Roberto Martinez remains "very positive" Eden Hazard will be fit and firing in time for Euro 2020 despite missing out on Belgium's latest squad.

And the Red Devils coach called on club side Real Madrid to join the national team in taking "responsibility" for Hazard's recovery.

The winger returned from a six-game absence in LaLiga to appear as a second-half substitute in Madrid's win against Elche last weekend.

However, Hazard had to miss training on Monday due to a damaged hip flexor and could not face Atalanta in the Champions League the following day.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane fumed at the repeated "inexplicable" issues that have restricted Hazard to just 36 appearances and 29 starts since his €100million transfer in June 2019.

Hazard has scored only four times for Los Blancos, providing five assists from 38 chances created.

But he remains a key man for Belgium, with five goals, seven assists and 34 chances created in eight European Championship qualifying outings and is set to captain the side at the finals, if he can recover in time.

Martinez is staying patient, revealing the player - in "good spirits" - will not undergo surgery and explaining: "I think there is still a long, long, long, long way to go [to the Euros].

"Rather than setting a timeline, all that matters is to measure every day and to see that Eden is on the right path to get back to full fitness.

"It would be wrong and it would be gambling, by anyone, to imagine if Eden will be fully fit or not.

"I feel this situation can be solved a lot earlier than the Euros, but only when Eden goes from day to day will we see the final answer.

"Knowing Eden, what we're dealing with is a player that has never been injured in his career. This is a real shock, something new. There is a lot of uncertainty around that.

"But in terms of the injury, I feel very positive that we can get to see the best Eden Hazard well before the Euros."

While Zidane had no explanation for Hazard's woes, Martinez added: "This is a situation with Eden Hazard. We're dealing with the same problem. There's been a lot of different niggles and different problems, but everything comes from the same previous problem.

"Now is the moment to forget about any deadlines, any times, it's about Eden Hazard, giving him what he needs and getting him fully recovered and making sure he's back on the football pitch.

"We all need to take that responsibility, between the Belgian federation and the club where he's playing his football."

While Hazard will play no part in Belgium's March World Cup qualifiers against Wales, Czech Republic and Belarus, Romelu Lukaku has been included, despite a coronavirus breakout at Inter.

There are also first senior nods for midfielders Albert Sambi Lokonga and Orel Mangala.


Belgium squad in full:

Koen Casteels (Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Thomas Kaminski (Blackburn Rovers), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge); Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Leicester City), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Thomas Foket (Reims), Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge), Thomas Meunier (Borussia Dortmund), Thomas Vermaelen (Vissel Kobe), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica); Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Nacer Chadli (Istanbul Basaksehir), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Albert Sambi Lokonga (Anderlecht), Orel Mangala (Stuttgart), Dennis Praet (Leicester City), Alexis Saelemaekers (Milan), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge); Michy Batshuayi (Crystal Palace), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), Charles De Ketelaere (Club Brugge), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Adnan Januzaj (Real Sociedad), Romelu Lukaku (Inter), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht).

Title-holders Bayern Munich face a repeat of last season's final against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals of the 2020-21 edition.

While the Parisians will be sure to test their title defence, Bayern have won each of their previous four knockout encounters with French opposition in the Champions League, including August's final.

Real Madrid and Liverpool will face each other in a two-legged knockout tie for only the second time – the first saw the Reds inflict Los Blancos' biggest-ever aggregate defeat (5-0) in 2008-09.

Similarly, Jurgen Klopp has faced Madrid more often than any other opponent in the Champions League (seven), with only Ottmar Hitzfeld (12) managing against them more often in the competition.

Manchester City are to go up against Borussia Dortmund, having only lost one of their 12 home games against German teams in the Champions League, that solitary defeat coming to Pep Guardiola's Bayern in 2013.

The omens are similarly good for Chelsea, who have won each of their four previous home games against Porto, their best 100 per cent winning ratio at Stamford Bridge against any side across all European competitions.

