Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo wants to leave Manchester United and is willing to make some allowances to secure the move.

Reports of Ronaldo's transfer request emerged over the weekend, although United are said to be holding firm in their desire to keep the superstar.

That has not stopped the rumours around a potential destination for the Portugal great, though, and he is doing all he can to get the move he wants.

TOP STORY – RONALDO WILLING TO TAKE PAY CUT

The Independent reports Ronaldo is willing to take a "considerable" pay cut in order to move to a Champions League contender.

The forward's desire to win another European crown was widely cited as key to his decision to push for a departure from United, and the report suggests the player is hopeful a reduced salary could entice leading clubs.

Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, who employ great rival Lionel Messi, are listed as potential suitors.

The Athletic also again reports Chelsea's interest following talk of a meeting between Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes and new Stamford Bridge owner Todd Boehly earlier in the close-season.

The Sun says Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel is reluctant to agree to such a transfer, though, while AS claims Mendes has also met with Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

ROUND-UP

– Corriere dello Sport claims Bayern Munich are looking to bring in Napoli striker Victor Osimhen for a fee in the vicinity of €100million if Robert Lewandowski is to leave.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Tottenham have agreed to sign 27-year-old Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet for a fee of £17.2m.

– The Sun is reporting Arsenal have made a £47m bid for 27-year-old Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

– After loaning Romelu Lukaku to Inter, Chelsea are also weighing up a potential loan move for Hakim Ziyech to Milan, according to The Athletic.

– The Mirror claims United representatives have met with Ajax to discuss a £39.6m offer for defender Lisandro Martinez.

Brazil star Neymar is reportedly interested in a move to the Premier League after being informed Paris Saint-Germain will not stand in his way if he wishes to depart.

ESPN is reporting that Neymar's agent has been in touch with Chelsea to gauge their interest in bringing in the 30-year-old, who scored 13 goals and added six assists in 22 Ligue 1 contests this past season.

While Neymar's talent is not in question, his health may be, having missed over two months of this campaign after suffering an ankle injury, and that is coming off a 2020-21 season where he only played 18 league games due to ankle and adductor injuries.


TOP STORY – NEYMAR WEIGHS UP CHELSEA MOVE AS PSG GIVE GREEN LIGHT

ESPN's report mentions that Neymar's agent, Pini Zahavi, believes there are only "two or three teams" that would be able to meet his wage demands, and it is thought that Chelsea are hoping to make a splash under the new ownership of Todd Boehly.

Spanish publication Sport claims Neymar activated a clause in his PSG contract as soon as he possibly could on July 1 to add one extra year to his deal – tying him to the French giants until 2027 – but that does not rule out a move happening.

Chelsea's Brazilian centre-back and Neymar's former PSG team-mate Thiago Silva has been vocal about his desire to recruit the superstar forward, but his salary of €43million could stand in the way if the Stamford Bridge club decide they would rather use this transfer period's resources in defence.


ROUND-UP

– The Star is reporting that Manchester United are closing in on a deal with Christian Eriksen as his contract with Brentford has expired and he is available on a free transfer.

– Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is expected to leave on a free transfer, with Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich the three teams listed by Marca as his potential landing spots.

Everton are hoping to replace Richarlison with Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis after their Brazilian forward departed for Tottenham this week.

– According to The Sun, Fulham are finalising a £17million move for 26-year-old Sporting defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha.

– ESPN is reporting Fulham have offered £10m for Manchester United's Andreas Pereira as the 26-year-old returns from his loan stint with Flamengo.

Real Madrid begin the defence of their LaLiga title on the road against Almeria, with the fixtures for the 2022-23 season confirmed on Thursday.

Xavi's first full season in charge of Barcelona begins at the Nou Camp against Rayo Vallecano, while Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid kick off their campaign away from home against Getafe.

Elsewhere on the opening matchday, Sevilla travel to Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao host Mallorca and play-off winners Girona face Valencia.

The LaLiga season begins on August 12 and will run until a mid-season break for the World Cup in Qatar, with the campaign pausing on November 13 and resuming on December 29.

Barcelona have confirmed their stadium move for the 2023-24 season while Camp Nou undergoes renovations and revealed they will play in the city's Olympic stadium.

