Carlo Ancelotti would not swap Vinicius Junior for Erling Haaland, with the two looking likely to come up against one another in the Champions League semi-finals.

Both Manchester City and Real Madrid comfortably won their quarter-final first legs against Bayern Munich and Chelsea respectively, with star players Haaland and Vinicius shining again.

Haaland has scored an incredible 45 goals for City this season, while Vinicius has 21 goals and 14 assists in 45 appearances for Madrid.

While a prominent goal threat, Vinicius leads the way for Madrid in chances created (89) and expected assists (10.68), and only Eduardo Camavinga has made more appearances than the winger for Los Blancos this term.

Asked at a press conference ahead of Madrid's LaLiga trip to Cadiz if he would trade the Brazilian for the Norwegian, Ancelotti said: "No, what a question! 

"Each one has his own. Madrid takes advantage of Vinicius and [City manager Pep] Guardiola from Haaland."

Ancelotti confirmed he will be without Vinicius as well as Toni Kroos for Saturday's game at Cadiz, with both having adductor strains, but insisted it is merely a precaution.

Former Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain boss Ancelotti also queried the notion that English clubs are often considered favourites for the Champions League, such as City this season.

 

Ancelotti masterminded wins over Chelsea, City and Liverpool last season on the way to becoming the first coach to win the Champions League on four occasions.

Madrid knocked out Liverpool this season and are 2-0 up against Chelsea after the first leg of their quarter-final.

"I'm not bothered, because the truth is that English football has teams that compete very well," he said. "It doesn't surprise me that the English are favourites, although Spanish football took two teams to the semi-finals last year, this year Italy has three in the quarter-finals. 

"The English think they have the strongest league, but outside there are other championships that continue to compete with less money, such as Spain and Italy."

Madrid were beaten 3-2 at home by Villarreal in their last league outing, now sitting 13 points behind leaders Barcelona with 10 games remaining.

Ancelotti insists his team will continue to give their all in LaLiga though, suggesting a club of Madrid's stature could not do less.

"We have to respect the competition and if we can't get to the first position, we have to be second," he said. 

"We wear a shirt that demands fighting until the end."

Vinicius Junior lauded Real Madrid's display against Chelsea on Wednesday as one of their best of the season as the Champions League holders earned a 2-0 first-leg advantage in the quarter-finals.

Madrid had eliminated Chelsea at this stage a year ago, albeit only by the finest of margins.

But this time they were heavy favourites against a side struggling in the bottom half of the Premier League, and the contrast between the two sides was illustrated on the pitch.

Chelsea did have their chances, with Thibaut Courtois making three saves, but opposite number Kepa Arrizabalaga was called into action on eight occasions as well as picking the ball out of his net twice.

Karim Benzema netted the opener when the Chelsea goalkeeper could only parry from Vinicius, whose pass teed up Marco Asensio for a 74th-minute second.

Vinicius was perhaps the star of the show, dominating his match-ups with Reece James and Wesley Fofana as he completed four of seven attempted dribbles and won eight of 13 contested duels.

But the Brazil winger was happy to reflect on a strong performance across the team, even if the tie is not quite yet over.

"We played very well indeed, pressing all the time just like we did at this stage last season," Vinicius said, as reported by UEFA.com. "This was one of our best performances of the season.

"But this is only half-time. There’s a lot left in this tie. We just need to keep calm heads."

Madrid, who played more than half an hour against 10 men after Ben Chilwell was sent off, could only have been frustrated the scoreline was not more one-sided.

"There were lots of spaces for us to push into, and obviously being Real Madrid, we always want to score more goals," Vinicius added.

"We know that an away game against Chelsea can be difficult. Now we just rest a bit and keep a clear head."

Madrid went three years without a Champions League triumph after Vinicius signed, but he is now eyeing up a second straight title as the competition's most successful club aim for their 15th.

"Any player who wears this shirt for Madrid knows how special the Champions League is," he said.

"Especially in the Bernabeu with this fanbase behind us, they light up for this competition.

"If you play for Madrid, you have to be driven by the hunger to play in and win the Champions League."

Real Madrid risk falling further behind Barcelona in the LaLiga title race after suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Yellow Submarine twice pegged back their hosts, with Samuel Chukwueze the key man as he produced two goals and an assist, including a superb winner.

A Pau Torres own goal had given Madrid the lead before Chukwueze tucked home an equaliser, with substitute Jose Morales then levelling the score again after Vinicius Junior had put Madrid back in front following a fine solo run.

