Tag Archives: madrid

Manchester City and PSG agree personal terms with Edinson Cavani

Man City joined by PSG in agreeing terms with 60m Cavani… but Real Madrid are set to pounce

By
Sami Mokbel and John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

15:30 GMT, 23 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:10 GMT, 23 April 2013

Manchester City are closing in on in-demand Napoli frontman Edinson Cavani after agreeing in principle terms with the player over a summer move.

However, David Beckham's Paris St Germain remain in the hunt after striking up a similar deal despite neither agreeing a fee with the Uruguayan's club.

To make matters worse for City, the player himself has set his sights on a dream move to Real Madrid.

Scroll down to watch Cavani in action

In demand: Serie A top scorer Edinson Cavani has agreed deals in principle with Manchester City and PSG

In demand: Serie A top scorer Edinson Cavani has agreed deals in principle with Manchester City and PSG

In demand: Serie A top scorer Edinson Cavani is being tracked by Europe's top clubs, including City and PSG

GOAL MACHINE CAVANI

Edinson Cavani has scored 72 goals and delivered 12 assists in 100 appearances for Napoli in Serie A.

With fears mounting that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be lured back to Juventus, as revealed in Sportsmail, PSG hope to hijack City’s pursuit of one of Europe’s most accomplished finishers.

Roberto Mancini is desperate to hit the ground running this summer after seeing his title chances damaged considerably last year when Robin van Persie chose Manchester United.

City, then, have agreed in principle to offer 256k per week, though there remains the barrier of his release clause, initially thought to be 53million. Recently, though, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis insisted it would take an incredible 60million to trigger it.

Getting shirty: The fight for Cavani is likely to be a long and bitter one between Europe's leading clubs

Getting shirty: The fight for Cavani is likely to be a long and bitter one between Europe's leading clubs

Getting shirty: The fight for Cavani is likely to be a long and bitter one between Europe's leading clubs

Asked to clarify the exact amount
needed to prise the 26-year-old away, the president said: ‘We included a
very high buy-out clause in his contract, because we want him to stay.

'The clause does exist, though, and if some nutter is willing to pay €70m for him we are ready to listen.'

Cavani is the top scorer in Serie A this season, with 23 goals, firing Napoli to a likely second-placed finish behind Juventus.

Friends forever: Could Ezequiel Lavezzi, who left Napoli for PSG, play a part in Cavani's future

Friends forever: Could Ezequiel Lavezzi, who left Napoli for PSG, play a part in Cavani's future

His blistering form has led PSG sporting director Leonardo to work overtime behind the scenes to convince him of the Parisien project, with reports in France claiming an offer of 7million per year, plus bonuses, is on the table.

Real Madrid have been favourites to sign Cavani, but due to Ibrahimovic openly courting a return to Juve, plus fears within PSG that they could also lose Ezequiel Lavezzi to AC Milan, competition is more fierce than ever.

VIDEO Napoli frontman Cavani doing what he does best…scoring goals

Mario Gotze signs for Bayern Munich, blow Arsenal Manchester City

Pep talk! City and Arsenal miss out on Gotze as Bayern close in on 32m deal

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

05:53 GMT, 23 April 2013

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UPDATED:

07:09 GMT, 23 April 2013

Arsenal and Manchester City look to have missed on Borussia Dortmund star Mario Gotze after reports in Germany claimed he has agreed to join Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich.

The 20-year-old has emerged as one of the most coveted talents in Europe but it is the Bavarian giants who look to have won the race after triggering the forward's €37million (32m) release clause.

The Germany international has, according to Bild, already signed a long-term deal with $7m a year (6m).

All smiles: Mario Gotze (right) is reportedly set to join Bayern Munich in the summer

All smiles: Mario Gotze (right) is reportedly set to join Bayern Munich in the summer

Gotze, who could face his new employees in the Champions League final at Wembley on May 25, has scored 14 goals for his club this season and has won 22 caps for Germany.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had been prepared to finally splash the cash this summer and meet the Gotze's clause but he will now have to look elsewhere.

