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Opponent watch: Chelsea in talks with ex-Barcelona manager ahead of Real Madrid clash

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Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

With Chelsea in search of a new manager ahead of their UEFA Champions League match against Real Madrid next week, Fabrizio Romano is reporting that they are holding talks with Luis Enrique as a possible option.

The Blues got rid of Thomas Tuchel after a slow start to this season and replaced him with Graham Potter. But after a disastrous run, the former Brighton & Hove Albion manager was shown the doors recently.

Since then, Chelsea have been linked with several managers, including Julian Nagelsmann and Mauricio Pochettinho, both of whom are on the radars of Real Madrid as well, as possible replacements for Carlo Ancelotti.

It has been reported that the Premier League giants wish to make an appointment in time for their Champions League quarterfinal first-leg tie against the Merengues at the Santiago Bernabeu next week.

And, it seems like they have turned to former Real Madrid and Barcelona midfielder Luis Enrique. Indeed, as first reported by Gerard Romero and corroborated by Fabrizio Romano, the ex-Barcelona manager is in London with his representatives to hold talks with Chelsea.

Enrique, who spent five years as a player at Real Madrid before joining Barcelona, was removed from his post as the manager of Spain after the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

The 52-year-old had hinted that he wants to get back into management quickly and was even said to be looking for an opportunity in England.

And if talks go well in London, there may be a good chance that Enrique would be at the helm of affairs when Chelsea visit Real Madrid next week.

However, nothing is set in stone yet and Romano insists that Nagelsmann remains the favourite candidate and that talks with him will continue as well. It will be interesting to see who Chelsea turn to in their bid to salvage their campaign.

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti talks Benzema, Kane, Fran Garcia, Ceballos ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club

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Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that club captain Karim Benzema is ready to play his side’s last league game against Athletic Club while also citing that one must not forget that the Frenchman still has one more year left on his current deal.

Speaking ahead of Madrid’s final game of the 2022/23 season, the manager spoke on several aspects, including the team’s transfer plans, Benzema’s future and his own continuity.

When asked about Benzema, the manager said (h/t SPORT), “Benzema is ready to play tomorrow, he’s recovered.” He went on to add, “I agree with Benzema. Internet is not the reality. He has another year on his contract. I think it’s clear.”

At the same time, he subsequently admitted that Benzema is mostly on his way out. “The legends of this club have to retire at Real Madrid. This is what I believe and what the club believes. But the player maybe doesn’t think the same.”

In terms of the squad for the upcoming game, he mentioned, “We want to say goodbye to our fans. They’re all ready to play. Only Mariano won’t be there, the others are fine. We want to finish in the best possible way. Then we’ll rest and prepare for next season.”

Meanwhile, Benzema’s potential departure would mean Madrid will look to sign a new number 9. In this regard, Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane is said to be on the list and while addressing the same, the Italian said,

“Harry Kane? I’m sure you all are curious to see what will happen next season. But Kane is a Tottenham player and we have to respect this.”

He went on to add, “I think we’re going to have a different squad [next season]. There are players whose contracts are running out, but it will be a competitive squad and one that makes me very excited.”

Furthermore, the manager also confirmed that he will be at Real Madrid next season. “I’m happy at Real Madrid. No problems with the club. I’m very happy to continue and we will try to do better next season.”

Madrid’s main man also went on to admit that he cannot make everyone in the squad happy. 

“It is true that some have had little prominence, but I have tried to keep all the players motivated. It is impossible to keep them all happy. Sometimes you have to put up with that discontent from the players. I feel that there are some who have played very little.”

Speaking about the plan for the next season, he added, “Next year’s squad will be very competitive. Obviously there are contracts that expire and there will be different players. But it will be competitive.”

“Yes, it’s true — Fran García will be our first signing,” Ancelotti confirmed, but refused to talk about Brahim Diaz’s potential arrival.

“Brahim Díaz? I can’t say anything on him right now, I can’t comment…”.

He also revealed that the likes of Nacho and Dani Ceballos will decide their own fate. “They know what we think of them. I think they have everything very clear. They are waiting for the end of the season to decide what they want to do. Everything is in their hands.”

When asked about Brahim Diaz, he simply said, “I can’t talk about him right now.”

Lastly, when asked how much would he rate the 2022/23 season, he said, “It’s difficult to rate yourself. What I can say is that it’s been a very long season. We’ve worked hard and sometimes I haven’t always been able to transmit a very high level of motivation. 

“It’s not It’s easy to motivate every three days. I’ve given everything I could give. I put myself on a positive note, but next year I’m going to do better,” he concluded.

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