Zinedine Zidane under huge pressure at Real Madrid after admitting his side were ‘outplayed in every department’ by PSG

19 Sep

Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane is under huge pressure after the Spanish giants’ poor start to the season continued in the Champions League.

The Bernabeu boss admitted his side were outplayed ‘in every department’ on Wednesday night as they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain.

Zidane is facing calls to be sacked after Wednesday’s dreadful defeat to PSG

PSG were without key attacking trio Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavai and Neymar but still ran riot against Real, with Angel Di Maria coming back to haunt his former club with a fine brace.

Real also hit a 16-year European low in the game as they failed to land a single shot on target.

They did have two goals disallowed by VAR, from Gareth Bale [for a harsh handball] and Karim Benzema [for offside], but ultimately the final score was a fair reflection of the game as PSG dominated.

Madrid have been struggling with injuries, with Luka Modric, Marcelo, Isco and Marco Asensio all on the sidelines, while captain Sergio Ramos was suspended.

But Zidane admits his team just could not compete with the French champions and lacked intensity as he suffered his biggest ever European defeat as Real boss.

“They were better than us in every department, in the play, in midfield, and the thing that annoys me most is the intensity,” he told Marca.

Angel Di Maria was a thorn in his former club’s side as he inspired PSG to victory in Paris

“It’s difficult if you don’t start strongly. They’re good at creating chances, that’s not what worries me, it’s seeing my team without the necessary intensity at the high level of this competition.

“We knew they were going to press us, but we barely made any impact on the game and we created few chances.”

Zidane also refused to lay the blame at the door of any of his players, adding: “We’re all in the same boat here, I’m not going to single anyone out.”

The Frenchman’s return to Real has not gone to plan. In 17 games since his reappointment as manager in March, Los Blancos have won just seven, drawn four and lost five.

During his first spell in charge, which saw him guide the club to three straight Champions League titles, he boasted a win percentage of 80 per cent. Since coming back it reads as just 56 per cent.

And now the World Cup winning legend is facing claims he is not up to the task at Real and that his original success at the Bernabau was down to one man – Cristiano Ronaldo.

And the defeat to PSG wasn’t a one-off. Real were 3-0 up at home to Levante on Saturday and eventually won 3-2, and only avoided drawing 3-3 thanks to a brilliant late save from Thibaut Courtois.

They also drew 2-2 at Villarreal earlier this season, and the player who scored both of their goals was Bale – the man Zidane attempted to force out over the summer.

They also spent €300million in transfer window, but fans are not seeing any improvement on the pitch with top signing Eden Hazard yet to score or make an assist in a white shirt.

Everybody knows managers have a short life expectancy at Real Madrid but, having made the decision to end his first spell himself, Zidane may find he is given the boot if results and performances do not improve.

Valencia players refuse to attend pre-Chelsea press conference ‘to protest Marcelino sacking’

17 Sep

Valencia players boycotted the club’s press conference ahead of their Champions League opener against Chelsea after the sacking of popular manager Marcelino.

On Monday, new Valencia boss Albert Celades was forced to face the press alone after his stars refused to attend to their pre-match media duties.

Marcelino was hugely popular with Valencia fans
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Marcelino was relieved of his duties last week, despite winning the Copa del Rey and securing Champions League football last season.

He was Valencia’s most successful manager since Rafa Benitez, who guided Los Che to two LaLiga titles in 2002 and 2004.

And the decision to end Marcelino’s two-year spell at the Mestalla has not gone down well with fans.

Marcelino is Valencia’s most successful boss since Benitez – so why was he sacked?

His replacement, Celades, a former assistant at Real Madrid, suffered a 5-2 defeat to Barcelona in his first match in charge on Saturday.

And the Spaniard has played down the alleged unrest within his squad ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Celades had to face the press alone as his players boycotted media duties
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He said: “Obviously it’s not an ideal situation but it’s the players’ decision, really. I don’t have much more to say about that. There isn’t anything I can do about it.

“I speak to the players every day. They took this decision but there is always dialogue. The reaction I’ve had has been very good and I’m sure it will continue to improve.