The youngster had looked set to remain at the Westfalenstadion
for another year having apparently set his sights on a move to Barcelona.

Main man: Gotze (left) has been tracked by the biggest clubs in Europe including Manchester City

Main man: Gotze (left) has been tracked by the biggest clubs in Europe including Manchester City

‘I am very happy at Dortmund and
satisfied with the way we are progressing as a team,’ he said earlier this month. ‘Any
thoughts about playing for another team are very much for the future,
but Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United could be interesting.

'But I'm not thinking of that at the moment.

'I'm happy in Dortmund and very happy how things are going. Therefore, it is still a bit away'

Alex Ferguson sends Manchester United scouts to watch Radamel Falcao

Fergie steps up move for 47m Falcao as United send chief scout to watch Atletico striker score a double

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

10:50 GMT, 15 April 2013

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UPDATED:

11:17 GMT, 15 April 2013

Manchester United watched Radamel Falcao score twice for Atletico Madrid on Sunday night as Sir Alex Ferguson ponders a summer deal.

Sportsmail revealed last week that Ferguson is considering a 47million deal – that could involve Javier Hernandez as part of a swap – to land the Colombia striker.

As United won 2-0 at Stoke, Ferguson sent his chief scout Jim Lawlor to watch Falcao strike a brace in their 5-0 thumping at home to Granada.

Scroll down for video

Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Wanted: Radamel Falcao (left) in action during Atletico Madrid's victory over Granada

Star man: Falcao struck a brace in the triumph for Atletico at the Vicente Calderon

Lawlor is likely to return with
glowing reports of a striker who is also interesting Chelsea and
Manchester City, along with Europe's big guns.

Manchester City and Chelsea have both
been strongly linked with Falcao, who has established himself as one of
the world's most prolific marksmen by scoring 56 goals for Atletico
since arriving in Spain from Porto in 2011.

But it is United have
now joined the bidding for the 27-year-old Colombia star and are prepared to
let striker Hernandez move to Madrid as part of the deal.

On his way Javier Hernandez in action against Stoke on Sunday - but he could be off

On his way Javier Hernandez in action against Stoke on Sunday – but he could be off

Give us a hug! Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with Robin van Persie during the win at Stoke

Give us a hug! Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with Robin van Persie during the win at Stoke

The Premier League leaders are ready
to meet the 47m buyout clause in Falcao's contract by offering Atletico
27m cash plus Hernandez, who they value at 20m.

If they were to land Falcao it
would be a bitter blow to Chelsea, who thought they were winning the
race to sign him, and City boss Roberto Mancini who believes Robin van
Persie's decision to choose Old Trafford over the Etihad Stadium last
summer has been a key factor in this season's title battle.

However,
any club wanting to sign Falcao will have to resolve an issue of
third-party ownership due to the fact that a company run by former
United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon and agent Jorge Mendes
has owned a stake in the player since helping to finance his 34m move
from Porto.

VIDEO: Watch Falcao do what he does best – goalscoring

Galatasaray 3 Real Madrid 2 (Agg 3-5): Match Report: Didier Drogba gives Jose Mourinho a scare

Galatasaray 3 Real Madrid 2 (Agg 3-5): Drogba and Sneijder give Jose a scare as Spaniards make the semis

PUBLISHED:

20:42 GMT, 9 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 9 April 2013

Real Madrid progressed to the last four of the Champions League despite defeat on the night to a Galatasaray side whose second half comeback had Jose Mourinho's side in a panic.

Already three goals up from the first leg at the Bernabeu, the tie was seemingly put to bed by Cristiano Ronaldo's seventh-minute strike.

But an Emmanuel Eboue thunderbolt after 57 minutes brought Gala back level on the night, before Wesley Sneijder put the home side ahead after 70 minutes.

