Real Madrid returned to the LaLiga summit after coming from behind to beat Mallorca 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The hosts fell behind as the in-form Vedat Muriqi headed Mallorca into the lead, but Federico Valverde equalised before half-time with a marvellous individual effort.

Carlo Ancelotti's side completed the turnaround 18 minutes from time with Vinicius Junior finding the net for a fourth successive LaLiga game, before another impressive solo goal from Rodrygo and Antonio Rudiger's first strike for the club late on tied things up.

Los Blancos remain the only team in the big five European leagues to boast a 100 per cent record this season, having won their opening five league matches for the first time since 2009-10.

Mallorca had not won at Madrid since May 2009 but Muriqi sounded a warning for the visitors inside the opening minute.

Latching onto Martin Valjent's long ball, the striker cleverly escaped the advancing Antonio Rudiger before his powerful volley was beaten away by Thibaut Courtois. 

Dani Ceballos and Rodrygo tested Predrag Rajkovic at the other end, but Mallorca took a surprise lead in the 25th minute as an unmarked Muriqi headed home Lee Kang-In's free-kick for his third goal of the season.

Madrid equalised in emphatic fashion in first-half stoppage time; Valverde embarking on a wonderful run from deep inside his own half, before firing into the top corner from 20 yards.

Lucas Vazquez curled a 25-yard effort narrowly wide just after the hour mark before Mallorca squandered a glorious opportunity to regain the lead; substitute Antonio Sanchez shooting wide with only Courtois to beat.

It proved costly as Madrid edged their noses ahead in the 72nd minute. Rodrygo burst into the heart of the visitors' defence before feeding Vinicius, who neatly clipped the ball beyond the advancing Rajkovic.

Rodrygo then sealed the points with a minute remaining as he embarked on a strong, jinking run into the box, evading several challenges before slotting home, which was followed by Rudiger volleying home a Toni Kroos free-kick at the far post in stoppage time.

Former Liverpool forward Bobby Duncan has hit out at his former agent for working to "jeopardise" his career, three years on from a controversial move to Fiorentina.

Duncan, then considered a rising star at Liverpool, made headlines in 2019 when then-agent Saif Rubie accused the club of causing the youngster "deep mental health issues" before negotiating a move to the Serie A team. The Reds always denied such claims.

However, the attacker – who is also a cousin of Reds legend Steven Gerrard – has struggled since the transfer and now plays for Spanish third-tier team Real Balompedica Linense after a failed spell at Derby County.

On Monday, Rubie made an explosive radio appearance, telling talkSPORT: "I actually advised him [Duncan] to stay at Liverpool and you have to understand one thing, which is what I was trying to tell you guys, my job is to do the best for whoever is telling me to help them. 

"In that particular case, you can choose to believe me or not, I thought him staying was the best outcome. It wasn't meant to be, and in the end it got a bit ugly with Liverpool, which is unfortunate."

But Duncan, who dropped Rubie as his agent shortly after joining the Viola, has refuted those claims in a series of fiery tweets, asserting: "You and I both know the truth. 

"I didn't have a decision nor say as you took it upon yourself to jeopardise my career and to turn a local lad away from his boyhood club and leave me and my family to pick up all the pieces.

"Not once have I spoken upon this topic in four years as it's been my main priority to get my career back on track. Yet you think you have the right to mention my name on a live radio show.

"The truth will be told by myself when the time is right. I should never have trusted my career in your hands. I have learnt my harsh lesson there. And I just pray you have learnt yours as it could ruin another young boy's career. 

"And lastly, just to clarify, there was no advising given as you point blank made your mind up, publicly, and by then the damage had been done."

Rubie also worked as an intermediary on Antonio Rudiger's move from Chelsea to Real Madrid earlier this year and used his radio appearance to claim Los Blancos' offer was the smallest the German received. 

"Antonio Rudiger has been one of the best, if not the best, defender in the world and Premier League," he said.

"It made Carlo Ancelotti want to bring him to Real Madrid. What is the value of a top-flight, top-level centre-half in the game?

"What if I told you Chelsea, and the old regime, basically made next to no effort to keep the player.

"At the time he was very happy to stay and potentially be the captain of the club. He was offered a contract that was half the amount Romelu Lukaku was earning.

"Let me confirm this, live on air, the Real Madrid deal was the smallest deal on offer. There was a club in England offering almost double the amount and a club in Europe doubling the amount.

