Football

Jose Mourinho hints at Madrid additions

Real Madrid have carried their remarkable goalscoring form into preseason after their record-breaking La Liga tally last year, and Cristiano Ronaldo is targeting even more in the next campaign.

Jose Mourinho's side have blitzed their way through a taxing preseason schedule so far, scoring five against Real Oviedo and LA Galaxy, and another two each in games against Santos Laguna and Benfica.

Despite the sweltering 40 degree heat, their tour of the United States has been a huge success, and Mourinho has cleverly rotated his charges, giving his players just 45 minutes at a time.

And Ronaldo is loving life in the States, so much so that the world's most expensive player even hinted that he'd like to follow David Beckham by seeing out his playing days in Major League Soccer.

But the 27-year-old has a few more years left at Madrid yet - at least the Bernabeu hierarchy hope so after their £80m outlay - but despite last year's triumph, Madrid have so far kept themselves out of the transfer market.

The Spanish giants have been linked with a number of world-class players, and as ever, it usually takes one transfer to initiate a domino effect and open the floodgates.

In this case, that transfer is probably Luka Modric. The Spurs playmaker has been a long-term Madrid target, and Jose Mourinho has left the door open for the Croatian's arrival.

Speaking in Las Vegas after the most recent leg of their USA tour, the Madrid boss said: "We are working hard at preparing because we are well aware of the fact that it is not going to be easy. The team is almost complete."

Note the "almost complete". The La Liga champions are yet to add to last year's title-winning squad, but with three weeks to go until the deadline there's plenty of time.

Modric, Manchester United winger Nani and Manchester City star David Silva are the three targets, although Silva is probably an unachievable aim this time around.

Mourinho knows as well as anyone that the key to retaining the title is progression - stand still and Barcelona will overhaul them next season. And Modric would move the side on, Nani less so.

Tottenham's chairman Daniel Levy is a stubborn negotiator, but his position should not be confused with intransigence. The Spurs chairman is shrewd, he know several parties want Modric, so he can reasonably stick firm to his £40m asking price.

The Croatian has all but packed his bags, and it's hard to see him sticking around after having his head turned so violently, but last year Modric found himself in a similar situation with Chelsea and soon knuckled down after their interest abated.

A midfield three of Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric looks formidable, although probably only two of the three would start. Add to that Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria and all of a sudden you a side to rival the Galacticos of the early 2000s.

But this group of superstars are different to the Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, David Beckham and Ronaldo set that occupied the Bernabeu turf in the early part of the last decade.

That team were a marketing dream, a collection of the world's best players, but a disunited band of individuals masquerading as a single squad.

This group still contains several of the world's best players, but with Jose Mourinho at the helm they are united. Mourinho has that unique ability to generate a siege mentality wherever he goes, and he's done so successfully even at the world's most famous club.

The new Galacticos marry individual brilliance - more often than not provided by chief orchestrator Cristiano Ronaldo - with a crabby, dogged defending - usually dished out by Sergio Ramos and Pepe. It proved to be a perfect match last year.

This year's La Liga title race promises to be as exciting as last season. And the questions surrounding the Pep Guardiola changeover are little more than people clutching at flimsy straws.

With Tito Vilanova in charge, Barcelona will be every bit as formidable as they were under Guardiola - after all the teamsheet still contains the holy trinity of Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta.

But Mourinho and Madrid won't fear them. The first is always the most difficult, and that air of invincibility surrounding Barca has eroded slightly after their La Liga victory last year.

But the target will be the Champions League. Ronaldo talks about improving upon last year's performance. On a personal level that means beating Messi to the Pichichi, on a team level that means the Champions League.

They came up short last year at the semi-final stage, as the Spanish pairing robbed the world of a dream El Clasico Champions League final. With preseason coming to a close, the signs are good that they'll go one step further this year.

Topics:
European News
Football
Cristiano Ronaldo

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