New Real Madrid signing Alaba tests positive for COVID-19

By Sports Desk July 28, 2021

Real Madrid have confirmed new signing David Alaba has tested positive for coronavirus.

Alaba, who played in all of Austria's Euro 2020 matches, agreed to join Madrid following the expiration of his contract with Bayern Munich, where he had spent his entire career, winning 27 trophies.

The 29-year-old – who has taken Madrid's number four shirt vacated by Sergio Ramos – was officially unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu on July 21.

However, his pre-season preparations have been hit by a positive COVID-19 test.

Madrid revealed the news in a brief statement on their official website. They did not clarify whether Alaba was asymptomatic. 

Alaba, who has signed a five-year deal with Los Blancos, is the second Madrid player to test positive in as many weeks, after Karim Benzema also contracted the virus.

With Madrid having agreed to sell Raphael Varane to Manchester United, Alaba is set to lead a new-look defence this season.

Carlo Ancelotti's team were beaten 2-1 by Rangers in a pre-season friendly on Sunday – Alaba did not feature, but has been training with the squad.

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    Although Cristiano Ronaldo's affection for Manchester United is without doubt, his return to Old Trafford has not gone as he might have planned.

    Following Erik ten Hag's arrival, Ronaldo's reported concern over United's apparent lack of transfer activity has made other clubs explore possibilities to sign him.

    Reports suggest that a couple of clubs have already made their interest indirectly known.

    TOP STORY – CHELSEA, ROMA CIRCLING FOR RONALDO

    Chelsea and Roma have expressed their interest in signing Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United, according to reports.

    The Athletic has reported Chelsea, with Todd Boehly installing himself as interim sporting director after his consortium's takeover of the club, met with Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes to discuss the possibility of his transfer.

    Ronaldo has a year left on his contract, and the possibility of him leaving after only one season has grown with Erik ten Hag's arrival.

    Meanwhile, Retesport are reporting the Giallorossi are keen to sign the 37-year-old, with the Friedkin group looking to reunite him with former boss Jose Mourinho and build on the team's Conference League triumph.

    ROUND-UP

    – In the background, United are increasingly confident they will be able to land Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong for a fee of £69million (€80.2m), Goal reports.

    – Also, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has made contact with Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling, according to the Telegraph.

    – Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks over a deal for Neymar amid Chelsea's interest, per AS.

    – Leeds United are preparing a £26million (€30.2m) bid for Club Brugge's Charles de Ketelaere, the Daily Mail reports.

  • Denmark's Euro 92 triumph: Thirty years on, the Danes have made dreamers of us all Denmark's Euro 92 triumph: Thirty years on, the Danes have made dreamers of us all

    They were the unlikeliest of all European champions and to this day remain the poster boys for all underdogs.

    Denmark, the Euro 92 winners, gave hope to generations of teams that would follow them onto the big stage.

    How could a nation with a population of a little over five million in 1992 sweep away the competition, when that competition looked so formidable?

    Michel Platini's France squad boasted Papin, Cantona, Deschamps, Blanc and Boli; Germany had Klinsmann, Hassler, Moller and World Cup final match-winner Brehme; the Netherlands fielded Van Basten, Gullit, Rijkaard and a young Bergkamp.

    Nobody was tipping Denmark, who were called into the tournament 10 days before it began after the expulsion of Yugoslavia, a decision taken by UEFA amid war in the Balkans.

    Denmark have given hope to teams who logically should have none. This hope has often been outrageously misplaced. The notion that 'if Denmark can do it, so can we' is a fallacy. The Danes opened the door and fantasists walked through.

    The 1992 Denmark team were a band of brothers who seized their unexpected opportunity, facing on-field and off-field challenges along the way. Thirty years since the June 26 final, we celebrate them.

    HOW ON EARTH DID THEY DO IT?

    There was little indication of what was to come when Denmark followed a 0-0 draw against England by losing 1-0 to hosts Sweden; however, a 2-1 victory over France in Malmo snapped the watching continent to attention.

    Peter Schmeichel. John Jensen. Brian Laudrup. Kim Vilfort. Torben Piechnik. The football world knew about goalkeeper Schmeichel, a year into his Manchester United career, and Laudrup was Denmark's star outfielder. But many in their side were barely known outside Denmark. Twelve of their 20 still played in the Danish league.

    Michael Laudrup was in international exile, after he and Brian quit the national team in late 1990, unimpressed with new coach Richard Moller Nielsen. Brian came back shortly before the Euros, but Barcelona forward Michael continued to give international football a swerve. Denmark got by without him.

    "We were very fortunate that we were one group of people who felt like pioneers in Danish football," Schmeichel told UEFA.com. "We felt we had responsibility to break the waves and go against the tide and prove to everyone that we can compete."

    He said it was a "myth" that the Danes had been summoned from the beach, not least because the Danish season was still in full swing.

    It was "like a funeral" in the Denmark dressing room after the England stalemate, according to Schmeichel.

