Real Madrid have confirmed David Alaba and Isco returned positive tests for COVID-19.

The duo are the latest Madrid players to contract the virus, taking the total to eight in the space of a week.

Los Blancos revealed last Wednesday that Luka Modric and Marcelo had gone into quarantine after routine testing determined they had the illness.

Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Rodrygo and Andriy Lunin then tested positive the following day, along with Carlo Ancelotti's son and technical assistant Davide.

All are absent for Madrid's scheduled trip to San Mames to face Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Ancelotti's side are six points clear at the top of LaLiga, having collected 43 points from their first 18 matches, but second-placed Sevilla can close the gap when they face Barcelona on Tuesday.

Real Madrid playmaker Isco has been unfortunate to miss out on a place in the side, according to Carlo Ancelotti.

Isco, who was signed during Ancelotti's first stint as Madrid coach in 2013, has made just seven appearances under the Italian this season, totalling just 176 minutes.

The midfielder has struggled with fitness in recent seasons and was out of favour under previous boss Zinedine Zidane.

Once an integral part of Madrid's system, Isco has started only nine times in all competitions across the entirety of 2021, making 25 appearances in total, scoring one goal and providing only one assist, having created 22 chances for team-mates.

With Ancelotti persisting with a 4-3-3 formation, down in large part to the superb form of Vinicius Junior on the left flank, Isco has found opportunities hard to come by and has not played since featuring against Granada on November 21. He last started a match in August.

Reports on Monday suggested Isco had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing his 2021 to an end prior to Wednesday's meeting with Athletic Bilbao.

Though Ancelotti did not confirm if these reports were accurate, he did say Isco would not play against Athletic. However, he does not believe the Spain international's chances of regaining his place in Madrid's starting XI are over.

"It is a complicated issue to describe exactly what has happened," Ancelotti told a news conference.

"He hasn't yet had the opportunity to show how good he is, because the team started playing much better. It coincided with Isco not being in the team then, so it's been difficult to get back in the team.

 

"Nacho is another player [like this], [Federico] Valverde, [Eduardo] Camavinga, Marcelo. These are players who haven't had much playing time because the players playing now are playing really well.

"They've not had the opportunity to show how good they really are. But Isco and the other players I've named are happy carrying themselves in a professional manner, there are no issues, I am not unhappy with any of these players.

"They've accepted that the team are doing really well, and they continue to train and work hard and are waiting for their opportunity.

"Right now, unfortunately, Isco isn't available, because he could have played on Wednesday."

Another player who has been in and out of the team is Eden Hazard. The Belgium forward made his first LaLiga start since September as Madrid drew 0-0 with Cadiz last time out, despite having 36 attempts (the most of any team without scoring since at least 2003-04).

Asked if Hazard could handle the short turnaround, Ancelotti replied: "I have to evaluate the recovery of the player. Yesterday was fine.

"He has done a recovery session like the others, he trains today and then we will evaluate him. It is clear that he is not a winger who plays on the outside, as Vinicius can be, but that he likes the left wing or behind the striker. 

"It is an option that we have, because what I want is for the player to be comfortable in the position he plays."

Ancelotti will be without Luka Modric on Wednesday, with the midfielder still not back in training after contracting coronavirus.

Matthijs de Ligt's agent Mina Raiola is ready to find the defender a new club.

The outspoken representative suggested he could join Barcelona, Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain.

He also indicated the Premier League was of interest to the Juventus centre-back.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS TO LAND DE LIGT

Chelsea are leading the race to sign Juventus defender De Ligt, claims The Sun.

Raiola has indicated the 22-year-old is ready to leave Juve, who are off the Serie A title pace this term.

Chelsea are expected to lose a host of defenders and eager to make a move for De Ligt.

 

ROUND-UP

- Cashed-up Newcastle United have an eye on Inter forward Edin Dzeko as well as a loan deal for Manchester United's Anthony Martial, reports The Sun.

Manchester United have been in touch with River Plate about 21-year-old Argentinean forward Julian Alvarez, claims Ole.

United are also set to win the race to sign Olympique Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara according to FourFourTwo.

- Gerard Romero claims that Tottenham will make another move for Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet after missing out on him last transfer window.

- Fabrizio Romano reports that Jonathan Ikone's move from Lille to Fiorentina is agreed with only the paperwork left to be signed on a five-year deal with a €15m fee.

Erling Haaland could still stay at Borussia Dortmund but "can wait for anybody" amid demand from Europe's top clubs, including Barcelona, according to the player's agent Mino Raiola.

