Real Madrid continued their recent resurgence in LaLiga Santander with a narrow 1-0 win over Real Valladolid at the weekend, with a Casemiro header enough to separate the two sides. The Blancos were significantly weakened due to several injury concerns, including those to some of their most important players, such as Karim Benzema and captain Sergio Ramos.
They now prepare for their return to European commitments as Zinedine Zidane's men are scheduled to travel to Bergamo to face Atalanta at the Gewiss Stadium. Ahead of the game, here, we take a look at some of the latest Real Madrid news.
Mikel Arteta discusses Martin Odegaard's future
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has been impressed by Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard and branded him a 'young leader' in the squad. The Norwegian completed a temporary switch to North London in search of game time and has had a positive start for the Gunners.
Speaking on the 22-year-old's impact at Arsenal, Arteta remarked;
"He [Martin Odegaard] is a young leader. On the pitch he is showing a lot of character and a lot of intelligence. They are characteristics that a leader should have. He has been here a very short time, but he has adapted very quickly. He is getting more and more respect from the players and the staff, and his weight on the team will increase with every week."
The Spaniard also touched on the Real Madrid midfielder's long-term future, saying,
"We have Martin for a few months from Real Madrid, and first of all we have to maximise this time with him to try to bring to the team all the qualities he has. At the end of the season we will sit together and decide where we can take that relationship forward. At the moment it doesn’t just depend on us."
Arsenal hold no option to purchase Odegaard on a permanent basis as of yet, but there are rumours from Spain suggesting that Real Madrid could potentially sanction a permanent sale come summer.
Karim Benzema a major doubt for Atalanta showdown
Star striker Karim Benzema could potentially miss their upcoming game against Atalanta with an ankle injury, according to Zinedine Zidane. The Blancos legend missed their game against Real Valladolid with the same injury and would be a massive miss should he end up missing the game against the Bergamo club.
After their LaLiga win at the weekend, Zidane revealed;
"We are not going to take risks with [Karim] Benzema because the season is long. If he is fine, he will be with us. If not, he won’t. We are not going to take risks. We never take risks. If it was the Champions League final, that is different, and we could [take a risk]. If it’s the final game of the Liga season, maybe. But there are many games to play, so we won’t take risks. He will have a scan tomorrow, and we will see."
Benzema has been one of Real Madrid's most important players this year and is their top scorer with 17 goals. He has been in sublime form for the Blancos particularly since the start of last year and was instrumental in helping Real Madrid win LaLiga Santander.
Robert Pires claims Kylian Mbappe will play for Real Madrid
Former Arsenal and France great Robert Pires is confident that Kylian Mbappe will end up playing for Real Madrid. The Frenchman's future has been a topic of much debate in the recent past as he's entered the final 16 months of his deal at Paris Saint-Germain. Should he refuse to extend his contract at the club, PSG could potentially cash in on him come summer — with Real Madrid strongly linked with a move for him.
Speaking on Mbappe's future amidst rumours of a Real Madrid move being on the cards, Pires expressed;
"His [Kylian Mbappe's] future? I still think Real [Madrid] wants to have the best players in the world, like Barça, and the fact that Zinedine Zidane is the coach can count, he will want to have Mbappé in his team. I don’t know when that will be, but he will play for Real."
The former wide man added,
"We are talking about his extension to PSG, but that does not mean anything. If Madrid wants it, they will do anything to sign him. We footballers want to be in the best teams in the world, and this is the case with Madrid. In the meantime, the next few months will be decisive at all levels, mostly because it is not certain that Zidane will still be Real Madrid’s coach next season."
Should Mbappe leave this summer, PSG will reportedly command a fee in the region of €180-200m, a figure that Real Madrid could struggle to afford. Apart from the Blancos who are widely tipped to be Mbappe's next destination, Liverpool are also believed to be interested in his services.