A significant venture for the Catalan side is currently under development, with the 'Espai project' seeing major works conducted at both Camp Nou and the club's wider complex.

Barcelona will remain at Camp Nou for the 2022-23 season but the following year, in 2023-24, will take temporary shelter at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

Formerly the home of Espanyol, the Estadic Olimpic Lluis Companys is the fifth-largest stadium in Spain with a capacity of 60,713 and hosted the Olympic Games in 1992.

Barcelona's redevelopment of Camp Nou will see the capacity increased from its current 99,000 to 110,000 – making it the third-largest stadium in the world – and a roof will also be constructed to boost sustainability by utilising a heating and cooling system.

Confirming the move, President Joan Laporta said: "Barcelona will have the privilege to play at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in the 2023-24 season during the recently approved Espai Barca work.

"Work begins on the first and second levels this summer and when major work is done on the third level and roof, we’ll play here."

Arch-rivals Real Madrid played their home matches away from the Santiago Bernabeu, which is under redevelopment, during the 2020-21 season. They hosted games at their reserve stadium, Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

LaLiga has called for Kylian Mbappe's contract at Paris Saint-Germain to be ripped up, demanding French government officials act and league chiefs take a closer look at the capital club's spending.

France striker Mbappe signed a new three-year deal with PSG in May, turning down Real Madrid who had been courting him for the past year.

The terms of the contract have not been officially disclosed, but Mbappe is widely reported to have received a staggering signing-on fee as well as extraordinary wages. Figures of €100million for signing and €50m per season have been suggested.

Lawyer Juan Branco, representing LaLiga, told a news conference in France on Friday that Spanish league chiefs are ready to go to court to challenge PSG's finances.

Ligue 1 champions PSG have strenuously denied being in breach of financial fair play regulations, but the Spanish authorities have expressed doubts about the legitimacy of their vast recent outlay on players. PSG have been owned by the Doha-based Qatar Sports Investments since 2011.

LaLiga wants the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) and the DNCG, the body that oversees football club finances in France, to examine in detail whether the Mbappe deal should have been given the green light.

"We are going to request the repeal of the approval of Mbappe's contract from the minister of sports, because that is the supervisory authority of sports administration," Branco said.

"Subsequently, we will appeal to the LFP so that it acts via its legal commission the DNCG in order to operate a monitoring report on the accounts of PSG. This is a legal step which will allow us to establish whether Mbappe's contract is within the economic parameters which are imposed by the regulations of the DNCG and UEFA financial fair play."

PSG signed Lionel Messi last August after Barcelona ran out of money to hand their captain a new contract, and also acquired former Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos at the end of his Santiago Bernabeu stay.

Real Madrid were optimistic about landing Mbappe, but hopes in Spain that he would move to LaLiga were dashed.

Branco said LaLiga was prepared to take action via the administrative court of Paris to seek the quashing of Mbappe's contract.

The lawyer added: "We are going to proceed in the form of a graduated response. We are going to see little by little what is the capacity of the French professional footballing bodies and also regulatory and administrative authorities to react to our appeals and our requests.

"As time goes by, we will increase the pressure."

LaLiga has also complained to UEFA, European football's governing body, about PSG, as well as Manchester City.

Javier Tebas, the Spanish league's president, this week claimed the agreement between PSG and Mbappe was "an insult to football".

Branco said LaLiga would "go upmarket... harden our game" if necessary, saying it considers the French capital giants to be spending on a "fraudulent" scale.

That accusation has been consistently denied by PSG.

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas continued his feud with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, explaining the complaint to UEFA over financial fair play was to defend competition.

City were the subject of the first LaLiga complaint back in April, while the league lodged another against PSG on Wednesday regarding breaching financial fair play rulings.

The latter complaint continued Tebas' most recent conflict with the Ligue 1 side, who managed to keep World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe in Paris despite persistent interest from Real Madrid.

Tebas claimed the agreement between PSG and Mbappe was "an insult to football", promising to denounce the French side in court before duly obliging and filing to European football's governing body.

LaLiga cited practices "altering the ecosystem and the sustainability of football" and "only serving to artificially inflate the market with money not generated in football itself".