Haaland signed for Dortmund from Salzburg after the Bundesliga side met his €20million release clause in December 2019 and has dominated the German top flight since his arrival.

The Norway international became the quickest player to 50 goals in the Bundesliga when he reached the milestone in his 50th appearance, and the youngest to do so at just 21, while only Robert Lewandowski (58) has scored more goals than Haaland (43) across all competitions in Europe's top-five leagues in 2021.

Haaland has also scored 30 Bundesliga goals this calendar year – a new Dortmund record, surpassing Lothar Emmerich (29 goals in 1966) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29 goals in 2015).

The 21-year-old is reported to have a €75million buy-out clause that will kick in at the end of the season, putting Europe's elite on high alert.

Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke expressed his belief on Sunday that Haaland should stay and Raiola has refused to rule that possibility out, though he did speculate on a potential move to Barcelona, whose financial issues may well mean a move has to be d

"Could Haaland wait for Barcelona? He can wait for anybody," Raiola said to NOS. "We don't have a pre-agreement with any club.

"We'll look for the best option for him and I can't rule out another year at Dortmund. Theoretically, that's still possible."

 

Barca are undergoing a difficult period under new head coach Xavi. They sit seventh in LaLiga and are already out of the Champions League, after the departure of Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi following the club's well-publicised financial difficulties.

Raiola, however, believes Barca will soon be back.

"Barcelona will always be one of the world's biggest clubs," Raiola added. "Even despite their current situation.

"In a year or two they'll be back. They have the power to find great economic agreements. They'll only need a year or two to get back."

Haaland has 13 goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances this term, while his tally increases to 19 across all competitions.

Carlo Ancelotti insisted nobody should be blamed after Real Madrid's disappointing 0-0 draw at home to struggling Cadiz, applauding the performance even if the outcome was not as expected.

Madrid had been hoping to extend their winning run to eight league matches but failed to convert their superiority into goals at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Los Blancos' 36 shots amounted to 10 more than any other team have had in a single LaLiga match this season and the most since Madrid themselves had 37 attempts against Levante in April 2013.

Those shots equated to 2.8 expected goals (xG), meaning it was only the fourth time in the past decade that Madrid have failed to score in a LaLiga game despite registering at least 2.8 xG.

Cadiz defended valiantly, their 14 blocks being the most any team has recorded in a game since Opta began collecting this data (2005-06), somehow managing to leave the Santiago Bernabeu with at least a point for the second season in a row.

 

Yet, as frustrating as it would have been for his team to fail to beat 19th-placed Cadiz, Ancelotti looked on the bright side.

Speaking to Movistar, Ancelotti said: "I think we've tried in every way, but it has not turned out well.

"It didn't work, but we tried, and therefore I don't have to blame [anyone]. There are many positive things, the only thing that wasn't positive was not having won the three points, but this is football.

"There are times you don't deserve it and you win, and others you deserve it and you don't win. They have played us with a set-up that always challenges us, but that's the way it is.

"In the first half what we didn't do well was breaking their back line, the intensity wasn't very high. The second half was different, we created a lot of opportunities.

"The ball didn't go in, but, personally, I'm happy. We tried, I don't know what more we could do. We could have had more quality in the final metres, but I am not going to ask my team for more."

 

Numerous Madrid players caught the eye but one of the most notable – even if he was not necessarily the standout star – was Eden Hazard.

The Belgian has been a massive disappointment since joining Madrid from Chelsea, with injuries playing a major role in disrupting him, but he looked bright at times on what was his first LaLiga start since September.

Hazard had three shots, his match-high 0.77 xG showing he was a threat, while he also played five key passes, the second most he has tallied in a league game for Madrid.

Ancelotti added: "It was difficult for him to get into the game, but in the second half he did very well with better combinations with the forwards.

"It is clear that Hazard can be one more weapon for us in the second half of the season."

 

Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw by lowly Cadiz on Sunday in a result that will provide a boost to those hoping to challenge Los Blancos for the LaLiga title.

Carlo Ancelotti's men were hoping to extend their winning run in the top flight to eight matches but failed to make the most of their dominance at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Their first-half performance was especially disappointing as Madrid arguably only created one clear-cut opportunity.

They were more dangerous after the interval but still could not break the deadlock and nearly saw Madrid youth product Alvaro Negredo steal a late winner for the 19th-placed visitors.

Madrid showed promise early on as Karim Benzema released Vinicius Junior into the left side of the area only for his eventual shot to be deflected behind by Juan Cala.

Otherwise, Los Blancos did not pose much of a threat to Jeremias Ledesma's goal until the second half, when he was forced into a fine save by Eden Hazard's delicate header.

