said at a press conference.

“But, and I have said this before, I do not like these kinds of comparisons. Andres is Andres and I am Isco. I am a different person and player.

“I want to etch my name into the history books myself, both at club and international level.”

Isco went on to stress that he is a good relationship with Iniesta and is happy to play alongside him with the national team.

“I get on with Iniesta very well. It is very easy to get along well with him, just like with all players at the national team.”

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03 2015
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I'd say yes to Madrid job – Zidane

The France legend is in charge of the club’s Castilla side but admits he couldn’t turn down the chance of succeeding Carlo Ancelotti

Zinedine Zidane has admitted for the first time that he would take over as Real Madrid boss if offered the job by president Florentino Perez.

The 42-year-old is in charge of the club’s Castilla side but has been linked with the top job following speculation regarding the future of current boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Madrid have struggled since the turn of the year, losing the top spot to Barcelona in La Liga, and Zidane says he couldn’t possibly say no to the chance of succeeding the Italian.

He told Canal+: “If the post of Real’s coach was proposed to me, I would certainly agree. But there is a coach right now who is doing a very good job. And I’m in a structure and still learning.

“Am I ready for the job? You are never ready, and even if you’re not you still say yes. As a player, I didn’t forge my career in two years. Things happen gradually. In coaching, it will be the same.

“l’ve learned a lot from Carlo and he knows what I think of him. He is the perfect coach for Madrid, despite what people say.”

Zidane is yet to coach a first-team side since hanging up his boots in 2006, though he did spend last season as assistant coach under Ancelotti as the club won the Champions League.

The former Madrid midfielder also worked under Jose Mourinho during the Portuguese’s time in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, and he discussed their respective qualities.

“From Mourinho, what I learned is that he never gives up,” he continued.

“His handling is surprising, but he is right because he is harsh, yet fair. After a while it can be heavy, but he is fair and does everything for his players. 

“For Ancelotti, it’s different. He is a ‘cool dad’ with his players, he’s more patient. But he also knows that sometimes you need to be harsh. 

“Managing egos is the hardest thing for a coach. I know what a dressing room is like. The difficulty is to manage a group, it’s like a business. Sometimes you have to be hard, and sometimes leave some players alone. A single player may destabilise the entire collective. In a team, there are rules to follow.”

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03 2015
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Benzema: I can win the Ballon d'Or

The France international is confident club success can bring him individual recognition and says Barcelona could struggle against Paris Saint-Germain

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema remains confident he can win the Fifa Ballon d’Or in his career.

Benzema’s team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo has scooped the last two awards for the world’s best footballer, with the Portugal star and Lionel Messi the only players to lift the trophy since Kaka in 2007.

While he accepts he will never match the scoring statistics of Ronaldo or Messi, Benzema is confident he can stake a claim for the Ballon d’Or during his career as long as he wins trophies at club level.

“If I keep winning titles then I can win this award in future,” he told Le Parisien.

“We have Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, the two best players. We know I won’t reach 80 or 100 goals in a season. They can do that.

“After that, there are a lot of players who are worth it. They can put me in the top 5, but I don’t know.”

Benzema went on to stress there is nothing concrete in rumours he could join French champions Paris Saint-Germain – but he did fire a warning to Barcelona ahead of their Champions League quarter-final clash.

“PSG are a great team, that’s all,” he said of the transfer speculation, before adding: “It will be more difficult than usual for Barca because Paris Saint-Germain are known to have increased their standing in the Champions League.

“It’ll be difficult for Barca. PSG have every chance of going through.”

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03 2015
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Kroos hits out at Spanish media

The Germany international claims the country’s press are too willing to swing from one extreme to another

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has accused the Spanish media of being far too heavy-handed in their appraisals of the team’s performances.

The European champions have endured stuttering form in 2015, with their 2-1 Clasico defeat to Barcelona leaving them four points adrift in the Liga title race.

Madrid also came close to a dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Schalke, leaving many to question the future of coach Carlo Ancelotti, despite the Italian leading his side on a remarkable run of 22 wins on the bounce prior to the winter break.

Kroos believes the press are far too willing to move from one extreme to another when assessing the performances of his side.

“Those who know me a bit better know I’m not like a flag that moves with the wind, as they sometimes do in the Spanish media,” he told Sport1.

“When you win a game, everything is good, and when you lose, everything is negative.”

Kroos, who sat out Germany’s 2-2 draw with Australia earlier this week but is expected to feature in Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Georgia, admits he has felt a little jaded this year – especially given his Club World Cup commitments in December.

“I’ve played many games this year and haven’t had a winter break,” he added. “It’s normal that you feel a little tired sometimes but, at the moment, I feel very well and very happy at Real Madrid.”

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03 2015
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