New Real Madrid signing Reiner became emotional as he pondered the impact of his family in making his dream of joining Los Blancos a reality.

Following considerable transfer speculation, Madrid eventually completed the signing of Reinier in January from Flamengo in a deal reportedly worth a potential €35million.

Due to Reinier's involvement with Brazil in CONMEBOL's Pre-Olympic Tournament, in which the Selecao finished second to confirm their place at the 2020 Olympic Games, the 18-year-old was unable to join up with Madrid straight away.

But the attacking midfielder, who has been compared to former Madrid attacker Kaka, was presented to the Spanish media at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday as he prepares to make his official bow for the club's Castilla team.

"Everything that I experienced in childhood crossed my mind [when signing], since I left home with my father, I arrived in Rio alone, without my mother, without my sister," a visibly emotional Reinier told reporters before being encouraged to take a brief break by club director Emilio Butragueno.

"When I talk about my family I get very emotional because I am sure it was all thanks to them [that I'm here]. I thank them, also those [family members] in Brazil, like my grandmother. Since I was a child they helped me achieve my dream.

"This is a very happy day for me. I am fulfilling a childhood dream. We always talked about how amazing it would be to get here. I want to be part of the history of this great club.

"It is the realisation of a dream. Playing in Madrid was the dream of my father, my sister, my mother."

Reinier will initially link up with Castilla for the rest of the season, as Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo did before him.

And while playing for third-tier Castilla may represent something of a culture shock compared to Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores champions Flamengo, regarded as the most-popular club in Brazil, Reinier is relishing playing under the guidance of Madrid icon Raul.

"Flamengo is the biggest team in South America, but I am happy," Reinier added. "I have already trained with Castilla, they are great people, I have already met Raul.

"He's one of my idols and he welcomed me. I'm very happy with our talk. He wished me luck, and I'm sure I will do my best. As we say in my country, I will give my life for Madrid.

"Tomorrow [Wednesday] we will be very well together again and I will be ready for Sunday."

Reinier could make his debut at home to Segunda B1's bottom side San Sebastian de los Reyes on Sunday, with Castilla – who are eighth – hoping to close in on the play-off spots.

Yaya Toure conceded he is "a little bit scared" for Manchester City in their Champions League last-16 encounter with Real Madrid.

City went through their group stage unbeaten, winning four of their six games and scoring 16 times as they topped a pool featuring Atalanta, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb.

However, Pep Guardiola's side were then handed possibly the sternest test possible as they were pitted against 13-time winners Madrid, who only finished second in Group A behind Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have never lost a Champions League knockout tie under Zidane, who won three successive trophies during his previous reign and returned last March, with Los Blancos' European pedigree leaving Toure fearful for his old club City.

"I wanted City to get Lyon or some club like that, but Real Madrid is going to be a tough game, a very, very tough game," Toure told Omnisport.

"But we will see - the first game is at the Bernabeu and then it is [at the] Etihad [Stadium].

"Real Madrid could knock us straight out. They could, they really could, because we expect Real Madrid to be in the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and now they face City.

"I'm a little scared to be honest."

The first match takes place on Wednesday, February 26, with Madrid then travelling to Manchester for the second leg on March 17.

Madrid were eliminated at the last-16 stage last season by Ajax, which prompted the club to turn back to Zidane.

The Frenchman has presided over a 15-game unbeaten run in LaLiga and Toure was particularly impressed by Madrid in their 2-2 home draw with PSG in November, even though Zidane's side threw away a two-goal lead late on.

"The last time I saw a game is when they played against Paris Saint-Germain, it was very good," Toure added.

"Even though [PSG] take two goals in the end, Madrid was on top of Paris Saint-Germain and Paris Saint-Germain are a good, good side.

"I think Paris Saint-Germain is going to be going forward to the semi-final or final. We never know. They are playing very good, they have a good coach.

"I hope Man City are going to pass Madrid but this is a big, big test, a big ask."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be worrying about things other than Paul Pogba, according to the player's agent Mino Raiola.

Raiola said last week he and Pogba would decide whether the World Cup winner will remain at Old Trafford at the end of the season, having stated the midfielder would be open to a return to Juventus.

Solskjaer responded by saying he was sure the 26-year-old, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury since December, still wanted to play for United. He added: "Paul is our player, not Mino's."

Raiola hit back at the Red Devils manager on social media, suggesting he focus his attention elsewhere amid reports United are lining up potential replacements as manager.

