Real Madrid Rejected €80M Offer For Morata

The European champions have decided to keep the 23-year-old striker at the club and have assured him he will be handed a fair crack at a place in their starting XI.

Real Madrid rejected an offer of 80 million euros ($89M) for Alvaro Morata before deciding to keep the striker at the Santiago Bernabeu, Goal Spainreports.

Morata was pursued by Chelsea and Arsenal, among others, after Madrid exercised a buy-back clause to re-sign him from Juventus for €30 million ($33M).

Morata’s agents met with Madrid on Thursday and a €60 million ($66M) bid was turned down. An improved €80 million offer from an unnamed club was dismissed Monday after another meeting.


It was expected that the European champions would immediately sell the 23-year-old for a profit upon his return, but Florentino Perez and Zinedine Zidane have pushed to persuade him he has a future in Madrid.

Zidane and Perez are both fans of Morata and played a significant role in assuring the Spain international that he will be handed a fair shot at breaking into the starting XI next season.

Morata and his representatives were also said to be encouraged by Zidane’s selection of the likes of Lucas Vasquez on the basis of their good form over big-money signings such as James Rodriguez.

The striker will compete directly with Karim Benzema for the center forward role between star wingers Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.  – Alberto Pinero


Iceland take stunning lead over Englnad

Iceland take stunning 2-1 lead

A goalkeeping error by Joe Hart has put Iceland 2-1 up vs. England in Nice. Wayne Rooney gave Roy Hodgson’s side the lead from the penalty spot before Ragnar Sigurdsson’s equaliser two minutes later



The Blancos star is expected to play a big part in his team’s campaign, but the trainer has warned against putting him under too much pressure to succeed

Portugal coach Fernando Santos has stressed Cristiano Ronaldo cannot lead his country to Euro 2016 glory on his own, but concedes the Real Madrid attacker will be key to their chances in France.

Santos’ men are regarded as one of the outsiders to win the showpiece in France, but the 61-year-old believes much will depend on the form of their star man.

“Ronaldo is important for Real Madrid, but he is at least as important for Portugal, if not more,” Santos told Marca.

“If you have a player who scores 50 or 60 goals per season, someone who could score from out of nowhere, he is always going to be important. It’s impossible to quantify how important he is.

“But not even Cristiano can do it all on his own. Nobody can win games on his own. You are always going to need your team-mates’ help. But there is no denying he is hugely important.”

Ronaldo was unable to guide Portugal to success at the 2014 World Cup due to fitness issues, but Santos is confident the prolific attacker is fit enough to make an impact in France, despite his injury problems towards the end of the season.

“We are always talking about players having to be 100 per cent, but that’s not the reality. There are always exceptions,” Santos added.

“Ideally, everybody would be 100 per cent fit, but nobody would leave out Cristiano if he is at 80 per cent. We are keeping a close eye on his fitness.

“It would be different had he been seriously injured. We would not have called him up if we thought he couldn’t play.”


Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas to miss Costa Rica’s Copa America campaign

Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas to miss Costa Rica’s Copa America campaign

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas will miss the Copa America Centenario this summer due to an Achilles tendon problem.

Navas has been suffering with Achilles problems for some time and missed last year’s Gold Cup, and his club, Real Madrid, had announced earlier this month that the 29-year-old would face a spell on the sidelines with the issue.

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Although he played in both the final La Liga game of the season against Deportivo La Coruna on May 14 and Saturday’s Champions League final success over Atletico Madrid, Real have now said that Navas is suffering withAchilles tendinopathy.

As a result, he will miss this summer’s tournament in the United States, which takes place from June 3-26, and will be replaced by Deportivo Saprissa’s Danny Carvajal.

The Costa Rican Football Federation (Fedefutbol) announced on its official website: “The Achilles tendon has again caused a problem for the national team goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who will miss the Copa America Centenario, which starts for Costa Rica this Saturday.

“The Costa Rica FA (Fedefutbol) will organise for the goalkeeper Danny Carvajal to replace Navas.

“This Monday the medical department at Real Madrid communicated to the medical department at Fedefutbol that they had done a scan on the national goalkeeper’s left heel.

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“In the statement it said that the keeper had chronic Achilles tendonitis, so it was recommended that he stop completely in order to get a definitive treatment.

“Our department has asked for images of the scan, and received them some hours later, when they were looked at by our doctors, along with radiologist Randall Bujan and orthopaedic specialist Vladimir Badilla, who agreed that it needed treatment at this time.

“The doctors considered that if it was not managed quickly, the player could suffer a further problem in his Achilles tendon.

