Modric and Kovacic 'happy' to be at Real Madrid despite transfer speculation

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Kovacic and Modric with the Champions League trophy in 2017.

Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui says Croatian midfield duo Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic are both happy at the club, even as speculation grows that one or both could leave this summer.

Modric has been linked with a move to Inter Milan, with recent reports suggesting the midfielder who has been one of Madrid’s best players over the last three to four seasons, is trying to force a transfer.

Meanwhile, Kovacic continues to be linked with a move away given concerns over his lack of playing time at Madrid. The midfielder’s path to the starting XI has been blocked by Modric, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro, and his reduced minutes impacted his international career as he was largely a bit-part player during Croatia’s run to the World Cup final this summer – a run that saw Modric win the Golden Ball at the tournament.

However, Madrid’s new manager insists the two are content.

“The level of excitement is as high as it can be, as it is with most of the players,” he said. “My understanding is that both are happy to be here.”

Madrid president Florentino Perez categorically ruled out a Modric sale last week, and Lopetegui echoed those thoughts on Tuesday before the team’s 2-1 pre-season win over Roma.

“The president was clear and unequivocal,” Lopetegui said. “We’re in no doubt at all that Modric is going to continue playing for us just as he has been.”

Spanish media had reported that Kovacic had gone on strike to push through a transfer, and rumours of a move to Chelsea have grown stronger. While it’s more likely that the 24-year-old leaves, Lopetegui remains happy with the player’s commitment.

“I’ve not seen that he’s gone on strike,” the Spaniard said. “He trained normally. Mateo is a member of the squad, and I am delighted with him.”

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Real Madrid wonderkid Vinicius Junior believes he is 'improving every day'

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Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior believes he is getting better and better everyday in a Whites shirt.

The Brazilian wonderkid, who arrived from Flamengo this summer for €45 million, has appeared regularly during pre-season for Julen Lopetegui’s men and is set to feature prominently in the 2018-19 campaign.

At just 18, the teenager already seems at home amongst his new team-mates and is confident he is approaching his best level, as well as learning all the time.

“I was certainly better (against Juventus) than in the first match,” Vinicius told Real Madrid TV.

“I’ve been improving every day and now I feel more confident, better physically and tactically, understanding everything that ‘professor’ Lopetegui has to teach us.

“He is helping us a lot so that we adapt as soon as possible.”

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Asensio and Bale on target as Real Madrid conclude US pre-season tour with win over Roma

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Marco Asensio netted the opener after just two minutes.

Real Madrid rounded off their pre-season tour stateside with a 2-1 win over Roma in New Jersey on Tuesday evening.

A second minute goal from Marco Asensio put the Whites ahead and Gareth Bale doubled the tally just 13 minutes later in the first-half of their International Champions Cup clash at the MetLife Stadium.

Kevin Strootman pulled a late goal back for the Serie A side but Julen Lopetegui’s men held on to secure fifth place in the overall table after their second victory in three games.

The Spanish giants fielded a full strength side in the first-half before making plenty of changes in the second period.

And Bale, who has enjoyed a fine pre-season campaign and assisted Asensio’s opener with a superb outside of the left-foot curling pass, is pleased with Real’s progress ahead of the UEFA Super Cup final on August 15 against Atletico Madrid in Estonia.

“We’re scoring goals and we’re winning matches, so we’re doing well,” Bale said.

“We have to keep improving and we’re really looking forward to starting the new season.”

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