Gareth Bale is named in Real Madrid's starting XI for the clash with Getafe, along with Isco, as they return to LaLiga duty.

Bale - who has been linked with a move away from Madrid in the January window - has made 11 league appearances in total in 2019-20, including starting the rearranged Clasico against Barcelona on December 18.

The Wales forward also came on as a substitute in late December matches against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao prior to the mid-season break.

However, Zinedine Zidane has handed the 30-year-old a chance to impress from the off against Getafe in Madrid's first outing in 2020.

Bale starts up top alongside Karim Benzema and Isco, who has been restricted to just 10 league appearances this season, having been hampered by a hamstring injury and inconsistent form.

Meanwhile, Eder Militao - who has struggled to establish himself as a regular since moving to Madrid from Porto - starts at the back in place of Sergio Ramos, who is suspended.

There is no place for Marcelo, who has been battling a calf injury, while Eden Hazard is still out with an ankle problem.

Jesus Vallejo is expected to return to Real Madrid this month after struggling during his loan spell with Wolves, Nuno Espirito Santo says.

The Wolves boss wants the centre-back to get more regular playing time, having only used him twice in the Premier League this season.

Vallejo is expected to be loaned out again once he returns to Madrid.

"I'm going to be clear: Jesus probably is going because he wants to play," Nuno told reporters on Friday ahead of Wolves' FA Cup third-round clash with Manchester United.

"He's a young and talented player that we brought here with high expectations, but it didn't work out. It's time for him to go and find a club where he can play and keep on progressing because the talent is there.

"It's based on reality. He had moments that he played, moments that he performed well, and some moments he didn't perform well. That's the case of Vallejo. Clearly, it didn't work out.

"When things don't work out, you have to look at yourself as a coaching staff. How can you make things work for the best? Sometimes you don't have time, it's three parts: you, the player, the clubs, all these things."

Vallejo's exit is expected to be sanctioned as Willy Boly is close to a return to action.

The 28-year-old is back in training following an ankle fracture he sustained in October.

"He's running already on the pitch and I'm so happy," said Nuno. "Naturally, he'll improve – it's a good sign."

Zinedine Zidane sought to avoid discussing mooted Real Madrid target Paul Pogba, wishing the Manchester United midfielder well in his recovery from injury.

Pogba has repeatedly been linked with a move to Madrid to link up with compatriot and head coach Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zidane was asked about the player on Friday, with the January transfer window now open, but he appeared keen not to upset United.

Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed earlier this week Pogba would likely have surgery to fix an ongoing ankle issue, and this injury was the focus of Zidane's response.

"How can I reply to this? I'm not going to reply with anything really," Zidane told a news conference. "Paul is a player of another team.

"The important thing for him, because he's injured, is to get back playing, and that's it. I wish the best for him.

"The most important thing for us is the players that I have and to think about the game tomorrow."

Brahim Diaz and Mariano Diaz have each been linked with loan moves away from Madrid in the window, but Zidane was again cagey when asked if their departures could prompt incomings.

"The important thing is to speak to each one of the players - that's what I'm doing," he said. "There are players who haven't been playing minutes, and that could be a problem.

"We'll talk about it, as always. They're all here, they're all training, trying to train well. Until January 31, anything could happen, a lot of things could happen. We'll see."

Real Madrid star Eden Hazard will miss the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury, coach Zinedine Zidane has confirmed.

The Belgium international, who signed from Chelsea ahead of the 2019-20 season, has played only eight times in LaLiga, scoring once.

Hazard's most recent appearance came against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on November 26, subsequently missing a Clasico draw with Barcelona due to a small ankle fracture.

Madrid face Getafe in LaLiga this weekend, before heading to Jeddah for the revamped four-team Supercopa, but Hazard will not travel.

"Yes, he's 100 per cent out of the Supercopa," Zidane told a news conference on Friday. "He's not travelling.

