Zidane: Hazard should be ready to face City

Zinedine Zidane says Real Madrid star Eden Hazard is nearing full fitness ahead of their Champions League clash with Manchester City.

The 29-year-old has endured a tough start since swapping Chelsea for the Santiago Bernabeu during the summer transfer window.

A sluggish start with his efforts on the field, Hazard suffered a foot injury against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League back in November and has not played since.

However, Real are set to be boosted by the return of Hazard with the player back in training ahead of Sunday's encounter against Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu.

When asked about whether Hazard will be ready to face Manchester City in the Champions League on February 26, Zidane was upbeat about the prospect of the Belgian international being available.

"With him back we recover a great player and it's time for him to return to the squad. If he trains with his teammates that means he's fine, but it's been three months since he last played. He's ready to play with us," said Zidane.

Zidane, who has an uncertain future at Real beyond the current campaign, is adamant his side can't look too far ahead to the encounter with Pep Guardiola's side and the focus must be on Sunday league encounter with Celta Vigo.

"The most important game is always the next one. Now we have to play games where we have everything to play for, every single game will be tough but we're ready," Zidane added.

Alba blow adds to Barcelona's injury worries

Barcelona have been dealt another injury blow after Jordi Alba suffered a groin strain in the 2-1 victory over Getafe.

The Spain full-back was forced off in the first half of Saturday's clash, with the club later confirming he had picked up an injury.

A statement on Barca's official website read: "Tests carried out on the first-team player Jordi Alba have confirmed that he has a groin strain in his right leg.

"The player's recovery will dictate his return to action."

Barcelona have some key matches coming up, with their Champions League trip to Napoli on February 25 closely followed by an El Clasico clash with leaders Real Madrid.

The Catalan club are already without the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez.

Barca could swap Vidal and Rakitic for Martinez

Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic could be joining Inter Milan as Barcelona try to sort out a deal to bring Lautaro Martinez to Camp Nou.

Barcelona are seeking a long-term successor to Luis Suarez and Martinez, who has been in fine form for Inter, has been on their radar for a while.

They are currently attempting to bring an attacker in on an emergency basis due to Ousmane Dembele's injury, but they are restricted to adding from another Spanish club due to La Liga protocols.

Reports suggest Barcelona will throw everything at Inter in the summer to try to snap up one of the brightest talents in European football.

Martinez has struck 11 times in 20 Serie A appearances for Inter this season and it's understood that compatriot Lionel Messi has urged Barcelona to make their move.

The Nerazzurri paid £18.8million for Martinez in the summer of 2018 and they shrewdly added a £92million release clause into his contract.

After missing out on a reunion with Neymar last summer, the Blaugrana are desperate to land a major target.

Reports in Italy claim Barcelona will offer Vidal and Rakitic, who have less than 18 months left on their contracts at the Nou Camp, in an attempt to sweeten the deal with the Italian giants.

Manchester United and Real Madrid have also been heavily linked with the Argentina international and Inter could use that interest to their advantage.

Manaj 'is a player who can help us' - Setien

Barcelona boss Quique Setien has backed new signing Rey Manaj to cope with the pressure after being included in the senior team for the clash with Getafe this weekend.

Barcelona only signed Manaj from Albacete last month in a deal worth around 3million euros and he was immediately sent to the B side, who are currently sitting fourth in Segunda Division B.

The 22-year-old striker, who put pen-to-paper on a three-year contract, made his debut in a 2-0 home win against Ejea before opening his account in the 2-1 win over Prat on February 2.

Manaj has now been thrust into the senior squad for this weekend's visit of Getafe as the Catalans deal with an injury crisis in the attacking department, having recently confirmed Ousmane Dembele will be out for the season.

The France international has now joined Luis Suarez on the injured list and the Spanish champions are currently in talks with the Spanish football authorities as to whether they will be allowed to sign a contracted player this month in an emergency deal.

Reports have linked Barcelona with a number of attacking targets, including Real Sociedad's Willian Jose and Real Betis striker Loren Moron, but they have failed in their transfer efforts to date.

Setien has been speaking about Manaj ahead of this weekend's clash and the manager is adamant the Albanian will be able to produce the goods if called upon.

"He is a player who can help us," he was quoted as saying.

"It takes a short time and has a period of adaptation, but we are incorporating different players into training every day and they will enter the first team."

Van de Beek: Real Madrid links premature

Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Donny van de Beek has ruled out the possibility of joining Real Madrid in the near future, saying their interest is "premature".