 

Quarter-final draw:

Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund

Porto v Chelsea

Bayern Munich v Paris Saint-Germain

Real Madrid v Liverpool

Semi-final draw:

Winner of QF 3 v Winner of QF 1

Winner of QF4 v Winner of QF 2

Revenge for last season's final defeat will be on the minds of Paris Saint-Germain after being drawn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Bayern lifted the trophy in August last year when they defeated PSG 1-0 thanks to a goal by Kingsley Coman, a youth product of the Parisian side.

It was PSG's first ever appearance in the Champions League final and therefore closest they have come to European glory since the 2011 takeover by Qatari Sports Investments (QSI), who pledged to build a club capable of winning the competition when they secured ownership.

After a run of three successive eliminations at the last-16 stage, this is the second year in a row that PSG have reached the quarter-finals, having eliminated Barcelona in comfortable fashion this month.

But to get any further they will have to avenge their final defeat of last year, after Bayern dealt with Lazio in similarly resounding fashion.

Liverpool may also be eager for a slice of payback when they go up against Real Madrid next, with Zinedine Zidane's men beating them in the 2018 final – though the Reds did go all the way the following year.

Jurgen Klopp's men have found themselves in a spot of bother domestically in recent months, having lost eight times in the Premier League since the turn of the year, but against RB Leipzig in the last-16 they were fairly comfortable as they won both legs 2-0.

Madrid saw off Atalanta 4-2 on aggregate in the last round and are unbeaten in nine across all competitions.

If he guides them to another European title this term, Zidane will become the first coach to win the trophy four times.

Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund will contest a tie that's sure to excite the neutrals, with Pep Guardiola's runaway Premier League leaders set to contend with Erling Haaland.

The Norwegian striker's father, Alf-Inge, captained City in 2000-01 and has been linked with them himself, as well as their rivals Manchester United.

The third English club hoping to reach the semi-finals is Chelsea and they are likely to be the happiest of bunch having been paired with Porto.

Nevertheless, Sergio Conceicao's men eliminated Juventus in the last round and will be relishing another opportunity as the underdog.

Revenge for last season's final defeat will be on the minds of Paris Saint-Germain after being drawn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Where will Jack Grealish play his football next season?

It is one of the big questions in English football right now and Manchester City have joined the conversation.

City are reportedly emerging as the favourites to sign the Aston Villa captain.

 

TOP STORY – CITY LINE UP GREALISH SPLASH

Manchester City appear best placed to sign Aston Villa's £100million-rated captain Jack Grealish, according to the Daily Mail.

Grealish reportedly came close to joining Manchester United last year, but the Red Devils could not come up with the funds to seal the deal.

City manager Pep Guardiola is a well-known admirer of Grealish, previously calling him "an exceptional player".

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Liverpool have joined the queue chasing Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni, with a reported £43m (€50m) move. European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Barcelona are also allegedly keen on the 21-year-old Italy international.

Tottenham are likely to opt out of exercising the £36m (€42m) option-to-buy Carlos Vinicius, who is on loan at Spurs from Benfica according to the Daily Mail. The report claims Spurs are only willing to pay more than half that amount for the Brazilian.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are considering a move for Arkadiusz Milik, who they have previously been linked with as they prepare for the possible departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala. Juve are reportedly set to revive their interest in Milik, with the Poland international on loan at Marseille from Napoli.

- Football Insider reports that United are plotting a move for Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez amid doubts over star David de Gea and Dean Henderson. They have also been linked with Milan sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Real Madrid are keen to bring back Levante winger Jorge de Frutos to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to Marca.

What does the future hold for Sergio Aguero?

With his Manchester City contract expiring at the end of the season, Aguero is no closer to re-signing.

Premier League rivals Chelsea could be ready to pounce…

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA KEEPING TABS ON AGUERO

Chelsea are tracking Manchester City star and soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero, according to the Daily Mail.

Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and the City forward has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Barcelona.

But Premier League rivals Chelsea are reportedly eyeing a move for City's all-time leading goalscorer.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail reports City and Chelsea are both interested in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud. Tottenham and Everton have also been linked with the Germany international.

Juventus are eyeing a move for star Atalanta wing-back Robin Gosens, claims Calciomercato. Gosens has starred for Atalanta, who value him between €35-€40million.