"Paul is not mine and for sure not Solskjaer's property, Paul is Paul Pogba's. You cannot own a human being already for a long time in the UK or anywhere else. I HOPE Solskjaer DO NOT WANT TO SUGGEST THAT PAUL IS HIS PRISONER," Raiola wrote.

"BUT BEFORE Solskjaer makes comments about things I say he should inform himself better about the content of what has been said.

"I am a free citizen who can think and express my thoughts. Until now I was maybe to [sic] nice to him. Solskjaer should just remember things that he said in the summer to Paul.

"I think Solskjaer may be frustrated for different reasons and is now mixing up some issues.

"I think that Solskjaer has other things to worry about. AT LEAST IF I WAS HIM I WOULD."

Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas has announced his intention to run for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) presidency.

Casillas made 167 appearances for Spain and captained his country to success at the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships of 2008 and 2012.

The 38-year-old has been at Porto since leaving boyhood club Real Madrid in 2015, but he suffered a heart attack in a training session in May 2019.

Casillas has not featured for the club since and was added to the team's backroom staff in July, yet he was also included in their squad for the ongoing season and has not formally retired.

He did not announce an end to his playing career on Monday, but he thanked Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa for allowing him to pursue the RFEF opportunity.

He wrote: "Yes, I will stand for the presidency of the RFEF when the elections are called. Together we will put our federation at the height of the best football in the world: that of Spain.

"I have informed the president of my club, FC Porto, of this decision, to whom I can only express my deepest gratitude.

"We are working with the utmost respect in our candidacy. More than 23,000 voters await us in fair and transparent elections. 139 assembly members will decide.

"Thank you all for all the love I have continually received. Your support and your strength encourage me. Let's go for it! #IkerCasillas2020"

Luis Rubiales has been RFEF president since May 2018, although his tenure got off to a rocky start as Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the World Cup after agreeing to take the Real Madrid job following the finals.

Spain's coaching difficulties have since continued under Rubiales, with Luis Enrique appointed before stepping away as his daughter, Xana, battled bone cancer. She died in August.

Assistant Robert Moreno stepped up to the senior role but was later replaced by the returning Luis Enrique, with the pair - long-time colleagues and friends - falling out.

Rubiales has insisted the RFEF did not mishandle Luis Enrique's reappointment.

A date for the latest RFEF election, which would appear to see Casillas take on Rubiales, is yet to be confirmed.

Eden Hazard vowed Real Madrid will fight to the end in their pursuit of honours this season and was delighted to be back out on the pitch in the frustrating 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo.

The Belgium forward managed 70 minutes on his first outing since November due to an ankle injury.

Madrid appeared to be headed for three points after Fedor Smolov's opener was cancelled out by Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos.

But Santi Mina earned Celta a share of the spoils in the closing stages to leave Madrid just one point clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.

For Hazard, it was a great feeling to be back playing even if the result was disappointing.

"I felt good," Hazard said in quotes reported by Marca. "The first 10 minutes I was tired, but as the minutes went by I felt fine. I'm happy with my performance, but not with the result.

"I hope we'll improve in the next few games. When a team is winning 2-1 you try to see out [the match], but it wasn't to be.

"There's still a lot of games left and we're going to fight it out until the end."

Madrid's goal return of 46 this season is 11 fewer than title rivals Barca, who Los Blancos meet in El Clasico on March 1.

Hazard does not believe Madrid have an issue in front of goal, though.

"I don't think [we're lacking goals]; we had chances and deserved to score more goals," he added.

"We're working well and we're going to win a lot of games together; it's going to be good for us."

Zinedine Zidane moved to defend Marcelo and Gareth Bale after Real Madrid's "painful" 2-2 draw at home to Celta Vigo.

Marcelo was a surprise starter ahead of Ferland Mendy for Sunday's contest at Santiago Bernabeu where Santi Mina earned the visitors an 85th-minute equaliser after Toni Kroos' strike and a Sergio Ramos penalty had cancelled out Fedor Smolov's opener.

The Brazil full-back, a mainstay of Madrid's line-up for over a decade, has faced criticism at times this season, particularly over his performances defensively, but head coach Zidane had no issues with Marcelo's showing.

"I don't think he makes us weaker defensively, because he was good at the back, but you always bring out stats," Zidane said.

"I'm happy with everyone for how they play and when they play."

Bale was mainly ineffective having been selected to start in a front three alongside Karim Benzema and the returning Eden Hazard.

