Cristiano Ronaldo said he felt "embarrassed" after being accused of rape.

Kathryn Mayorga claimed Ronaldo raped her in a hotel room in Las Vegas 10 years ago, with German publication Der Spiegel reporting the story last October.

Ronaldo repeatedly denied the accusation and the Clark County District Attorney's Office announced in July that the Juventus striker would not face charges as they could not "be proven beyond a reasonable doubt".

According to Der Spiegel, Mayorga first made a complaint of sexual assault in 2009 and subsequently reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo. It was claimed by the magazine she was paid $375,000 as part of a privacy agreement, preventing her from going public with the allegations.

The Portuguese, speaking to Piers Morgan in an interview to be aired on ITV on Tuesday, has spoken for the first time about the impact the case has had on his family life.

"They play with your dignity. It's hard," said Ronaldo.

"You have a girlfriend, you have a family, you have kids. When they play with your honesty, it's bad, it's hard.

"I remember one day I was at home in the living room with my girlfriend watching the television, to see the news and they talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and this and that, I listened to my kids coming down the stairs and I changed the channel because I was embarrassed.

"I felt embarrassed, I just changed the channel for Cristiano Jr not to see that they speak badly about his father, about a very bad case. It makes me feel so bad, to be honest."

If losing your manager was bad enough, imagine losing your star defender?

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and centre-back Virgil van Dijk are attracting some serious interest from across Europe.

Now, LaLiga's powerhouse duo are reportedly eyeing the Reds pair.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA AND MADRID WANT KLOPP AND VAN DIJK

According to AS, LaLiga champions Barcelona and rivals Real Madrid are set to go head-to-head to try to prise Klopp and Van Dijk from Liverpool.

Klopp and Van Dijk helped lead Liverpool to Champions League glory last season, while the Reds are challenging for Premier League honours this term having narrowly missed out to Manchester City in 2018-19.

With Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde and Madrid counterpart Zinedine Zidane under some early pressure in Spain, Klopp and Van Dijk are reportedly "two priorities" for both clubs.

 

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Real Madrid have the budget to sign Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season, reports AS. Madrid's financial accounts have been revealed, with €156million in liquid assets at their disposal, as well as €285m in credit. Los Blancos are reportedly planning to persuade the France forward, who is contracted until 2022, not to re-sign in the French capital in an effort to force the club's hand.

Lionel Messi to MLS? There has been talk about Messi and David Beckham's incoming franchise Inter Miami following a report claiming a delegation had been sent out to open negotiations for the Barcelona captain. However, Goal says Messi has had no contact with Beckham's Miami.

Manchester United are trying everything to re-sign star goalkeeper David de Gea. According to the Times, United have offered De Gea a new contract with no wage drop if the Red Devils do not qualify for the Champions League. The Spain international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, reportedly has a four-year deal on the table worth £13.5m a season.

- Staying at Old Trafford, and Record and O Jogo both report United are back in for Benfica star Ruben Dias. The 22-year-old defender was linked to the Manchester club before the transfer window closed. Now reports claim a United official was in attendance for Benfica's 2-0 win over Gil Vicente.

Inter are hoping to sign Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund, according to Calciomercato.com. Gotze's contract expires at the end of the season and Antonio Conte's Inter are eyeing the Germany attacker on a free transfer.

- Velez Sarsfield's Thiago Almada is still on the radar of Manchester City, says Record. City had a bid rejected during the transfer window but Pep Guardiola's side remain keen on the 18-year-old.

Real Madrid must rediscover their "hunger for success" after a disappointing 2018-19 season, according to club president Florentino Perez.

Madrid could only manage a third-place finish in LaLiga last season, as three coaches failed to provide a huge amount of inspiration.

Julen Lopetegui lasted until October, before his successor Santiago Solari was dismissed in March to allow for Zinedine Zidane's return, though they were no better under the Frenchman and finished a whopping 19 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

Madrid were also dumped out of the Champions League by Ajax in the quarter-finals having won the title for three consecutive seasons, and Perez is demanding that winning habit returns.

Speaking at Madrid's ordinary general assembly, Perez said: "This is a united club and that's our strength, the strength of 'madridismo' [Real Madrid fandom].

"We have to understand that this team had won everything there was to win in a unique and historic cycle which saw us lift 17 titles in the past nine seasons. An almost inimitable cycle.

"It's been a difficult season and we've all taken stock where necessary, because we need to turn the situation around. Don't be in any doubt that we will do just that.

"By placing great demands on ourselves, we must carry out the transformation required which will allow 'madridistas' [Madrid fans] to dream of new successes and titles.

