Madrid have already partly addressed the situation by signing David Alaba from Bayern Munich, but are keen to maximise their return for Varana as they look to offset their huge debts, which are thought to stand at around £770million.
Real president Florentino Perez has already stated that the club will have to sell if they are to finance any major signings later in the summer.
And Kylian Mbappe is still a player of interest to the Bernabeu board, with PSG likely to demand a huge fee for the France forward.
However, both United and PSG find themselves in a game of cat-and-mouse with Madrid, with both interested clubs knowing that Varane is out of contract, and potentially available for free, next summer.
Welcome back to Box Art Brawl, our semi-regular retro box art poll to decide the best regional variants from two or more territories.
Last time went on an epic JRPG Dragon Quest in celebration of the series’ 35th anniversary. Following a spirited duel between North America and Japan, it was the caricatured beast from the East that eventually emerged victorious with a convincing 72% of the vote, leaving the Western wyvern to wing it away sharpish.
Today we look back on Battletoads, the NES game from Rareware that turned 30 on the 1st June. Come with us as we brawl our way through badguys and wrestle with brutal difficulty with Rash, Zitz and Pimple.
Grab your bike and let’s head into the turbo tunnel.
It’s a classic cover — one which was also used in Europe — that captures the beat ’em up action of the game and features the three ‘toads kicking some serious tail. We like the slanted horizon line a lot, and the rich pinky-red terrain and glistening star field work well against the green and yellow of the toads.
Throw in a big bold logo and an epic icon in the top left corner, and there’s a lot to like here.
The Japanese Famicom box art gives the ‘toads recognisably different appearances but removes the background in favour of green blotches on white (or is it white blotches on green?).
We love that you get to see the personalities of the protagonists reflected here, and their slimy skins look great, too, but we’re not sure it’s worth sacrificing the background. The kickass chromed Battletoads icon is gone, too.
So, you’ve seen the options, but which way are you leaning? Click on your favourite below and hit ‘Vote’ to let us know:
Thanks for voting. Have an excellent week and we’ll catch you next time for another Box Art Brawl.
Welcome back to Box Art Brawl, our regular (normally, although we’ve had a few weeks off) retro box art-based poll to find the best regional variants from two or more territories.
Last time we grabbed our cameras for a closeup of Pokémon Snap on Nintendo 64. Europe’s bluer cover emerged as as the winner quite comfortably, taking home over half of the vote with the North America coming in second just ahead of third place Japan.
This week we’re anticipating the upcoming 35th anniversary of seminal JRPG Dragon Quest by taking a look back at the original Famicom / NES release. Europe sits this one out as, somewhat remarkably, this original game didn’t get an official European release on a Nintendo console until the Switch version in 2019.
Ready to slay? Onwards!
Renamed Dragon Warrior in North America to avoid issues with an existing property, the epic NA cover provides an epic logo with an epic warrior fighting an epic dragon in a most epic manner. Someone turned the bloom up to Max here — the sword is glinting, as is the armour and the bicep and the slimy-looking dragon skin, too. It also uses nearly every colour in the palette.
Big flowing cape? Floating castle in the background? Little inverted triangles on the ‘A’s of the classy serif-ed title type? A stirring tagline calling you to self-serious adventure?…
We think this might be an RPG.
The Japanese cover features most of the same elements as its North American cousin, but the cartoon stylings here make it appear more fun and approachable than its western counterpart. Sure, the dragon’s goofy-lookin’, and that ponytail coming out the back of the hero’s helmet is a bit sus, but we know which game we’d rather play.
The Japanese box has the added benefit of bearing the classic DQ logo, too, with a dragon coming out of the ‘D’ breathing a fiery Japanese ‘Dragon Quest’, no less. The logo gets a little lost due to its colouring, perhaps, but we like everything else about this cover. If this one doesn’t win, you’re all quite mad.
So, you’ve seen the options, but are you a Quest-er or a Warrior…, err, -er? Click on your favourite below and hit ‘Vote’ to let us know:
Like a Dragon Quest or two? Help us rank all the mainline games by rating your favourites in our Nintendo Life Dragon Quest poll, and we’ll see you next time for another Box Art Brawl.
Roger Federer thanks frontline worker for efforts in pandemic
On paper, everything looked to be set up perfectly for Roger Federer.
