Thibaut Courtois Reveals How Santiago Bernabeu Atmosphere Provides Motivation for Players

?Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is targeting a better second season at the club, while admitting that the pressure of playing at the Santiago Bernabeu gives him “more desire to play well.” 

The 28-year-old swapped Chelsea for the Spanish capital in 2018 in a deal worth £35m, although it’s been a disastrous season for the club with them failing to win any of La Liga, the Champions League or Copa del Rey.

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?Courtois himself has come in for criticism following his move, with him keeping just ten clean sheets in 35 games, but hopes to sign off the season with a win over Real Betis on Sunday.

Speaking to Codere, as quoted by ?Goal, he said: “It would be good to give one last joy to the fans, go on vacation with a victory and finish the year well to prepare the next season. 

“We are training with a lot of enthusiasm because we know it was not the best season, but we are improving, we are training very hard to prepare for the next season and we are looking forward to finishing well.”


It’s been a turbulent campaign for ?Real Madrid what with them appointing three managers over the course of the campaign, as well as their quest for a fourth-consecutive ?Champions League triumph coming to an abrupt halt against Ajax in the last 16. 

With Zinedine Zidane now returning as manager, Courtois is positive there will be improvements next season, describing it as a “dream” to play at a club with the stature of Real Madrid.

“It’s very nice, it’s a dream to be able to play in a big stadium, when I’m in the goal and I see the Bernabeu from there it’s very beautiful,” he added. 

Thibaut Courtois

“It gives more adrenaline, more desire to play well, it’s pressure too but I like to play like that.

“To the fans I ask you to continue supporting us, we know that this year was not the best but the following year we will go for all of them [trophies] again.”

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Isco Accepts Substitute Role at Real Madrid After Discussion With Zinedine Zidane

?Real Madrid midfielder Isco has accepted he will be predominantly used as substitute next season and not start the majority of games.

The 27-year-old has been out of favour for most of the campaign and there has been speculation linking him with a move away from the club.

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According to Spanish television programme Jugones, ?as reported by ?AS, ?Isco has agreed to stay at the club despite being told by Zinedine Zidane that he is unlikely to be a regular starter next season.

The 27-year-old was a favourite of Zidane during the Frenchman’s first tenure as ?Real manager but found opportunities hard to come by under his successors Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari. He has started just 11 league games with Real enduring a disappointing season, sitting third in ?La Liga and suffering a round of 16 exit in the ?Champions League to Ajax.

He has had increased involvement since Zidane returned, playing 541 minutes, the fourth-highest total of any player in the squad within that time.

Isco

He enjoyed the best season of his Real career under Zidane, scoring 11 goals in the 2016/17 campaign as Real won La Liga and the Champions League. He was also named in the UEFA Champions League Team of the Season for that campaign.

The Spain international joined Real from Málaga in 2013 and has made 276 appearances for Los Blancos, scoring 47 goals. He has won one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey and has won the Champions League on four occasions.

Real play their last La Liga fixture of the season on Sunday where they host Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabéu.

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Transfer Rumours: Ajax Confirm Ziyech Exit, Man Utd Eye Monaco Ace, Valencia Consider Diaz & More

The Premier League transfer window is officially open, yet we’re yet to have any £100m deals confirmed by any side in England’s top flight. Yes, it’s disappointing, but there’s still plenty of time.

Right about now reports are being fired out hot of the presses, and we just can’t wait to get into a few of ’em and give you the lowdown.

Here’s Friday’s roundup of transfer rumours for your perusal…


Man Utd Locked in ‘Concrete’ Talks With Monaco Outcast

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To kick off with, ?Manchester United are looking to the future and are interested in signing Monaco youngster Hannibal Mejbri. The two parties have been in concrete discussions for several months now.

Described in ?RMC Sport‘s report as the club’s ‘great hope’, Mejbri’s relationship with Monaco has completely broken down and his family have made contact with the legal commission of Ligue 1, asking for their current contract to be abolished.

Mejbri is rated as one of the sharpest young talents around, and also has a spectacular set of locks atop his head. Hey, it all adds up.


Porto Defender Set for Atletico Madrid Switch With Personal Terms Agreed

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Porto defender Felipe is close to swapping Primeira Liga for La Liga, with reports indicating the deal is basically done.