"Our challenge is to keep winning on an international football stage which is increasingly complicated and competitive. And of course, we need to recover that hunger for success. The desire that has been a crucial factor in enjoying one of the best eras in our history."

Raphael Varane sees Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema as an inspiration due to his longevity at the very top.

Benzema, 31, joined Madrid in 2009 and has gone on to carve out a fine career at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Arguably the most impressive aspect of Benzema's Madrid career has been his ability to rediscover his best form after struggling in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns, scoring only 16 goals across 61 matches.

Last term he found the net 21 times and he has started the new campaign in solid fashion as well, scoring four goals in as many games, including a brace in Saturday's 3-2 win over Levante.

The Lyon academy product has seemingly established himself as one of the world's elite strikers once again and Varane looks up to him for having such a prolonged career at the top.

Speaking ahead of the release of his Amazon Prime documentary, Varane said: "We [Varane and Benzema] have a good relationship. When I arrived in Madrid, there were two Frenchmen, him and Lassana Diarra.

"We have known each other for eight years now. We've had great moments together. We talk a lot. We talk a lot about football, in good and bad times.

"We have a very good relationship. He has more experience than me, so he can have a role of giving advice on how to approach things at the highest level and how to last that level because he's been at Madrid a while and his longevity is exceptional."

Inter Miami are continuing their stunning bid to sign Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, can reportedly leave Barcelona at the end of any season for a club outside of Europe despite being contracted at the LaLiga champions until 2021.

Linked with a shock switch to David Beckham's MLS outfit Inter Miami, the club are continuing to make moves for the Argentina superstar.

 

TOP STORY – INTER MIAMI REPRESENTATIVE MEETS MESSI'S DAD

Beckham sent Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough to London for talks with Messi's dad Jorge, according to The Sun.

Inter Miami are set to enter MLS in 2020 and are looking for a big-name signing, with Messi undoubtedly the biggest of the names linked.

It comes just days after Messi said in an interview with Sport that he wanted to remain at Camp Nou for "as long as possible".

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- Real Madrid could chase Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba again in January. Sport Bild reports Real Madrid are planning to use Toni Kroos in an exchange deal to land the France international, who was heavily linked with a switch during the close season.

- Sadio Mane re-signed with Liverpool until 2023 less than 12 months ago, but the European champions are already looking for the attacker to recommit. Liverpool have opened talks with Mane for an extension, according to Soccer Link.

- Seemingly unwanted at Juventus, Mario Mandzukic's future remains a talking point. Qatari club Al-Gharafa have offered €6million net per year to the striker and can meet Juve's demands, according to CalcioMercato, which reports Los Angeles FC are also interested in the Croatian despite the MLS transfer window not reopening until February.

- Inter are already looking to lock down a couple of stars. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants want to extend the contracts of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic – until 2022 – and forward Lautaro Martinez until 2024. The report says Inter would also double Martinez's salary from €1.5m to €3m per season amid interest from Barcelona.

- Sam Allardyce is ready for a return to management. The Sun reports the former England boss, who left Everton in May last year, is eyeing a return to Sunderland if the reported takeover by an American consortium is completed.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said Eden Hazard was still some way short of being match fit after a low-key debut in Saturday's victory over Levante.

Hazard made a subdued start to his Madrid career with an appearance as a second-half substitute in a 3-2 win against Levante at the Bernabeu.

The Belgium international, who joined Madrid from Chelsea in June, has only recently returned to training following a thigh injury.

Hazard showed a few nice touches after he came off the bench in the 60th minute, although the 28-year-old forward was far from his sparkling best.

"When he touches the ball he has a lot of versatility," Zidane said.

"But what he needs now is to train more. He has only done four workouts with the team.

"The second half was more complicated for us, especially at the beginning. When the opponent scores a goal after three minutes it is difficult.

"But we got three points. We must not look for excuses, the important thing is to keep the first part of the game and play more minutes as the first part. We can improve a lot, we have to play better."

Real seemed to be cruising victory against Levante after two goals from Karim Benzema and one from Casemiro put them 3-0 up at half-time.

However, Borja Mayoral, on loan at Levante from Madrid, and Gonzalo Melero reduced the deficit.

Madrid’s defensive shakiness almost allowed Levante to take a point and the capital giants have yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

Zidane was full of praise for Benzema, who took his tally to four goals in four LaLiga matches, but acknowledged the need for an improvement from his struggling backline.

"What I can say about Benzema is keep it up," Zidane added. "We are very happy to see Benzema like this. We have seen Karim's ovation from the supporters.

