Zinedine Zidane has admitted his admiration for Eden Hazard as Real Madrid continue to be linked with the Chelsea forward.
Zidane’s side will host Eibar on Saturday but attention in the Spanish capital is already turning to the summer transfer window.
Madrid are expected to undertake a major rebuilding job after a disappointing season, with the European champions starting the weekend 13 points behind rivals Barcelona in LaLiga.
Asked if Madrid might seek to lure Hazard from west London, Zidane said: “I will not give my personal opinion about what may happen because the season has not ended, but I’ve always appreciated him.
“I’ve seen him a lot since I was playing in France. He’s fantastic.”
An overhaul of the squad will come with Zidane as yet unable to transform Madrid’s fortunes since his return as coach. They go into Saturday’s game on the back of a 2-1 loss away to Valencia on Wednesday night.
Madrid’s season is effectively over with nothing left to play for, but Zidane – who experienced a similar situation when Barca took the title by 12 points in 2006 – told his players they must play with pride to see out the campaign.
“I am not inside each player’s head,” he said when asked about motivation. “What I see in training is that they have the pride to finish the season well.
“Our defeat (to Valencia) says the opponent played well, but we did good things too.
“I’ve lived it as a player. It’s not easy. You have to accept it when things like this happen.
“The best way to get out of it is to work, to be happy when you win matches even if there’s nothing at stake.”
Madrid will take on an Eibar side comfortably in mid-table with their place in LaLiga effectively secure for another season.
They could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas, but coach Jose Luis Mendilibar expects his players to want to show their best on the Bernabeu stage.
“Playing at the Bernabeu is enough motivation in itself,” he said. “If you are not motivated there, they will put you away.
“Of course they can get you even if you are not motivated. They are not enjoying their best moment but they still have very good players.
“Even when they are not playing well, at home they usually win and score many goals.
“But we are going well and have an opportunity to pick up more points.”
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The young Englishman has been a sensation in Germany this season, having moved to Dortmund in the summer of 2017 from Manchester City. No player from the top five leagues in Europe has more assists than Sancho, who tops that particular chart with 13 this term – one ahead of Eden Hazard and Lionel Messi, who both have 12.
Despite growing speculation that there is a big offer coming from United, potentially around £100million, Dortmund’s executive director Hans-Joachim Watzke says Sancho will be pulling on the black and yellow jersey come next season.
“I don’t care about that. Everybody knows that Jadon will play for us next year,” Watzke told Goal.
“That’s a fact and we don’t have a price tag for him. And because everybody in Europe knows that nobody contacted us.”
Watzke added that if Dortmund were to countenance a sale, the 19-year-old’s former club have no buy-back or first right of refusal in place.
“We never give information about contract details but City has no co-determination right at all,” said the executive.
The rumours of Raphael Varane’s potential exit from Real Madrid are growing by the day.
French giants Paris Saint-Germain are the latest entrants to the tussle that already features the likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
The World Cup winner is tipped to replace captain Thiago Silva, according to AS as the Brazilian will be 35 when his contract expires in 2020.
Clearly, the French giants face stiff competition from European giants as they look to obtain Varane’s signature. Also, if they are not able to negotiate with Madrid for an affordable fee, they will have to buy out Varane’s release clause of €500 million.
Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane mentioned on Tuesday that the defender has not said anything about wanting to leave.
“He’s been here for eight years, and he’s doing well. He seems fine to me. He hasn’t said anything about wanting to leave,” the Frenchman said.
Should Varane depart, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly is favourite to replace him is at the Spanish capital.