Real Madrid have Ramos fit but Hazard out for LaLiga finale

By Sports Desk May 21, 2021

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos will be fit for a decisive weekend in LaLiga's title race, news that also hands Spain a major boost for Euro 2020.

Eden Hazard, though, has sustained an injury that will rule him out on Saturday, after head coach Zinedine Zidane delivered a pre-match injury update at his news conference.

Real Madrid are two points behind leaders and city rivals Atletico Madrid ahead of the final round of fixtures.

Atleti travel to relegation-threatened Real Valladolid while Real Madrid are at home to seventh-placed Villarreal.

If Atleti are crowned LaLiga champions it means Madrid will end the season without a major trophy, and there has been speculation that Zidane will quit as head coach.

But the presence of Ramos, who has been restricted to 15 top-flight appearances after sustaining a series of injuries this season, will lift the spirits of Madrid as well as giving Spain cause for cheer.

The defender has been out since he suffered a hamstring injury against Chelsea on May 5. That had been his first Madrid appearance for seven weeks after a previous absence.

"Yes, tomorrow he will be with us," Zidane said about Ramos. "Then, in the team, you will see him.

"I would always take Sergio [to the Euros if I was in charge] – always, whatever happens. He is one who always gives everything.

"Hazard has something. Not much, but we don't want to risk. If he doesn't train with the team, it's because something's wrong with him. That's it. So, he won't be there.

"It is a special day; it is the last game of a league with difficulties. We know who we are going to play against, a team that is doing very well. We are going to strive to get the three points."

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    Kieran Trippier has confirmed he attracted "strong interest" from Manchester United last year before returning to the Premier League with Newcastle United.

    Trippier swapped a LaLiga title defence with Atletico Madrid for a relegation battle with Newcastle this month, with the England full-back joining Eddie Howe's side for a reported fee of £12million.

    The 31-year-old spent two-and-a-half seasons at Atleti after leaving Tottenham in 2019, helping Diego Simeone's side clinch a LaLiga title last year.

    There were reports since early in 2021 that Trippier wished to return to England, and United were heavily linked.

    Trippier has now confirmed that United and Atleti held discussions before the 2021-22 season, after England's run to the final of Euro 2020, but the potential move broke down over the Spanish club's demand that his release clause, reported at around £50m (€60m), was met.

    "After the Euros, there was really strong interest," Trippier told Newcastle great Alan Shearer in an interview with The Athletic.

    "I've got to be careful what I say because I don't want to get into trouble, but yeah, there was interest. We had conversations, but Atletico Madrid just wanted my release clause and it was a lot of money for a 30-year-old, so I understand why Man United didn't do that.

    "There were other clubs interested too. Anyway, it's gone now, so it doesn't bother me."

    Trippier hopes Simeone, who has established himself as one of world football's leading coaches during his decade-long stint at Atleti, follows him from LaLiga to the Premier League.

    "I'd love to see him working in England. I know he was learning English about a year ago, and his partner speaks English," Trippier said.

    "The thing about Simeone is that because he's so passionate when he's talking in the dressing room, I think it would get to him if he wasn't completely fluent. But I would love to see him in the Premier League. I think everyone would."

    Simeone's pragmatic approach has sometimes come in for criticism, but there can be no doubting its success.

    "It's a bit unfair, because Simeone has been so successful. He's won eight trophies," Trippier added, before referring to a comment Jurgen Klopp made about Atleti not playing "proper football" after Liverpool's defeat to Los Colchoneros in the 2019-20 Champions League knockout stage.

    "I understand where Klopp is coming from, but if you're playing at Anfield you can't go toe-to-toe with [Liverpool] because you'll get punished.

    "Everybody has their own system or set-up and Simeone's is different. It's worked for him."

    Trippier's decision to leave Tottenham came after Mauricio Pochettino's side had reached the 2019 Champions League final, losing to Liverpool - ironically, at Atleti's Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

    The former Burnley defender enjoyed a fine 2018 World Cup, but felt his form dropped off slightly afterwards. However, he also hit out at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who he claims was engineering a sale while the season was ongoing.

    "f you look back to the last few months of my Tottenham career, I admit that I wasn't at the levels that I was at the World Cup and there's no excuse," he said.

    "After the Champions League final, it felt like the right time to move on.

    "What annoyed me, I know 100 per cent for a fact – and this is what I was most angry about – that two months before the end of the season, Daniel was offering me to other clubs.

    "I knew for certain that was happening, so I knew my time there must be up. I was playing for my team-mates and the supporters, but I also knew I wasn't wanted."

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    Diego Carlos will not be moving to Newcastle United in the January transfer window, according to Sevilla sporting director Monchi.