"The defence? It doesn't worry me, although we have to improve and we are going to do it.

"Physically, maybe, the international break could be noticed but I don't want to look for excuses.

"I know we are going to score more goals and concede less."

Eden Hazard helped lift the growing gloom around Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid as he made his long-awaited debut in a 3-2 LaLiga win at home to Levante on Saturday.

Amid driving rain in the Spanish capital - Hazard must have thought he would play in better conditions after leaving London - he made a bright half-hour cameo from the bench.

A thigh injury delayed the Belgium star's debut but after skipping international duty during the break he was finally able to pull on the famous white shirt he has so long desired.

But as Paco Lopez's side battled back from 3-0 down at the break to almost snatch a point, Thibaut Courtois making a fine save to keep out Ruben Vezo's stoppage-time header, it is clear Hazard will not be able to fix all Madrid's problems on his own.

Hazard certainly adds variety to their attacking options. Zidane initially fielded him in a free role ostensibly operating on the left, his favoured position for club and country, filling the void where Cristiano Ronaldo thrived for so long before joining Serie A giants Juventus last year.

That meant the effervescent Vinicius Jr swapped wings and played on the right, with Lucas Vazquez - one of Zidane's favourites - switching inside to a more central role than his usual position on the flank. Hazard did occasionally pop up on the right and also in a more classic number 10 role, so it appears Zidane is going to give the Belgium star plenty of freedom to run his side's attacks.

Hazard replaced Casemiro - the Brazil midfielder having scored the third goal - even though Los Blancos were being dominated in the second half, ex-Madrid striker Borja Mayoral having cut the deficit to 3-1. Toni Kroos therefore dropped back into the shielding role in front of defence and Zidane still has to fit Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric back in after he was ruled out by injury.

Victory was set up by Karim Benzema, who scored twice in the first half to help build Madrid's commanding lead. At 2-0, he had scored nine of Madrid's past 11 LaLiga goals at home, while his tally in the league since the start of the year stands at an impressive 19.

Benzema has often been under-rated by fans and pundits during his time at the Bernabeu, but not by Zidane. Other coaches have failed to fully appreciate his understanding of the game and ability to bring others into play, which will be crucial if Hazard is to shine. 

A perfect example of his all-round skills was provided by Madrid's second goal, with Benzema linking up perfectly with James Rodriguez before slotting a low finish past Aitor Fernandez. Benzema would have had the matchball to show for his efforts had the woodwork not denied him, the crowd later giving him a rousing reception when he was replaced by Luka Jovic.

It was arguably telling that although Hazard, Jovic and Eder Militao all came off the bench, Zidane's starting XI - as long as you include James, who spent the past two years on loan at Bayern Munich - did not include any of the new signings provided by Florentino Perez.

Cracks have already reportedly begun to show in the relationship between Zidane and Perez, who failed to deliver Paul Pogba for his coach, so this was a welcome win, albeit by a far narrower margin that Madrid's vibrant first-half display deserved.

Zidane had made it clear the World Cup winner was a key target, adding mobility and drive to a central midfield department that has grown stale, but Pogba could not be prised away from Manchester United despite telling reporters he was ready for a new challenge.

Hazard will instead be relied on to provide Galactico stardust, but he will hope to have a greater impact than the time-wasting job he carried out in the latter stages as Madrid clung on.

Zidane and Madrid could celebrate a much-needed win after successive LaLiga draws, though, ahead of Wednesday's Champions League trip to Paris Saint-Germain, where Hazard will surely make his first start.

Eden Hazard made his Real Madrid debut as they claimed a nervy 3-2 victory over Levante in LaLiga thanks to two goals from Karim Benzema.

A brace from Benzema, plus a goal from Casemiro, ensured Madrid were firmly in control when 3-0 ahead at the break before a second-half fightback from the visitors.

Borja Mayoral, on loan at Levante from Madrid, pulled a goal back and the home team conceded again when Gonzalo Melero headed in from a corner, with Thibaut Courtois preserving their lead with a fine save in the closing minutes.

Hazard, who joined from Chelsea, was given a warm welcome when introduced on the hour, the Belgium forward having missed his new club's opening three games of the season with a muscle injury.

Eden Hazard has been named in a Real Madrid matchday squad for the first time since joining from Chelsea as Levante visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

The Belgium international signed in a deal that could reportedly cost €140 million, but a thigh injury suffered in August proved an early disruption for the winger.

Coach Zinedine Zidane has stressed the need to go easy on Hazard following the injury, particularly as they head into a period that will see them play seven matches in 21 days.

But Hazard has been deemed fit enough to at least feature from the bench, as he takes a place among the substitutes against Levante.