“The spirit is very good. (Tuesday) is the start of the best club competition in Europe and that is ample motivation for the players to give their best.

“They want to play, taste the atmosphere. and be in the starting XI. No one wants to miss out and that, for me, is the most important thing.”

According to Las Provincias newspaper, the Valencia players have been told they, rather than the club, must pay the fines for failing to fulfil media duties.

Eden Hazard explains difference between Chelsea and Real Madrid fans ahead of Champions League opener at PSG

17 Sep

Eden Hazard claims Real Madrid fans are more fanatical about football than English supporters.

The Belgium captain joined the LaLiga giants in an initial £88million deal, which could rise to £150million, from Chelsea in June and knows he has his work cut out to gain backing from the Bernabeu faithful.

Eden Hazard was Real Madrid’s marquee signing over the summer
Getty - Contributor

The lofty expectations of the crown have even seen Cristiano Ronaldo jeered in the past, while Gareth Bale, despite his role in winning the 2018 Champions League final, felt the wrath of supporters last season.

Hazard has now played his first game for the club when he made his debut as a 60th-minute substitute in a 3-2 win over Levante on Saturday after recovering from a thigh injury.


Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Napoli vs Liverpool (Tuesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona (Tuesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Olympiakos vs Tottenham (Wednesday, 5:55pm) – talkSPORT
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Man City (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • PSG vs Real Madrid (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs Arsenal (Thursday, 5:55pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Leicester vs Tottenham (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Leeds vs Derby (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Everton vs Sheffield United (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Newcastle vs Brighton (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • West Brom vs Huddersfield (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2

“In England there are not so many fans, people there like football and everyone, young people, adults, teenagers, are really interested in their football, but they are not so fanatical about their teams,” he said.

“At the time I was in Chelsea and we lost, we were disappointed as were the fans, but I never felt it was a disaster.

“When you are at Real Madrid, even if it is my first year, talking to the fans, they always expect you to win the Champions League.

“That is why I think there is so much expectation placed on this competition and that is why the club has won it more than any other team.”

Zinedine Zidane could hand Hazard his first Real Madrid start in their Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, in a game which is LIVE on talkSPORT 2.

Is Ansu Fati the next Lionel Messi or Bojan Krkic? Barcelona will need patience with record-breaking goal scorer

17 Sep

It’s not Bojan Krkic or even Lionel Messi. No, Ansu Fati is the youngest player to score at the Camp Nou – his goal for Barcelona against Valencia, aged 16 years, 10 months and 13 days ensured that.

It’s the latest in a growing roll-call of records for the Barça talent that’s now almost dizzying to read, presenting a challenge for player and club to manage.

The 16-year-old is breaking records for fun
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The assist Ansu provided a few minutes later against Los Che on Saturday made him the youngest player in the history of LaLiga to score and assist in the same match.

Before those landmarks were achieved, he had already become Barcelona’s youngest goalscorer in LaLiga, coming off the bench against Osasuna on matchday three at the age of 16 years and 304 days to find the net and break Bojan’s record (the striker first scored in the league at 17 years and 53 days old).

For those wondering, Lionel Messi was 17 days and 331 days old when he scored his first league goal for Barca.

There’s more still. By entering the field of play on matchday two against Real Betis at the age of 16 years and 298 days old, Ansu became the second youngest player ever to feature for Barcelona in LaLiga, only missing Vicenç Martínez’s all-time record by an 18-day margin.

The succession of benchmarks combined with two goals and one assist in three games ensures a player, who just a month ago was only known to those who follow Barça’s academy closely, has now been catapulted to the front-pages of the Spanish sporting press, with Sport asking “Ansu, what planet did you come from?”.

It’s not a normal situation to be in, but there’s nothing usual about Ansu’s story, one founded on a brave risk and plenty of hard work.

Originally from Guinea-Bissau, the first domino in the chain reaction that brought his family to Spain came when his dad chanced upon a newspaper article about a town near Sevilla where the mayor was determined to help immigrants.

Bori Fati eventually packed his bags and headed to Marinaleda in the hope of finding a better life for his wife and kids, but would soon end up asking for food on the streets, Diari Ara’s Toni Padilla explained.

