Report Claims Julen Lopetegui Targeting Liverpool Ace for New Real Madrid Formation Next Season

New Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui has made Liverpool star Mohamed Salah a summer target as he looks to reshape Los Blancos’ formation next season.

The Spaniard, who was fired from his post as Spain’s manager after getting announced by Madrid ahead of the 2018 World Cup, could have a hard time convincing Salah to come play alongside the man who some believe intentionally ended his Champions League dream.

Salah missed Egypt’s World Cup opening loss against Uruguay last week as the direct result of the shoulder injury he suffered during a tangle with Sergio Ramos in the European final, but returned for their second match against hosts Russia, which they also lost.

According to Don Balon, the Egyptian speedster is being considered by Lopetegui. Real president Florentino Perez would prefer a move for Neymar, but would take Salah as an alternative if nothing materialises where the Brazilian is concerned.

The Spanish report also claims that Zinedine Zidane’s successor could be looking to change the squad’s formation and pair Salah up with Cristiano Ronaldo in a 4-4-2 setup.

Liverpool will surely be hesitant to sell their superstar player, who scored 44 goals for them last season en route to the Golden Boot and the PFA Player’s Player of the Year Award, having already lost Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January.

Should Madrid pull this off, though, their attack will be one of the most fearsome in world football. Yet based on the source, one could be forgiven for being very sceptical.

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

Nevertheless, Salah is one of the best players in Europe at the moment. And given Madrid’s penchant for buying the best, a summer bid shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.


Report Claims Real Madrid Could Move for Ligue 1 Star as Alternative to Liverpool Forward

??Real Madrid could turn to Lyon star Nabil Fekir, previously heavily linked with ?Liverpool, should their efforts to sign Reds ace Mohamed Salah fail.

Los Blancos, who recently appointed Julen Lopetegui as their new manager following the departure of Zinedine Zidane, are reportedly interested in Salah, who had an incredible first season with Liverpool.

UEFA Champions League'Real Madrid v Liverpool FC'

According to Spanish outlet ?Diario Gol, France international Fekir is on Madrid’s shortlist as a potential alternative to Salah should the Egypt international decide to remain at Anfield.

The futures of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale are uncertain, with the latter sparking reports of a potential Bernabeu exit after comments made following his match winning performance in the Champions League final win against Liverpool.

The report claims a potential move for Salah has been made difficult due to the former Roma forward feeling tension with Sergio Ramos after he was injured in a collision with the Spain international during the UCL final.

The report names Fekir as a potential target for Real Madrid, while it also claims a move for Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar ‘is not viable’. Other names mentioned include Sadio Mane and Kylian Mbappe.

?The Daily Star also drafted a potential Real starting XI for the 2018/19 season should they be successful in their summer pursuits, which includes Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who has been heavily linked with a move to Spain.

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Fekir, currently in Russia with the France squad for the World Cup, was expected to move to Liverpool until Lyon released a statement revealing that the 24-year-old will not be leaving France.


Real Madrid Striker Could Be on the Move as Milan Prepare £80m Bid

??Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema could be set to leave the club this summer after nine years in the Spanish capital, with Italian side ?Milan reportedly interested in making an £80m bid for the player.

According to ?Diario Gol, Benzema’s future at Madrid could be in doubt following the departure of manager Zinedine Zidane. The striker was a favoured player of Zidane’s, perhaps due to their shared French heritage – however, the impending arrival of new manager Julen Lopetegui has thrown Benzema’s Madrid career into uncertainty. 

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

Diario Gol claim that although much of Madrid’s transfer dealings will be delayed until the conclusion of the World Cup, the club are still working behind the scenes to offload a number of players deemed surplus to requirements ahead of the new season, with Benzema being one of the first names on the list.

Though a number of top European clubs have been put on high alert following news of Benzema’s availability, it would seem that Milan are top of the pile and currently lead the race for the French international’s signature.

However, selling Benzema may prove a more difficult endeavour than first anticipated by Madrid president Florentino Perez. The striker’s current deal at the club does not expire until 2022 and he has reportedly already told Perez he will not be forced out of the club unless he agrees to the move.

