Christian Eriksen was rumoured to be close to leaving Tottenham at the beginning of the season.

Real Madrid were among the clubs interested in the Dane, whose contract expires in 2020, but a move did not materialise before the end of the transfer window.

But that has not deterred the Spanish giants, with Zinedine Zidane willing to move two fringe players away from them Santiago Bernabeu to get a deal done for the 27-year-old.

 

TOP STORY - LOS BLANCOS PAVING WAY FOR ERIKSEN

Real Madrid could reignite their interest in Christian Eriksen in the January transfer window, AS reports a move will only happen if Madrid dispense of two players.

Isco and Mariano Diaz are understood to be the most likely to be sacrificed.

Mariano is yet to make a single appearance this season but could command a fee of around €20million, while Isco's two LaLiga starts came in the draw against Real Valladolid in August and last weekend's loss to Mallorca.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud is being eyed up by Crystal Palace for a January switch across London, according to the Daily Star.

- El Mundo reports Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have ended their dispute over the transfer of Antoine Griezmann with an extra €15m changing hands.

- The Daily Mail claim Arsenal are in pole position to sign RB Leipzig's France Under-21 defender Dayot Upamecano.

- Italy boss Roberto Mancini has not ruled out a return to the national team for veteran duo Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi as he shapes his squad for Euro 2020.

- The Sun says Juventus and Atletico Madrid are chasing 19-year-old West Bromwich Albion defender Nathan Ferguson.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has been unable to make a final decision on a new date for the postponed Clasico clash originally set for October 26 due to new input from LaLiga.

RFEF confirmed the postponement of the match last Friday following political unrest in Catalonia.

Violent scenes have broken out in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent declaration of independence last Monday.

A rally in Barcelona has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, ultimately resulting in El Clasico's postponement for security reasons.

RFEF left Barca and Madrid to agree a date between themselves and they mutually accepted to reschedule the match for December 18, but that now looks unlikely.

LaLiga is reported to have insisted on the game being played on December 4 and RFEF has passed its comments on to the clubs, who have been given until 20:00CET Tuesday to respond.

RFEF's statement read: "The Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation will return to Barcelona and Real Madrid tomorrow [Tuesday] after receiving new statements from the National Professional Football League [LaLiga] on the date of the Clasico [originally] to be played on October 26 and was postponed due to exceptional circumstances.

"The clubs will have a deadline to answer by 20:00 on Tuesday, and the Competition Committee must meet again to assess their responses.

"During the day, the Competition Committee has analysed the proposals of both clubs, which it invited to agree to a day and who have agreed to play the postponed match on December 18.

"It [the Competition Committee] has also analysed the various reports sent by the National Professional Football League during these days.

"In addition, the Committee requested a report from the RFEF Competition Area, which has been sent to them in a timely manner."

Virgil van Dijk is been joined by six Liverpool team-mates in the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are also present.

Van Dijk played a vital role as Liverpool won the 2018-19 Champions League, producing several standout performances at the heart of Jurgen Klopp's defence en route to the title, making him one of the favourites for major individual awards.

He was pipped to The Best FIFA Men's Player award by Barcelona star Messi, who will surely be Van Dijk's biggest competition for the Ballon d'Or having inspired a Barca side many consider underwhelming to the league title.

Fellow Reds stars Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino all join Van Dijk on the list.

Ajax captured the imagination of neutrals in Europe's elite competition last term, reaching the semi-finals in stunning fashion before dramatically going out to Tottenham, and a couple of players from the Amsterdam's club are nominated.

Donny van de Beek and Dusan Tadic are in the running, while Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt - who have since moved on to Barcelona and Juventus respectively - are also included.

Elsewhere, Premier League champions Manchester City are represented by Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero 

Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Hugo Lloris are included from the losing Champions League finalists' ranks, but there is no place for Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen.

Last year's winner Luka Modric also misses out following a below-par year for Real Madrid, as does Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.

The Ballon d'Or winner will be named in Paris on December 2.

Meanwhile, De Ligt is one of 10 youngsters nominated for the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho is listed for the prestigious accolade and Joao Felix - signed by Atletico Madrid from Benfica for €126m earlier this year - is also in contention.

Four contenders for the Yachine Trophy ply their trade in the Premier League, with Alisson, Ederson, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lloris included on the 10-man shortlist.

The likes of Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are also battling it out to win the new award, which is handed to the best goalkeeper of the past 12 months.