Zidane, though, said the focus is on how the team as a collective can improve after they missed the chance to win a sixth straight LaLiga match.

"I think Bale played a good game and we have to keep thinking that there's a long way to go and we have to think about what we all do on the pitch to improve it," Zidane added.

On how he felt after conceding the late equaliser, the Frenchman said: "Painful to be brutally honest. I thought the team gave a very big effort to try to win the game. 

"After taking the lead and five minutes towards the end conceding the draw, it's not very good. 

"But I'm very pleased with my team, it wasn't easy for us. A first half where we conceded a goal after six minutes and then they closed themselves at the back, very defensively solid.

"The gap in the first half, we were trying to cross the ball too much, but in the second half we did it much better."

One positive for Madrid was the return of Belgium forward Hazard, who has been absent since November with an ankle injury.

Zidane was encouraged by what he saw from the former Chelsea star.

"I'm very happy to have him back and with the 70 minutes he played," Zidane said. 

"I think we know the player he is, and after three months out it wouldn't be easy for him to come back in and play a great game, but I'm very happy with his game and to have him back."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned that Paul Pogba belongs to Manchester United and not outspoken agent Mino Raiola amid ongoing doubts over the star's future at Old Trafford.

Raiola cast fresh doubts over Pogba – who is recovering from an ankle injury – on Thursday when he said the United midfielder "would not mind" returning to Juventus as "Italy is like home".

Pogba left United for Juve in 2012 but the 26-year-old was prised back to Old Trafford in 2016 for a then-world record transfer fee of €105million (£89.3m).

LaLiga giants Real Madrid have also been linked to Pogba but United manager Solskjaer said: "I've not spoken to Mino that is for sure. And, no, I haven't sat down and told Paul to tell Mino what he should say. Paul is our player and not Mino's."

Asked if he could conclusively say Pogba will play for United again this season, Solskjaer replied: "Well of course, I'd like to say that. As soon as he gets fit he'll be good enough to play for the team and I'm sure Paul's desperate to play for us again."

It has been an injury-ravaged season for Pogba, who has started just five Premier League matches this term and made only seven appearances in total.

Pogba – who did not travel to Spain with his team-mates during the break – has only managed eight games across all competitions for United, who languish eighth in the Premier League after 25 rounds.

Pressed on whether it has been a "disastrous" season for Pogba, Solskjaer – speaking ahead of Monday's trip to Chelsea – told reporters: "You're not going to get that headline from me.

"As a player, the last thing you want to be is injured, and not being able to contribute to your team. Paul's a footballer and he wants to play football. He knows he has to work hard now to get back to his best.

"He's been out for so long now, it's a challenge for him as well to get back into shape. I've been injured for a long, long time myself, it's a difficult period of your career, but it's part and parcel of being a player.

"He's taken off his cast, so when he comes back here we'll integrate him with us. Hopefully soon. He's started running on the treadmill now, so he's getting closer. It's been a long haul, this, so hopefully we'll see him back soon."

Raheem Sterling is focused on Manchester City, according to his agent, amid reports linking him with a move to Real Madrid.

Speculation over the futures of several City players has intensified in the wake of the two-season Champions League ban handed to the club by UEFA for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations, although they deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal.

Sterling, who is contracted at City until 2023, is reportedly a target for LaLiga giants Madrid.

But the 25-year-old forward's agent, Aidy Ward, said Sterling's focus was on the Premier League club.

"Raheem is solely focused on Manchester City and will not be distracted by any talk of transfers to any club at the moment," he told the Mirror and the Daily Mail.

Sterling, who arrived at City from Liverpool in 2015, has scored 20 goals in 35 games in all competitions this season but is sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Real Madrid and Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez is eager to play for Inter, insisted club CEO Giuseppe Marotta.

Martinez continues to be linked with a move away from Serie A side Inter – LaLiga giants Madrid and Barca as well as Manchester United and Manchester City reportedly interested.

LaLiga holders Barca have been linked to Martinez as they eye a long-term replacement for veteran forward Luis Suarez.

Marotta was asked about Martinez prior to Sunday's 2-1 loss to Scudetto rivals Lazio in Rome.

"Lautaro is improving, he is a very young lad who I think is above all eager to wear this glorious jersey and grow professionally," Marotta told Sky Sport Italia.

"As I always say, players only leave Inter when they point towards that exit."

Martinez has taken centre stage alongside Romelu Lukaku since Mauro Icardi's initial loan move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the season.

