Zidane takes Madrid training after self-isolation, Perez positive for COVID-19

By Sports Desk February 02, 2021

Zinedine Zidane led a Real Madrid training session for the first time since contracting coronavirus, while club president Florentino Perez has tested positive for COVID-19.

Madrid head coach Zidane was forced to undergo a period of self-isolation and has not been in the dugout since the shock 2-1 defeat to Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey two weeks ago.

Since then, Los Blancos have beaten Deportivo Alaves 4-1 and suffered a surprise 2-1 loss against Levante in LaLiga.

Madrid have slipped to third and sit 10 points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid, who still have a game in hand, but Zidane has a full week to prepare for their next outing against Huesca on Saturday.

Although Zidane was back on the training pitch, Sergio Ramos, Lucas Vazquez, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde were only with the group for part of the session.

Dani Carvajal trained indoors while Nacho Fernandez remained at home after testing positive for COVID-19, a fate shared by Madrid president Perez.

A brief club statement read: "Real Madrid would like to inform that our president Florentino Perez has tested positive in the COVID-19 tests that he periodically undergoes, although he is not showing any symptoms."

Related items

  • Nagelsmann hails 'outstanding' Neuer amid ongoing contract discussions Nagelsmann hails 'outstanding' Neuer amid ongoing contract discussions

    Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann remains unsure on the progress of Manuel Neuer's contract negotiations but heaped praise on the "outstanding" goalkeeper.

    Neuer has made 300 appearances in the Bundesliga for Bayern since moving from Schalke and holds the record for the most clean sheets in the German top flight (209), having surpassed Oliver Kahn (196) in 2021.

    But the Germany international's current contract in Munich expires at the end of the next season, when he will be aged 37, leading to questions over his future.

    While Nagelsmann was unable to provide an update on the situation, he insisted that the 35-year-old can continue performing for many years to come.

    "I don't know [about negotiations] but I know that he still has a contract and is an outstanding goalkeeper," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of a trip to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

    "You could see right away that he played an outstanding game against Cologne. He will keep this quality for a few more years."

    Asked about the competition, or lack of, between Neuer and Alexander Nubel, the Bayern head coach responded: "As long as he's playing at this level, it's difficult for any player to get past him. 

    "Manuel is still the best goalkeeper because he plays every part of the goalkeeping game very consistently.

    "I can't imagine it stopping abruptly at 36. We can analyse the situation when the time comes. Both are currently playing and are satisfied."

     

    The reigning Bundesliga champions head to Berlin six points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top after a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick inspired them to a 4-0 win over Cologne.

    Hertha have won just one of their last 21 league meetings with the Bavarian side, while Nagelsmann has not lost any of his 12 top-flight clashes with them as a coach.

    Only Christoph Daum, against Bochum, has faced an opponent more often (20) without losing a single time but Nagelsmann downplayed the importance of his record against Sunday's opponents.

    "It's more of a coincidence," he added on his success against Hertha. "We didn't always play exceptionally well in Berlin. If you have a positive record, you should make sure that it's like that remains.

    "They play significantly more football than before, more flat balls, but still a lot of chip balls to [Ishak] Belfodil, who is one of the most under-rated strikers in the league.

    "He works well with his body, it's incredibly difficult to defend. 

    "With [Marco] Richter and [Suat] Serdar, there are good footballers on the outside. It's more the footballing, courageous approach that [Tayfun] Korkut also demands. 

    "The rest of the defence will be very important for us. In the end, you saw against Wolfsburg that there are a lot of spaces you can attack from, but they also defend much more actively and aggressively."

    Despite Bayern's recent dominance, Nagelsmann insisted there is still potential for much improvement, though he feels their progress in Europe could depend on coronavirus.

    "I'm satisfied, but we still have a lot of potential," he added. "The processes haven't worked consistently for several weeks. Me and the players take a critical look. 

    "It's the case that the coronavirus issue is the season will affect how the teams get through. 

