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Ancelotti talks Benzema, Mendy, Vinicius, Valverde, future, ahead of Valencia vs Real Madrid



Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

While the season might already be unofficially over for Real Madrid, they still have to play four matches in La Liga, the first of which will see them face Valencia away at the Mestalla on Sunday evening.

Last weekend saw Real Madrid yield their La Liga crown to new champions Barcelona following which Carlo Ancelotti’s men were also eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by Manchester City in the semi-finals.

The Merengues have nothing but pride left to play for in the remaining matches as they look to end the campaign on a strong note while also possibly helping captain Karim Benzema to win the Pichichi Trophy.

Ahead of the trip to Valencia, manager Ancelotti appeared in front of the media and discussed various topics including his future, criticism towards some of the veteran players as well as motivation for the rest of the season.

Talking about the game against Valencia and what to expect, the Italian said: “The team is ready, we have all the players available. We want to get back to our good feelings and we have the objective of finishing the season well. Tomorrow we will face a team that is fighting hard, we have to be ready.”

Following the defeat to Manchester City, there has been a lot of talk about Real Madrid’s need to sign a new striker next summer. Responding to questions about whether a new No. 9 is now a priority for the club, Ancelotti said:

“We have to wait a bit, we are talking about it with the club, but it is not the time. We are evaluating what has happened. It is not the right place to talk about what is happening.

“Our last game was very bad, but the season has been good and the last two seasons together have been unforgettable”.

On asked to rate the 2022/23 season for Real Madrid, the manager said: “It has been a good season, of course, we could have done better. We will take steps to do better next season. We fought for everything until the end.”

“It’s a painful elimination, but we mustn’t forget that it was a semi-final, not a round of 16 or group stage. The opposition was better and deserved to win, we congratulate them because these are the values of this club.”

Talks then steered towards his future and the unrelenting links with the Brazil national team. But, Ancelotti once again insisted that his contract with Real Madrid runs until 2024 and he intends to see it out.

“I feel the same, even with more strength, enthusiasm and desire after a defeat. Everyone knows what my situation is: I have a contract until 30 June 2024 and I want to finish it,” he claimed.

With the season over, Ancelotti was asked if he plans to rotate his team in the remaining games. But the Italian tactician insisted that he will put the best possible team on the pitch against Valencia, saying:

“The best possible team will play, everyone has recovered. Physically, we are very good.”

Following the Manchester City defeat, there have been a lot of fingers pointed at Benzema and his poor performance. But the manager was quick to come to the protection of his captain and ace goalscorer, saying:

“It makes no sense to doubt Benzema. He can have a bad game, but it wasn’t just him. He is still very important, a legend of this club. It’s OK if you don’t get it right in a game. On Wednesday the team didn’t get it right, not just Karim.”

Reports emerged yesterday stating that Ancelotti had held a meeting with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and planning for the next season was already underway. Confirming the same, the manager said:

“We spoke yesterday, as we do every week. He showed his support and affection, we evaluated Wednesday’s game, this season and the last two seasons. We are moving forward.”

Recent reports suggested that Real Madrid were unhappy with Ancelotti with regard to the lack of transition from the veteran stars to the younger players. However, the manager insisted that the shift from old to young is taking place smoothly as he said:

“This transition has already begun, before I arrived. This squad, which has achieved great things, extraordinary things, started to lose pieces, like Cristiano in 2018. Young players of great quality have started to arrive.”

When I arrived, the transition continued, with Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Bale, Isco… Last year Vinicius was more prominent and now he’s an undisputed starter; last year, too, Camavinga, Rodrygo, Militao, Valverde… Tchouaméni has been undisputed for the first part of the season.”

Ancelotti continued: “The transition has already started and will continue next season. The youngsters will be more important than the veterans. The transition will stop when Modric, Kroos, Benzema, Carvajal… are no longer at Madrid.”

When asked if Real Madrid had guaranteed his continuity for next season, the manager replied in the affirmative, saying: “Yes.”

Another topic that has been making the headlines in the media of late is that Ferland Mendy will be sold by Real Madrid in the summer. But Ancelotti insisted that he wants the Frenchman to stay and that he was recovering well from his fitness woes.

“I want him to continue, obviously. He has been very important. Last year he showed a high level of defensive solidity. Ferland is recovering well from his injury, hopefully he will be important,” the 63-year-old commented.

As for the contract renewals of the host of players whose deals expire on June 30, Ancelotti said: “They are talking to the club. It’s in the players’ hands, everything will be clarified at the end of the season.”

Before signing off, Ancelotti also spoke about the decline in the form of Federico Valverde and stated that the midfielder had been dealing with an issue in his foot. The manager backed the Uruguayan to ‘make history at the club’, saying:

“He hasn’t been at the level of the first half of the season, which was spectacular. He is suffering a bit with his foot, which prevents him from training at 100%. His evaluation has been very, very positive.

“He has made a difference, even if he has had bad days, like everyone else. He will make history at this club.”

Source: Real Madrid Twitter

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Real Madrid News

Bellingham asked for two specific jersey numbers at Real Madrid, but both taken



Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid have officially completed a move for Jude Bellingham for a total of €103 million in fixed transfer fee, plus €30 million in variables depending on the team and the Englishman’s performances over the course of the season.

This transfer makes Bellingham the second most expensive player in Real Madrid history after Eden Hazard, who signed for nearly €120 million in the summer of 2018.

The Spanish giants have been in talks with Dortmund and Bellingham over a long time, and convinced both parties by agreeing to their demands, including the fees, wages, and personal terms from the youngster.

One of Bellingham’s personal demands was related to his jersey number of choice, according to a report by Cadena SER.

He wanted to take one of #22 or #5 at Madrid. Unfortunately, though, both numbers are currently occupied by centre-backs in the team. Antonio Rudiger signed on a free agent last summer and took up #22, while Jesus Vallejo has been wearing the #5.

Neither of the two are starters for Carlo Ancelotti, with Eder Militao (#3), and David Alaba (#4) guarding the fort.

Bellingham is used to wearing #22 for Dortmund and the England national team, but he has also worn the #23, #10 #8 for the latter. Those numbers are also occupied, though, by Ferland Mendy, Luka Modric Toni Kroos, respectively.

That said, there will be multiple numbers free for Bellingham. Four players have already left the team, including Karim Benzema (#9), Eden Hazard (#7), Marco Asensio (#11), and Mariano Diaz (#24).

Reports have stated that Madrid are looking to give Bellingham the #7, as it has been a historic kit number for them. Cristiano Ronaldo wore it during his incredible tenure at Santiago Bernabeu, succeeding the legendary Raul.

While it has not seen worthy successors since, in Mariano and Hazard, it still remains one of the most valuable kits in Madrid history. Further, giving it to their blockbuster €100 million+ signing would definitely help jersey sales.

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