- FootMercato says Paris Saint-Germain want Tottenham full-back Serge Aurier as former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino seeks a reunion.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester United have not made a bid for Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. United have also been linked with RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, as well as Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White.

- In-demand Dortmund star Erling Haaland has a "crush" on Madrid but El Chiringuito insists no club is close to signing the Norwegian. Haaland has been linked with Madrid, Barca, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus.

Cristiano Ronaldo is more likely to return to Manchester United than Real Madrid, while Chelsea are desperate to land Erling Haaland.

Ronaldo, 36, is out of contract at Juventus in 2022 and his future has again become a talking point.

Two of his former clubs, United and Madrid, have been linked with the Portugal star.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD RETURN MORE LIKELY THAN MADRID FOR RONALDO

A return to Manchester United is more likely than Real Madrid for Juventus star Ronaldo, according to Tuttosport.

The report says Madrid president Florentino Perez has not opened the door for a Ronaldo return, due to the club's interest in Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Ronaldo starred at United between 2003 and 2009 before shining in Madrid for nine seasons.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea look desperate to land Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. The Daily Star reports Chelsea are prepared to again do business with Haaland's agent, Mino Raiola, in a bid to sign the forward. Chelsea fell out with Raiola after Romelu Lukaku joined Manchester United over them in 2017.

- Could Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann be set to swap places? CalcioMercato reports there is an idea for Dybala to leave Juventus and join Barcelona, with Griezmann heading to Turin.

- Liverpool seem set to strengthen ahead of next season. Eurosport reports the Premier League champions are thinking about a move for Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge.

- Manchester United have reportedly received a transfer boost. The Sun reports Sevilla have lowered their asking price for defender Jules Kounde to around £50million (€58.4m).

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane replied "why not" when asked if his side can win LaLiga and the Champions League after getting past Atalanta in the last 16 on Tuesday.

Los Blancos completed a 4-1 aggregate victory over the Italians with a 3-1 win in Madrid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2017-18.

Zidane's side, who are third in LaLiga and six points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with 11 games to play, will find out their last-eight opponents at Friday's draw.

Madrid won three Champions League titles in a row from 2016 to 2018, although they only won LaLiga once during that hat-trick.

“That's what we're going to try to do," Zidane said when asked if they could win LaLiga and the Champions League.

"Why not? That's what we're here for. We're going to try to do it. It's a big ask, but we'll give it our all.

"We're alive in both competitions and tonight we have to enjoy this, not just because of the goals we scored but particularly because of our performance.

"When you work on things with the players and they then come off in a game it makes you really happy, particularly when it's against a team that demands so much of you."

Croatian midfielder Luka Modric was named man of the match against Atalanta, setting up the opening goal for Karim Benzema and pulling the strings.

"He's so intelligent, that's clear," Zidane said. "He's 35 years old but you wouldn't know it out on the pitch. If Luka wants to become a coach, he's got that in him.

"He understands football, if he wants to be a coach he won't have any problem. I love the kind of guy he is.

"Today, playing the double pivot alongside Toni [Kroos], they have such great chemistry and that's fantastic for the team."

Luka Modric believes Real Madrid's older players are still hungry for Champions League glory.

Croatia midfielder Modric, 35, has lifted the trophy four times with Madrid since he joined them in 2012 and is the eldest of seven players in their squad aged 30 or over.

Sergio Ramos (34), Karim Benzema (33), Marcelo (32), Toni Kroos (31), Nacho (31) and Eden Hazard (30) are the other Madrid players of a certain vintage.

Los Blancos did not make it beyond the last 16 in the previous two seasons after defeats to Ajax and Manchester City in 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively.

However, Madrid booked their place in the quarter-finals of this season's competition with a 3-1 (4-1 on aggregate) victory over Atalanta on Tuesday.

Modric completed more passes (89) than any other player in the match and had more touches (109) too, underlining his influence remains strong.

"The important thing was to get through as we have not done it in two years," Modric told Movistar.

"We have to go step by step and see where we can go, but we have shown that there is still a lot of hunger in this team and that they want to keep winning.

"I hope we can go far but it was a very important first step. It was a very demanding game, Atalanta is a very physical team, they push one by one across the pitch, they don't stop.