"I'm not going to discuss the specifics. Everyone knows there were teams interested in this player. He was one of the best in the world."

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has outlined his plans for new signing Antonio Rudiger, and hinted that he could be utilised in an unfamiliar position.

The Germany international joined the reigning Champions League winners on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract with Chelsea, where he was a regular fixture in the Blues' side at the heart of the defence.

Different opportunities may present themselves in Ancelotti's plans, however, as the head coach admitted he does not want to disrupt the centre-back partnership of Eder Militao and David Alaba.

Rudiger started at left-back during Madrid's 1-0 pre-season defeat to Barcelona, and Ancelotti hinted it is an area he could find himself slotting into more regularly.

"I liked him a lot. I am not crazy and he is very intelligent," the Italian said after the loss.

"He can play in that position, just as he can also change in the match with Alaba. They didn't do so today, because it went well.

"[Alaba] as a left-back, only when necessary. I don't want to change the pair from last year."

Real have a void on the left side of their defence following the departure of club legend Marcelo last season.

Though another signing is unlikely to be made before the end of the window, with Ancelotti making it clear he is not targeting further additions to his squad.

Los Blancos complete their pre-season preparations against Club America and Juventus, before tackling reigning Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt in the Super Cup.

Thomas Tuchel has achieved his "top priority" for the transfer window by signing Raheem Sterling, while the Chelsea head coach cannot foresee Robert Lewandowski arriving.

Sterling joined Manchester City for a reported fee in the region of £45million on Wednesday, as Chelsea confirmed their first signing since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the Blues.

The England international, who signed a five-year deal with Chelsea, scored 17 goals in all competitions for City last season, a tally bettered by only Riyad Mahrez (24) and Kevin De Bruyne (19).

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo has also been linked to Stamford Bridge, alongside Barcelona's top target Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored 50 goals in all competitions last term, the most of any player across Europe's top five leagues, and Tuchel appreciates his quality but does not envisage bringing him in.

"I don't think we have a chance for Lewandowski but if there is a chance, he is one of the best number nines," said Tuchel.

"The priority is not on the number nine position right now. We have our top priority [Sterling], we have got our top priority signed. It makes me very, very happy and from there we are very flexible.

"He was the absolute number one for that position. I gave his name to Todd straight away. Every time we played against him, he's horrible to play against, horrible!

"The main point is his intensity and the amount of repetition of intensity that he delivers. This is simply outstanding over the last years.

"It's exactly what we need to raise the level of our players. That's why we are so sure and that's why he was, for us, top of the list.

"Our goal threat should be enough right now. If we think something crazy comes up that we don’t see, maybe we will get involved, maybe not."

 

The versatile Sterling is expected to bring experience to the Chelsea attack, a feature lacking at the back for the Blues after the departure of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

Cesar Azpilicueta is reportedly wanted by Barca as well, while Chelsea appear set to bring in Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly to somewhat fill the void in defence.

The minimum requirement for success under Boehly will be a top-four Premier League finish to qualify for the Champions League, and Tuchel acknowledged he must rebuild to develop a competitive squad.

"I think with Thiago [Silva] in the middle, Toni on the left and Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] or Andreas [on the right] we had the best back-three in the world," he added.

"It's possible [to rebuild at short notice]. We can, we have to. I think we can put a structure in place and we have a structure on which we can rely on.

"For example, if we play against Everton, Thiago can play, Trevoh Chalobah can hopefully play, and Azpi is at the moment here. 

"If there are guys still to be signed or not fully aware of the principles, I don't want to use it as an excuse. When I came in, I had one day to start with the back-three because it was a fit and I still think it will be a fit.

"The first 10 days or 11 days with the group have been outstanding. The mentality, worth ethic and quality in training is absolutely impressive and this makes me very happy.

"I want to be ready when we play Everton. I want to win and I will demand it from myself, my team and all my players.

"The team will be strong. I am not ready to use it as an excuse even though it is maybe true that we are in transition. We can, I can focus, I think the team can focus on what makes us strong and we can take it step by step and work out how to win games."

While Chelsea made their long-awaited first signing in Sterling, top-four rivals Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City have all been busy in the transfer window.

Tuchel was quick to hail the transfer dealings of Antonio Conte, who looks set to seal his sixth signing of the transfer window in Djed Spence, and conceded Chelsea will have to catch up with their competitors.

