Yesterday night saw two storylines unfold in tandem. While the Champions League draw was the highlight of the day, UEFA also announced the winners of the best men’s and women’s players of the past season.
In the men’s category, it was Manchester City’s Erling Haaland who won the accolade, beating even World Cup winner Lionel Messi en route to the award.
The Norwegian striker was sensational for Pep Guardiola’s side last season, but one remembers how close he was to signing for Real Madrid instead of Manchester City last summer.
According to reports from Jose Alvarez Haya, Haaland has told those close to him that he sees himself at Real Madrid sooner rather than later. It is his dream to don the white jersey and represent football’s most revered crest.
A machine among mortals
Many expected Haaland’s output in front of goal to fall after moving to the Premier League, a competition that many hail as the most competitive event.
Yet, the 23-year-old has shown no signs of stopping. He scored a staggering 36 goals and provided eight assists for the men in blue in last season’s Premier League in addition to making 13 goal contributions in the UEFA Champions League.
This season, he already had three goals to his name in just three appearances and appears on track to equal, if not better his record.
Haaland’s agent keeps the door open
In a recent chat with El Chiringuito, Erling Haaland’s agent, Rafaela Pimenta was directly asked about the possibility of his client signing for the Spanish giants in 2024.
“The open door can mean a lot of things. Our players can have the feeling that they have their destiny in their hands,” she said in a queer response, leaving the door ajar for any movement. Notably, her response did not deny the possibility of a move to Spain.
While Kylian Mbappe remains the main aim for 2024, his potential renewal at PSG could prompt Real Madrid to turn their focus to Haaland.
Bellingham on his special assist in Girona 0-3 Real Madrid: “Been watching Luka every day”
Real Madrid usurped the top spot in the La Liga standings from arch-rivals FC Barcelona as they defeated Girona 3-0 away at Estadi Montilivi.
It was a fine performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s men against Michel’s side, with the returning Jude Bellingham leading the way for his team.
After being benched against Las Palmas in midweek, the England international returned to the starting XI today and turned in yet another Man of the Match display for Real Madrid.
It all started with Joselu opening the scoring just 15 minutes into the game, with Bellingham assisting the goal with a special, outside-of-the-boot pass from the left side, bringing back memories of Luka Modric doing something similar a few years ago.
Talking about that special pass, Bellingham said: “I’ve been watching Luka every day for months. I just want to be creative. It took the pressure off us at the start.”
On the match and the result, the 20-year-old stated that it was a good day across the board for Real Madrid, as he said: “It was an important win. They were doing very well. We made a statement of intent to La Liga. Three goals, a clean sheet….”
It has been a truly remarkable start to life at Real Madrid for Bellingham and expressing how he feels to play for the Merengues, he exclaimed:
“I feel very good. I have freedom of movement and I’m enjoying football. Whenever I put on this shirt I always try to do my best.”
Apart from assisting Joselu’s opener, Bellingham also got his name on the scoresheet in the second period. Talking about his goal, the wonderkid said:
“It wasn’t a very good finish. I could have scored some more, but the important thing is the victory.”
The strike meant that Bellingham now has seven goals and two assists across all competitions for Real Madrid. Reflecting on his brilliant start, he said:
“It’s a good start, not bad. I would like to continue on this path and I won’t always score or assist, but I will always give my best.”
Bellingham’s celebration has been a huge hit, with kids in school, players from other clubs, and many others mimicking it. When asked how his special celebration originated, he replied:
“I don’t know where I first celebrated. I think it was with Birmingham. It’s an inspiration to see kids doing it in schools. It’s a wonderful thing.”