Perennial Serie A champions Juventus have emerged as Ivan Rakitic’s preferred option if he is forced out of Barcelona this summer, according to reports.
Rakitic, 31, has been a mainstay of the Catalans’ midfield since a June 2014 move from Sevilla. This standing, however, has been threatened by the imminent arrival of Netherlands and Ajax prospect Frenkie de Jong.
Gazzetta dello Sport have stated that the Croatia international reacted positively when sounded out by the Bianconeri about a transfer. He has previously been linked to fellow Serie A-outfit Inter Milan, plus Champions League quarter-final opponents Manchester United.
In February, Rakitic stated an intent to remain at the La Liga holders.
“I have three more years on my contract, I want to stay here,” he said, according to Marca.
“I’m full of pride that big clubs ask for me, if they do.
“I only see myself at Barcelona, it makes me laugh a little when I have my morning coffee.”
Rakitic has netted 35 times in 259 run-outs for Barca and lifted 12 trophies.
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.