"I mean it when I said we fight against the best teams and the best coaches, which does not make life easier and they set the bar so high last season, but we start again from scratch," said Tuchel. 

"So we will try again. I can promise you that everybody is ready to try again. We will not give in before we play games. That's why the sanctions did not help. We lost important players and the other teams are recruiting, and did not have the losses that we had.

"If you look at the transfer period of Tottenham with Antonio Conte, it's maybe the strongest team they ever built. Manchester United will not give in, Arsenal will not give in, they've made two big signings already, so we are aware of the situation and try to do our best to be competitive."

Chelsea have reportedly made Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly their top centre-back target as they look to rebuild their defence.

Koulibaly would help fill the gaping hole left by the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, who both opted to head to LaLiga on free transfers as the precarious situation with Roman Abramovich's ownership made it impossible to negotiate contract extensions.

The Stamford Bridge side are said to have had interest in Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt and Inter's Milan Skriniar, but with Juventus demanding £102million and Inter holding firm for at least £55m, the 31-year-old Napoli star is now viewed as the best option.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PREPARE MOVE TO BRING KOULIBALY TO STAMFORD BRIDGE

Koulibaly is coming off a season where he helped Napoli concede the equal-fewest goals in Serie A – giving up 31 goals in their 38 league games – while he also contributed three goals and three assists in 27 outings.

He has played no fewer than 34 games in any of his eight campaigns with Napoli, but he did miss a month of action this past season with a thigh strain – his third consecutive season where he has missed time with muscle strains in his legs.

The Mirror's report highlights that Chelsea are also in advanced discussions to land Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and Leeds United's Raphinha, with the plan to sell Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic to fund the moves.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to BILD, Borussia Dortmund would need to receive a bid of £103m to consider parting ways with Jude Bellingham in the current transfer window.

– 90min is reporting that Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal are all interested in Torino's 25-year-old Brazilian centre-back Gleison Bremer, with the Serie A club setting his price at £43m.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that Crystal Palace have agreed to an £18m fee for Lens midfielder Cheick Doucoure.

– According to Todofichajes, West Ham are willing to meet the £34m release clause for Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma.

– The Sun is reporting that Arsenal have made a third bid for Ajax's Lisandro Martinez – believed to be valued at £43m – while Talksport claims Manchester United are also trying to reunite the defender with Erik ten Hag.

Antonio Rudiger described the prospect of playing under Carlo Ancelotti as an "honour" after leaving Chelsea to join Real Madrid on a free transfer, as he targeted winning another Champions League title.

Rudiger signed a four-year contract with Madrid earlier this month, with his and Aurelien Tchouameni's arrivals at the Santiago Bernabeu already making for a significant transfer window.

He joins a side which has just won La Liga and the Champions League – the latter for a record-extending 14th time, while boss Ancelotti became the first coach to be crowned European champion on four occasions with last month's final win over Liverpool. 

Rudiger, who was instrumental as Chelsea won European football's premier competition in 2021, believes working under the Italian can help him reach those heights once more.

"It's an honour to play for Carlo Ancelotti," he told the club's website. "I'm convinced I can still learn a lot from him, and I hope he can help me win another Champions League here.

"The manager has played a big part in this [transfer]. After I spoke to him, I was convinced I wanted to join Real Madrid. But in general, everything this club represents is evident.

"I've always said that the Champions League is Real Madrid's competition, because that's where you see the club's real side.

"I'm very grateful to be here. It's like I'm dreaming, but this is real, and I feel immense pleasure to be here. I've never seen anything like this before."

Rudiger, who has won 53 caps for Germany, also revealed it was not international team-mate Toni Kroos that advised him to move to the Santiago Bernabeu, but Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who made 109 appearances during a four-year spell with the Spanish giants. 

"I haven't spoken to Kroos too much about Real Madrid, I've spoken to Mateo Kovacic and he's told me a lot of things," Rudiger added. "He talked a lot about [Madrid and Croatia's Luka] Modric.

"He told me: 'You go there and enjoy it, it's a great move for you'. I've never heard a bad word about Real Madrid."

Rudiger has also been in touch with another former Blancos star since making the move to Spain, namely Brazil's legendary 2002 World Cup hero Ronaldo Nazario.

