Inter Miami have their sights set on a big-name signing, with Lionel Messi reportedly among the possibilities.

With David Beckham among their owners, Inter Miami are preparing for their debut MLS season beginning next month.

Messi has been linked with the MLS club previously and those rumours are persisting.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI STILL A TARGET FOR INTER MIAMI

Barcelona great Messi is among the stars who could sign for Inter Miami, according to OKdiario.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani are also possibilities, the report says.

Messi reportedly bought an apartment in Miami in December, while he can leave Barcelona for free at season's end despite being contracted until 2021.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus have other plans should Paul Pogba not return to the club from Manchester United in the close season. Sport reports the Serie A giants are considering a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara, whose contract expires next year.

- Barcelona will announce Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite as their latest signing on Thursday, according to AS, which reports the LaLiga club are set to pay €18million for the Denmark international.

- Linked with RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, Liverpool are seemingly considering their options. Bild reports the European champions are tracking Milot Rashica, the 23-year-old who has scored 10 goals in 21 games for struggling Werder Bremen this season.

- Hansi Flick's future is unclear. Bayern Munich will wait until May to make a decision on the head coach, who has attracted interest from other clubs, according to Bild.

- Could Adam Lallana be set for a reunion with Brendan Rodgers? Sky Sports reports Leicester City have approached the Liverpool midfielder's representatives about a move at season's end. Lallana and Rodgers worked together at Anfield and the 31-year-old is coming out of contract.

- After an initial move for Marcos Alonso in January failed, Inter are still considering the Chelsea left-back, according to CalcioMercato. However, the report says the Serie A giants are unwilling to pay Chelsea's asking price of €30m (£25.1m).

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane was delighted with the performance of his new-look side in their 3-1 Supercopa de Espana victory over Valencia.

Goals from Toni Kroos, Isco and Luka Modric sealed a commanding victory for Madrid in Jeddah, with Dani Parejo's penalty in second-half stoppage time offering scant consolation.

With Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale unavailable along with longer-term absentees Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, Zidane experimented with his line-up by playing without wingers and using Isco and Modric as the most advanced players in a five-man midfield.

The move paid dividends on Wednesday as both players produced excellent displays in support of Luka Jovic and in front of Kroos, Casemiro and Federico Valverde in deeper midfield roles.

Zidane suggested the tactic could be used again this season as it allows Madrid's full-backs more space to attack against teams defending in deep blocks.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, he said: "We put in all the ingredients to win the game and it's a deserved victory.

"We're working well. Emotionally, we're doing well. We have all the ingredients to play good games. That's what we did against Valencia, against opponents who are very good.

"We pressed high very well. The second half was much more direct and I'm happy because it's not easy against a very good team, who know how to play well. We can be pleased.

"Today, the option was to put Isco and Modric on the inside to have more runs from the full-backs.

"It was the option for today. We can play with wingers, but we did it the other way around, with more central players and using the wings with our full-backs. It worked for us.

"We prepare really well for games, we understand them very well. We're all together. In the end, it's the players that play, that give everything on the pitch."

Madrid will play Sunday's final against the winner of Thursday's second semi-final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid breezed into the Supercopa de Espana final on Wednesday with a commanding 3-1 win over Valencia in Jeddah.

The first semi-final encounter of the inaugural expanded tournament was decidedly one-sided despite injury and illness robbing Madrid of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

Toni Kroos broke the deadlock when he scored directly from a quickly taken corner before the excellent Isco struck a second in the first half.

Luka Modric completed the scoring midway through the second period to send Madrid into a final against either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid and consign Copa del Rey holders Valencia to an early trip home, Dani Parejo's late penalty proving scant consolation.

Some quick-thinking from Kroos caught out the local TV director as well as Jaume Domenech, with replays of earlier action still being shown to viewers as the Madrid midfielder curled a corner into the net despite the Valencia keeper's best efforts.