Los Blancos have previously been linked with the 22-year-old, who was a key figure in helping Ajax secure the Eredivise title and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.

Premier League outfit Manchester United have also been suggested as a possible suitor for the playmaker but Real are considered the frontrunners to land Van de Beek this summer.

Amid all the speculation and rumours of Real's interest growing in his services, Van de Beek has reacted calmly to the situation with a sense of ‘what will be will be'.

"It makes no sense I can't control what people say," Van de Beek was reported as telling Algemeen Dagblad (via SPORT). "I think it is premature. I have often said: I will not hurry; I am fine here."

However, the Netherlands international, who has provided eight goals and four assists in 19 league games for Erik ten Hag's side this season, did not completely rule out a switch to the Bernabeu in the future, adding: "If it happens, it happens."

Reports have suggested Real will offer £45m to try and get a deal over the line for another one of Ajax's rising stars.

The Dutch giants have already agreed to sell 26-year-old winger Hakim Ziyech this summer to Chelsea and Van de Beek could be the next big name to leave the Dutch giants, if Real get their way.

Guardiola: Defeat to Real could result in my sacking

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reckons there's always a chance he could be sacked if they fall to defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The Premier League champions face the Spanish giants in the last 16 of this season's competition with the first leg taking place at the Bernabeu on February 26.

City sacking Guardiola is an unlikely scenario given his outstanding record at the club, but the former Barcelona boss nevertheless recognises it does exist due to the high expectations at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola has won five major trophies with City, including two Premier League titles, but has failed to take the club beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League in three previous attempts.

Guardiola told Sky Sports: "I want to win the Champions League. I dream (of it) and I will enjoy preparing for the games against Madrid, to see what we can do and this process, two weeks before, will be the happiest moments of my profession, to imagine what we can do to beat them.

"If we don't beat them, OK, come the chairman or the sport director and say, 'It's not good enough, we want the Champions League, I'm going to sack you.'

"OK, (I'd say), 'Thank you, it was a pleasure'. I don't know (if this would happen). It has happened many times and could maybe happen."

Guardiola, who is very demanding in terms of the style of football his teams play, feels it is unfair to judge managers solely on the trophies they win.

He said: "We give a bad, bad message for the new generation, for our kids, to just count the winner, the trophies to win.

"You say the season is a disaster but if you win the Champions League it will be exceptional. Why? It is difficult to win it.

"If you don't, we can say in more than 100 years of history (there) were 100 failure seasons for Manchester City. That is not true.

"Always the people believe like you are Pep or Jurgen (Klopp), or another name, you have to win all the titles every season and (get) 2,000million points, (score) 2,000million goals.

"Sometimes it is not possible.

"All the times, in no sport, (has) one team won every season all the time. It's impossible."

Real Betis reject Barcelona's Moron approach

Real Betis have reportedly turned down Barcelona's offer for striker Loren Moron as they hope to receive his full release clause.

Barcelona have been granted permission to make an emergency signing and the Betis frontman is well-regarded by Quique Setien.

La Liga's protocol allows clubs to reinforce outside of the transfer window if one of their players is ruled out for at least five months.

Ousmane Dembele's hamstring injury, and subsequent surgery, is set to be sidelined for six months and Barcelona have 14 days to sign a replacement from another Spanish club.

Real Sociedad frontman Willian Jose, who was heavily linked with a switch to the Premier League in January, has been linked, while former Arsenal striker Lucas Perez - now at Alaves - is also understood to be a target.

Reports suggest that Moron is Barcelona's top choice due to the fact that Setien worked with him at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

Indeed, Setien promoted Moron from Real Betis II in 2018 and he has notched on eight occasions in La Liga this season.

It's understood that Barcelona have offered up €15million (£12.5m) to snap up the former Marbella FC man.

Moron signed a new deal with Betis in the summer of 2018 and the club inserted a €40m (£33.2m) release clause.

Betis understandably don't want to lose their top scorer at this point of the term and are reportedly refusing to let Moron depart unless that clause is matched.

Real Madrid look to bolster attack with Kean

Real Madrid are being linked with a swoop for Everton striker Moise Kean as boss Zinedine Zidane looks to bolster his attack.

Karim Benzema is showing no signs of slowing down as he continues to bang in the goals for Los Blancos. However, he is now 32 and at some point all good things have to come to an end.

With that in mind, Real are looking for a new striker and are hoping for more luck than last summer when they opted to bring in Luka Jovic.

