Marcelo is convinced Real Madrid will get back to winning trophies in the new season after he was named as Carlo Ancelotti's captain.

The Brazilian left-back takes on the leadership role from Sergio Ramos, who has left the Spanish giants to join Paris Saint-Germain, and said he felt "extremely lucky" to be chosen.

At the age of 33, Marcelo will hope to be a mainstay under Italian boss Ancelotti, who is back in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu after Zinedine Zidane left following a lack of silverware in the 2020-21 campaign.

It is Ancelotti's second crack at the Madrid job, after a prior spell covering two seasons from 2013 to 2015. Capturing the LaLiga crown that Atletico Madrid snatched last term will be a priority.

Marcelo said: "We're aware that it's very tough to go through a season without winning a title, but we fought 'til the end of the season.

"I'm sure we're going to win something. We're very happy, we've still got players to come back from international duty or on holiday, but we're very motivated for the season to start."

Despite only starting 12 LaLiga games during that barren final season of Zidane's reign, Marcelo was an understandable choice as Ancelotti targeted a dressing-room leader, given he is coming up to 15 years of service at Madrid, having signed for the club from Fluminense in December 2006.

 

"It's an honour and an enormous responsibility to be captain of the greatest club in the world. I'm extremely lucky," Marcelo said on Madrid's official website.

"I learn a lot every season, there's always something new. I'm even more excited about this campaign because I'm Real Madrid captain. It's a dream come true for me and I believe I've done everything I can to be here for such a long time.

"I believe that as captain I'm the spokesperson for the team and I'll always look to help as much as I can, just like I've always done."

Achraf Hakimi is a player in demand following his first season with Inter.

Hakimi helped Inter to Serie A glory for the first time in 10 years, but his future could be away from San Siro.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly determined to beat Chelsea and Bayern Munich to the full-back.

 

TOP STORY – PSG CHASING HAKIMI

Paris Saint-Germain remain interested in signing Inter star Achraf Hakimi, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

PSG had a €60million (£51m) bid turned down by Serie A champions Inter, who are facing financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic amid speculation over stars Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Alessandro Bastoni and Hakimi.

Ligue 1 giants PSG are still keen on Hakimi as Champions League winners Chelsea hold talks with the Morocco international's agent, while Bayern Munich have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

Bernardo Silva wants to leave Premier League champions Manchester City, reports Duncan Castles. The Portugal international has already been linked with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona after finding himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Gianluigi Buffon is close to re-joining Parma. Buffon will leave Juventus in the off-season and the Italy great is reportedly on track to return to Parma, where the 43-year-old emerged from the youth team in 1995 before eventually moving to Turin in 2001. Parma were relegated from Serie A in 2020-21.

Arsenal have turned their attention to Real Betis attacker Nabil Fekir but Diario AS says the Gunners and LaLiga side remain apart in his transfer valuation.

- Calciomercato claims there are still concerns over Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus. Dybala is out of contract in 2022 and no closer to renewing after struggling for game time. The possible departure of Cristiano Ronaldo – who has been linked with PSG and Manchester United – could solidify Dybala's position in Turin.

Leicester City are the latest team to join the race for Salzburg's Patson Daka, according to the Mirror. Liverpool, Chelsea and RB Leipzig have also been linked.

- The Mirror reports Everton and Leeds United are considering moves for veteran Real Madrid star Marcelo.

Inter Miami head coach Phil Neville shot down rumours claiming the MLS side are trying to sign Real Madrid star Marcelo.

Marcelo is out of contract in 2022 but the 33-year-old Madrid left-back is facing an uncertain future with the LaLiga giants due his form and advancing years.

Inter Miami, who are co-owned by former Madrid star David Beckham, have emerged as an option for Marcelo – ex-Los Blancos forward Gonzalo Higuain and World Cup-winning midfielder Blaise Matuidi headline the squad.

Current Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, is also reportedly on Inter Miami's radar.

However, Neville poured cold water over the speculation linking Brazilian veteran Marcelo with Inter Miami.

"I don't need another left-back," ex-Manchester United utility Neville told reporters. "I've got more left-backs than yellow taxis, you know what I mean. We could do with a few more positions but no. 