"Ronaldo played in the 2002 final against Germany sporting a very distinctive haircut," the defender recalled. "When we were kids playing football in the street, Ronaldo was our idol.

"When I signed, I spoke to him on a video call. I was excited and very nervous at the same time!"

Antonio Rudiger has hailed Real Madrid for their 'unbelievable' Champions League victory – and expressed his delight that they defeated Liverpool.

The Germany international has signed a four-year contract with Madrid following the expiration of his deal with Chelsea and becomes the club's first major signing of the window.

At the time of the final in Paris, Rudiger revealed that his decision to join Carlo Ancelotti's side was already made and he was supporting his future team-mates.

However, he also wanted Madrid to beat Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp's side had inflicted defeat upon Rudiger and Chelsea in two finals in the 2021-22 season in the League Cup and FA Cup.

"When the final was played I already knew I would play for Madrid and I cheered on Madrid. This Champions League has been incredible," he told a news conference.

"What Real Madrid did in the Champions League, I don't know how to describe. It was unbelievable.

"I lost two finals against Liverpool, so I was very happy Real Madrid beat them."

Madrid's route to Champions League success saw them stage a series of remarkable comebacks in the knockout stages.

Chelsea fell victim to one such turnaround as they lost 5-4 on aggregate in the last eight despite leading 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg. Rodrygo Goes sent the tie to extra time, which saw Karim Benzema score the decisive goal. 

"It was a special match, very intense. It was my first time playing at the Bernabeu and for me it was incredible emotions," Rudiger added of that game.

"After the third goal there was still a good atmosphere in the stadium. I took a lot of emotions and today is an incredible day for me.

"When I played against Madrid I wasn't closed yet. My goal was to eliminate Madrid, I'm a professional. It was easy for me to concentrate."

Antonio Rudiger has revealed he made his decision to sign for Real Madrid in April and snubbed Barcelona, declaring it was "Real or nothing."

The Germany international has signed a four-year contract with the Champions League winners following the expiration of his contract with Chelsea, ending a five-year stint at Stamford Bridge.

His spell with the Blues saw him lift the Champions League in 2020-21, the FA Cup in 2017-18 and the Europa League in 2018-19, making over 200 appearances for the club in all competitions.

Rudiger explained that Madrid first made contact with his agent in September before a further follow-up in April, when he made the decision to join Carlo Ancelotti's side – and added he rejected the advances of Los Blancos' rivals Barca.

"The first time I spoke with Ancelotti was in April and that contact was very important, that's when I decided to play for this club," he told a news conference on Monday.

"Other people have contacted me, but I was convinced of what I wanted.

"Of course, there was an offer from Barcelona. But I told my brother [and agent] it's Real or nothing."

Capped 53 times by Germany, Rudiger faces a fight for a starting berth in Ancelotti's team amid competition from the likes of Eder Militao and David Alaba, but the former Roma centre-back is ready to fight for his spot.

"Ancelotti told me that he wanted me at Real Madrid and that he trusted me and that he would depend on me. That's enough for me," the 29-year-old added. 

"It's Madrid and you can't guarantee anything but I'm ready to fight to play."

Ahead of his appearance in front of the media, Rudiger was handed the number 22 shirt for next season.

The jersey was vacated by Isco, who left Madrid after the expiration of his contract.

England can look forward to a bright future as Gareth Southgate's Three Lions bid for World Cup glory in Qatar, according to Antonio Rudiger.

The new Real Madrid defender got a first-hand look at the Euro 2020 runners-up when Germany were held to a 1-1 Nations League draw in Munich on Tuesday.

It was the hosts who had the majority of possession but Harry Kane's late penalty – his 50th international goal – sealed a point for Southgate's men, cancelling out Jonas Hoffman's strike.

Rudiger, who signed for Madrid after his Chelsea contract expired, was impressed by England's strength in depth, and reserved special praise for Jack Grealish, who came off the bench in midweek.

"The England squad has great quality," he said.

"It's like [Bukayo] Saka comes out, Grealish comes in. I saw a lot of big, big names were on the bench.

"England have a lot to be optimistic about for the future. I think you people don't need to worry too much. The English players are definitely getting better.

"You have to think about it like this, that players like [Marcus] Rashford and [Jadon] Sancho didn't even make the squad.

"That tells you that you have a lot of depth in the English squad and you have big, big players like Harry Kane, [Raheem] Sterling and Grealish – big names, big players.

