Spanish Report Claims Arsenal Add Real Madrid Ace to Wishlist as Hunt for Sánchez Heir Intensifies

?Reports from Spain have claimed that Arsenal have added £40m-rated Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to their January transfer wishlist, as the north London side step up their efforts to find a successor to Alexis Sánchez – ?who is rumoured to be joining Manchester United this week.

As reported by Don Balón, the French international joins Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bordeaux’s Malcolm on Gunners manager Arsène Wenger’s shortlist of potential candidates to replace the tenacious Chilean. However, the source of the website’s information is unclear, suggesting the claims are part of the traditional January rumour-mill.

Real Madrid have endured a dismal La Liga campaign thus far, and are currently sitting fourth in the league table – a staggering 19 points off league leaders Barcelona. The reigning champions suffered a shock 1-0 home loss to Villarreal last weekend, a result which sees their run of league games without a league win extend to over a month.

While a move for Benzema is unlikely – despite the temptation the forward may have to jump ship – Gunners fans have reacted with feverish excitement to the social media actions of their defender Héctor Bellerín, ?who was reported to have followed BVB’s want-away striker Aubameyang on both Twitter and Instagram.

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It will be an intriguing week full of twists and turns in the Premier League, as the future of Sánchez is likely to effect a number of top tier sides. 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is hotly tipped to join the Gunners should Sánchez make the switch to Old Trafford, while champions Chelsea are believed to making a late swoop to snatch the former Barcelona man from United’s grasp.


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An abject display saw Wenger’s men give up the lead to lose 2-1 to Bournemouth in Sunday’s Premier League clash at the Vitality Stadium. The lack of attacking endeavour shown by his side is bound to spark the long-serving manager into action, with the unthinkable outcome of failing to qualify for the Champions League for a second season in a row looming large.

Let’

16

01 2018
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FanView: How Real Madrid’s Lack of Summer Transfer Activity Has Come Back to Haunt Them This Season

It was 16th August 2017 when Real Madrid sealed a second piece of silverware in the space of a week, after a 2-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu against El Clasico rivals Barcelona sealed an emphatic 5-1 aggregate Spanish Super Cup win to go with their 2-1 UEFA Super Cup success against ?Manchester United eight days prior.

Seemingly the kings of Europe after their La Liga and Champions League double in the previous season, August now seems a million miles away for a Los Blancos side who appear to be a shadow of their former selves, with a fairly inactive summer transfer window a problem that has now caught up with them. 

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It’s been no secret that Real Madrid have indeed struggled this season to put it kindly. Currently sat 4th behind Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, Zinedine Zidane’s side are an astounding 19 points off the summit of La Liga, they are actually in fact closer to the relegation zone, 14 points to be precise. 

Examining their summer transfer window can shed some light onto their current plight: 

? Departures? ? ? ? Arrivals? ?
Player? ?Club ?Fee ? ?Player ?Club ?Fee
?Alvaro Morata ?Chelsea ?£55.8 ? ?Theo Hernandez ?Atletico Madrid ?£27m
?Danilo ?Manchester City ?£27 ? ?Dani Ceballos ?Real Betis ?£14.85m
?James Rodriguez ?Bayern Munich ?Loan – £11.7m fee ? ? ? ?
?Mariano Diaz ?Olympique Lyonnais ?£7.2m ? ? ? ?
?Diego Llorente ?Real Sociedad ?£6.3m ? ? ? ?
?Fabio Coentrao ?Sporting CP ?Loan – £0.9m ? ? ? ?
?Pepe ?Besiktas ?Free ? ? ? ?
?Total: ? ?£108.9m ? ? ? ?£41.85m

Not only does Madrid’s intake vastly outweigh their outspend, it is the positions they have lost those players in which has weakened Zidane’s squad. While their incomings in the shape of Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos have failed to make their mark at Real Madrid so far, it is they players they’ve lost and failed to directly replace that has hurt them. 

