LaLiga president Javier Tebas has defended Real Madrid's attempts to sign Kylian Mbappe despite football's wider economic struggles, adamant their conduct pales in comparison to that of Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid president Florentino Perez was at the forefront of the European Super League scandal earlier this year, as a group of elite clubs attempted to form a closed breakaway competition.

Perez said their intention was to "save" football, convinced the sport was financially unsustainable in its current form, but plans quickly unravelled when the English clubs involved pulled out.

Yet, despite talk of football's doom, Madrid lodged bids for Mbappe in the most recent transfer window, with their offers thought to have started at €160million – only the Frenchman himself (€180m) and PSG team-mate Neymar (€222m) have ever cost more.

Nevertheless, Madrid have raised significant capital through sales over the past four years, turning a profit in transfer fees in three of the five seasons dating back to the start of 2017-18.

As such, Tebas sees little cause for concern over the financial state of Madrid, but he cannot see them having a transfer window like that of PSG, who brought in Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Nuno Mendes.

Speaking at a sponsorship news conference, Tebas told reporters: "I said that Spanish football is not ruined, neither Madrid nor Barcelona.

"There are at least 80 per cent of clubs in Europe that have it much worse. Regarding Real Madrid, I think they have been the club that's been better managed through the pandemic, with enormous rigor in their salary spending. Real Madrid has the capacity to do what they want.

"They can never be PSG, because PSG cheats. They have a salary expense close to €600m, which is impossible. Madrid are not a state club either, so they can't."

Talk of Spanish football's demise intensified following Barcelona's latest comprehensive Champions League defeat on Tuesday, losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich at Camp Nou, while Sevilla stuttered to a 1-1 draw at home to Salzburg.

For Barca, it was the first time since Opta records began (2003-04) that they had failed to get a shot on target in a Champions League game, and Bayern's superiority condemned Ronald Koeman's men to three successive home defeats in the competition for the first time.

Prior to 2020-21, Barca had only ever lost two Champions League home games by three or more goals but that has occurred three times since – with Messi no longer there, many would expect their standard to plummeting further.

But Tebas insists the odd Champions League result does not necessarily mean anything, pointing out the Premier League arguably enjoyed its greatest period of growth during a European trophy drought.

"There is still a lot of the Champions League to go," he continued. "Last year it was the same and then everyone went through to the knockout phase.

"The level of LaLiga does not depend on a few Champions League games. When the Premier League grew the most, it was in a phase of six years without winning the main elite competition."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been accused by LaLiga chief Javier Tebas of "psychologically kidnapping" Barcelona in recent years.

Tebas has previously criticised Barcelona for supporting a proposed Super League, which failed to get off the ground as a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of nine of the 12 founding members.

The 59-year-old also more recently hit out at Barca and Madrid for rejecting a €2.7billion arrangement with CVC Capital Partners, a deal that he argued would have allowed the Catalan giants to keep hold of Lionel Messi.

In the latest exchange between two of the most powerful men in Spanish football, Tebas has now claimed Perez swayed Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta's decision to not accept the offer on the table.

"I have the feeling that at Barca there's a 'psychological kidnapping' regarding Florentino, like an inferiority complex," Tebas told Sport. 

"Florentino is a very intelligent guy and Jose Angel Sanchez, his director general, is the most empathetic man in European football. 

"All that glamour and know-how, up against someone (Laporta) who's been outside the world of football for more than 10 years.

"Barca were in favour of the CVC deal right until Real Madrid said no... In the last 72 hours everything changed. I think it was very much connected to the Super League and the strategy that Real Madrid are following."

Years of financial mismanagement caught up with Barcelona last month when they were unable to offer a new contract to Messi due to LaLiga's financial restrictions.

However, Tebas has reiterated that Barca could well have kept hold of Messi – who has since joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent – had they signed up to the CVC investment.

"Yes, it could have been avoided," he said. "I spoke about it with Laporta personally... I think next season with the figures Barca put out, we'll see if Messi could really have stayed or not.

"It wasn't a financial decision. I know that for sure. If Laporta shook hands with Messi, it was because for a month he had accepted the CVC offer. 

"He was in favour for a month. That's why he said things were going well. He even called me twice to speed up the CVC operation, because Messi was getting nervous."