Tebas, speaking at the Club Consultative Platform (CAP) meeting on Thursday, reiterated his frustrations with PSG and suggested his actions were in the interest of football.

"Do the clubs or the leagues have a responsibility towards our hierarchically superior institutions?" he said. "Am I obliged to report when I consider that there are irregularities?

"I think so, and that is also governance. If we looked the other way in matters of economic control and the cheating that is done, we would breach our governance rules.

"We want the competition to be as clean as possible and these clubs do a lot of damage to economic control."

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was also referenced in the LaLiga complaint, with a conflict of interests cited due to his role as European Club Association chairman and his responsibilities as the organisation's delegate to UEFA's executive committee.

Tebas insists the complaint was not solely in the interests of LaLiga, but also for the benefit of European football.

"[There is] a clear conflict of interest," he added. "He is a buyer of UEFA rights, we have to denounce him.

"We are not doing it to defend the Spanish clubs, who have enough with our most demanding economic control, we are doing it to safeguard the ecosystem of European football, which is in danger."

Madrid president Florentino Perez indicated his hopes for a European Super League are still alive earlier in the week, with the judicial process still ongoing.

Juventus and Barcelona are the other two teams harbouring ambitions of a breakaway league, and Tebas says they are right to do so as UEFA and domestic leagues cannot govern over state-run clubs.

"The three clubs in the Super League are trying to strengthen themselves, rightly so, with this argument, they say that UEFA is not capable of fighting against the state clubs and they accuse them, on occasions, of coexistence," he continued.

"For this reason, these state clubs do a lot of damage to the football ecosystem, because they compete unfairly, with an inflating impact in terms of salaries, and question the credibility of UEFA and the financial control system.

"That is why it is important to denounce it and say it clearly."

Dani Alves has confirmed he is leaving Barcelona for the second time in his career.

Having left the Blaugrana to join Juventus in June 2016, Alves announced his return to Camp Nou in November 2021, though he had to wait until January to be eligible to feature for the Catalan giants.

The 39-year-old right-back contributed one goal and four assists in 17 appearances in his second spell as Barca finished second in LaLiga.

Alves had previously expressed a desire to stay with the club next season in preparation for the World Cup at the end of the year, but confirmed on Wednesday that will not be the case.

The Brazil international posted on Instagram: "Now the time has come for our farewell. They were eight-plus years dedicated to the club, the colours, and that house.

"But like everything in life, the years pass, the paths diverge and the stories are written for some time in different places – and that's how it was."

 

Alves went on to thank the club and fans for their support, adding: "I hope you don't miss my craziness and my daily happiness. 

"Hopefully also those who, if they remain, change the history of that beautiful club, I wish it from my heart. There were 23 titles won: two trebles, one sextuple and a great golden book written. 

"It closes a very beautiful cycle and opens another even more challenging one. May the world never forget: A lion even if he is 39 years old is still a good crazy lion.

"Forever visca al Barca!"

La Liga have filed complaints to UEFA regarding Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain for "continuously breaching" financial fair play regulations.

The Spanish division made an initial complaint in April regarding Premier League champions City and has followed it up with another complaint about French giants PSG.

La Liga also cited conflict of interests regarding PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, due to his role as European Club Association chairman and his role as the organisation's delegate to UEFA's executive committee. 

In a statement, La Liga said their complaint was due to the fact that the clubs are "continuously breaching" FFP regulations and believe that "these practices alter the ecosystem and the sustainability of football" and "only serve to artificially inflate the market with money not generated in football itself."

The confirmation of the complaints falls after a big month for both clubs, with PSG confirming a new contract for star striker Kylian Mbappe prior to Real Madrid's Champions League success and City landing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund – with both players previously heavily touted for a move to Spain.

Both City and PSG have previously been investigated for allegedly breaching FFP regulations, with both clubs fined in 2014 and having transfer spending limited – but a ruling to ban City from European competitions due to "serious breaches" was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after appeals from the English side.

PSG boast the two most expensive transfers of all-time with their captures of Mbappe from Monaco and Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, with the deal to sign the Brazilian costing €222 million.

Last year, City made Jack Grealish the most expensive Premier League transfer in history with a £100m transfer from Aston Villa.