Lopetegui is keen to bring in a new striker to lead the line for the club, with ?Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski reportedly top of the list. Real Madrid will also be bolstered in attack by the addition of Vinicius Junior, the 17-year-old who will be joining the club from Flamengo this summer.

Real Madrid v Celta de Vigo - La Liga

In spite of the threats to his place in Madrid’s starting XI, Benzema is apparently keen to show he deserves to remain at Madrid. With nearly 200 goals for the Spanish giants in 413 appearances, it is hard to imagine him giving up without a fight.


Iran 0-1 Spain: Player Ratings as Iranian Hearts Are Broken After Diego Costa Spares Spain’s Blushes

Iran fought hard but were unable to hold out Spain for the whole 90 minutes as they were eventually defeated 1-0 by La Furia Roja in Rostov.

Spain dominated the match in terms of possession but it took a fluke goal to break the deadlock midway through the second half, as a clearance cannoned off of Diego Costa’s knee. The result means that Spain are now in a prime position to qualify for the last 16, but aren’t mathematically there just yet.

Here’s a look at how the players fared: 

1. Iran: Goalkeeper & Defenders

Alireza Beiranvand 7/10 – Very solid performance, dealing well with crosses into the box and also made a flying save to deny Busquets in the second half. Stood no chance with the goal.

Ehsan Hajisafi 6/10 – Took a knock in the first half and fought on bravely to play admirably at left back.

Morteza Pouraliganji 7/10 – Threw his body on the line so many times and won virtually every header Spain lumped up towards him. Unlucky to be on the losing side.

Majid Hosseini 6/10 – Not quite as heroic as his colleague by his side but not much found its way past him.

Ramin Rezaeian 6/10 – Incredibly unlucky with the goal as his clearance cannoned off of Diego Costa’s knee. Otherwise very steady.

2. Iran: Midfielders

Saeid Ezatolahi 7/10 – Screened his defence superbly and even had the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be disallowed after a VAR referral. 

Omid Ebrahimi 6/10 – Formed a strong partnership with Ezatolahi and often broke up play when Spain looked threatening.

Karim Ansarifard 6/10 – Popped up a few times in the first half and looked threatening but his influence diminished as the game went on.

Medhi Taremi 6/10 – Worked hard for his side and was inches away from connecting with a cross that would have levelled the match. Should have done better with a header with ten minutes to go.

Vahid Amiri 6/10 – Iran’s best attacking threat but on the few occasions he broke beyond the Spanish defence, he lacked the necessary quality.

3. Iran: Forward

Sardar Azmoun 5/10 – Barely played as a striker all evening and was instead acting as another midfielder for most of the 90 minutes. Did do well to win a few long balls but he was starved of service when Iran broke into the opposing half.

4. Iran: Substitutes

Milad Mohammadi 6/10 – Slotted well into right-back and kept Spain quiet on the right hand side.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh 5/10 – Couldn’t stamp any authority on the match after coming on and misplaced a few passes in promising positions late on.

5. Spain: Goalkeeper and Defenders

David De Gea 6/10 – Virtually untested all match. Made a very important punch right at the death to relieve some pressure.

Jordi Alba 6/10 – Steady performance at left back and was rarely tested defensively.

Sergio Ramos 7/10 – A captain’s performance from the centre back, dealt comfortably with anything Iran had to throw at him and virtually played as a defensive midfielder for most of the match.

Gerrard Pique 6/10 – Nothing got past him all evening and he dealt well with Azmoun.

Dani Carvajal 6/10 – Justified his inclusion back in the squad over Nacho. Always offered an outlet in the right flank for Spain.

6. Spain: Midfielders

 Sergio Busquets 6/10 – A very typical performance in the heart of midfield. Barely put a foot wrong but didn’t do anything spectacular either.

Andres Iniesta 6/10 – A few passes didn’t quite come off for him, but that was testament to the Iranian defence. Played the pass into Costa for the goal.

David Silva 6/10 – Tended to drift in and out of the match but created a few very promising situations in the first half.

Isco 7/10 – Spain’s most threatening player all evening and anything good tended to come through the Real Madrid man when he dropped deep to receive the ball off of the centre-backs.

Lucas Vazquez 5/10 – Not a brilliant match for the winger and he was often wasteful in possession when he found himself in promising situations.