Zidane is standing by the former Eintracht Frankfurt star but he is struggling for goals. Unless there is a swift improvement, he will not be at the Bernabeu for much longer.

Real officials are now believed to be keeping a close eye on Kean who, like Jovic, has failed to hit it off since joining new club Everton last summer.

The former Juventus starlet grabbed his first goal last month and Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti is now hoping he can kick on and become the player that everyone predicted.

Despite a tough time in England, Kean is still highly-rated in Europe and Real could be tempted to the offer the Italy international a route out given he is only 19 and has plenty of time to fulfil his potential.

As far as other long-term successors for the Benzema role are concerned, Real are also said to have put Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez on their wanted list.

He is scoring goals for fun and Barcelona are said to be showing a keen interest. Erling Braut Haaland has also been mentioned but the Norwegian has only just joined Borussia Dortmund.


Suarez making good progress after knee surgery

Barcelona's star striker Luis Suarez could be back in contention for the Catalan starting lineup before the end of the season.

The Catalan giants were rocked by the news that Suarez was looking at a lengthy spell on the sidelines after picking up a knee injury that required surgery.

Early reports suggested that the former Liverpool striker could be forced to sit out the remainder of the season as Barca go in search of La Liga and Champions League glory.

That would have been a huge blow for the club, who opted against bringing in another striker during the January transfer window to replace him, but they look to have received some good news.

Reports have claimed that Suarez is making a speedier than expected recovery and could play again this season.

No date has been given and Barca have yet to comment on the rumours but it would be a huge boost if he was to be available to play some part in the season run-in as Barca chase silverware.

Suarez is said to be walking normally after ditching the crutches and will step up his rehabilitation after passing his latest medical review with flying colours.

Barca have had some horrid luck on the injury front and have just lost Ousmane Dembele for six months, so news that Suarez could figure again this season, will give the whole club a lift.

Suarez scored 14 goals in 23 appearances prior to his injury and Barca could need that kind of form in front of goal if they are to finish the season on a winning note.

Lunin unsure about Real Madrid future

Goalkeeper Andriy Lunin has confirmed that he is in talks with Real Madrid but admits his future remains uncertain at the moment.

Ukraine international Lunin joined Madrid in June 2018 from Zorya Luhansk in a deal worth a reported £8million but has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Spanish giants, with his four appearances coming in friendlies.

The 20-year-old was immediately sent out on loan to Leganes after his move went through but he only started four La Liga games for the club.

He then joined Real Valladolid on loan in August 2019 although he failed to play a single league game as he couldn't displace Jordi Masip.

Lunin was recalled in January and sent out to Real Oviedo for the rest of the 2019/20 campaign and has enjoyed a good run in the first team, featuring in five Spanish second division matches and earning positive reviews from his performances.

With just four months of the season remaining there has been talk about the goalkeeper's future at Madrid, where he has a contract until the summer of 2024, and the Ukrainian admits he is unclear what will be happening next season.

When asked if the Spanish giants had given him any indication on his role next season by Onda Cero, Lunin replied: "Not yet but we are speaking - I am in contact with the goalkeeping coach and the directors.

"It is my priority to play and continue to play and at Real Oviedo that is the case, so I am happy to be playing at this club."

Madrid are said to rate Lunin highly and are expected to send him out on loan again for the 2020/21 campaign.

Injury blow for Barca as Dembele ruled out for six months

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has been ruled out for six months after undergoing surgery on a leg injury.

The 22-year-old France international withdrew from training on February 3 as he suffered a rupture to the tendon of his right thigh.

Barca said on their official website that former Rennes and Borussia Dortmund player Dembele, who has made only five LaLiga appearances this season, was expected to be out of action for six months.

Dembele moved to the Nou Camp from Dortmund in August 2017 and has scored 19 goals across 74 appearances in all competitions for the Catalan club.

Barcelona wait on duo for Getafe showdown

Barcelona could have a selection headache in defence this weekend after both Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti sat out training on Monday.

Neither injury is said to be serious and there is the possibility of both being available for selection when Barca take on Getafe although it is a concern for coach Quique Setien nonetheless.

Normally it would not be too much of a worry but Setien is already set to be without Clement Lenglet as he will serve a suspension following his red card against Real Betis at the weekend.

In that case Setien will need to rely on either Pique or Umtiti and will be hoping they are able to return to training at some point this week.

They will be monitored and there is enough to convince the medical staff they are fit for selection.

