Football: Rodriguez staying at Real, Pogba still a target, says Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane (above) has confirmed that James Rodriguez will remain at the club.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane (above) has confirmed that James Rodriguez will remain at the club. PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has ended speculation regarding the future of Colombian football international James Rodriguez by confirming the 25-year-old winger will remain at the club.

Reports in England and Spain linked Rodriguez, who joined Real from Monaco shortly after the 2014 World Cup, with a move to the Premier League this summer, with Manchester United among the clubs keen to acquire his services.

Speaking ahead of his team's opening pre-season game against Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday at the Ohio Stadium in Columbus in the United States, Zidane said: "James is a Real Madrid player.

"We have a very good squad, we have won with this team and James is just one more in the team. He will remain at Real Madrid."

Rodriguez impressed in his debut season at Real, scoring 17 goals and setting up 17 more in 46 appearances, but lost his place in the starting line-up and made just 21 starts in the 2015-16 campaign.

Real, who finished runners-up to Barcelona in La Liga last season, have made just one signing so far this summer, with Spanish forward Alvaro Morata returning to the club two years after being sold to Juventus.

However, Real are hopeful to acquire another Juventus player, with Zidane revealing that the club are still in the race to sign France international Paul Pogba.

The 23-year-old midfielder remains a No. 1 target for top European clubs, including his former team Manchester United, who are, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, prepared to meet Juve's asking price of €120 million (S$179.1 million).

Asked about his compatriot Pogba, Zidane said: "Until August 31 anything can happen but Paul Pogba is not yet a Real Madrid player.

"Every club is interested in Pogba because he is a great player. More so when you are Real Madrid because you always want the best. But we have to respect the player, he belongs to Juventus."

Pogba left United four years ago to join Juve as a free agent and he is contracted to the Italian champions until June 2019.