Santiago Solari Claims He Has No Say in Real Madrid’s Transfer Policy Amid Isco Exit Rumours

?Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari has suggested that the club’s incoming and outgoing transfers are not his responsibility, insisting that his job is only to train the players and pick the team.

Solari made the comments whilst distancing himself from the rumours surrounding Isco, suggesting that whether the 26-year-old stays or leaves the Santiago Bernabeu will not be his decision.

Real Betis Balompie v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

Isco has been repeatedly linked with a move away from the Spanish capital this month as a result of the Spaniard falling down the Madrid pecking order under Solari. In Real’s recent 2-1 victory away at Real Betis, Isco did not even make it onto the pitch – instead watching on from the substitutes bench.

But Solari claims that his job is solely to pick the team, not to worry about Los Blancos’ transfer policy. “It is not up to me to explain the transfer policy, I am just the coach.” Solari said, as quoted by ?Marca.

Whilst the midfielder – who has earned 36 caps for Spain – did not make it onto the pitch at the Benito Villamarin Stadium on Sunday; there were young players who did – including new arrival Brahim Diaz from ?Manchester City.

Solari went on to compliment his mix of youth and experience, praising both sides of that spectrum for helping the team perform during their games.

Brahim Diaz

“The other day, a lot [of youngsters] ended up playing in the Betis match. But they were also supported by ?[Sergio] Ramos, [Dani] Carvajal, ?Casemiro and ?[Luka] Modric, who are the players that form the base of the side and also have to support the young players.

“The young players are great, but also the veterans who contribute a lot. I feel proud of my players of the winning spirit they have, they never tire of competing, after winning for so many years.”

The Argentine also discussed the mentality of his team ahead of Wednesday’s Spanish Cup trip to Leganes, with Solari suggesting that his Real Madrid side will not ease off despite taking a 3-0 lead into the second leg.

“We will start thinking it is a new game, because we have a very serious team in front of us,” he added. “They are a strong, local side, and will think of the match as if it starts at 0-0. Every game has its characteristics, and every game has a new scenario.”

Alvaro Odriozola,Sergio Ramos,Vinicius Junior

Whilst Real look likely to cruise through into the next round of the cup, Solari will hope that he can help improve the club’s position in the league – with Los Blancos currently sitting in a rather uncharacteristically low fourth position.

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Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Leganes in the Copa del Rey

?Real Madrid face a trip to Leganes on Wednesday night for the second leg of their Copa del Rey fifth round tie.

Los Blancos go into the game with a commanding aggregate advantage having beaten Leganes 3-0 in the home leg. Therefore, Santiago Solari may take the opportunity to rest some of his key stars and give minutes to the squad players. 

However, having been knocked out of the competition by the same opponents last year, Madrid will be wary of a repeat. 

Here’s the lineup which Solari might opt for on Wednesday evening.

3. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Keylor Navas

Keylor Navas (GK) – After a stellar campaign which saw the Costa Rican lift his third successive Champions League last season, Keylor Navas has been unceremoniously dropped to the bench this season after the acquisition of Thibaut Courtois. However, Navas will be given the chance to shine against Leganes.

Álvaro Odriozola (RB) – The 23-year-old right-back often plays second fiddle to the consistent Dani Carvajal but gets his opportunity in the domestic cup games. Odriozola’s record in this season’s Copa del Rey is superb, with one goal and three assists so far.

Sergio Ramos (CB) – Whilst Solari will be keen to rest some of his stars, he will want to maintain a strong defence in order to safeguard against an upset. Therefore, captain Ramos seems likely to start on Wednesday to provide some bite to the backline.

Nacho Fernández (CB) – Playing on the left of a back-three in Madrid’s 2-1 victory over Real Betis on Sunday, Nacho could partner his Spanish compatriot against Leganes. Solari will likely take the opportunity to rest first team regular and World Cup winner Raphael Varane.

