Could Paulo Dybala swap Italy for Spain?

The Juventus attacker was close to leaving Juventus for either Manchester United or Tottenham prior to the 2019-20 season, while Paris Saint-Germain were also linked.

Now, Real Madrid are reportedly targeting the 26-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – KROOS OUT, DYBALA IN?

Real Madrid are set to offer Toni Kroos or Isco as part of a deal to bring Juventus star Paulo Dybala to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to SportMediaset.

LaLiga champions Madrid are eyeing a move for Dybala, who has been in negotiations with Serie A titleholders Juve over a new contract amid reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Juve are unwilling to part with the Argentina international – who enjoyed a fine Serie A campaign prior to Maurizio Sarri's sacking as he looks ahead to life under Andrea Pirlo.

ROUND-UP

- Kicker claims Jadon Sancho has told Borussia Dortmund he is happy to stay at the club if a blockbuster transfer to Manchester United fails to materialise. The England international has been heavily tipped to join United, with personal terms reportedly agreed.

Barcelona want to sign Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, reports The Telegraph. The LaLiga giants are eyeing a cash-plus-player deal to try to prise the Portugal international to Camp Nou.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are poised to sign Olympiacos left-back Kostas Tsimikas, according to widespread reports. Having failed to strike a deal with Norwich City for Jamal Lewis, Liverpool are close to prising Tsimikas from the Greek powerhouse. Meanwhile, The Sun says Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are targeting a shock £35million swoop for Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks.

- The front page of Monday's edition of Marca says Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane must sell before he is able to sign players ahead of the 2020-21 season. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez are two players unwanted in the Spanish capital as Madrid continue to be linked with the likes of PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe, Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

- AS Diario reports Villarreal are on the verge of signing Valencia pair Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin. Valencia captain Parejo and team-mate Coquelin have been told they are free to leave Mestalla.

Napoli have joined the race to sign Madrid full-back Sergio Reguilon claims Sky Sport Italia. On loan at Sevilla, Reguilon has been linked to Chelsea and Everton.

- According to Calciomercato, Inter are interested in Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. However, salary demands may prove problematic amid talk of a swap deal involving Inter defender Milan Skriniar.

Zinedine Zidane wants to see more goals from Isco after the midfielder netted his first of the LaLiga season in Real Madrid's 4-1 win over Osasuna on Sunday.

Isco brought Madrid level, cancelling out Unai Garcia's opener, before Madrid eased to victory as their three-point lead at the top was maintained.

The 27-year-old Isco has only scored twice this season, with only one coming in LaLiga, a competition in which he has started nine times this campaign.

Zidane praised Isco's performance at Osasuna, but said he wanted the midfielder on the scoresheet more often.

"I don't think anything has changed. Isco's an important player in this squad," the Madrid head coach told a news conference.

"He's a player that always gives everything when he plays. He's a good footballer. I like the way he plays. He's technical and skilful. He's very important for us.

"He had a brilliant game like everyone else, but above all I am happy about his goal, because he needs to score more goals."

Madrid are next in action at home to Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Zinedine Zidane again reiterated there is no problem between himself and Gareth Bale after recalling the winger for Real Madrid's 4-1 win at Osasuna.

Madrid extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to six points ahead of Barcelona's trip to Real Betis as they prevailed in a feisty encounter at El Sadar.

Unai Garcia headed the hosts into a 14th-minute lead but Isco volleyed in his first league goal of the campaign and Sergio Ramos edged Madrid in front before the break.

Substitutes Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic added gloss to the scoreline late on, the former having replaced the recalled Bale 20 minutes from time.

The Wales star passed up a pair of half-chances before having a hand in Isco's equaliser and Zidane was impressed by his efforts without the ball, during what was at times a gruelling contest.

"He is an important player, he has shown it," Zidane told reporters afterwards.

"He has not played the last three games and has made 70 very good minutes defensively.

"Then, the problem is that they want us to have a problem with Gareth, but there is not one.

"There are many players, it’s not easy to manage all that. He’s a very important player, he’s always shown it and he’ll keep playing, like the others."

Asked again about Bale's performance, Zidane added: "He has done well. I am happy for his game, offensively and defensively he has given everything.

"He was a bit short physically at the end, so he has left the field. We know the player he is and that he is going to give a lot from now until the end of the season. Let's count on Gareth."

