Theo Hernandez likely to leave Real Madrid this summer

David Cooper 17/07/2018
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Hernandez was part of the club's Champions League winning side last term.

Real Madrid defender Theo Hernandez is set to depart the Whites this summer, Marca reports.

The 20-year-old, who moved to the Bernabeu from city rivals Atletico Madrid 12 months ago on a six-year contract, struggled to exert himself in Zinedine Zidane‘s plans.

Hernandez made just 13 La Liga outings and 23 in total, failing to produce the form he showed during his loan spell at Alaves in the 2016-17 campaign.

Club legend Marcelo is still a stalwart in Real’s left-back role, stifling Hernandez’s opportunities, while versatile Nacho has proved to be an able deputy to fill in anywhere.

Hernandez has begun pre-season training with Los Blancos and should he leave the club, Real hierarchy will include a buy-back clause so Julen Lopetegui’s men have the option of re-signing a man who they deemed a special talent last July.

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Gareth Bale's future at Real Madrid still uncertain in post-Cristiano Ronaldo era

Andy West 17/07/2018
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Gareth Bale's future with Madrid is up in the air.

Real Madrid have made their first tentative steps into the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, with the few of their squad members not to appear in the World Cup reporting for pre-season training on Monday.

Among those, of course, is flying Welshman Gareth Bale, who was last seen threatening to leave the club in the wake of his spectacular two-goal showing in the Champions League victory over Liverpool.

For Bale, more pertinent than the fact that he scored twice to secure the title on that eventful night in Kiev was the fact that he started the game on the bench. That was a position he had become accustomed to during the latter weeks of last season, and his shock post-game comments made it clear that he does not intend to accept such a loss of face for any longer.

Since then, of course, Ronaldo has followed up his annual empty threat to leave by surprising everyone and actually leaving, and that changes the picture at the Bernabeu for Bale – and several other players – very considerably indeed.

While Ronaldo was at the club, one space in the team was locked up. He was always absolutely guaranteed a starting spot – understandably so considering his outrageous goalscoring record – which meant the other attacking members of the squad had to hope they would snatch the other one or two available spots to accompany him.

For a couple of years Bale was just as certain of playing as Ronaldo, with the ‘BBC’ forward line featuring Ronaldo, Bale and Karim Benzema exerting a monopoly over the starting places for any big game.

Ronaldo surrounded by photographs

But that changed last season, with Bale’s repeated injuries, Benzema’s lack of goals, the rise of Marco Asensio, the versatility of Isco and the dynamism of Lucas Vazquez forcing then-coach Zinedine Zidane to implement much more of a rotation policy.

Bale did not like that at all. As the club’s record signing, he believed he should have been allowed to stand on a pedestal alongside Ronaldo as an unquestioned starter, and starting only three Champions League games – only one in the knockout stage – was an affront he was not prepared to take.

There would have been nothing new or surprising in Bale quitting the Bernabeu over his inability to maintain a protected species status: Neymar, Alexis Sanchez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o all felt they were forced to leave Barcelona by the unshakeable pre-eminence of Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou.

So Bale would have become another one of those players – and it’s nearly always forwards – who moved on to pastures new in search of a more elevated status. If Ronaldo had stayed, that would almost certainly have happened, and the Welsh star’s five-year stint in Spain would now be coming to an end.

Then, though, came the bombshell of Ronaldo heading to Juventus, and now everything is wide open again.

And not just for Bale, because the departure of Zidane along with Ronaldo means that Real Madrid are heading into the new season on a more uncertain footing than any time since Jose Mourinho’s arrival at the club in 2009.

Will Karim Benzema still be able to command a regular starting place without the presence of his compatriot Zidane or Ronaldo, who always appreciated the Frenchman’s unselfish ability to link play? Will Isco continue to benefit from the patronage of new boss Julen Lopetegui, who has always been devoted to the bandy-legged creator ever since their time together in the Spain Under 21 side? Will Florentino Perez repeat his customary post-World Cup move of securing a superstar signing, presumably either Neymar, Kylian Mbappe or Eden Hazard (or two of the above)?

Benzema gestures

All these questions remained unanswered, and for Bale the big question, of course, is whether Ronaldo’s departure will reopen the doors to the VIP lounge.

Logically, that should be in the hands of Lopetegui, whose preference for a possession-based passing game could work against the more explosive, counter-attacking qualities possessed by Bale, who does not look like a natural fit for his new coach’s favoured style of play.

But life is never that straightforward at a club like Real Madrid, and it’s almost certain that Lopetegui is working with at least one hand tied behind his back from day one, forced to accommodate the wishes of his president (and the club’s marketing gurus) rather than having the freedom to mould the team to his liking.

So will Bale be staying in Madrid? Is he now set to become the alpha male of the Bernabeu? It’s too early to tell. He will be encouraged, for sure, that Ronaldo’s departure makes it more likely he’s in line for special treatment.

But at the same time, it’s perfectly possible that Perez is stealthily negotiating with Paris Saint-Germain or Chelsea for the purchase of Neymar, Mbappe or Hazard, with Bale his intended fund-raising makeweight in a potential deal.

Only time will tell. And with pre-season training just starting (on the occasion of Bale’s 29th birthday), there’s plenty of that remaining before anyone knows whether Gareth Bale is back with a vengeance, or heading out of the exit door.

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Live Real Madrid Blog: Golden Ball winner Luka Modric praised at World Cup

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Jay Asser and the rest of the Sport360 team are in place to provide you with the latest news, pictures, comment and analysis on Real Madrid.

Our daily blog will ensure you have all the latest updates throughout the day but we want you to get involved, too.

Tell us your thoughts on what’s happening by tweeting @Sport360.

8.30pm –  Ronaldo’s move to Juventus is good for Serie A, says Kaka

Cristiano Ronaldo‘s move from Real Madrid to Juventus raised a few eyebrows, but Kaka believes it is a step in the right direction for Italian football.

The Portugal superstar has signed for the Serie A giants on a four-year contract, after having spent nine years at Real Madrid.

Kaka has offered his take on why the five-time Ballon d’Or winner decided to call time on nearly a decade at the Bernabeu

“I think Cristiano is a very experienced player now, 33 years old so he knows and understands the situation very well,” Kaka told Omnisport.

“This decision to move from Madrid to Juventus, it’s a very conscious decision. He knows [it’s] time to move.

3:26pm – Modric turns heads in Russia

If there was any doubt heading into the World Cup that Luka Modric is one of the best players in the world, there isn’t now after the Croatian wizard earned the Golden Ball award for his stunning campaign in Russia.

Check out what Modric’s peers and others had to say about his impact here.

Modric

2:13pm – Ronaldo arrives at medical centre to complete move

Juventus supporters have wasted no time in making Cristiano Ronaldo feel welcomed as a large crowd greeted him with cheers when he arrived to the medical centre to complete his move from Real Madrid.

Chants of ‘Ronaldo’ and ‘Cristiano’ broke out among the fans, while Ronaldo waved to his new supporters.

Check out more on Ronaldo’s arrival here.

CristianoRonaldoJuventus

11:25am – Mbappe commits future to PSG

Kylian Mbappe has been heavily linked with Real Madrid, but the newly-minted FIFA Young Player award recipient poured cold water on transfer rumours by saying he will remain at Paris Saint-Germain after France’s World Cup triumph on Sunday.

The 19-year-old shined at the tournament in Russia and helped Le Bleus lift the trophy by scoring in the final against Croatia. Following the coronation, Mbappe reaffirmed his commitment to PSG.

“I will stay with PSG, continuing on my path with them,” Mbappe told reporters, via Goal.

“I am at the beginning of my career.”

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