The 22-year-old has scored 16 goals across all competitions for Inter, who are third and three points behind leaders Juventus in Serie A.

Argentina international Martinez has netted 25 goals in total since arriving from Racing Club in 2018.

Eden Hazard made his return from a three-month injury lay-off in Real Madrid's 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo, with Thibaut Courtois confident the forward will be key for Zinedine Zidane's side.

An ankle injury sidelined Hazard in late November, but he made his comeback on Sunday, winning a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted to put Madrid 2-1 up in the second half.

Madrid's run of five straight LaLiga wins was ended by Santi Mina's 85th-minute leveller, though, to ensure they only moved one point clear of Clasico rivals Barcelona at the top of the table.

However, the return of Hazard, who has scored just once in nine league games since joining from Chelsea ahead of this season, was seen as an encouraging development for his compatriot Courtois.

"Little by little he will catch up again after three months," Courtois, who also played alongside Hazard at Stamford Bridge, told Movistar.

"He is a player that is worth a lot to us."

Madrid surprisingly fell behind against Celta after Fedor Smolov scored his first goal for the club in the seventh minute.

The home side failed to muster a shot on target across the opening 45 minutes, but Toni Kroos' sixth goal against Celta – he only has 14 overall in LaLiga - levelled matters and Hazard then won a penalty that Ramos scored.

Yet more poor defending allowed substitute Denis Suarez to find fellow replacement Mina as Celta dramatically claimed a share of the spoils.

Asked about his emotions, Courtois replied: "Angry because we conceded a [second] goal.

"It was a difficult game because they started by scoring a goal early on. They defended well with 11 men and then I made a good save to keep the score at 0-1.

"Then in the second half, we scored two fast goals but in the end we've lost two points that are worth a lot at home.

"We defended well but Denis made a good turn and made space for Santi Mina, who put the ball away well.

"It's two points lost and that leaves a bad taste in the mouth."

Real Madrid's most memorable attacking moment during the first half of their title-race twisting 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo was Sergio Ramos launching into one of his driving runs in search of a goal, only to volley the ball into his own face when it arrived.

This botched attack had a claim beyond slapstick, given Zinedine Zidane's LaLiga leaders failed to muster a single shot on target before the break.

Indeed, there was nothing remotely as incisive from an forward line featuring Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale as the move Celta produced for their seventh-minute opener – Iago Aspas shifting smoothly into a pocket of space in front of a ramshackle Madrid defence and threading a perfect pass for Fedor Smolov to coolly slot home.

Hazard was making his first appearance since suffering a fractured ankle in November and, shortly after Ramos' party piece, showed signs of starting to shift through the gears.

In the 40th minute, Karim Benzema pulled out to the left channel and Hazard scampered around the outside, pulling the ball back from the byline for the on-rushing Bale to fire narrowly over.

It was link-up play to cheer Zidane as he tries to get his returning attackers up to speed ahead of the Champions League showdown against Manchester City later this month.

On this evidence, however, Hazard and Bale are playing for one spot. The ever-dependable Benzema is a guaranteed starter, fitness permitting, and Los Blancos missed the benched Vinicius Jr's dynamism for much of Sunday's contest.

Having set themselves a low bar in the first-half, Madrid improved considerably during the second period and hit the front thanks to a couple of sure things.

Toni Kroos' midfield scheming is not annotated with goals too frequently, but he dispatched Marcelo's pass to score for the sixth time against Celta. He has 14 LaLiga goals overall since joining Madrid from Bayern Munich in 2014.

Ramos is, by comparison, somewhat more prolific from centre-back. A smart finish from an offside position showed his radar to be back in order following the earlier mishap and there was little doubt about the outcome when he stepped up for a 65th-minute penalty.

Ruben Blanco erred badly when Benzema and Hazard repeated their first-half link, with the Celta goalkeeper darting from his ground to needlessly bring the Belgium star down.

Blanco guessed correctly but Ramos' sprung from his staggered run-up to dispatch an unerring strike.

Hazard made way for Vinicius in the 73rd minute and enjoyed a warm ovation from the Bernabeu faithful – the sort of reception that sadly only seems to exist in the past tense for Bale nowadays.

As for the other grizzled survivors of Zidane's three consecutive Champions League final triumphs from 2016 through to 2018, they remain his dependables.

They will be asked to go to the well once more the next time Madrid emerge at their famous home ground, faced with a formidable but flawed City in a competition they know like the back of their hand.