Madrid have been particularly unlucky with injuries in recent months, leaving them with only three senior midfielders to play on Saturday; Toni Kroos, Casemiro and James Rodriguez, all of whom start.

New signing Alphonse Areola is on the bench following his arrival from Paris Saint-Germain, while 18-year-old Brazilian Rodrygo Goes is also among the substitutes for the first time in LaLiga.

Gareth Bale is missing through suspension after being sent off in the 2-2 draw with Villarreal before the international break.

David de Gea has finally committed his long-term future to Manchester United.

The goalkeeper was out of contract at the end of the season, with plenty of speculation regarding his future at Old Trafford.

But the Spain shot-stopper has now agreed to a new deal.

 

TOP STORY – DE GEA FINALLY SIGNS MAN UNITED DEAL

De Gea has signed a long-term contract with Manchester United, according to the Daily Record.

The 28-year-old's five-year deal is worth more than €15million per season, the report says.

De Gea has been linked with a move away amid the ongoing contract saga, with Juventus among those reported to be interested.

ROUND-UP

- Christian Eriksen's Tottenham future remains up in the air, but the Premier League giants seem eager to keep the midfielder amid apparent interest from Real Madrid and Juventus. Football Insider reports Spurs have offered the Denmark international a new deal worth £60m in total.

- Mario Mandzukic appears to be nearing a Juventus exit. The Croatia striker has rejected Qatari club Al-Gharafa, according to CalcioMercato, but is evaluating offers from elsewhere, including MLS, with the 33-year-old seemingly not in Maurizio Sarri's plans in Turin.

- Napoli are to chase Atalanta playmaker Josip Ilicic again in January, according to CalcioMercato. The 31-year-old was considered by Napoli during the close season and they are set to intensify their interest again at the start of 2020.

- Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha missed out on a move before the transfer window closed, and he is reportedly on the look-out for a new agent. The Daily Mail reports Mino Raiola is one of several agents circling the attacker, who is unhappy about not getting his move from Selhurst Park.

- Keita Balde enjoyed his season on loan at Inter in 2018-19, but the Serie A side opted not to use their buy option on the Monaco attacker. CalcioMercato reports the Senegal international wanted to stay in Italy and AC Milan are now considering the 24-year-old.

Alphonse Areola refused to reveal if he has spoken with Kylian Mbappe about joining him at Real Madrid, while confirming he has also had no such conversation with Paul Pogba.

Madrid signed Areola on loan from Paris Saint-Germain late in the transfer window, with Keylor Navas moving to the Ligue 1 champions from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mbappe, Areola's team-mate at PSG for the past two seasons, has long been linked with a switch to Los Blancos, while Manchester United star Pogba is also a reported target.

Both Mbappe and Pogba missed France's recent Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra through injury, though that did not stop the press quizzing Areola on the future of his compatriots.

"The thing I've spoken to Kylian about is his injury, he has to get back as quickly as possible from that and we'll see what happens in the future," Areola told a news conference.

"I can't go into detail if we've spoken about Madrid or not. I'm here and I want to be part of the history of this club.

"He's at Paris at the moment, he needs to recover from his injury, get his level back. Everyone has their own way forward, their own story and we'll see what happens at the end of the season.

"I have not spoken to Paul. He was injured in the last time we met with the national team, but I know him well. He's a great person, a great player with great quality.

"But everyone has their own way and their own road, so we'll see what happens."

Mbappe's injury means he is set to miss PSG's Champions League meeting with Madrid on September 18, a fixture Areola is relishing.

"It's great coincidence that we play PSG, I'm going to go back to the club very quickly," Areola said.

"[Madrid's players] haven't spoken about that yet, about how they're going to play.

"For me it's about getting involved in the squad and being comfortable here, I am very happy to have trained now we've got a game, it's an important one against Levante and we have to prove that we're ready."

Alphonse Areola is intent on making the most of his opportunity at Real Madrid as he looks to emulate his goalkeeping idol Iker Casillas.

France international Areola is on a season-long loan deal from Paris Saint-Germain to Madrid, with Keylor Navas heading in the opposite direction.

The 26-year-old is likely to back up Thibaut Courtois, who has started in Madrid's opening three LaLiga outings.

Areola acknowledged it will be a tough task to oust the Belgian as number one yet revealed the chance to join Madrid was too good to turn down, citing Los Blancos' iconic former goalkeeper Casillas as an influence on his decision.

"I have spoken to my friends and family about what it means to be number one in this side," Areola told a news conference when asked about following in Casillas' footsteps.

