Real Madrid block Gareth Bale China move over fee, says source

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was on July 26, 2019 on the verge of signing a "£1 million a week" deal with Chinese Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning, reports claimed. The 30-year-old Welshman has already been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane that he does not form part of his future plans at the Spanish giants. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019
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Real Madrid block Gareth Bale China move over fee, says source

  • Source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said Welsh player’s family blocked move
  • The 77-time capped Welsh international had been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane he does not form part of his future plans

MADRID: Gareth Bale’s move to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning collapsed on Sunday after Real Madrid canceled the proposed deal due to wrangling over the fee, a source told AFP on Sunday.
Bale, 30, who has been in the Spanish capital since 2013, was expected to join the Chinese Super League outfit on a three-year-deal worth £1 million ($1.1 million) a week.
The source dismissed reports by Spanish daily Marca which said the Welsh player’s family had blocked a potential move to Asia.
Marca said those close to Bale had asked his representatives to look for clubs in Europe “before definitively saying yes to Jiangsu Suning’s offer.”
The Chinese transfer window closes on Wednesday.
The 77-time capped Welsh international had been told by Real coach Zinedine Zidane he does not form part of his future plans at the Bernabeu.
The former Tottenham Hotspur winger came off the bench to play half an hour in Real’s record 7-3 defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid in a friendly match in New Jersey on their pre-season tour of the United States on Friday.
Real boss Zidane said last weekend he thought it would be “best for everyone” if Bale’s departure could be arranged quickly — comments Bale’s agent branded “disrespectful” of a player who helped the side to a Spanish league title and four Champions Leagues since arriving from Tottenham six years ago.
However, injuries have limited Bale to fewer than 80 starts in La Liga in the last four seasons while he has been the subject of criticism in the Spanish media for his struggles with the language and even the time he had spent on the golf courses.
Zidane insisted he meant no disrespect before Bale came on as a substitute in a midweek 3-2 friendly win over Arsenal, also in the United States.
“He had a good game and I’m happy for him,” Zidane said at the time.
“I do not know what’s going to happen, for now he’s with us. It did not change anything,” he added.
Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has already insisted that any deal which sees the Welshman leave the Bernabeu would have to be a permanent one and not one that sees him shipped out on loan.
“There will be no makeshift deals to get him out of the club,” said Barnett.
“Gareth is one of the best players on the planet. I can guarantee you he will not be going on loan to any club.”
Real suffered a nightmare campaign last season, finishing third in the table and 19 points behind champions and bitter rivals Barcelona.
They were also knocked out of the Champions League by Ajax in the last 16 stage.
The Bale transfer saga is just the latest grim development for Real and Zidane.
Serbian starlet Luka Jovic hobbled off in the first half of the defeat to Atletico.
Zidane can only hope the news on his injury will be better than that of Marco Asensio, who could miss most if not all of the La Liga season after rupturing a knee ligament against Arsenal on Tuesday.


Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

Updated 25 August 2019
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Djokovic not worried about blisters ahead of US Open

  • When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain

NEW YORK: During a break in practice two days before opening his US Open title defense, Novak Djokovic pulled off his blue shoe and white sock so a trainer could look at his right foot.

Did it again a little while later.

And then, toward the end of Saturday’s training session in Louis Armstrong Stadium with 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori, Djokovic stopped a sprint and pulled up short of a ball, raised his right leg off the ground entirely and hopped repeatedly on his left, wincing. Nothing to worry about, Djokovic said later at his pre-tournament news conference: Just blisters.

“A minor thing,” Djokovic called it. “Like anybody has ... Nothing major that is causing a concern for the event.”

When the year's last Grand Slam tournament begins Monday, Djokovic will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the afternoon session, facing Roberto Carballes Baena, a 26-year-old from Spain whose career-best ranking was 72nd.

Carballes Baena has an overall career record of 43-50. That includes 2-7 at major tournaments, 1-1 at Flushing Meadows, where he made his debut a year ago and lost in the second round.

Djokovic, meanwhile, has won 33 of his past 34 Grand Slam matches en route to collecting four of the past five major titles. That allowed the 32-year-old Serb to raise his career haul to 16 trophies, putting him just two away from second-place Rafael Nadal’s total of 18, and Roger Federer’s 20, which is the record for men.

He’s not shy about trying to catch those guys.

“More or less everything is about Grand Slams, in terms of how I see tennis and how I approach it, because they matter the most,” Djokovic said. “So I will definitely try to play my best tennis — and aim to play my best tennis — at these events.”

And while many would attribute Djokovic's success to his ability to return serves, say, or his mental strength and propensity for coming up big in the biggest moments — such as saving two match points along the way to edging Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the Wimbledon final last month — there's something else the man himself would point to as his most vital quality.

That's the way Djokovic can cover a court, which is why the state of that right foot is actually a rather big deal.

His movement, Djokovic said Saturday, is "the base of everything" and "the most important thing."

"It just allows you to be more in balance. And at the end of the day, that is what you're looking for as a tennis player," he explained. "How can you hit the ball, being in the right balance, so you can penetrate the ball with the right speed, accuracy and precision?"

Watch Djokovic during a match, and you'll see him change direction in a heartbeat, twist and turn, contort his limbs, slide — on clay, on grass, even on hard courts — always getting to the right spot at the right time.

He attributes his strength in that area to the flexibility of his ankles and is grateful he used to participate in another sport while growing up back home in Serbia.

"I credit my childhood spent on the skis. I used to spend a lot of time skiing," Djokovic said. "That had an effect as well, with kind of coordination and changing movement from one side to another. Even though they're different sports, in essence, you're using some major muscle groups and joints and stuff like this in most of the sports."

It is Djokovic's right elbow that gave him the most trouble a couple of seasons ago.

He missed the last half of 2017, including that year's US Open because that arm was bothering him, then wound up having surgery in February 2018. It took some time for Djokovic to get going after that. All's good these days, though.

"Novak had a couple years where he didn't seem like the same guy," ESPN's John McEnroe said. "Now he's back with a vengeance."

Only 1½ months have passed since Djokovic edged Federer in that classic title match at the All England Club.

Not a lot of time to savor the victory. Not a lot of time to rest a weary body.

"This sport can be a little bit 'cruel,'" Djokovic said, using fingers to indicate air quotes, "when it comes to, I guess, marveling or celebrating your own success. You don't have that much luxury of time to really reflect on everything because the season keeps going."