It's a Drogs life: Didier Drogba scored as Galatasaray won the second leg

It's a Drogs life: Didier Drogba scored as Galatasaray won the second leg

MATCH FACTS

Galatasaray: Muslera, Eboue (Elmander 80), Zan, Kaya, Riera, Altintop (Amrabat 46), Felipe Melo, Inan, Sneijder, Bulut (Sarioglu 63), Drogba.

Subs Not Used: Iscan, Aydin Yilmaz, Balta, Kurtulus.

Booked: Sneijder, Eboue, Amrabat.

Goals: Eboue 57, Sneijder 71, Drogba 72.

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez, Essien (Arbeloa 31), Pepe, Varane, Fabio Coentrao, Khedira, Modric, Di Maria, Ozil (Albiol 81), Ronaldo, Higuain (Benzema 73).

Subs Not Used: Casillas, Marcelo, Callejon, Morata.

Sent Off: Arbeloa (90).

Booked: Arbeloa.

Goals: Ronaldo 8, 90.

Attendnace: 52,000

Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)

Seconds later Did Drogba reduced the aggregate deficit further and although Real substitute Alvaro Arbeloa saw red late on, Ronaldo notched his second in injury time, as Madrid's quest for a 10th European Cup continued.

The visitors started quickly and just three minutes were on the clock when Fernando Muslera rashly came out to clear, his effort falling to Angel Di Maria, who shot wide.

Four minutes later they were on the scoresheet. Sami Khedira was allowed to cross from the right and in came Ronaldo, who got to the ball before the home defender to shoot past a helpless Muslera from three yards out.

The tie looked finished as a contest and Ronaldo could have doubled his night's tally moments later when the home side backed off, but from 25 yards the Portuguese shot straight at Muslera.

Drogba went close to converting a Sneijder shot after 20 minutes in Gala's first meaningful attack, before Madrid almost went two-up.

A delicious back-heel pass from Ronaldo played in Di Maria, but his angled effort was well tipped over by the Gala stopper.

Keeping the dream alive: Drogba celebrates after making it 3-1 on the night

Keeping the dream alive: Drogba celebrates after making it 3-1 on the night

All going wrong: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain react after conceding their third goal

All going wrong: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain react after conceding their third goal

Mourinho was forced into his first change after 31 minutes when Michael Essien had to be replaced by Arbeloa due to a leg injury.

Sneijder forced Diego Lopez into his first save after 38 minutes in what was a lacklustre first-half display from the hosts.
Madrid missed another chance to go two up 11 minutes after the restart when Ronaldo somehow missed from eight yards out – scuffing his effort with the ball trapped under his feet.Moments later and the home side were level thanks to a tremendous goal, albeit from an unlikely source. Sneijder's hopeful cutback found a sprinting Eboue who from the edge of the box powered an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

And just three minutes later they should have gone ahead. Drogba's strength caused all sorts of problems for the Real defence with the ball falling to Sneijder.

However with just Lopez to beat and from 12 yards out he screwed his shot wide of the far post.
Eboue's goal had, however, galvanised the home side and with the Ataturk Stadium firmly behind their side Gala took a deserved lead.

Sneijder showed a turn of pace more associated with his best days at Inter, nutmegged Rafael Varane before side-footing into the corner.

And moments later it was 3-1 when Drogba got in front of his defender to flick a cross into the corner of the net.

Raul Albiol replaced Mesut Ozil as Mourinho looked to arrest his team's slide, but they had to play out the final moments with 10 men after Arbeloa saw red after receiving a second yellow card for dissent.

There was still time for a fifth goal on the night when Ronaldo scored in injury time.

Jose Mourinho wants Chelsea job

Mourinho issues come-and-get-me plea to Chelsea ahead of potential Bridge return

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

07:03 GMT, 7 April 2013

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UPDATED:

07:03 GMT, 7 April 2013

Jose Mourinho has urged Chelsea to confirm his dramatic return to Stamford Bridge or risk missing out.

