Zidane won’t rule out ‘surprise’ late signing

Zinedine Zidane claimed Real Madrid could still make a late move in the transfer market despite hopes of a deal for either Paul Pogba or Neymar fading.

European clubs have until Monday to add to their squads and Zidane has been keen to strengthen his side with another star name.

Barcelona appear to have moved ahead in their attempts to prise Neymar from Paris St Germain while Manchester United are determined to keep Pogba, but Zidane would not rule out another move with Portugal midfielder Bruno Fernandes the latest name linked with the club.

Portugal v Switzerland – Nations League – Semi Final – Estadio do Dragao
Bruno Fernandes is the latest player to be linked with Real Madrid (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Until Monday everything can happen,” he said. “One surprise, two surprises. But the important thing is tomorrow’s game.”

There have been reports that Zidane is unhappy with Madrid’s transfer dealings and the failure to land one of their big targets, but the Frenchman insisted his relationship with club president Florentino Perez was strong.

“The decisions I make are on the pitch,” he said. “The relationship with the president has always been very good. He is the one who brought me here to play and I will never forget that.

“I do not have to clarify anything because the relationship is good. What you say outside the club I can’t control.”

Madrid travel to Villarreal looking to get back to winning ways after a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Real Valladolid last weekend.

“We are treating it as the most important game of the season because it is the next one,” Zidane said.

“The points are important as we want to make a good game. The sensations are good and we want to show that on the pitch.”

Madrid have been hit with a string of injuries early in the campaign, with Marco Asensio, Isco, James Rodriguez, Brahim Diaz, Eden Hazard and Rodrygo all sidelined.

“I cannot be happy to see injured players but unfortunately these things happen,” he said. “It happens to all teams. You look and there are many injured.

“The physios and doctors are working with the players and doing everything possible. I hope to quickly recover these players.”

#VillarrealRealMadrid | Javi Calleja knows it will be tough against @realmadriden tomorrow, but that doesn't stop his optimism regarding his side's chances. 💪https://t.co/MuewtE1KSI

— Villarreal CF English (@Eng_Villarreal) August 31, 2019

Villarreal are still looking for their first win of the season but will face an uphill task to get it against Madrid.

“There aren’t many tougher games,” coach Javi Calleja said. “They’re a team that have a lot of quality and could win LaLiga.

“We have to trust in what we’ve got and not gift them anything because they can make the most of gifts.

“It’s a match of the highest difficulty, but I’m positive. The team is working well and that makes me optimistic.”

Calleja’s side suffered a 2-1 defeat to Levante last time out but the coach saw plenty of positives.

“The only negative thing about the match against Levante was the result,” he said. “The team played really well.

“We lacked that ability to score another goal when we were on top. We caused a lot of problems for Levante. I was really happy and that’s how we hope to set up the Madrid match.”

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