Full list of Ballon d'Or nominees:

Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Alisson (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Mohammed Salah (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris St-Germain), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid).

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has acknowledged talk Jose Mourinho could replace him at the Santiago Bernabeu bothers him but he has "complete confidence" his team can turn things around.

The Spanish giants have won just four of their last 10 matches in all competitions, with Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Mallorca heaping the pressure on Zidane.

Madrid are also bottom of Group A in the Champions League, following a 3-0 loss at PSG with a 2-2 home draw against Club Brugge last time out.

Speculation that Mourinho could return to the Santiago Bernabeu has raged in recent days and was a hot topic during Madrid's news conference on Monday, just over 24 hours before a crucial Champions League fixture at Galatasaray.

When told defender Sergio Ramos had just defended him in light of the Mourinho talk, Zidane told reporters: "In football, people forget what you've done in the past.

"The important thing is the present…I'm not going to say it doesn't bother me what is being said about other coaches, because it does.

"But what I have to do as a coach is to give everything, get the players to do the same, to give everything – and that's all I can do.

"It's a great game to play in, a great stadium, Champions League…we know what the situation is and we're going to try and win."

Asked if he felt he could lose his job if Madrid are defeated again, Zidane said: "I don't know. You can't ask me that. All I can do is try and be here as long as I can. I want to be here forever."

Zidane added that pressure is part of being at Madrid and that his team are prepared to respond.

"We know what the situation is," he said.

"We started badly in the Champions [League] but we've got a chance tomorrow to prove ourselves and that's what we are going to try and do … I've been here 18 years as a player and a coach.

"I know how things are. Pressure is always with you so we have to go out and prepare well for the game."

Ramos said that the players are only thinking about winning in Istanbul.

"We're not looking at opinions from the outside," he said.

"We are quite calm, inwardly. In the dressing room, we know we need to work. We just need to concentrate on our games and our plans."

With Zinedine Zidane on thin ice, a familiar face could return to Real Madrid.

Pressure is mounting on Zidane following Madrid's shock LaLiga loss to Real Mallorca on Saturday, a result that means they sit behind Barcelona in the table.

Former Madrid head coach Mourinho could be the answer to their problems…

 

TOP STORY – MADRID REACH OUT TO MOU

Real Madrid have contacted Jose Mourinho as pressure mounts on head coach Zinedine Zidane, according to El Chiringuito.

Zidane – in his second spell in charge after winning three successive Champions League titles prior to leaving ahead of the 2018-19 season – has failed to convince upon his return to the LaLiga giants.

And ex-Manchester United manager Mourinho, who spent three years in the Spanish capital – winning the 2011-12 LaLiga title, is reportedly wanted by Madrid president Florentino Perez.

ROUND-UP

- Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman could move to Barcelona in 2020. After Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) sporting director Nico-Jan Hoogma confirmed Koeman has a specific release clause in his contract built around his former club, Marca has linked the ex-Barca defender to Camp Nou.

Real Madrid are pushing to sign Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Salzburg teenager Erling Haaland, claims El Desmarque. Sancho has been heavily linked to Manchester United.

- Calciomercato says Arsenal are favourites to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano. The 20-year-old was linked to the Gunners before the transfer window closed.

Inter are tracking Atalanta's Swedish teenager Dejan Kulusevski, reports Calciomercato. The 19-year-old is attracting interest during his loan spell at Parma, where he has scored two goals and supplied five assists in Serie A.

- According to SPORT, Barcelona are interested in two Bundesliga players. While Bayer Leverkusen sensation Kai Havertz is coveted, the LaLiga champions are also keeping an eye on Schalke's Amine Harit.

Zinedine Zidane left Gareth Bale and Luka Modric out of his Real Madrid squad for their Champions League trip to Galatasaray after the pair suffered injuries while on international duty.

After scoring in Wales' 1-1 draw with Croatia in Cardiff, Bale left the field limping and was later reported to be suffering from cramp, while Modric had to be substituted having sustained bruising to his right quadriceps.

The pair are joined by out-of-favour striker Mariano Diaz and calf injury victim Lucas Vazquez in missing the trip to Istanbul for a game in which Madrid badly need a win to revive their hopes of qualifying from Group A.

Los Blancos lost their opening group game 3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain and were held to a 2-2 draw by Club Brugge at Santiago Bernabeu, leaving them bottom of the group.

