Martinez says De Bruyne is committed to City despite European ban

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez has said that Manchester City’s European competition ban may not urge Kevin de Bruyne to head through the exit door. The midfielder has been a key player in the Citizens’ trophy success over the past few years but there has been the speculation that he may consider a departure, should the club fail to compete in next season’s Champions League.

Speaking on BeIN Sports, Martinez acknowledged that the reigning Premier League champions are facing a tough situation at the moment and they may not feature in the Champions League for the next few years unless they win their appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He added that a two-year absence from the competition could have big implications at the club but believes De Bruyne won’t push for an exit.

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Zidane confirms Eden Hazard won’t return for Spanish Super Cup

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Eden Hazard won’t recover from an ankle problem in time for the Spanish Super Cup next week. The Belgium international picked up the setback during the Champions League group stage clash against Paris Saint-Germain in November and he has since missed seven games for the club in all competitions including the El Clasico against Barcelona.

Los Blancos recently returned to winning ways in La Liga with a 3-0 thumping of Getafe on the road and prior to that game, Zidane cleared that Hazard won’t be travelling to Jeddah for the new version of the Spanish Super Cup, he told: “He’s 100 per cent out of the Super Cup. He’s not travelling and at the moment he’s in a normal process of recovery. I hope that just after the Super Cup, bit by bit, we could see him with us again.”

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ORIGI HAS NO PROBLEM WITH FRINGE ROLE

DivockOrigi’s move to Liverpool was seen as a risk by many few years ago. At the risk of ending up like David Ngog who made 68 appearances for the Reds but couldn’t even register double digits despite playing in a role that was literally carved to register double digits, many felt Origi should have chosen a smaller team to start his England career.

True to what people feared, the Belgian has found life at Anfield to be bitter-sweet given that even his best performances are never enough to displace Jurgen Klopp’s first choice.

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Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez insists Eden Hazard is not fat

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has hailed Eden Hazard as a world-class player and stated that he takes good care of himself. The former Chelsea man has been deemed to have put on weight since joining Real Madrid over the summer but Martinez feels there is nothing of that sort and the attacker is approaching the prime of his career.

Speaking in a press conference, he said: “I’m happy to see Eden with the group. He’s smiling. He’s a world-class player, who is unique, talented. He is also very professional and, although he has already won trophies [in his career], he is reaching the highest point of his career. He takes great care of himself and, in my eyes, he’s not fat.”

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Former Chelsea star sends warning to Eden Hazard after Real Madrid move

Former Chelsea star Glenn Hoddle has said that Real Madrid are not playing collectively and Eden Hazard may have joined the club at the wrong time. The Belgium international made the move to Los Blancos after years of speculation this summer but he has yet to make a meaningful impression for the Spanish giants.

Hazard recently earned his maiden start for Los Blancos during the Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain but he struggled to make an impact as the club succumbed to a 3-0 loss. Speaking after the game, Hoddle said that Zinedine Zidane’s side seem to lack the desire to play as a team and fears Hazard may have joined the Madrid giants at the wrong time.

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De Jong speaks on Van de Beek’s prospects of joining Real Madrid

Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong has said that Donny van de Beek is a great player and he would be really happy for him, should he make the move to Real Madrid. Ajax have witnessed a mini exodus this summer with the departure of the likes of De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Lasse Schone, and they now appear on the verge of parting ways with van de Beek.

Speaking to ESPN FC, De Jong told that he would prefer van de Beek to remain with the Dutch champions but he cannot influence the player’s decision. He added that the midfielder appears at an advanced stage to join Los Blancos and deserves the chance of playing for one of the world’s elite footballing clubs, he said: “I would prefer him to stay at Ajax because I wouldn’t have him as an opponent and Ajax would stay strong. But, no, of course, when it’s all settled, and if he moves to Madrid, I am really happy for him. I think he deserves it. He’s a great player. Then I will go see him in Spain!”

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Andres Iniesta doubts whether Barcelona need to sign Neymar this summer

Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has said that Antoine Griezmann and Neymar are two of the best individual players in the world but does not believe they can play together at the Camp Nou. The Blaugrana have strengthened their attack with the arrival of Griezmann this month but there have been reports suggesting that they may also be interested in re-signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Speaking to DAZN, Iniesta hailed the qualities of Griezmann and Neymar but admitted that he is unsure how they could play together at the Camp Nou next season, he said: “They are two of the best in the world individually, and they would be amazing signings, but it’s another question if the two are necessary, or how the team would gel, or what Barça really want.”

Elsewhere, Iniesta was asked about Eden Hazard’s move to Real Madrid and he happened to speak positively about the Belgium international, who is expected to orchestrate Los Blancos’ attack next season, he continued: “He’s a player who makes a difference. He’s extremely complete: right, left, dribbling, speed, he’s strong… he has brutal quality to be an important player for Real Madrid, and I always liked him.”