"I think it shows the level of the club and interest in the club, yes. But ultimately, I think what I want for us is pure stability. So when they have all these stars that are being linked with Inter Miami it's brilliant, shows that the people do want to come to Inter Miami. 

"But ultimately, I want us to have stability here, I want players to be here for a long time. You think about every time somebody gets mentioned, somebody in this football club, somebody in this team, in my team will feel, even if it's point one percent unnerved by it, that's not good for us, it is not good for the player.

"What I would say is, and me and Chris Henderson talk about this all the time, is that the most successful teams, you think about the Seattle team, Chris Scott first and experienced of it, stability is the key. The great team that I played in Manchester United, you had the core of a team that was together for four or five years before Sir Alex [Ferguson] rebuilt it.

"Yes, you sprinkle around the edges and you tweak here and there you introduce new players around the edges, but you're gonna have eight, nine players that are going to be here for the next three or four years to get that stability and I'm talking about the DP [designated] players as well they need stability. You know the worst thing that can happen is them reading the newspaper every single day thinking about who's coming to the club.

"We believe in the players that we've got, we've, the ownership have invested so much money in this football team. And now I think stability is the only way we'll get success that's what the best team in this league have had that's what the best teams in football, have had success on, stability.

"We're never going to stop you guys speculating and, you know, an agent's putting in players because this is a place that a lot of players will want to come, but ultimately I'm happy with the squad that I've got, I want stability around this place."

Marcelo has called Madrid home since 2007, winning five LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies among other honours.

Meanwhile, Inter Miami – into their second MLS season and first under Neville – have won two of their opening six matches to sit seventh in the 14-team Eastern Conference.

Raphael Varane said Chelsea's pressing game proved problematic for Real Madrid, though he remains optimistic about his club's Champions League chances.

Karim Benzema rescued Madrid on Tuesday as Los Blancos rallied from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Chelsea in the opening leg of the semi-final tie in the Spanish capital.

Madrid made a sluggish start at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, where Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea led after 14 minutes thanks to Christian Pulisic, though Benzema restored parity 15 minutes later.

Zinedine Zidane's Madrid were unable to find a winner in a cagier second half and the Spanish powerhouse have now faced Chelsea more often than any other side in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

Reflecting on the match, Varane – who has been linked with a move to Los Blancos' Tuesday opponents – told Movistar: "I think we saw two games between the first half and the second.

"They started well with a lot of intensity and they pressed us well, and they broke our first line of the press with some very vertical play. With Karim's goal we got into the game and the second half was a lot better.

"We couldn't break their lines with our passing. Their press was annoying for us and we'll need to learn from the start of the game for the second leg."

Benzema once again showcased his importance to Madrid – the Frenchman drawing level with Raul as the joint-fourth leading scorer in Champions League history after netting his 71st goal.

Only Lionel Messi (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (35) have scored against more different opponents in the Champions League than Benzema (33, level Raul).

Benzema, meanwhile, has scored six goals in this season's Champions League. In only one of his 16 seasons in the competition has he scored more (seven in 2011-12).

"In a game like this, Benzema makes the difference – he changed the dynamic of the game. We know his quality and he helps us a lot," Varane said.

"At this stage of the competition, our fitness will be important physically and also mentally. We need to go out to win the return leg."

Benzema's goal was Madrid's solitary shot on target against Chelsea. Only versus Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 - when they had none - have they had fewer in a  Champions League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, this was the only game in which Madrid have not scored at least two goals at home this season in Champions League. Still, they are the team who have scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

"We came in with a plan to do things and we couldn't do it," Marcelo told Movistar. "But when we started to do what we wanted, it was totally different.

"They run a lot, we knew it could happen, but there is another game as well. We know what we have to. It will be different at Stamford Bridge.

"We do not choose the rhythm of the game, we have to adapt to what there is. It was a difficult game, as they all are, but we are fine, we are calm because we are going to play a good game there [at Chelsea]."

"We left with our heads high. Now we are going to rest and see what we will have to do there, but it will surely change."

Real Madrid closed to within three points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid with a 2-0 win over Eibar at the start of a huge week at home and abroad.

