Real Madrid End Christian Eriksen Pursuit With Sights Set on Paul Pogba & Eden Hazard Deals

Christian Eriksen has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid in previous transfer windows, but it seems now that Los Blancos may have ended their pursuit of the Dane.

Instead, Los Blancos are targeting Chelsea star Eden Hazard and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba as they seek to bolster their under-performing and ageing team.

As reported by the Times, Real Madrid are thought to have ended interest in Eriksen due to their reluctance to negotiate with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. Levy, known for driving a hard bargain, sold Gareth Bale to Madrid in the summer of 2013 for £85m in a deal which dragged on for several months.

Paul Pogba

With Eriksen aware of interest from abroad, Spurs failed to tie the playmaker down to a new contract last summer. The Danish midfielder now has just one year remaining on his Tottenham deal and, with these reports suggesting Madrid have ended their interest, Spurs are expected to restart negotiations this summer.


Speaking after Eriksen scored Tottenham’s winner at home to Brighton on Tuesday night, Mauricio Pochettino ?said: “It is a situation that is a very special situation, Christian Eriksen is a special person, I think we are all special, different and we need to understand that.

Christian Eriksen,Dele Alli

“The timing for him or for the club to be agreeing something are maybe different to another player.

In an effort to deflect attention from the Dane’s contract situation for the time being, the Spurs boss insisted talks will wait until the summer, as he continued: “I think it is so close to the end of the season, a lot of time to talk after and I think the most important thing now, not only for him, is for all the players to be focused and try to achieve the things we want.”

Mauricio Pochettino

What Spurs want right now is to secure a top four finish and progress to the Champions League final. To do so, Eriksen will first need to help mastermind a victory over his former club and European dark horses Ajax on Tuesday.

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FIFA 19 Ultimate Team: Kylian Mbappe, Marco Reus & Alex Sandro Steal the Show in TOTW 32

?Wednesday means one thing to FIFA 19 Ultimate Team players – it’s Team of the Week time.

At this stage of the game, most stars have already racked up plenty of high rated in-forms, so any new cards can be absolutely nuts. That’s exactly what we have here in TOTW 32.


Some of these cards look to be potential game-changers, which is always fantastic news for us fans.

Here’s our rundown of the stars of TOTW 32.


Kylian Mbappe (91)

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-MONACO

?Kylian Mbappe’s inclusion in the TOTW seemed almost inevitable after he netted a hat-trick against Monaco to hand Paris Saint-Germain the Ligue 1 title. He now has 30 goals in just 27 league matches, proving why many see him as a future Ballon d’Or winner.?

His new 91-rated card is utterly stunning. With 99 pace, there are few defenders who will be able to even come close to catching him, and his 93 dribbling leaves him agile enough to weave his way past anyone. Add 90 shooting to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a bonkers card.


Marco Reus (91)

Marco Reus

?Borussia Dortmund kept up their pursuit of ?Bayern Munich at the top of the ?Bundesliga standings on Sunday, largely thanks to ?Marco Reus. The forward racked up a goal and two assists in the 4-0 drubbing of Freiburg, keeping his side just one point from the top.

As a result, he’s picked up what feels like his 1,000th special card of the year. This 91-rated in-form boasts passing, dribbling and shooting stats above 90, and his 89 pace makes him a real danger. Anyone with his Headliner card will see four 90+ stats as he rises to a 92 overall.


Alex Sandro (89)

Alex Sandro

With ?Juventus looking to secure their eighth consecutive ?Serie A title, it was ?Alex Sandro who stepped up and saved the day. He netted an impressive diving header to bring his side level with Fiorentina, before an own goal handed the Bianconeri all three points.

Now with an 89-rated in-form, Sandro’s card has incredible pace, defending and physical. With 71 shooting, his card now showcases six 70+ stats, making him one of the most well-rounded cards on the game.? Like Reus, Sandro’s Headliner card will also see an extra boost as he becomes a 90 overall.


Honourable Mentions

Karim Benzema,Marco Asensio

If none of those take your fancy, there are plenty of other interesting cards in TOTW 32. ?Real Madrid’s ?Karim Benzema has picked up an 88-rated card, whilst two ?Premier League representatives have moved up to 87, with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ederson both featuring.

One card which may fly under the radar is that of Al Nassr’s Abderrazak Hamdallah, who picked up an 87-rated Record Breaker card – his fourth special card of the year – after netting his 29th league goal during the week. No striker has ever hit that tally in the Saudi Arabian league since it became professional in 2007, and he becomes the first Record Breaker of the year.