Tuesday's game provides Zidane's men with a chance to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Mallorca in LaLiga on Saturday and the Madrid coach welcomes Toni Kroos, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal back into his squad.

The Glazer family have owned Manchester United since 2005.

However, a change of owners could be on the cards, with Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman reportedly interested in buying the club.

Sunday's focus will be on a crunch clash with arch rivals Liverpool, but talk of a takeover at Old Trafford dominates the headlines in our look at the day's gossip.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED BRACED FOR NEW APPROACH

According to The Mirror, Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman is set to make a new offer to purchase Manchester United.

The Glazer family have owned United for 14 years, and they are not prepared to sell having reportedly turned down two offers from Bin Salman already.

However, Bin Salman is keen on investing in United – who have not won the Premier League title since 2012-13.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are lining up a move for RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner, reports The Express. The Red Devils are desperate for reinforcements following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez and Germany international Werner – who signed a new contract in August – has emerged as an option.

- The Daily Mail claims Paris Saint-Germain are looking to sign soon-to-be free agent Christian Eriksen from Tottenham. The Danish midfielder has been linked to Real Madrid, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and United. However, Ligue 1 champions PSG are prepared to battle for Eriksen's signature.

Manchester City are planning to offer Raheem Sterling a new bumper deal to ward off interest from Real Madrid, according to The Express. The England international has been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season.

Wolves want to sign AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie in January, says Calciomercato. The Premier League side attempted to lure Kessie to the Molineux before the transfer window closed, however, he did not want to leave Milan.

- Calciomercato reports that Inter have set their sights on in-demand Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria. The Switzerland teenager has been linked to Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, United and Tottenham, and it will take at least €50million to prise him from the German club.

Marcelo said Real Madrid's shock loss to Real Mallorca "hurts" as the LaLiga giants lost top spot to defending champions Barcelona.

Madrid crashed to their first LaLiga defeat of the season, with Zinedine Zidane's 10-man visitors succumbing to Lago Junior's early strike at Son Moix on Saturday.

Bitter rivals Barca leapfrogged Madrid into top spot thanks to their win over Eibar earlier in the day, and left-back Marcelo lamented the result away from home.

"We lost but we must keep going," Marcelo said. "It hurts to lose because we played well, but we conceded early on and then looked to make our comeback but it was not possible.

"We did not have time to think, they scored a goal and they defended and waited for the counter, that's no excuse though.

"We need to play well until the final whistle. We have won some games while lacking something. We're trying to do everything possible to win but LaLiga is tough these days."

It was not the result Zidane had in mind following the international break as Madrid looked to preserve their lead atop the table.

However, Mallorca's Lago stunned Madrid seven minutes into the match by finding the bottom-right corner.

Karim Benzema hit the crossbar before substitute Rodrygo Goes squandered a presentable chance and Madrid's hopes of a comeback were all but over when Alvaro Odriozola saw red 16 minutes from the end, with Mallorca holding firm to claim their first win over Los Blancos since 2009.

"We knew about Mallorca," Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said. "The coach warned us they would come out with grit and real intensity. In the first five or 10 minutes, we were caught short. 

"We had chances but lacked that final touch. The goal scorer is right footed and he sent it in at the far post. It is a shame, we should have won here."

On Odriozola's dismissal, Courtois added: "In the first yellow [he] hit the ball, the second is fair. I think that at that time with a card there should be no foul, but hey, it is the adrenaline. Playing with 10 was more complicated."

Zinedine Zidane refused to say he is "worried" after Real Madrid lost to Real Mallorca but has called on his side to show greater consistency.

Madrid's unbeaten start to the LaLiga season was ended at Son Moix on Saturday thanks to a solitary goal from Lago Junior.

Zidane's side had beaten in-form Granada 4-2 prior to the international break, but his much-changed side struggled to create goalscoring chances against Mallorca as they fell to a defeat that leaves them a point behind league leaders Barcelona.

The Madrid head coach said it is a lack of consistent performances that is holding his side back at present, even if he is not overly concerned by the result.

"The problem is that we have to show every three days that we're good," Zidane said. "That's the difficulty - we don't do it.

"I won't say that I'm worried because I don't like the word, but if we want to win something this season, we need consistency."

Madrid were without the injured Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez, with Luka Jovic failing to impress in only his third league start for the club as Zidane set his side up in a 4-4-2.

