Real Madrid Set to Dig Heels in Over Mateo Kova?i? Exit as Club Look to Hold Onto ‘Modri? Successor’

??Real Madrid are believed to be unwilling to sell wantaway midfielder Mateo Kova?i? this summer, despite the Croatian international making it clear that he’s eager to leave the Bernabéu in the pursuit of first team football.

According to Marca, the 24-year-old has a contract with the Champions League winners until 2021, and has a massive €300m release clause. Despite struggling for game time last season, the tenacious midfielder is believed to be highly prized by the Los Blancos hierarchy, who view him as the natural successor to his international teammate, 32-year-old Luka Modri?.

Real Madrid are also believed to be closely monitoring ?Tottenham Hotspur ace Christian Eriksen, but would rather use their existing talents rather than squander their transfer budget. It could however be a summer of major squad upheaval at the club, as new boss Julen Lopetegui looks to bring in new players to freshen up the squad.

While Los Blancos stormed to a third Champions League title on the trot under former manager Zinedine Zidane, the club massively underperformed in the league, with the likes of Welsh wonder Gareth Bale in particular being called out for criticism by the fans – who constantly booed and jeered the former Spurs man during the club’s struggles.

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In other news, ?Los Blancos are rumoured to be in the race to sign Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kanté, with Paris Saint-Germain also desperate to sign the French international. Despite being arguably the club’s most important player, the Blues are believed to be willing to sell the tireless player this summer, with a barrage of offers set to fly in after the World Cup.

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Sticking the Boot In: Emmanuel Petit Claims Lionel Messi ‘Is Not a Leader Like Cristiano Ronaldo’

?Former ?Arsenal and ?Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit has claimed that Lionel Messi lacks the same leadership qualities possessed by rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Writing for ?Paddy Power, Petit discussed his feelings towards Messi’s performances at the ?World Cup so far, saying: “It was shameful to watch them. To see Messi walking with his head down, he should be ashamed.

“I don’t feel sorry for him, either. When things don’t go well for him, he’s always down on the pitch, he shows no reaction.

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“He’s not a leader. He’s no Ronaldo in that regard. Messi is one of the best players ever, but he needs to show that mentality.

“He needs to wake up! When things go well with ?Barcelona he’s a terrific player. We’ve seen it in the ?Champions League though, when things don’t go well, he can disappear on the pitch. He’s not there anymore. 

“He’s not running, he’s walking. He’s not concerned about the ball. Come on man.”

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Despite his criticism of Messi, Petit believes that he is not solely to blame for Argentina’s lacklustre displays. 

“The whole team’s body language was so poor, they’ve no confidence and no trust between each other. The way they looked, I cannot see Argentina qualifying now.

“It would be a shame to see them qualify, because against Iceland they looked terrible with no inspiration.

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“The manager, Jorge Sampaoli, has made so many mistakes since the start of the tournament, in choosing his team, making substitutions, just everything.

“You remember so many Argentina teams with great players in the past, but this team is so far from those. I’m not that surprised though, I’ve been saying it since before the World Cup that there was no chance they would win it because of that defence.”

Argentina find themselves bottom of Group D, and need a victory over Nigeria to have any chance at qualification. Even with a victory, Argentina will also be watching Iceland’s clash with Croatia, knowing that a convincing win for the Icelandic side could eliminate Argentina, regardless of their performance. 

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Real Madrid Enter Battle With Barcelona & PSG to Sign Chelsea Star Who ‘Supported Them as a Boy’

??Chelsea will face significant competition in their efforts to keep N’Golo Kante at Stamford Bridge this summer, as a whole host of European superpowers are queuing up to sign the two-time Premier League winner.

?Le Parisien reports that Real Madrid are in pole position to make the 27-year-old their “new Makelele”, with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain also interested. Kante supported Real as a boy and a move to the Bernabeu would be a dream come true.

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PSG will not let this one go without a fight. They have identified Kante as the ideal successor to Thiago Motta and the French champions’ sporting director Antero Henrique travelled to London last week for talks with Chelsea about the possibility of doing a deal.