However, Chukwueze struck again in a dramatic final 10 minutes to give Villarreal a famous win, with Madrid seeing a late penalty award overturned by VAR.

Vinicius was quickly pulling the strings for Madrid and cut a pass back to Marco Asensio after 16 minutes, who saw his attempt to divert the ball back into the middle deflected into his own net by Torres.

Having missed earlier opportunities, Chukwueze finally took his chance by showing superb skill to beat Nacho on the edge of the box after receiving a pass from Giovanni Lo Celso and expertly dispatching his finish.

Madrid responded just three minutes after the break, Vinicius powering past Chukwueze and Aissa Mandi into the box and firing past Pepe Reina from close range to restore the hosts' lead.

Mandi had a goal ruled out for offside but an equaliser did follow with 20 minutes remaining, with Chukwueze's low cross into the box causing panic amongst the Madrid defenders, allowing Morales to stab home at the second attempt.

Chukwueze then struck again, brilliantly curling past Courtois from the edge of the box to put Villarreal ahead, though Madrid thought they had been handed a lifeline with a late penalty.

After Eduardo Camavinga's run into the box, a penalty was called following an alleged handball from Mandi, though a VAR review showed no contact and the on-field decision was overturned, with Villarreal holding on for an impressive win.

Real Madrid reached the Copa del Rey final for the first time since 2014 as a Karim Benzema hat-trick and a Vinicius Junior strike earned a 4-0 Clasico victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou and a 4-1 triumph on aggregate.

Eder Militao's own goal at the Bernabeu had Barca heading into Wednesday's second leg with a 1-0 advantage, but Vinicius' goal in first-half added time got Madrid back into the tie.

Carlo Ancelotti's men then took over after the break, Benzema putting them ahead with a sublime finish before coolly converting from the spot after Vinicius was felled.

The reigning Ballon d'Or winner clinched his hat-trick late on to dump the 31-time winners out and set Madrid up to meet Osasuna in the showpiece match on May 6.

Barca started brightly with Sergi Roberto and Raphinha seeing early efforts foiled, though alert defending was needed by Ronald Araujo at the other end to deny Vinicius.

Tempers were starting to fray in a typically high-charged encounter, Xavi booked for dissent before Gavi and Vinicius were cautioned for a fracas in midfield. The visitors remained focused, though, to level the tie just before half-time.

After Courtois made a superb stop to deny Robert Lewandowski, Madrid flew up the other end, and though Jules Kounde initially blocked Vinicius' shot, it crept over the line to make it 1-1 on aggregate.

Ancelotti's side took the lead shortly after the break, Luka Modric teeing up Benzema to expertly stroke into the bottom-left corner.

Madrid then landed a killer blow shortly after, Franck Kessie bringing Vinicius down in the box for a penalty before Benzema stepped up and ruthlessly slotted into the bottom-right corner.

Benzema sealed his hat-trick with 10 minutes to play, delicately dinking over Marc-Andre ter Stegen to send his team cruising into the final.

LaLiga filed an eighth complaint regarding racist abuse directed at Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior following incidents in Sunday's clash with Barcelona.

The hosts secured a 2-1 Clasico win at Camp Nou following Franck Kessie's 92nd-minute strike, which opened a 12-point lead for Xavi's side over Madrid.

That victory has been marred by racist abuse towards Vinicius, however, with LaLiga confirming a complaint had been lodged to the Barcelona Court of Instruction.

A statement read: "In view of the events that took place at the FC Barcelona-Real Madrid match, in which intolerable racist behaviour was once again observed against Vinicius Jr, LaLiga has reported the racist insults to the Barcelona Court of Instruction.

"This is the eighth complaint filed by LaLiga with the corresponding authorities for racist abuse against Vinicius Jr."

Earlier this week, Mallorca announced a fan's membership had been revoked for three years after racist abuse was directed at Vinicius and Villarreal's Samuel Chukwueze.

In February, Real Valladolid suspended 12 season ticket holders for abusing Vinicius during a league match two months earlier.

It all came down to this. El Clasico at Camp Nou on Sunday was Real Madrid's final realistic hope of reigniting LaLiga's title race, but Franck Kessie's dramatic late winner puts Barcelona practically out of sight.

While Barca coach Xavi had been keen to downplay the idea of this contest being in any way "definitive", only going as far as suggesting victory would be a "strong blow", it's difficult to imagine him actually believing those comments now.

Kessie's neat strike secured Barca a thrilling 2-1 win and their celebrations said it all. This was no standard Clasico victory – it was a win that should bury Madrid's title hopes once and for all, putting the Blaugrana a massive 12 points clear with as many games to go.