"I think we have done well from the beginning and very happy to be in the quarter-finals."

Modric provided an assist for Benzema to score the opening goal for Madrid, before a penalty from Ramos and Marco Asensio's late strike wrapped up the win shortly after a Luis Muriel free-kick for the visitors.

Five of Modric's last six assists in all competitions have been for Benzema and only in 2013-14 (three) has the Croatian managed more Champions League assists than his two this season - both of which came in this last-16 tie.

When asked how old he felt as a player Modric said "27" before playing down the significance of his advancing years.

He said: "I always say that you don't have to look at the years, what the player does on the field is important, it doesn't matter how old, or how old his passport is.

"My physique and with everything I have achieved here, I am still hungry to continue doing things well, I am working to achieve all this and I feel very good."

Madrid captain Ramos agreed with Modric's sentiments, adding: "In the end, when you have been taking care of yourself for so many years, when you sow you end up harvesting.

"We always try to give the highest level; people must value the performance. The objective was to get through with a good result."

Only Roberto Carlos (16) has scored more Champions League goals than Ramos (15) among all defenders in the competition.

Nevertheless, the experienced centre-back said there was no update on a new contract with Madrid, his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

Ramos added: "I cannot report anything, when there is something new I will be the one to say so."

Real Madrid booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals after a 3-1 win over Atalanta on Tuesday thanks to goals from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Marco Asensio.

With a 1-0 lead from the first leg, Benzema eased any nerves for Madrid when he swept home in the first half following a mistake by Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.

Madrid were awarded a penalty after the break when Vinicius Junior was clumsily fouled by Rafael Toloi and Ramos emphatically buried the resulting spot-kick.

Atalanta pulled a late goal back with a free-kick from Luis Muriel, but Asensio ensured there was no drama with goal on the counterattack.

Madrid made a tentative start and Atalanta went close early on when Muriel cut the ball back for Robin Gosens, who could only manage a tame shot straight at Thibaut Courtois.

Los Blancos eventually found their rhythm midway through the half when the lively Vinicius combined with Benzema inside the box, but the Brazilian saw his goal-bound effort blocked.

Zinedine Zidane's side took the lead after a weak clearance by Sportiello went straight to Luka Modric and he fed Benzema, who finished clinically.

Vinicius almost added a second in spectacular fashion, shooting wide with just Sportiello to beat after a dazzling run.

Ramos left Atalanta with a mountain to climb when he converted from the spot, Sportiello unable to keep it out despite getting a hand to the ball.

Benzema headed against the post and Courtois twice saved from Duvan Zapata before Atalanta pulled one back – Muriel curling a superb free-kick into the top-right corner with seven minutes left.

Madrid finished the game with a flourish and a minute later Asensio punished the Serie A outfit on the counterattack, beating Sportiello at his near post.

Real Madrid alarmed supporters with a medical bulletin declaring Rodrygo was injured again on Tuesday - before a hacker was blamed for publishing the false information.

Brazilian forward Rodrygo recently returned from a hamstring problem and has made three appearances in March.

Just hours before Madrid's crucial Champions League clash with Atalanta on Tuesday, Madrid's website carried a statement that said: "After the tests carried out on our player Rodrygo by the Real Madrid medical services, he was diagnosed with a muscle injury affecting the tendon in the right biceps femoris."

However, that news of the injury recurrence was soon pulled down and replaced by a message stating: "We're sorry... but we have been unable to find the page you requested."

The surprising initial announcement, issued in the way Madrid typically declare injury updates, caught the eye of Spain's main sports news outlets.

There was no official clarification from Madrid on how the news came to be announced; however, Marca and AS cited club sources claiming that Madrid's Twitter account and website had been hacked.

Speaking on Monday, Zinedine Zidane enthused about Rodrygo, saying: "He's a player who has adapted well to our league. He's one for the present and the future and he's improving a lot.

"We're happy with him and we know the quality he has, especially with the ball. We have to let him continue with his normal development, but we're very happy with him."

Atalanta will hope to keep Italy's Champions League interest alive in Tuesday's last-16 second legs.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men have the simple tasking of overturning a 1-0 deficit away to Real Madrid, the most successful club in the competition's history and winners of four of the past seven tournaments.