?Atleti have lost metaphorical limb after limb in recent weeks, with Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann both confirming their respective summer exits.

Thankfully for supporters of the Wanda Metropolitano side, Diego Simeone has moved quickly to size up a replacement for Godin, with ?Record reporting he has passed a medical and agreed a three-year contract ahead of official confirmation of the €25m move.

Finally, some good news, eh Atleti fans?


Ajax Confirm Star Forward Hakim Ziyech Will Leave ‘When a Top Club Comes’

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Marc Overmars has confirmed Ajax forward Hakim Ziyech will most likely leave the club this summer, alerting a host of Europe’s elite sides.

The forward lit up the Champions League with Ajax, but he remains one of a host of players who could eave the Eredivisie champions this summer.

Overmars said, as quoted by ?the Mirror: “That [a move] will come by itself. When that happens, everyone will automatically hear it. He leaves when a top club comes.”

?Bayern Munich’s interest in the Moroccan has been reported ?previously, but apparently their curiosity has intensified according to ?Bild, as a move for Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi is now seen as more complicated than originally thought.


Chelsea Among Host of Clubs Interested in Signing 17-Year-Old MVV Maastricht Defender

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Chelsea are obviously interested in signing players this summer, it just depends on whether they’ll actually be allowed to.

Given their ban was for breaking rules regarding the signings of young, foreign players, it seems they’re tempting fate by going after another young, foreign player in MVV Maastricht defender Xavier Mbuyamba, according to ?Voetbal International.

The 17-year-old has trained with Chelsea’s youth teams this week, but Celtic, Porto, Bayern Munich and ?Liverpool are also thought to be eyeing the teenager up.


Valencia Considering Mariano Diaz Move if They Qualify for Champions League

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Mariano Diaz was slowly wasting away before his move to Lyon in 2017. In Ligue 1, he totally smashed it. Then ?Real Madrid bought him back. 

However, instead of taking on some of the goalscoring burden following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure, however, the three evil managers to coach Real this season all decided it was appropriate not to play him very often.

Unsurprisingly the 25-year-old has been linked with a summer move and Valencia may make a move if they qualify for the Champions League, according to ?AS. They’ll reach Europe’s top club competition if they beat Real Valladolid on the final day of the season.


Diego Simeone Identifies Marcos Alonso as ‘Chosen One’ to Succeed Filipe Luis

Marcos Alonso

Remember when fans rated Marcos Alonso as the best left back in the Premier League because he scored goals? Well, his stock has dropped a fair bit ever since it was discovered that he can’t defend very well.

Which makes it all the more odd that, according to ?AS, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has supposedly identified the Spain international as ‘the chosen one’ to replace Filipe Luis, notably a very good defender and expected to leave this summer.

Knowing Simeone he’ll probably turn Alonso into Europe’s best defender, but blimey, this looks pretty ropey.


Tottenham Linked With Move for £23.5m Rated ‘New Juan Roman Riquelme’

Agustin Almendra

Tottenham are ?believed to keen on Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon, but if you thought they wouldn’t be eyeing up an obscure, hipster’s choice central midfielder to bolster their ranks…well, you’re terribly mistaken.

According to ?Il Mattino, Spurs are interested in Boca Juniors’ Agustin Almendra, who’s valued at £23.5m and has been compared to Argentina legend Juan Roman Riquelme.

However, the Champions League finalists face competition from Paris Saint-Germain, Inter, Napoli and Benfica for the 19-year-old’s signature.


Ralph Hasenhuttl Eyes Ademola Lookman Reunion at Southampton Following Disappointing Season

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People thought Ademola Lookman might have a decent chance of breaking into Everton’s starting lineup this season after impressing in spells while on loan at RB Leipzig.

However, he’s been shunted to the back of the attacking pecking order, behind players like Richarlison, Theo Walcott and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and is now being targeted by Southampton for a potential summer switch, according to ?the Independent.

Saints coach Ralph Hasenhuttl coached Lookman during their time together in the Bundesliga and wanted to sign him permanently, but Everton wouldn’t budge on their £28m asking price. After a season of bench warming, that fee is expected to drop.


Leicester and Everton Consider Swoops for RB Leipzig Forward

Jean Kevin Augustin

Speaking of RB Leipzig, ever heard of Jean-Kevin Augustin? Everton and Leicester have, and both have made informal enquiries over his availability, according to ?the Telegraph.