Losing six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi to Ligue 1 giants PSG is a major blow for LaLiga, even more so than the previous high-profile exits of other big name players and coaches in the view of Tebas.

"Just like when Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho left. We knew that one day this would happen," he said.

"We have had the great luck of having the two best footballers in the world in the two best teams in the world and from LaLiga we have been able to take advantage of this to put ourselves on the world front line. 

"Perhaps Messi's departure has been a bit more painful, because personally I consider him the best in history, and he didn't deserve to leave like that, not only for Barça but for LaLiga as well."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin would not mind if Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona quit the Champions League after the trio "tried to kill football".

Juve, Madrid and Barca were three of 12 clubs announced as founding members of the Super League in April, along with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

However, the contentious project failed to get off the ground as a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of all six English teams involved, followed by Atleti, Milan and Inter.

All 12 founding Super League members quit the European Club Association (ECA) before the competition collapsed, but nine of the rebel clubs have since been welcomed back.

Madrid and financially stricken LaLiga rivals Barca retain a commitment to the ill-fated collaboration, as do Serie A giants Juve, yet each of those teams will compete in the Champions League when the group stage begins next week.

Taking aim at the presidents of the three breakaway clubs, Andrea Agnelli, Florentino Perez and Joan Laporta, Ceferin told Der Spiegel: "These three clubs simply have incompetent leaders. Those guys have tried to kill football.

"I would not mind if those teams left. It is very funny that they want to create a new competition and at the same time they want to play in the Champions League this season."

Speaking in April, Super League president Perez argued the competition would be the saviour of football as clubs struggled to adjust to the financial problems brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Just four months on, though, Madrid tabled three offers for Kylian Mbappe, who is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, with the third of the rejected bids reportedly worth up to €200million.

"He is criticising UEFA and saying that the club can only survive with a Super League, then he tries to sign Mbappe," Ceferin said of Perez.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has denied claims that he played a part in Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca announced last week that their greatest ever player would not be staying on at Camp Nou, despite agreeing terms for a new contract.

Messi's 21-year association with the Catalan giants formally came to an end on Tuesday when putting pen to paper on an initial two-year deal with PSG.

Barca president Joan Laporta insists the club did all that they possibly could to keep hold of the Argentina captain, but "financial and structural obstacles" stood in the way.

However, ex-Espai Barca Commission member Juame Llopis claimed this week Laporta was convinced by CEO Ferran Reverter and Madrid chief Perez to let the forward leave in order to free up funds.

The comments were made after LaLiga announced a €2.7billion deal with CVC Capital Partners to boost clubs, with 90 per cent of the investment earmarked for their use.

Llopis, who resigned from his post after Messi's departure, told Cadena SER: "The new CEO [Reverter] is in charge. 

"I know that everything has to go through the CEO, everything has to be signed by the CEO and not the president.

"The CEO threatened Joan Laporta with his resignation, and he has an ironclad contract, if he signed [LaLiga's deal] with CVC.

"Laporta was pressured by his CEO and, on the other hand, Florentino convinced him. 

"Between the two of them they convinced him that he has to kick Messi out [of Barcelona] and not sign with CVC."

Madrid and Barca have since stated their objections regarding the CVC deal due to a disagreement over audiovisual rights.

And Perez has now issued a statement in response to Llopis' remarks, insisting it was "impossible" for him to have any sway over Messi's future at Camp Nou.

"Given the statements made by Jaume Llopis, a former member of the Espai Barca Commission, I want to state the following," the statement read. 

"It is flatly false that he has been friends for a long time with the CEO of FC Barcelona, ​​Ferran Reverter, since he is a person with whom I have only met twice in my life.

"One of those occasions was four months ago and the other last Saturday at the meeting that took place in Barcelona with President Joan Laporta and President Andrea Agnelli. 

"That was after the official communication on Messi had already taken place. 

"Therefore, it is impossible for me to have had any influence either on Messi's departure or on any other FC Barcelona decision. 

"So, I hope that Jaume Llopis rectifies these statements that do not correspond to the truth as soon as possible."

Madrid kick off their 2021-22 LaLiga campaign with a trip to Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Massimiliano Allegri revealed he turned down Real Madrid in favour of a second spell with Juventus.

Allegri was appointed as Bianconeri boss in May after Andrea Pirio was relieved of his duties following a poor season, ending with the club only fourth in Serie A.