Kevin Gameiro blasted over the bar from a promising position after a rare attack from Valencia, who were limited to 36 per cent of the first-half possession as Madrid controlled the tempo with ease.

One clinical passing move set up Modric for a shot and, when his effort was blocked by Ezequiel Garay, Isco controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed expertly home from 12 yards.

Luka Jovic had a quiet half but should really have made it 3-0 before half-time, the striker failing to beat Jaume with the rebound after Isco hit the left-hand post with a header.

Federico Valverde rippled the side-netting in the second half but it was Modric who put the game beyond Valencia, gathering Jovic's pass into the box, working space with a step-over and bending a sublime shot past Jaume for his fifth goal of the season.

Parejo at least gave Valencia fans something to cheer in second-half stoppage time, firing a penalty high past Thibaut Courtois after a VAR review saw Sergio Ramos penalised for handball.

What does it mean? Zidane masterplan secures another final

This was one of Madrid's best performances of the season and it came with Benzema and Bale sidelined and with no recognised wingers in the starting line-up.

Instead, head coach Zinedine Zidane gave Modric and Isco licence to roam in front of Kroos, Valverde and Casemiro, giving Los Blancos an imperious level of control over a Valencia team who had little idea how to respond.

It would be no surprise to see Zidane replicate the line-up in the final and perhaps some of their more challenging games of 2020, such as the Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester City.

Isco sparkles in new-look line-up

Zidane opted to pack the team with ball-playing midfielders, with Isco and Modric pushed furthest forward, and it was a system in which the former flourished. He was a constant threat and took his goal well.

Kondogbia run ragged

Geoffrey Kondogbia offered little protection to his back four and did not help in building counter-attacks, either, which were evidently part of Albert Celades' initial game plan. He was replaced by Maxi Gomez after 55 minutes.

What's next?

Madrid will meet either Barcelona or Atletico in Sunday's final, with their next LaLiga game at home to Sevilla not until January 18. Valencia are back in action on January 19 at Real Mallorca.

With Manchester City's Premier League title defence in tatters and a mounting injury list in defence, Pep Guardiola's side need reinforcements.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have been struck down by injuries this season, leaving City with limited options in defence.

As Liverpool run away with the title, City are eyeing an Inter star to rebuild their central defence.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGETING SKRINIAR

Manchester City have set their sights on Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to The Mirror.

Premier League champions City have struggled with injuries in defence this season as rivals Liverpool charge towards the title.

City are reportedly ready to buy in January and Skriniar – also a target for LaLiga champions Barcelona and Real Madrid – is on the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic says MLS outfit DC United want to sign Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric after Wayne Rooney's exit.

Juventus are "still hopeful" of signing Paris Saint-Germain loanee Mauro Icardi, reports Calciomercato. Icardi left Inter for PSG at the start of the season, having been linked to Juve and Napoli.

- Sky Sports claims Manchester United are interested in Leicester City star James Maddison, but are aware a January transfer will be difficult. Sky Sports also says the Red Devils are chasing Lille's Boubakary Soumare, along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Madrid and Valencia.

Mario Gotze will leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, according to Bild. Gotze's contract is set to expire and he has been unable to agree a new deal.

- TZ says Bayern Munich are interested in Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo, with the Bundesliga champions distancing themselves from RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann.

Zinedine Zidane believes Raphael Varane's brace in the 3-0 win at Getafe showed how Real Madrid do not only have to rely on their forwards to score goals.

Los Blancos returned to duty having scored just once in their previous three LaLiga matches, but France international Varane netted either side of half-time to put them firmly in control against Jose Bordalas' men.

Luka Modric added a third deep into additional time to wrap up Madrid's biggest league win since November 9, and Zidane said his side's patience had paid off in the derby fixture.

"I already said that you have to be calm in front of goal," the Madrid coach told reporters.

"You have to be calm because sometimes the ball does not fit. And with goals today from Varane, it shows that we have many resources to score.