"Casillas was one of my idols when I was young in France, he made me want to play in goal. In fact, I've got a shirt of his from when I was young. 

"I think it's good to try and take on this responsibility to be number one and try and prove I can be number one.

"It's true, I only have one year on loan here, but I've seen the stadium, the history here and I'm going to do as much as I possibly can. 

"Of course, there's a hierarchy already but as soon as I get the chance I'm going to try and show the level I've got. 

"It was a good opportunity to come to the biggest club in the world and take advantage of that, to improve as a player and discover a new opportunity. It's a great opportunity for me."

Areola added another deciding factor in his transfer was Zinedine Zidane, with the goalkeeper honoured to be playing under a France legend.

"It is true I am coming to a club that is coached by a legend," he said. "It is an honour for me to be here with Zidane, to play under him, and I am going to do the best I can for him.

"He's given me a great welcome. My objective is to give everything I can every day in training, be ready for every game. When I have a chance to show my level, show how good I can be, I have to be strong and show what I am worth."

Areola is set to be in Zidane's squad for Saturday's meeting with Levante, before Madrid travel to Paris for a Champions League clash with his former club.

Zinedine Zidane has opposed Gareth Bale's view of being made a scapegoat at Real Madrid while praising the winger's "amazing" ability.

Wales international Bale almost moved to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning during the transfer window after being told he was free to leave Madrid.

Los Blancos boss Zidane made the decision following months of speculation over their seemingly fractured relationship but the Madrid board blocked his departure at the last minute.

Bale, while on international duty last week, claimed to have been "made more of a scapegoat than most" for the team's shortcomings, a belief not shared by his head coach.

"No, I think we're all guilty if things go wrong or if things go right," Zidane said.

"It's up to us, all of us, we're all in the same boat. We want to change things when things don't go right. We're thinking as a team mentality."

Initially on the outer during the pre-season tour to the United States, Bale has since returned to the first-team fold.

The 30-year-old started each of three club's three LaLiga games before the international break, scoring twice.

"I've always said he's got amazing quality, Gareth Bale," Zidane said.

"He's a great player. What happened in the summer, everyone knew the situation. Now he's here, I'm happy, he's happy, everyone is happy, the fans as well.

"Now we have to move forward."

Bale's reinstatement to the starting XI has partly reduced the opportunities for Vinicius Junior, who has been restricted to one start and a pair of cameo appearances this term.

Zidane, though, is adamant chances will come for the young forward.

"I completely trust Vinicius, I can guarantee that," the Frenchman said.

"I'm his coach. I've got 23, 24 players to choose from but Vinicius is just 19, he's playing for Real Madrid.

"It's like everything, things take time. He's in a process to improve, like all players are. Perhaps at times he won't play because someone else will come in.

"Then you go and get your headlines, you say 'he doesn't want to pick Vinicius' but that's not the point. He will play."

Eden Hazard is ready to make his Real Madrid debut this weekend but Zinedine Zidane intends to take extreme caution with his fit-again star signing.

Belgium international Hazard has been cleared to make his first LaLiga appearance against Levante on Saturday, three months after arriving from Chelsea in a deal that reportedly could eventually cost Madrid €140million.

An ill-timed thigh injury on the eve of the new season delayed the 28-year-old's competitive bow, which appears likely to come from the bench at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We have to go little by little with him," Zidane said. "He's been injured for three weeks. He's back training this week.

"We all want to see him play. We've got seven games in 21 days. We have to go carefully with him.

"We know what the situation is – he's ready and that's the most important thing.

"I'll be the one in charge of giving him minutes here and there and not trying to push him too much, trying to get the best out of him.

"We've got a lot of matches coming up, not just this one tomorrow, and we need to use our heads with Eden Hazard. So let's be calm. We're all ready and so is he."

While star signing Hazard is back in the mix, Madrid will be without Luka Modric for their fourth LaLiga fixture after the midfielder suffered a right leg muscle injury.

The 34-year-old, who played two full matches for Croatia during the international break, could also miss the midweek Champions League trip to Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid have been riddled with fitness issues throughout the early part of the new season but head coach Zidane would not apportion blame for the latest setback.

"Everyone tries to do the best for the players," he said.

"Luka played two games in four days [with Croatia]. That's what happens. We can't think too much about it, we just want Luka to get fit quickly to help us.

"The fact he's injured now and can't play tomorrow, we just have to accept it."

Zidane added: "I think all the clubs have similar problems. The fact we've got a lot of international players as well makes things difficult.

"But we work well on the training field, we've got the best backroom staff, I trust them, so we just hope after the injury to Luka we don't have any more."

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