Jovic is another player who has not always found favour with his boss and the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker's fabulous left-footed finish marked only a second LaLiga goal, and his first since October.

"I'm glad for him, I needed him, he is a pure striker of whom you can say many things," Zidane said.

"He plays well, but if he does not score a goal he is not happy. He has to improve, but I'm glad for his goal. It will come in handy."

Eden Hazard was absent once more, with the Belgium playmaker running out of time to prove his fitness before the Champions League clash with Manchester City at the end of this month.

"It's a thing we do together," Zidane explained when discussing the management of Hazard's recovery from a fractured ankle.

"It wasn't the time today again and we'll see this week. He's going to need this week, it's going to be long. We're going to see him next week, I hope."

Isco's first LaLiga goal of the season helped Real Madrid to a battling 4-1 win at Osasuna on Sunday.

The hosts deservedly hit the front at a bristling El Sadar thanks to Unai Garcia's header, but Isco finished with aplomb in the 33rd minute.

Sergio Ramos' knack for vital goals came up trumps for Zinedine Zidane once more before the interval, and Madrid now lead Barcelona by six points at the summit.

Substitutes Lucas Vazquez and Luka Jovic made sure of that state of affairs before Quique Setien takes Barca to face his old employers Real Betis in the day's late kick-off.

Right-back Nacho Vidal fizzed a 20-yard shot narrowly wide inside the first minute to serve notice of Osasuna's intentions before Jose Arnaiz and Ruben Garcia raided down the right-hand side of Madrid's defence to go close.

It meant the 14th-minute opener was on the cards when it arrived – Unai Garcia stooping to head home Ruben Garcia's corner.

Madrid's most immediate route back into the match appeared to be Osasuna keeper Sergio Herrera, who twice darted from his goal and was indebted to last-ditch clearances from shots by Karim Benzema and Dani Carvajal.

Herrera was more conventionally placed but had no chance when Isco dispatched a looping ball on the volley after Gareth Bale's attempt was blocked.

Casemiro atoned for his poor marking on Osasuna's goal by heading Luka Modric's corner back across goal for Ramos to make it 2-1.

Unai Garcia got in the way of Benzema's goalbound 49th-minute effort from a Modric cutback, and Osasuna kept scrapping away – Casemiro turning Ruben Garcia's shot behind after Nacho Vidal ransacked Isco.

The playmaker was certainly more at home in the opposition half and a sharp low stop from Herrera kept out an Isco snapshot before Vazquez replaced Bale.

The Spain winger benefitted from Benzema's unselfish 84th-minute pass, while Modric and Federico Valverde combined for Jovic to rifle in his second LaLiga goal – and first since October – in stoppage time.

Inigo Perez rattling Thibaut Courtois crossbar showed Osasuna's spirit remained intact until the last.
 

What does it mean? Pressure on Barca

Madrid might not have been at their best here, but it does not matter. Barcelona's uncertain start to life under Setien will now continue with them eyeing a mounting deficit when they kick-off at Estadio Benito Villamarin. Anything more than three points for the Blaugrana and this weekend will come to appear pivotal in the title battle.

Ramos proves the master of irritation once more

He is certainly not to everyone's taste, but if you're a fan, this was time to enjoy some pure, unadulterated, hook-it-to-my-veins Sergio Ramos. Madrid were lucky to be level when Ramos decided to begin a prolonged argument with any Osasuna player willing to listen. The trap of distraction was set for the corner to come and the unmarked skipper proceeded to mock his opponents by sucking his thumb and blowing kisses in celebration. In a title race that could be scrapped for until the last, Madrid have the ideal man leading the charge.

Lack of sharpness does Bale no favours

Claiming an assist for Isco's equaliser would be ambitious, but Bale needs all he can get at Madrid right now. Granted only a 10th LaLiga start this term, the Wales star volleyed into the side-netting and headed over from Carvajal deliveries before half-time. They were, at best, half-chances but Bale's dwindling standing with Zidane means he now needs something special every time an opportunity comes his way.

What's next?

Madrid host Celta Vigo in seven days' time, when Osasuna travel to Athletic Bilbao.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane was delighted with the performance of his new-look side in their 3-1 Supercopa de Espana victory over Valencia.

Goals from Toni Kroos, Isco and Luka Modric sealed a commanding victory for Madrid in Jeddah, with Dani Parejo's penalty in second-half stoppage time offering scant consolation.

With Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale unavailable along with longer-term absentees Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, Zidane experimented with his line-up by playing without wingers and using Isco and Modric as the most advanced players in a five-man midfield.

The move paid dividends on Wednesday as both players produced excellent displays in support of Luka Jovic and in front of Kroos, Casemiro and Federico Valverde in deeper midfield roles.

Zidane suggested the tactic could be used again this season as it allows Madrid's full-backs more space to attack against teams defending in deep blocks.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, he said: "We put in all the ingredients to win the game and it's a deserved victory.

"We're working well. Emotionally, we're doing well. We have all the ingredients to play good games. That's what we did against Valencia, against opponents who are very good.

"We pressed high very well. The second half was much more direct and I'm happy because it's not easy against a very good team, who know how to play well. We can be pleased.

"Today, the option was to put Isco and Modric on the inside to have more runs from the full-backs.

"It was the option for today. We can play with wingers, but we did it the other way around, with more central players and using the wings with our full-backs. It worked for us.

"We prepare really well for games, we understand them very well. We're all together. In the end, it's the players that play, that give everything on the pitch."

Madrid will play Sunday's final against the winner of Thursday's second semi-final between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid breezed into the Supercopa de Espana final on Wednesday with a commanding 3-1 win over Valencia in Jeddah.

The first semi-final encounter of the inaugural expanded tournament was decidedly one-sided despite injury and illness robbing Madrid of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

Toni Kroos broke the deadlock when he scored directly from a quickly taken corner before the excellent Isco struck a second in the first half.

Luka Modric completed the scoring midway through the second period to send Madrid into a final against either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid and consign Copa del Rey holders Valencia to an early trip home, Dani Parejo's late penalty proving scant consolation.

Some quick-thinking from Kroos caught out the local TV director as well as Jaume Domenech, with replays of earlier action still being shown to viewers as the Madrid midfielder curled a corner into the net despite the Valencia keeper's best efforts.

Kevin Gameiro blasted over the bar from a promising position after a rare attack from Valencia, who were limited to 36 per cent of the first-half possession as Madrid controlled the tempo with ease.

One clinical passing move set up Modric for a shot and, when his effort was blocked by Ezequiel Garay, Isco controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed expertly home from 12 yards.

Luka Jovic had a quiet half but should really have made it 3-0 before half-time, the striker failing to beat Jaume with the rebound after Isco hit the left-hand post with a header.

Federico Valverde rippled the side-netting in the second half but it was Modric who put the game beyond Valencia, gathering Jovic's pass into the box, working space with a step-over and bending a sublime shot past Jaume for his fifth goal of the season.

Parejo at least gave Valencia fans something to cheer in second-half stoppage time, firing a penalty high past Thibaut Courtois after a VAR review saw Sergio Ramos penalised for handball.

What does it mean? Zidane masterplan secures another final

This was one of Madrid's best performances of the season and it came with Benzema and Bale sidelined and with no recognised wingers in the starting line-up.

Instead, head coach Zinedine Zidane gave Modric and Isco licence to roam in front of Kroos, Valverde and Casemiro, giving Los Blancos an imperious level of control over a Valencia team who had little idea how to respond.

It would be no surprise to see Zidane replicate the line-up in the final and perhaps some of their more challenging games of 2020, such as the Champions League last-16 tie with Manchester City.

Isco sparkles in new-look line-up

Zidane opted to pack the team with ball-playing midfielders, with Isco and Modric pushed furthest forward, and it was a system in which the former flourished. He was a constant threat and took his goal well.

Kondogbia run ragged

Geoffrey Kondogbia offered little protection to his back four and did not help in building counter-attacks, either, which were evidently part of Albert Celades' initial game plan. He was replaced by Maxi Gomez after 55 minutes.

What's next?

Madrid will meet either Barcelona or Atletico in Sunday's final, with their next LaLiga game at home to Sevilla not until January 18. Valencia are back in action on January 19 at Real Mallorca.

Gareth Bale is named in Real Madrid's starting XI for the clash with Getafe, along with Isco, as they return to LaLiga duty.

Bale - who has been linked with a move away from Madrid in the January window - has made 11 league appearances in total in 2019-20, including starting the rearranged Clasico against Barcelona on December 18.

The Wales forward also came on as a substitute in late December matches against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao prior to the mid-season break.