The Real Madrid boss is expected to take over from Rafa Benitez in the summer for a second stint in the Premier League.

But Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan are also reportedly waiting in the wings to pounce.

Time running out: Jose Mourinho has set his sights on a return to Chelsea at the end of the season

Time running out: Jose Mourinho has set his sights on a return to Chelsea at the end of the season

'Jose wants to go back to Chelsea. It’s where he wants to be,' a source told The Sun.

'Every time Chelsea fans sing his name it makes him want to go back even more.

'He’ll sign for the same money he’s on at Real, even though he’s sure he could earn more elsewhere — like City or PSG.

Easy street: Real Madrid cruised past Levante on Sunday night but remain well behind leaders Barcelona

Easy street: Real Madrid cruised past Levante on Sunday night but remain well behind leaders Barcelona

'Jose could even remain at Madrid but he is clear about where he’d like to go — it’s now down to if Roman Abramovich wants the same.'

Mourinho won six trophies in three seasons with Chelsea but was unable to lift the Champions League.

He hopes to do that at Wembley on May 25 with his Real Madrid side who are all but guaranteed a place in the last four after a 3-0 win over Galatasaray last week.

Moving on: Rafa Benitez is expected to quit his role as interim manager following the end of the season

Moving on: Rafa Benitez is expected to quit his role as interim manager following the end of the season

Benitez has never been accepted by the Chelsea faithful after taking over as interim manager following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.

The Spaniard had admitted he will leave at the end of the season but could yet clinch Europa League and FA Cup glory before his time is up.

Real Madrid 3 Galatasaray 0: match report – Cristiano Ronaldo scores

Real Madrid 3 Galatasaray 0: Classy Ronaldo and Co on course for semi-finals

PUBLISHED:

20:35 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 3 April 2013

Real Madrid took a huge step towards reaching the last four of the Champions League by strolling to a comfortable victory over Galatasaray at the Bernabeu.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring early in the first half before Karim Benzema doubled the hosts' lead.

Substitute Gonzalo Higuain's second-half header put the result beyond doubt, and made Madrid's task in the second leg at the Turk Telecom Arena next Tuesday look far easier.

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

MATCH FACTS

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao, Khedira, Ronaldo, Ozil (Modric – 80), Alonso, Essien, Di Maria (Pepe 86), Benzema (Higuain 65)

Subs not used: Adan, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Kaka

Booked: Essien, Modric, Ramos

Goals: Ronaldo 9, Benzema 29, Higuain 73

Galatasaray: Muslera, Dany Nounkeu, Kaya, Eboue, Altintop (Bulut 78), Inan, Felipe Melo, Riera (Amrabat 83), Sneijder (Zan 46), Yilmaz, Drogba

Subs not used: Iscan, Balta, Sarioglu, Kurtulus

Booked: Dany Nounkeu, Felipe Melo, Yilmaz, Drogba

Referee: Oddvar Moen

Attendance: 80,000

Galatasaray's coach and players had
insisted before the game that they would try to attack the Primera
Division champions and would not settle for holding out for a draw. They
were loyal to their promise in the first half, but it left them very
exposed at the back.

Madrid, who have the reputation for
being one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe, were given a
generous amount of space by their opponents and made full use of it.

They had their first attempt on two
minutes, Benzema heading just over the bar after a cross from Angel Di
Maria, and they took the lead after just nine minutes.

Xabi Alonso supplied the ball up to
Mesut Ozil from his own half and the German played a one-two with
Benzema, which allowed him space to deliver an excellent low pass into
the path of Ronaldo, who calmly chipped the ball over goalkeeper
Fernando Muslera and into the net.

Gala played pretty football but
struggled to penetrate the Madrid backline and were limited to shots
from outside the area. Didier Drogba turned Raphael Varane on the
18-yard line and shot just over the bar, while Wesley Sneijder also
missed the target from 20 yards.