Zinedine Zidane's men have struggled for consistency in 2020-21 but the Champions League traditionally brings out their best, while Atalanta's visit could also be one to celebrate for Toni Kroos.

Madrid may be confident in their chances, but Manchester City are in an even more enviable position, having won 2-0 away to Borussia Monchengladbach in their first leg.

Gladbach have struggled badly since the announcement that Marco Rose will be leaving for Borussia Dortmund ahead of next season, losing six games in a row in all competitions, and they could represent good opposition for Sergio Aguero, who is chasing a milestone goal.

 

Real Madrid (1) v Atalanta (0): Can Gasperini's men restore national pride in Spain?

Atalanta enjoyed their only previous visit to Spain in European competition, winning 4-3 at Valencia at this stage of last season's competition to secure a sensational 8-4 aggregate victory, with Josip Ilicic scoring all four goals.

However, history is not on their side this time. Italian teams have lost 11 of their previous 12 games against Madrid and conceded at least twice in 10 of those matches. You have to go back to Juventus in November 2008 to find an Italian side who stopped Los Blancos scoring.

Madrid have progressed from eight of the past nine Champions League knockout ties in which they have won the first leg, the exception being two years ago, when Ajax caused a shock with a 4-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, more recent form may give them reason for concern.

Madrid have gone four home knockout games without a win, while Atalanta have not conceded an away Champions League goal this season and are enjoying a five-game winning run on their travels, the best such sequence of any side in the competition.

Toni Kroos could be in for a milestone match. The midfielder could become only the second German outfield player to start 100 Champions League matches, after Bayern Munich great Philipp Lahm, who finished on 110.

With Eden Hazard injured once more, Zidane could do with Marco Asensio ending his goal drought. The Spain international has attempted 14 shots in six games, the most of any player left in the competition who has failed to score a goal.

Manchester City (2) v Borussia Monchengladbach (0): Bundesliga side hoping for miracle

Gladbach's last visit to City ended in a 4-0 loss, their joint-heaviest away defeat in the competition. In fact, City are unbeaten in five meetings with Tuesday's opponents and have scored at least twice in each of their four victories.

Pep Guardiola's first Champions League game in charge was a 4-0 home win over Gladbach, with City having won more games (16) and scored more goals (59) in home matches than any other English side in the competition in that time. They are on a run of 10 wins in 11 European games at the Etihad Stadium, in which they have averaged 3.5 goals per match.

Gladbach enjoyed a superb group stage but, since consecutive 6-0 and 4-0 wins over Shakhtar Donetsk, they have lost three games in a row and failed to score in their previous two. It is hard to look beyond a comfortable City victory.

Aguero will hope for another start, and should the Argentinian score, he will reach 20 goals in 29 Champions League games under Guardiola. That would draw him level with Thomas Muller and leave him behind only Lionel Messi (43) for the most goals scored in the competition under the former Barcelona boss.

Where will Erling Haaland be playing in 2021-22?

That is the question everyone is asking as clubs queue up to sign the Borussia Dortmund goalscoring machine.

Manchester United are reportedly determined to prise the Norway international to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SET SIGHTS ON HAALAND

Manchester United have settled on Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as their centre forward priority in the transfer market, according to Manchester Evening News.

United tried to sign Haaland before he joined Dortmund from Austrian champions Salzburg last year.

Eyeing a long-term replacement for Romelu Lukaku, with United veteran Edinson Cavani linked to Boca Juniors after signing a one-year deal at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and football director John Murtough have agreed to target Haaland.

Haaland has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, LiverpoolManchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

It comes after United reportedly received little encouragement of the possibility of signing Tottenham star Harry Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has an agreement in place to sign a new one-year deal with the LaLiga champions.

- Arsenal are keen to keep Martin Odegaard – on loan from Madrid – beyond the 2020-21 season, reports the Daily Mail.

- The Daily star says Donny van de Beek wants to quit United. Van de Beek only joined from Ajax at the start of the season but he has been unable to cement a spot in the starting XI.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel wants to keep Antonio Rudiger as the Blues seek to avoid losing him on a free transfer in 2022 by offering a new contract, reports the Daily Mail.