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The 20 Greatest Free Kick Takers of All Time

The world can feel like a divisive place, now more than ever, but there is one thing that can bind us all together in these testing times. For at heart, we are all free kick fanatics. We all have our favourite? executors of these dead ball delights, because there are few things in football like it. A penalty? That’s just a sh#t free kick, mate. A corner? That’s just an unnecessarily hard one. 

No, out of all the set pieces we possess, the free kick is by far the most coveted, the most cherished, and by proxy, the most arduous. It takes thousands and thousands and thousands of hours to perfect this mesmeric craft. And, even then, probably thousands hours more to maintain it. 

And, as with most other art forms – and this is an art form – there are many different ways to execute a free kick, and thus many proponents worthy of celebration.

You can thwack it with untethered power, like, say, a verité filmmaker seeking to out some hard-hitting truths, you can caress it with curl, using the patience and panache of an impressionist painter, or you can sneak it along the floor and under the wall, like an internet writer finding a way to organically reference ‘Game of Thrones’ that doesn’t come across as coat-tailing for clicks.

And you can do a whole lot more, too. The point is: free kicks, they’re great! And, while it seems like every James Ward-Prowse under the sun can hit one top bins these days, there are still only a select few who truly warrant the label of Maester… I mean master (did it work?). 

Here are 20 of the best.


20. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

It’s always worth reiterating, because all football fans are preternaturally riddled with short-term memory loss, Zinedine Zidane was an absolute CHEVRE. And, his CHEVREness extended to many facets of the game, including this here speciality. 

Unfortunately, in his capacity as a CHEVRE at one of the CHEVRE teams, he played with many a player who will come to occupy a place on this list, but when he could muscle himself over a set piece, sacre bleu, it was almost always magnifique.


19. Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola scores second goal

The first of a *spoiler alert* three-man Tricolore, Gianfranco Zola made free kicks fun. Never one to truly thwack it from a set piece situation, and even when he did, the exertion always seemed minimal. 

That was Zola. The definitive cult hero is the sixth greatest executor of free kicks in Serie A history, and translated that success to ?Chelsea to great effect. The best way to sum up his free kick style would be to say that every single goal has a look of whipped ease that can only otherwise be found on apps such as Flick Kick Football.


18. Alessandro Del Piero

Alessandro Del Piero

It’s like splitting hairs when comparing Del Piero and Zola, but the nod goes to Del Piero for his superior ?Serie A record (by two) as well his unerring confidence in his own dead ball ability, having recently told ?Gazzetta dello Sport that he would still beat Cristiano Ronaldo in a mano-a-mano free kick battle. 

I rate that.


17. Roberto Baggio

Fiorentina v Brescia X

The Divine Ponytail was a jack of all trades, and master of most – especially those that required the most honed of techniques and unbridled ingenuity.

Sure, he may be best remembered for blazing a penalty over the bar – though, as revealed ?here, that wasn’t completely his fault – but, if the world was a fairer place, and positivity was preyed upon with the same eagerness as negativity, his prowess from the spot – be it inside the box or otherwise – would be the principal takeaway.

His creativity knew no bounds, and that certainly didn’t stop when he lined up a shot with a wall of players assembled in front of him.


16. Gheorghe Hagi

FUSSBALL: EURO 1996 ROM - FRA 0:1

Yeh, what was said about Zidane, but even more acutely, because Gheorghe Hagi was Romanian, and hasn’t yet won the three requisite Champions League trophies it takes to sufficiently maintain your CAPRA (GOAT in Romanian – see you didn’t even know!!) status as a former star turned manager.

The Maradona of the Carpathians (CAPRAthians) may have been more famed for his wandering runs, but he couldn’t half hit a free kick either, possessing both might and precision in his armoury.


15. Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo

An extension of that initial Il Tricolore, we have Andrea Pirlo, which seems fitting, considering the Italian’s storied obsessions with bettering himself from set pieces, which ultimately meant elevating himself above those aforementioned compatriots.

Speaking in his autobiography ‘I Think Therefore I Play‘ (the greatest footballing autobiography title of all time?), the midfielder admitted: “The best ideas come about in moments of total concentration … My own Eureka moment arrived when I was sat on the toilet. Hardly romantic, but there you go.

That Eureka moment had been that Juninho Pernambucano‘s inimitable technique was actually somewhat imitable, as long as you used three toes instead of five at the moment of impact. Using this as a platform, he moulded it to his own unique feet, crafting the ‘Maldetta’ – his signature free kick – which translates to ‘The Cursed One’.

With 43 goals coming from it, I think it worked.


14. Pele

FRANCE-PELE

What??!?!?!? Pele?!?!??! Only 14th?!?!?!?

