Valencia striker Roberto Soldado has been ruled out of his side’s Copa del Rey quarter-final clash against Real Madrid on Wednesday with a thigh injury.
The Spain international picked up the problem in the 5-0 Liga loss to Jose Mourinho’s team on Sunday, leading to him being substituted after 65 minutes in the humbling defeat.
The 27-year-old is los Che’s top scorer this season, finding the back of the net 11 times in La Liga alone, but his absence, coupled with the team having to claw back a two-goal deficit from the first leg, means that Ernesto Valverde’s team will face an uphill battle to make the final of the competition.
Karim Benzema’s strike and an own goal from Jose Guardado helped los Blancos to a 2-0 win in the first leg, and with Soldado unavailable for selection, Mourinho’s side are strong favourites to progress to the last four.
Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has highlighted the role of Jose Mourinho in his fine form in the past few weeks.
The Germany international has impressed with a string of fine performances after the winter break, and he has made it clear that it is vital for him that his coach supports him.
“I am feeling very well at the moment and that’s clear to see on the pitch. It is very important for me to have the coach’s faith,” Khedira stated at a press conference.
“My team-mates and coaches are all happy with my performances and that’s what matters most. I will do my utmost to keep up this form.”
The holding midfielder then went on to discuss Madrid’s upcoming Copa del Rey match against Valencia, and stressed that the quarter-final tie is not over just yet after the Blancos‘ 2-0 win in the first leg.
“It will be a difficult match against Valencia. They are a good team and we have to be alert in defence.”
Wednesday’s match is scheduled to kick off at 21:30 CET.
By Luke Matthews
Napoli are closing in on a €3 million deal for Croatian teenage sensation Josip Radosevic, Goal.com understands.
Representatives from the Serie A club were in Split to negotiate with the 18-year-old’s current side, Hajduk on Monday with a deal set to be officially announced later this week.
Radosevic, who has been dubbed the new ‘Gennaro Gattuso’ due to his tenacious play in central midfield, is also a target for Parma, although it appears Walter Mazzarri’s men have won the battle for his signature.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, Radosevic said: “Playing in Serie A was my dream since I was a kid. The dream is close to becoming a reality.
“Serie A has the style of play that fits me and my abilities although there were offers and interest from other clubs in different leagues.”
The midfielder, who made his international debut for Croatia in their World Cup 2014 qualifier against Belgium in September, burst onto the scene for Hajduk in late 2011 and has since become an integral player for the Prva HNL side.
The deal appears to be a massive coup for the Naples club with Jose Mourinho said to be a known admirer of Radosevic.
The Real Madrid coach attended the international between Croatia and Macedonia in September last year to take a closer look at the player with Madrid rumoured to be weighing up a bid this summer.
Radosevic, who has already been selected for his nation’s friendly versus South Korea in London next month, is to set become Napoli’s third signing of the January transfer window, following Pablo Armero’s loan switch from Udinese and Siena striker Emmanuel Calaio’s move to Naples until the end of the season.
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By Elia Raimondo
AC Milan remain hopeful of luring Kaka away from Real Madrid in the January window as negotiations between both sides continue, Goal.com understands.
The Rossoneri opened talks with Madrid over a winter transfer earlier this month, but Milan CEO Adriano Galliani stated on Monday that the move had fallen through.
“The negotiations for Kaka have broken down. It’s not possible to complete the deal for fiscal reasons. We had agreed on everything else but the deal broke down,” Galliani said.
Nevertheless, despite Galliani’s comments, talks between Madrid and Milan are ongoing as the Serie A giants remain keen to find a solution.
Both teams had reached an agreement over a 24-month free loan deal, after Milan initially intended to sign Kaka until June 2015, whereas Madrid aimed to ship the Brazilian out on loan for 18 months.
The deal was put on hold following Madrid’s demand for a €7 million fee to cover tax payments, though.
Milan are reluctant to accept Madrid’s request, but they hope to reach a compromise before the transfer window slams shut as negotiations continue.
Valencia defender Ricardo Costa has apologised to the club’s fans after their 5-0 thrashing by Real Madrid on Sunday night.
The one-sided contest saw Madrid score five times in the first half, and the 31-year-old Portuguese international was involved throughout.
“They are a strong team, but we cannot be so vulnerable. It cannot happen again, for us to concede so many goals in such a short time,” Costa told reporters.
“In the first few minutes we were at the same level as Madrid, but they scored with their first counter-attack, we tried to balance that out, and then they scored the second.”
The opportunity for revenge is on the horizon, however, as the two sides again face each other at Mestalla in their Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg clash on Wednesday.
Costa is well aware that an improved performance is imperative as they look to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg.
He added: “We have to win on Wednesday. We know that Madrid will be more relaxed and it will be a totally different game.
“We must play with our head, unlike on Sunday, where we were open all over the place, because we cannot have the same story again.”