"For us, it is important to win here because it is a very complicated league. The boys have been plugged in since minute one with great intensity."

Zidane also paid tribute to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who kept his third consecutive clean sheet to help his side go top of the table, albeit with previous leaders Barcelona playing later on Saturday.

The Belgium international was unbeatable in goalless draws with Barca and Athletic Bilbao prior to the mid-season break, leading to Zidane underlining the importance of his performances.

"I am happy for him and sure he is happy with his work," Zidane said of Courtois. "We are happy for him and he is for us.

"We have suffered in some games and Courtois has been very good. We have played as a team, which is the most important in these games and against these teams.

"We achieved a good result as a team, thanks to everyone’s efforts."

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.

Gareth Bale will start for Real Madrid against Barcelona on Wednesday, while Luka Modric drops to the bench.

Wales star Bale will join Karim Benzema in attack for his first LaLiga start in December, with Isco retaining his place from the 1-1 draw with Valencia on Sunday.

Casemiro, Federico Valverde and Toni Kroos line up in midfield, meaning 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Modric is among the substitutes, along with Rodrygo Goes, Vinicius Junior and Luka Jovic.

Ferland Mendy is back at left-back after being suspended for the Valencia match.

Barcelona line up with Antoine Griezmann alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in attack, while Ivan Rakitic and Frenkie de Jong look set to be joined by Sergi Roberto in midfield.

Sergio Busquets was initially named in the line-up, with Rakitic on the bench, but Barca announced a late change that saw the Spain international drop to the bench.

Messi will equal Xavi on a record 42 Clasico appearances for Barca, as the Catalans go in search of a 73rd LaLiga win over their fierce rivals, with each side currently on 72 victories each from 178 previous meetings.

Nelson Semedo is at right-back for the champions, with Arturo Vidal, who was reportedly angry at being told he would not start the match, among the substitutes.

Barca and Madrid are level on 35 points at the top of LaLiga ahead of the match at Camp Nou.

Real Madrid ended their Champions League Group A campaign with a routine 3-1 win over Club Brugge at the Jan Breydel Stadium.

Zinedine Zidane's side had already secured their last-16 berth before the clash in Belgium and can now turn their attention to the draw for the knockout stages, which takes place on Monday.

Hans Vanaken cancelled out Rodrygo Goes' opener within the space of two second-half minutes, but a first Champions League goal for Vinicius Junior and a sublime strike from Luka Modric sealed all three points for the LaLiga giants.

Galatasaray's defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital, meanwhile, means Brugge finish third in the group and will now compete in the knockout stages of the Europa League in 2020.

Both goalkeepers were forced into excellent saves inside the opening 15 minutes; Alphonse Areola used his legs to keep out Percy Tau's close-range effort, while Simon Mignolet pawed over Luka Jovic's drive that capped a flowing move.

Isco came agonisingly close to opening the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark, the Spain international dragging wide of Mignolet's right-hand post from 18 yards.

The game then burst into life shortly after the interval, with two goals in as many minutes.

After a marauding run down the right-hand side, Alvaro Odriozola picked out Rodrygo and the Brazilian steered in a superb left-footed volley off an upright to put the visitors ahead.

That was cancelled out just 101 seconds later, however, when Vanaken collected Dennis' pass and whipped the ball past Areola from 15 yards.

Madrid restored their lead after 64 minutes when Vinicius slotted home from close range after Rodrygo had failed to get a shot away inside a crowded penalty area.

Modric then added a touch of gloss to the final scoreline with a sumptuous finish in stoppage time, the Croatian curling his effort past Mignolet from a central position just outside the penalty area.

 

What does it mean? Madrid through but improvement required

It has been far from a stellar campaign so far in this season's Champions League from Madrid, with just three wins from their six group games.

Zidane will know his side needs to improve dramatically if they are to go deep into the latter stages of a competition they won three times between 2016 and 2018.

