Ozil ready to be 'important' part of Real Madrid's season

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil believes he can still be integral to success at Santiago Bernabeu this season.

The German playmaker wants to play a starring role, despite the continued form of Cristiano Ronaldo and summer recruitment of Luka Modric making competition for places more fierce than ever.

Ozil, who scored two goals against the Faroe Islands in his nation’s opening 2014 World Cup qualifier, spoke of his confidence after the game.

“The most important thing was the victory for the team, but I’m very happy with the two goals I scored,” the midfielder told reporters.

“I enjoyed being on the pitch and a game like this is good for me to keep building my confidence.

“The football year has just started, but I feel good and I think I can keep improving. [Real Madrid] have a long season ahead of us and I want to be a very important part of it.”

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Benzema: I have not seen Cristiano Ronaldo unhappy at Real Madrid

Karim Benzema has explained that he was surprised to hear that Cristiano Ronaldo was sad at Real Madrid, because he had not seen any signs of such feelings from the forward.

Ronaldo revealed last Sunday that he was “sad” at the Santiago Bernabeu, but as yet nobody has been able to work out why.

But Portugal team-mate Nani stated on Friday that “Ronaldo isn’t sad, he’s fine”, and Benzema seems to subscribe to the same school of thought.

“I don’t know why Ronaldo is sulking. I haven’t really followed the story but I haven’t seen him unhappy,” the former Lyon man said at a press conference on Sunday morning.

There has been much speculation about whether Ronaldo is keen on a move away from the Spanish capital, or whether he is simply after a higher salary, following his declarations that his issue is a “professional” one.

However, he had posted on his Twitter account that his feelings are not motivated by money.

Benzema’s seemingly unsympathetic attitude is not uncommon among people in the game, given that former Barcelona coach Carles Rexach had recently stated: “He’s a top player, he has everything. He is physically fit, well built, has money, success, is one of the best players in the world. I don’t know what else he wants, so for him to be sad is sacrilege.”

Ronaldo scored in Portugal’s 2-1 win over Luxembourg in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers on Friday.

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Poll: Which club would be best for Fellaini?

POLL

Following Marouane Fellaini’s transfer bombshell that could signal an end to his time at Everton, we’re asking you what is the next step for the midfielder.

“I now begin my fifth season at Everton,” Fellaini told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “This will be one of my last. I’ve seen everything. In January or at the end of the season I would look for another club or league.”

The Belgium international signed a new five-year contract with Everton in November 2011 but his latest words indicate that a move is likely to be on the cards next summer.

Would Manchester United or City be the right place for the 24-year-old, or would a switch to the likes of Chelsea or Arsenal be the best bet for the midfielder? Alternatively, should the Belgian leave the Premier League altogether and pursue a new club in Spain or Italy?

HAVE YOUR SAY

So what should be the next move for Fellaini? Take a vote in our poll and leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.

Real Madrid fans will love Modric, says Croatia boss Stimac

Igor Stimac has claimed that Real Madrid supporters “are going to love” new signing Luka Modric.

Stimac took over as Croatia coach from Slaven Bilic after Euro 2012, and started his competitive stewardship with a 1-0 victory over Macedonia in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers on Friday.

And following Modric’s €41.5 million (£33.2m) summer move from Tottenham, the 45-year-old is certain that his new fans will be in awe.

“He’s a player that thinks very quickly,” he told AS. “Luka sees what is happening on the pitch, so he can play anywhere. He has a great future in Spain. The Madrid fans are going to love him.

“Luka can do anything with the ball. He’s not on top form, but it only shows in when he combines moves, as he doesn’t have his usual strength and accuracy.

“Even so, he played beautifully [on Friday]. He was smart against a team with a lot of discipline and a very closed style.”

Modric, who turned 27 on Sunday, played the full 90 minutes against Macedonia, and declared that he is looking forward to more of the same.

“I am perfect to play 90 minutes,” he said.

Modric and Real Madrid travel to Sevilla on Saturday 15 looking to close the gap on rivals Barcelona.

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Ronaldo can’t walk past his reflection without admiring it, says Rooney

Ronaldo - Rooney - Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo y Rooney, compañeros en Manchester United

Wayne Rooney has lifted the lid on his relationship with former Manchester United team-mate Ronaldo, as well as his dressing room habits.

The 26-year-old United striker, currently sidelined with a thigh injury, has provided a unique insight into goings on at Old Trafford during the Portuguese superstar’s stay at the club.  

In Rooney’s upcoming book, ‘My Decade in the Premier League’, extracts of which are being published by The Mirror, he reveals: “There’s a mirror by Ronaldo’s seat in the Old Trafford dressing room.

“In the time I’ve been playing with Ronnie, the one thing I’ve noticed about him is that he can’t walk past his reflection without admiring it, even if we’re about to play a game of football.

“Every match, before the team goes out for the warm-up, he runs through the same routine. The kit goes on, the boots go on. Not long after, Ronnie turns to his reflection and stares, psyching himself up for the game.

“If there’s one person with a bigger self-belief than Ronaldo, I haven’t met him yet. He’s not shy.”

Rooney and Ronaldo famously clashed in the World Cup 2006 quarter-final, during which England were reduced to ten men after Rooney was red-carded following a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho and a spot of gamesmanship from his United colleague.

“When I walked to the tunnel, I knew I couldn’t really blame Ronaldo for what had happened because he was trying to win the game for his country.

“I knew what was in store, so when I bumped into him in the tunnel after the game I gave him a heads up.

“‘The fans will be going mad over this one,’ I said. ‘They’ll be trying to make a big deal of it, so we’ll just have to get on with things as normal because there will be talk all summer.’

“He understood, he’s a bright lad, but not long afterwards the papers reckoned he was off to Real Madrid; apparently me and him weren’t talking, which was absolute rubbish.

“The truth is I like Ronaldo, always have done. He’s a good lad and great to have around the dressing room.”