However, Zinedine Zidane has handed the 30-year-old a chance to impress from the off against Getafe in Madrid's first outing in 2020.

Bale starts up top alongside Karim Benzema and Isco, who has been restricted to just 10 league appearances this season, having been hampered by a hamstring injury and inconsistent form.

Meanwhile, Eder Militao - who has struggled to establish himself as a regular since moving to Madrid from Porto - starts at the back in place of Sergio Ramos, who is suspended.

There is no place for Marcelo, who has been battling a calf injury, while Eden Hazard is still out with an ankle problem.

With Atletico Madrid struggling for regular goals, Diego Simeone is keen to address the problem.

Atletico have only scored 20 goals in 18 LaLiga matches this season – the club relying heavily on Alvaro Morata's seven strikes.

Simeone's solution could be about to arrive from the French capital, where a Paris Saint-Germain star has fallen down the pecking order.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID NEARING CAVANI DEAL

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani is close to joining Atletico Madrid in January, according to Marca.

Cavani has reportedly agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Atletico, while PSG would prefer to keep the 32-year-old until the end of the season.

The soon-to-be free agent has found himself behind loanee Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar this season.

Signing Cavani in the January transfer window could force Atletico to sell due to their salary-limit issue, with Thomas Lemar a possible casualty.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United pair Nemanja Matic and Marcos Rojo have been told they will be sold in January, according to the Daily Star. Matic has been linked with Serie A duo Milan and Inter, while Atletico have emerged as an option for the veteran midfielder.

- According to AS, Valencia want to sign right-back Joao Cancelo from Premier League champions Manchester City. The LaLiga outfit are keen for a January reunion with Cancelo, who initially joined Valencia in 2014 before leaving permanently in 2018. Valencia want to re-sign the Portugal international on an initial loan.

Hertha Berlin have entered negotiations with Granit Xhaka to bring the former Arsenal captain back to the Bundesliga, reports RMC Sport. Hertha have turned their attention to ex-Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Xhaka after failing to prise Lucas Tousart from Lyon.

Chelsea have been offered the chance to sign Isco. The Daily Express says Real Madrid are trying to offload players to free up funds to bring in Tottenham star Christian Eriksen in January. City are also reportedly interested in Madrid's Isco.

Mario Mandzukic's proposed switch to Qatari outfit Al-Duhail from Juventus has broken down due to wage expectations, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Barcelona only want to loan out defender Jean-Clair Todibo in January amid interest from Milan and Bayern Leverkusen. United have also been linked with the 19-year-old.

Barcelona are planning for life after Luis Suarez.

With Suarez now aged 32, the clock is ticking on his career at Camp Nou.

Barca are identifying potential replacements and have their sights on an Argentina international setting Serie A and Europe alight.

 

TOP STORY – MARTINEZ INTERESTS BARCA

LaLiga champions Barcelona are interested in Inter star Lautaro Martinez, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Ernesto Valverde's Barca are looking for a long-term replacement for Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, who turns 33 in January. 

And the front page of Friday's newspaper says Argentina international Martinez fits the bill for Barca amid reported interest from Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

Roma have opened talks with Manchester United about signing Chris Smalling permanently, according to the Express. Smalling is on loan from United and the English defender scored his first goal for Roma during the week. The Red Devils are reportedly seeking £17.2million (€20m).

- Remaining at Old Trafford and Sport Italia claims Paul Pogba was close to joining Paris Saint-Germain during the previous transfer window. Pogba was heavily linked to LaLiga giants Real Madrid and former club Juventus .

- Tuttosport says Juventus are ready to make another attempt to sign Real Madrid midfielder Isco. The Spain international has struggled for regular game time and Madrid are reportedly holding out for €70m. The Italian champions have also been linked to Manchester United teenager Tahith Chong, who is out of contract at the end of the season, via the Daily Mail.

- Barcelona's Arturo Vidal is ready to snub the Chinese Super League in favour for a move to Inter, says InterNews. Vidal continues to be heavily linked to a reunion with former Juve boss Antonio Conte at Inter, while Chinese giants Shanghai SIPG are reportedly interested.

United could be set for a raid on Juve. Tuttosport claims the Old Lady will allow Emre Can to leave in January as United, Bayern Munich and PSG eye the Germany international.

- According to the Daily Mail, former Manchester United and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is the front-runner to replace Unai Emery at Arsenal. Emery is under mounting pressure in London.

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.

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