Struggling Eibar were the first of three visitors to Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano in succession, with games against Liverpool and Barcelona set to go a long way to deciding Madrid's season.

Los Blancos were not tested on Saturday, though, frustrated only by offside calls and their own finishing either side of Marco Asensio's 41st-minute strike before Karim Benzema made sure 17 minutes from time.

Although Atleti and Barca – now third behind Zinedine Zidane's side – are both still to play this weekend, Madrid's title rivals will do well to find opponents as accommodating as Eibar.

An awful blind pass from Alejandro Pozo sent Benzema clear three minutes in, but the striker delayed before shooting and allowed Marko Dmitrovic to make a brilliant right-handed save.

Benzema was quickly denied again, this time by the offside flag after nodding in Marcelo's cross at the far post.

Asensio saw a wonderful free-kick bounce away off the crossbar and then joined Benzema in having a breakthrough goal struck off, his exquisite flick nutmegging Dmitrovic but drawing the attention of the VAR – again for offside.

Fortune soon found Asensio's favour, however, as he charged onto Casemiro's pass and slipped while shooting, only for his effort to clip his standing foot and beat Dmitrovic.

A second-half storm briefly threatened to derail Madrid, notably when Lucas Vazquez's backpass picked up pace on a slick pitch and required a desperate lunge from Thibaut Courtois to divert it to safety.

But after falling foul of the flag for a third time – Casemiro disappointed by team-mates standing in Dmitrovic's line of sight – Benzema wrapped up the result with a downwards header from substitute Vinicius Junior's fine centre.

What does it mean? First hurdle cleared with minimum of fuss

The weather was Madrid's most dangerous opponent against relegation-threatened Eibar. The same will not apply when Liverpool and Barca make the trip to Valdebebas.

Injured captain Sergio Ramos will be far more of a miss in those matches, but it was still important for Zidane – unbeaten against Eibar in 10 LaLiga meetings – to get three points on the board at the start of a monumental month.

Timely reminder of Marcelo's talents

This was just a ninth league outing of the season for Marcelo, who lined up on the wing with the security of fellow left-back Ferland Mendy behind him. It was a role that suited him well and no doubt gave Zidane pause for thought ahead of a big Champions League tie.

Given the license to attack without worrying about protecting a defence missing Ramos, Marcelo was a constant threat. Only the offside flag meant his final-third contributions – one blocked shot, one successful cross and no chances created – were relatively modest.

Benzema belatedly breaks through

Madrid's number nine was LaLiga's Player of the Month for March with five goals in three games, but he initially appeared to have left his fine form on the other side of the international break.

Benzema's third-minute chance really should have brought the opener, while mistimed headers followed either side of his disallowed effort. Finally, he found his range with the fourth of five attempts before being substituted with 10 minutes to go ahead of a season-defining stretch.

What's next?

Madrid have three days to prepare for the visit of Liverpool, while Eibar do not play again until next Saturday, at home to Levante.

Is Erling Haaland's future becoming clearer?

Haaland's exploits for Borussia Dortmund have attracted interest from far and wide.

But Manchester City appear to be the frontrunners for his signature…

 

TOP STORY – CITY LINING UP BIG HAALAND BID

Manchester City are confident of landing Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland in a £100million (€114m) deal, according to the front page of Friday's Mirror.

Haaland is one of the most sought-after players in Europe, having been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus.

But City believe winning this season's Premier League will help them sign Haaland at the end of the campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal claims Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi will wait until season's end before deciding his future. Messi has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and City on a free transfer.

Sergio Aguero is tempted by a move to Barca if Messi remains at Camp Nou, reports Cadena Ser. Like Messi, City forward Aguero is out of contract at the end of the 2020-21.

- Defensa Central says Chelsea are interested in re-signing Eden Hazard, but at a huge discount. Hazard has struggled for form and fitness since leaving Chelsea for Madrid in a big-money move in 2019.

Milan will miss out on signing Ajax teenager Brian Brobbey as he is set to join RB Leipzig, according to Calciomercato and widespread reports in Italy. But Milan are close to signing Marseille's soon-to-be free agent Florian Thauvin.

- Calciomercato claims Madrid have put veteran full-back Marcelo up for sale amid links to Juventus.

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