7. Spain: Forward

Diego Costa 7/10  – His goal was one of the most fortunate he will ever score but it wasn’t a vintage performance from the Atletico Madrid striker. He forged his own luck however and he should be praised for sticking at it to score the goal.

8. Spain: Substitutes

Koke 6/10 – Quietly went about his business in the centre of midfield after coming on.

Marco Asensio 5/10 – Didn’t have long to make an impact but he barely featured in the fifteen minuted he was on the pitch.

Rodrigo N/A – Came on with two minutes to go.


Iran 0-1 Spain: Diego Costa & VAR Give La Roja Deserved Group B Win Despite Brave Iranian Resistance

A bizarre goal from Diego Costa – his third of this year’s ?FIFA World Cup – was enough for Spain to earn their first victory in Group B on Wednesday, putting them level on points with joint leaders Portugal. The result was undeniably a fair reflection of the match – although the manner of the defeat was harsh on Iran, who frustrated their opponents for long periods and came desperately close to scoring on a number of occasions.

Although the Iranians were clearly the underdogs at the Kazan Arena, they started the match two points ahead of Spain in Group B – they defeated Morocco 1-0 in their opening match, while Spain could only draw their opener 3-3 against Portugal. Moreover, Carlos Queiroz’s side conceded just two goals and were unbeaten in their qualifying campaign, so it seemed unlikely that they’d be pushovers – even for a side of Spain’s calibre.

Roared on by their infectiously enthusiastic and loud supporters, Iran made a positive start, breaking with intent and winning a free kick in a dangerous position on the left, although it ultimately came to nothing. As expected, Spain soon started dominating possession, but failed to carve out any clear chances in the opening exchanges.

It was obvious that Iran’s primary objective was to frustrate the Spanish, and they did so very effectively. Admittedly, they did also concede quite a few free kicks, but their more illustrious opponents were unable to capitalise on any of these opportunities.


In fact, Spain didn’t really look like scoring at all, at least until David Silva volleyed over the bar from close range in the 30th minute. This was after Andres Iniesta and Isco had tried to inject a little spark into what had become a somewhat laboured display by La Roja.

Although the first half bore a striking resemblance to an ‘attack versus defence’ training session, Iran still threatened sporadically. Sergio Ramos had to head a dangerous cross behind for a corner, although it was subsequently defended easily enough. Silva had a shot blocked from close range and another one deflected behind towards the end of the first half, but that was about as good as it got for the 2010 World Cup winners in the first 45 minutes.

Despite Spain’s overwhelming superiority in terms of technique and movement, they had singularly failed to test the Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. Incredibly, they mustered just one shot on target in the first half – despite enjoying more than 80 percent of possession.

Fernando Hierro’s side showed greater urgency at the start of the second half, and a Gerard Pique header was cleared off the line. Then Beiranvand was finally tested by a fierce Sergio Busquets drive, which the Iranian did well to save, if a little theatrically.

The underdogs were evidently struggling with Spain’s more dynamic approach, and it seemed only a matter of time before a goal arrived. Remarkably, it was the Iranians who nearly broke the deadlock, when Karim Ansarifard fired into the side netting after some seriously unconvincing Spanish defending.

Finally, in the 54th minute, Spain scored the goal which reflected their superiority, though the goal itself was fortuitous at best. Iniesta found Diego Costa in the box, and Costa’s shot hit Ramin Rezaeian, before rebounding back off the Atletico Madrid striker and into the net.

Iran v Spain: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Now that they’d been forced to come out of their defensive shell, Iran showed far greater attacking intent, as Mehdi Taremi headed a decent opportunity wide. Then, unbelievably, it looked as though the Iranians had levelled the match – only for the goal to be correctly ruled out by VAR for offside.

Spain generally looked comfortable – though far from devastating – from that point on. Nevertheless, Iran still looked menacing at times, and Taremi failed to convert two excellent opportunities in the final quarter of an hour. First, he failed to connect with one superb cross, and then he headed another one over the bar, after Vahid Amiri had brilliantly nutmegged Gerard Pique.

Nevertheless, Spain held on for the victory, and will face Morocco on Monday evening in their final Group B match. At the same time, Iran will take on Portugal, knowing that a win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s side will be enough for them to reach the round of 16.