"And, at the moment, he's in a normal process of recovery. I hope that just after the Supercopa, bit by bit, we could see him with us again."

Discussing his squad heading into 2020, Zidane added: "Every player is important.

"I've got a very good squad with a lot of good players, and I'm going to use what I have - some [players] more than others].

"Squad rotation depends on the game, it depends on a lot of things. What I'm looking at is just the next game tomorrow, where we have two or three players out.

"All the players, apart from those two or three, are available. That's good for me.

"I'd prefer to have everybody available. I have injured players, but the season is long and I'm going to need every player. That's my message."

Raphael Varane recounted the occasion he snapped at Cristiano Ronaldo in Real Madrid training for not calling him by his first name, though he insists he was not disrespectful to the Portugal great.

France international Varane has been at Madrid for almost nine years, having joined from Lens as a highly rated teenager.

As such, the centre-back was a long-time team-mate of Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu, before the former Manchester United forward left for Juventus in 2018.

Ronaldo is known for his often-intense personality and commitment in training, and Varane reminisced about the time he bit back at Los Blancos' then-talisman.

"'Varane, go into the middle,'" Ronaldo is said to have barked, to which Varane claims he replied: "I'm not Varane, I'm Rapha!"

But the 26-year-old says he was not showing Ronaldo a lack of respect, rather showing a bit of character.

"It was not disrespectful," Varane told Onze Mondial. "I am super nice, I am great, even in the dressing room. I am also quite shy.

"But when there are difficult times or when you have to show your character, you can count on me. The players who have known me for a while know this.

"Of course, it's not the aspect of my character that you see the most or that you see first. It was not a matter of respect or disrespect, it was just a matter of, 'If I'm not seen, I'm not considered much.'

"After that it was more like: 'Oh, I am also here, I also have a name.' It was more like that."

Any issues with Ronaldo start and end there, however, with Varane lavishing his former colleague with praise for his achievements.

"He's great, great, on a human level - and on a footballing level, I don't even have words anymore," Varane said.

"He's accomplished something extraordinary: he made his incredible achievements seem banal.

"And to do that… there are no words to explain it, it's huge, it's extraordinary. He taught me a lot and also surprised me. How many times have I said to myself: 'Wow, this is incredible.'"

With the January transfer window open across Europe, clubs will be checking their budgets to see if they can make additions for the second half of the campaign.

January is traditionally a tough time to do business with teams generally unwilling to allow stars to leave but Erling Haaland's switch from Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund shows major deals are possible.

Unsettled players around the continent may push for a chance at a new club as squads get shuffled, but who are some of the big-name stars who could be on the move this month?

We have picked out 10 players who have been strongly linked with switching teams during the January transfer window.


PAUL POGBA (Manchester United)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's recent insistence that Pogba would not leave United this month has been undermined by the latest twist in the midfielder's ongoing saga. After he was surprisingly left out of the squad for a New Year's Day loss at Arsenal, Solskjaer indicated Pogba would be undergoing surgery in a bid to solve his injury issues. An operation could make it less likely Pogba leaves Old Trafford in January, but the links to Real Madrid will not go away. For what it is worth, Pogba's agent Mino Raiola has said his client is staying at United - for now at least.


EMRE CAN (Juventus) 

Pogba's continued absence has left a hole in United's midfield, especially with Scott McTominay also out of action. Can is among the players being linked with a switch to Old Trafford after failing to make an impact at Juventus. The Serie A champions, who are reportedly interested in bringing Pogba back, are also said to be ready to listen to offers for Adrien Rabiot and Daniele Rugani with both players not regular starters under Maurizio Sarri this season.


JADON SANCHO (Borussia Dortmund) 

The biggest move of the January transfer window could involve Sancho leaving Dortmund with the England international having struggled with off-the-field issues despite fine form on the pitch during the first half of the season. Premier League sides Manchester United and Chelsea, who signed Christian Pulisic from BVB last year, are reportedly leading the race for Sancho, but he would likely cost in excess of £100million. Dortmund, having beaten off competition from various top clubs to land Haaland, are said to be willing to listen to offers for Paco Alcacer too.


