Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane wants Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi to remain in LaLiga amid speculation of a possible departure.

Messi, 33, is contracted to Barca until 2021 but a report emerged on Thursday, claiming the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is considering an exit.

According to Cadena SER, Messi has halted contract negotiations due to his frustrations with Barca – who are on track to be dethroned by bitter rivals Madrid this season.

Zidane was asked about the rumours regarding Messi after Madrid moved four points clear of two-time defending champions Barca thanks to Thursday's 1-0 win over Getafe.

"I don't know what will happen but we hope not because he is in this league and we want the best in this league," Zidane said post-match.

Sergio Ramos was the hero for Madrid against Getafe, scoring the only goal from the penalty spot in the 79th minute at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.

The victory was Madrid's sixth in a row as Los Blancos extended their advantage over stuttering Barca with five matches remaining in LaLiga.

Zidane hailed captain Ramos, who took his LaLiga tally to nine goals in 2019-20 following his 450th league appearance for Madrid.

"Our captain is our leader on the field, but also outside," Zidane said of the Spain skipper, who took his career total to 100 goals.

"He is an unrepeatable player. He is unique and we know what he transmits to everyone else. I'm happy for him for his goal because when it comes to shooting a penalty, he has a lot of confidence. 

"It's almost in the 80th minute and Dani Carvajal's effort in goal is from the whole team. We know that with patience and tranquillity we can score goals. This is what happened.

"The last 20 minutes with freshness we claimed a very important result. We have to congratulate all the players because what we are doing is not easy."

Zidane also provided an update on star centre-back Raphael Varane, who took a blow to the head and had to be replaced in the first half.

"Right now he's not right because it's a blow to the neck," Zidane added. "He has gone home and the doctor is going to see him and we will see from tomorrow [Friday]. 

"We are not going to risk anything. It was a strong blow and tomorrow we will see exactly what he has."

Real Madrid full-back Dani Carvajal said Los Blancos are on course to win the LaLiga title following their 1-0 victory against Getafe.

Madrid moved four points clear of bitter rivals Barcelona atop the table thanks to Thursday's hard-fought win at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium in the Spanish capital.

Sergio Ramos converted a 79th-minute penalty as Madrid claimed their sixth successive victory since the season resumed following the coronavirus crisis.

Madrid have not won LaLiga since 2016-17 but Zinedine Zidane's men are on track to end Barca's dominance with five games remaining.

"It is clear that with four points [advantage] we depend on ourselves to win this league. We are on course," Carvajal, who earned Madrid's penalty after he was upended by Getafe's Mathias Olivera, said post-match.

"Getafe played a very well-rounded game. We had to take advantage of Barcelona's slip, today was a final.

"Getafe made it tough. We had to be serious, showing that we are a unit.

"I was able to complete a one-on-one and win the penalty.

"On Sunday we have a very tough battle."

Madrid will travel to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday before stuttering Barca visit Villarreal later that day.

Zinedine Zidane insisted Real Madrid have not won anything after moving four points clear of Barcelona in the LaLiga title race with a hard-fought win over Getafe.

Sergio Ramos was the hero, scoring the only goal from the penalty spot in the 79th minute as leaders Madrid defeated Getafe 1-0 on Thursday.

After full-back Dani Carvajal was upended by Getafe's Mathias Olivera, Madrid captain Ramos coolly converted the spot-kick with 11 minutes remaining at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.

The victory was Madrid's sixth in a row as Los Blancos extended their advantage over stuttering defending champions Barca with five matches remaining.

But Madrid head coach Zidane refused to look too far ahead post-match.

"There are three more points," Zidane told Movistar. "They are three very important points.

"We had to win yes but nothing more. For us nothing changes. We have five finals left.

"We have not won anything. I know what this is like and until this is over, we cannot say anything.

"We have to keep working. We are happy, proud of the team ... the effort, the solidity that we show, is very good.

"This is football, football every three days is a new story. Today we suffered a lot, the other day against Espanyol too.

"We played against the bottom team, but they always make it difficult for you. Without suffering you cannot achieve anything."

Zidane, whose Madrid travel to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, added: "We knew that we would suffer a lot. They pressed very high, it has cost us a little, but it is normal.

"I think that with patience it was known that the goal could be reached. It is what we did, have peace of mind, because these are key moments You have to congratulate the players because it has not been easy, physically or mentally."

Sergio Ramos scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot as Real Madrid beat Getafe 1-0 to go four points clear at the top of LaLiga.

The leaders were far from convincing in a frantic derby at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium on Thursday, but captain Ramos secured a precious victory 11 minutes from time after Mathias Olivera was adjudged to have upended Dani Carvajal.