The Blaugrana are expected to depend on Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi once more next season and alongside them, Griezmann could feature in a front three. In this case, Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele among others may have to settle for a bench role and it does not make any sense to move for Neymar at the present point of time.

Still, a few departures could sort the concern and Coutinho and Malcom have been earmarked as potential candidates, who could leave the club. Malcom has been tipped to make the move to Zenit St Petersburg this summer. On the other hand, Coutinho has been linked with numerous elite European clubs but no offers have been made to land his signature to date.

De Jong speaks on Van de Beek’s prospects of joining Real Madrid

Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong has said that Donny van de Beek is a great player and he would be really happy for him, should he make the move to Real Madrid. Ajax have witnessed a mini exodus this summer with the departure of the likes of De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Lasse Schone, and they now appear on the verge of parting ways with van de Beek.

Speaking to ESPN FC, De Jong told that he would prefer van de Beek to remain with the Dutch champions but he cannot influence the player’s decision. He added that the midfielder appears at an advanced stage to join Los Blancos and deserves the chance of playing for one of the world’s elite footballing clubs, he said: “I would prefer him to stay at Ajax because I wouldn’t have him as an opponent and Ajax would stay strong. But, no, of course, when it’s all settled, and if he moves to Madrid, I am really happy for him. I think he deserves it. He’s a great player. Then I will go see him in Spain!”

Earlier last month, Ajax manager Erik ten Hag confirmed that Donny van de Beek had been tempted by the challenge presented from Los Blancos and the midfielder has since acknowledged that he has begun discussions with the Madrid giants. Still, the move has yet to be made official and the next few days should provide the idea whether a transfer agreement can be reached.

Meanwhile, Ajax performed above their expectations last season as they won a domestic double as well as reach the semi-final stage of the Champions League. A repeat of the same seems unlikely with the departure of key players but they have recruited a few young talents to reinforce the squad for the current season.

Divock Origi reacts after penning new contract with Liverpool

Belgium international Divock Origi has expressed his pleasure after penning a new long-term deal with Liverpool. The striker’s previous contract was due to expire at the end of the upcoming season but he has now put pen-to-paper on a fresh four-year deal after contributing towards the club’s Champions League success last term.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Origi was pleased to have inked a new contract with the Merseyside giants. Origi is also looking forward to something special in the forthcoming years with the club, he told: “I’m very happy to be able to sign this contract and it gives you a boost at the beginning of the season, as well as the end of the season last year.

“When we had to make the decision I just wanted to speak with the club first and my entourage, but the feeling was always that I wanted to stay and extend my contract. It’s an amazing club, we have a good group, the staff are amazing. Even coming into Melwood, the people that work here and everything, you feel there is something special going on here.”

Origi was barely in contention for a starting role during the opening half of the previous campaign whereby Daniel Sturridge was regarded as the back-up option to Roberto Firmino upfront. Nonetheless, he became a cult-hero with an injury-time winner against rivals Everton while starring during the final phase of the Champions League where Firmino was struggling for fitness.

Despite the positivity, Origi would be aware that he has no assurances of starting games next season, but he has the chance to change the manager’s stance with consistent performances off the bench. Origi’s bright run of form during the backend of the season contributed towards Sturridge’s departure on a free last month. The striker has been touted to make the move to Major League Soccer.

Ter Stegen pays tribute to Cillessen after the Dutchman’s Barcelona exit

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has praised the professionalism of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen following his departure from the Catalan giants. The Dutchman spent the past three seasons with the Blaugrana but he was largely the back-up shot-stopper with Ter Stegen commanding the regular role between the sticks for the league and European duties.

A tweet on Ter Stegen’s official Twitter account read: “A serious professional, good teammate and friend. I enjoyed working together these past 3 years with you Jasper, always hard work and successful memories. Good luck with your new challenge and I look forward to playing against you next season.”

Cillessen had made it clear that he would be leaving the Catalans at the end of the season, but he had expressed a concern that the club may not accept anything less than £52m to sanction his sale. However, they appear to have eventually accepted to lower the valuation and reports claim that Valencia have paid up a fee of around £31.5m for the former Ajax man.

Meanwhile, the La Liga champions are expected to recruit a new back-up goalkeeper after the departure of Cillessen and reports have claimed that Neto could be the choice. The Brazilian is set to drop down the order after the arrival of Cillessen at Los Che and he could be tempted to accept a bigger challenge with the Blaugrana this summer.

Barcelona have made two signings for the summer with Frenkie de Jong and Emerson joining them from Ajax and Atletico Mineiro respectively. They are likely to continue the spending spree with the focus on the attack and Antoine Griezmann could be one of those making the move to the Camp Nou from Atletico Madrid. Griezmann has already confirmed that he would be leaving Atleti during this summer’s transfer window.