"I think Grealish gave the team a real impact – because he came on and he gave good one v ones and everything.

"He is a very dangerous player and those sort of players are going to win you games."

England will face Wales, Iran and the United States in Group B at the World Cup, which starts on November 21.

Real Madrid have announced the signing of Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer from Chelsea.

Thomas Tuchel confirmed after Chelsea's win over West Ham in April that Rudiger would be on the move when his contract expired at the end of the season after rejecting a new deal.

Chelsea were unable at the time to increase an offer they made to Rudiger due to the sanctions imposed on the club's owner Roman Abramovich by the United Kingdom government in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Madrid emerged as favourites to sign the in-demand Germany centre-back, who was also linked with the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Los Blancos on Thursday confirmed the 29-year-old defender has agreed terms on a four-year contract.

"On Monday, June 20, at 12:00 at Real Madrid City, the presentation ceremony for Antonio Rudiger as a new Real Madrid player will take place," Madrid added on their official website.

Rudiger joined Chelsea from Roma in July 2017 and established himself as a key man at the heart of the London club's defence.

He played a big part in their Champions League triumph in the 2020-21 season before lifting the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup last year.

Rudiger was also an FA Cup winner in 2018 and Chelsea were crowned Europa League winners during his time at the club three years ago.

He joins a Madrid team who won LaLiga and Champions League titles in the season just ended.

Antonio Rudiger said it was a "proud" moment to be announced as Real Madrid's latest signing.

The defender has left Chelsea after five years, agreeing a four-year contract with the LaLiga and Champions League winners.

He moves on a free transfer as his Chelsea contract expires and is set to fortify Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid defence ahead of a fresh push for silverware next season.

Rudiger wrote on Instagram: "I'm proud to announce that I'll be joining @RealMadrid.

"I'm super excited for all the challenges ahead and can't wait to play my first games for this huge club."

His announcement came as Chelsea and Madrid both confirmed the deal was complete.

Rudiger will be officially presented by Madrid on June 20, the Spanish club said.

Rudiger enjoyed considerable success at Chelsea, winning the Champions League title with the Blues in the 2020-21 season when Thomas Tuchel's side denied Manchester City in the final.

He was an FA Cup winner in 2018 and helped the west London club land the Europa League title a year later.

Chelsea's Champions League defence in the 2021-22 campaign came to an end at the hands of Madrid in the quarter-finals, with Rudiger scoring as Thomas Tuchel's side won the second leg 3-2 in Spain but lost 5-4 on aggregate.

Real Madrid have announced the signing of Antonio Rudiger on a free transfer from Chelsea.

Thomas Tuchel confirmed after Chelsea's win over West Ham in April that Rudiger would be on the move when his contract expired at the end of the season after rejecting a new deal.

Chelsea were unable at the time to increase an offer they made to Rudiger due to the sanctions imposed on the club's owner Roman Abramovich by the United Kingdom government in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Madrid emerged as favourites to sign the in-demand Germany centre-back, who was also linked with the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Los Blancos on Thursday confirmed the 29-year-old defender has agreed terms on a four-year contract.

"On Monday, June 20, at 12:00 at Real Madrid City, the presentation ceremony for Antonio Rudiger as a new Real Madrid player will take place," Madrid added on their official website.

Rudiger joined Chelsea from Roma in July 2017 and established himself as a key man at the heart of the London club's defence.

He played a big part in their Champions League triumph in the 2020-21 season before lifting the FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup last year.

Rudiger was also an FA Cup winner in 2018 and Chelsea were crowned Europa League winners during his time at the club three years ago.

He joins a Madrid team who won LaLiga and Champions League titles in the season just ended.

Antonio Rudiger said the sanctions placed on Chelsea by the UK government were not the reason behind his decision to leave the club.

Germany defender Rudiger has been a crucial player for Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea but has not agreed to a new contract.

The former Roma centre-back will therefore leave at the end of the season on a free transfer, with Real Madrid his likely destination.

Rudiger has helped Chelsea to four FA Cup finals, winning one, and a Champions League success since joining in 2017. The UEFA Super Cup, Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup are also included in his honours.

When confirming that Rudiger had asked to leave Chelsea in April, Tuchel suggested that the sanctions placed on the club's owner Roman Abramovic in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant the Blues were unable to match the 29-year-old's financial demands.