“Navas has been managing this same injury for a year, and it has not responded to multiple treatments he has received, so that Real Madrid will decide how to resolve it definitively. From the federation we wish Keylor a swift recovery, and hope to have him back for our next friendly games.”

ESPN FC’s Spain correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report

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Labour union protests threaten to disrupt Euro 2016

French union warns of disruption to Euro 2016 soccer cup unless govt backs down on labor reform. The organizers of Euro 2016 set for France have already had to be dealing with the real possibility of ISIS threats.  Additional worries are looming as French union labour disputes threaten to cause disruptions.  

A major French union has warned Paris that the upcoming Euro 2016 soccer tournament opening could be disrupted unless it backs down on contested labor law reforms. It comes as tens of thousands of people hit the streets again to protest the legislation.

The warning on Thursday by the hardline CGT union took aim at the 2016 UEFA European Championship (known as Euro 2016), scheduled to begin in France on June 10. The match will be played at various stadiums throughout the country, including Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and Paris.

But if the CGT has its way, those games will only be taking place if Paris agrees to back down on a highly contested labor law reform.

When asked by Reuters if his union was willing to disrupt the football contest, CGT chief Philippe Martinez said: “The government has the time to say ‘let’s stop the clock’ and everything will be ok.”

Those thoughts were echoed by the head of the smaller FO union, Jean-Claude Mailly, who said: “In football speak, it’s time the prime minister took the red card back.” 

The unions’ statements came as tens of thousands of people hit the streets in protest on Thursday, leading to clashes between police and demonstrators, Reuters reported.

Around 100 people targeted a police station in the southwest city of Bordeaux, throwing objects at it and damaging a patrol car. Bank windows were broken in Paris and the western city of Nantes, prompting police to respond with tear gas.

Protesters also aimed to choke off power and fuel supplies and paralyze the public transport network on Thursday, with employees halting their work at oil refineries, nuclear power plants, and railways. Demonstrators also erected road blocks and burned wooden pallets and tires at major ports and near key distribution hubs.

The street rallies were also joined by marchers from the youth protest movement Nuit Debout (Up All Night). But despite employee walk-outs, street demonstrations, and threats from unions, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has rejected calls to scrap the part of the labor reform law which has most angered the CGT. That section would allow companies to opt out of national obligations on labor protection if they adopt in-house deals on pay and conditions with the consent of the majority of employees.

“There is no question of changing tack, even if adjustments are always possible,” said Valls.

The prime minister also stated that the government would break up refinery blockades. His statements were supported by the country’s other large union, the CFDT.

The Thursday protests are the latest in a string of demonstrations in recent weeks, in which 350 police officers and several protesters have been injured and more than 1,300 people arrested.

Protests against the labor law reforms have been taking place since they were put forward by Labor Minister Myrian El Khomri. The government says the reforms – which focus on fighting unemployment by loosening protections on France’s 35-hour work week and layoffs, and reducing overtime bonuses – will help curb the country’s high unemployment rate. Protesters and workers’ unions, however, say the government wants to make it easier and less costly for employers to lay off workers.

France’s unemployment rate hit a record high in March, pushing jobless numbers to 3.591 million people, according to the Labor Ministry.


Best Worse and Weird from La Liga

La Liga season: Bests, worsts, final quirks and other notable accolades

Best team?

Barcelona. The Catalans incurred negative headlines towards the end of the season when they were eliminated from the Uefa Champions League by Atletico Madrid as part of losing four games in five which allowed both Madrid clubs back into the title race. But that wobble only started after the Catalans went 39 games unbeaten. That’s an incredible run for any team, let alone one which started the run without their injured best player and who then flew to the other side of the world to be crowned world champions in the middle of it.

Barca have issues to address. The majority of their best players are in their late 20s and early 30s, they fear the financial might of England’s Premier League and they have to fund a huge Camp Nou makeover and expansion, but they have been football’s pre-eminent side for a decade and they are still exceptionally strong.

Biggest let downs?

Carlos Vela is one of Real Sociedad’s most talented players. He didn’t show it last season. At Valencia, central defender Aymen Abdennour cost €25 million (Dh103.5m), a significant fee for them. He was supposed to replace Nicolas Otamendi; he didn’t. Valencia bought dreadfully last summer and it showed in a 12th-placed finish.  An even bigger fee of €35 million was paid by Atletico to Porto for striker Jackson Martinez, but the Colombian was sold after six months for an Asian transfer record fee of €42 million to Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande.

Indian Summer?

That will be Fernando Torres. While the 32-year-old striker didn’t make Vicente del Bosque’s provisional Spain squad for the European Championship, the former Liverpool, Chelsea and AC Milan striker finished the season superbly as he helped boyhood club Atletico push for the league title and reach the Champions League final. High on confidence after scoring his 100th goal for the club, Torres came back to regain his status at the club where he became a youthful hero.