Ansu’s journey has been a remarkable one
AFP or licensors

Until one day, Fati senior finally met left wing mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, and was given work as a garbage truck driver. That was enough to bring the rest of the family over, and the Fatis started to build their life in Spain.

It’s a journey that eventually resulted in three of the children being picked up by Barcelona’s academy, and now, one of them hailed as an otherworldly talent by the Spanish sporting press.

The image of an extra-terrestrial in a Barça shirt is one previously assigned to Messi, and the comparison isn’t coincidental. Even with a production line as excellent as theirs, it has been a long time since Barcelona produced a youngster who looks as mature beyond his years as Ansu, with decision making that, at his age, has to at least in part be explained by genetics.

Barcelona must learn from the mistakes they made with Bojan
Getty Images - Getty

The teenager was a sight to behold against Valencia, repeatedly tormenting seasoned Denmark international Daniel Wass on the wing and taking only two minutes to score the opening goal.

By the time the clock ticked past the six-minute mark he had played a huge part in putting the ball in the net again, dribbling away from two opponents before providing a perfect cut back for Frenkie de Jong, delivered with the accuracy and cool-headedness of someone who knows Barça’s approach like the back of his hand.

In just 60 minutes on the pitch the youngster received the ball 50 times in total, a level of participation usually reserved for Messi in a Barça shirt. Antoine Griezmann, by comparison, was involved 51 times in 90 minutes.

The euphoria is huge, but for Ansu’s benefit it has to run out, and the big question now is what happens next? Yet another record held by Bojan – Barça’s youngest debutant in the Champions League – could soon be broken, but of more significance is how Ansu’s role changes now Luis Suárez, Messi and Ousmane Dembélé are fit again.

The teen sensation has been thrust into first team action due to a plague of injuries up front, but things are about to become far more congested in that area of the pitch.

In all likelihood, the 16-year-old will soon have to drop down to Barça B. Will he be able to handle that shift, playing on third division pitches in front of meagre crowds after thrilling the Camp Nou – a comedown other youth talents have struggled with in the past? Encouragingly, his former youth coach thinks so.

Barcelona must manage Ansu properly if they want him to fulfil his full potential
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“He has his feet on the ground. If he has to go back to the B team, he’ll go back. We’re lucky to have a great player but also one with his head in the right place,” former Barça Juvenil A coach Denis Silva told Catalunya radio.

Barcelona will have to help, too. Certainly more than they did with Bojan, the last player who looked this likely to match Messi’s rise, but who ultimately suffered from too much, too soon, and did not feel confident opening up about the anxiety that the huge pressure on his shoulders was causing as a 17-year-old.

So far, Ernesto Valverde is managing the situation with great skill. “Taking on the idea of being a Barça player isn’t an easy thing. He should be happy, but understand it’s very tricky regardless, and he has to take on his work. It’s a long road,” the Barça boss advised following the Valencia win.

If Barcelona can help Ansu to manage that work, they have a potentially decisive talent on their hands.

Barcelona travel to Dortmund to begin their Champions League campaign and you can hear it live on talkSPORT 2 at 8pm.

Ansu Fati: Barcelona’s 16-year-old sensation stars again with goal and assist in victory over Valencia

15 Sep

Barcelona’s teenage wonderkid Ansu Fati stole the show again as the LaLiga champions secured a convincing victory over Valencia at the Nou Camp.

The 16-year-old became Barca’s youngest ever debutant earlier this season and then become their youngest ever goalscorer before the international break when he netted against Osasuna.

Barcelona´s Guinea-Bissau forward Ansu Fati (R) celebrates after scoring against Valencia at the Nou Camp
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That strike earned him a place in the starting XI against Valencia and he certainly took his chance – needing less than two minutes to open the scoring with a strong finish after a darting run into the box.

He then returned the favour to Frenkie De Jong and provided the assist for the Dutchman to double Barcelona‘s lead just four minutes later.

Lionel Messi was again missing with a calf injury and watching the game from the stands.