The experienced Allegri led the Turin giants to five consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia triumphs and two Champions League finals during his previous tenure.

Allegri, 53, on Tuesday revealed he could have taken over at Madrid before Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as head coach.

"I have to thank Real Madrid and the president for the opportunity he gave me [to coach Real Madrid]. Then I thought about it and chose Juventus," Allegri said during his presentation news conference.

"It was a gesture of love for a club that gave me a lot and who I enjoy coaching."

Inter's 2020-21 Scudetto triumph ended Juventus' nine-year spell of dominance in Italian football and Juve president Andrea Agnelli is hoping Allegri can reassert the Bianconeri's authority.

"It’s useless to present him and repeat what he’s won once again. Perhaps, the streak of Serie A titles he’s won is something impossible to equal," Agnelli added at Allegri's unveiling.

"We analysed what Juventus could have been with the return of Allegri, we agreed that it could have been a risky choice for both of us because of his glorious past and the expectations that he would bring.

"What Juventus can give is the right environment to reach these results. Every victory has been achieved thanks to hard work. As Max has said many times, winning is not for everybody.

"A new season begins, our target is to be competitive for every trophy in March, then we’ll see. Max is the coach of Juventus for the next four years because he has the credibility to write an exciting new chapter."

The Juve president took a dig at former head coach Maurizio Sarri, who had claimed the 2019-20 Scudetto he won in Turin was taken for granted.

"Here at Juventus, we work hard every day to achieve victories," Agnelli continued.

"We can’t take victories for granted, whoever thinks that the trophies we’ve won over the last few years have been less appreciated is wrong because, behind every trophy and every season, there is a great commitment, sacrifice and desire to win."

Agnelli also confirmed Giorgio Chiellini, who captained Italy to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 at Euro 2020, will sign a contract extension with the club.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez claimed comments where he allegedly criticised Iker Casillas and Raul have been "taken out of the context".

Perez's controversial remarks came from an audio recording in 2006 that was leaked on Tuesday and published in Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

At that time Perez had just left his position as Madrid president and in the audio he appears to at least partially link the influence held by the two players to his exit.

He is reported to have opined Casillas was not good enough to play in goal for Madrid while questioning the huge influence held by Raul.

Perez, who returned as Madrid's president in 2009, reckoned his support of the European Super League was the motivation behind the leaked audio.

In a statement released by Real Madrid, Perez said: "Given the story in El Confidencial, in which comments are attributed to me, I think it's necessary to clarify.

"The comments were made in conversation with D. Jose Antonio [Abellan], who has been unsuccessfully trying to sell them for years. It's surprising that given the time that has passed, they have appeared today in the newspaper El Confidencial.

"The comments are taken out of the context in which they were made. That they are reproduced now, after so many years, I believe is due to my role as one of the promoters of the European Super League.

"I have placed the issue in the hands of my lawyers who are studying possible legal action."

Former striker Raul is Madrid's all-time record appearance holder with 741 and was their leading goalscorer with 323 until that total was eclipsed by Cristiano Ronaldo, who found the net 450 times for Los Blancos.

Raul is currently coach of Madrid's reserve team.

Ex-goalkeeper Casillas is just behind Raul with 725 appearances and won all the major club titles during a 25-year stint with Madrid.

Gareth Bale is "one of the great players in Europe" according to Florentino Perez, but the Real Madrid president did not offer any assurances on the Wales international's future.

Bale fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane at Madrid and spent last season on loan in the Premier League with former club Tottenham.

Zidane's second departure as head coach paved the way for a return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Carlo Ancelotti, who was in charge during Bale's maiden season in the Spanish capital in 2013-14 that culminated in Madrid's 10th Champions League crown.

In an interview with El Transistor on Onda Cero, Perez referenced Bale scoring a key goal during extra time of that final triumph over Atletico Madrid, along with his similarly decisive contributions in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona and 2018 Champions League final win over Liverpool.

Although he was not always first choice for ex-Spurs boss Jose Mourinho last season, Bale scored 16 times in 19 starts and 34 appearances overall.

Of Premier League players to score 15 goals or more in all competitions during 2020-21, none did so at a better rate than Bale's one every 104.4 minutes. Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho was the next most efficient in that regard, with 19 goals at one every 118.8 minutes.

Overall, Bale has 105 goals in 251 appearances for Madrid.