Despite La Liga's complaints about the spending of the two clubs, Spanish sides dominate the list of the most expensive signings in football history with five of the top ten all seeing a Spanish side complete the signing.

Real Madrid's new signing Aurelien Tchouameni has revealed that Kylian Mbappe tried to persuade him to join Paris Saint-Germain.

The 22-year-old was officially unveiled by Madrid on Tuesday having completed a €100million move to the Santiago Bernabeu from Monaco, with Carlo Ancelotti's side winning the race for the highly coveted midfielder.

Mbappe, having already snubbed Madrid this window to pen a new deal with PSG, tried to strike again to frustrate Los Blancos by attempting to persuade his compatriot to move to the French capital.

"Kylian knew I was leaving Monaco and he wanted to know if I would join PSG," Tchouameni told a news conference. "But my first choice was Real Madrid and he understood that completely.

"It's true that I had the opportunity to choose, but as soon as I knew Madrid was interested, I didn't hesitate for a second. I want to leave a mark on the history of football and there is no better team for that than Real Madrid."

 

Other options were also on the table for Tchouameni, who confirmed he had received proposals from elsewhere, but he instructed his entourage to push a move to Madrid over the line.

"I had already spoken to other teams, but in my head I was waiting for the call from Madrid," he said. "And when they did, I didn't hesitate for a moment to talk to my family and agent to find the best deal. Being here is wonderful.

"As I said before, as soon as Real Madrid came out in the talks I directly told my agent to close that deal, it was what I wanted most. There were more options, but this is a dream that is fulfilled today."

Tchouameni will wear the number 18 shirt at Madrid – previously worn by Gareth Bale – as his favoured number eight top is taken by Toni Kroos.

Dani Alves wants to stay at Barcelona past the end of this season but acknowledges the club will decide his future.

Having left the Blaugrana to join Juventus in June 2016, Alves announced his return to Camp Nou in November 2021, though he had to wait until January to be eligible to feature for the Catalan giants.

The 39-year-old has contributed one goal and three assists in 13 appearances since then, 12 of them starts, as Barca look to ensure a top-four finish in LaLiga after improving since Xavi's arrival as head coach in November.

After making a positive impact since returning, Alves is hoping to extend his long association with Los Cules past the expiration of his deal at the end of the campaign.

While pledging to always "give 200 per cent" for the club, however, Alves admitted his future would be decided by others.

"I live intensely all day, without thinking beyond that because I don't know what will happen. But what is certain is that I would like to continue because I feel at home here," he told Marca.

"I am at this club and team, which I had to fight to return to for five years and I think I can keep contributing, although it doesn't only depend on me. 

"I'm not too worried about it, though. My mission was to come here and show what I can contribute. I'm not one of those people who thinks, because of my career and everything I've won, that I don't have to keep proving myself. 

"I will always think that I have to prove my worth. I can't do anything else but give 200 percent to the club that I love. But it's up to them to decide. 

"I know where I am in my life and my career, but I also know what's inside me. I think any club that doesn't have me is losing out. 

"If Barcelona want me to renew my contract, I'm delighted. If they don't want me to then I'll say 'thank you very much' and will continue to defend this club to the death wherever I am."

 

Having gone unbeaten in 13 away league games (eight wins, five draws), Barcelona can strengthen their grip on second place in LaLiga when they travel to Copa del Rey winners Real Betis on Saturday.

With things looking up again at Barcelona after the ill-fated tenure of Xavi's predecessor Ronald Koeman, Alves says the club's transfer business will decide whether the Blaugrana can compete for major honours next season.

"It will depend on the transfer market business. That will determine whether the club can aspire to great things or not. You have to get it right and add quality to what you already have," he added.

"Xavi's arrival brought knowledge of the club, of fighting for the badge and history of this club. It is also important to make mistakes because it gives you more experience. If you don't make mistakes, you don't see if what you're doing is right or not. 

"Mistakes have been made and we've seen which way isn't the way to go, so now the club is restructuring again. But we don't know how long it will take. 

"If the new signings take in the idea that Xavi proposes then it won't be long before the club aspires to great things again. If not, it will take a bit longer. But people need to understand where they are and what needs to be done to get good results."

Xavi has told Barcelona they have "five finals" to play as they attempt to banish their April blues and make sure of a Champions League place.