But it appears Barca may have unearthed their future talisman in Guinea-Bissau-born Fati, who joined the club’s famous La Masia academy when he was ten.

Just six years later and he’s a first-team player, goalscorer and club record-breaker.

Being 2-0 down after seven minutes was not the start Valencia needed after a turbulent week that saw head coach Marcelino axed by owner Peter Lim and Albert Celades installed in his place.

Kevin Gameiro gave visiting fans something to cheer about, though, when he pulled a goal back in the 27th minute.

Ansu Fati (R) is congratulated by Barcelona’s French forward Antoine Griezmann after scoring
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But despite Messi’s absence, Barca had no trouble creating chances as Gerard Pique netted in the second half and substitute Luis Suarez came off the bench to score two brilliant goals.

There was still time for substitute Maximiliano Gomez to grab a second for Valencia but it did not take the gloss off a second victory in LaLiga this season for Barca.

You can watch all the goals, including Fati’s strike and assist, in the video below.


Is Raheem Sterling on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s level? Man City star’s stats compared to world’s best players

13 Sep

Former England international Trevor Sinclair believes Manchester City ace Raheem Sterling is on a par with Barcelona and Juventus superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sinclair joined talkSPORT earlier this week to heap praise on the forward after he scored twice for England over the recent international break, saying he is an invaluable part of Pep Guardiola’s Man City squad,

Sterling netted in both of England’s recent wins, against Bulgaria and Kosovo
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“Raheem Sterling is right at the top of the tree,” said Sinclair. “If he’s not worth £200million now, I’d be surprised.

“He’s the best player playing for England and he’s the first player on the team sheet for Pep Guardiola.

“The big question now is where do you put him with the likes of Messi and Ronaldo? I would put him right amongst them. He’s there now.”

But does Sterling deserve to be rated alongside the two legends of the game, who for over a decade have played at an elite level perhaps never seen before in the world of football?

The England forward has been in sensational form for Man City over the past few years, coinciding with Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad.

Since the start of the 2016/17 season, when Guardiola was appointed City manager, Sterling has scored 64 goals in all competitions, adding a further 55 assists. This means Sterling is providing a direct goal contribution ever 1.25 matches – a stunning ratio for a player who was criticised in his early career for supposedly lacking an end product.

While Sterling is a fantastic player, Sinclair’s bold claim was that he is up there with Ronaldo and Messi, two of the world’s best players.

Last season, Messi scored 36 goals and assisted a further 13 in 34 LaLiga games. The Argentine managed a remarkable 1.44 goal contributions per game during this campaign, leaving Sterling’s excellent 0.79 contributions per game paling in comparison. In all competitions, Messi scored 51 goals, in 50 appearances.

Lionel Messi has scored 603 goals for Barcelona throughout his storied career

On the other hand, Ronaldo had a fairly poor debut season with Juventus compared to his usual elite standards.

Nonetheless, his numbers are still better than most other players, scoring 21 times and adding eight assists in 31 Serie A games. He also netted another seven times in cup competitions.

Ronaldo’s 0.94 goal contributions per game means he also, like Messi, fared better than Sterling last term apropos his impact in the final third.

Not too shabby from a bloke who turns 35 later this season.

Sterling vs Ronaldo and Messi since start of 2018/19 season

Raheem Sterling – 56 appearances, 31 goals (in all competitions)

Lionel Messi – 50 appearances, 51 goals

Cristiano Ronaldo – 45 appearances, 29 goals

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently in his second season with Serie A side Juventus following his big money move from Real Madrid
Getty Images - Getty

Turning back the clock to evaluate a 24-year-old Ronaldo also makes for stunning reading, as he is so far ahead of Sterling, who enjoyed his 24th birthday last December.

During the 2009/10 season, the Portugal winger scored a staggering 33 goals in 35 games for Real Madrid, also registering 12 assists for a remarkable 1.29 goal contributions per game.

All things considered, Ronaldo and Messi are not only two of the best players in the world right now, but also two of the greatest players to ever step onto a football pitch.

To claim Sterling is not at their elite level is not a knock on the Englishman, but just further proof that Messi and Ronaldo are once in a generation talents.