Rodrygo at home on the big stage

The 18-year-old announced his arrival in European football's premier club competition with a hat-trick against Galatasaray and again showed why he is so highly rated. He took his goal superbly and was in the thick of the action throughout.

Jovic fails to deliver again

The former Eintracht Frankfurt striker has struggled since his move to the Spanish capital, scoring just one goal across all competitions. He came close to adding to his tally in the first half, but offered little else before he was substituted for Karim Benzema in the second half.  

What's next?

Zidane takes his side to Valencia in LaLiga on Sunday before a huge Clasico clash with Barcelona at Camp Nou. Brugge also return to domestic action on Sunday, taking on Mechelen at home.

Zinedine Zidane admitted Real Madrid lacked fluency in their 2-0 win over Espanyol and said the team "can do much better", yet he still had saw positives at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Goals from Zidane's French compatriots Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema saw off the lowly visitors from Barcelona.

There were promising performances from the likes of striker Vinicius Junior and midfielder Federico Valverde, two youngsters of whom much is expected in the coming years.

But it was largely an underwhelming display by a team that ultimately ground down their opponents, Madrid's pedigree telling in the end despite Ferland Mendy's late red card.

"Today, we have to be happy because we continue on a good run," Zidane said afterwards.

"Of course, we can do much better, but we played a very serious game, respecting the opposition, and that is the most important thing."

Zidane said that 19th-placed Espanyol "do not deserve to be where they are in the table", and he acknowledged: "I think we controlled our own game, even though we were missing a bit of fluidity.

"Despite this, I'm happy because we scored two goals and didn't concede."

He added that he continues to feel pride at coaching Madrid in his second spell in the post, saying: "I am fortunate to be here with them.

"It is they who are fighting on the pitch and we have a very good squad. There is still a lot of work and let's not forget where we came from."

After winning three Champions League titles in his first spell as head coach, Zidane is jostling for more silverware this season, and his side are battling Barcelona for LaLiga supremacy, inching ahead of their great rivals at least for a few hours with their latest victory.

Asked about Valverde's lively display, Zidane said of the 21-year-old Uruguayan: "Fede has a place for many years here because he is demonstrating what he has, he is an important player, like everyone else.

"He is very young; when he plays, he doesn't have any trouble with the ball and without the ball. And when he plays, he does well."

Zidane also highlighted his other options in midfield, including Luka Modric, who came off the bench late on, and Isco, who was not used.

Modric, who was celebrating his new status as a Ballon d'Or winner this time last year, still has a major role to play for Madrid, as Zidane stressed: "He knows that occasionally he'll miss a game. But physically he can hold up very well."

In attack, Madrid continue to rely on the goals of Benzema, but they have a major talent in 19-year-old Brazilian Vinicius Junior.

His pace and dribbling caused Espanyol problems at times, and Zidane is sure the goals, in short supply for now, will come.

"The important thing is his work. What he has done, he has done well, both in attack and in defence," Zidane said. "I don't ask anyone for goals. That is a consequence of what the team does."

Lionel Messi received the Ballon d'Or trophy from 2018 winner Luka Modric on Monday, with the Real Madrid midfielder then congratulating Barcelona's forward on social media.

Modric ended Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's 10-year duopoly on the prestigious prize last year having helped Croatia reach the World Cup final after winning a third successive Champions League with Real Madrid.

It was Messi's turn to win the award again this year, though, as he claimed a record sixth Ballon d'Or having scored 41 goals in 44 club appearances so far across the calendar year.

Messi was LaLiga's top scorer in 2018-19 as Barcelona beat Real Madrid to the title, though that did not stop Modric praising a star on the other side of the Clasico divide.

"Sports and football are not just about winning, they're also about respect for your team-mates and rivals," he wrote on his social media accounts alongside a picture of him handing Messi the award.