It would be a brave person who backs against them but the sight of Celta producing a sting in the tail suggested the years could be taking a toll.

Substitutes Denis Suarez and Santi Mina combined as Aspas and Smolov had before for the latter to score – the lines of communication between Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane in the backline again appearing unhelpfully clogged.

The lead at the top of LaLiga from Barcelona was only a point at full-time, a situation roughly as comfortable as booting a football into your own face.

Of course, Ramos tumbled theatrically in stoppage time to try and win another penalty and Madrid will strain and scrap for everything until the end of the season. With 46 goals from 24 LaLiga games, don't expect them to blow too many teams away either. The Galactico grind is on.

Substitute Santi Mina's 85th-minute equaliser denied leaders Real Madrid a sixth successive LaLiga victory as Celta Vigo left the Santiago Bernabeu with a 2-2 draw.

Los Blancos were stunned by Fedor Smolov's first goal for Celta in the seventh minute and the home side failed to register a single shot on target in the opening half.

However, they turned the game on its head within 13 minutes, Toni Kroos scoring again against Celta before Sergio Ramos slotted home a penalty after the returning Eden Hazard had been fouled.

Mina's late leveller meant Zinedine Zidane's men only moved one point clear of Clasico rivals Barcelona, though, as their winning run came to an end.

 

 

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane recalled Eden Hazard to his starting line-up to face Celta Vigo on Sunday after the Belgium international recovered from an ankle fracture.

Hazard's last appearance for Los Blancos came in a 2-2 Champions League draw against Paris Saint-Germain in November, the injury limiting him to just eight LaLiga appearances and one goal since his €100million transfer from Chelsea.

The 29-year-old joined Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in Los Blancos' front three against Celta, with Isco dropping to the bench despite scoring in Madrid's 4-1 win at Osasuna.

Hazard's return to fitness is well-timed given Madrid's tough run of forthcoming fixtures.

Zidane will take his side to Levante in LaLiga before a Champions League clash at home against Manchester City and then the Clasico versus Barcelona on March 1.

Manchester City's two-season Champions League ban could be about to reverberate through the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola's future had been a topic of discussion prior to UEFA handing down sanctions for "serious" Financial Fair Play breaches and the loss of European competition has fuelled suggestions the Catalan could quit the club.

Media reports indicate City already have alternatives in mind, and their search for a successor looks set to pose problems for Premier League rivals.

 

TOP STORY – CITY EYE PEP REPLACEMENTS

Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers are among the contenders to take over at City if Guardiola walks, according to The Telegraph.

The report states the pair "would be in the running" to become the club's next manager in the event their current boss decides to leave at the end of the season.

Ex-Tottenham manager Pochettino recently admitted he would "love" to return to the Premier League, telling the 'In The Pink' podcast: "It's going to be difficult, I know, and for now it's a moment to wait and we'll see what happens."

The Argentinian has been heavily linked to City's cross-town rivals Manchester United, while Rodgers is tied to Leicester City until 2025.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus-linked Guardiola might not be the only big name headed for the Etihad Stadium exit. The Sun claims Real Madrid will launch an "all-out assault" in a bid to sign Raheem Sterling.

- City could potentially even be docked Premier League points for the same Financial Fair Play breaches that compelled UEFA to act, says The Guardian.

- Meanwhile, over at Old Trafford, United have set their asking price for Paul Pogba at £130million, reports the Daily Star.

- As for potential arrivals, United are interested in Norwich City pair Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons plus West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, states the Daily Mail.

- Serie A side Milan are no closer to extending Gianluigi Donnarumma's deal beyond June 2021, according to Tuttomercato, and LaLiga title contenders Madrid are monitoring the situation.

- Sky Sport Germany continues to link former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac to manager-less Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin, who saw Jurgen Klinsmann leave earlier in the week.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo picked Real Madrid over Barcelona when presented with an offer ahead of the NBA All-Star Game.

Antetokounmpo will lead Team Giannis against Team LeBron in Chicago on Sunday.

But the reigning NBA MVP faced a different test on Saturday, when he was offered Barcelona and Real Madrid shirts.

"We've got Real Madrid, who's the player though?" Antetokounmpo said, assessing his options.

"I love both of these players, [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo, who used to play with Real.

"But I'll probably go with Real. There you go, Real."

Madrid can restore their three-point lead atop LaLiga when they host Celta Vigo on Sunday.

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