Sterling is undeniably a supremely talented player, and his five goals in four games so far this season prove he is set for another impressive campaign.

He will be hoping his goals lead City to their third consecutive Premier League title, to further fill his trophy cabinet and stake a serious claim for future Ballon d’Or success.

However, Sinclair may have been looking through slightly rose-tinted glasses when placing Sterling on the same level as two of the greatest to ever play the game.

Sterling, Ronaldo and Messi's careers so far

Raheem Sterling

Age: 24

Club appearances: 325

Club goals: 98

International appearances (England): 53

International goals: 10

Lionel Messi

Age: 32

Club appearances: 687

Club goals: 603

International appearances: 136

International goals (Argentina): 68

Cristiano Ronaldo

Age: 34

Club appearances: 808

Club goals: 602

International appearances: 160

International goals (Portugal): 93

Marcelino was Valencia’s most successful manager since Rafa Benitez and the fans loved him – so why exactly was he sacked?

12 Sep

When a coach gets the sack there tends to be a debate about patience, whether bad results would soon turn around and if it was too short sighted.

When Valencia decided to let go of head coach Marcelino earlier this week, there was no such discussions.

The move has been universally derided by both supporters and players alike because there is simply no sporting justification for it.

The Asturian is the most successful and loved Valencia boss since Rafael Benitez, someone who took a side that was beginning to flirt dangerously with relegation and returned them to their rightful place in the Champions League.

Marcelino’s departure from Valencia has angered fans and players alike

Better still, he produced a consistency that had eluded Valencia for years, last spring achieving back-to-back Champions League football for the first time since Unai Emery’s final year at the Mestalla in 2012.

If that wasn’t enough, Marcelino also masterminded a 2-1 win over Barcelona in the 2019 Copa del Rey final, earning Los Che their first trophy in over a decade in the most glorious of manners.

He did so at the end of their centenary season, making sure the landmark year will be remembered as one of triumph and not humiliation.

Most tellingly of all, Marcelino is so universally loved that the Valencia supporters – who have a reputation for being Spain’s most demanding fan base – refused to turn their back on him during a tricky spell in winter when results weren’t arriving.

The squad, who admire him just as much, put their own necks on the line and insisted that fortunes would turn around if they stuck by the boss and stuck to his philosophy. They were proven right come the end of the season, Champions League football guaranteed and silverware in hand.

Valencia fans have been incensed by the decision
Getty Images - Getty

All of that is a resounding, glowing review for Marcelino that makes him a very attractive candidate for any jobs that come up in England or elsewhere now that the Spaniard is on the market. So why get rid of him in the first place? The explanation is a cautionary tale of yet another owner who put his own ego and interests ahead of what is best.

The key to the matter is that Marcelino’s success was made possible because owner Peter Lim allowed the coach as well as football director Mateu Alemany to run the sporting side of the club with relative autonomy. That concession only came after several years of failure in the transfer market and ill-advised managerial appointments from the Singaporean.

Paradoxically, the success that followed his relinquishing of control ultimately only further proved that the previous model of running things hadn’t worked. That obviously stung.

There were signs from the start of this summer that something was about to change. Marcelino and Alemany were both clear in their views that Valencia needed to strengthen to avoid stagnation or even falling behind other clubs like Sevilla, who were investing heavily, but the suits disagreed.

The coach first asked for Denis Suárez, who Barcelona were willing to sell at an accessible price, but he was soon told that was impossible. When Denis subsequently ended up at Celta Vigo – who have a far smaller budget than Valencia – it became evident that Marcelino wasn’t being backed. The warning signs were there for all to see.

Former Real Madrid assistant Albert Celades has been named Marcelino’s replacement
getty images

The next target was Rafinha, and this time a deal was even agreed with Barcelona only for Lim to intervene at the last minute and call it off (the Brazilian also ended up at Celta).

“The club let me know that the owner didn’t give it the OK,” Marcelino lamented in August, before adding pointedly that he had to accept the decision ‘like anyone who creates a plan and then has it modified by the owner’.

