Only Max Allegri's honour stopped him from becoming Real Madrid coach

David Cooper 10/08/2018
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Real Madrid don’t always get their way. If they did, it would be Max Allegri in the hotseat and not Julen Lopetegui.

As it is, Juventus coach Allegri decided to stick around in Turin, admitting his word to president Andrea Agnelli counted for more than Los Blancos’ advances earlier this summer.

Juve ended up bringing a piece of Real to him thanks to their jaw-dropping move for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The acquisition of Ronaldo has doubtless solidified in Allegri’s mind that he reached the right decision, as he bids to end the Old Lady’s 22-year wait for the Champions League trophy.

“I said ‘no’ to Real Madrid because I made a commitment with the President,” the former AC Milan coach told magazine Stile Mese.

“Therefore, my maximum respect for Juventus and given word were why I rejected the call of Real Madrid, the biggest club in the world and the dream for every coach.

“I’d be a hypocrite if I said I wasn’t honoured by their consideration, but I’m absolutely convinced that I made the right decision.

“Am I a ‘bandiera’ like Buffon or Del Piero? I absolutely don’t want to be equated with them because they’re players who wrote Juventus’ history, whereas I’ve only been here for four years.”

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Man United were willing to spend up to £100m on Raphael Varane – reports

Chris Bailey 10/08/2018
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Manchester United were after every defender and got none of them before the Premier League’s transfer window slammed shut – including Real Madrid star and World Cup winner Raphael Varane, according to reports in the British media.

A slew of centre-backs had popped up in connection with United including Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld, Jerome Boateng, new Everton signing Yerry Mina and even Atletico Madrid stalwart Diego Godin.

But according to British outlets, including The Times, United chief executive Ed Woodward floated the idea of purchasing Varane while having lunch with Real president Florentino Perez last week.

He was quickly shut down and ultimately no centre-back arrived through the doors of Old Trafford on Thursday night, with the club believing no option represented true value for money.

Jose Mourinho was the manager of Los Blancos when Varane arrived in 2011. The 25-year-old has gone on to appear for the club 233 times, and he was a key member of the France squad that clinched the World Cup in Russia earlier this summer.

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Thibaut Courtois wants former Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard to join him at Real Madrid

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Thibaut Courtois said at his Real Madrid unveiling he would love Eden Hazard to join him one day.

Thibaut Courtois signed for Real Madrid on Thursday before revealing he is keen for former Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard to join him at the Bernabeu.

The Belgium international, named best goalkeeper at the World Cup this summer as he helped his country to third-place, has signed a six-year deal after completing a medical on Thursday.

Courtois had a year remaining on his Chelsea deal and did not report for training with the Blues this week, before the transfer was agreed for a reported £31.5million.

A video on Real Madrid’s official Twitter feed showed Courtois signing his contract alongside club president Florentino Perez.

The 26-year-old then posed for pictures on the pitch before speaking to the media, where he said he would love to be reunited with reported Madrid target Hazard – who remains at Chelsea for the time being.

“He’s a wonderful player,” Courtois said of his compatriot at his press conference.

“I’d love to play alongside him again and we’ll have to see what happens in the future. If he ends up here one day, that would be brilliant.”

Chelsea confirmed the departure of the 26-year-old with a statement on their website, signing off with praise for their former goalkeeper.

“He has played an important role in the club’s success, and we wish him the best of luck for the future,” it read.

Courtois lifted two Premier League titles during his time at Stamford Bridge and is keen to continue winning silverware.

“I’m coming into a club that has just won three Champions Leagues in a row and it’s important to keep winning all the trophies we can,” he said.

“I want to continue to add success to this club’s history. Our challenge this season is to win every title available to us. We’ve got a great squad and I hope I can help the team to keep winning things.

“I received a lot of offers, some better from a financial point of view, but I wanted to come here, and importantly, be close to my children. When there was a firm offer on the table, I was in no doubt. My goal was to come to Real Madrid, everyone knew that.”

Courtois passed a medical at Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital and was later unveiled as a Real player, with Mateo Kovacic moving in the opposite direction on a season-long loan.

Having spent three seasons at Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid, on loan from Chelsea, Courtois expressed a desire to return to the Spanish capital from London – missing training with his former club earlier in the week to seemingly help push through a move.

That upset Chelsea supporters, who left negative replies on an Instagram post from Courtois on Wednesday evening which included his goodbye to the club.

He later deleted the post but again thanked everyone involved with Chelsea once he had completed the move to Madrid.

“All I’d like to do is to thank the fans for the last four years and for how they’ve supported me at Chelsea,” he added.

“I’ve got a new opportunity in my career now and I have to make the most of it. I’ve got two kids here and that had a significant role to play in my decision”.

Chelsea reacted to Courtois’ impending departure by breaking their transfer record – and the world record for a goalkeeper – to land Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for £72.1million.

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