Well, yeh. Some aggregators may have him at second in the all-time free kick scorers list (with 70 goals), but how many of those came as part of the 526 he scored in unofficial games and coordinated friendlies? We don’t know.

Even more pressing than that, though, is the fact I have received many a Pele lecture in my life, most of them justified, but not one has leaned on the player’s set piece prowess. #sorrynotsorry.


13. Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos

Here’s where that Pele placing gets tricky, because at least the guy actually scored a few.

Roberto Carlos’ only scored 26 free kicks at club level throughout his career, and his ?La Liga conversion rate was 4.5%.The thing is, though, that fails to take into account all of the international thunderbolts (as a lot of these stats do), the most important of which being THAT mind-bending effort against France. 

He may not have been consistent, but he was always unbelievable. 


12. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Make no bones about it, this man will rise.

But, for now, it’s a testament to ?Lionel Messi’s unbending desire to improve on what many would describe as perfection, year in, year out. Because it feels like the Argentine has only become a free kick master in the last few years and yet he already has 42 goals for club and country.

Oh, and his La Liga conversion rate (8.5%) is better than Carlos, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. Esteemed company, as you’ll find out. 


11. Jose Luis Chilavert

Jose Luis Chilavert of Paraguay

Nothing to see here, just a Paraguayan goalkeeper perfecting his craft at the 2002 World Cup. 

The second highest scoring keeper in the history of the world is probably most famous for scoring the only ever custodian hat-trick ever recorded, but they all came from the penalty spot, so we’ll skip over those and head to his free kick exploits, because they were just as impressive.

His most impressive, you ask? Well, in 1996 he scored from inside his own half against River Plate. Yeh, seriously.


10. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo,Lucas Vazquez,Sergio Ramos,Gerard Pique,Sergio Busquets

There’s no doubt that ?Cristiano Ronaldo’s powers from the set piece spot have waned since his Manchester United years – we all remember the drought at Real Madrid – but he’s still a legacy dead ball specialist. 

And that was proved once more in last summer’s World Cup, when the Portuguese forward produced that last-gasp winner in that most pulsating of opening clashes against Spain. 

Still got it.


9. Michel Platini

WORLD-CUP-1986-FRANCE-HUNGARY

?Ok, I think I played the ‘don’t-forget-this-guy card too early’. Because, let’s be real, Zinedine Zidane has not been ousted from the GOAT conservation in the same coarse way as Michel Platini. But that’s for principally political reasons (you know, UEFA). So, here, let’s just enjoy the player. 

The thing is about those few generationally gifted players, is that they can do pretty much whatever they like on the pitch, and Platini showed this more than ever when a ball was stationary before his feet and the referee blew his whistle to allow him to strike it. 

Sure, he could bend it into the top corner if he wanted, but he seemed to prefer to tease it along the ground, under the wall or otherwise, to maximise the opponent’s hurt. Just like, I don’t know, Cersei Lannister? That’s a call back joke, which, if you didn’t read the intro, makes zero sense. Shame on you… Shame. Shame.


8. Ronald Koeman

BRAZIL V HOLLAND

?Corrr, could this guy do the business from a free kick.

Ronald Koeman, first of his name, shall be known from here on in on as: ‘Ronald Koeman, Eighth Greatest Scorer From Free Kicks Ever’.

Sure, it’s a clunky nickname, but it’s completely factual. If you want the perfect distillation of Koeman’s set piece dexterity, and it’s wild variation, then watch that stonker ?against Sampdoria in the 1992 European Cup final followed by that deftest of dinks ?against England in 1993.


?7. Zico

WORLD CUP-1986-FRA-BRA

You may not have heard of Arthur Antunes Coimbra, but you’ve definitely heard of Zico, his one-word moniker. One of the first true free kick specialists, he outmanoeuvred most goalkeepers armed with just his all-encompassing footballing intelligence and a two-step run-up.

Indeed, such was his ability from that range, his Brazil teammate Leonardo Nascimento de Araújo has been quoted as saying: “For us, a free kick from the edge of the penalty area was almost like a penalty. For Zico, it was almost a goal already.”

Some put his record at 62, others stretch it to 101, but one thing’s for sure, he was a master. 


6. Diego Maradona


???A definitive CHIVO if ever I’ve seen one, you might think you don’t need another lecture on the greatness of Diego Maradona, but then, have you seen the latest teaser clip from the upcoming documentary about him? Watch it, it’s right there. 

See, you’re now susceptible to all things DIEGO and CHIVO. 62 golazos from free kick range. Yes, that’s the sixth-best total.


5. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho

?We may have used all the creative ingenuity nods too early, because this man was more creative and more ingenious than just about anybody ever. Bloody hell.

With 65 registered free kick netbusters, the Brazilian Barcelona man is the fourth-highest scorer of free kicks ever…. so why is he fifth? Well, you’ll find out.


4. David Beckham

FUSSBALL: WM QUALIFIKATION 2001, ENGLAND

??See, the thing is, Ronaldinho was a better player than David Beckham in almost every way… except for this very specific way. Despite notching one more set piece score than the Englishman, Becks’ whole legacy was built upon his delivery from free kicks/corners. 

He is also probably the owner of the most famous free kick in history (at least on these shores). I don’t even have to say which, because everybody knows. EVERYBODY KNOWS. 


3. Sinisa Mihajlovic

Sinisa Mihajlovic

A controversial character off the pitch (by that I mean almost every kind of terrible), Sinisa Mihajlovic could sure wow us with a dead ball.

No, he wasn’t as good technically as those that have come before him on this list, far from it – he was a no-nonsense centre back, FFS – but that’s what makes him so special, and what gives him the Bronze medal here. 

It’s like this: you wouldn’t call Alfonso Cuaron the greatest Cinematographer of all time (the GCOAT) just because he won an Oscar this year, because he’s overqualified in other areas, just as Maradona, Messi, Pele, Ronaldinho, Platini, Zidane and more in this list are. That’s why Sinisa gets the nod.

Not because I’m a big racist. 


2. Rogerio Ceni

Rogerio Ceni

Now that we’ve got that chat out of the way, the anointing of Rogerio Ceni as the second greatest free kick taker of all time can go ahead without distraction.

Rogerio Ceni, the greatest goalscoring goalkeeper of all time. Rogerio Ceni, scorer of 59 free kicks, the ninth best total of anyone, ever. Rogerio Ceni, the Sao Paulo hero who scored 132 goals in his career, putting himself in the ten greatest all-time scorers at the club.

Rogerio Ceni. Quite literally, a man like no other.


1. Juninho Pernambucano

Juninho of Lyon shots a free kick during...

?Who else? Seriously, who?

From everywhere you look, it’s indisputable. Juninho Pernambucano is simply the greatest free kick taker of all time. It’s not even a discussion. Is he the top scoring set piece taker in history? Yes, with 77, he is indeed. 

Did he do it with the greatest flair? You bet.

Could he do it from anywhere? Are you ?kidding?

?

That link will send you to his ‘Best Free Kicks Ever’, but, to be honest, that feels discriminatory. Just watch them all. ?Now. 


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Paul Pogba Has ‘Told Teammates of Desire to Move’ as Man Utd Prepare to Sell This Summer

?Paul Pogba has told teammates of a desire to leave Manchester United, with the club preparing to sell the World Cup winning star this summer, L’Equipe has sensationally reported.

The 26-year-old has had a year of incredible highs and lows. Following his World Cup triumph with France in Russia last summer, Pogba was brought back down to earth at United and fell out with former manager Jose Mourinho as the Red Devils’ season stuttered.

Following Mourinho’s departure in December and the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Pogba seemed to rekindle some of his best form as ?United went on an 11-game unbeaten run.

Paul Pogba

However, another dip in form, culminating in last weekend’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to Everton, has led to renewed criticism of the team and his own effort levels.

According to Wednesday’s L’Equipe, as relayed by ?Get French Football News (GFFN) in advance of publication, ?Pogba is keen to engineer a move this summer.

The GFFN report claims that Pogba ‘has told certain teammates that he desires to go elsewhere’ while United have not made plans to renew his current contract, which expires in summer of 2021 (albeit with an option to extend for a further year).

More sensationally, the report adds that the Red Devils ‘will not block him if an offer from ?Real [Madrid] comes in’ and would prefer to sell this summer rather than next year.

The report, whether from L’Equipe’s original or GFFN’s dissemination, gives weight to the fact that Pogba will have only one year remaining on his contract next summer, but fails to note the option for a mandatory one-year extension – a clause which has been exercised in multiple United stars’ contracts (including in the case of David de Gea) recently.

Nonetheless, it is suggested that Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are the only feasible suitors for the former ?Juventus star, who has missed the boat to join Barcelona, following the signing of Frenkie de Jong. His former employers in Turin are also dismissed as ‘not on the agenda’.

EUR-FBL-C1-MAN UTD-TRAINING

Aside from a high transfer fee, wages remain a concern for would-be suitors. PSG may be hamstrung by Financial Fair Play this summer, while a report earlier this week suggested Real Madrid would be ?reluctant to shell out big wages for Pogba at the risk of upsetting current stars.