Real Madrid kept pace with Barcelona at the summit of LaLiga after coming from behind to beat Real Sociedad 3-1 at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Barca had edged past Leganes earlier in the day to open up a three-point lead over their bitter rivals but Zinedine Zidane's side registered a second consecutive league win to rejoin them on 28 points.

Willian Jose took advantage of a woeful mistake by Sergio Ramos to put Sociedad ahead in the second minute but Karim Benzema restored parity before half-time.

Federico Valverde – who opened his Madrid account in the 4-0 win over Eibar before the international break – completed the turnaround shortly after the restart before Luka Modric sealed all three points 16 minutes from time.

Gareth Bale was introduced as a second-half substitute by Zidane and was greeted by a mixture of whistles and cheers from Madrid supporters after holding a banner following Wales' win over Hungary in midweek that read: 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER'.

Sociedad were gifted the lead inside the opening two minutes thanks to a moment of madness from Ramos.

The Madrid captain's backpass to Thibaut Courtois was cut out by Willian Jose, who took a touch past the Belgium international and rolled into an empty net.

Alex Remiro got down well to keep out Ferland Mendy's powerful drive soon after, while at the other end Courtois had to beat away Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard's fierce effort.

Madrid conjured up a scarcely deserved leveller eight minutes before the interval when Benzema used his chest to steer home Luka Modric's free-kick from six yards.

They started the second half with a spring in their step and forged ahead in the 47th minute when Valverde's shot from just outside the penalty area took a wicked deflection off Mikel Oyarzabal to wrongfoot Remiro.

Bale shrugged off his hostile reception to play a part in Madrid's third. His cross from the right was headed down into Modric's path by Benzema and the Croatian lashed a fine half-volley past Remiro to add gloss to the scoreline.


What does it mean? Madrid march on against tough opposition

After a challenging start to the season Madrid are now on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions and look well set for a mouth-watering duel with Barca for the league title. They were far from their fluid best against Imanol Alguacil's side but Zidane will be pleased to overcome a Sociedad outfit who have been in stellar from so far this season.

Benzema's fine campaign continues

The former France international has been in wonderful form this season. He again showed why Zidane has so much faith in him, pulling Madrid level with his 10th league goal and then teeing up Modric's third with a precise header.

Ramos gives Sociedad a helping hand

The Madrid captain gift-wrapped Sociedad's opener with as careless a display of defending as the Santiago Bernabeu faithful are likely to witness this season. He will be a relieved man that it did not matter in the end.

What's next?

Madrid host Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday before returning to domestic action on Saturday with a visit to Deportivo Alaves. Sociedad, meanwhile, welcome Eibar to Anoeta on Saturday.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric revealed he liked Italy and could be open to a move to Serie A in the future.

The 34-year-old claimed the Golden Foot award on Tuesday, almost a year after winning the Ballon d'Or following a tremendous 2018.

However, Modric has only made three LaLiga starts for Madrid this season and has previously been linked with a move to both Milan clubs.

The Croatia international said he followed Serie A and enjoyed Italy, with a move possible in the future.

"I like Italy, it's close to Croatia," he told Sky Sport. "I follow Serie A because I have many national team-mates playing there.

"The Italians are fantastic and have a mentality similar to us Croats."

Modric added: "We'll see if one day I can play in Italy. I cannot talk about this because I am a Real Madrid player.

"I like being at Real and for now I see my future there alone."

Modric has been at Madrid since 2012, when he arrived from Tottenham, and has made more than 300 appearances for the club.

Sergio Ramos' late goal in Real Madrid's Champions League final victory over Atletico Madrid in 2014 may have altered the history of European football, according to Luka Modric.

Madrid trailed to Diego Godin's opener when Ramos forced extra time with a dramatic 93rd-minute header at Estadio da Luz.

Gareth Bale put Carlo Ancelotti's side in front and further goals followed from Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo to seal a 4-1 victory in Lisbon. 