A third consecutive home defeat has left second-placed Barcelona 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who should wrap up the LaLiga title on Saturday, needing just to avoid defeat against Espanyol to make sure.

While Barcelona's great rivals get set to celebrate, there is significant work to do for coach Xavi after his Blaugrana team were beaten 1-0 at home by Rayo Vallecano, who completed a league double over the Catalan giants.

Andoni Iraola became the first manager to beat Barcelona home and away in his first season in LaLiga since Quique Hernandez did so at Hercules in the 1996-97 season.

Alvaro Garcia scored with the only shot on target that Vallecano managed all night, and with a little luck Barcelona would have enjoyed a better outcome, but they are all out of luck just now.

A Europa League loss to Eintracht Frankfurt and LaLiga defeats to Cadiz and now Vallecano have been unexpected setbacks for a team who were on an immense high five weeks ago when they spanked Real Madrid 4-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Assessing the Vallecano setback and its impact, Xavi said: "I don't think it's a lack of personality on the part of the team. There are emergencies at the club, both football-wise and financially. It's a difficult situation and we have to face it.

"Now it's time to rest, disconnect and in the middle of the week we will get back on and prepare for the Mallorca game. We have five finals remaining, we've complicated it for ourselves."

 

Barcelona should still achieve a top-four finish, given they remain six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis, but Xavi wants more than to see his side stumble over the line.

Their objective is to finish the season strongly and build momentum for the next campaign, and performances such as Sunday's disrupt the significant progress that has been made since Xavi's appointment in November.

Speaking to Movistar LaLiga, Xavi said: "In the first half we were not good, but in the second we improved, and the feeling is that we deserved much more. We had shots from all sides, from outside [the penalty area], from inside. But it didn't want to go in.

"In the first half it wasn't us, we didn't have the personality that we had to have in the game. Everything has been complicated for us today. It was a slow game, with interruptions."

He said Barcelona needed to show greater desire, and pointed to how Sunday's visitors capitalised on their big moment in front of goal.

The three shots that Rayo Vallecano attempted ranked as their lowest total in a LaLiga game this season.

"Rayo had one and a half chances," Xavi said. "We return to the issue of effectiveness.

"We are in a difficult situation. We are still in the Champions League places but we have complicated it for ourselves because if we had beaten Cadiz and Rayo it would have almost given us qualification for the Champions League."

Sergio Busquets admitted Barcelona are stuck in "a negative dynamic" after a 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano that means they have lost three consecutive home games for the first time this century.

Alvaro Garcia's fine strike in the seventh minute condemned Barcelona to a Camp Nou loss, with Vallecano doing the double over the Catalan giants in LaLiga this season.

Barcelona had only suffered three straight losses at home once in their rich history, when Louis van Gaal's team experienced that disappointment in games spanning the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons.

Now they must pick themselves up from the bitter blow and go again next Sunday, when Real Mallorca will be their visitors.

Busquets said in a post-match LaLiga interview: "We're finding it really hard to win games at home at the moment. We've been conceding goals very early and that makes it even tougher for us, then you suffer a little bit more.

"Then the teams close up and defend the result. When you're not effective in both areas, it's a bit of a struggle as well."

 

Barcelona did not concede until early in the second half when losing 1-0 to Cadiz at home, but in their Europa League loss to Eintracht Frankfurt they were 2-0 down by the break, and it took two goals in second-half stoppage time to cut their deficit to 3-2 in that game.

Barcelona's latest defeat means they remain second in the Spanish top flight, albeit level on points with third-placed Sevilla, and Real Madrid's lead at the top is 15 points with five rounds of games remaining.

Madrid can clinch the title by avoiding defeat to Espanyol next weekend.

Captain Busquets said Barcelona attempted to add pace to their game in the second half, but they were largely flat and increasingly desperate as Vallecano manfully defended their lead.

Barcelona led the shot count 18-3, but only five of their shots hit the target. Their 71.3 per cent of possession counted for little come the final whistle as Vallecano became just the fourth promoted team to win both of their games against Barcelona in a LaLiga campaign, and the first since UD Salamanca in 1997-98.

"They were very well set up, we weren't effective," Busquets said. "When you don't score and the minutes go by, everything gets a lot tougher.