Zidane insisted the absences were no excuse for their display as he laid down a challenge to his squad players to step up a show they are worthy of a place in the team.

"The injuries aren't an excuse," Zidane said. "There are players who aren't injured; we have more good payers, too.

"When it comes to their turn, they have to show that they're at the level to be here. We can't do anything about the injured players.

"We can't be surprised by a team playing in their own stadium. We knew what would happen. They surprised us because they scored, but then they backed down and we didn't find a solution."

Luka Jovic has found it hard to kick-start his Real Madrid career and Saturday's LaLiga defeat to Real Mallorca showed how much work the striker still has to do.

The 21-year-old, a reported €50million signing from Eintracht Frankfurt in the transfer window, has struggled to make an impact under Zinedine Zidane thanks largely to the continued good form of Karim Benzema.

Speaking on Friday, Zidane insisted Jovic was "not discouraged" at having previously started just two LaLiga matches and promised the forward would be given his chance.

He duly was for the visit to Son Moix, where Madrid's unbeaten start to the league season came to an end thanks to a fine first-half goal from Lago Junior seven minutes in.

Jovic started alongside Benzema in attack as Zidane made a number of changes, most likely with one eye on next Tuesday's Champions League trip to Galatasaray, but the two-pronged attack was a blunt one.

In his 66 minutes on the pitch, Jovic failed to have a shot or a single touch in the Mallorca penalty area, created no chances for team-mates and touched the ball just 25 times overall.

He only exchanged four passes with Benzema, too, highlighting just how much of a disconnect there was between the strikers on a day where Madrid's final ball was far too often wayward.

This was Mallorca's first win over Madrid in LaLiga since May 2009 and their first at home since February 2006, while it ended Madrid's unbeaten domestic run to leave them a point behind leaders Barcelona after nine matches.

The return of injured stars such as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale will be welcome, but finding a way to spark Jovic into life might be a more pressing concern.

Real Madrid suffered their first LaLiga defeat of the season as Lago Junior's early strike earned Real Mallorca a shock 1-0 victory at Son Moix.

With Barcelona having leapfrogged Zinedine Zidane's side to lead the way in LaLiga earlier on Saturday, Madrid needed a victory to move back to the top of the pile.

But Mallorca had other ideas and Lago stunned Madrid seven minutes by sending what was the home side's only shot on target in the entire match into the bottom-right corner.

Karim Benzema hit the crossbar before substitute Rodrygo Goes squandered a presentable chance and Madrid's hopes of a comeback were all but over when Alvaro Odriozola saw red in the 74th minute, with Mallorca holding firm to claim their first win over Los Blancos since 2009.

Madrid looked to have quickly settled into their rhythm but were behind when Lago skipped inside Odriozola and curled a superb finish beyond Thibaut Courtois.

Ante Budimir thought he doubled Mallorca's tally seven minutes later when he was set up by Lago, only for his fine strike to be disallowed for offside.

Benzema was inches away from restoring parity before the half-hour mark - his close-range half-volley bouncing back off the woodwork.

Vinicius Junior burst through Mallorca's ranks early in the second half and teed up Benzema, but the Frenchman sent his strike at Manolo Reina.

Rodrygo replaced Isco in the 66th minute and should have done better when he was fed by Benzema, his touch getting away from him and the opening evaporated.

But as the Madrid pressure was building, Odriozola received a second yellow card for a reckless lunge on Iddrisu Baba to round off a frustrating night for the visitors.

 

What does it mean? Barca back on top

Reigning LaLiga champions Barca cruised to a 3-0 victory over Eibar to put the pressure back onto Madrid.

Los Blancos failed to respond and now sit second, a point above this season's surprise package Granada and one behind Barca. The rivals were scheduled to meet in El Clasico next Saturday, but perhaps the postponement due to political tensions in Catalonia has worked in Madrid's favour.

Lago runs Madrid ragged

Mallorca's winger scored 11 goals in the Segunda Division last term but had not replicated that form this season prior to Saturday's encounter.

But he came good against the biggest opponents of all as, boosted by his goal, he was a constant tormentor of Madrid's defence. 

Jovic fails to take his chance

Luka Jovic has often been given short shrift by Zidane this term but, handed the opportunity to impress from the start, he struggled to make an impact, even when Mallorca's defending became more hap-hazard after the interval.

What's next?