Victory for Los Blancos, who rested Eden Hazard, was their sixth in a row and they are strong favourites to dethrone stuttering Barcelona with five matches to play.

Getafe were unfortunate to make the short journey home without a point, but Madrid march on in their pursuit of the title.

Achraf Hakimi has joined Inter in a permanent move from Real Madrid, the Italian club confirmed.

Hakimi, 21, has reportedly cost Antonio Conte's side an initial €40million and he joins on a five-year contract.

A statement issued by Madrid read: "The club wants to thank Achraf for all these years of dedication, professionalism and exemplary behaviour since he came to our academy in 2006 and wishes him good luck in his new phase."

The Spain-born Morocco international has spent the past two seasons on loan at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, particularly impressing this term when deployed as a right-sided wing-back ahead of a three-man defence.

On top of an impressive haul of five goals, Hakimi also had 10 assists in the Bundesliga this term – the best of any defender.

Dortmund were not shy about their desire to see Hakimi remain at Signal Iduna Park, but the writing appeared to be on the wall when BVB confirmed the capture of Thomas Meunier on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain following reports of Inter closing in on their target.

Hakimi had been at Madrid since 2006 and broke into the first-team squad in 2017-18, playing back-up to Dani Carvajal.

He was sent out on a two-year loan to Dortmund and, although he enjoyed a wonderful 2019-20 in Germany, there are those who are unconvinced by his defensive qualities, particularly in a back four.

Similarly, Hakimi's contract with Madrid was due to expire in 2021, and a potential unease at being behind Carvajal in the pecking order again could have given rise to the possibility of losing him for free next year.

Their loss is Inter's gain, however, as Conte finally gets his hands on a world-class wing-back, having had Ashley Young, Victor Moses, Antonio Candreva, Cristiano Biraghi and Kwadwo Asamoah as his options in 2019-20.

Eden Hazard will soon be firing on all cylinders for Real Madrid but Zinedine Zidane has warned he will remain a target for opposing players.

The former Chelsea star has not had the expected impact since arriving in the Spanish capital in June last year.

Having dazzled at Stamford Bridge, the Belgian's maiden campaign in LaLiga has been disrupted by injury and he underwent ankle surgery in March.

Since the return from the coronavirus-enforced break, Hazard has been substituted in all four games he has played in, but he has also continued to be met with some rough treatment, drawing regular fouls.

Madrid coach Zidane, who has guided his side to the top of LaLiga ahead of Thursday's visit of Getafe, sees nothing sinister in the way opponents deal with Hazard but says he can expect more of the same as the 29-year-old seeks to rediscover his fitness and best form.

"He's very good and the opponents know it," Zidane said when asked about the number of fouls committed against Hazard. 

"But there's no intention of hurting any player.

"We have to be calm with Eden. He's been off the pitch for a long time and you have to go easy on him.

"He'll be fine in a little while."

Another player in the Madrid ranks not having quite the season he will have hoped for is James Rodriguez.

The Colombia international has spoken freely of his frustration at not getting enough playing time at the Santiago Bernabeu, and Zidane understands how he feels.

"James is telling the truth," said the Frenchman. "He wants to play more and that's normal. I understand that.

"But we're going to go until the end like this."

Zinedine Zidane is adamant the title race is far from over in LaLiga, insisting Real Madrid "have won absolutely nothing" yet despite Barcelona's recent wobble.

Leaders Madrid hold a one-point lead over their rivals and also have a game in hand – they host Getafe on Thursday aiming to make it six successive wins since the 2019-20 season resumed in Spain.

In contrast, Barca have struggled for consistency in recent weeks. The reigning champions drew for a third time in four outings on Tuesday, twice pegged back by Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.

Having picked up four points in the two Clasico contests during the campaign, giving them the added buffer of the head-to-head advantage, Los Blancos are now firm favourites to finish on top.

Zidane, however, is refusing to take anything for granted.

"We haven't won anything [yet]," the Madrid boss told the media on Wednesday. "We have six games. Eighteen points.

"Until we are mathematically champions, we have to keep going, our rivals are going to do everything they can to win their games.

"No confidence and no saying, 'this is over'.

"I've experienced this situation as a player. We have won absolutely nothing."

A goal from Casemiro was enough for Zidane's side to overcome struggling Espanyol 1-0 at the weekend, boosting their bid to win the league for the first time since 2017.

With neighbours Atletico helping them out by holding Barca, Madrid have the opportunity to move four points clear at the summit when they face fifth-placed Getafe.

"I'm very happy and proud of the players," Zidane added. "But we have six 'finals' left and one is tomorrow.

"We have to think about trying our best to win. We're good, but this doesn't mean anything."