    "But from that moment on we felt we were definitely in a position where we can compete in this tournament," he said.

    SLAYING THE GIANTS

    In an eight-team tournament, scraping through in second place from Group 1 meant the Danes went straight into a semi-final.

    Getting the better of the Netherlands looked beyond Denmark, given the defending champions were so strong.

    Both teams knew Germany were waiting in the final, having got the better of Sweden 3-2 in the first semi-final. The Netherlands had beaten Germany in the group stage, but their hopes of a second clash with Berti Vogts' side were to be shattered in Gothenburg.

    Henrik Larsen's double either side of a Bergkamp strike almost gave the Danes victory in 90 minutes, but Frank Rijkaard grabbed a late leveller. When it came to penalties, Schmeichel's save from Marco van Basten made all the difference, every other player scoring from the spot as Kim Christofte sealed the shoot-out success.

    In an interview at the FIFA Best awards in 2022, Schmeichel recalled how he had found inspiration in the national team from a young age.

    "I have to go back to even 1984 when Denmark lost to Spain in the semi-finals of the Euros," Schmeichel said.

    "I was in the generation that came after that and [took] the inspiration from that, and the understanding that even though we are from a small country with a limited number of people playing football, if you work hard and look for your luck, and we always produce skilful players, then there is an opportunity to create very, very good results."

    Denmark were winning their battles on the pitch, but the most important struggle was being fought away from the spotlight, with Vilfort's young daughter Line battling leukaemia.

    He missed the France game to be with his family in Copenhagen but returned to Sweden before the semi-final. A movie dramatisation of Denmark's great triumph that summer portrayed Line telling her father he should go back and join his team-mates.

    Come the June 26 final against Germany, the Danes were not alone in thinking the improbable might just be possible.

    At the Ullevi stadium, Germany began strongly but were caught out in the 18th minute when Jensen sent a sizzling strike past Bodo Illgner.

    Schmeichel and his defence defied Germany, and in the 78th minute came a magical moment for Vilfort when he found space between Brehme and Thomas Helmer before sending a low left-footed shot in off the right post, sealing a 2-0 win.

    Schmeichel said Denmark's achievement came "from not accepting we're a small country".

    "If we get the right circumstances, we can go and do whatever job we want to do, so it's more a mentality thing," he said. "I think that, more than anything, was why we won the European Championship. It was magical and unexpected."

    Coach Moller Nielsen later reflected on his sudden change of plans for June 1992.

    Moller Nielsen, who died in 2014, was quoted by UEFA as saying: "I was supposed to fit a new kitchen [in my house] but then we were called away to play in Sweden. The kitchen is finished now. I got a professional decorator to do it."

    From a hospital bed, Line Vilfort got to see her father lead Denmark to the country's greatest footballing success.

    She died a few weeks later, at the age of seven. Dad was a national hero, but this would be the cruellest of final chapters in the story of these great Danes, a personal tragedy amid a summer-long national celebration.

  • Dortmund CEO Watzke criticises 'arrogant idiots' in English media after Mane transfer Dortmund CEO Watzke criticises 'arrogant idiots' in English media after Mane transfer

    Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has hit out at "arrogant idiots" in the English media, while praising Bayern Munich in their signing of Sadio Mane.

    Bayern confirmed Mane's signing from Liverpool last Wednesday, with Watzke heralding the 30-year-old's transfer as one that improves the quality of the Bundesliga.

    With Karim Adeyemi and Adam Hlozek moving to Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen respectively, and with Ryan Gravenberch also set to sign for Bayern, the Bundesliga's top clubs have bolstered with talented youth.

    Meanwhile, German World Cup winner Mario Gotze will head for Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of their debut season in the Champions League.

    In an interview with Bild, the Dortmund CEO praised the Mane transfer and barked back on the competitiveness of English clubs in response to comments from Dean Saunders on Talksport, claiming Mane will waste his prime playing in "third gear" at a dominant Bayern.

    "Sadio Mane is a very good transfer, on which I expressly congratulate Bayern," Watzke said.

    "There are always some arrogant idiots like in this case. As a board member of Europe's club association ECA, I know that German football still has a good reputation.

    "The English didn't win any of the three European titles last season - even though I would have really given Jürgen Klopp a chance with Liverpool in the Champions League."

    Along with his role at BVB, Watzke is also the DFL's supervisory board chairman, overseeing the operation of Germany's professional domestic leagues.

    While expressing Dortmund's excitement on the return of fierce rival Schalke to the German top flight with Werder Bremen, he insisted it was important for the overall health of the Bundesliga along with high-profile transfers.

    "Not only are we looking forward to the Revierderby but the whole Bundesliga, because it is the mother of all derbies," Watzke said.

    "This is important because next year a lot of conditions will already be in place for the resale of the television rights in 2025, and if the Bundesliga booms this season, that will help us a lot with marketing.

    "The Bundesliga has to get stars like Mane and Gotze, but also create stars themselves again."

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