Morata and Mariano both left in the summer, leaving the La Liga giants with Karim Benzema and Borja Mayoral as their recognised strikers. Benzema and Mayoral have scored a combined total of three league goals this season, while Morata has 10 Premier League goals and ?Mariano, who is enjoying himself in France, has 13 Ligue 1 goals. 

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Real Madrid’s lack of transfer activity, especially in an attacking areas, has resulted in a heavier burden placed on the pair of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. 

While the Welshman is one of Europe’s most revered forwards, the 28-year-old has been hampered with injuries, meaning his presence cannot always be a given. Despite scoring four goals in eight league games this season, Bale has missed more than half the season because of injury, with his pace and dynamism greatly missed in a somewhat static front line in his absence. 

Then there’s the curious case of Cristiano Ronaldo. His struggles have been well documented this season, scoring more Champions League goals than La Liga goals, 9-4. ?Cutting an unhappy figure this season, Ronaldo is now 32, meaning the majority of his work is now done within the width of the 18-yard box and cannot be the explosive, pacey forward that Madrid signed in 2009 and are currently crying out for today.

It is not the front line that should only be scrutinised however, as the problems for Zidane’s side stretches throughout the entirety of the team. Question marks remain over Casemrio, who does vacate his holding midfield position far too often, which can leave the back-four exposed.

While the number of goals Madrid have conceded isn’t especially high (17), the manner of defeats and goals conceded have been a recurring theme.

Real Madrid’s defeat to Villarreal on Saturday mirrored their Real Betis loss in September, a 1-0 scoreline, conceding late into the game and being caught on the counter-attack. While the defending leaves a lot to be desired in both instances, the fact that Madrid have little to call on from the bench to help break down teams is as a result of a poor transfer window.

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Isco and Marco Asensio are good options to have off the bench, yet the pair are very similar in an attacking sense, while Lucas Vasquez isn’t an attacker who opposing defenders will necessarily fear when he comes on, while Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are two world-class centre-backs in their own right, yet the departure of Pepe makes them very light in that area of the pitch. 

It’s not only their La Liga performances that have been affected this season, with their second place finish in a Champions League group containing the likes of Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund meaning they have a last-16 tie against the French juggernaut that is Paris Saint-Germain, a proposition the Spanish side would’ve preferred to deal with later into the competition. 

Real Madrid have been linked with a plethora of stars in a bid to fix the problem, with ?Mohamed Salah, ?Neymar and ?Kepa Arrizabalaga to name a few, while ?Eden Hazard remains firmly at the top of Zidane’s shopping list. It also appears that Zidane is sticking to the principles of giving youth a chance a club that prefers to buy stars rather that produce their own, with Achraf Hakimi, Marco Asensio a positive nod to the future. 

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While the approach is commendable, the investment of youth is something that takes time, a commodity that even Real Madrid cannot afford at the minute, and can go along way to rectifying a poor summer transfer window with the addition of some marquee names this window and in the summer, and ?turn around a situation Zidane has described as “f***ed up”. 

Let’

16

01 2018
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Report Claims Ronaldo Has Told Real Madrid Teammates to Focus on Cup Success Amid La Liga Struggles

Cristiano Ronaldo has urged his Real Madrid teammates to forget about their woes in La Liga and focus on winning the Copa del Rey, according to reports in Spain.

Los Blancos are 19 points off the pace set by arch rivals ?Barcelona, with Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Villarreal effectively ending any hopes ?Real had of defending their league title.

According to ?Marca, Ronaldo joined manager Zinedine Zidane in speaking to the team at training on January 9, where he reiterated the importance of winning trophies at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid Training

The Portuguese superstar allegedly told the squad after they drew away at Celto Vigo: “The Champions League and the Cup are our priorities, we’re going for them.”

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s attempt to motivate his colleagues is one of many frustrations Ronaldo is believed to be feeling at the moment, with reports suggesting he is attempting to force a move away from the Spanish capital after a ?breakdown in his relationship with the club.

The 32-year old is experiencing his most difficult campaign on a personal note, scoring just four league goals this term in 14 league outings.