Sergio Reguilón (LB) – After Marcelo’s poor recent form, 22-year-old Reguilón has started Madrid’s last two games. The Spaniard might not possess the attacking pizzazz of Marcelo but he provides greater stability to Real Madrid’s defence.

2. Midfielders

Dani Ceballos

Casemiro (CDM) – Akin to Fernandinho for Manchester City, Casemiro is a difficult player to replace in the Real Madrid lineup. His defensive nouse and playmaking ability are integral to both Madrid’s attack and defence. Solari may need the Brazilian against Leganes.

Dani Ceballos (CM) – In what has been a hugely disappointing season for Madrid thus far, Ceballos has been a shining light. The 22-year-old midfielder is calmness personified on the ball and can provide a spark of creativity when needed most, as demonstrated by his 88th minute winner against Real Betis.

Federico Valverde (CM) – The young Uruguayan midfielder has played in all of Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey fixtures this season and could be given the opportunity to demonstrate his abilities once more on Wednesday night. 

1. Forwards

Vinicius Junior

Brahim Díaz (RW) – Having signed from Manchester City for £15.5m in January, Díaz could be handed his full debut against Leganes. Pep Guardiola will have been livid about losing the youngster and Díaz could prove why on Wednesday.

Cristo González (ST) – With Karim Benzema out injured, Cristo seems destined to lead the line in this Copa del Rey clash. With calls for Madrid to sign a new striker in January, this is an opportunity for Cristo to stake his claim for that starting role.

Vinícius Junior (LW) – The skilful Brazilian has provided a much needed entertainment factor to what has become a surprisingly boring and predictable Real Madrid side. His pace, trickery and direct style of play make Vinícius a nightmare to defend against and he will be looking to make his mark against Leganes.

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Chelsea Prepared to Label Eden Hazard With £100m Price Tag Should He Decide to Join Real Madrid

?Chelsea are prepared to place a £100m price tag on Eden Hazard if the Belgian decides that his future lies with Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Hazard has frequently been linked with a move over to the Spanish capital in recent years, but he has remained rather cryptic about the situation, claiming that he is prepared to wait until the end of this season before deciding whether or not to sign a new contract with Chelsea.

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-SOUTHAMPTON

According to ?The Telegraph, if ?Hazard tells ?Chelsea that he wants to join ?Real Madrid then the Blues will respond by labelling him with a £100m price tag – in spite of the fact that he only has one year remaining on his current contract.

Chelsea recently agreed to pay Borussia Dortmund ?£58m for Christian Pulisic and the Blues are said to be adamant that Hazard is worth more than double what they paid for the American winger.

The valuation of Hazard could prove to be a stumbling block for Madrid, as they do not have large cash reserves put aside for transfers.

However, Los Blancos will be hoping that ?Mateo Kovacic can act as a bargaining chip for them at the end of the season.

Mateo Kovacic

The Croatian is currently on loan at Chelsea and, with a permanent move looking entirely possible, Madrid will hope that Kovacic can help them cover the cost of any deal for Chelsea’s star man.

Despite Chelsea currently being in the market for a new striker and midfielder this January, securing Hazard’s future remains the club’s number one priority.

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Leganes vs Real Madrid Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time, Team News & More

Real Madrid will make the trip to Leganes on Wednesday in the second leg of this Copa del Rey round of 16 clash.?

After their emphatic 3-0 victory in the first leg of the tie, Real will hope that the hard work is already done, and a repeat of last season’s shock exit at the hands of Leganes looks incredibly unlikely.

Brahim Diaz

However, their recent from has been anything but convincing, and they certainly needed some good fortune to emerge victorious against Real Betis on Sunday.

Here’s 90min’s preview for the second leg clash.


How to Watch

?When Is Kick Off? ?Wednesday 16 January
?What Time Is Kick Off? ?20:30 (BST)
?Where Is it Played? ?Estadio Municipal de Butarque
?TV Channel/Live Stream? ?beIN SPORTS
?Referee? ?Juan Martinez Munuera

Team News

For Leganes, regular Copa del Rey goalkeeper Andriy Lunin will be unable to face his parent side, meaning he will join long-term absentees Alexander Szymanowski, Ezequiel Munoz and Michael Santos on the sidelines.

