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    Atletico Madrid ‘to renew transfer interest in Arsenal’s Lacazette’ with star’s relationship with Arteta ‘under strain’

    ATLETICO MADRID are preparing to renew their interest in Alexandre Lacazette, according to reports.
    The LaLiga giants were heavily linked with the Frenchman last summer.

    Atletico Madrid could renew their interest in Alexandre Lacazette as questions loom over his relationship with Mikel ArtetaCredit: Reuters

    And now AS report Atleti – or even rivals Real Madrid – may look to capitalise on a ‘strained’ relationship between the striker and his Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to secure a deal.
    The report adds Lacazette is not thought to be part of the long-term plans in North London and could be sold as part of a ‘squad-clearing operation’ with Celtic ace Odsonne Edouard lined up as a potential replacement.
    Arsenal have already got rid of Sead Kolasinac this month with Sokratis and Mesut Ozil expected to follow suit.
    Lucas Torreira is already on loan at the Wanda Metropolitano but there was some bad blood between the two clubs last autumn when the Gunners triggered Thomas Partey’s release clause.

    However, Atletico may be willing to put that behind them to sign Lacazette.
    Diego Simeone is an admirer of the 29-year-old, who joined Arsenal in a then-record £52million deal in 2017.
    The Spanish side instead signed Luis Suarez at the beginning of the season but ripped up Diego Costa’s contract in December.
    Atletico have already landed Lyon striker Moussa Dembele on loan for the rest of the season.


    But the extra firepower from Lacazette could be tempting.
    The 16-cap international – who has a club-high nine goals this season including four in his last four league games – is into the final 18 months of his Emirates contract.
    But the club have put extension negotiations on his £170,000-a-week deal on hold until the summer.
    ⚽ Read our Arsenal live blog for the latest news from The Emirates

    Lacazette is Arsenal’s top goalscorer this season with nine in all competitionsCredit: AP:Associated Press

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    Zidane begs Real Madrid fans to ‘be patient’ with misfiring Eden Hazard and admits ex-Chelsea star is low on confidence

    ZINEDINE ZIDANE was forced to defend Eden Hazard once again after Real Madrid were dumped out of the Supercopa de Espana.
    The Belgian produced another uninspiring performance in the 2-1 defeat by Athletic Bilbao and has scored just three goals in 18 months since signing from Chelsea in a deal that could exceed £150million.

    Eden Hazard failed to produce his trademark magic on Thursday nightCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Zinedine Zidane defended his ailing star as Real Madrid exited the Supercopa de EspanaCredit: AP:Associated Press

    And Thursday’s limp outing led to Madrid boss Zidane admitting that the winger was low on confidence.
    The 48-year-old told reporters: “[Hazard] needs to recover confidence, play a great game or score a goal, just to do something different.
    “We know what a great player he is and we need to be patient with him as he is working hard.
    “We are behind him and we must give him time.

    “The fans want to see the best version of Eden so we must be patient.
    “We’re sticking with him and he really wants to step up. But today it wasn’t just Eden, we’re all in this together.”
    The Spanish press were again critical of 30-year-old Hazard.

    The front page of Madrid-based daily Marca screamed ‘who roars first’ after Real’s timid exit.
    Their report describes Marco Asensio as the only bright spot on a damaging night for Zidane.
    AS added that Hazard is ‘going from bad to worse’ with Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo pointing out that, statistically speaking, he didn’t attempt a single dribble of the ball.
    French newspaper L’Equipe asked ‘when will we see Eden’s danger again?’ while Belgian publication HLN called it a ‘shame’ that he was ‘unrecognisable’.

    Raul Garcia scored twice in the first-half to put Bilbao in command of the semi-final.
    Karim Benzema replied with a close-range finish before the offside flag ruled out his late equaliser.
    Athletic go on to play Barcelona in Sunday’s final in Spain’s version of the Community Shield, played out as a four-team competition in Malaga.

    Watch Real Madrid stars including Eden Hazard have snowball fight in training as club confirm Osasuna game to go ahead More

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    Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Thierry Henry up front and two Chelsea legends make ex-Barcelona star Belletti’s Perfect XI

    A FRONT three of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Thierry Henry would be fit to grace any all-time XI
    Especially when it has Ronaldinho and Andres Iniesta pulling the strings behind them!