With the majority of the sport’s big hitters having already played in the Italian Open in Rome last week, a relatively modest field had gathered in Federer’s native Switzerland for the Geneva Open.
But, despite a relative lack of star power on the entry list, the presence of Federer, who was predictably seeded at No. 1, meant the tournament would form a crucial part in the narrative heading into the French Open, which is due to get underway on May 30.
Seeded first, Federer had a relatively kind draw, and had even been handed a bye to the last 16.
But, in his first outing since his Qatar Open quarter-final exit in March, Federer looked half-a-yard off the pace as he battled gamely against Spanish clay court specialist Pablo Andujar.
The world number 75 wasn’t expected to cause huge issues for Federer, but his sound clay court fundamentals and a solid first-serve percentage meant that he was competitive throughout.
Key decision: Roger Federer may be best served by skipping the French Open to focus on Wimbledon (Image: GETTY)
With Federer starting sluggishly in his first competitive outing in months, it came as little surprise when the more energetic Andujar claimed the first set, 6-4.
Federer upped his game in the second set and levelled the match by taking the set 6-4 as he showed flashes of the brilliance we’ve come to expect from him over the years. But the lack of match sharpness was there for all to see in the third set when, after initially breaking Andujar, he couldn’t close out the match.
Instead, the match slipped away from him alarmingly quickly. He lost his serve immediately, then was broken again as he lost four games in a row to bow out of the tournament 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
As a warm-up for the high-octane action of the French Open, it was little short of disastrous for Federer, whose hopes of easing into the tournament in Geneva and hitting his stride by the final were ended at the very first hurdle.
Now there must surely be question marks over Federer’s next move.
The Swiss superstar was all set to compete at the French Open but, after bombing out against an unheralded opponent in Geneva, and with just 12 days to go until the start of the tournament, his prospects for success don’t look good.
The famous Roland Garros courts are no place for a player trying to play their way back to fitness.
The baseline rallies are tennis’ equivalent of a heavyweight boxing match, as the players attempt to pass one another with haymaker-like shots. It’s tough, it’s drawn out and it’s just about as gruelling a test as you’ll find anywhere on the tennis calendar.
With Federer looking to get back to full fitness after back-to-back surgeries on his right knee, exposing himself to the punishing clay courts of Roland Garros may not be the smartest move for his tennis year.
And his post-match comments seemed to suggest he might be of a similar opinion.
“My goal is the grass-court season, not Roland Garros,” he said.
“(The) Next weeks will be important to get used to the Tour again.
“Matches are different than training sessions.”
Federer: “My goal is the grass court season, not Roland Garros. Next weeks will be important to get used to the Tour again. Matches are different than training sessions”
That suggests there is a strong chance we may not see Federer at Roland Garros, and that would leave the door wide open for the most epic clay-court rivalry of the modern era, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both eyeing the French Open title.
Djokovic has been in superb form this year, and is head and shoulders above the field as the current ATP world number one.
But Nadal is the king of clay, and is targeting his 14th French Open title.
If the Spaniard is successful, he’ll pass Federer and stand alone with more Grand Slam singles tournament wins than any other men’s player in history.
Currently, Nadal and Federer are tied on 20 wins apiece, while Djokovic is on 18, and can pull to within one win of his two big rivals.
Even if fully fit, Federer would have had his work cut out to eclipse Djokovic and Nadal on the clay at Roland Garros.
But it’s on the faster courts that the Swiss truly shines, and a decision to sit out the clay-court season may prove to be the best bet for Federer’s season overall.
An eight-time Wimbledon men’s singles champion, Federer’s graceful movement and uncanny anticipation have put him a cut above the rest at SW19 over the years, and playing on the faster grass surface will help reduce the potential issues of a still-recovering right knee. Doing so after taking the early portion of the summer to get himself back to 100 per cent certainly seems to make sense under the current circumstances.
If he does decide to withdraw from the clay court season – including skipping Roland Garros – it may leave tennis fans disappointed in the short term, but it could set things up perfectly for a titanic “Big Three” showdown in London later this summer.
Welcome back to Box Art Brawl, our weekly poll to find the best regional box art variant from two or more retro candidates.
Last time we looked at The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks in a duel that pitted Japan and Europe against North America. It appears that the regional team-up worked wonders — the greenery of the JP/EU cover pulled in a stunning 86% of the vote.