    The Magpies tabled a bid of reportedly around £30million this month to try to bring the Brazil centre-back to the Premier League, but that was rejected by Sevilla and it appears that the deal will not be revisited before deadline day.

    The 28-year-old joined Sevilla in 2019 from French side Nantes and has established himself as a key part of Julen Lopetegui's stubborn backline, which boasts the best defensive record in LaLiga this season having conceded just 16 times in 22 games.

    Newcastle manager Eddie Howe was keen to add Diego Carlos as they try to ensure their Premier League safety, but Monchi's latest comments appear to suggest he will have to look elsewhere for defensive reinforcements in the current window.

    Speaking to i, the renowned sporting director said: "The Newcastle offer was a good offer, a respectable offer. I have to say that. But our board and management team thought it wasn't enough.

    "It's true that maybe it wasn't the right time. It's a difficult market to find a replacement for a player like Diego Carlos. It's a market that takes place over a very short period of time. Maybe if that offer comes along in the summer then things might have changed."

    Monchi also suggested the player himself is happy to stay with Sevilla, who are second in LaLiga, only four points behind leaders Real Madrid.

    "I was talking to Diego this morning and he's happy," he added. "At the end of the day he's staying here at his club, a club that really wanted him.

    "If he was really angry then maybe he would have changed his opinion, but he seems happy."

    He also had words of praise for the way Newcastle conducted business but reiterated his belief that negotiations have now ended between the two clubs.

    "We've had conversations based on a lot of respect. They've understood that we can reject their offer," Monchi said.

    "The first contact comes from the player's agent. They said, 'Maybe Newcastle are prepared to make an offer'.

    "The first offer was a month ago. With Newcastle, it's been very correct the way it's gone ahead. We've had video calls and each side has explained their view.

    "We consider the negotiation finished because I don't think we're going to start negotiations again because we're all clear how we think about this transfer."

  • 'Vlahovic will bring the goals Juventus need' – Tardelli 'Vlahovic will bring the goals Juventus need' – Tardelli

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    Tardelli, the former Inter, Juventus and Italy midfielder, has no doubt Vlahovic - who seems set to join Juve from Fiorentina before the end of the transfer window - will be a success in Turin.

    Juve have struggled in attack this season, scoring just 34 times across 23 matches. That ranks them 11th in Serie A for goals scored, way behind Inter's league-leading 53. Their issues were on show for all to see on Sunday, when the Bianconeri managed just eight attempts against Milan, with none hitting the target in a 0-0 draw.

    Vlahovic has scored 17 league goals for Fiorentina this term in 21 appearances. In 2021, the 21-year-old equalled the record set by former Juve star Cristiano Ronaldo for the amount of Serie A goals scored in a calendar year with 33.

    "An important purchase. He has the qualities Juventus need. He will bring Max [Allegri] the goals Juve missed," Tardelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "You can see that he has something special even when he doesn't score, he is one who also plays for the team.

     

    "He has shown personality. He will improve even more thanks to his new team-mates, he can score more.

    "Will he feel the pressure? You never know the reaction upon joining a great team, but playing with higher-level people usually helps you."

    The Serbia international seems set to be Serie A's latest posterboy, but Tardelli does not believe Vlahovic can yet be compared to some of the league's greatest players.

    Tardelli added: "No to comparisons. I read about [Christian] Vieri, [Gabriel] Batistuta.

    "Not that [Vlahovic] has little talent, but they are players with another physical strength, who have more to rely on than he does."

    Allegri has consistently ruled Juve out of the title race this season. The Bianconeri sit fifth, a point behind Atalanta in fourth but 11 adrift of leaders and champions Inter.

    Tardelli says Juve need to strengthen in other departments to became a real force once again.

    "There is also a need for more, especially in midfield," he said. "Someone has to lend a hand to [Manuel] Locatelli. For next year, somebody must also be found for the defence, some changes must be made.

    "[Giorgio] Chiellini can't be eternal, I don't think they trust [Daniele] Rugani very much."

    Key to providing the ammunition for Vlahovic for the remainder of this season will be Paulo Dybala, who is yet to sign a new contract with Juve – his deal runs out at the end of the campaign.

     

    Tardelli believes Dybala must step up, despite the Argentina international being Juve's top scorer in all competitions this term with 11 goals, while nobody in the squad betters his 15 direct goal contributions.

    "One player like him is never too many," Tardelli said of Dybala. "Contractual issues will be dealt with, but he must prove that he is worth what he asks for.

    "Lately he has not been the leader Juventus needed. Too inconsistent. I don't know how much he was affected by COVID and how much by the renewal issue."

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