"He's a great player. The way I see him, he is one of the great players in Europe," Perez said of Bale, who has impressed on Wales' run to the last 16 of Euro 2020 and has a contract at Madrid running until June 2022.

"Each one is as he is and has his personality. The last thing I remember from him is in Kiev [against Liverpool]. He throws a scissors [overhead kick] and scores a goal. And then he scores another.

"And the header in Lisbon [against Atletico Madrid]. That race against Barcelona in Valencia in the Copa del Rey.

"Would I would like him to stay? I love all [the Madrid players]."

 

The most notable outgoing at Madrid this close season, arguably more so than Zidane, is long-serving captain Sergio Ramos.

The veteran defender bade a tearful farewell to the club last week and has claimed he did not want to leave Madrid, only to be told a contract offer that was on the table for him had expired.

"I have adoration for Sergio and I am not going to talk about it. He has been a Real Madrid legend," Perez said.

"We offered him a contract, we told him that he had a deadline and he did not admit it. He thought otherwise."

Perez added that there would be a role for Ramos at Madrid when the 35-year-old's playing days conclude, if he so desires.

"I love Sergio as a son. I bought him in 2005. Of course, I'm sorry," Perez said.

"He will return, this is his house. It has happened to me with other players. I love him as if he were my son and I wish him the best.

"I am not going to talk here about who is right and who is not. There are no nuances."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has stated the breakaway European Super League is "dead", deeming the controversial concept "impossible" after nine of the 12 clubs involved pulled out.

The announcement of the planned competition led to a huge backlash, including from governing bodies, rival clubs, fans, players and media, leading to the majority of the teams that had signed up making a quick U-turn.

UEFA issued fines to Atletico Madrid, Inter, Milan, and the six Premier League clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - but a court ruling meant disciplinary proceedings against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, the three founding members yet to cut ties with the Super League, had to be halted.

A preliminary injunction was granted by a judge in Spain, with the case heading to the European Court of Justice.

Barca president Joan Laporta recently said his own club will not apologise for "wanting to be the owners of our own destiny", while he also insisted the project remains very much alive.

However, speaking on a media call on Wednesday, Tebas made clear Barca are incorrect to make such an assessment, considering the mass exodus.

"I've spoken with Barca executives in recent days. They believe they should keep doing what they're doing and I think they're wrong," Tebas said. 

"The concept of the Super League is impossible. Nine of the twelve clubs have asked to dissolve the company they founded."

He added: "The model they're defending, without the English clubs... I think it's dead.

"Laporta says the courts have said they're in the right, but that's not true, it's one judge in Madrid and an injunction.

"I've tried to convince them that they're wrong and should work along other lines."

Tebas was also asked about Lionel Messi's future, making clear Barca will not be allowed any leeway in terms of LaLiga's salary cap to make sure the superstar remains at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have already been busy in the transfer market as they reshape their squad, adding forward duo Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay on free transfers, as well as centre-back Eric Garcia.

"LaLiga has its rules and Barca know that. They know that they have to lower their salary costs by a lot," said Tebas, who hopes to have stadiums 60 per cent full when the 2021-22 season begins, despite the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Messi is the same as Sergio Aguero or anyone else that they are adding. We will not make any exception for Messi to stay here."

Joan Laporta insists Barcelona will not apologise for "wanting to be the owners of our own destiny" in am impassioned defence of the doomed European Super League.

The contentious project failed to get off the ground after nine of the 12 founding members pulled out amid a furious backlash to competition.

Last month, UEFA issued fines to Atletico Madrid, Inter, Milan, and the six Premier League teams involved but a court ruling meant disciplinary proceedings against Barca, Real Madrid and Juventus – the three teams yet to cut ties with the Super League – had to be halted.

Barca president Laporta remains adamant the Super League will still go ahead in some guise in the future as he issued a note of defiance when addressing the club's general assembly, where he explained a vote on participation in the competition was no longer necessary as the format no longer existed.

"We spoke with the clubs [involved] and said we liked [the proposals], but that we needed them to accept that our members would have to approve entry at the next assembly," Laporta said.

"It was logical to have that vote before June 30. But now, as the format doesn't exist, I won't ask you to vote. But the project is alive, I insist.