The Frenchman, signed from PSG in 2017, is expected to fetch around £17.5m if he does leave Red Bull Arena.

Everton expect Cenk Tosun to move on in the summer following a disappointing spell at Goodison Park, while Leicester may be looking for a competent back-up for regular starting striker Jamie Vardy.

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Santi Cazorla Returns to Spain Squad for Euro 2020 Qualifiers After 4-Year Absence

Villarreal midfielder Santi Cazorla has been named in Spain’s 23-man squad for their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Sweden.

The 34-year-old has not featured for his country since November 2015, when he faced England in a friendly match. However, he has enjoyed an impressive season with Villarreal and is now set to return to the international fold.


The Spanish national team confirmed the call-up on ?Twitter, bringing an end to ?Cazorla’s lengthy absence from the team.

The former ?Arsenal star has racked up seven goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season, despite Villarreal struggling towards the bottom of the ?La Liga table.

?Manchester United goalkeeper ?David de Gea retains his place in the squad, and he will compete with ?Chelsea star Kepa Arrizabalaga and Real Betis’ Pau Lopez for a place on Luis Enrique’s team sheet.

Real Sociedad duo Diego Llorente and Mikel Oyarzabal have both caught the eye and played their way into Enrique’s squad, whilst Dani Carvajal and Iago Aspas have both returned from injury.

?Isco has also forced his way back into the squad, having been left out for his side’s previous meetings with Norway and Malta.

With such a large pool of talent to choose from, there are plenty of notable absentees. Enrique has continued to overlook ?Atletico Madrid trio ?Diego Costa, Saul Niguez and Koke, whilst the Chelsea pairing of ?Cesar Azpilicueta and ?Marcos Alonso have both missed out.

Francisco Roman Alarcon alias Isco

Spain will travel to the Faroe Islands on 7th June, before hosting Sweden on 10th June, as they look to continue their perfect start to qualification


Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Pau Lopez, Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Defenders: Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Inigo Martinez, Diego Llorente, Mario Hermoso,  Dani Carvajal, Jose Gaya, Sergi Roberto.

Midfielders: Santi Cazorla, Rodri, Isco, Dani Parejo, Jesus Navas, Fabian Ruiz, Sergio Busquets.

Forward: Rodrigo Moreno, Alvaro Morata, Iago Aspas, Mikel Oyarzabal, Marco Asensio.

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Luka Jovic ‘Completes’ £52.4m Move to Real Madrid From ?Eintracht Frankfurt

?Eintracht Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic has reportedly completed his anticipated switch to Real Madrid, with Los Blancos paying £52.4m for the Serbian, tying him down to a five-year deal, though some reports have denied an agreement has been reached.

Jovic has been a revelation for the Bundesliga outfit this season, netting 27 goals across competitions and providing seven assists. Alongside Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud, he is the joint-top scorer in the Europa League this season, with his 10 goals helping Frankfurt to the semi-finals, where they were ultimately knocked out by the Blues.

Luka Jovic,Mijat Gacinovic

The 21-year-old has long been linked with a move to the Spanish capital this summer, and according to ?Sky Sports the deal has now been completed. 

The reports explained: “Eintracht Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic has completed a £52.4m (€60m) move to Real Madrid, Sky Sports News understands.

“The 21-year-old Serbia international has signed a five-year contract with the Spanish giants, which will earn him £43.7million (€50m) in total, or £8.7million a year.”

Jovic joined the German side from Benfica on an initial two-year loan, but Adi Hutter’s side triggered a clause in that contract to sign the player for a fee understood to be in the region of just €7m back in April. 

All in all, he scored 36 goals in 74 appearances for the Eagles, and will join ?Real as one of Europe’s hottest strikers. The deal Jovic penned with Frankfurt did in fact extend his deal till June 2023, but it did not include the considerable salary he has been afforded by Zinedine Zidane’s side.

However, according to reports in Bild, as relayed by Ronan Murphy on ?Twitter, the deal has not been agreed, with Frankfurt apparently holding out for something closer to €60-70m. As Murphy explained: “Bild have denied an agreement between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt for Luka Jovic, saying Madrid offered €50m but Eintracht want €60-70m.”

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