FOOTBALL NEWS ⚽
Spain Coach Concerned Over Isco & Asensio's Lack of Minutes.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui is worried Isco and Marco Asensio will not play enough for Real Madrid as he steps up his preparation for the World Cup.
Isco has started 14 La Liga games for Zinedine Zidane's side this season but was absent for Saturday's 4-1 win at Valencia due to a hip injury.
Asensio may also be pushed down the pecking order with teh return of the famed 'BBC' upfront even though he has scored four La Liga goals - double Benzema's haul despite starting three league matches fewer.
"I'm sure they will play again, but I'm worried that Marco and Isco play little," Lopetegui said. "Diego Costa has not surprised me and he can be in the next squad."
Lopetegui is set to sign a new Spain contract.
Athletic Bilbao Replace Laporte With Inigo Martinez
Athletic Bilbao have completed the sensational signing of defender Inigo Martinez from Basque rivals Real Sociedad.
The 26-year-old had a €32m release clause at the Anoeta while Athletic are keen to land a replacement for Aymeric Laporte, who joined Manchester City in a €70m deal this week.
Martinez was strongly linked with a move to Barcelona this summer before the Catalan giants reportedly pulled the plug on a deal but while the central defender had also been linked with City.
Reports📰: Arsenal Agree £55.5m Aubameyang Fee
Arsenal have reached agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund over the club-record €63m (£55.5m) signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, though the completion of the deal may yet hinge on rival clubs, including Chelsea, securing their own reinforcements as the January transfer window looks set for a frantic finale.
Negotiations have been ongoing for Aubameyang for a fortnight with Arsenal always confident a deal could be concluded after the player made clear his desire to move to London. The Gabon international has agreed a contract to 2021 believed to be worth around £180,000 a week, which would make him the highest-paid player at the Emirates Stadium.
The striker is said to be on his way to London and that Dortmund are hoping to sign Batshuyi from Chelsea as a replacement.
Juan Cuadrado To Miss Champions League Clash Against Spurs
Juventus expect Juan Cuadrado to be out of action for at least another month after undergoing surgery on a groin injury.
Cuadrado will miss the first leg of Juve's Champions League last-16 tie with Tottenham on February 13 but has a chance of returning to action in time for March 7's second leg.
The Colombia international, who has scored three Serie A goals in 11 starts this season, has already been out for five weeks.
Mourinho Hopes For a New United Contract for Fellaini
Manchester United remain hopeful that Marouane Fellaini will sign a new contract, with Jose Mourinho eager to keep the versatile Belgian.
"It’s a very important player for me and is a great professional that is giving everything he can to help the team and there is a desire from myself, the board and the player to stay together,” said Mourinho. That’s our objective. Are we going to reach, to agree? I don’t know but what I know is that myself, the board and the player we would like to have a happy year."
Pressed further on whether he is feeling more optimistic about Fellaini committing his future to United, Mourinho added: “In relation to Marouane?
No, no. I’m happy with his contribution."
"I think he’s been a great professional for us and I know that he wants to stay with us and that is very important."
Purslow Blasts FSG For Coutinho Sale
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, have been blasted for selling Philippe Coutinho, with Christian Purslow pointing out that “fans don’t care about bank balances, they care about winning”.
Purslow, the former managing director at the Merseyside giants said "It's quite exceptional to see a top team in contention in two important trophies (the Champions League and the FA Cup), and obviously the day-to-day business of making sure you're in the top four. They're all very, very live season challenges Liverpool face. To effectively put money in the bank and take a player away - any football expert would say the likelihood of winning the Champions League without him has reduced, the likelihood of coming fourth is reduced, and they have already gone out of the FA Cup - is in pure footballing terms, a gamble."
"I would have expected – if they needed to give the player certainty, that he was going to fulfill his dream and go to Barcelona – then the deal could have been done with either money now with a loan back, or a contract deferred delivery of player and money in May."
"The winners were Barcelona, the losers were Liverpool – other than their bank balance. Fans don't care about bank balances, they care about winning."