Barcelona have opted for a more passive approach, inviting members of Kante’s family to the Nou Camp for a game at the end of last season. They want to reinforce their midfield options after the departure of Andres Iniesta.

It’s a lot to take in for a player who was plying his trade in the French second division just five years ago. Kante’s meteoric rise took him to Leicester City, where he famously helped the Foxes win the Premier League, before repeating the trick at Chelsea the following season.

However, a disappointing 5th place finish in the league last season means that Chelsea will play Europa League football in 2017/18, and they may struggle to hold on to their prized assets, of which Kante is one.

Kante, who has played both of France’s matches so far at the World Cup, is contracted to the Blues until 2021.

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Jamie Redknapp Makes Stunning Revelation About How Close Man Utd Came to Signing Luka Modric

?Sir Alex Ferguson attempted to sign Luka Modric at ?Manchester United prior to the midfielder’s switch from ?Tottenham to ?Real Madrid, according to former Spurs and Liverpool player Jamie Redknapp.

Despite a rocky start in La Liga the Croatian is now widely considered as one the world’s best midfielder having shone for Real Madrid and his country over the years.

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And with his future at the Bernabeu under speculation amidst an expected overhaul under new manager Julen Lopetegui, Redknapp has shed light on how the 32-year-old’s playing days could have taken another turn in the summer of 2011. 

“The day after Manchester United lost to Barcelona in the Champions League final at Wembley in 2011, my dad received a call from Sir Alex Ferguson,” Redknapp wrote in his column for the ?Daily Mail

“He wanted to sign Luka Modric. Xavi and Iniesta had raised the bar for midfielders. The best had to be players who could take the ball off either foot, dribble and pass through the lines.

“Having seen just how impressive those two were against United, Sir Alex identified Modric as the player to take his team forward.

“He would eventually leave Tottenham for Real Madrid the next year but only a few months after arriving at the Bernabeu he was voted La Liga’s worst signing of the season by Spanish fans.

“It has always frustrated me that Modric has been so underrated. It is only when he adds goals to his game, such as his sensational strike against Argentina, that the rest of his game gets the recognition it deserves.”

Whilst a playing career at Old Trafford under Ferguson would most certainly have returned a number of honours, Modric has not failed to tick that box since leaving Spurs, having lifted four Champions League trophy’s and a La Liga title with the Spanish giants. 

The 32-year-old has been a focal point in Croatia’s World Cup campaign to date, where he notched a sensational goal in the ?victory over Argentina which sealed their place in the Last 16 with a game to spare. 

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Real Madrid & Juventus Join the Race to Sign Out of Favour Bayern Midfielder Thiago Alcantara

?Thiago Alcantara’s future could definitely be away from the Allianz Arena this summer, and there’s interest in his services from around Europe. The Spaniard is available to buy from ?Bayern Munich during the closed season, and the German side are after a fee of around €60m.

Thiago has enjoyed a fruitful five seasons in Bavaria, lifting the Bundesliga at the end of each term. Until now, he’s been a key figure in the German squad, but an abundance of midfield talent means that the playmaker is free to leave this summer.

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And now, as teams catch wind of his availability, some of Europe’s top clubs have come closing in.

According to Spanish outlet Marca (via Calcio Mercato), Real Madrid (fierce rivals of Thiago’s former club Barcelona) are interested in the player. New manager Julen Lopetegui has worked with Thiago in the Spain national team setup, and is believed to be a big fan of the midfielder.

Lopetegui sees Thiago as a potential replacement for Mateo Kovacic, who is looking to leave the Bernabe in search of regular game time, and Liverpool have been strongly linked with the Croatian.

On the other hand, Juventus are also expressing an interest in Thiago – so claims Tuttosport (as per Il Bianconero). Max Allegri would consider making a move for the Spain international, should Miralem Pjanic move away.

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The Old Lady are holding out for €80m for the Bosnian, and while many reports have linked Juve with a move for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Tuttosport believed that Thiago is another – much cheaper – option than the Serbian alternative.

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