That issue of having sporting plans meddled in by the owner was most evident of all in the case of Rodrigo Moreno, Valencia’s star striker and a fundamental piece of Marcelino’s successful system.

Both the coach and sporting director Alemany were caught off-guard when Lim let it be known that he would sell the forward to Atletico Madrid for €60m with little time left to find a replacement.

Rodrigo (represented by Lim’s close friend Jorge Mendes) said his goodbyes and a furious Marcelino started planning without him, sending another clear message in a press conference when he noted ‘we’re one team with Rodrigo and another without him. If he’s not there we need to re-think our goals’.

Atleti failed to find the funds to complete the transfer, and Rodrigo ultimately returned to a team he thought he was leaving, but the fatal blow had already been struck to the relationship between Valencia’s owner and its coach.

There was now no doubt for Marcelino that Lim couldn’t be trusted and wasn’t willing to make the minor investments necessary to prolong the winning project, while Lim was furious to have his authority questioned – particularly when the challenger’s success had exposed the owner’s failures for all to see.

So, Lim did what he had long wanted to do and finally pulled the trigger, despite the likelihood that it will be to Valencia’s detriment.

The timing of the call is spectacularly bad. In the space of seven days Valencia will face Barcelona and Chelsea in two of their biggest matches of the season. The replacement hardly inspires confidence either – new boss Albert Celades has barely any experience of note.

The fans are furious and will certainly manifest that at Valencia’s next home match on September 22. And the players are equally angry, several already expressing that publically and taking aim at the owner.

And what of Marcelino? Ironically Marcelino comes out of this best of all. He leaves behind a position that was made untenable with public and professional opinion on his side. The coach is now on the market, more attractive and employable than ever.


Premier League’s most valuable XI includes Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham stars… but how does it compare to LaLiga and Bundesliga teams?

12 Sep

Earlier this week it was revealed that Manchester City have become the first club in football history to build a squad worth over a staggering €1billion.

Pep Guardiola’s side is one of the strongest in the world, with a host of sensational attacking players like Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling backed up by a stronge backline that boasts players such as Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte and Ederson.

Raheem Sterling is now worth more than double the £49million Man City spent on him four years ago
Getty Images

But how many City stars make it into the most valuable XI of current Premier League players?

talkSPORT have dug through transfermarkt.co.uk’s valuation data to create the most pricey XI for the Premier League – and we decided to have a look at Europe’s four other top leagues as well.

Find out below which division can claim to have the most valuable XI…

Premier League most valuable XI – total market value = £1.04billion

Allison (Liverpool) – £72m

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – £72m

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) – £81m

Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) – £67.5m

Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – £54m

N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – £90m

Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – £90m

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – £135m

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) – £117m

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) – £126m

Harry Kane (Tottenham) – £135m

There are no real surprises in the Premier League’s most valuable XI, possibly with the exception of there being more Liverpool players (4) than those from Manchester City (3).

Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah are valued the highest out of all Premier League players, both at £135m.

LaLiga most valuable XI – total market value = £934.9million

Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid) – £90m

Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid) – £45m

Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid) – £63m

Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) – £63m

Jordi Alba (Barcelona) – £45m

Saul (Atletico Madrid) – £81m

Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona) – £76.5m

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – £135m

Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid) – £90m

Eden Hazard (Real Madrid) – £135m

Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona) – £117m

Once again, it is no real surprise to see Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating, with no player from outside Spain’s big three making it into the most valuable XI.

Lionel Messi and new Real Madrid signing Eden Hazard are the most expensive players in the squad, both valued, like Salah and Kane in the Premier League, at £135m.

Serie A most valuable XI – total market value = £644.3million

Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan) – £49.5m

Alessandro Florenzi (Roma) – £22.5m

Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) – £67.5m

Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) – £67.5

Alex Sandro (Juventus) – £40.5m

Miralem Pjanic (Juventus) – £63m

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) – £58.5m

Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina) – £54m

Paulo Dybala (Juventus) – £76.5m

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) – £81m

Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan) – £67.5m

Five Juventus players feature in the most valuable XI for Italy’s Serie A, including Cristiano Ronaldo.