Madrid will aim to bounce back against Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Mallorca's next outing is against lowly Leganes in LaLiga.

Eden Hazard will not be involved in Real Madrid's LaLiga game against Real Mallorca following the birth of his fourth child.

According to reports, Hazard's wife, Natacha, gave birth to a boy late on Friday.

The Belgium international was excluded from the 19-man travelling list released ahead of Madrid's flight out for Saturday's fixture.

Hazard's absence leaves Zinedine Zidane lacking two first-choice wingers, with Gareth Bale unavailable after limping through the final stages of Wales' 1-1 draw against Croatia last weekend.

Luka Modric suffered bruising to his right quadriceps in the same Euro 2020 qualifier and also misses the Mallorca match, as does Dani Carvajal.

Brahim Diaz and little-used striker Mariano Diaz will both hope to make their first appearances of the season.

Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been included in FIFA 20's first Ultimate Scream pack ahead of Halloween.

EA Sports announced the release of the FIFA Ultimate Team cards on Friday, with Manchester City striker Aguero and LA Galaxy star Ibrahimovic among the standout names.

Top-rated Aguero is joined in the first batch by fellow Premier League players Dele Alli, Nicolas Otamendi and Bernard, with a second group of players to be released next Friday.

Below, we have the list of FUT cards that are up for grabs.

FUT Ultimate Scream pack

LM: Bernard (Everton) - 84

CB: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City) - 85

LM: Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund) - 85

CAM: Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig) - 85

CB: Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan) - 86

CDM: William Carvalho (Real Betis) - 86

CAM: Dele Alli (Tottenham) - 87

CAM: James Rodriguez (Real Madrid) - 88

CAM: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) - 88

ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) - 88

ST: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) - 91

Lionel Messi believes a return to Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is "complicated" because some people do not want him back at the club.

Neymar attempted to engineer a return to Camp Nou during the previous transfer window, just two years after leaving for the Ligue 1 side in a world-record €222million deal.

The strained relationship between the two clubs was said to have impacted transfer discussions, however, and the Brazil international remains a PSG player.

Messi starred in a front three alongside Neymar and Luis Suarez and they remain in contact, but the Argentina star is unsure if a reunion at Barca will be possible.

"We talk often and we have a group chat with Luis Suarez," Messi told Buenos Aires radio station Metro 95.1. 

"The issue of his return is complicated. Firstly, because it was difficult to see him leave, secondly because of how he left.

"There are people from the club and members who do not want him to return. If it is for sporting reasons, Neymar is one of the best in the world, but I understand the other factors."

Messi, presented with the European Golden Shoe for a sixth time this week, recently declared he intends to see out the remainder of his career at Barcelona.

However, unlike fellow club icon Andres Iniesta, he has ruled out signing a lifetime contract

"That was talked about a while ago, as was done with Iniesta and the others," he said.

"I don't want a contract to tie me up because I don't know how I'm going to feel. I don't want to be [under contract] if I'm not well.

"I'm going to compete as long as I feel good physically, but obviously I would stay a lifetime."

Messi also opened up on his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, who he competed with for team and individual honours for just short of a decade during the Portuguese forward's time at Real Madrid.

Ronaldo moved to Juventus in 2018 and Messi admits Barca's Clasico showdowns with Madrid have lost some lustre as a result.

"Yes, it was good when he was in the Spanish league," Messi said.

"It made the Clasicos more special and gave them more value."

Barcelona's appeal to have Ousmane Dembele's two-game ban reduced to one has been rejected by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

Dembele was sent off in the closing minutes of Barca's 4-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla this month following a confrontation with referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz, who had just given debutant Ronald Araujo a red card for a foul on Javier Hernandez.

Barcelona's initial appeal against Dembele's red card was dismissed and he was ruled out of the club's next two league matches.

With the France forward seemingly set to miss the Clasico against Real Madrid, which had been scheduled for October 26, Barca then attempted to have his ban halved.

Their efforts proved in vain but Dembele will now be available for the first LaLiga Clasico of the season, with the fixture having been postponed due to safety concerns amid the ongoing political tensions and protests in Catalonia.

Instead, the former Borussia Dortmund star will miss Saturday's match against Eibar and the meeting with Real Valladolid a week on Tuesday.

The Camp Nou Clasico appears set to be played on December 18 after both Barca and Madrid proposed the date on Friday.

Dembele has made three league appearances for Barca this season, scoring once - against Sevilla.

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