An injury and selection crisis at the back is the last thing Setien needs as Barca approach the business end of the season.

The Champions League is about to return, while the race for La Liga and the battle with Real Madrid for the title looks set to go right to the wire this season, so it will be a case of all hands to the pump.

Setien already has issues in attack as both Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele are on the sidelines through injury and will not be back available any time soon.

Barca sit just three points behind Real Madrid and were made to work hard at the weekend to win away at Real Betis.

PSG still in the hunt for Barcelona forward Coutinho

Paris Saint-Germain remain in the hunt to sign Philippe Coutinho and he could be available for a cut-price fee from Barcelona in the summer.

PSG were heavily linked with a move for the Brazilian last summer but a deal did not materialise and he ended up joining German giants Bayern Munich on loan for the rest of the season.

The former Liverpool star has done well at the Allianz Arena but it has been suggested Bayern will not be pursuing a permanent deal because they would prefer to save their money for top target Leroy Sane at Manchester City.

That means Coutinho will be back on the market and it is claimed Barca are so keen to get him off the wage bill they would be willing to sell for a fee in the region of £70million.

That is roughly half of what they paid Liverpool and would represent something of a bargain in the current transfer market.

Such a fee could spark a scramble for his services and there is already talk that a host of top Premier League clubs are ready to battle it out, so he will not be short of offers.

PSG will also be in the hunt no doubt as they may need to bring in one or two new attackers in the summer, with a player who fits the bill.

Doubts remain over the future of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and the arrival of Coutinho would go towards filling the void if either did move on.

Hazard closing in on Real Madrid return

Eden Hazard could make his first Real Madrid appearance in over two months against Celta Vigo this weekend as he steps up his recovery from an ankle problem.

Belgium international Hazard is yet to get going for Real after joining in a reported £130million deal from Chelsea last summer, as he has only scored once in 13 appearances across all competitions.

Indeed, Hazard has not been seen at all since limping out of Real’s Champions League group stage clash with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of November.

Los Blancos have flourished in his absence, as they have overhauled Barcelona at the top of the La Liga standings following a five-game winning run that includes Sunday’s success at Osasuna.

However, the impending return of Hazard will certainly be a boost to Real, with boss Zinedine Zidane confirming the 29-year-old could feature in Sunday’s clash with Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu, providing he emerges through this week’s training unscathed.

“He’s going to need this week, which will be a long one,” Zidane told reporters. “We’ll see him next weekend, I hope.”

The return of Hazard could be a timely one, as not only are Real looking to hold off Barcelona at the top of the La Liga standings, but they are also set to take on Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Indeed, the first leg of their tie with the Citizens at the Bernabeu will come just four days before Real host Barca in the second Clasico of the season – a period that could go a long way to defining their entire campaign.

Setien happy with comeback win over former club Betis

Quique Setien was pleased by the manner of Barcelona's comeback victory at former club Real Betis as the La Liga title race heats up.

Having bowed out of the Copa del Rey to Athletic Bilbao on the back of a public spat between Lionel Messi and sporting director Eric Abidal, Barca could ill-afford a tough week getting worse at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.

Real Madrid's comprehensive win at Osasuna earlier on Sunday ratcheted up the pressure on Barca, who fell behind after just six minutes when Sergio Canales struck home from the spot.

Frenkie de Jong swiftly equalised, only for Nabil Fekir to put Betis back ahead in stunning fashion.

Sergio Busquets took the wind out of the hosts' sails on the stroke of half-time with another equaliser, before Clement Lenglet wrapped up a 3-2 win.

Barca's match-winner and Fekir were sent off towards the end of a night that left head coach Setien pleased - and his side within three points of table-topping Real Madrid.

"I really liked the team," he said after the match in quotes reported by Marca. "You have to give these things value.

"There are things we could have done better, but I'm happy.

"They pressed us a lot.

"We had a complicated start and weren't comfortable at any point.

"We really had to press, but they have players with a lot of ability.

"Fekir played an extraordinary game and it was hard to get the ball off him, but we had our moments too."

Messi provided the assist for all three of Barcelona's goals in Seville, where Setien still saw room for improvement given their struggles on the road.

"We're still missing things," he said after his victorious return to Betis, who he managed in the previous two seasons.

"It's a very important win that gives us points away from home, which is something that was becoming complicated."

Versatile Barcelona star Sergi Roberto echoed his manager's sentiments after the victory.

"The important thing was to win again away from home," he said.