In the goals: Karim Benzema got the second for the hosts

In the goals: Karim Benzema got the second for the hosts

Sea of red: Galatasaray fans lit a flare to celebrate the occasion

Sea of red: Galatasaray fans lit a flare to celebrate the occasion

Ozil could have doubled the lead when
a long Sergio Ramos header out of defence led to Madrid attacking, but
the midfielder, receiving the ball from Ronaldo, could not put his shot
past Muslera.

Madrid's second goal arrived just
before the half-hour mark. Michael Essien, a surprise inclusion in the
starting line-up at the expense of Alvaro Arbeloa, delivered a high ball
into the box which fell at the feet of Benzema, who was in space, took
one touch to control the pass and slotted home from six yards.

Galatasaray's best chance of the half
fell to Emmanuel Eboue just before the interval. The former Arsenal
player burst through on goal but hit his shot straight at Diego Lopez's
legs.

Sneijder, unimpressive in the first
45 minutes against his former club, was removed at half-time and
replaced by defender Gokhan Zan – a move which saw Fatih Terim's side
switch to a back three, with Eboue pushing up to right midfield.

Struggle: Didier Drogba led the line for the visitors

Struggle: Didier Drogba led the line for the visitors

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

The tactical change did not help the
visitors' attacking ambitions, and they went on to pose even less of a
threat after the break as they had before it.

Madrid also dropped their intensity
in the second period. Ronaldo and Di Maria both had chances to test
Muslera, the better of which fell to the Argentinian, but the goalkeeper
had little trouble with either effort.

Higuain came on for Benzema on 65
minutes and seven minutes later made the triumph secure when he headed
in a free-kick from Xabi Alonso.

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Jose Mourinho's side rode out the
final minutes of the game with little trouble. Alonso and Ramos both
picked up yellow cards which mean they will miss the second leg.

Achieving victory was much lighter
work for Madrid than their two hard-fought games with Manchester United
in the previous round but, barring a complete collapse in Istanbul, they
can be confident of reaching their third consecutive Champions League
semi-final under Mourinho.

Putting out fires: Sami Khedira (right) and Ramos tackle Burak Yilmaz

Putting out fires: Sami Khedira (right) and Ramos tackle Burak Yilmaz

Over you go: Ronaldo hits the deck after Semih Kaya (centre) backs into the Portugal forward

Over you go: Ronaldo hits the deck after Semih Kaya (centre) backs into the Portugal forward

David Beckham tempted to extend PSG stay

Beckham tempted to extend PSG stay as he prepares for glamour tie with Barcelona

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

19:50 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:53 GMT, 30 March 2013

David Beckham has admitted he is tempted to extend his stay with Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain into a second season.

The 37-year-old joined Carlo
Ancelotti's PSG on a five-month deal in January and his brief
contribution has helped the capital club book a Champions League
quarter-final with Barcelona while sustaining their domestic lead over
Lyon.

Scroll down to watch video highlights

Inspiration: David Beckham's (centre) cameo appearance was a key part of PSG extending their lead at the top of Ligue 1

Inspiration: David Beckham's (centre) cameo appearance was a key part of PSG extending their lead at the top of Ligue 1

While Beckham would not publicly commit his future to the Parc des Princes outfit, he revealed he is relishing the opportunity to face Barca in Paris on Tuesday night.

He told Le Parisien: 'We'll see. Who wouldn't want to stay at a place like this

'It's very special but I'm not getting any younger so we'll see how I feel at the end of the season. It's always nice to be wanted.'

Beckham was speaking after a 1-0 victory over reigning French champions Montpellier in which he played 18 minutes as a second-half substitute.

Celebrations: Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kevin Gameiro (background) celebrates his goal

Celebrations: Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kevin Gameiro (background) celebrates his goal

Winner: Beckham challenges Montpellier's John Utaka

Winner: Beckham challenges Montpellier's John Utaka

Sliding in: Beckham wins the ball from Bryan Dabo

Sliding in: Beckham wins the ball from Bryan Dabo

The playmaker could play a bigger
role against the Primera Division leaders given the inside knowledge he
gained from a four-season spell with Real Madrid.