Add Tottenham to the list of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic admirers.

The Lazio star and Serbia international has teams queuing up for his services, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly tipped to secure his signature.

However, Premier League outfit Spurs are now eyeing Milinkovic-Savic.

 

TOP STORY – MILINKOVIC-SAVIC WANTED BY SPURS

Jose Mourinho is interested in bringing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Tottenham, according to Foot Mercato.

Milinkovic-Savic is a player in demand, having been linked with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Manchester City and Chelsea.

While a move for Milinkovic-Savic appears out of reach for Spurs, Jose Mourinho is still dreaming.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Milinkovic-Savic is a dream for Spurs, The Telegraph says Tottenham are confident of signing Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Mourinho, however, must raise transfer funds through sales from his squad.

Inter are in advanced talks with Brescia to finalise a deal for star Sandro Tonali, according to journalist Nicolo Schira. Inter have agreed a five-year deal with Tonali.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future at Milan beyond the 2019-20 season is complicated, says Calciomercato. Ibrahimovic is out of contract at the end of the campaign and the 38-year-old striker is no closer to signing an extension. While he would like to remain at San Siro, an extension looks set to be postponed until the proposed arrival of Ralf Rangnick as head coach.

- Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich are hopeful of extending David Alaba's contract, despite failing to come to an agreement at a meeting last week. Alaba has been linked to Chelsea recently. Meanwhile, Sky Sport says Bayern are not prepared to exercise their option to sign Ivan Perisic permanently from Inter following his loan spell.

- ABC says Real Betis have been in negotiations with former West Ham, Real Madrid and Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini about their coaching vacancy.

Milan and Napoli are both interested in Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbian could be a replacement for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

- The Daily Mail reports Arsenal are ready to use out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as a bargaining chip in a potential swap deal. United, PSG, Madrid and Barca have emerged as possible destinations.

Rennes sporting director Florian Maurice said the Ligue 1 side have no intention of selling teenage sensation Eduardo Camavinga amid links to Real Madrid, even for €80million.

Camavinga is reportedly wanted by LaLiga giants Madrid following a breakout Ligue 1 campaign before the 2019-20 season was cut short in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 17-year-old midfielder has also previously been linked to French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

"Camavinga's departure has not been spoken about," Maurice told RMC Sport. "There has never been a real interest. Since my arrival, I was clear that Camavinga would be included in the project. 

"If Real Madrid offer €80million for him as is being talked about, the answer is no. We want him to stay so that he keeps developing at Rennes."

"For me it is clear, this player must be part of the project for the coming season. We want to continue with this player," Maurice continued.

"It is important for him that he continues with Stade Rennais. He's a very good boy, a great player.

"These are discussions we will have together. For our part, we have no intention of letting him go."

"It is worth pointing out that the player has the ambition and maybe the desire to go elsewhere," added Maurice.

"I would listen to him, but at the moment he has a Rennes contract and we will then see how the transfer window is working."

Achraf Hakimi has said his goodbyes to Borussia Dortmund as the Real Madrid full-back moves ever closer to joining Inter.

Nerazzurri chief executive Beppe Marotta confirmed over the weekend that a deal was on the verge of being struck for the 21-year-old, who reportedly arrived in Milan for a medical on Tuesday.

Hakimi has been a star for Dortmund this season, having joined on a two-year loan from LaLiga giants Madrid in 2018.

And he said a fond farewell to the Bundesliga club ahead of his proposed switch to Serie A.

"The time has come to close a very beautiful stage in my life. After two wonderful years, I'm ready to leave this club that has given me so much joy," Hakimi wrote on Twitter and Instagram.

"From the first moment, the care and attention by the club and the city has been amazing. Now I know that I was right to choose Dortmund as my home two years ago.

"I want to thank all my teammates, the coaching staff, and all the club's staff for the love and trust they have shown me at all times.

"I also want to thank the wonderful fans who have supported us unconditionally in every game.

"I'll never forget the yellow wall (Glebe Wand) which is simply wonderful.

"Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me at all times.

"I hope that one day our paths will cross again. See you soon Borussia Dortmund!"

Manchester City could be ready to challenge rivals Manchester United for Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 24, has been linked with a move away from Villa, with Old Trafford seemingly his most likely destination.

But City may be primed to join the race for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDER MOVE FOR MAN UTD TARGET GREALISH

Manchester City will consider a move for Grealish if they receive their asking price for Leroy Sane from Bayern Munich, according to The Telegraph.

Sane is set to leave the Premier League giants this close season amid continued links to Bayern.

And City could challenge Manchester United for Grealish – who has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 35 games this season – if their asking price is met.