Were it any other team then perhaps Madrid might still retain a modicum of belief, but this is a Barca side that have only conceded five LaLiga goals all season to teams not named 'Real Madrid'.

What hope do they really have of Barca dropping at least 12 points? After all, no team has ever even overturned a nine-point lead at this stage in a season, let alone a 12-point deficit.

 

Yet it had all started so well.

It was particularly fitting to see the opening goal involve the two men routinely identified as the key battle in Clasicos these days.

Vinicius Junior has become a talismanic figure for Madrid, while Ronald Araujo has developed into one of the most dependable and formidable defenders in Europe.

Their tussles are now something of a feature in El Clasico, and this instalment produced a major early flashpoint.

Vinicius was allowed to run with the ball in the Barca box, and although he initially moved away from goal, he then jinked right towards the byline, his clipped left-footed cross hitting the head of Araujo and glancing past the helpless Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

While fortuitous, it was a swift reminder of the danger posed by Madrid's Brazilian winger after Barca had begun the game with a flourish.

 

The game's other Brazilian winger looked Barca's best bet to get on the scoresheet. A brilliant header – pushed away by Thibaut Courtois – a few moments before Araujo's own goal was Raphinha's first involvement.

He then produced a series of crosses before the half-hour mark, causing plenty of problems in the Madrid defence as Raphinha looked to test their suitability against an aerial bombardment.

Vintage Barca? Perhaps not, but there were signs of encouragement at least, with Andreas Christensen heading one such delivery agonisingly wide.

Raphinha's new-found influence and confidence was clear to see, and he then looked to take matters into his own hands as he shook off Nacho Fernandez and forced Courtois into a fingertip save.

So, just as it was unsurprising to see Vinicius instigate the opener, Raphinha playing a part in the equaliser was similarly predictable.

Well, sort of. Initially he drew cackles of derision from Madrid fans and simultaneous groans of bewilderment from the Barca supporters as his air shot saw a glorious chance go begging. But a few seconds later, on the stroke of half-time, it was his effort that was blocked right to Sergi Roberto, who coolly slotted out of Courtois' reach – 1.1.

It was a goal that seemingly restored real poise to Barca at the start of the second half, with Madrid initially looking even less of a threat than before the interval.

Part of Los Blancos' problem appeared to stem from a lack of invention. Everything went through Vinicius, and he was – for a while – the only Madrid player who looked likely to worry Barca.

As lively as he was, their dependency on him made Madrid largely one-dimensional, and unfortunately for them Vinicius couldn't do it all on his own.

For a moment that looked irrelevant. Substitute Marco Asensio stroked into the bottom-left corner in the 81st minute after meeting Dani Carvajal's pass. Suddenly Madrid's title challenge was reignited, only for those hopes to be brutally extinguished by a VAR check – Asensio was fractionally offside.

 

The sheer gut-wrenching disappointment sweeping across the visiting team was almost tangible. They'd gone from bedlam to broken in a matter of seconds, and what followed was a further, and surely fatal, body-blow.

Kessie finished from Alejandro Balde's cut-back to essentially leave Madrid needing two goals in stoppage time to salvage any semblance of hope.

That was beyond them.

Madrid will now have to carry on pretending to believe the near-impossible is plausible. In reality, it's game over.

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti claimed Vinicius Junior is the "best in the world" after helping Los Blancos into the Champions League quarter-finals in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Liverpool.

The Brazilian provided the assist for Karim Benzema's 78th-minute winner in the last-16 second leg, having netted twice while setting up another in the 5-2 first-leg victory at Anfield three weeks ago.

Ancelotti stated Vinicius was "one of the best players in the world" prior to their Copa del Rey clash with Barcelona earlier this month, and he now cannot see anyone better.

"For me, he's the best in the world," Ancelotti told reporters. "Today he didn't score, but he played very well and provided a goal."

The Brazil international has scored 19 goals this season, along with 10 assists.

Vinicius is one of only two players to have both scored and assisted 10-plus goals (13 goals and 10 assists) across the last three editions of the Champions League, alongside Kylian Mbappe (21 goals and 11 assists).

The 22-year-old enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2021-22 with 17 LaLiga goals and 22 in all competitions for Los Blancos as they won a league and Champions League double.

Vinicius finished eighth in the voting for last year's Ballon d'Or, won by team-mate Benzema, while he came 11th for the Best FIFA Men's Player award won by Lionel Messi last month.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Benzema's goal, the scorer appeared to be hampered by an ankle injury and was quickly replaced by Rodrygo.