'Now our focus will turn to Barcelona and I think everybody's excited about the game,' he added.

'Whenever I've come up against Barcelona you always get excited about coming up against the best players and teams.

'It's important that we concentrate on our own game and not worry about their game too much.'

VIDEO: David Beckham helps PSG to victory

Fernando Torres has been ruined by Chelsea – Mauricio Pochettino

Chelsea have ruined the striker who once tormented me, says Saints boss Pochettino

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

09:01 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:02 GMT, 30 March 2013

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Chelsea might be responsible for the decline of striker Fernando Torres.

During his time at Espanyol, Pochettino was pitted against a fearsome Torres when he broke into the Atletico Madrid first team and the 41-year-old remembers being tormented by the young striker.

Torres left Atletico for Liverpool in
2007 and took to Premier League life exceptionally well. But since a
50million move to Stamford Bridge, the Spain international has
struggled to recapture the devastating form shown in Madrid and on
Merseyside.

Superstar: Fernando Torres burst onto the scene at Atletico Madrid

Superstar: Fernando Torres burst onto the scene at Atletico Madrid

Shell: Torres has been in decline ever since joining Chelsea from Liverpool for 50million

Shell: Torres has been in decline ever since joining Chelsea from Liverpool for 50million

Pochettino, whose Southampton side aim to topple Chelsea at St Mary’s this afternoon, believes Torres has not looked at ease since moving to west London.

'I have played against Torres many times and he scored some goals against me,’ Pochettino told The Daily Star.

'I remember him being a quality player, full of strength and a player who knew which spaces to run into to create chances.

'Sometimes it happens where a player is comfortable and feels happy at a certain club as he was at Atletico and at Liverpool.

'But when you leave that club and join a new team maybe you do not feel as comfortable and as happy and that can affect your performances.

Candid: Pochettino remembers being terrorised by Torres during his time at Espanyol

Candid: Pochettino remembers being terrorised by Torres during his time at Espanyol

'I do not know if Torres will leave Chelsea but what is clear is there is no doubting his quality.'

Jack Cork further stoked the fires before this afternoon’s match by saying he would not swap Saints’ top goalscorer Rickie Lambert for Chelsea’s World Cup winner.

The 31-year-old Liverpudlian has scored 13 goals in his debut Premier League season, whereas Torres has only netted seven times this campaign.

Cork, who spent 14 years at The Bridge, said: ‘Rickie has been different class for us for the last three or four years.

'For someone of his build, his touch is unbelievable. He is great to have in your team.

'Torres and Demba Ba have scored lots of goals in their careers and you don’t pay 50m for someone who isn’t any good.

No way: Jack Cork says he would not swap Torres for Saints striker Rickie Lambert (second right)

No way: Jack Cork says he would not swap Torres for Saints striker Rickie Lambert (second right)

'But if you asked who I’d rather have in my team, I’d say Rickie.'

Cork, 23, heads into this afternoon’s match to face the club he left in 2011, having been at Chelsea since the age of eight but never making a senior appearance.

He added: 'Chelsea was massive for me and from the age of eight it was my dream to play for them. It was frustrating towards the end but I loved it when I was there.

'We had a good set of young players who have all gone on to play a high standard. That was when Chelsea were doing well and winning titles — so I can understand why nobody was given a chance.

'With the managers chopping and changing there is always a lot of pressure on them to win games, so it’s tough to blood youngsters.'

Heavy heart: Cork (left) left Chelsea after 14 years at Stamford Bridge

Heavy heart: Cork (left) left Chelsea after 14 years at Stamford Bridge

France v Spain – watch it live for FREE

LIVE France v Spain: Watch the crunch clash in Group I as Les Bleus take on the world and European champions

PUBLISHED:

10:23 GMT, 26 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 26 March 2013

Welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of what promises to be the game of the night as France take on Spain in Group I.

