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Italy legend tips Real Madrid talisman as future Ballon d’Or winner: “He’s an alien”

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Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images

Juventus legend and Union Berlin defender Leonardo Bonucci has revealed that he was very close to joining Real Madrid once his career and if the move had materialised, it would have been a dream come true for him.

Speaking in an extensive interview with MARCA, the Italy international spoke at length about his thoughts on how close he was to joining Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham and even Luka Modric.

Union Berlin are set to take on Real Madrid in the final group stage match of the UEFA Champions League. While the match is going to be a dead rubber for Madrid, Berlin still have a lot to play for.

“There are no words to describe [Real Madrid]. Possibly the biggest club in the world,” said Bonucci. 

“There was a moment when I was very close to being a Real Madrid player, to wearing the white shirt. It was a dream. 

“I have great admiration for the large number of champions who have passed through the club. And, furthermore, they have a great maestro on the bench in Ancelotti.

While explaining the magnitude of the move, he revealed that the incident dates back to 2017 when Madrid beat Juventus in the Champions League final. Negotiations between Bonucci and Real Madrid were quite advanced, but the move eventually fell through.

“There was little left. It was the summer of 2017 after they beat us in the final in Cardiff. The negotiations between my agent and Madrid intensified a lot. But it didn’t close. 

“In the end, they looked for a younger player and not a thirty-something. He was a nice one, even if he didn’t close. I have love, respect and admiration for Madrid.”

Bonucci’s thoughts on Bellingham

Jude Bellingham has impressed Leonardo Bonucci. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Bellingham’s blistering run of form this season has seen him score 16 goals in a mere 18 appearances and while speaking about him, the Italian defender branded the young midfielder as an ‘ALIEN’, saying that his form has surprised him the most and he will be a Ballon d’Or candidate in the coming years..

“[Bellingham is] an alien. I am very surprised. Not because of the quality, as was known. Yes because of how a 20-year-old boy has adapted to a team like Real Madrid. That takes time. 

“He, like few greats, has not needed it. That’s why he’s an alien. His maturity at 20 years old is impressive. He is clearly a Ballon d’Or candidate in the coming years. The young people who call the place of the two non-earthlings of recent years are already arriving.

Furthermore, upon being asked which player from the current Real Madrid roster would he pick, he answered,

“I feel devotion to Luka Modric. I have a relationship of affection and particular admiration with him. Doing what he has done in his career, but especially in recent years, is a tremendous thing. 

“Typical of a great champion, an outstanding one. It’s exciting to see him play in every game: how he treats the ball, his leadership, his courage. 

“There are times when with him it seems that Madrid has three or four more players on the field. That explains his greatness on and off the field for Madrid.

The greatness of Carlo Ancelotti 

While Bonucci has never played under Carlo Ancelotti, the veteran defender has nothing but admiration for his countryman, saying that whoever has been coached by the Real Madrid manager is very fortunate.

“[Ancelotti is ] an example if you want to be a coach. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have him coach me, but I have heard so many players speak very well. 

“I saw him more closely at Napoli and I think that anyone who has been coached by Carlo has been fortunate to learn a lot. When you are a winning coach for 20 years it is not a coincidence. There is a human value, in addition to the tactical one. That is the greatness of him,” he said.

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Real Madrid News

Toni Kroos opens up on retirement decision – ‘I am sad at the moment’

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Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Real Madrid have the opportunity to make this a historic season by lifting their 15th UEFA Champions League title.

But even in the event Madrid gets their hands on the trophy, the conclusion of the season will leave a bittersweet feeling as Toni Kroos is set to depart the club.

The German midfielder was urged to continue plying his trade in the Spanish Capital for another season since his timeless quality is yet to fade away, but Kroos remained firm on his decision.

Kroos opens up about retirement

Now, reflecting on his imminent departure from the club he has played 464 games with, Kroos has opened up about how the decision came about and his thought process.

“I am sad at the moment. Something that defined me, that gave so much fun and gave me so many positive memories is coming to an end,” Kroos professed on his podcast.

Kroos plays his final home game for Real Madrid tomorrow. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

However, he claims there is a slight silver lining about the news becoming public, as there is no more pressure on him to constantly answer questions about his future and focus solely on finishing his career in the best way possible.

“I am happy that the news is out. It is a relief because a lot of people were speculating and I didn’t feel like answering questions about my future all the time,” Kroos claimed.

The veteran midfielder adds that retiring was never a clear-cut decision as his emotions fluctuated frequently.

“Retiring was never a 100-0 decision. The feelings swing in other directions, in the days at the end it was maybe a 80-20 or 70-30 decision. And that 30% is what makes you feel something,” he said.

Furthermore, Kroos reveals that he shared the news of his retirement to Ancelotti first and foremost, then relayed his decision to his teammates.

“I told Carlo [Ancelotti] first that I’m retiring. Then the club, then Luka [Modric], Fede [Valverde], Lucas [Vazquez]…” he exclaimed.

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