"We were hard done by in Bilbao because we created a lot (of chances). Our form away from the Camp Nou has cost us this season, so we're happy."

Zidane rubbishes Bale rift rumours

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane insists there is no truth to the rumours claiming Gareth Bale is unsettled at the club.

Bale's future has been a hot topic for some time and the Wales international came close to a move to China last summer.

In the January transfer window the interest allegedly came from the Premier League as Manchester United were linked, while reports emerged of a late bid from former club Tottenham Hotspur.

Bale has on occasion added fuel to the fire to keep the rumour mill turning himself, with one notable example being when he posed near a Wales flag with the slogan "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" after helping his country qualify for Euro 2020.

However, Zidane has stressed there are no issues with Bale at the Bernabeu after he started in Sunday's 4-1 win at Osasuna.

The 30-year-old managed 71 minutes and played a part in Isco's opener in his first La Liga outing in over a month, although he did start and score in a 3-1 Copa del Rey win over Unionistas on January 22.

"He is an important player," Zidane said after the win at Osasuna, as reported by Marca. "He has done 65 good minutes offensively and defensively, he has tried and he is an important player.

"The problem is that they want us to have a problem with Gareth, but we do not have one.

"There are many players, it is not easy to manage all that, but in the end he is a very important player and little by little he will continue playing like the others."

Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett has previously stated the Welshman will see out his contract with Los Blancos, with the forward tied down to the Madrid club until the summer of 2022.

Bale's China move 'would have made him the highest-paid player on earth'

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale would have become the world's highest-paid football player if he had moved to China last year, according to the Welshman's agent.

It seemed Bale's six-year stay in the Spanish capital was about to come to an end last summer, with the Wales international closing in on big-money move to Jiangsu Suning.

However, Real pulled the plug on the deal at the 11th hour, much to the anger of Bale and his entourage.

His relationship with Los Blancos coach Zinedine Zidane appeared to have broken down completely, with the Frenchman suggesting it would be "better for all concerned" if the former Tottenham man left the club in summer 2019.

That did not happen and Bale is now into his seventh season at the Bernabeu although it has been a disappointment, with injuries hampering his progress and the Real fans making their feelings known.

The 30-year-old's agent, Jonathan Barnett, has now spoken about the failure to secure a Far East switch, putting forward the reason he wanted to go.

"It was to create a legacy, his name, to be the first great player to go to China," he said. "But it wasn't to be – and the money was special, too.

"It would have made him the highest-paid player on Earth."

Both Spurs and Manchester United have been linked with the Cardiff-born ace but it appears he has no desire to return to the Premier League, with Barnett unequivocal when asked about a move to north London.

"No," he replied. "He's 30 years old, he'll be 31 next year. I don't know how long Gareth will play for. It's what his lifestyle wants. He loves Madrid."

Setien looking forward to 'special' clash against former club Betis

Barcelona manager Quique Setien is expecting a "special game" as he returns to former club Real Betis on Sunday for the first time since stepping into his new role.

The 61-year-old left the Andalusian club in May before replacing the dismissed Ernesto Valverde at the helm of Barcelona in January.

His Betis departure came after a spell of poor form saw finish tenth place in the La Liga table, though the club has fared little better this season and head into Sunday's clash 13th.

"It's a special game for me and my staff," Setien said in a pre-match press conference as reported by the Barcelona website.

"We spent two extraordinary years there and it is true that the match has some special connotations. We know the team well and, although new important players have arrived, we have quite a deep knowledge of these players.

"But that doesn't mean that we'll have them under control. We know that it will be a difficult game. Their last results have not been what they wanted, but against Real Sociedad they played a great game."

Though ousted from his job at Betis, the Spaniard insists there is no ill-feeling between himself and the club.

"I spent two wonderful years at Betis, I only have words of thanks. I grew up there both professionally and personally, he added.

"There are many people who may think that the last months were hard but that is forgotten. The day-to-day was extraordinary, spectacular.

"I remember how happy I was during those two years, the successes and the friends I left, how brave we were and those situations.

"The last months seemed hard but I have no grudges of any kind. I understand the criticism, there are many people that understood we could do better, and I accept it.

"Obviously, I was satisfied. I know what situation Betis was in and I know what situation it was in when I left."

Setien's new club sit second in the La Liga under his leadership, but saw their Copa del Rey campaign come to an end on Thursday after a 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

His Betis successor Rubi is not allowing the absence of both Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez to breed any complacency ahead of the fixture.