Despite the inclusion of the Portuguese forward, the Serie A XI has a relatively low overall value and does not feature a single player worth more than £100m.

Bundesliga most valuable XI – total market value = £624.8million

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich) – £16.2m

Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich) – £63m

Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich) – £54m

Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich) – £63m

David Alaba (Bayern Munich) – £49m

Thiago (Bayern Munich) – £63m

Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich) – £45m

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) – £90m

Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen) – £81m

Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund) – £45m

Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) – £58.5m

England wonderkid Jadon Sancho is the most valuable player in the Bundesliga XI, with the teenager already worth £90m.

He is one of only four players in the XI not contracted to Bayern Munich, along with his Borussia Dortmund team-mate Julian Brandt.

Ligue 1 most valuable XI – total market value = £677.5million

Anthony Lopes (Lyon) – £22.5m

Thomas Meunier (PSG) – £27m

Marquinhos (PSG) – £58.5m

Thilo Kehrer (PSG) – £31.5m

Layvin Kurzawa (PSG) £15.75m

Marco Verratti (PSG) £67.5m

Houssem Auoar (Lyon) £40.5m

Florian Thauvin (Marseille) – £40.5m

Pablo Sarabia (PSG) – £36m

Neymar (PSG) – £162m

Kylian Mbappe (PSG) – £180m

Perhaps the only surprise is to see that PSG have only eight players in this most expensive XI – rather than eleven!

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both feature, being valued at £180m and £162m respectively. They are the two most valuable players in the world right now, according to transfermarkt.

Chelsea and Real Madrid ‘have transfer agreement’ over possible N’Golo Kante move

12 Sep

Real Madrid have been handed a boost in their pursuit of N’Golo Kante having allegedly reached a transfer agreement with Chelsea over the midfielder.

The Blues ace has been linked with a move to the LaLiga giants over the past year.

N’Golo Kante is widely regarded as one of the finest midfielders in world football
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Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is believed to be a big fan of Kante, who won the World Cup with France last summer.

Spanish outlet Defensa Central claim Chelsea have agreed to let Real know when a club bids for Kante, or if they decide to sell the 28-year-old.

The verbal agreement allegedly comes after Real did not pursue the former Leicester star in the summer transfer window following the signing of Eden Hazard.


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Chelsea were adamant that they would not lose two of their star players in the same window.

Kante has missed Chelsea’s last two games with an ankle injury, while he also did not feature in France’s Euro 2020 qualifying wins over Albania and Andorra as he fights to recover to full fitness.

Prior to the international break, Blues boss Frank Lampard was hopeful Kante could return to his side against Wolves this weekend.

He said: “It’s a difficult one with N’Golo because he’s had four years of constantly playing.

“We knew he had that injury from the Europa League final last season, which affected his pre-season, and then he picked up an ankle injury last week.

“But again he is one to assess and we want him back in the team because he’s an important player. I think the international break will be great for him, to try and recover him.”

Manchester United made contact over Inaki Williams transfer before he signed nine-year contract extension with Athletic Bilbao

12 Sep

Inaki Williams has revealed that Manchester United made contact with him over a potential transfer to Old Trafford during the summer.

The Athletic Bilbao forward eventually committed his future to the LaLiga club despite interest from elsewhere.

Inaki Williams has scored 50 goals in 207 games for Bilbao
Getty - Contributor

The 25-year-old was viewed as a possible replacement for Romelu Lukaku, following his £72million move from United to Inter Milan.

Williams confirmed he did speak to United before opting against a move in an interview with Cadena Ser.

He said: “I had contact from Manchester United but I cannot tell you who it was.

“My no.1 option has always been to stay at Athletic Club and to retire here. Joining Real Sociedad? No, I could never go there. 100 per cent.”

The Red Devils ended up without a replacement for Lukaku and have been left short of attacking options.

Alexis Sanchez followed Lukaku out the exit door for Milan, joining Inter on a temporary basis.

Williams was rewarded for his loyalty to the Basque club with an incredible nine-year contract with a release clause of £125million.

It is one of the longest contracts ever handed out in European football and is similar to the 10-year deal Real Betis gave Denilson in 1998.