"We're still trying to enter into dialogue with UEFA. We won't apologise for trying to organise a competition. We won't say sorry to UEFA for wanting to be the owners of our own destiny. At least not while I am president."

Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham had all signed up as participants from the Premier League.

Laporta suggested the English teams may now be rueing their decision to withdraw.

"The English clubs were the competition's driving force and they got scared under pressure from UEFA," he added.

"I think they regret leaving the Super League now, seeing how UEFA have backtracked on their threats."

Laporta claimed the Super League would have been worth "€700m in addition to variables" for Barca, a sum that would have helped boost the coffers of a club reportedly over €1.2billion in debt.

On Sunday, a vote agreed to accept a loan from Goldman Sachs worth up to €525million, money that Laporta insists will not be used on transfers.

"We're talking about the viability of the club," Laporta said prior to members voting. 

"No one should think that this money will be for signings or other projects. We have to stop the bleeding."

Carlo Ancelotti's return to Real Madrid feels like a homecoming for the Italian, who believes the extra six years of experience he has since his previous spell can only benefit the club.

The experienced Italian was a somewhat surprising choice by the Madrid hierarchy given his work at Everton was not exactly universally praised, with the Toffees finishing 10th in the Premier League in 2020-21.

He dramatically leapt to the front of the queue for the Madrid job despite Raul and Mauricio Pochettino appearing to be the most-likely options to replace Zinedine Zidane, who stepped down citing a lack of support from those in charge.

Ancelotti's hiring sees him return to the club that dismissed him back in 2015, though president Florentino Perez stressed at the time that their relationship was still strong on a personal level.

That has seemingly remained the case in the intervening years and Ancelotti is confident he is a wiser manager, having missed out on a LaLiga title during his previous two-year spell, though he did preside over Los Blancos’ 10th Champions League crown in 2014.

"I'm very happy to be back here," he told the club's official media channels. "I've got fantastic memories from my time here, we had a lot of success in the two years.

"It's very important because I'm coming back to my home. I'm really excited and I'm going to give all my energy to help Real Madrid get as high as possible.

"You have to try to improve every day. I've had positive experiences in Germany, Italy and England. Each experience makes you grow and I'm coming back with six more years of experience. I hope it'll be good for Real Madrid.

"I've got responsibility, hope and I'm going to work to the best of my ability. We know what Real Madrid's objectives are every year and we're going to try to meet them with all the experience and energy I can bring.

"I'm so happy to be back because I love this club. I'm very happy and it's hard to explain how I feel. Madrid is the most prestigious club in the world and a club where I really enjoyed the two years I was here. I've got unforgettable memories.

"I have to thank Everton, where I was very happy during the one-and-a-half years I was there. The atmosphere was positive and the people were hard-working.

"I'm back with more experience, I know Real Madrid very well, the squad and I've met some of the players in the past. We're going to do well."

There were periods during Zidane's two tenures where supporters voiced frustration at the style of play adopted by the Frenchman, with Madrid not always embracing the vibrant attacking football perhaps associated with the club in the past.

However, Ancelotti insists it is what he hopes to bring to the Santiago Bernabeu – indeed, his Madrid team led the way in LaLiga for goals scored in 2013-14 and 2014-15 – while he is also pledging to continue bringing through talented youngsters from the club's second team, Castilla.

"At this club we demand to play attacking, exciting, quality and intense football. It's the same way of playing and nothing has changed," he said.

"A coach alone can't win. The winning combination of coach, players and club is the way to succeed.

"I think experience is very important, but youth is also important because it brings a lot of energy and passion when doing things.

"When I was here the first time, four players came up from Castilla and this mix of youth and experience has brought us a lot of success in the past and also in the present."

Carlo Ancelotti is the new head coach of Real Madrid after Florentino Perez attracted the Italian from Everton.

Ancelotti dramatically jumped to the front of the queue for the job when it had looked as though Raul and Mauricio Pochettino were the main contenders.

His appointment means a return to the club that sacked him six years ago, with Perez having been head of the board that reached that decision at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Perez said at the time he had a good personal relationship with Ancelotti, and that will have been a factor in bringing the veteran coach back to the Spanish capital.

Ancelotti could not deliver a LaLiga title during his previous two-year stint, but he helped Madrid win the Champions League in 2014 - the 10th time in their history they had become European club champions, famously recognised as 'La Decima'.