Vinicius was the next to test Ledesma just before the hour, cutting inside Carlos Akapo and drilling straight at the goalkeeper from 16 yards.

Thibaut Courtois was helpless at the other end 15 minutes from time as Cadiz countered and saw Negredo shoot towards the bottom-right corner, only for the effort to be dragged agonisingly wide.

Madrid subsequently piled the pressure on, with Benzema going close twice and Toni Kroos having a strike blocked, but Cadiz left the capital with at least a point for the second successive season.

Real Madrid are "very interested" in Erling Haaland but Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke wants the in-demand striker to stay in the Bundesliga.

Haaland joined Dortmund from Salzburg after the Bundesliga side met his €20million release clause in December 2019 and has dominated the German top flight from there on in.

The Norway international became the quickest to 50 goals in the Bundesliga and the youngest to do so at just 21, while Robert Lewandowski (58) is the only player to score more goals than Haaland (43) across all competitions in Europe's top-five leagues in 2021.

Haaland is reported to have a €75million buy-out clause that will come into force at the end of the season, with his name already being touted among Europe's elite by his agent Mino Raiola.

Madrid, who missed out on Kylian Mbappe in the last transfer window, are said to be one of the leading candidates for Haaland's signature.

However, Dortmund chief Watzke believes the 21-year-old will be best served to stay put.

"No matter where I go, everyone speaks to you about Erling Haaland," Watzke told German outlet BILD.

"All I know is a guarantee that Real Madrid are very interested in him. 

"I could name 25 others now. But I know for sure, it can be that he leaves, but it can also be that he stays. A few days ago I had a very good conversation with Mino Raiola, when we are in a target corridor, the conversations are always quite friendly and that phone call was quite friendly. 

"We will certainly have another meeting in the next few weeks. The focus is on the overall development of Haaland. 

"Just like with Lewandowski, I would like to be proud of Erling at some point if he wins the Champions League. Personally, I think it's good for him if he stays in the Bundesliga a little longer."

 

Haaland has scored 30 Bundesliga goals this calendar year – a new club record for a Dortmund player in a calendar year, surpassing Lothar Emmerich (29 goals in 1966) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (29 goals in 2015).

Indeed, Haaland has 13 goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances this term, while that tally increases to 19 across all competitions.

Marco Rose's side sit nine points off leaders Bayern Munich heading into the German top flight's mid-season break after a disappointing 3-2 loss at Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Paris Saint-Germain's sporting director Kylian Mbappe has insisted he still believes in the possibility of the superstar forward signing a contract extension.

Mbappe will soon enter the final six months of his contract with PSG, who he joined, initially on loan, from Monaco in 2017.

The striker, who turns 23 on Monday, will be free to sign with another club outside of Ligue 1 on a pre-contract agreement from January, with Real Madrid determined to land the France star.

Los Blancos reportedly had three bids for Mbappe rejected by PSG in August.

Discussions over fresh terms between Mbappe and PSG have been ongoing for some time, but the player has always suggested he does not wish to extend his stay in Paris.

However, Leonardo has not given up hope and, after reiterating PSG's desire to keep Mbappe earlier this week, the Brazilian underlined his belief that an agreement can be reached.

In an interview with Europe 1 and Le Journal du Dimanche (LeJDD), set to be broadcast on Sunday, Leonardo said: "It's a very special situation because we are talking about the best player in the world who is coming to the end of his contract.

"We can say that there were times when we discussed more warmly, but that is part of building a relationship.

"People will think that we say that because we want to prolong it but it is beyond the interest of the club. At 22 years old, almost 23, Kylian has reached an incredible maturity.

"It's a complicated situation in the sense that we would like him to stay all his life and that we have to respect [the family's position]. I think we still have good possibilities to extend [the contract]. I believe in it."

Prior to PSG's Coupe de France clash with Feignies on Sunday, since the start of 2021, only Robert Lewandowski (58) and Erling Haaland (43) have scored more goals across all competitions than Mbappe (41), of players in Europe's "big five" leagues, outperforming his expected goals (xG) of 35.58.

Mbappe averages a goal every 107 minutes and has also provided 16 assists, creating 81 chances for team-mates.

However, his expected assists (xA) value of 10.84 suggests the opportunities laid on for his PSG club-mates have been finished exceptionally well.

Carlo Ancelotti says Barcelona "are not a direct rival" for Real Madrid at the moment, with the Blaugrana enduring a difficult season.

Los Blancos are eight points clear at the top of the table, having lost just once in La Liga this season against Espanyol on October 3.