Despite their woeful performances in the league, the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League remain realistic targets as Los Meringues attempt to resurrect their dismal season, with Real set to face French champions Paris Saint-Germain in a mouthwatering last 16 contest.

Real will look to get their league campaign back on track when they travel to Leganes this weekend, with Zidane’s side now coming to terms with the notion that a top four finish would resemble something of a success.


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Failure to do so would result in failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League, an embarrassing prospect for a side who conquered European football last season.

Let’

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01 2018
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Jordi Alba Trolls Real Madrid After Barcelona’s Remarkable Comeback Against Real Sociedad

Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba has rubbed salt into the wounds of Real Madrid fans, after the Catalans’ victory over Real Sociedad coupled with Los Blancos’ home defeat against Villarreal saw Ernesto Valverde’s side go 19 points ahead of their rivals.

The Spaniard was on duty for the Catalan side as they roared back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat bogey team Real Sociedad on Sunday, with Paulinho, Luis Suarez and Leo Messi all getting on the score-sheet to complete a ?4-2 comeback.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALSOCIEDAD-BARCELONA

The victory leaves Barca with a huge lead over fierce rivals and reigning La Liga champions Real Madrid, who fell 1-0 to Villarreal at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday to further compound their disappointing campaign.

And speaking after the game, Alba noted that a 19-point gap would never be accepted by his club’s supporters, if they were the ones on the sour end.

?“If Madrid led us by 19 points, in Barcelona they would kill us,” Alba declared, via ?Marca“Nineteen is a huge difference, but we must not forget that Real Madrid will fight until the end.”

Real Madrid v Villarreal - La Liga

Alba also explained why he thinks the La Liga giants are doing so well this season. Barca haven’t lost a single game under new boss Ernesto Valverde, despite losing Neymar over the summer, as well as having to play most of their matches without his replacement, Ousmane Dembele.

“The secret is the team,” he said. “Everyone is involved in defending, pressing and winning the ball back, although it’s true that the differences are made by the strikers.”

Sociedad were probably the one team Real’s players were counting on to do them a solid, with La Blaugrana failing to beat the side at the Estadio de Anoeta on every visit since 2007. But it wasn’t to be, as the leaders proved an unstoppable force, even after staring a two-goal deficit in the face.

“We have known how to suffer here,” Alba added. “And we’ve won three very important points in a stadium where we haven’t won for so long.”

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15

01 2018
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Real Madrid Press Forward With January Deal for Kepa Despite Zinedine Zidane’s Comments

Real Madrid’s pursuit of Athletic Club goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga appears to have intensified after reports in the Spanish press suggested they want to sign the goalkeeper during this January transfer window.

The 23-year old stopper has been linked with a move to the capital for some time, though recent reports suggested the ?La Liga holders may wait until the end of the season to bring him in for a rumoured £20m fee.

Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

According to ?Marca, ?Los Blancos officials have informed Athletic that the timeline for the deal is to be brought forward, despite m?anager Zinedine Zidane saying last week that he did not envisage the need to sign a goalkeeper at this time.

“As a coach, I say definitely that I don’t need a goalkeeper at this moment,” he explained in a press conference on January 6.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-VILLARREAL

“If there are changes in June then we will sit down and discuss the matter. I’ll make it clear, I don’t need to sign anyone because I believe in my squad, I’m not going to change my mind.”

News that the club are continuing to pursue the deal regardless will cast even more doubt over Zidane’s future at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the French legend seemingly working on borrowed time after Saturday’s catastrophic 1-0 defeat to Villarreal.

Los Meringues are enduring their worst La Liga campaign in recent memory, with Zidane’s side a distant fourth in the table, trailing arch rivals Barcelona by a staggering 19 points.


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Real’s continued struggled have seen rumours persist around the future of Zidane as manager, and star player Cristiano Ronaldo, who ?according to reports is eyeing a return to former club Manchester United.

Let’

15

01 2018
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