Depth aside, it’s hard to say why Real Madrid would want to sell Angel Di Maria. At least, that’s the take of teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, as well as Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone.
On Wednesday, La Marca reported that both Ronaldo and Ramos have gone to Madrid president Florentino Perez to ask him to keep Di Maria. Problem is, Di Maria is likely to be sold over the coming week with Manchester United rumored to be coming to the table with a bid upwards of $166 million. That’s a transaction that the overwhelming majority of Galacticos, as well as the fans who gave him a standing ovation upon being substituted onto the pitch during last night’s Spanish Super Cup, don’t want to see happen.
When cross-city rival manager Simeone was asked for his post-match thoughts on Di Maria, the Argentine manager sent the room of journalists into uproar. “He’s the best player they have,” Simeone deadpanned.
But what about Ronaldo, Bale and Rodriguez? The room quaked. “[Di Maria] is the player most likely to create openings in the opposition half,” Simeone responded.
When considering the quartet’s playmaking abilities as Di Maria finished last season with 22 assists – more than double Ronaldo’s total, ten more than James and six more than Bale – it’s a point that’s difficult to refute. The flip-side, of course, is that without Di Maria another Madrid player, likely Bale or James, will pick up the playmaking slack. And, considering Madrid’s sensational midfield depth with the likes of Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso, Toni Kroos, Asier Illarramendi and Sami Khedira, perhaps collecting $166m to target a new striker or simply impress the Financial Fair Play bosses, is the right move.
But good luck getting Los Madridistas to buy into it.
Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.
Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.
And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.
[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]
Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.
“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”
It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).
“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.
“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”
Feel good hit of the Spring.
Year Two of the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City could feature another big goalkeeper purchase.
Claudio Bravo hasn’t panned out in sky blue, and Joe Hart doesn’t look likely to be coming back. Wily Caballero is getting the lion’s share of the minutes right now, playing every minute aside from a trio of FA Cup matches since February.
[ MORE: Podolski scores screamer in German finale ]
$43 million is the fee noted by Abola when it comes to the latest target for Guardiola, a neck-tattooed Brazilian by the name of Ederson.
The Benfica backstop, 23, has 20 clean sheets in 32 appearances this season. He signed a new six-year deal in late January, but money may talk here.
The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.
But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.
[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]
Scotland 1-1 Canada
Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.
Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.
Germany 1-0 England
Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.
Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.
The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.
Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India
James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.
McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.
[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]
McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.
He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.