EDINSON CAVANI (Paris Saint-Germain)

Another elite forward potentially on the move this month is Cavani, with PSG's all-time leading goalscorer struggling to get into the team after the successful signing of Mauro Icardi on loan from Inter. At 32, Cavani likely has one more big deal left in him with Atletico Madrid said to be keen - a swap deal involving France winger Thomas Lemar has been mooted. PSG are also reportedly ready to cut their losses on Leandro Paredes, who has made little impact since joining from Zenit.


JAMES RODRIGUEZ (Real Madrid)

Colombia star James has been on the fringes at Madrid since returning from a loan spell with Bayern Munich, making only four starts in LaLiga this season. Arsenal, Inter and PSG have all been linked with James, who has also emerged as a shock target for Everton. New Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti coached the 28-year-old playmaker at both Madrid and Bayern.


ARTURO VIDAL (Barcelona)

Another South American midfielder who could leave LaLiga this month is Vidal, who has complained about allegedly unpaid bonuses at Barca and hinted he might be open to a return to Serie A. League leaders Inter are said to be keen with Antonio Conte having worked with Vidal at Juve, where the Chile international previously won four successive Serie A titles.


JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City)

Right-back Cancelo only joined City last August but, after failing to usurp Kyle Walker as first choice in his position, the 25-year-old could be on the move again with former club Valencia and Bayern Munich both linked. Cancelo's departure would leave City even shorter of defensive options but if they can sell the Portugal international it could allow the defending Premier League champions to bring in another body elsewhere, though Pep Guardiola has ruled out signings.


CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Tottenham)

Denmark midfielder Eriksen is out of contract at the end of the season and has previously made it clear he is ready for a new challenge. Eriksen has found himself on the fringes under new boss Jose Mourinho and the club's notorious negotiator Daniel Levy may opt to cash in on the 27-year-old rather than watch him leave for nothing. Spurs, though, surprisingly persuaded Toby Alderweireld to commit to a new deal and it is not impossible Eriksen follows suit if the right club does not make an offer. Inter, PSG, Juve and United have all been linked and it has even been suggested Eriksen could be included in a deal to take Gareth Bale back to Spurs from Madrid.


DANI OLMO (Dinamo Zagreb)

One of Europe's most in-demand young players, Olmo will surely leave Dinamo sooner rather than later. The 21-year-old midfielder, who has already been capped by Spain, says he has an offer from Barca but the LaLiga champions face strong competition for his signature. Olmo is one of a raft of players being linked to Chelsea after their transfer ban was reduced on appeal, while Manchester United and Manchester City are among the other clubs reportedly interested.


WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace)

Another potential Chelsea target is Zaha, who was said to be close to leaving Palace during the last transfer window only for an £80million price tag to seemingly scare off suitors. Arsenal and Everton were reportedly interested in the Ivory Coast forward, with Roy Hodgson accepting Palace would have to consider "serious" offers for the 27-year-old this month. Blues boss Frank Lampard has denied Zaha is on his radar, however.

Former Real Madrid midfielder Lucas Silva has signed for Gremio on a contract until December 2023.

The Brazilian midfielder was described as "the future" of Madrid by then-coach Carlo Ancelotti upon signing from Cruzeiro for a reported €14million in January 2015.

After struggling to establish himself in the first team Silva was loaned to Marseille the following season, but his European career was halted when a mild arrhythmia in his heart was discovered ahead of a temporary switch to Sporting CP in July 2016 that consequently fell through.

The former Brazil Under-23 star spent 18 months back on loan at Cruzeiro, winning successive Copa do Brasil titles before his time with the club ended last June.

Madrid released Silva from his contract in September and he has found a new club as a free agent, earning a four-year deal at Gremio.

