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Opponent watch: Man City defender not in training ahead of Real Madrid encounter



Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In what could be a boost for Real Madrid and a blow for Manchester City, Nathan Ake is not training with the team ahead of tomorrow’s UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, according to Simon Stone of BBC Sport.

The champions of Spain square off against their English counterparts in the semi-finals of Europe’s premier competition, in a replay of last season’s semis.

Having been eliminated while on the brink of qualification to the finals last time out, Manchester City have revenge on their minds heading into the semi-final tie.

However, they might have to make do without one of Pep Guardiola’s regulars in their side as defender Nathan Ake is nursing an injury and did not train with the team today.

The 28-year-old Netherlands international had returned from an injury only last week, but picked up a fresh one during the Cityzens’ Premier League clash against Leeds United on Saturday.

Ake had to be substituted ten minutes into the second half due to his injury, which cast doubts on his involvement in tomorrow’s clash.

And now, as per the update from Simon Stone, the Netherlands international was not seen in training with the rest of the team today, which could potentially hint that he might be out of the match.

This could come as a blow for Guardiola, given that Ake has been a critical part of his new system at City. The defender has played 38 times across all competitions, featuring as a centre-back and at left-back, and even scoring three goals.

A clearer picture of his availability should emerge later today when the manager appears for the pre-match press conference.

As for Real Madrid, they will have to make do without midfielder Dani Ceballos, who is out with a thigh injury.

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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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