It was Madrid's 10th European Cup - known as 'La Decima' - but their first in 12 years after a series of near misses.

The Spanish giants have since added three more Champions Leagues to their collection, but Modric is unsure whether it would have been possible if not for Ramos' famous goal.

"It's difficult to make such judgements. I don't know," he told Club del Deportista. "It may be the case that this goal changed the history of European football. Real Madrid had already won a lot of trophies, but they hadn't lifted the Champions League trophy for 12 years. 

"This goal changed something, the mentality changed. From that moment we started to be very strong in Europe and teams were afraid of us again. That shows how important mentality is in football. 

"People had spent 12 years talking about La Decima and it became a mental thing. [Jose] Mourinho went to three semi-finals and it was hard to overcome this mental barrier.

"When we reached the final and to win it with that goal, it still gives me goosebumps, we showed such strong character and never gave up."

Modric broke Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or stranglehold by winning football's most prestigious individual accolade in 2018.

It capped a memorable year that saw him win his third successive Champions League with Madrid and help Croatia to a first World Cup final, where they were beaten by France.

"That was a recognition of my entire career, but a very special year in particular," Modric said of winning the award. 

"I was lucky enough to win the Champions League again, which isn't easy, and I also reached the World Cup final with a country like Croatia, which for us is something that words just can't describe. 

"I don't like to talk about myself, but I think that, in the individual sense, I played a very good season and the footballing people have recognised that. It's no coincidence when so many people vote for you."

Luka Modric insists friend and team-mate Gareth Bale fits in well at Real Madrid and enjoys being at the club.

Rumours linking the Wales international with a move to the Chinese Super League have resurfaced as the January transfer window draws nearer.

He almost left for Jiangsu Suning during the close season, only for Madrid to reportedly cancel the deal at the last minute.

Zinedine Zidane tried to force him out amid suggestions Bale has failed to embrace Spanish culture but, speaking ahead of Wednesday's LaLiga game against Leganes, the head coach claimed his winger is still happy at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Star midfielder Modric, who swapped Tottenham for Madrid a year before Bale, holds the same view.

"Gareth and I are very similar. We are shy and sometimes we don't talk much," Modric told Club del Deportista.

"Gareth speaks and understands Spanish, and there is a good atmosphere and he gets along very well with his team-mates and is delighted to enjoy Madrid and the best club in the world.

"Of course, everyone enjoys their own way and you have to respect their way of being. He is exemplary with his behaviour. I get along very well with him."

Fresh speculation surrounding Bale's future arose following his meeting with agent Jonathan Barnett in London on Monday.

Zidane said the trip was "personal reasons" and that Madrid knew of his plans.

Approached for comment by a Spanish broadcaster, Barnett added that Bale is completely content at the club.

"Gareth Bale is delighted to play for Real Madrid," he told Deportes Cuatro.

Bale, 30, has not featured for Los Blancos since suffering an injury – initially suspected to be cramp – while playing for Wales against Modric's Croatia on October 13.

Zinedine Zidane left Gareth Bale and Luka Modric out of his Real Madrid squad for their Champions League trip to Galatasaray after the pair suffered injuries while on international duty.

After scoring in Wales' 1-1 draw with Croatia in Cardiff, Bale left the field limping and was later reported to be suffering from cramp, while Modric had to be substituted having sustained bruising to his right quadriceps.

The pair are joined by out-of-favour striker Mariano Diaz and calf injury victim Lucas Vazquez in missing the trip to Istanbul for a game in which Madrid badly need a win to revive their hopes of qualifying from Group A.

Los Blancos lost their opening group game 3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain and were held to a 2-2 draw by Club Brugge at Santiago Bernabeu, leaving them bottom of the group.

Tuesday's game provides Zidane's men with a chance to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Mallorca in LaLiga on Saturday and the Madrid coach welcomes Toni Kroos, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal back into his squad.

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