"I take great pride and great satisfaction in accepting the challenge of wearing this great shirt of Brazilian and world football," Silva posted on Twitter.

"Thank you for your confidence and be sure there will be no lack of commitment, dedication and hard work."

Silva will join up with his new team-mates in Porto Alegre on January 8.

Real Madrid are already eyeing a move for Liverpool star Sadio Mane at the end of the season.

Mane has developed into one of the world's best attackers, starring for the Premier League leaders and finishing fourth in the 2019 Ballon d'Or.

Now, another one of Europe's biggest clubs are making initial moves for the 27-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MAKE CONTACT OVER MANE MOVE

Real Madrid have spoken to Mane's representatives about a possible move, according to Le 10 Sport.

Mane is contracted at Liverpool until 2023, but appears to be attracting interest from the LaLiga giants.

The Senegal international has scored 14 goals and provided eight assists in 27 games in all competitions this season.

ROUND-UP

- The January transfer window will see Chelsea and Manchester City enter a bidding war for Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell, according to The I.

- Similarities between Moussa Dembele and Didier Drogba have made the Lyon striker a target for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, according to Sky Sports News, with the 23-year-old having scored 10 goals in 25 appearances for the Ligue 1 side this season.

- Mikel Arteta is keen to assess all of his options as he aims to lift Arsenal back into the top half of the Premier League table, and he is considering a recall for £27million centre-back William Saliba from his season-long loan at Saint-Etienne according to The Mirror.

- Also on Arsenal's to-do list is a bid for promising RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, who is also a target for Tottenham and Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail.

- Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce wants to bolster his midfield with the addition of Burnley pair Danny Drinkwater and Dwight McNeil, and reports in The Telegraph say Genk striker Mbwana Samatta is also on his radar.

- Carlo Ancelotti said he will wait until January 5 before discussing potential transfer targets with the Everton board and when he does El Desmarque has suggested Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez could be one of the names on his list.

Wolves winger Adama Traore would have no problem forgetting his ties to Barcelona if a move to Real Madrid presented itself, though a return to Camp Nou appeals more.

Traore, 23, spent most of his formative years in Barca's academy and had been considered one of La Masia's crown jewels for a long time.

The rapid forward even made his first-team debut in LaLiga as a 17-year-old in November 2013, playing seven minutes in a 4-0 win over Granada.

Barca allowed him to leave for Aston Villa in 2015, with Traore revealing the following year he had become frustrated with a lack of development at the Catalan club, as they kept him in the second team instead of helping him push on.

Concerns over his footballing mindset and end product became apparent at Villa and persisted after moves to Middlesbrough and Wolves, but this season he has taken on a key role at Molineux, even earning a Spain call-up.

As such, talk of a move to a bigger club has surfaced in recent times, and he would not close the door on a potential switch to Madrid, even though it is not a priority.

"If I do not have the option of Barca and I have to go to Real Madrid, I do not close any doors," he said on La Sexta show Jugones, before hinting at a previous issue with La Blaugrana.

"There was a misunderstanding with Barca. Something happened that I didn't like, but I prefer to keep it for myself."

And while Traore is open to returning to Spain, he has a goal to achieve in the Premier League first.

"Yes, why not [return to Spain]," he said. "But I made a promise to become one of the best in England."

Some of Europe's top clubs are already making signings ahead of the January transfer window, but Real Madrid's focus, at least for now, looks to be on securing the services of a current player.

Karim Benzema remains one of Madrid's key men, with 12 goals in 17 LaLiga matches this term.

Los Blancos will reportedly reward the striker's fine form with a contract renewal in the coming months, keeping him at the Santiago Bernabeu for another two seasons.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO STAY UNTIL 2022

Karim Benzema has agreed to sign a new contract with LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Benzema's current deal had been set to expire in 2021, but an extension is imminent. The newspaper reports the Frenchman will be rewarded improved terms on a new contract to run until 2022 due to his outstanding form.