    Belletti scored Barcelona’s winner in the 2006 Champions League final against ArsenalCredit: Bongarts – Getty

    Former Barcelona defender Juliano Belletti – scorer of the winner in the 2006 Champions League final and a few belters for Chelsea – has played with some of the biggest stars to grace the game.
    He told Four Four Two magazine what his Perfect XI of ex-team-mates would be.
    And it would take some beating…
    Belletti says: “I was a goalkeeper myself until I turned 15, so I know this position too. Dida possessed all the required elements of a world-class No.1.”

    “Zambrotta had the ideal balance between his offensive and defensive duties. It wasn’t easy to fight with him for a place in the Barcelona team.”
    “Terry’s technical ability was amazing. Bearing in mind that he faced great opponents every week, his consistency was outstanding.”
    “Puyol shared several traits with Terry: speed, top tackling and being exceptional in the air, with a high level of competitiveness.”

    Belletti (bottom left) was a Barca team-mate of Ronaldinho (top left) and Puyol (bottom right)Credit: Getty
    “One of the most complete athletes sport has ever seen. It was difficult facing him in the many Clasicos that we played against each other – he demanded a lot from me.”
    “Claude transformed the holding midfielder position. He had the perfect combination of flawless positioning, tough tackling and excellent teamwork.”
    “I was lucky to see his development at Barça. It was beautiful to watch when he changed his mind in the middle of a movement, and how he could still execute it to perfection. He’s among the best players of all time and probably the greatest Spanish footballer ever.”
    “I played with him throughout his two most magical Barça seasons. No other athlete did what he did: the best in the world, winning games for us… and always smiling!”
    “It was a privilege to play with Messi during his beginning at Barcelona, and no one in sport has been able to maintain such a high level for 14 consecutive years.”

    “Without all the injuries, Ronaldo could have been the greatest ever. What else can I say about someone who scored two goals in a World Cup final?”   
    “I tell my kids to watch videos of him as much as possible. His technical ability was out of this world, and he was so competitive. Rarely do you witness someone like him at any time in history.”
    The latest issue of FourFourTwo is on sale now and has a run down of the 100 greatest players to have played in the Premier League, including exclusive interviews with David Ginola and Denis Irwin. To sign up for a FourFourTwo subscription starting at three issues for £3 visit  

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    James Rodriguez’s mysterious Everton transfer cleared up as Goodison chief Marcel Brands confirms he didn’t cost a penny

    EVERTON confirmed they were able to sign James Rodriguez for free last summer, clearing up his mysterious transfer.
    The Colombian joined the Toffees from Real Madrid, finally ending his six-years with the Spanish club.

    Everton confirmed they were able to sign James Rodriguez for free Credit: Rex Features

    Director of football Marcel Brands said Rodriquez came with no transfer fee Credit: Getty – Contributor

    But confusion emerged following the move, with reports initially indicating that Rodriquez signed for £22million.
    That was until Argentine side Banfield – who had a stake in any profit from the sale – claimed the deal was done for nothing.
    Now, Everton’s director of football Marcel Brands revealed at their Annual General Meeting that the deal was in fact wrapped up with no fee.
    He said: “It was one of the most difficult and weirdest transfer windows ever. The pandemic was clearly involved in this transfer window.

    “We finished the window with a squad of 27 players – a little bit more than originally planned.
    “We signed six new players. Three on a permanent transfer – Allan, Doucoure and Ben Godfrey.
    “One on a free – James Rodriguez. One on a training compensation – Nkounkou. And one loan without a loan fee – Robin Olsen.”
    Everton spent £65m to bring in their new additions for the season under manager Carlo Ancelotti.