Rudiger, however, insisted that the sanctions had no impact on his decision.

"I don’t want to go too deep into things," he told reporters at Wembley on Saturday, after Chelsea lost 6-5 on penalties to Liverpool in the FA Cup final, their third consecutive defeat in the competition's showpiece.

"There was a chance but sanctions were not the problem.

"It’s been five years with ups and downs as normal. There were a lot of positive things, but that's why I'm even more frustrated because I wanted to have a different ending.

"It's about both sides. Chelsea have been great to me and I have been great for Chelsea. I am very, very thankful, both me and my family.

"I became a man here. My kids were born here and everything. London, and especially Chelsea, will always be special to me."

Chelsea have become the first side since Newcastle United (1974, 1998 and 1999) to lose on three consecutive FA Cup final appearances, while the Blues are the first team since Middlesbrough in 1996-97 to lose both of England's domestic cup finals in the same campaign, after their penalty shoot-out loss to Liverpool in the EFL Cup final in February.

"I think it was a good game just like the EFL Cup final. We had chances, they had chances," reflected Rudiger.

"But at the end of the day we know that penalties are always a lottery and we lost.

"It's about winning, it's not about next season. The game was about today and it was there to take. Unfortunately we didn't win.

"It's always difficult to say whether we are lucky or unlucky. For myself it's the third time [I have lost an FA Cup final] so you can't always say unlucky, unlucky, unlucky."

Rudiger has two games left before he leaves Chelsea, with the Blues hosting Leicester City on Thursday before closing out their season against Watford.

Despite wrapping up their 35th LaLiga title and retaining a chance of winning the Champions League this term, Real Madrid find themselves at something of a crossroads.

The individual brilliance of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior may have fired Los Blancos to a dominant triumph in LaLiga, but attention will soon turn to Madrid's attempts to defend the title for the first time since 2007-08.

With the potential arrival of a true global superstar and one of the Premier League's best defenders, as well as the matter of refreshing a brilliant but ageing midfield, it promises to be an interesting few months at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Here, Stats Perform analyses what Carlo Ancelotti's men could do to fend off the potential challenge of an improved Barcelona next season.

 

The Mbappe conundrum: How would the superstar fit in?

For months, if not years, Real Madrid's plans for 2022 seem to have revolved around one name: Kylian Mbappe.

While recent reports have suggested the 23-year-old could yet remain at the Parc des Princes, a move for the talismanic attacker – who will be a free agent in June – cannot yet be ruled out.

Having scored 35 goals and provided 19 assists in 43 appearances in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe would clearly be an asset to any team in European football, but the question remains as to how Mbappe will complement another free-scoring Frenchman in the Spanish capital.

Benzema has become just the fifth Madrid player in history to score 40+ goals in a single season for the club (after Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano and Hugo Sanchez), and is being touted for the Ballon d'Or after driving Madrid's Champions League run. Benzema has scored 14 goals in 10 European appearances this term, averaging a goal every 65.1 minutes in a stunning campaign.

Mbappe and Benzema are no strangers to playing together, but the PSG forward failed to score and only provided one assist when doing so during France's disappointing Euro 2020 campaign. The Madrid man, meanwhile, finished just one goal short of the golden boot after netting four times.

Matters are complicated further when taking into account the form of Vinicius, who has formed a lethal partnership with Benzema this season, registering 33 goal involvements of his own in all competitions (18 goals, 15 assists), and Mbappe's preference to play from the left could infringe on Vinicius. 

However, Mbappe's development into a more well-rounded attacking talent should ensure he at least provides a threat, whichever flank he starts from. 

As well as improving on his 11 assists from last season, Mbappe has completed more dribbles (138) at a higher success rate (50.74 per cent) than Vinicius this term (130, 41.4 per cent), and could join him in playing a more creative role supporting Benzema.

Upgrading in defence: The arrival of Antonio Rudiger

Having announced his intention to leave Chelsea at the end of his contract, Antonio Rudiger is another player strongly linked with a move to the Bernabeu ahead of next season.

The German defender has been one of the Blues' outstanding players under Thomas Tuchel, starring in their Champions League triumph last year and enjoying another fine campaign this season.

Rudiger has been a key component in the Premier League's third-best defence this season, with Chelsea keeping 15 clean sheets and conceding just 28 goals despite falling out of title contention after a promising start.