"We're in this negative dynamic at Camp Nou. We haven't been able to take advantage of the games we've had, and we've ended up level with Sevilla.

"Maybe in the second half we needed to put more attacking players on and go for the game. We had crosses in, we had chances, but it wasn't to be."

Barcelona suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to Rayo Vallecano that means Real Madrid can step up plans for a title party.

This was a third consecutive home loss for the Catalans, only the second time that Barcelona have suffered such a fate in their history, with Alvaro Garcia's early strike the difference between the teams.

It means Real Madrid's lead at the top is 15 points with five games remaining, putting Los Blancos on the brink of being crowned champions.

That will be confirmed if Carlo Ancelotti's team avoid defeat to Espanyol next Saturday, while Xavi's Barcelona have slackened their grip on second place with this setback.

Vallecano, sitting 14th in LaLiga before their arrival at Camp Nou, snatched a seventh-minute lead when Garcia made a smart run into space to meet a chipped pass from Isi Palazon and fired sharply into the bottom right corner.

Jordi Alba curled a shot that flicked wide off the post as Barcelona chased an equaliser, then Gavi wanted a penalty when he slumped to the turf under a nothing challenge from Santiago Comesana. Referee Isidro Diaz de Mera Escuderos was unimpressed and booked coach Xavi for taking his complaints too far.

A clever floated shot from Gavi hit the crossbar shortly before half-time, and although Ferran Torres lobbed the ball into the net from the rebound, he had been in an offside position.

Jordi Alba had a shot deflect over as Barcelona pushed early in the second half, but the home side were horribly flat, with Ferran Torres and Frenkie de Jong replaced by Memphis Depay and Nico Gonzalez as Xavi looked to inject some energy.

Depay had a close-range shot blocked by Nikola Maras, and the Dutch striker saw a stinging 20-yard strike punched over the bar by Stole Dimitrievski, but the equaliser would not come.

 

What does it mean? Barca on the slide

Barcelona had won their last seven home games against Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga, and were seeking eight in a row against them for the first time in the competition, but this was poor from them.

This is a bad time of the season to get stuck in a rut, and Camp Nou defeats to Cadiz in LaLiga and Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League have been followed by another aberration. Barcelona led the shot count 17-3 here, but despite playing 14 minutes of second-half stoppage time, they could not put produce a clinical finish.


New boys slay Camp Nou

Vallecano, who came up through the Segunda Division play-offs last term, have become the fourth promoted team to win both of their games against Barcelona in a LaLiga campaign, and the first since UD Salamanca in 1997-98. They have also improved their record when leading at half-time in LaLiga this season to W8, D1, L0.

 

Famous night for Iraola

After his team's 1-0 win at home in October, Andoni Iraola has become the first head coach to beat Barcelona home and away in his first season in LaLiga since Quique Hernandez for Hercules in the 1996-97 campaign.

The home win in the autumn was a result that was followed by Barcelona sacking Ronald Koeman, leading to Xavi's appointment.

 

What's next?

Barcelona will have home advantage against next Sunday when Real Mallorca visit Camp Nou. Vallecano are also back on duty next Sunday, hosting Real Sociedad.

Xabi Alonso says Real Madrid's ability to grind out results when not at their best has been key to their success this season, as Los Blancos eye a 35th LaLiga title. 

Alonso, who now coaches Real Sociedad's B team, made 236 appearances during a five-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, helping Carlo Ancelotti's team lift the Champions League trophy in 2014.

With Ancelotti back at the helm, Madrid hold a 15-point lead over Barcelona at the top of LaLiga, and the Italian looks set to celebrate his first Spanish title triumph after already winning league titles in Italy, England, France, and Germany.

After beating Sevilla 3-2 with a late Karim Benzema goal last time out, Los Blancos have won 17 points from losing positions this season, the most in LaLiga, and Alonso believes that fighting spirit has been crucial.

"I think the team have found that stability, knowing that maybe they can struggle during one game, but they will have a chance to win and that they can win any game," he told FedEx.

"So far, in difficult moments, they have won games, and they are feeling comfortable playing great football and comfortable playing not the best football.