Barca, meanwhile, are 18 points adrift of the leaders in eighth place and have won only six LaLiga games so far this term.

Madrid head coach Ancelotti feels that the likes of Sevilla and Real Betis, who are second and third respectively, pose a more immediate threat than the Catalan club.

"Now Barcelona is not a direct rival because we are closer [to] Sevilla, Atletico or Betis, but if I were Barcelona's coach I would say that we can't rule out LaLiga either," Ancelotti said to a news conference ahead of Los Blancos' league clash with Cadiz.

Ancelotti is without six players for Sunday's encounter due to COVID-19, with Marcelo, Luka Modric, Andriy Lunin, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Rodrygo all unavailable, while Isco is a doubt.

The Italian gave fitness updates on the rest of the squad and was particularly optimistic about Eden Hazard's chances of playing a starring role.

"It is true that we have had setbacks but those who have tested positive are fine and the rest are ready to play tomorrow's game," Ancelotti continued.

"After the first positive tests, the [rest] all tested negative and we are determined to play. We have to live with it just as society is doing. This virus is less strong than before and we have to keep in mind that we have to take care of ourselves and follow all precautions.

"Hazard starts tomorrow. He wants motivation and he's going to play because he trained well and deserves it. He is always well. The problem is that he has not always been able to train 100 per cent and I think that tomorrow he will play a good game.

"Hazard is prepared. It is clear that in the first part of the season he had the competition of [Karim] Benzema and Vinicius [Junior] and now he can have a very, very good second part of the season.

"Benzema has trained very well. He is very well and will play. Modric has tested negative but remains confined. He is tired and has had a fever so he will not be there tomorrow. Then we have to assess what the regulations say."

Real Madrid must return to the scene of one of their greatest embarrassments in modern times after being drawn to face Alcoyano again at the last-32 stage of the Copa del Rey.

For a second successive year, Madrid must travel to the tiny Estadio El Collao in Alcoy in their opening match in the competition.

They will be looking to avoid the fate that befell them in January of this year, when then-coach Zinedine Zidane and his players were humiliated after losing 2-1 to the third-tier team, who snatched an extra-time winner while down to 10 men.

Alcoyano booked their place in the last-32 stage this season with a penalty shoot-out win over Levante, and Friday's draw for the next round saw them handed another plum home clash with Madrid.

Now being led by Carlo Ancelotti, Madrid appear to be in a better place than they were in Zidane's final year in charge, having built a substantial lead at the top of LaLiga and won five of their six Champions League group games. The lesson of recent history and hurt may help them too. 

Barcelona must tackle also third-tier side, having been drawn to travel to Andalusian outfit Linares Deportivo, while Atletico Madrid face an unfamiliar local derby as they head to nearby Rayo Majadahonda.

Sevilla, who sit second in LaLiga, will make the trip to face six-time Copa winners Real Zaragoza, who were relegated from LaLiga in 2012-13 and remain in the Segunda Division.

The games will take in midweek from January 4-6, the Spanish FA (RFEF) said.

Paris Saint-Germain remain committed to trying to retain Kylian Mbappe amid ongoing links with Real Madrid, according to sporting director Leonardo.

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign with Ligue 1 giants PSG.

PSG reportedly rejected three bids – the last one said to be worth up to €200million – from LaLiga powerhouse Madrid for Mbappe heading into the 2021-22 campaign.

Madrid have been tipped to lure Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season, though PSG are refusing to give up hope ahead of their Champions League quarter-final tie.

"Kylian Mbappe is 'formidable'. He's different, he's fantastic," Leonardo said at La Sorbonne.

"And yes, you know what we want… it's clear. We'll see."

Amid the mounting speculation, Mbappe – who has spoken openly of his desire to join Madrid at the start of the season – was asked about his future.

"Moving from Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain was logical," the France international, who has nine goals and 14 assists for PSG in Ligue 1 this term, told Paris Match.

"But, now as I look ahead, there is room for the unplanned. Having fun, the surprise factor - that's part of the beauty of sport.

"Things can happen that change your mind. It's impossible to predict what I'll do in the next 20 years."

Mbappe became the youngest player in Ligue 1 history to score 100 goals for a single team with his second of the game for PSG against former club Monaco last week.

Aged just 22 years and 357 days, Mbappe is the youngest player to achieve the feat for one club in French top-flight history since Opta began recording data back in 1950-51.

 

Real Madrid have confirmed another five players and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

Los Blancos revealed on Wednesday that Luka Modric and Marcelo had gone into quarantine after returning positive test results for the virus.