"It's a blow, nothing more," Ancelotti said. "I hope there will be no problems."

Carlo Ancelotti has refuted suggestions he has a "cold" relationship with Eden Hazard, attributing the Belgian's lack of playing time at Real Madrid to the fine form of Vinicius Junior.

Hazard's Madrid career has been blighted by injuries, and he has featured for just 297 minutes across all competitions this season, with only 98 of those minutes coming in LaLiga.

In an interview with Belgian broadcaster RTBF, Hazard outlined his respect for Madrid boss Ancelotti but revealed the duo "don't talk to each other".

Despite that, Hazard – who has just over 12 months remaining on the five-year deal he signed upon joining Madrid in 2019 – confirmed he wishes to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu next season.

Asked about those comments at a press conference to preview Wednesday's Champions League fixture against Liverpool, Ancelotti said: "The relationship is not cold. 

"I don't talk much with him, but talking is a matter of character. Sometimes you talk more with one person than with another, it happens when you have kids as well!

"I respect Hazard, I value his thoughts. That's the most important thing, as far as I'm concerned.

"He's not playing because there is so much competition, because Vinicius is playing in his position and doing very well."

Pressed on the former Chelsea winger's future, the Italian simply replied: "For next year I have the players that the club makes available to me."

Vinicius tops Madrid's charts for both goals (19) and assists (nine) across all competitions this term, a fact which has not aided Hazard's bid for regular minutes on the left flank. 

While the Brazilian has recently attracted criticism in Spain for his attitude towards referees, Ancelotti is focused on his extraordinary talents and believes he can "write history" with Los Blancos.

"I think he's progressed a lot, he's come a long way and his attitude is good," Ancelotti said of Vinicius. "He has to focus on playing. That's what he does well.

"I think he is on the right track to write the history of Real Madrid in the coming years, as [Luka] Modric, Karim [Benzema] and Casemiro have done and others continue to do. Our group has been fantastic."

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior has criticised LaLiga referees for failing to issue cards to opponents who repeatedly foul him.

Vinicius was on target for Madrid in Saturday's 3-1 win over Espanyol, with that his team-high 19th goal in 39 appearances this season.

He was once again targeted by opposition players, with his 138 fouls won in all competitions this term at least 34 more than any other player across Europe's top five leagues.

But Vinicius was himself shown a 12th yellow card of the season against Espanyol – only Sofyan Amrabat (13) and Alex Baena (14) have more across the continent.

"Referees don't give fouls and they don't give yellow cards," he told ESPN. "Players can foul me 15 times and, when the game is in the 88th minute, the referee gives a yellow.

"Players have to think of a way to stop me, and, by [committing fouls], it becomes very easy for them. 

"I don't judge the players, but I judge the referees, because they have to apply the rules correctly."

 

Vinicius added: "I'm not asking for anyone to protect me. Nobody has protected me in my life, except my team-mates, my parents and the people that like me.

"What I have to do is to try to keep a clear head. I make mistakes sometimes; I'm only 22. I'll make a lot of mistakes. But I want to make fewer mistakes and keep learning."

Asked about referee Jorge Figuerola's decision to book Vinicius for a rather innocuous challenge, Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti said: "I didn't understand it.

"It wasn't an action that stopped a promising attack. I don't understand the yellow cards they give him. His attitude has been exemplary and he scored another fantastic goal."

Vinicius arced a fine strike into the bottom-right corner to cancel out Joselu's early opener at the Santiago Bernabeu, before Eder Militao put Madrid in the lead before half-time. 

Marco Asensio then sealed the comeback win for Madrid, who have now won 10 points from losing positions in LaLiga this term – a tally only Osasuna (12) can better.

Ancelotti's side are back to within six points of leaders Barcelona, who play their game in hand at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Real Madrid came from behind to cut Barcelona's lead at the top of LaLiga to six points, with Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao and Marco Asensio scoring in a 3-1 win over Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid entered Saturday's game having gone three matches without a win, and they threatened to lose further ground in the title race when Joselu's early strike put Espanyol ahead.

However, a solo effort from Vinicius Junior swiftly levelled things up, before Militao nodded home at the back post to put the hosts on top before half-time.

Asensio escaped in behind to net a third late on, ensuring Madrid went six points behind Barcelona ahead of the Blaugrana's trip to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, with the Clasico rivals due to face off in a huge clash next week. 

