Written By Onyeka Daniel
Yesterday, at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, it was Real Madrid against Napoli in the 5th game of their UCL group stage game and the Spanish side emerged victorious despite missing a host of players. This particular stadium could become home to two of Napoli top players as the Los Blancos have been linked with Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
Badri Kvaratskhelia, the father of Napoli star Khvicha, reiterated his son’s dream of playing for Real Madrid after their Champions League meeting. The Partenopei fell to Los Blancos in a difficult 4-2 defeat, putting up a good fight despite the circumstances and recent arrival of coach Walter Mazzarri.
Kvaratskhelia struggled to show his best under previous coach Rudi Garcia but has still managed to make an impact at Napoli this term, scoring four goals and providing four assists across 12 Serie A outings. Speaking to Geo Team, Badri Kvaratskhelia discussed how it felt for his son to play at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid.
“For Khvicha, playing against Real Madrid was special. He has always dreamed, and I’m convinced that he still dreams, of playing for Real Madrid. “In my family, everyone is a Los Blancos fan except me. For this reason, it was a very special match.” Kvaratskhelia is contracted to Napoli until June 2027 and is still one of the lowest paid players in the squad, earning around €1.5m net per season. The club had been slowly working on a new deal but talks have stalled regarding his new salary.
Former Italy striker Gianfranco Zola believes Antonio Conte is the ideal replacement for Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid and insists Victor Osimhen would be ‘perfect’ for the La Liga giants. The Italian spoke ahead of the UCL clash: “It will definitely be a difficult match, given the value of Real Madrid. Napoli is going through a difficult period as they have just changed their coach.
Mazzarri’s first match was good, but playing against Real Madrid will be different. Napoli are a good team and could surprise,” Zola said. “Real Madrid have great players. Of course, they will be without influential names, but Napoli must not think about that only and focus on the field to achieve a good result,” he said.
“Mazzarri has a lot of experience, and no one can doubt that. He now has a difficult task but I think he is a good choice.” The Merengues will be looking for a new centre forward in the summer and although Kylian Mbappé appears to be their primary target, Zola feels the La Liga giants may look elsewhere.
“There are many big names such as Mbappe, Erling Haaland, and even Osimhen, who I see as a perfect fit for Real Madrid. Mbappe is slightly different from Haaland, and I don’t think Manchester City will let Haaland leave easily.
“I might choose Mbappe, given his talent and personality, he is the right fit, but he is more of a winger than a striker, so in my opinion Haaland or Osimhen would be better as they are classic centre forwards. Every coach has his own vision.” This could be Carlo Ancelotti’s final season at Real Madrid as his contract runs out in June 2024.
The Italian tactician is the leading candidate to take over Brazil’s national team and Zola seems to have clear ideas on who should replace Carletto at the Estadio Bernabeu next season. “What Ancelotti presented is extraordinary. The Merengues were going through a difficult phase when he was appointed three years ago.
They had been eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea, but he succeeded in changing the entire team for the better and restored it to success again. “The decision [on his future] is definitely up to the club, and what philosophy they will adopt to hire a new coach. I think about someone who can manage their many stars and bring out the best from them. From my point of view, Antonio Conte would be a distinguished choice.” He further added.
Former Juventus midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur has sustained another serious injury, which means Tottenham Hotspur are less likely to sell Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg to the Bianconeri in January.
The Old Lady has been looking towards potential reinforcements in the January transfer window in order to make a genuine Scudetto push. Midfielders are needed to fill the gaps, as Nicolò Fagioli was given a seven-month ban for illegal gambling and Paul Pogba is still waiting to discover his fate in a doping test investigation.
Hojbjerg had long been considered the favourite option for a January swoop, but now one of Juve’s old players is seemingly going to wreck that plan. Bentancur, who only just returned from a different injury, has been ruled out for circa four months by torn ligaments in his ankle.
It makes It far less likely that Tottenham will risk losing Hojbjerg in January as well. Juventus sold Bentancur to Spurs in January 2022 for €19m plus up to another €6m in performance-related bonuses. They will now have to consider their options with Rodrigo DE Paul and Fabian Ruiz also on their radar.
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