With Madrid enjoying a midseason break, they are said to have agreed a deal with Benzema that will be made formal at the end of the campaign.

Benzema's future is apparently a priority for Madrid, with the report suggesting the deal was only capped at an additional year as the player is determined not to outstay his welcome, leaving before his outstanding career wanes.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United reportedly have an interest in Benfica star Gedson Fernandes. Sky Sports say the 20-year-old midfielder, who has fallen out of favour with his club, could be available for £34million (€39.8m) following a loan, rather than for a loftier release clause of £102m. United are desperate to bolster their midfield, with Nemanja Matic tipped to join Inter, Milan or Atletico Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Suns says United are eyeing £50m-rated Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after Erling Haaland signed for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

- The Mirror claims Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will leave Emirates Stadium at the end of the season in pursuit of silverware. Aubameyang has 18 months remaining on his contract.

Chelsea have made enquiries about the release clause in RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's contract, says The Telegraph. Werner has been linked to Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich.

- El Desmarque says Everton are leading the race to sign James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti worked with James during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Serie A champions Juventus lead the race to sign Dejan Kulusevski, according to Sky Sport Italia and La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 19-year-old, on loan at Parma from Atalanta, has been linked to United, Arsenal, Napoli, Inter and Liverpool. But Juve are reportedly poised to pay Atalanta €40-50m, while allowing Kulusevski to remain on loan at Parma until the end of the season.

- Calciomercato.com reports Jean-Clair Todibo has an offer from Milan. A deal is said to be done for the Barcelona defender - an initial loan, followed by a €20m fee with no buyback option - but he has not yet agreed to the transfer.

- Having already signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan must move on others in the next month. However, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are only interested in selling Ricardo Rodriguez and Suso, rather than accommodating loan deals that would suit Watford and Sevilla, respectively.

Napoli are set to announce the signing of Stanislav Lobotka for an initial €16m, according to Calciomercato.com. The midfielder will leave Celta Vigo and sign a contract with the Partenopei until 2024.

Luka Jovic will return to the Serbia squad for their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Norway in March after a "misunderstanding" was resolved, the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) announced on Monday.

The Real Madrid striker was released from international duty in September citing an injury, only to then feature for his club in LaLiga four days later.

Serbia head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic was reportedly irked, and Jovic has not played for his country since.

However, with a key clash against Norway coming up on March 26, FSS sporting director Vladimir Matijasevic and Tumbakovic have held meetings with Jovic to get one of their star men back on board.

"First FSS sporting director Matijasevic and then coach Tumbakovic have had a meeting with Serbian national team player Luka Jovic over the past few days, after which it is clear the Real Madrid striker is absolutely ready to be available in March matches," the FSS posted on its Twitter page.

"On both sides, everything that needed to be said was said, the misunderstanding was resolved and, most importantly, the conclusion was that everyone agreed that Serbia's interest was above all.

"Qualification for the European Championship was a common goal."

Jovic netted in a qualifying win against Lithuania in June but has scored only once in LaLiga since his €60million move from Eintracht Frankfurt to Madrid ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Erling Haaland's decision to join Borussia Dortmund brought an end to one of Europe's most fascinating transfer stories.

Manchester United had been in the frame for his signature but were reportedly put off by a key demand from the striker's representatives.

As often seems to be the case for the Red Devils, Mino Raiola's involvement led to complications.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED PULLED PLUG ON HAALAND BID

According to The Guardian, United abandoned their bid for the highly sought-after Haaland after learning of a request from his agent, Raiola, and father Alf-Inge Haaland.

The pair reportedly asked for a share of any future transfer fee for the 19-year-old, a stipulation the Old Trafford outfit were unwilling to meet despite their firm interest.

Haaland settled on Dortmund after the Bundesliga side activated his Salzburg buyout clause.

