Ancelotti: Ronaldo important for future

The Italian coach says the Portuguese star is fundamental to the club going forward and attacker Gonzalo Higuain still has a part to play at the Santiago Bernabeu

Carlo Ancelotti has insisted Cristiano Ronaldo remains an integral part of Real Madrid going forward and says Gonzalo Higuain is a “fantastic” player.

The Italian coach, who took charge of Madrid for the first time in their 6-0 thrashing of Bournemouth, has had to fend off questions about the Portuguese star’s future while the latest reports from Italy suggest that Napoli are close to securing Higuain.

Ronaldo, who has two years remaining on his deal, has been persistently linked with a move away from the capital-based outfit with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain the main contenders for his signature, but Ancelotti has denied that the Portuguese will be leaving anytime soon.

“Cristiano is the most important player in the team and he will be in the future, everyone knows him and he plays good games and is good for the club,” he told reporters.

“Higuain is a fantastic player and right now is a Real Madrid player.”

Madrid put on an exhibition display as they put six past Bournemouth, with Ronaldo grabbing a double while Sami Khedira, Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Casemiro all got on the scoresheet.

Ancelotti said he was pleased with the workout but there is still a lot more to come from his side.

“The most important thing is that the team worked hard and players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ozil, other important players and youngsters played with flair in attack and performed well.

“We had problems at first but had some good moments; we controlled the match and played well. We have high calibre players with flair and I am very happy with the squad.

“The first match went well, our aim is to play good football, we have quality and we had a few good moments, some not so good but that is normal, it is the first match and I’m happy because the team worked hard.

“Naturally we have to improve but it is logical after one week of training,”

Ancelotti was also not afraid to try out different players in different roles with Ozil and new signing Isco forming a partnership in midfield.

He added: “It was an experiment, but I believe quality players can play together. It is important to find a balance between attack and defence, which is the most difficult thing.

“I think we need time for that and we will eventually get there.”

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Gaston Ramirez agent cools Inter links

As Italian reports of interest from the Nerazzurri circle, the Southampton attacking midfielder’s representative says that they would “evaluate” should a large bid be made

The agent of Southampton attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez has denied any knowledge of a bid for his client from Inter.

The Uruguayan has only been in the Premier League for one season, making 26 appearances in the English top flight last term following a €14 million switch from Bologna.

And, despite rumours in Italy that the 22-year-old’s future could lay away from St Mary’s Stadium, his representative, Pablo Betancourt, insists that the player has no desire to discuss a potential move until an Inter approach has been confirmed.

He told Ilsussidiario.net: “I have not personally had any contact with Inter but there could well have been discussions between the clubs.

“Should it be possible? I’m convinced that everything can be done if there is the money to do it. For Ramirez, the English side made a big sacrifice, so if Inter like him they will have to pay a big sum.

“Italy is in Ramirez’s heart but I don’t like talking about things that are not concrete. Should there be an offer, then we will evaluate.”

Ramirez, who has been capped on 20 occasions by Uruguay, scored five goals for Southampton last season.

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Brown: Hull City almost signed Cavani

The Southend United boss claims he sent his chief scout and assistant manager to watch the Uruguay international at Palermo and were also in talks to sign Alvaro Negredo

Former Hull City boss Phil Brown has revealed the club almost signed Paris Saint-Germain new-boy Edinson Cavani during his reign.

The prolific Uruguayan completed a €64 million (£53.8m) move to the French capital earlier this week, with his 104 goals in 138 appearances for Napoli having earned him a big-money switch.

Cavani was widely reported to have been a long-term target of Chelsea prior to joining PSG, but Brown has explained that he had planned to bring the 26-year-old to England years earlier.

“We were in the Premier League and full of ambition under chairman Paul Duffen,” he told the Daily Star Sunday.

“My chief scout Bob Shaw and assistant manager Brian Horton went to watch Cavani, who was available at Palermo.

“They recommended him and we offered £2.5m. I remember the negotiations and it was a deal with a number of clauses in the contract.

“When it didn’t happen, we switched to Negredo, who at the time was at Real Madrid. That was going to be a loan for the season.

“We were going to pay £12m (€14m), plus his wages, then Real were going to buy him back for €15m, but Cavani eventually went to Napoli and Negredo signed for Sevilla.

“Why didn’t they come to Hull? The club was not big enough. In Negredo’s case, you were talking about going from Real Madrid to Hull City.

“But the important thing was that we were ahead of the game in terms of spotting these players. That’s where we were at with Hull City.”