Espanyol stunned the Bernabeu with their first real attack eight minutes in, Joselu guiding a side-footed finish into the top-right corner after Ruben Sanchez broke beyond Eduardo Camavinga to cross.

Madrid almost went 2-0 down when Vinicius Souza's header forced Thibaut Courtois into action, but they were level after 22 minutes as Vinicius Junior skipped inside to bend a terrific finish into the bottom-right corner.

With Espanyol coming under intolerable pressure, Militao gave Madrid the lead six minutes before the break, heading Aurelien Tchouameni's delicate delivery in off the crossbar.

A last-ditch clearance from Vinicius Souza denied Rodrygo as Madrid continued to press after the interval, before Leandro Cabrera scuffed an effort wide at the other end.

Rodrygo then rattled the crossbar with a fine free-kick as Espanyol faded, before substitute Asensio applied a calm one-on-one finish to make the points safe in stoppage time.

LaLiga has filed a complaint at a Seville court after Vinicius Junior was again subjected to racist abuse in Real Madrid's goalless draw at Real Betis on Sunday.

Vinicius suffered racist abuse at two matches against Atletico Madrid this season, while similar incidents have been reported at games against Real Mallorca and Real Valladolid.

Footage captured a Betis supporter shouting racist insults at Vinicius during Sunday's stalemate at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, leading LaLiga to resort to legal action once again.

A statement from the league read: "In view of the racist insults directed towards Vinicius Junior during the Real Betis-Real Madrid match on Sunday, March 5, LaLiga has sent a complaint to the Seville Court of Instruction in order to identify the person responsible and to take the appropriate legal measures.

"This is the seventh complaint made to the relevant authorities by LaLiga regarding racist insults against Vinicius Junior."

Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti last month said racism was a problem throughout Spanish football, adding: "Vinicius is the victim of something that I don't understand. It must be solved."

 

It has been reported that Manchester United will look to maintain the momentum gained from this season with three major signings.

Manager Erik ten Hag is said to have an illustrious shortlist of priority targets, including numerous forwards.

But the Red Devils will likely want to bolster their midfield ranks to support Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen and Fred.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO LAUNCH BUMPER CAMAVINGA BID

Fichajes reports Manchester United are planning a bumper £115million (€130m) offer for Real Madrid's French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

The report claims United are major admirers of Camavinga, who has not fully convinced since his move to Santiago Bernabeu in August 2021.

United view the 20-year-old as a major world-class talent, although Los Blancos may be reluctant to let him go.

 

ROUND-UP

– ESPN claims Harry Maguire is on the chopping block at Old Trafford with Manchester United looking to sell several first-players including the England defender. Newcastle United are the favourites to sign him while West Ham are in contention, reports 90min.

Paris Saint-Germain are circling for Newcastle United's Dutch defender Sven Botman, reports iNews. Botman previously spent time in France with Lille.

Vinicius Junior could leave Real Madrid, with president Florentino Perez open to letting him go in order to sign PSG's Kylian Mbappe, claims El Desmarque. Vinicius Junior and Madrid are yet to agree on a new deal with the Brazilian's contract expiring in 2024.

Eden Hazard will not exit Real Madrid anytime soon, with the Belgian midfielder intending to remain with Los Blancos until his contract expires in 2024, according to The Athletic.

– CBS Sports claims Arsenal's Reiss Nelson has drawn interest from French club Nice along with Premier League outfit Brighton and Hove Albion. Nelson netted a dramatic late winner in the Gunners' 3-2 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.

Bayern Munich are on the verge of tabling new contract offers to Lucas Hernandez and Jamal Musiala , per Fabrizio Romano. Agreement on the Hernandez deal is imminent, while new Musiala's long-term contract is a priority.

Carlo Ancelotti is not concerned by Real Madrid's struggles in front of goal and is confident Karim Benzema will soon get back to scoring ways.

Madrid failed to register a single shot on target in Thursday's 1-0 Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg loss to Barcelona – the first time that has happened in a home game since 2010.

Los Blancos managed seven attempts on target in their most recent LaLiga outing, but they found the net from just one of those in a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid.

Benzema played a full part in both games without scoring, but his mini drought was preceded by a two-goal showing in Madrid's stunning 5-2 Champions League win at Liverpool.

The former France international has 18 goals in 26 appearances this season, and Ancelotti defended Benzema's displays ahead of facing Real Betis.

"It's not possible to be 'at the top' in every game," Ancelotti said at Saturday's pre-match press conference. "Karim doesn't worry me because I see him in good shape.