The 29-year-old appears to be an upgrade on Madrid's current defensive options after last year's departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, offering more physicality than David Alaba and greater defensive steel than Eder Militao, a partnership that was frequently exposed by Manchester City recently.

Rudiger would also offer a threat at the other end of the pitch, with his three league goals this season bettered by just one other Premier League centre-back (Jan Bednarek, four), and his ability to step out of defence was on display when he scored a 39-yard stunner against Brentford in early April – Chelsea's longest-range Premier League goal since January 2007

However, Rudiger has been accustomed to playing in a back three at Chelsea and would be most likely to play as a right-sided centre-back in a back four for Madrid, unless Ancelotti opts to shift Alaba to left-back.

Rudiger would likely have to curb his attacking enthusiasm if paired with the naturally forward-thinking Alaba, but he appears a smart choice to further solidify a defence that has been the second-strongest in LaLiga this term (only Sevilla have conceded fewer goals).

The case for Camavinga: Time to look to the future?

The midfield trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will go down in Madrid history: they started together in three consecutive Champions League final wins between 2016 and 2018, with the Croatian also starring in 2014's victory.

Nobody can question their quality or longevity. All three have made at least 35 starts this season, while Modric in particular has produced several sumptuous contributions in big games that have helped him to an assist haul of nine, six more than any other Madrid midfielder.

 

However, given they occasionally appear to lack a certain dynamism when out of possession, could Madrid benefit from some extra mobility in the engine room?

The signing of Eduardo Camavinga, who has made 35 appearances this term, was clearly made with such a move in mind, but the French youngster has only started 14 times in all competitions and would benefit from more playing time next season as he looks to improve his all-round game.

However, neither Camavinga nor Federico Valverde possess the kind of metronomic abilities of Modric or Kroos, and the younger pair also average fewer passes into the final third per 90 minutes than their more experienced peers (6.25 and 6.1, respectively).

As such, with the rumoured arrivals of Mbappe and Rudiger involving no transfer fees, Madrid could yet benefit from dipping into the market to acquire another young, progressive midfielder in a move that might also help to prolong the excellence of Modric and Kroos.

Jorginho says Antonio Rudiger will be a big loss for Chelsea as Real Madrid reportedly close in on a deal for the centre-back.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel revealed following Sunday's late win over West Ham that Rudiger intends to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Tuchel suggested that Rudiger's decision was influenced by the financial restrictions imposed on Chelsea while a new owner to succeed Roman Abramovich is being sought.

According to widespread reports on Tuesday, Madrid have had no such problem agreeing terms with Rudiger and an announcement is expected to be made imminently.

The Germany international has spent five seasons at Stamford Bridge and Jorginho admits his team-mate's absence will be felt both on the pitch and off it.

"He's been here a long time so if he leaves then we're going to miss him," he told Sky Sports News. "He's a big personality and he's helped us a lot. 

"We've had amazing times here; he's a good friend of mine and of course if he leaves everyone at the club will miss him, not just me."

Asked what he will miss the most about Rudiger, Jorginho said: "His craziness. He makes me laugh a lot; all of his jokes and laughs we've had together – that's the nice part."

Rudiger has started 47 games this season, which is five more than any other Chelsea player, with Jorginho sixth on that list (42 appearances).

 

Indeed, no player from a club in Europe's top five leagues has started more matches in 2021-22 when taking all competitions into account.

Rudiger played no part in Chelsea's victory over West Ham last time out, however, a game in which Jorginho missed a penalty before Christian Pulisic snatched a late victory.

Jorginho was criticised for his spot-kick style after sending his effort straight at goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, but the midfielder suggested VAR was partly to blame for the miss.

"This sort of pressure, especially in games like this when you need to win and it's last minute, you try to isolate your mind from all that pressure even though it's hard," he said. 

"Then you have the VAR so it takes longer, it's harder to keep focus. 

"What you need to do and what I try to do is I try to isolate my mind of all this pressure, and unfortunately this time it didn't work."

Prior to his penalty miss against West Ham, Jorginho had converted each of his last 13 for Chelsea (excluding shoot-outs) in a run stretching back to Boxing Day 2020.

"When you have that little moment of doubt that's usually when you make the mistake," the Italy international added. "Maybe I had too much time to think about it, I don't know.

"This time it went like that and I'm sorry. I feel bad because it's not a nice feeling."

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