By DAN KARELL
Without Gonzalo Higuain as a fallback option, Real Madrid are starting to wonder if Karim Benzema is strong enough physically and mentally to be their lone option up top over the course of the season.
After a season where the Frenchman scored 20 goals in all competitions, Benzema has had a rough start to this year, scoring just twice in eight La Liga matches Carlo Ancelotti’s side sit five points back of Barcelona in the league standings. Not wanting to drop any further, the media in Spain has begun speculating who Madrid could sign in January, and the name at the top of the list is currently none other than Robert Lewandowski.
The Polish international seems a lock to move to Bayern Munich on a free transfer when his contract runs out in June but Real Madrid President Florentino Perez is confident that he can pip Bayern in January and sign the Borussia Dortmund star. Other striker options include Radamel Falcao and Sergio Aguero, according to the reports.
Here are some more stories to start your Thursday:
VAN PERSIE RETURNS TO HOLLAND TRAINING BUT REMAINS A DOUBT
The status of Robin Van Persie ahead of the Netherlands’ World Cup qualifying match on Friday against Hungary is still up in the air, but the good news for fans of the Oranje is that he’s back in full training.
After injuring one of his toes and fearing it was broken last Wednesday for Manchester United against Shakhtar Donetsk, scans showed that there was no fracture but the injury hasn’t improved. Van Persie did return to full training on Thursday but Holland head coach Louis Van Gaal said he was unsure if the proficient striker would take part in the match in Amsterdam against Hungary.
Van Gaal did insist that even if Van Persie doesn’t feature on Friday, he’ll travel with the Dutch squad to Turkey for that game in Istanbul on Tuesday. The Netherlands have already qualified for the World Cup, and currently sit atop UEFA Group D with 22 points from eight games, and an undefeated record.
NEYMAR PICKS UP INJURY IN BRAZIL TRAINING
The Brazilian National Team and FC Barcelona collectively are holding their breath after star forward Neymar went down with an injury in Brazil training on Thursday.
Currently in South Korea preparing for the first of two friendly matches in Asia, Neymar reportedly collided with Lazio midfielder Hernanes, with the former Santos man ending up on the ground with a hip injury. Neymar left training after that and was being evaluated by the team doctors.
As such, Neymar is a doubt for Brazil’s friendly match against South Korea on Friday and with Barcelona missing out on Lionel Messi right now with a thigh problem, to lose Neymar for any amount of time would be a huge blow to the club.
Former FIFA Executive Committee member Vernon Manilal Fernando has been banned from all soccer activities for life after being caught offering and accepting bribes. (REPORT)
Juventus President Andrea Agnelli has admitted that if a big enough offer came in for Paul Pogba, the club would probably have to accept it. Agnelli also decried the current state of Serie A, saying that it’s a transit league instead of a final destination. (REPORT)
Former France National Team star Zinedine Zidane has revealed that he hopes to coach Les Blues someday in the future. (REPORT)
Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup has admitted that through some agents, Chelsea had tried to speak with Laudrup this summer before they decided to re-hire Jose Mourinho. (REPORT)
Atletico Madrid are negotiating with VfL Wolfsburg to bring Brazilian midfielder Diego back to the Vicente Calderon next June. (REPORT)
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed Jack Wilshere and agreed with his comments on English players playing for England, saying he thinks that the English National Team should be coached by an Englishman. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you see Lewandowski moving to Madrid? Do you see Van Persie playing against Hungary? Worried about Neymar’s injury? What do you think of Agnelli’s comments on Serie A?
Share your thoughts below.