"He's in a good physical condition, certainly better than in the first part of the season. At the offensive level, collectively, we are very good.

"We are the team with the most goals in the league. Benzema has failed at some specific moments, nothing more. But there is no 'offensive problem'. We scored five at Anfield."

 

Vinicius Junior was fouled a game-high five times against Barca and has now been fouled 130 times this term – 32 times more than any player across Europe's top five leagues.

The Brazil winger reacted angrily to a couple of challenges, but Ancelotti is not concerned about the 22-year-old being sent off for retaliating.

"It doesn't worry me at all," Ancelotti said. "The important thing here is that Vinicius doesn't lose the love of playing. 

"In recent games they have defended against him very well, that's why it has cost him at times."

Madrid are aiming to avoid going three games without a win in all competitions for the first time this season when they face Betis.

Ancelotti's side, who trail leaders Barcelona by seven points, have won five of their past six visits to Betis in LaLiga.

"We enter the game in good shape and we are recovering players," Ancelotti said. "We know Sunday's game will be difficult against a great team who play attractive football.

"There is no margin for error. We will have to give everything to get the win."

Carlo Ancelotti has labelled Vinicius Junior as one of the world's best players ahead of Real Madrid's Copa del Rey tie against Barcelona.

The Brazil international has five goals in as many games in all competitions, most recently netting a brace as Madrid came from behind to beat Liverpool 5-2 in their Champions League last-16 first leg.

He has 18 goals in 36 games overall for Madrid this campaign – only eight players across Europe's top five leagues have scored more.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Madrid boss Ancelotti refuted suggestions of an over-reliance on Vinicius and backed the Brazilian to get the better of his opposite number Ronald Araujo in Thursday’s fixture.

He said: "It's a positive aspect. He is one of the best players in the world, who sometimes changes games in our favour. It's quite normal to be dependent on it.

"You don't have to say anything special to Vinicius. We are not going to change. It is true that Araujo is a very strong defender, but it will be a very entertaining duel. Hopefully, Vinicius can win it."

Real Madrid lost their most recent fixture against Xavi's side in the Supercopa de Espana final in January but have plenty of chances to exact revenge.

Sandwiched between both legs of the Copa del Rey tie is a third Classico in the league, with Madrid hoping to reduce the seven-point lead Barcelona currently have at the top of the table. 

Ancelotti also provided an update on the fitness of Toni Kroos, who has started just one of Madrid’s last four games.

"These are games in which you need many things, including personality and energy. It may be that because of the energy, Kroos is not in the eleven," he added.

"But we also need experience so I have to think about this."

Liverpool reportedly view Bayern Munich's Ryan Gravenberch and Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham as their ideal central midfield pairing of the future.

Liverpool's interest in 19-year-old Bellingham has been well-documented, and they are believed to be one of the front-runners to secure his services, along with Real Madrid.

Gravenberch, 20, arrived at Bayern prior to the season from Ajax for an €18.5million fee, but he has made only one start this Bundesliga campaign, along with 12 appearances as a substitute.

Liverpool are due for a midfield overhaul this off-season with 33-year-old Jordan Henderson and 32-year-old Thiago reaching their primes, and the club appear to be preparing for an injection of youth.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL ENVISION GRAVENBERCH AS KEY COG OF FUTURE MIDFIELD

According to Sport 1, Liverpool are "closely following" Gravenberch's situation in Munich, and have begun gathering background information about the young Netherlands international.

The report claims that Bayern are not looking to ship him off after just one season, but Gravenberch himself may indicate he wants out if his playing time situation does not start trending in the right direction.

With his contract tying him to the Bundesliga side until 2027, Gravenberch has no leverage to force his way to the Premier League, but that will not stop Liverpool from dreaming about potentially moving forward with Gravenberch, Bellingham and breakout talent Stefan Bajcetic all aged under 21.

 

ROUND-UP

– Planeta Real Madrid is reporting Paris Saint-Germain will look to secure Vinicius Junior if Kylian Mbappe leaves for the Spanish capital.

– According to The Mirror, Sergio Aguero claims Lionel Messi is strongly considering a move back to childhood club Newell's Old Boys.

– Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix would like to make his move to Chelsea permanent, per Fichajes.

– Marca is reporting Cristiano Ronaldo's team Al Nassr have been sounding out Sergio Ramos' interest in a move to Saudi Arabia.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, after rejecting an advance from Newcastle United, Flamengo have handed 18-year-old midfielder Matheus Franca a new contract that includes a €200m release clause.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.