Friday Kickoff: Real Madrid linked with Vidal; Neymar set to return to action; and more

ArturoVidalJuventus2-InterMilan2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Arturo Vidal’s impressive performances this season have made him one of the most sought-after players in the world.

Real Madrid are the latest team to be linked with the Chilean, according to a report in Marca, with the club planning on making him their top transfer target this summer. The report states that head coach Carlo Ancelotti was interested in signing him last summer but the transfer deals for Asier Illarramendi and Gareth Bale prevented the club from splashing even more cash on Vidal.

Marca reports that Vidal is Juventus’ highest paid player with a salary of upwards of 7 million euros ($9.6 million) per season, and that it will cost Real Madrid at least 60 million euros to allow Juventus to part ways with their star midfielder.

Vidal has scored a career high 11 Serie A goals this season and added an additional five in the UEFA Champions League group stage last fall.

Here are some more stories to start off your Friday:

NEYMAR READY TO TAKE THE FIELD

Barcelona have been given a boost just days ahead of their crucial Champions League matches against Manchester City.

22-year-old Brazilian forward Neymar was named in Barcelona’s game-day squad for Saturday’s match against Rayo Vallecano, signaling his fitness after missing the last eight matches with a severely sprained ankle. Neymar returned to training on Monday and traveled with the club to Real Sociedad on Wednesday but didn’t play.

Though there’s not a lot of time, Neymar’s return allows head coach Gerardo Martino to play Neymar alongside Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez up top for at least one game before facing Man City.

While Neymar is back, Xavi Hernandez was dropped from the squad as Martino looks to keep him fresh for the Champions League match on Tuesday.

QUICK KICKS

The FA has confirmed that Roy Hodgson will remain as England’s head coach through Euro 2016 in France. (REPORT)

Manchester City have been granted permission to increase the capacity of the Etihad Stadium from 48,000 to 62,000. (REPORT)

Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan told BILD that his back problems have been the toughest stretch of his career but he doesn’t believe they are career-threatening. (REPORT)

When Juventus face Chievo Verona on Sunday, it will be Antonio Conte’s 100th Serie A game in charge. (REPORT)

Denmark’s head coach from its Euro 1992 championship team, Richard Møller Nielsen, passed away on Thursday at the age of 76. (REPORT)

The Premier League is considering creating a U-23 league to help their clubs develop young players. (REPORT)

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What do you think about these reports? Do you see Vidal fitting into Madrid’s midfield? Do you think Neymar is being rushed back?

Share your thoughts below.

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14 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Real Madrid linked with Vidal; Neymar set to return to action; and more

  1. Joe C. says:

    “The FA has confirmed that Roy Hodgson will remain as England’s head coach through Euro 2016 in France.”

    This kind of makes me laugh after the “It’s too early, jumping the gun, what are the US thinking extending Klinsmann’s contract sight unseen, etc. etc.” stuff.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Not sure doing the same thing as England is necessarily a smart move.

      • Kingsly Alexander says:

        Their national team has played the best it has in quite a while under Hodgson. He’s ability to integrate younger player into the program has received plaudits from British tabloids for his short stern success and long term philosophy to help the progression of English youth players

        • Sly says:

          The phrase “… plaudits from British tabloids” has the power of invalidating every statement before and after it.

          Roy Hodgson is a good coach. Is he a great coach no. Are there 5 better coaches in the premier league yes. Infact there are better coaches who have been fired this season from the premier league. But rather than being the best sometimes hes what they deserve. A firm journeyman without any tactical surprises who will put in a good shift and have them lose in the knockout round to a much better team as they were going to anyway with someone else better or worse.

          Without a significant shift in the FA youth and coaching setup this is exactly what everyone knows is going to happen. Lets not fool ourselves. He’ll do as good as Capello would have but or Loew or Del Bosque would have with his team. He would have done better if he had their team too.

        • Increase0 says:

          I don’t know about best but he has them being effective. He knows what he is doing even if it is a bit boring. I will say his players are a bit limited. I don’t really think he is the weakness. If you want to watch a really interesting game Watch the recent Friendly between England and Chile. The English didn’t know how to play vs Chile but 2 days later they had a much better handle on Germany.

          Note: England lost to Germany’s B team. Roughly the same one we beat.(Just sayin)

      • GW says:

        Hodgson is doing a very good job. He has brought a bit of sanity to an insane situation.

        England, traditionally a stupid team that played like a bunch of gutless headless chickens are playing more like a coherent team than I have seen them do so since Sir Bobby Robson left.

        JK’s problems pale in comparison.

  2. Vidal could fit into ANY team’s midfield because he is the best box-to-box mid in the world.

    • Sly says:

      Really? Best box to box midfielder in the world? I dont know its arguable. Id take Yaya Toure or Bastian Schweinstager over him. But its close.

      Whats more amazing is he plays next to Pogba who is maybe a year away from being in the conversation.

  3. SD says:

    how different would this u23 league be from reserves?

  4. Travis says:

    Real is one of the few teams with the financial strength to pry Vidal way from Juve because it will take some serious money to do so. I still think he ends up staying but we shall see.

  5. iggy says:

    Pretty amazing that Bradley and Dempsey get paid almost the same thing as Vidal (and maybe more after taxes).

    • GW says:

      Vidal is being paid just for his abilities on the field. He is just another pretty face player in a long line of pretty face players.

      Deuce and MB30 are being paid for that and for being marketing tools, cultural icons and branding figures.They have a lot more responsibility than Vidal does.

  6. bryan says:

    we don’t need him! we have Benz, Jese, and Morata!

    • bryan says:

      that comment never happened. idk why i read it as Vidal being a striker. most certainly a midfielder…