    "There are no longer the extreme quarantine rules. Corona is a thing that you cannot influence very well. If you want to go far in the Champions League, you also have to be a little lucky with Corona quarantines."

  • Emiliano Martinez commits future to Aston Villa until 2027 Emiliano Martinez commits future to Aston Villa until 2027

    Emiliano Martinez has signed a contract extension with Aston Villa until 2027.

    The Argentina goalkeeper, who tasted Copa America success in 2021, has been an integral figure at Villa Park since his move from Arsenal ahead of the 2020-21 season.

    Martinez managed 15 clean sheets in his maiden term under Dean Smith last season, equalling the club's Premier League record for shutouts that was last achieved by Brad Friedel.

    Since saving a John Lundstram penalty on his Premier League debut for Villa on September 21, 2020, only two goalkeepers – Ederson (31) and Edouard Mendy (24) – have kept more top-flight clean sheets than the 29-year-old (20).

    And after penning a fresh five-and-a-half-year deal, Martinez outlined why he has committed his future to Steven Gerrard's side.

    "I won a major tournament with Argentina not long ago and every time I come through the tunnel at Villa Park on a matchday, I can see the crowd, the lights, the fans excited for us to play," he told VillaTV on Friday.

    "Just before coming out [on to the pitch], I see the Champions League trophy and the FA Cup trophy and that's where I want to get.

    "I want to be in a Champions League final with Villa, I want to be at Wembley playing in an FA Cup final or EFL final.

    "That's why I'm committing five and a half years to this club because that's where I want to get."

    Martinez endured a frustrating time at Arsenal, where he made just 15 appearances as he was loaned out to numerous clubs, but believes he has now settled at Villa.

    "When I signed for Aston Villa, obviously I had massive ambitions about being in Europe and being the best version of myself, and the club have opened a really good door for me," he added.

    "They made me a better goalkeeper, with the goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler, Christian [Purslow], Johan [Lange], they're good people, very loyal and ambitious as well, like the owners."

    "So winning a major tournament for Argentina, thank you to Aston Villa for developing me as a good goalkeeper; and I think actually I can improve much more here and I want to commit my future here.

    "It feels like home."

    Villa, who also brought in experienced goalkeeper Robin Olsen on loan from Roma on Tuesday, sit 13th in the Premier League on 23 points as they prepare for their next clash with Everton on Saturday.

  • Fiorentina open to selling in-demand Vlahovic Fiorentina open to selling in-demand Vlahovic

    Fiorentina are open to selling Dusan Vlahovic in January but the Viola's director Joe Barone denied they have reached an agreement with Arsenal.

    Mikel Arteta's Gunners are among a plethora of Europe's elite who are chasing the in-form striker in the mid-season transfer window, with Premier League champions Manchester City also linked.

    Vlahovic has scored 17 times in 21 Serie A appearances, netting once every 109.5 minutes on average and comfortably outperforming his expected goals tally of 12.2, and his stock continues to rise.

    The 21-year-old ended 2021 on a high as well, matching Cristiano Ronaldo's 21st-century record for most goals in the Italian top flight in a calendar year (33), set in 2020.

    In fact, only Gunnar Nordahl in 1950 (36) has ever scored more times in a calendar year than Ronaldo and Vlahovic.

    But Barone revealed Vlahovic's time in Tuscany will likely come to an end soon with the Serbia international unwilling to sign a new contract, with his current deal expiring at the end of the next season.

     

    "Some English clubs have made contact, but there is no agreement yet. We are open [to selling]," Barone told Italian outlet La Nazione on Friday.

    Barone previously asked Vlahovic to publicly state whether he wants to leave the club or not, while suggesting no bids had been made for the forward in the last week.

    But the Fiorentina chief claimed he is still yet to hear from Vlahovic's entourage as the Viola reportedly hold out for €75million for their prized asset.

    "I haven't heard anything from them, I had asked Vlahovic's agent to be clear, but I haven't heard anything, no contacts at all," he added.

    Fiorentina sit sixth in Serie A on 35 points ahead of their next clash with Cagliari on Sunday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.