Zinedine Zidane is open to the idea of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Real Madrid.

Speculation has been rife following Juventus' Champions League elimination by Porto, suggesting Ronaldo wants to head back to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite reports only surfacing in the past week, Spanish publication AS claims Ronaldo and Madrid have been in talks for several months and a transfer for the end of the season is being mooted, with Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe seemingly out of reach this year.

Ronaldo left Madrid for Juve in 2018, a move seen as a major statement in the Bianconeri's bid to end their Champions League drought, which stretches back to 1995-96.

But they have not been beyond the quarter-finals since, losing to Ajax, Lyon and most recently Porto in successive years.

Ronaldo is already Madrid's record scorer with 450 goals and won Europe's elite competition four times with Los Blancos, and Zidane acknowledges another link-up is not impossible.

Asked by Sky Sport Italia if there was truth in the rumours linking Ronaldo to Madrid, Zidane said: "Maybe. We know Cristiano, the person he is and what he did here.

"But he is a Juventus player. I did what I had to do with him, now we will see what happens in the future. I was lucky enough to train him because he is really impressive."

Zidane was speaking ahead of Madrid's Champions League last-16 second leg against Atalanta, having beaten Juve's Serie A rivals 1-0 in Bergamo in their previous meeting.

Remo Freuler was sent off after just 17 minutes for the home side, with Zidane's men then finally breaking the deadlock through Ferland Mendy four minutes from time.

Madrid are in the driving seat in the tie but Zidane insists he is not relaxed heading into Tuesday's game. While he realises Atalanta have to come out and go for goals, he is also well aware that is their main strength.

"I'm not calm, in football that doesn't exist," Zidane added. "You must have a great performance to get through the round, you can't go to 95 per cent because they will come here to win.

"We will need the best Real Madrid. I don't expect anything different from Atalanta. They always play in the same way: they attack and score, a lot. It's a great team.

"It's true that everything changed early on in the first leg, but many things were said to each other and they are rightly angry about the sending off, which was harsh. But we also prefer to play against 11 men, because then our game was also different."

Karim Benzema has no issue with talk of Erling Haaland joining Real Madrid as he has become accustomed to speculation linking the club with other strikers. 

Haaland's future remains a subject of great interest in the media, with the Norway international continuing to be prolific for Borussia Dortmund. 

The 20-year-old, who already has 31 goals in all competitions this season, has been linked with a move to Madrid, along with another highly talented young forward in Kylian Mbappe. 

Ahead of the second leg of Los Blancos' last-16 Champions League tie with Atalanta on Tuesday, Benzema spoke about the possibility of Haaland heading to the Spanish capital at some stage in the future. 

"He's not at the club," the Frenchman, whose double against Elche at the weekend moved him to 20 goals for the season, told the media. 

"I've spent many years here and every month they talk about strikers and people who can get a lot of goals. 

"He's young and he does a lot for his team. He has to work more for his team and if one day he has the opportunity, and he comes here, then so be it."

Benzema was also asked in the pre-match news conference about Cristiano Ronaldo, the club's all-time leading scorer who has been linked with a sensational return. 

Ronaldo left in July 2018, moving to Juventus. "The time has come to open a new stage in my life," he said at the time of the stunning transfer. 

However, Juve's exit from the Champions League to Porto means they have failed to make it any further than the quarter-final stage during the Portugal forward's three years at the club, with reports in Spain suggesting the player is keen to head back to Madrid. 

"I did a lot with him here, a lot of goals and assists. It's already been three years [without him]," Benzema said about Ronaldo, who scored a hat-trick for Juve against Cagliari on Sunday. 

"He's at another team. I'm neither the president nor the coach. I don't know if he's happy or not at Juventus. 

"I played with him in another time... we always got on well together. And we always scored goals."

As for his own future, Benzema remains relaxed about the situation but is willing to open talks about extending his stay at "the best club in the world". 

"I go day by day. I enjoy every training session, every match," he explained. "I have a contract until 2022 but my door is open if the president wants me to renew. It's the best club in the world." 

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