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Chelsea icon heaps praise on Real Madrid superstar: “Can’t stop him once he starts”



Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

In an exclusive interview with AS, Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has heaped praise on Real Madrid winger Vinicius Jr, claiming that he is one of the most dangerous forwards in the game currently.

Chelsea are set to face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with the first leg set to take place at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday. Two days removed from that match, Zola, who is an icon at Chelsea, was full of praise for Vinicius, saying:

“Vinicius is one of the most dangerous players on the planet. He gets away from the marker, he knows how to improvise…. Whether it’s with the ball at his feet or playing in space, you can’t stop him once he starts.

“He’s also improving his finishing, he’s becoming a very complete forward. You have to be very good to, in time, bench Hazard.”

During the interview, Zola also touched upon Carlo Ancelotti and the links to the Brazilian national team. The 63-year-old worked with the former Italy international back in Parma, and the latter believes that the Real Madrid manager can succeed anywhere.

“He’s a great coach, flexible, as a coach and as a person, and with so much experience. Who wouldn’t want to have him? Wherever he wants to be, he’ll do well,” Zola said.

This is the third season in a row that Chelsea and Real Madrid are coming face-to-face in the Champions League. The first time out, the Blues prevailed in the semi-finals, but the Merengues got the better of them last season in the quarter-finals, in a historic comeback.

Speaking of the last season’s tie, Zola said: “I was there (in London). Chelsea played well, they did the high pressing that had worked for them before, but Madrid played an exceptional game. Madrid’s great quality made the difference, Chelsea couldn’t do anything.”

When asked how this season’s tie will go, Zola refused to rule out Chelsea’s chances despite their recent struggles.

“The quality of Real Madrid is not disputed by anyone, neither before nor now, but Chelsea generate uncertainty for me. It’s a question mark. Their squad is so classy that they can have a huge game when no one expects it and put Madrid in trouble,” he said.

“I don’t think the fact that Real are the reigning champions and have perhaps a better squad is enough to say that they have a clear advantage and that they will go through.”

On Real Madrid’s season so far, Zola said: “I haven’t seen them so much in La Liga, where I suppose you would expect more. In the Champions League, I thought they were going to have more problems against Liverpool, and yet Madrid’s performance was extraordinary. You can see Madrid hurt, but never count them out.”

Zola was around the same age as Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric when he retired. But the Croatian international continues to carry on and perform at the highest stage with great consistency. Talking about Modric’s longevity, Zola added:

“It’s like Barolo (a renowned Italian wine), the older you get, the better. He manages time as he wants, he’s always going to be useful. His energy at 37 is enviable. He lives for football and has an extraordinary football brain.”

The former Chelsea ace was also full of praise for Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema, saying: “He’s always done well, but he’s never been given the recognition he deserves. Not with France and maybe not with Madrid because Cristiano was there. His last year was extraordinary and above all, I saw him grow in personality, in charisma.”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid are considering terminating the contract of €115 million flop – report



Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Eden Hazard is one of the Real Madrid players who have vowed to stay at Santiago Bernabeu until the end of his contract. His current deal at the club expires in 2024.

Even though the Real Madrid star has been courted by several MLS and even the Saudi Arabian clubs, the forward has shown no desire to leave Bernabeu just yet. He wants to stay at the club even though Los Blancos are ready to sanction his sale this summer.

In the midst of this drama, a fresh report from Alfredo Matilla suggests Real Madrid are now considering terminating the contract of Eden Hazard.

This comes shortly after a report which claimed that a Real Madrid player who is not out of contract this summer, may shockingly leave the club this summer. Ferland Mendy was a potential candidate, but it appears Hazard has not been ruled out either.

The Belgian international has offered very little since joining from Chelsea in 2019 for a record-breaking €115 million fee. His spell at the Bernabeu has been marred by injuries, while the player has also struggled to impress when given the opportunities.

Inside the Real Madrid dressing room, there is both grief and resentment towards Belgian, who has remained steadfast in his decision to stay at the club. He has a good standing in the team due to his professionalism, but the Real Madrid bosses are determined to get rid of him this summer.

Hazard, after all, is the highest-paid player in the squad and his departure could open up a chunk of the space in the salary mass. But it must be noted that Real Madrid would have to spend a fortune to terminate Hazard’s contract.

Hence, it will be interesting to see whether or not Los Blancos end up splashing the cash in order to get Hazard out of their books this coming summer.

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