Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos gives his assessment of Neymar

David Cooper 25/08/2019
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Neymar and Sergio Ramos

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos rates Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar as one of the “three best players in the world”.

Los Blancos are locked in negotiations with the Ligue 1 giants to bring the Brazilian to the Bernabeu with the forward’s former club Barcelona also in the hunt.

Juventus are reportedly monitoring the situation as well, and Ramos was asked about Neymar following his side’s 1-1 La Liga draw with Real Valladolid on Saturday.

“Neymar is a top player, among the top three in the world,” Ramos told reporters. “Talking about signings is a lack of respect for this great team.

“These things are always talked about at Real Madrid and even more so when the transfer window is open.

“Players must be cold with these things.”

Madrid spent heavily over the summer as Zinedine Zidane looked to overhaul his squad after a deeply disappointing season.

However, through injury or non-selection, Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo Goes have barely featured so far this season with two players thought to be cut adrift starting on Saturday.

Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez featured in the starting XI together for the first time since 2016 and Ramos says their re-emergence is a boost.

“We’re going to move forward with those that we have,” Ramos said. “We all need to be connected.

“Reactivating players like Bale or James is another solution.”

One player who could be on his way out of the club, though, is Keylor Navas. The goalkeeper has reportedly handed in a transfer request with Thibaut Courtois the undisputed No1.

PSG are strongly linked with a move for the Costa Rican but Ramos wants him to remain in Madrid.

“He’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world,” Ramos added.

“The debate about the goalkeeper’s spot has always existed, but Real Madrid need two great goalkeepers and Courtois and Navas are two amazing goalkeepers.

“I would like [Navas] to stay because he’s also a great player, team-mate and he’s a friend.”

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Zinedine Zidane says Real Madrid "deserved more" after 1-1 home draw with Real Valladolid

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Real Madrid and Karim Benzema's joy was short-lived.

Zinedine Zidane thought his Real Madrid side “deserved more” after they dropped points in a surprise 1-1 home draw against Real Valladolid.

The hosts struck first, with Karim Benzema hitting his second goal in as many games, before Sergi Guardiola earned his side a draw with a low strike in the 88th minute.

Speaking at a press conference reported by the club website, the French manager said: “It left a bitter taste in my mouth, we did the hardest part, scoring right at the end of the second half but just three minutes later they pulled one back.

“It is a tough situation, it’s complicated and hard when you know you deserved more, the three points, especially given all the chances in the first half, all we needed was a goal.

“At 1-0 on 84 minutes we needed to be practical and have more conviction when the game tested us.

“That was what happened today and we need to accept that. Yesterday I said this would not be a walkover, any team can come here and cause real problems.

“We need to stay switched on for the full 90 minutes and if we played like we did in the first half we would have real options to win.”

James Rodriguez made his first appearance since his return from Bayern Munich and Zidane said he was pleased with the Colombian’s performance.

He said: “He played well. He came off because he took a knock, and if that happens I prefer not to risk it.”

When asked about the pressure faced by his side, Zidane said: “I notice the pressure, of course. Our fans get behind us.

“I know it’s difficult but it’s like winning a title. We need our fans with the team and we will do everything from our side.”

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Forgotten men Bale, James and Isco step up even though Real Madrid are held to 1-1 draw

Matt Jones 24/08/2019
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Isco bristled with confidence against Valladolid.

Real Valladolid snatched a late point at the Santiago Bernabeu as the name of an old ghost returned to haunt Real Madrid in a 1-1 draw for Zinedine Zidane’s men.

Los Blancos suffered at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona during his four-year reign from 2008-12 and it was Sergi Guardiola who popped up minutes from time to earn the visitors a point after Karim Benzema had given the hosts an 82nd minute lead they barely deserved.

Here we rate the Real players.

REAL MADRID

Thibaut Courtois 6: Hardly troubled, called into action seriously in 75th minute when he beat away a drive from range. Unlucky as Guardiola’s shot snuck under him.

Dani Carvajal 6: Typically supported Real’s attacks down the right superbly. Skied one attempt when he got round the back of Valladolid and connected with Marcelo’s cross. Four key passes was joint second best.

Raphael Varane 6: Struggled to deal with Enes Unal’s clever movement and physicality and was at fault for equaliser as he failed to pick up Guardiola’s run. Greatest contribution was in attack, swinging in cross from which Benzema broke the deadlock.

Sergio Ramos 5: Fairly quiet afternoon for the veteran skipper, save for the normal histrionics. Led side with three interceptions. Was far from his best or worst.

Marcelo 5: You’re never going to get a defensive masterclass out of the marauding left-back, but veteran remains a potent attacking weapon in Real’s arsenal.

James Rodriguez 6: Bright before being withdrawn. Nodded a free header wide of goal though before curling Benzema’s lay-off just wide.

Casemiro 5: One thundering early challenge was typical of the midfield muscle man. Mopped up ahead of back four, led Real with four tackles.

Toni Kroos 6: Metronomic German received and distributed possession with minimum fuss. Five key passes led Real.

Gareth Bale 7: Lively, poking one effort just side but should have done better when he failed to connect with an early lofted pass yards out. Headed Marcelo cross inches wide.

Karim Benzema 7: Linked play, or tried to, neatly. Saw little sight of goal until he arrowed in a precise finish for the opening goal. Expert finish.

Isco 7: Another seemingly playing for his Bernabeu future. Yet cool and cutting, the playmaker operated as if the ball was attached to his foot. Jointly led Real with four key passes.

SUBS

Vinicius Junior 4: Flamboyant talent with a fabulous future ahead of him but endured a frustrating afternoon off the bench. Should have seen yellow for blatant dive.

Luka Jovic 6: Almost a dream entry for the Serb who rose to glance Bale’s cross just wide seconds after coming on.

Lucas Vazquez N/A: Thrown on at the death with no hope of making an impact.

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