Madrid also landed the Copa del Rey in the same season and the Club World Cup in December 2014.

Since leaving the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti has coached Bayern Munich, Napoli and Everton, joining the latter in December 2019.

Madrid confirmed his appointment on their official website, stating: "Carlo Ancelotti is Real Madrid's new manager. The 61-year-old Italian coach comes from Everton and returns to our club after making history in his first spell.

"He managed Real Madrid for two seasons, between 2013 and 2015, and became the coach of La Decima. With him at the helm, the team reigned again in Europe 12 years later after the unforgettable Lisbon final against Atletico."

Madrid relinquished the league title in the 2020-21 season as Atletico Madrid were crowned champions in Spain.

Under the guidance of Zinedine Zidane, they finished the campaign without a trophy, after an early Copa del Rey exit to minnows Alcoyano and a Champions League semi-final loss to Chelsea.

Zidane resigned last week, bringing an end to his second stint in charge, and now another coach gets a second opportunity at one of the most demanding jobs in football, where winning trophies is everything.

Ancelotti's Everton finished 10th in the 2020-21 Premier League season.

That position has been viewed as a failure in some quarters, given the investment in a world-renowned coach. Yet of all managers to have taken charge of at least 10 Premier League games with Everton, Ancelotti's average of 1.53 points per game is unsurpassed.

LaLiga is the only one of Europe's top five leagues that Ancelotti has not yet won, having triumphed in Serie A with Milan, in the Premier League with Chelsea, in Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain and in Germany's Bundesliga with Bayern.

He has also won the Champions League three times in his coaching career – twice with Milan and once with Madrid – which is a record he shares with former Liverpool boss Bob Paisley and Zidane.

Carlo Ancelotti is the new head coach of Real Madrid after Florentino Perez attracted the Italian from Everton.

Ancelotti dramatically jumped to the front of the queue for the job when it had looked as though Raul and Mauricio Pochettino were the main contenders.

His appointment means a return to the club that sacked him six years ago, with Perez having been head of the board that reached that decision at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Perez said at the time he had a good personal relationship with Ancelotti, and that will have been a factor in bringing the veteran coach back to the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid would find the money to buy Erling Haaland at the end of the season if he can be prised away from Borussia Dortmund, according to the player's agent.

Mino Raiola, who represents the Norwegian striker, believes the opportunity to land a rare talent such as Haaland would be too good for Madrid, or Barcelona, to refuse.

Both Spanish giants signed up to the European Super League, a competition that could have helped ease their financial worries.

The apparent collapse of that league led Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to state his club – or any other for that matter – would be unable to afford any spectacular summer signings.

Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe has also been linked with a move to Madrid.

Raiola thinks Los Blancos would not back away if Haaland became available.

"I don't know if they can afford him, because I haven't studied their books. But I think they can. I think they all can," Raiola told Spanish newspaper AS. "The question is different: Can Madrid afford not to buy Haaland? And Barca?"

He added: "This change Madrid will carry out needs to last 10 years, and that's why Haaland is important, because he's really young, but you would be buying a youngster with elite experience.

"The same with Mbappe. But you only get one chance to buy them. Right now you have the chance to buy them for the next 10 years. The same happened with Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi. Then, once they are in a big team, they don't let them go."

Dortmund have said they do not want to sell their star striker, who turns 21 in July, during the European summer transfer window, and Raiola said of that stance: "Now let's see if that desire is still there through to the 1st of September."

He added: "Today, the official stance of Dortmund is this. But I've got another view, I think that if a good opportunity comes up and everyone would be happy, we'll put it on the table."

Raiola spoke of working towards being able to "create a menu" of options for Haaland, but stressed that was not yet a possibility, and said there would be a risk element whether the player stayed or left Dortmund.

Dortmund have been well off the pace in the Bundesliga this season, currently sitting in fifth place and 16 points adrift of leaders Bayern Munich.

Raiola made it clear that Haaland wants to be a serial trophy winner as well as a prolific scorer. The latter aspect was described by Raiola as the striker's "obsession".

"No doubt he'll pick somewhere where he feels those two things go together best for him," Raiola said.

"It's really hard to lie. When a club like Barcelona or Real Madrid comes in for you, with so much history and being such a big club, it's hard to say no."

