Upbeat Zidane defends Real’s lack of transfer business

(MADRID (Reuters) – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has defended the club’s decision not to sign anyone in January, saying he has “blind trust” in his squad as they attempt to claw back a 19-point deficit to Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

The Spanish and European champions were linked by Spanish media with a move for Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga during the winter window.

Zidane, however, said throughout January that he did not want any more signings as he had confidence in the group of players that became the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles last season.

“We’re together, even if it’s a difficult moment. I’ve always seen the players are focused when we have hard times,” Zidane told a news conference.

“I have faith in my squad, I have blind trust in them — nothing else. That’s how I live it and I have confidence in them. That’s what I want to show; and the squad returns the feeling in terms of work, fight and the attitude that this isn’t over.”

There was pressure on Real to enter the transfer market given their domestic slump.

On top of their woeful league form, they were eliminated from the King’s Cup at the hands of Leganes and face the daunting prospect of facing in form Paris St Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Zidane’s long-term future could hinge on European success, but the Frenchman says he is focused on the immediate tasks at hand.

He went as far as to suggest his side are still in the title race as they prepare to visit Levante on Saturday.

“I don’t care about what happens next season. I’m here to think about the here and now, to prepare my team for league matches.

“You (the media) are talking as if La Liga is already won, but I don’t believe that. You never know in football and we’ll try to win all our games.

“As far as the Champions League is concerned we are really up for it. Madrid have won many and we will do our utmost to win our next match in that competition, too.”

(Editing by Toby Davis)

Xolani

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