    And despite Rodriguez still having a year left on his Madrid contract, they managed to nab the playmaker for free.
    It left Banfield – who the 29-year-old played for between 2008-2010 – gutted as they were also left empty handed.
    The Argentine’s said in a statement obtained by Marca: “Unfortunately for the pass of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid to Everton, Banfield does not correspond to money. 
    ‘The transaction was made without cost, as if it were a free player.
    “The pertinent consultations have already been made to the two clubs involved and to the corresponding organisations. 
    “In all cases they confirmed to us that the club will not receive money as a solidarity mechanism.”
    Rodriquez, who had two year loan spell at Bayern Munich during his time with Madrid, made a flying start to his Everton career.
    He bagged three goals and three assists in his opening five games, but suffered injury in December.
    Since returning to the squad at the start of the new year, it has been steady going for the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner.
    But Rodriquez & Co currently sit fifth just outside the top four but only behind Manchester City and Leicester on goal difference. More

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    Luka Jovic returns to Eintracht Frankfurt on loan transfer until end of season after nightmare Real Madrid start

    LUKA JOVIC has escaped his Real Madrid nightmare after joining Eintracht Frankfurt on loan for the rest of the season.
    The 23-year-old forward has returned to his former club, who have an option to buy, after a miserable period in Spain.

    Luka Jovic has escaped from his Real Madrid nightmareCredit: Reuters

    The Serb has returned to Frankfurt on loan for the rest of the season

    He caught the attention of Europe’s big guns with an impressive 36 goals in 75 appearances on loan at Frankfurt to help fire them to the DFB Cup in 2018.
    Wolves and Chelsea were just two of those linked with a swoop for the Serbian hotshot.
    It was Madrid who won the race for his signature as he joined them on a six-year contract in a whopping £58million move from Benfica in the summer of 2019.
    But Jovic has netted just twice in 32 games since his arrival at the LaLiga champions.

    And his problems have not only been on the pitch in Spain.
    He landed himself in hot water in his homeland last year for allegedly breaking lockdown rules back in March.
    Serbian prosecutors were demanding that he be sentenced to six months in jail for ‘not complying with health protocols after his return from Spain’.
    Jovic was believed to have travelled from Madrid to Belgrade in order to visit his then pregnant girlfriend Sofija Milosevic.


    Jovic has barely featured for Madrid this term

    Pictures circulated on social media of the couple supposedly walking the streets of Serbia’s capital city.
    According to his father Milan, the snaps were actually taken in Spain, but he did admit that his son had returned to his native country.
    Now he will be hoping to put all of the issues from the past 18 months behind him as the ex-Red Star Belgrade ace looks to re-ignite his career.

    The star found himself in hot water after allegedly visiting his girlfriend Sofija Milosevic in lockdownCredit: Instagram

    Luka Jovic gives stunning Wag a cheeky wink as Real Madrid ace keeps fit isolating with Serbian model Sofija Milosevic More

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    Man Utd revenue down almost 20 per cent as Europe’s elite clubs lose more than £1BN due to coronavirus crisis

    MANCHESTER UNITED’S revenue dropped almost 20 per cent as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
    And 20 of Europe’s elite football clubs lost more than £1billion combined as the financial impact on the beautiful game became clearer.

    KPMG Football Benchmark’s The European Champions Report revealed the shocking figures for the 2019-20 season.
    Published this month, it highlights how clubs fared while dealing with the global pandemic.
    And United were among the worst hit of the 20 sampled clubs – as Ed Woodward anticipated last year.
    The Old Trafford side saw their operating revenues fall to £516million, a drop of 18.5 per cent.

    Fellow English sides Liverpool turned over £496m (7.9 per cent drop) and Tottenham took in £408m (12.3 per cent) as they took a slightly softer blow.
    However, Scottish champions Celtic’s revenue dropped by 15.5 per cent.
    From the 20 clubs, Porto came out worst with a staggering 50.5 per cent drop with Roma second on 39.3 per cent.
    Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla were the only two sides to see their revenue increase.