His squad have only enjoyed one victory in their past five fixtures and have also been knocked out of the Copa del Rey after defeat to Segunda Division side Rayo Vallecano on penalties.

"We need and want a victory whoever the team is ahead," Rubi told the club website.

"On Sunday comes a great rival. The casualties of Suarez or Pique mean nothing because we have already learned from the first leg. They lacked Messi and we lost 5-2, so that the fact that they have important absences for this match does not generate any kind of excess of confidence.

"We know that Barca have great players and that they will be annoyed for not having passed the Copa del Rey qualifier. It will pose a difficult game for us, but it will be attractive. We are strong at home and are convinced that it may be the day to beat Barca."

Zidane: Copa del Rey exit will not affect LaLiga challenge

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane insists his club's Copa del Rey exit will not interrupt their LaLiga focus as they travel to Osasuna on Sunday.

Los Blancos' hopes of winning a 20th Copa del Rey title were dashed after a 4-3 quarter-final loss to Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Zidane has turned his focus back to Real's rampant league campaign, however, as they look to extend their unbeaten LaLiga run to 15 games.

"We're not happy with our performance in the Copa del Rey game," Zidane told the club website.

"We've all analysed it and the good thing is that we have another game three days on from that one. We're fully focused on this match and on getting back to doing what we've been doing because we're not going to throw everything that we've done up until now away on account of just one game.

"I've said in each of my last 21 press conferences that we haven't won anything and nothing changes just because we've lost one game. We have to keep fighting until the end of the season.

"I, just like all of the players, have a game tomorrow and another one next week. Things keep going, nothing changes.

"We know what sort of game it's going to be, it'll be a tough match at what's a tough ground and they're tough opponents and are doing really well. We know the challenges we'll face, but we're ready to put in a strong performance and give our all. It's yet another cup final for us".

Osasuna manager Jagoba Arrasate is all too aware that his squad can afford few mistakes as they prepare to host the LaLiga leaders.

Twelfth in the table after winning just one of their past five matches, the Pamplona club now need to set aside the 2-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of Real in October as they face Zidane's squad at El Sadar.

Though aware of the magnitude of the task at hand, Arrasate, who led the club to the top flight after promotion from the Segunda Division last season, was also keen to discuss the value of such a high-profile opponent to a home crowd.

"We know that it is the game of the year here at El Sadar," he told the club website.

"It is a special game, to see if we can be close to getting the three points and achieving something that we know our people will love.

Arrasate expects Zidane to field a squad bearing little resemblance to the team that crashed out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday at the hands of his former club Real Sociedad.

"We are going to see Real Madrid of the League," he said.

"Tomorrow we will see another Real Madrid, different from the cup. There are days they play with five midfielders that dominate you and other days they play you with pure extremes.

"We have to take into account those nuances, but keeping the hallmarks of this Osasuna because we understand that you have to attack to win, to play a perfect match and not to make mistakes.

"Because if you make mistakes against these teams you pay for it. We need the best Osasuna and the best Sadar to minimise that difference there may be.

"Although we are good, they are the best. They are the leader of the league for a reason."

Vinicius rubbishes PSG links

Real Madrid starlet Vinicius Junior has refuted claims linking him with a move to Paris Saint-Germain when the transfer window reopens.

Brazil international Vinicius joined Spanish giants Madrid in 2018 from Flamengo and he has been gradually making his mark in the first team, featuring in 32 La Liga games and scoring three goals in the process.

The 19-year-old forward was linked with a move to French champions PSG in January, with the Ligue 1 champions’ sporting director Leonardo a reported admirer of his compatriot.

Despite only being on the senior scene a couple of seasons, Vinicius, who has a contract until the summer of 2025, is said to be valued close to 50million and that represents a big outlay on a player that has limited experience.

Les Parisiens are still said to be keen on acquiring his services and are pondering whether to make a summer move amid doubts over the futures of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who reacted angrily to being substituted recently.

However, Vinicius has poured cold water on reports linking him with a move to the Parc des Princes, insisting he is happy at the Santiago Bernabeu and has no thoughts of leaving.

The teenager told reporters: “There’s no choice, I want to stay at Madrid.”

Madrid did suffer a shock defeat to Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday, losing 4-3, and Vinicius admits his side were not at the level required to pick up the win.

He added: “We were not in good shape, and Sociedad plays football really well, they’re well-placed in La Liga. It was a difficult match. The only Copa one played at home, and we lost.”