Raiola also teased the possibility of Haaland and Mbappe one day featuring alongside one another, saying: "In the big clubs, you can have great players together: Neymar and Messi have been together, Ronaldinho was with great players, Haaland could be alongside Mbappe or not. Great players always play together."

For now, it appears a distant prospect, as Madrid and Barcelona, both hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, weigh up the pros and cons of just one major transfer market splash.

Zinedine Zidane says the idea of Real Madrid being banned from the Champions League for their part in the attempted European Super League breakaway is "absurd".

Madrid were among the 12 founding clubs of the competition that was announced earlier this month, with club president Florentino Perez installed as the Super League's chairman.

But last week, within 48 hours of the plans being confirmed, the six English clubs involved all withdrew, and they were soon followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan. Juventus remain supportive of the Super League but did acknowledge the collapse of the initial proposal.

Madrid and Barcelona have been defiant since, however, adamant their plans still have merit and are not completely dead.

UEFA is threatening to punish all of the 12, but the English clubs withdrawing early could earn them some leniency, though Zidane is not worried about the idea of Madrid being barred from the Champions League next term.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg with Chelsea, Zidane said: "You have already asked me about all this and I have already answered.

"It is absurd to think that we will not be in the Champions League. There is a lot of talk from outside. There is going to be a lot of talk, but we don't control it, I just focus on the game.

"But my opinion is that we all want to see Madrid in the Champions League."

It was also put to Zidane that UEFA's stance could potentially be reflected by the officials being harsh on Madrid against Chelsea.

"The referee is going to do his job and we are going to play football," he replied. "We just have to think about that.

"If we start to think that what is being said is going to harm us, we are screwed. We are going to compete from minute one to 90. The rest, we don't get involved in."

The Champions League fixture follows a tricky LaLiga title tussle for Madrid, whose 0-0 draw with Real Betis on Saturday seeing them miss out on going top of the table.

With leaders Atletico losing to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and Sevilla beating Granada, just three points separate top from fourth in what is shaping up to be the most thrilling title race in years, but Zidane insists Madrid will not be giving one competition priority over the other.

"We are not going to choose. We are alive in both competitions," he added. "We have had a lot of difficulties this year, but we have always been able to lift ourselves.

"There is a month left and we are going to compete until the end. There is no other thought in my head.

"What we want to do is give everything on the field, without thinking that winning will not be possible."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear the 12 European Super League clubs must face the consequences for their involvement in the planned breakaway competition.

Less than 48 hours after the official announcement of the tournament, and following a huge public backlash to the plan, the 'big six' from the Premier League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – all ended their involvement.

Ceferin has praised the English clubs for a willingness to admit they made a mistake, but that will not mean they avoid punishment – albeit it is unclear yet what action the governing body will take.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the UEFA chief revealed how he has placed the teams in different tiers while comparing Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid to those who believe Earth is flat, with that trio still remaining aligned to the initial proposal.

"Everyone has to take consequences for what they did and we cannot pretend nothing happened," Ceferin told the newspaper.

"You cannot do something like that and just say: 'I've been punished because everybody hates me'. They don't have problems because of anyone else but themselves. It's not okay what they did and we will see in next few days what we have to do.

"But for me it's a clear difference between the English clubs and the other six. They pulled out first, they admitted they made a mistake. You have to have some greatness to say: 'I was wrong'.

"For me there are three groups of this 12 — the English six, who went out first, then the other three [Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan] after them and then the ones who feel that Earth is flat and they think the Super League still exists. And there is a big difference between those.

"But everyone will be held responsible. In what way, we will see. I don't want to say disciplinary process but it has to be clear that everyone has to be held responsible in a different way.

"Is it disciplinary? Is it the decision of the executive committee? We will see. It's too early to say."

There was widespread condemnation of the Super League from fans, governing bodies and former players alike, leading to financial backers JP Morgan to admit they "misjudged how the deal would be viewed by the wider football community".

UEFA announced changes to the Champions League format on Monday, including an increase from 32 to 36 clubs as the current group stage system is to be shelved in favour of a single league.

Clubs will get to play four extra matches per season, with the top eight in the final table advancing through to the last 16. Those placed between ninth and 24th will enter a play-off round to decide who else will qualify for the knockout stages, while those 25th and lower are eliminated and do not enter the Europa League.

The radical reforms to the competition are scheduled to come into place for the 2024-25 season.

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