    The Germans’ went up 0.6 per cent while the LaLiga outfit’s rose by 6.3 per cent.
    PSG (15 per cent), Barcelona (15.7 per cent) and Juventus (13.4 per cent) all saw similar drops in their operating revenues – but the Nou Camp giants still took in more revenue than any other club with £630m.
    Six teams registered net profits last season – Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Real Madrid, Benfica as well as the two European champions Bayern Munich and Sevilla.
    Out of those, Benfica’s was the biggest with a £37m gain.
    At the other end of the spectrum, Roma and AC Milan had the biggest net losses with £181m and £173m respectively.
    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news from Old Trafford

    Barcelona saw their revenue drop by 15.7 per cent last seasonCredit: Reuters

    Sevilla registered an increase in revenue from the year before and managed a net profitCredit: AFP or licensors

    Manchester clubs have the worst net spend in the past decade by some distance

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    Kieran Trippier’s betting ban ‘scuppered Man Utd transfer in January’ but club remain ‘admirers’ of Atletico Madrid ace

    KIERAN TRIPPIER’S betting ban scuppered a January transfer to Manchester United, according to reports.
    However, the Old Trafford club are thought to remain ‘admirers’ of the Atletico Madrid defender.

    Manchester United’s plans to try and sign Kieran Trippier in January were scrapped when his ban was announcedCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    According to the Manchester Evening News, the Red Devils plotted to make a move for the right-back this month.
    But those plans were halted when news of his ten-week suspension and £70,000 fine for breaching FA betting rules broke.
    The ban was announced on December 23 – ending his run of playing every minute this season – but he featured in Atletico’s 2-0 win over Sevilla on Tuesday as the punishment is on hold subject to an appeal.
    In the written reasons for the FA’s decision, it was revealed Trippier kept his friends informed about his transfer in the summer of 2019 via a series of WhatsApp messages.

    He told a friend to ‘lump on’ a bet he would sign for Diego Simeone’s side in the summer of 2019 and told another ‘it’s happening’.
    Trippier, 30, did sign a three-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano and is mid-way through his contract which expires in 2022.
    But the Bury-born former Spurs and Burnley man grew up supporting United and would be open to a switch to Old Trafford.
    Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the undisputed No1 United right-back at the moment.


    But Trippier, who came through at rivals City’s academy and has 25 England caps, would certainly challenge the ex-Crystal Palace man with his offensive threat.
    United sold Dutch defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah to Bayer Leverkusen for £1.8million on Wednesday.
    ⚽ Read our Man United live blog for the latest news from Old Trafford

    Trippier was handed a ten-week ban for breaching FA betting rules with these WhatsApp messages

    Kieran Trippier’s WhatsApp messages that led to ten-week ban revealed as he told pal to ‘lump on’ Atletico transfer More

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    Zinedine Zidane ‘sidelines Arsenal transfer target Vinicius Jr at Real Madrid in row over TEXTING during team talks’

    ZINEDINE ZIDANE has reportedly sidelined Vinicius Jr at Real Madrid for texting during a team talk.
    The Arsenal target has fallen out of favour under the Frenchman and reports suggest his manager was left fuming by his perceived rudeness.

    Vinicius Jr has been sidelined at Real Madrid for texting during a team talkCredit: Rex Features

    Zinedine Zidane is said to be fuming with the BrazilianCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Vinicius Jr, 20, has not started any of Los Blancos’ last five games and sat on the bench for the whole of Real’s 0-0 draw at Osasuna on Saturday.
    And the snub stemmed from an incident ahead of Real’s Champions League last-16 second leg tie against Manchester City on August 7, according to AS.
    Vinicius is said to have reacted badly to being told Eden Hazard was starting ahead of him.
    And the Brazilian stared staring at his phone instead of listening to Zidane’s instructions to the team.

    French legend Zidane was said to be angry at the time although he did not say anything.
    But the winger has felt the consequeces since after being dumped from the team.
    Despite his lack of game time at the Bernabeu, Arsenal are said to be lining up a loan move for Vinicius this month.
    Under-fire boss Mikel Arteta is desperate to add creativity to his floundering Gunners side.


    Club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has looked a shadow of his former self, while summer signing Willian has failed to deliver.
    And the Brazilian could lose his place in the side to his compatriot Vinicius Jr.
    According to the Daily Star, Arsenal are set to reignite their interest in the 20-year-old having failed to bring him to the Emirates last year.
    It was claimed Unai Emery was keen to secure the youngster’s services, but Los Blancos were unwilling to part ways with the player.
    ⚽ Read our Arsenal live blog for the latest news from The Emirates

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