While Pogba slammed United’s 4-0 loss to Everton as ‘disrespectful’ to the club, the midfielder has done little to divert speculation from his future in recent times, calling ?Real Madrid ‘a dream for anyone’ during the last international break.

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

?Real Madrid are set to travel to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on Thursday night to take on Getafe in a battle between La Liga’s third and fourth placed squads. 

Los Merengues are coming off an emphatic 3-0 win against Athletic Bilbao which saw Karim Benzema score a second-half hat trick and the defence hold a clean sheet for the first time since mid-March. Getafe are also coming off a huge win, defeating Sevilla 3-0 to jump into fourth place and keep themselves within reach of a chance to play in the Champions League next season. 

With five matches remaining in the La Liga campaign, both sides will be looking for an important win to drive them to a strong finish to the season. 

??Check out 90min’s preview of the La Liga clash between Getafe and Real Madrid.


Where to Watch

?

?When Is Kickoff? ?Thursday 25 April
?What Time Is Kickoff? ?20:30 (BST)
?Where Is it Played? ?Coliseum Alfonso Perez
?TV Channel/Live Stream ?N/A
?Referee ?Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea

Team News

?

?Real Madrid are set for an injury boost ahead of the match with Vinicius Jr, Thibaut Courtois and Mariano Diaz all returning to training on Monday. ?Sergio Ramos and Alvaro Odriozola were absent from this week’s training as they recover from their own respective injuries. 

With Real having nothing left to play for, this match will be a test to see if the squad can still perform with little pressure on them. 

Vinicius Jr,Erick Cabaco

While Getafe have never featured in the Champions League, they are quietly playing themselves into Europe’s biggest club competition with just five ?La Liga matches remaining. 

The squad will likely be without defender Dimitri Foulquier as he continues to recover from a muscle injury sustained at the beginning of April. The Azulones will also be without Amath Ndiaye and Vitorino Antunes who are out with long-term ligament injuries. 


Predicted Lineups 

?

?Getafe Soria; Olivera, Gonzalez, Cabrera, Suarez; Portillo, Maksimovic, Arambarri, Shibasaki; Mata, Molina
?Real Madrid ?Navas; Marcelo, Nacho, Varane, Carvajal; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Isco, Benzema, Bale

Head to Head Record

Getafe and Real Madrid have only faced off a total of 27 times in their history, with the first match played during Getafe’s inaugural top-flight season in 2004. Real have controlled the 15-year fixture, winning 20 and drawing two with their cross-town opponents. Getafe have brought home five wins, with the most recent one coming back in 2012 when they defeated Los Blancos 2-1 at home. 

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-GETAFE

In the first matchup between the sides this season, Real earned all three points courtesy of goals from Dani Carvajal and ?Gareth Bale. ?


Recent Form

Getafe have been in average form over the last month, winning two, drawing two and losing one to rivals Leganes at the end of March. ?Getafe were able to take a win and a late draw from their last two matches despite receiving a red card in each. The Azulones have scored seven goals and conceded five in their previous five La Liga matches.

Real have been in similar form over recent matches, winning three, drawing one and losing one. Despite the inconsistency from Real this season, the squad is still in contention for a second-place finish in the league. While a trophyless season isn’t what Los Blancos supporters would have expected entering the year, they can still finish the campaign in respectable fashion if they win their remaining games.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-GETAFE-SEVILLA

Here’s how each side has fared in their previous five matches in all competitions. 

?Getafe Real Madrid?
?Getafe 3-0 Sevilla (21/04) ?Real 3-0 Athletic Bilbao (21/04)
?Valladolid 2-2 Getafe (14/04) ?Leganes 1-1 Real (15/04)
?Getafe 1-0 Athletic Bilbao (07/04) ?Real 2-1 Eibar (06/04)
?Espanyol 1-1 Getafe (02/04) ?Valencia 2-1 Real (03/04)
?Getafe 0-2 Leganes (30/03) ?Real 3-2 Huesca (31/03)

Prediction

With Los Blancos playing only for pride for the rest of the season, it will be tough for them to match the intensity of a Getafe side looking for their Champions League debut. Getafe have shown real determination this season and if they are to qualify for Europe’s biggest club competition, it would be a monumental accomplishment for an organisation who has only participated in the top flight for 14 years. 

Real seem to be coasting through this final part of the season and without Benzema’s heroics in recent weeks, the club may be in a much different position than they are now. Despite the unfortunate results they accumulated this season, a win in Getafe could potentially spark a strong La Liga finish for Los Blancos.

Prediction: Getafe 2-2 Real Madrid

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