Football - European

Ronaldo to be sold for £170m in summer (20th June 2017)

Real Madrid's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo will go for £170m and become the most expensive player in the world for a second time, according to spread betting firm Sporting Index.

The Galactico goal machine has been the subject of rife transfer speculation in the last week after rumours suggested he is looking to move following outstanding tax bill allegations made against him.

This has led many to believe that the world's richest clubs are hot on the trail of Ronaldo, including Manchester United and PSG, who are reported to be willing to break the bank to land the four-time Ballon d'Or winner.

If Ronaldo does move on to pastures new after eight years with the La Liga champions, it's unlikely that any deal will come cheap to his suitors, according to Sporting Index's traders.

Ed Fulton, trading spokesman for Sporting Index, said: "Following speculation that Cristiano Ronaldo is unhappy at Real Madrid and on the lookout for one final challenge in his career, different amounts of money have been mentioned, including his rumoured £1b buyout clause."

"However, what's clear at this time is Real Madrid will be reluctant to let their star player go without a hefty fee. Paul Pogba is the current most expensive player in the world, but given Cristiano Ronaldo¿s stature and reputation in world-football, we predict that if he goes this summer, it will be for a world-record £170m."

"Although Ronaldo is nearing the end of his career, his goals and trophy record in the last few seasons show he isn't letting up any time soon and it's likely his next club will splash the cash to secure his services."


£198m well spent? The transfer XI PSG could have had instead of Neymar (2nd August 2017)

Using transfer fees for deals completed this summer, Sporting Index have found that for the same £198m used to sign Neymar, PSG could have had the likes of Alexandre Lacazette (£52m), Nemanja Matic (£40m) and Leonardo Bonucci (£35m) in a star - studded team, which boasts 559 international caps, 31 league titles, and four Champions League winners medals.

The question remains whet her PSG fans would prefer that array of talent, or the 25 - year - old Brazilian, who they hope can fire them to a first Champions League trophy.

Sporting Index traders predict a Neymar - backed PSG will finish a full 10 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 this season, on 88 points - comfortably ahead of last season's winners Monaco, on 78.

Ed Fulton, trading spokesman for Sporting Index, said: "Transfer fees have been spiraling out of control for a while now, but Neymar's move to PSG will blow the rest out of the water."

While Unai Emery will be delighted to get his man for £198m, he could have had a full starting XI packed with top talent for that outlay. I'm sure he won't mind spending that much, however, if Neymar can lead them to Champions League glory this season."


No English clubs in the Champions League last four (26th September 2017)

There'll be no English teams in the UEFA Champions League semifinals this season, according to traders from Sporting Index, after research has found Premier League clubs have been on a downward spiral in Europe over the past five years.

Manchester City, the highest ranked team in the spread betting firm's Champions League Outright Index, only sit in fifth place in the market - meaning England will miss out on a representative in the last four for the second successive year.

Just four Premier League sides have made it beyond the round-of-16 in the past five years, compared to 14 in the five years before that - indicative of English struggles in Europe¿s premier club competition.

In the five years starting from the 2007/08 season, where Manchester United and Chelsea contested an all-English final, Liverpool made the semi-finals and Arsenal the quarters, England provided two winners of the competition, as well as three losing finalists.

However, there hasn't been any Premier League representation in a final since Chelsea won the trophy in 2012, with the Blues in 2014, and City in 2016 the only semi-finalists in the past five seasons.

In last season's competition, Champions League debutants Leicester City outperformed the likes of City, Arsenal and Tottenham but could only manage the quarter-final stages - where they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid. The worst performance in the past five years came in 2014/15, where Liverpool (beaten by Real Madrid and Basel) failed to qualify from the group before Arsenal, Chelsea and City were sent packing in the last 16.

Despite five clubs qualifying for the tournament this term, Sporting Index still think Britain will be making an early withdrawal from Europe, with United (6th), Chelsea (8th), Liverpool (9th), Tottenham (11th) and Celtic (28th) joining City as long-shots in the outright index.

Between 2007 and 2012, the Premier League saw two teams crowned as European champions, which included Chelsea's dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against Bayern Munich in their own back yard, where Didier Drogba equalised before slotting home the decisive spot-kick.

It could, however, have been much more successful for the English, and especially United, who were twice beaten in the final by Pep Guardiola's revolutionary Barcelona side in 2009 and 2011 - where Lionel Messi took centre stage.

Ed Fulton, trading spokesman for Sporting Index, said: "The decline is certainly something Premier League clubs should be worrying about. In 2012, English football was arguably at its strongest with two winners, three runners up and multiple all-English semi-finals in Champions League tournaments in five years. Now, in 2017, just two semi-final appearances in the last five years is a damning statistic."

"With all the money spent by English clubs in recent years, you'd expect repeat performances of 2008 and 2012, where we had two teams crowned the best in Europe. Leicester were the highlight last season, but they were punching well above their weight and they were found wanting at the highest level."

"With five teams in the competition this year, combined with the current form of both United and City, the English contingent will be expecting an impressive performance. However given the recent history, it's certainly not nailed-on."