Karim Benzema

As for ?Real, ?Karim Benzema and Jesus Vallejo are the latest first-team stars to pick up injuries, joining ?Thibaut Courtois, ?Toni Kroos, ?Gareth Bale, Marcos Llorente and ?Marco Asensio on the injury table. However, there could be good news for Real, as striker Mariano? could be set for a return to the lineup after a few weeks out through injury.


Predicted Lineups

?Leganes Cuellar; Tarin, Bustinza, Slovas; Juanfran, Recio, Perez, Gumbau; El Zhar, Braithwaite, Merino.?
?Real Madrid ?Navas; Odriozola, Ramos, Fernandez, Reguilon; Casemiro, Ceballos, Valverde; Vinicius Junior, Cristo, Brahim.

Head to Head Record

Unsurprisingly, Real boast an almost perfect record against Leganes, having ?won nine out of the ten meetings between the two sides. Alongside the 3-0 victory in the first leg, Real also earned a 4-1 win when the sides met in ?La Liga back in September.

Real Madrid v Leganes - Copa del Rey, Quarter Final Second Leg

However, in arguably the most memorable meeting between the two, it was Leganes who earned a shock 2-1 victory at the Bernabeu in the quarter-final of this competition last season, which was enough to eliminate Real from the competition.


Recent Form

?Sitting 13th in La Liga, Leganes have enjoyed mixed fortunes throughout this season. However, they come into this match on the back of a crucial 1-0 victory over SD Huesca, which will give them confidence that they may be able to salvage a result against Real.

Dani Ceballos

Los Blancos have looked mortal this season, struggling at both ends of the field and falling well behind ?Barcelona in the league table. Dani Ceballos’ 88th-minute winner against Betis kept Real ten points behind their rivals, and Los Blancos managed just 26% possession against a spirited Betis side. If Leganes bring the game to Real, who knows what could happen.

Here’s how each team has performed in their last five fixtures:

?Leganes Real Madrid?
?Leganes 1-0 SD Huesca (12/1)            ?Real Betis 1-2 Real Madrid (13/1)
?Real Madrid 3-0 Leganes (9/1) ?Real Madrid 3-0 Leganes (9/1)
?Espanyol 1-0 Leganes (4/1)                      ?Real Madrid 0-2 Real Sociedad (6/1)                       
?Leganes 1-1 Sevilla (23/12) ?Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid (3/1)
?Celta Vigo 0-0 Leganes (14/12) ?Real Madrid 4-1 Al-Ain (22/12)

Prediction

On paper, this would appear to be a routine victory for Real. However, as we have regularly seen this season, Real don’t often have things their own way anymore.

The 3-0 lead from the first leg will certainly give Real a lot of confidence, and Santiago? Solari will likely field a second-string side as he seeks to give his starters a much-needed rest. Having said that, he cannot afford to overlook Leganes, who showed they are capable of a shock when they eliminated Real in this competition last season.

Santiago Solari

Even with Real struggling, it’s incredibly tough to look past them, and they should have enough to avoid a scare on Wednesday.

Prediction: Leganes 0-2 Real Madrid

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Transfer Rumours: Wilson to Wolves, Ndombele to Everton, Ake to Chelsea and More

We’re approaching the mid-way point of the January transfer window, and already we’ve seen a handful of completed deals, the early signs of a mid-season clear-out at Liverpool, and Manchester United, as ever, linked with an entire match-day squad of centre-backs.

Indeed, the window can move thick and fast, and as such, it can be hard to keep on top of even the confirmed happening, let alone the avalanche of rumours that emerges from the darkness around this time of year. 

With that in mind, we’ve thrown together a quick roundup of six rumours to have a look at today. 