"Sometimes that's important as well, not to get nervous when you are not playing your best, to deal with those difficult times. I think that Madrid, they have dealt very well with those moments and that's why they are now in a great position.

"[There are] still many points [to play for], but yes, they are favourites [to win the league]. I think that they are the most consistent team. That's what gives you the best chance to win LaLiga at the moment. 

"I think that Carlo is a wise man. He knows how to find and to put the pieces together. That's why he's been with so many clubs, and he's [done] so many great things. He's finding his team, and he's able to deal with them so well because he has those skills to deal with the players."

Madrid have won 23 of their 32 LaLiga games this season, their highest number of victories at this stage of a season since 2016-17, when they won the title after having an identical record at this stage.

Although 39-goal striker Karim Benzema has led the charge for LaLiga and Champions League trophies, Alonso heaped praise on Ancelotti's reliable engine-room trio.

The 40-year-old also highlighted the potential of Barcelona's young midfielders, but stressed that the Blaugrana are in a "different moment" to Madrid as Xavi rebuilds the Catalan giants.

"Year by year, the midfield of Madrid, they are getting older, but they are as good as always. I've seen that Casemiro, Luka [Modric] and Toni [Kroos], they are safe as houses for any manager," he added.

"I think that Carlo has found what he needs from them and for sure he will need to rotate them. [But] they are playing very, very good football, and they are showing composure. 

"As always [with] Barca players, they have different kind of midfielders, [at a] different stage of their careers. For example, Nico, Gavi with the support of [Sergio] Busquets, it's a great prospect, but they are in a different moment right now."

Alonso picked out Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane as the one man he would have loved to play alongside..

"For sure, I would have loved to play with Zidane because I remember when I started playing in Sociedad, one of my first memories was playing against one of my idols. That was him," he added.

"To play against him, it was hard, but it was so enjoyable, and he was so elegant, things looked so easy for him, and he was such a good player. I would have loved to play with him, but I played against him."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has appeared to blame groups of Barcelona fans for an estimated 30,000 Eintracht Frankfurt fans gaining entry to the clubs' Europa League tie last week.

The second leg of their quarter-final clash saw Frankfurt record a famous 3-2 win after storming into a three-goal lead, as Barcelona were eliminated before swathes of German fans at Camp Nou.

An estimated 30,000 travelling fans gained entry to the stadium despite the Bundesliga club only officially receiving 5,000 tickets for the fixture, leading Laporta to claim he was "ashamed" of the club's handling of the situation last week.

The incident led to a number of Blaugrana fans boycotting their 1-0 loss to Cadiz on Monday, as the Catalan giants suffered back-to-back home defeats for the first time since April 2003, with some protesting against Laporta prior to kick-off.

The Blaugrana chief, however, has blamed club members for the overwhelming Frankfurt presence, accusing them of selling their tickets to German fans.  

"The club is not to blame for what happened against Eintracht, but it is responsible," Lapota said on Tuesday, speaking at a news conference called to explain the incident. 

"A group of members misused their season tickets, which they ceded to German fans.

"It is sad because we love this club, and it is hard to imagine season ticket holders giving their tickets to rival fans. But this happened, and it will be subject to analysis.

"There are around 7,000 members that purchased tickets with discount codes and [those tickets] ended up in German hands. We don't want it to become a witch hunt, but there is a lot of disappointment and we will look into possibly taking action.

"We didn't sell tickets to German fans beyond the 5,000 away tickets. Sales from Germany weren't allowed, and there were many people trying to buy tickets from there. The system of control worked up to a point, but some organised groups were able to breach the mechanisms in place.

"We inherited the system from the previous board. We thought it could work, but we have seen that for special games it doesn't.

"Tickets will now be non-transferrable for non-domestic matches and high-risk games. We are working on other measures so that it does not happen again."

Laporta did, however, admit that the club did not handle the situation perfectly, and was thankful to have avoided more serious consequences.

"I am sure we could have done better," he added. "It concerned us to see so many German fans arriving at the ground, but if we impeded them from entering, we would be talking about more serious incidents."

Under 58,000 Barcelona fans turned out to see Xavi's side fall to a demoralising defeat to Cadiz on Monday, one of their lowest attendances since the legendary midfielder returned as head coach.

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