He had been linked to RB Leipzig, Juventus and several more top European clubs after emerging as a Champions League star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Haaland's arrival at Dortmund could lead LaLiga side  Atletico Madrid to narrow the transfer focus on Spanish striker Paco Alcacer, according to Marca. The former Barcelona player has struggled to cement a place in BVB's starting XI and represents a cheaper option in terms of wages than Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, an apparent favourite of Diego Simeone.

- AS, meanwhile, reports on potential movements elsewhere in the Spanish capital. The newspaper claims Real Madrid are preparing to recall Jesus Vallejo from his loan spell at Wolves, with a view to finding him more playing time. That could lead to a short-term switch to Leganes or Eintracht Frankfurt.

- Juventus are close to extending Wojciech Szczesny's contract yet the Serie A champions remain admirers of Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma and Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tammy Abraham wants a better deal at Stamford Bridge but Chelsea are not yet prepared to accept his demand for parity with Callum Hudson-Odoi's £180,000 per week salary, reports The Athletic.

- Manchester City are set to beat Premier League rivals United, Arsenal and Liverpool to the January signing of Barcelona's teenage left-back Juan Larios, says the Daily Star.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

Thibaut Courtois insisted there was never any internal strain on his relationship with Keylor Navas, though he acknowledged there is now much less focus on the Real Madrid goalkeeping situation following the latter's move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Navas completed a switch to PSG in September, with Alphonse Areola moving in the opposite direction to Madrid on loan.

Last season, both Courtois and Navas competed for the number one spot at Madrid, with the media and fans often debating over which one should be named as number one choice.

Now, those debates have been settled, with France goalkeeper Areola acting as Courtois' understudy, but the former Chelsea shot-stopper affirmed there were no issues between himself and Navas.

"In the end it is like in life. With some you have better relationships and you talk more," Courtois told MARCA.

"He was a partner and there was always a good I try to help them both. The fact that it is no longer helped me.

"I think it is more that there is no longer that debate from outside, because from inside we were two goalkeepers that we trained well competing, as now with Areola who is a great goalkeeper.

"Then the requirement for me, day by day, has not changed. But there seems to be less debate outside."

Could Gareth Bale's time in Madrid be coming to an end?

Linked to the Chinese Super League previously, former club Tottenham have emerged as a possible destination for Real Madrid's Bale.

A Spurs star could move in the opposite direction as part of the deal…

 

TOP STORY – SPURS WANT BALE BACK IN EXCHANGE FOR ERIKSEN

Tottenham want to bring Gareth Bale back to North London in a swap deal that would see want-away midfielder Christian Eriksen join Real Madrid, claims The Sun.

It is said that LaLiga giants Madrid would receive £25.7million (€30m) as well as Eriksen in a deal that could reunite Bale with the club he left in 2013.

Eriksen has been linked to Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and other clubs in Europe as his contract runs out at the end of the season.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have pulled out of the race to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, paving the way for the England winger to join Liverpool, according to the Daily Express. United and Madrid have also been linked to the 19-year-old.

United and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are in the race to sign Leicester City's in-form right-back Ricardo Pereira in January, according to the Daily Mail.

- Wolves' push for a top-five Premier League finish this season could be bolstered by the addition of South Korean forward Hwang Hee-chan, should the Molineux club persuade Salzburg to part with the £23m (€26.9m)-rated forward in a deal mooted by Sky Sports News.

- Sky in Germany reports that Werder Bremen are keen on re-signing Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard in January.

- Le10sport claims PSG sounded out Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as a possible replacement for Thomas Tuchel. The report says PSG sporting director Leonardo spoke to Klopp but the German made it clear he is happy at Anfield.

- Sky Sports News claims David Moyes is poised for a return to West Ham to replace Manuel Pellegrini following his sacking. Moyes spent a brief period in charge of West Ham in 2018.

Arsenal have set their sights on RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano. A move for the 21-year-old depends on whether Leipzig can sign Tanguy Kouassi from PSG, according to Le Parisien.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.