1. Palace, Fulham and Huddersfield Among Interested Parties in USA Target-Man

Gyasi Zardes

Huddersfield have struggled desperately for goals so far this season, Fulham a little less so, but given each side’s woes throughout the first half of the season, it comes as no surprise to see them linked with some extra quality in the attacking third. 

TeamTalk have today claimed that both sides, as well as Crystal Palace and a host of Championship clubs, are interested in 27-year-old USA international Gyasi Zardes, who has scored 20 goals in 36 games for Columbus Crew in MLS.

At present, the talk is of a summer move for the versatile attacker, but whether Premier League  interest can inspire a January exit remains to be seen.

2. Everton Could Sell Idrissa Gueye to Finance Move for £75m-Rated Lyon Midfielder

Tanguy Ndombele,Stiven Mendoza

In one of the more outlandish rumours doing the rounds this afternoon, it’s reported that Everton could look to cash in on PSG’s interest in Idrissa Gueye, to raise funds for an ambitious move for Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele. 

This one comes from the Daily Star, who cover a lot of ground, but the central theme is that Lyon want £75m for the player, and Everton could move on Gueye to fund a large part of any potential fee.

Manchester City, Tottenham, Barcelona and Real Madrid are also credited with an interest, with the former reported to have already had a £45m bid for the player rejected.

3. Wolves Enter Race With Chelsea to Sign Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-BOURNEMOUTH

Wolves are reported to be interested in signing Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, as they look for a proven goalscorer to challenge Raul Jimenez for a first-team place. 

Chelsea are widely thought to have earmarked the Cherries striker as a plan B to Gonzalo Higuain, and while the Birmingham Mail acknowledge that they remain favourites for his signature, they claim Wolves are now on the prowl for the 26-year-old and could rival the Blues’ efforts in securing him.

If Wilson does end up leaving Bournemouth this month, ten goals in 23 appearances in all competitions suggest he’ll be a decent addition wherever he lands. 

4. Real Madrid Send Scouts to Watch Genoa Starlet as They Seek Ronaldo Replacement

Genoa CFC  v Atalanta BC - Serie A

Over in Spain, it seems Real Madrid are still kicking themselves for failing to sign a viable replacement for Ronaldo in the summer, and are keen to act on that with a move for Genoa’s free-scoring Krzysztof Piatek.

With 13 goals, he’s the second top scorer in Serie A (to Ronaldo’s 14, ironically) and AS report his antics so far have piqued the interest of Real, who have had scouts closely monitoring him in recent weeks.

In all competitions, it’s 19 goals in 21 appearances so far for the 23-year-old. Not a bad return all things considered.

5. Nathan Ake Could Return to Chelsea as Blues Consider £40m Buy-Back Clause

Nathan Ake

In what could represent one of the worst bits of financial business since Manchester United lost almost £100m on Paul Pogba, Chelsea are reportedly considering meeting a £40m buy-back clause to secure the return of Nathan Ake, just two years after they sold him to Bournemouth for half of that. 

Whether or not the clause actually exists is of course up for debate, but the Sun claim it does, adding that Chelsea see £40m as a price worth paying for a player they perceive to be one of the best defenders in the league. 

He already has the haircut to replace the out of contract David Luiz should he depart in the summer, and as a composed, ball-playing defender, he fits the Maurizio Sarri mould to a tee. 

6. Barcelona Want Fernando Llorente as Back-Up for Luis Suarez

Manchester Unitied v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

To round things off with a nice weird one, Barcelona are considering bringing in forgotten Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente, as they seek an experienced alternative to Luis Suarez.

The 33-year-old, who moved from Swansea 18 months ago to act as Spurs’ plan B to Harry Kane, has managed just 36 minutes of Premier League action this season, and reports in Spain (via the Daily Mail, granted) claim that he could be in contention for a return to his native country with the La Liga leaders.

You can’t imagine there would be a lot more firs-team football on offer at the Nou Camp, but a high-profile return to La Liga to wind down his career might prove to be just the ticket for the target-man.

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