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illarramendi-RMReal Madrid’s Asier Illarramendi has reportedly rejected the chance to join Liverpool, preferring to stay and fight for his place at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Marca reports Illarra, who is said to have turned down Athletic Bilbao in January, has the confidence of Rafa Benitez, who believes the former Real Sociedad player has been a victim of bad luck in his two seasons at Santiago Bernabeu.

It’s said that Illarra has many of the qualities Benitez likes from a central midfielder and a comparison is drawn with Xabi Alonso, who began playing under Benitez at 22 and spent five years with the trainer at Anfield.

Messi-Barca-FansIt says a lot about a players willingness to win that they return from preseason training early so that they can be with their teammates.

And that is the case with Barca stars Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano who have returned to training with Barcelona, alongside Neymar and Dani Alves.

The South Americans were given extended breaks after the Copa America, with Brazilians Neymar and Alves reporting back on Thursday. AS notes, however, that Messi and Mascherano were not due back until August 5 but they chose to return a week early.

pedro1Barcelona have accepted Pedro Rodriguez’s desire to leave the club and will sell to Manchester United, but not before the UEFA Super Cup.

La Blaugrana play Sevilla on August 11 and Marca reports Barca have asked Pedro to wait until after that fixture before he departs.

Luis Enrique wanted to keep hold of Pedro but in accepting the winger wants more regular football, has requested he stick around a few more weeks.

Neymar and Lionel Messi are only just back in training after the summer break and Copa America and Enrique is wary of going into the game against Sevilla short on numbers if Pedro is at Old Trafford.

DDG2Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal admits that he has a goalkeeping problem on his hands after an unconvincing David de Gea performance against PSG on Wednesday.

De Geal was brilliant against Barcelona at the weekend, but he was equally as bad in Chicago where van Gaal hauled his goalkeeper off at half-time. At fault for PSG’s first goal, De Gea heads towards the start of the season with only 107 minutes of pre-season action behind him and looking decidedly shaky.

United’s player of the year has been linked with a move to Real Madrid for months now and Van Gaal admitted that he has an issue to resolve, saying:

ramos-rmIt was exactly as Manchester United feared. Sergio Ramos had no intention of ever leaving Real Madrid and the news that he has signed a new deal that will keep him at the Bernabéu until 2020 confirmed those fears. Ramos used the interest from United, as others have done also, to get more a bigger contract from his current club.

The Ramos deal is expected to be announced next month, but the fact that the story appears on the back page of MARCA confirms that is official.

Mourinho12We are not yet into August and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has accused Liverpool and Manchester United of trying to buy the title, of Arsenal of out-spending the Blues, and now he has called Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez fat. What will he be like in mid-season when the pressure is really on?

Mourinho was responding to an interview that Rafa’s wife gave in which she jokingly said that it seems almost fated that Benitez should continue to join clubs in the Portuguese coach’s wake.

ramos2For all his posturing about how much he wanted to join Manchester United, at the end of the day all Sergio Ramos apparently wanted was more money from Real Madrid. And by all accounts he will get it.

According to MARCA, Madrid president Florentino Pérez and club director José Ángel Sánchez met with Ramos and his agent, brother René, in China on Sunday.

The four of them sung Kumbaya after Perez apologized for the all the leaked information and rumours that had come from the club regarding the player and his brother. Pérez reportedly also told his captain that the Spanish giants will not sell him this summer, even if he hands in a transfer request.

BPL-TV-RevenueEuropean and Spanish champions Barcelona will “fight” to stop the best players joining the Premier League, says the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The Premier League’s new £5.1bn television deal will give English clubs huge financial power from the 2016-17 season. But European champions Barcelona feel they can combat the threat.

“We are going to fight against the Premier League. We want to have the best players in our league,” Bartomeu told BBC Sport.

“It’s true that the Premier League right now is the best league competition in the world, not only in a sporting way but in terms of income too.”

ramos-rmReal Madrid boss Rafa Benitez is “100 percent” sure Sergio Ramos will stay in the Spanish capital despite interest from Manchester United.

United are willing to exchange goalkeeper David De Gea for Ramos, who is unhappy about the salary he has been offered as part of a new deal at the Bernabeu.

Ramos and Madrid are yet to resolve their differences, and El Pais reported this week that some at the club were starting to accept the defender may have to be sold.

United boss Louis van Gaal refused to rule out a move for Ramos this week, but Benitez told a news conference:

UNICEF logo on Barcelona football shirtsAccording to Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu, the Spanish champions are not buying new players for this summer after completing the purchases of Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan

Spain defender Vidal signed for Barca last month following his transfer from Sevilla and Turkey international midfielder Turan recently joined the Catalan giants from Atletico Madrid.

“We’ve made it clear. The team is complete, the idea was to have the squad that we have now and we’re not expecting any departures. If someone wants to leave, they will have to tell us, because we have no information about anyone wanting to do so. We haven’t had any offers”, the recently elected ‘Azulgranas’ chief said.