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Football round-up

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane hasn't ruled out a massive bid for Juve and france star Paul Pogba

Zidane: Rodriguez staying at Real, Pogba still a target
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has ended speculation regarding the future of Colombian international James Rodriguez by confirming the 25-year-old winger will remain at the club.

Reports in England and Spain linked Rodriguez, who joined Real from Monaco shortly after the 2014 World Cup, with a move to the Premier League this summer, with Manchester United among the clubs keen to acquire his services.

Speaking ahead of his team’s opening pre-season game against Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday at the Ohio Stadium in Columbus, United States, Zidane said: “James is a Real Madrid player.

“We have a very good squad, we have won with this team and James is just one more in the team. He will remain at Real Madrid.”

Rodriguez impressed in his debut season at Real, scoring 17 goals and setting up 17 more in 46 appearances, but lost his place in the starting line-up and made just 21 starts in the 2015-16 campaign.

Real, who finished runners-up to Barcelona in La Liga last season, have made just one signing so far this summer, with Spanish forward Alvaro Morata returning to the club two years after being sold to Juventus.

However, Real are hopeful to acquire another Juventus player, with Zidane revealing that the club are still in the race to sign France international Paul Pogba.

The 23-year-old midfielder remains a number one target for top European clubs, including his former team Manchester United, who are, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, prepared to meet Juve’s asking price of 120 million euros.

Asked about his compatriot Pogba, Zidane said: “Until August 31 anything can happen but Paul Pogba is not yet a Real Madrid player.

“Every club is interested in Pogba because he is a great player. More so when you are Real Madrid because you always want the best. But we have to respect the player, he belongs to Juventus.”

Pogba left United four years ago to join Juve as a free agent and the France international is contracted to the Italian champions until June 2019.

Ronaldo poses biggest threat yet to Polish rearguardRonaldo pledges to ‘come back stronger’ after knee injury
Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to come back stronger for the coming season after suffering a knee injury in Portugal’s triumphant Euro 2016 final earlier this month.

The Real Madrid forward, who is in this year’s Best Player in Europe shortlist, was carried off the pitch on a stretcher after 25 minutes in the final against hosts France.

“I just wanted to thank all my fans,” Ronaldo said in a video on his Instagram account.

“I wanted to tell them that all is well and that I will come back much stronger. Thank you, long live Portugal.”

The 31-year-old, who racked up 51 goals in 48 games last season, scored the decisive penalty to seal Real’s second Champions League final success over local rivals Atletico Madrid in three years.

La Liga runners-up Real begin their 2016-17 campaign, in what will be manager Zinedine Zidane’s first full season in charge, away to Real Sociedad on Aug. 21.

Barcelona capture Portugal’s Gomes from Valencia
Barcelona have completed the signing of Portugal midfielder Andre Gomes from Valencia on a five-year contract, the Spanish champions said on Wednesday.

Neither club released any financial details but Marca reported that Gomes cost 50 million euros.

Barca had reached agreement with Valencia last week to acquire the 22-year-old, who was in the Portugal squad at Euro 2016 where the country won their first major title.

He came off the bench in Portugal’s 2-0 semi-final win over Wales but did not appear in the final against hosts France.

Attacking midfielder Gomes had been linked to Barca’s arch-rivals Real Madrid and Manchester United after an impressive two seasons at Valencia who he joined from Benfica.

Gomes, who started 27 Liga games for Valencia in the 2015-16 campaign, becomes Barca’s fourth close-season signing after the arrival of Samuel Umtiti, Denis Suarez and Lucas Digne.

TV punditry appeals more to ex-players than coaching – FA chief
Lucrative broadcasting jobs is one of the reasons the Football Association (FA) is struggling to attract former England players into coaching, chief executive Martin Glenn has said.

England appointed a homegrown manager in Sam Allardyce last week, but his departure from Sunderland has left just three English managers in the Premier League – Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche of Burnley and Alan Pardew of Crystal Palace.

A host of former players including Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Phil Neville have had coaching stints with England development teams, but Glenn said the more relaxed atmosphere of broadcasting seemed more appealing to them.

“There is a pathway (to coaching) should they choose it,” Glenn told British media.

“It’s just the alternative can seem more interesting, more fun and more lucrative. If you can earn millions being a pundit it’s a lot less pressured than it is running a team.”

Glenn also added that the FA needs to come up with creative options to entice more players into coaching.

“We’ve got a great facility here (St George’s Park) to get your UEFA A and B coaching badges and the rest.

“There’s a pathway for those who want it. England is quite unique now because of the money you can make out of broadcasting.”

Neymar vows to keep partying as Games approach
Brazil striker Neymar has vowed to keep on partying after being asked if his off the field activities could harm the country’s chances of winning their first Olympic football title.

The Barcelona player was not released by his club to play in June’s Copa America but went to the United States to support his team-mates and was pictured hanging out with Hollywood celebrities and pop singer Justin Bieber.

He will be back to lead the Olympic side against South Africa, Iraq and Denmark in the group stage, which starts on Aug. 4, but the outstanding Brazilian player of his generation promised he would remain his own man.

“I think you have to start by looking at what I do on the pitch,” he told a news conference. “The moment I am off the field it’s my personal time.

“I like to go out and have fun with my friends. I have family too so why can’t I go out to clubs? I can and I will. I am well aware what my duties are the next day. I am going to keep going out and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

He added that any millionaire youngster at the top of his game would live the same lifestyle and challenged reporters to say otherwise.

“Imagine you’re 24 years old, earning what I earn and having all that I have,” he said at Brazil’s training camp. “Wouldn’t you be the same as me?”

Neymar is one of the three over-age players in Brazil’s squad as they attempt to win the gold medal for the first time next month at their home Olympics.

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