Daily Archives: January 5, 2018

Zinedine Zidane: Real Madrid wants Bale to play regularly

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Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he was now looking for “regular games” from Gareth Bale after the player was absent for four months from injury.

Bale, 28, marked his first start in four months with a converted penalty in Thursday’s 3-0 Copa del Rey last 16 first leg win at Segunda side Numancia.

When Lucas Vazquez was tripped in the area near the hour mark — after Numancia had their own penalty claim turned down — Bale grabbed the ball and calmly slid home the spot kick.

After Numancia midfielder Pape Diamanka deservedly picked up a second yellow soon after half-time, Madrid sealed the win late on with a late penalty again won by Lucas Vazquez and converted by substitute Isco, and an added time far post header by Borja Mayoral.

Although by that stage Bale had been substituted, he presumably will start in Madrid’s La Liga trip to Celta Vigo on Sunday evening.

“It was important to see how [Bale] felt,” Zidane told the post-game news conference.

“In the end he played an hour, without problems, feeling physically well. He had played four games with 20 or 30 minutes [off the bench], this was his first start. So we will continue like this. We want him to play regularly now.”

Although a team including mostly youngsters and squad players did not really sparkle, Zidane said he was happy with how the game had gone.

“I am very happy as we got a good result in the end,” he added. “This was not an easy place to come, they have been playing well and made it tough for us, but we got a good result.”

“Many of these are players who do not play so often. In the second half we had some problems, above all when they were down to 10. But in general I am happy. We managed to get three goals, kept a clean sheet, so I am happy for those who played.”

Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard close to signing new Chelsea deals

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Thibaut Courtois has said he is close to signing a new contract at Chelsea and the goalkeeper suggested while hinting that his Belgium team-mate Eden Hazard could be ready to follow suit.

Courtois, whose deal at Chelsea expires in the summer of 2019, appeared to be firm over his intention to extend at Chelsea after the club’s 2-2 draw at Arsenal on Wednesday night.

“It has just turned the new year so we will wait a few weeks and then sit around the table,” Courtois said. “I’m happy at Chelsea and a deal is close. Has it been a distraction? Not for me. I’m just calm and relaxed because I’m tied to Chelsea. Despite the rumours and everything, I am focused on Chelsea and I’m happy here.”

As for his compatriot, Eden Hazard is contracted with the Blues to 2020. While Courtois believes that the midfielder’s departure could deal a lot of hurt to the club, the keeper believes that Hazard would spend the peak years of his career at Stamford Bridge.

“Losing a player like Eden would be bad for the club,” Courtois added. “Eden is irreplaceable. With the money he will raise, you can buy five players but none of them will be like Eden. It would be like Barcelona losing Lionel Messi or Real Madrid losing Cristiano Ronaldo.”

“If you excel, there will always be teams interested in signing the biggest players. But that’s why if Chelsea have ambition to be the best club in the world, these kind of players have to stay.”

“Do Eden and I encourage each other to sign? Yes. He will say: ‘If you sign, I will sign,’ and I say the same to him. I think we are both happy at Chelsea, we both have a good part to play. We have been champions twice in the four seasons I have been here and we can have our peak years together at Chelsea.”

While Chelsea sit third in the Premier League and 16 points behind the leaders, Manchester City, Courtois remains confident that the club can finish the season with a major trophy as they advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League, where they have been drawn to face FC Barcelona.

Prediction:

Norwich City 0 — 3 Chelsea

Juventus to sign Emre Can on a free with five-year contract

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Juventus are set to complete a deal with Liverpool midfielder Emre Can on a free transfer in the summer.

The defending Serie A champions are alleged to have already offered a five-year contract worth £85,000 a week and a sizeable signing-on fee to the Germany international.

Can, 23, will be out of contract by the end of the 2017-18 season and has yet to agree any new deal with Liverpool.

The Germany international is wanted by a host of top European clubs but amongst them, Juventus believe that they have already progressed much further than everyone else and that a deal will be concluded soon.

Furthermore, the club has held positive talks with Can’s representatives with the player even as they seeking reassurances of how he fits within the folds of Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri’s plans.

Previously, Can had joined Liverpool for £9.75m in 2014 after the Premier League club met the buyout clause in his contract with Bayer Leverkusen. He has won 20 caps for Germany, having made his debut in September 2015.

However, when Juventus had expressed their interest in signing the player in January they had been told by Liverpool that there was no chance of that happening.

Nonetheless, it was clear that the Reds’ stance upon the matter has softened, with Jurgen Klopp’s team already signing a central midfielder as replacement for next season in Naby Keita, who will be arriving from RB Leipzig for a fee in the region of £55m.