ROUND-UP

- Quique Setien is under increasing pressure at Barcelona. RAC1 reports Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, chief executive Oscar Grau, sporting director Javier Bordas and technical secretary Eric Abidal met at Setien's house on Monday to discuss the current situation. Trailing Real Madrid by two points in LaLiga, Esport3 says Setien could be fired as early as this week.

- Arsenal have made a decision regarding Dani Ceballos. The Sun says the Premier League club will not make a move to buy the midfielder from Real Madrid when his loan deal expires at the end of the season.

- With Serie A promotion secured, Benevento could be set to strengthen. Gianluca Di Marzio reports the club are set to sign former Chelsea forward Loic Remy, who is coming out of contract at Lille.

- Real Sociedad are leading the chase to sign Real Madrid midfielder Takefusa Kubo on loan next season, according to AS. The 19-year-old has been on loan at Mallorca this season, while Milan are also reportedly interested in the Japan international.

- With Timo Werner joining Chelsea, RB Leipzig have seemingly found a replacement from the forward. According to Sky, Hwang Hee-chan will join Leipzig from Salzburg for about €10million. Hwang has been linked to the likes of Liverpool and Wolves.

- Celtic are reportedly keen to hold onto Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper has been on loan from Southampton this season and The Sun reports Celtic want to buy the former England international.

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

Zinedine Zidane believes Karim Benzema's incredible assist in Real Madrid's win over Espanyol may be one of the plays of the season.

Benzema produced a moment of magic to set up Casemiro in Madrid's 1-0 victory that sent them two points clear atop LaLiga on Sunday.

The forward's outrageous backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa gave Casemiro a simple finish.

Madrid head coach Zidane was unsurprised and believes Benzema's skill could go down as one of the best moments of the campaign.

"It doesn't surprise me. He is a player who invents things," he said, via AS.

"And then Casemiro is there. It can be one of the plays of the championship."

The goal lifted Madrid two points clear of rivals Barcelona with six games remaining in the LaLiga season.

Zidane said he expected the title race to go down to the final day of the campaign.

"Six games are missing and this will be decided on the last day. You have to fight in every game," he said.

"Today the second played against the last. You never know in this league."

Madrid are next in action against Getafe on Thursday.

Casemiro was unsurprised by Karim Benzema's incredible assist in Real Madrid's 1-0 win over Espanyol in LaLiga on Sunday.

Benzema produced a moment of magic to set up Casemiro as Madrid moved two points clear at the top of LaLiga.

The forward's 117th assist of his Madrid career came via an outrageous backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa to give Casemiro a simple finish.

Casemiro said he knew Benzema was capable of such brilliance, paying tribute to the 32-year-old.

"What Karim did, for me is normal. We all know that the qualities he has aren't of a number nine, but of a number 10," the midfielder said.

"I know him, I know how he plays and the quality he possesses. I asked for the ball in space, and his backheel pass was incredible.

"It's Karim's goal. It's the backheel pass of a number 10 and you have to congratulate him."

With six games remaining, Madrid are on track to win LaLiga, holding a two-point lead over rivals Barcelona.

Casemiro is eager to help deliver Madrid a first LaLiga title since 2016-17.

"There is still a lot left, but we know that each match is a final," he said. "We want this league."

Madrid are next in action with a clash against Getafe on Thursday.

Real Madrid star Karim Benzema said he knew Casemiro was waiting on his ingenious match-winning assist against Espanyol, explaining: "I see football like that!"

Benzema stole the show as LaLiga leaders Madrid moved two points clear of bitter rivals Barcelona atop the table with a 1-0 win over bottom side Espanyol on Sunday.

At the end of a first half in which Madrid had hammered on the door without finding a way past former goalkeeper Diego Lopez, Benzema came up with a moment of sublime skill.

Benzema played a backheel through the legs of defender Bernardo Espinosa to grant Casemiro a simple finish for the decisive goal on the stroke of half-time.

"It was a good play, but the most important thing is the goal afterwards," Benzema said afterwards. "Casemiro gets it right. We are very happy."

Pressed on the piece of skill, the French forward added: "I see football like that! I knew Casemiro was coming from behind."

The goal was as important as it was arresting, as Madrid capitalised on Barca's failure to beat lowly Celta Vigo on Saturday.

"Of course we look at what Barca do, even though we are very focused on us," Benzema said. "I am not going to talk about Barca, but we are fine.

"We go from match to match and each game is a final for the LaLiga title.

"We are happy and we wanted to win. We left very psyched to get three points to take home."

Madrid have won all five of their matches since LaLiga resumed in June following the coronavirus-enforced break.

Zinedine Zidane's in-form Madrid play host to Getafe in the Spanish capital on Thursday.

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