Strangest signings?

Barcelona bought wide men Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan, who were prepared to spend half the season out of their new team due to the transfer ban. They were expected to feature from January 1 onwards when that ban was up, yet both were underused by a manager reluctant to rotate his side. They were two of half a dozen players whom Luis Enrique didn’t appear to trust. His squad is small.

Real Madrid 0 Barcelona 4 (November 21, 2015). Had Madrid drawn the first clasico of the season, they would have won the league. They weren’t close to drawing a game which the visitors controlled throughout, with Luis Suarez scoring twice. One of the most encouraging factors for Barca was that they were so dominant without Lionel Messi, who started on the bench after a 10- week injury and was introduced with the game already won. After a fine team performance including from lesser light Sergi Roberto, Barca moved six points clear.

Best supporters?

With a home average of 38,000 Real Betis weren’t only the best-supported team in Sevilla, but were the fifth best-supported team in Spain. A final day win over relegated Getafe in front of 50,000 saw them rise to 10th in the league – a successful first season back after promotion last term thanks largely to the 18 goals of 34-year-old striker Ruben Castro. All three promoted sides enjoyed huge rises in crowds as average gates in La Liga rose by 5.4 per cent on last season. There are still too many empty seats at too many grounds, though.

The longevity awards

Juan Carlos Valeron and Manuel Pablo were mainstays of that “Super” Deportivo La Coruna side of the noughties. Both retired at the end of the season. Valeron played 760 competitive games, full-back Pablo, also 40, deserves his break. A nod, too, to Athletic Bilbao’s Carlos Gurpeggi, 35, who retired at the weekend after 18 years with the Basques.

Call yourself a big club?

Along with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the three biggest clubs in the world. At home, both are well supported. Away from home it’s a different matter, with abysmal away followings of mere dozens in venues less than two hours from home.

The Best Eibar Story

Eibar, the minnows who managed to stay in the top flight for a second successive season, this time by a far more comfortable margin that last when they only stayed up because Elche’s financial irregularities. Like last term they started well and flirted with the European places. Unlike last term, they still had enough in the tank to finish five points clear of relegation. On average crowds of 5,200 in a tight stadium which holds only 6,200 in a town of only 27,000, that’s astonishing.

Notable mentions

• Villarreal did really well to finish fourth and reach the semi-finals of the Europa League. They play attractive and usually attacking football and boast a formidable home record, though they faded badly once fourth was secured and provided limited opposition to Sporting Gijon, who stayed up.

• Celta Vigo started the season really well and hammered Barcelona. They also beat Atletico as they finished an impressive sixth to qualify for the Europa League. To do so on a small budget while playing entertaining football is a success story. The Galicians have recruited well since Luis Enrique took charge in 2013, but they lost their man to Barcelona a year later and now they have lost their sporting director Miguel Torrecilla.

• Malaga also deserve praise. They lost some of their best players last summer and again in January. Unlike previous seasons, they didn’t spend much to replace them, but cerebral coach Javi Gracia developed young players, improved experienced ones and oversaw some epic performances, most notably against Barcelona.

• Promoted Las Palmas were bottom of the league in October. They finished 11th after wise manager Quique Setien took them up the table.



Klopp wants Liverpool stars to join kopp legends by beating Sevilla

Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool stars can join Kop legends by beating Sevilla in the Europa League final.

JURGEN KLOPP challenged his players to become Liverpool legends — and says they have never been in better shape to do so.
Klopp leads his rookies into tonight’s Europa League final with Sevilla just seven months after arriving at Anfield.

Yet he reckons they are in perfect condition to stun the Spanish side, who are chasing a three-peat. Klopp said: “It is a wonderful story to tell your grandchildren about being aLiverpool legend.
“How it feels to be a Liverpool legend I have no idea — but it is one of the best things you could feel. “In my opinion we are in a perfect moment to play a final. I’m really happy.
“That doesn’t mean all is already done, far from it. But this hard, intensive seven months feels like it should end in a final.

“We have very much deserved to be in this final — and we will be a real competitor.”
Liverpool are aiming to end an 11-year European trophy drought.
And the Kop boss knows that even though Liverpool are favourites and 26,000 fans are to descend on Basel, it will be no stroll against a Spanish side who have dominated this competition.
Sevilla have won the trophy for the last two years and Klopp warned Liverpool must be ready to take risks. He added: “This is special for us — it is a really big opportunity. This team has the hunger.”
Kop legend Steven Gerrard, now at LA Galaxy, said: “It’s strange to be away from it all but I’ll still be supporting the lads.”