Having also seen positive cases appear in the basketball team, Madrid-based newspaper Marca reported on Thursday morning that the club were fearing a full-blown outbreak at their Valdebebas training base.

The first team now has at least seven members of the playing and coaching staff with coronavirus.

Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Andriy Lunin and Rodrygo are the latest players to have contracted COVID-19, while Carlo Ancelotti's son and technical assistant Davide was the one coach named on the list.

All will be absent for Madrid's final two matches of 2021 – the visit of Cadiz on Sunday and trip to Athletic Bilbao three days later.

However, there also remains the possibility that Madrid's matches are postponed either on medical grounds or due to a lack of players if there are further positive cases confirmed.

The race for Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is on.

Haaland is reportedly being chased by several top clubs, including Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Each club will be looking for an edge in the race for the Norwegian.


TOP STORY – BARCELONA NOT KEEN ON POGBA-HAALAND PACKAGE

Barcelona are unlikely to bring in both Haaland and Paul Pogba, reports SPORT.

Agent Mino Raiola, who represents both players, is reported to have recently met with Barca president Joan Laporta.

Young striker Haaland is unmistakably an appealing player to Barcelona, but they would need to find the funds to buy him from Borussia Dortmund. Barcelona, who have major financial issues, are said to be wary of taking on Manchester United star Pogba's wages, and he may not be an ideal technical fit for coach Xavi. Pogba's United contract is due to expire at the end of this season.

Manchester City are also readying themselves to chase Haaland but will not over-spend, reports the Manchester Evening News.

ROUND-UP

- Cashed-up Newcastle United are bullish about their prospects of signing Atletico Madrid's England defender Kieran Trippier in January, according to Football Insider. Talks between the Magpies and Trippier are reportedly already under way.

- Premier League trio Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United could be all set to make a move to sign Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic after he rejected a bumper extension offer, reports Talksport.

- Paris Saint-Germain have joined the queue of clubs hoping to sign out-of-favour Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo, reports Calciomercato. Arthur has also been linked with Lazio.

- Fenerbahce are set to swoop for Luuk de Jong, who is on loan at Barcelona from Sevilla, claims Mundo Deportivo. Barca are eager to let him leave from his loan.

- Barcelona have set an asking price of €90million (£77m) for Frenkie de Jong according to Fichajes, amid interest from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao have launched legal action against the deal between LaLiga and the private equity fund CVC Capital Partners.

On Friday, a majority of 37 out of 42 clubs in Spain's top two tiers voted in favour of the investment agreement, which is worth €2.1billion.

The deal involves LaLiga giving up a percentage of revenue generated from TV rights over the next 50 years, with clubs provided a more immediate financial boost.

Barca, Madrid and Athletic have been embroiled in a war of words with LaLiga president Javier Tebas in recent weeks after describing the CVC deal as potentially "ruinous" for Spanish football.

Barca president Joan Laporta previously described the deal as like "mortgaging the club's rights over the next half-century".

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the clubs confirmed: "Athletic Club, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid report that they have taken legal action in response to the agreements adopted by the LaLiga Assembly in relation to the so-called Impulse Project that LaLiga intends to undertake with the CVC venture capital fund, as it is an illegal transaction that causes irreparable damage to the Spanish football sector as a whole and flagrantly violates the most elementary principles of Spanish sports law and the LaLiga statutes."

Speaking after the deal had been ratified last Friday, Tebas said: "We are facing a new milestone in the history of LaLiga and the clubs.

"We are proud to have reached this agreement with CVC, a project that will allow us to continue the transformation towards a global digital entertainment company, strengthening the competition and transforming the experience of the fans. 

"Despite all the obstacles that we have encountered along the way, we have carried out this project, which will be a before and after for LaLiga clubs, who will be able to improve their infrastructures, develop their brand internationally and take giant steps to continue strengthening sport and football around the world."

Real Madrid announced on Wednesday that Luka Modric and Marcelo have tested positive for coronavirus.

The experienced pair returned positive results in the latest round of routine squad tests and will now self-isolate.

Madrid, who beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 in the derby on Sunday, are next in action on Sunday, when they face Cadiz in LaLiga.

While Marcelo, 33, has started just once for Madrid this season, Modric remains a key part of Carlo Ancelotti's side.

The midfielder, who turned 36 in September, excelled against Atleti as Los Blancos moved eight points clear of Sevilla at the top of the table.

In total, he has played 18 times in all competitions this season.

Madrid face Athletic Bilbao on December 22 before resuming their season away to Getafe on January 2.

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