The French can take a huge step towards qualification for Brazil 2014 with a win over their near neighbours in Paris.

Victory would move them five points clear at the top with just three games to go and leave the reigning world and European champions staring at the prospect of a two-legged play-off.

The sides drew in Madrid last October and Spain followed that up by sharing the points with Finland on Friday night while Les Bleus eased past Georgia.

Sergio Ramos, on his 100th appearance for his country, captained Vicente del Bosque's side against Finland and led by example with the goal.

Karim Benzema, his Real Madrid team-mate, drew a blank in France's victory and will be out to make amends if he is given the nod after being booed by the home support for missing chances in the Stade de France.

***Full coverage will start at 8pm***

Live : France – Spain par ffftv

Jose Mourinho: Chelsea will always be in my heart

Chelsea remain in my heart, says Mourinho as Abramovich closes in on deal to bring back Special One

By
Richard Sharpe

PUBLISHED:

14:04 GMT, 26 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:09 GMT, 26 March 2013

Jose Mourinho has fuelled speculation he will return to Chelsea next season, saying the club remains in his heart and he has 'big emotional connections' with Stamford Bridge.

It comes amid rumours that a deal to bring the Portuguese back to the London club is as good as complete following discussions with owner Roman Abramovich.

Tellingly, the Real Madrid manager played down persistent rumours he will join Manchester United, calling it 'Sir Alex's Kingdom' and willing Ferguson to continue in the job for many years to come.

Return: Jose Mourinho has said Chelsea remains 'in his heart' as speculation of a second spell at Stamford Bridge grows

Return: Jose Mourinho has said Chelsea remains 'in his heart' as speculation of a second spell at Stamford Bridge grows

In an interview with Sky Sports News recorded in London, Mourinho said: 'I can't deny in spite of this disgraceful weather I love it here and I have a house.

'I have big emotional connections with Chelsea, and one day I think naturally I have to be back to English football to Chelsea or another club.

'Chelsea means for me different than other clubs. It's in my heart as Inter is for example. One day I have to be back.'

Mourinho had been due to return to Stamford Bridge last night, as Brazil played Russia in a friendly match.

Despite being on the guest list of the Brazilian FA, there were no sightings of the 50-year-old in the stands.

However, it is now widely reported that a deal to replace Rafa Benitez at his former club is close to being agreed.

Good times: Mourinho with his Chelsea team after winning the Premier League title in 2005

Good times: Mourinho with his Chelsea team after winning the Premier League title in 2005

Reunion: Mourinho is believed to be close to agreeing a deal with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

Reunion: Mourinho is believed to be close to agreeing a deal with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

In the long-term though, many believe he will succeed Ferguson at Old Trafford when he eventually retires.

On the subject, Mourinho said: 'I was in Manchester three weeks ago with much nicer weather.

'I had a lot of fun with Sir Alex, texting him on the day of the match – I said, 'what is this fantastic sunny weather in Manchester' It was really good.

'I think Manchester is Sir Alex's Kingdom and I would love that job to be forever, of course it can't but I would love it for many more years.

'In the other chair is Roberto Mancini, with a contract, he was champion last year so I don't think there is a move over there.

Kingdom: Mourinho said he wished his friend Sir Alex Ferguson could carry on forever at Manchester United

Kingdom: Mourinho said he wished his friend Sir Alex Ferguson could carry on forever at Manchester United

'I hope everything goes well for everybody, even Benitez. I hope everybody finishes the season well. I wish for them the same I wish for myself to finish the season well.'

Mourinho added he still has unfinished business with Real between now and the end of the season.

'At the end of the day, I am in Madrid and I am very committed to the rest of the season.

'We are in the last eight of the Champions League and we have a [Copa del Rey] final to play with Atletico.

'I am professional and at the moment I only think about my job in Madrid.'