This week we’re taking a look at a Game Boy Color title on the 20th anniversary of its North American release. HAL Laboratory’s Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble came in a special pink plastic cartridge and used in-built accelerometers to control the Kirbster in a quirky motion-controlled adventure through Dream Land. Once again, this is a two-way bout, although Europe is sitting this one out — the game never released in that territory, unfortunately.
So, let’s see if ol’ Angry Eyes is back…
Big old Kirby + big old star = BOOM. The Japanese cover keeps things simple and goes for impact with Kirby in the centre against a white background featuring various faded images that don’t distract from the star of the show.
We like the classy black strip down the side with the silver GAME BOY logo which catches the light. We also like the little motion control icon in the bottom right corner. A nice, solid Kirby cover.
The North American logo for the game takes up almost a third of this square box, with Kirby tumbling just below — presumably having been tilted moments before. It’s novel to see the character upside down on the cover, and perhaps even more unusual not to see the patented ‘Angry Eyes’ the character is often given in North America to ‘toughen’ him up. Or something. There’s only so much attitude you can give a pink marshmallow with red shoes.
It’s a fun cover, similarly bold, although somehow bland, too. The flat shading of the logo gives this a plainer feel than the Japanese version, and the repetition of the Game Boy Color logos up the side and in the bottom right corner feels a tad superfluous. Why not add a tiny ‘ONLY FOR’ in the bottom left corner instead?
So, you’ve seen the two options, but which Kirby is going to suck up your approval? Click on your favourite below and hit ‘Vote’ to let us know:
Happy 20th Kirby T’n’T (the NA version — Japanese Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble turned twenty in 2020)! Have a great week and we’ll see you next time for some Box Art Brawlin’.
The best players in world football make a statement when the eyes of the world are upon them. It’s what they do. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have done so on a frankly obscene number of occasions, while Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe followed suit with a hat-trick against Messi’s Barcelona at the Nou Camp in February.
And while Borussia Dortmund frontman Erling Haaland stands on 33 goals in 32 appearances this season and 49 in 50 overall for the Bundesliga heavyweights, his chance to make the biggest statement of his short career so far presents itself tonight in a trip to Manchester City.
Dortmund take on the Premier League leaders, poised to secure a third league title in the past four seasons in the coming weeks, at the Etihad in the first leg of their quarter-final clash tonight (8pm). The German giants come into it shrouded in doubt and drama.
A 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend leaves Dortmund seven points adrift of fourth place in the Bundesliga with seven games left of the campaign. Having won just four of 12 league matches since mid-January, the Yellow Blacks appear unlikely to launch a late charge into the Champions League spots.
And so their best hope of playing in the lucrative European Cup next season might be winning it for just the second time in their history, and the first time since 1996.
MUST READ: Premier League talking points: Man Utd lucky, Arsenal suffer more woe
Their path to doing so could hardly be more difficult. Two legs against Man City, arguably the best team in Europe, and a potential semi-final showdown with German conquerors and holders Bayern Munich or Mbappe’s PSG.
Get through those and you’re faced with either Real Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea or Porto in the final, with just the 21 European Cups between the quartet.
But Haaland is the calibre of player who can fire an out-of-sorts Dortmund to European glory – and tonight, and next week’s second leg, is a massive chance to prove he’s ready to rival Mbappe for Messi and Ronaldo’s soon-to-be-vacant throne.
City have yet to get past this stage of the Champions League in four attempts under Pep Guardiola and while they are massive favourites to progress – Haaland is a potent enough threat to dump them out near single-handedly.
It’s already pretty obvious that Haaland is going to be one of the next generation’s leading talents, but in his attempts to emulate the record-breaking feats of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, tonight is his opportunity to rubber-stamp himself as a player truly at the next level.
City boss Guardiola, who managed Messi at Barcelona, has made it clear he’s a massive fan of the player, as the Citizens consider a summer swoop in the next transfer window.
“To score that number of goals at his age is not easy to find in the past, honestly. He’s 20 years old and the numbers speak for themselves,” the Catalan coach declared on Monday.
“He’s a fantastic striker, everyone knows it. A blind guy would realise he’s a good striker, it’s not necessary to be a manager to realise it.”
Dortmund want at least £127million (€150m) if they are to part ways with the Norwegian this summer, it is though. Manchester United and Chelsea are among City’s rivals for his signature, with Real Madrid and Barcelona also keen.
“I don’t know,” said Guardiola when quizzed about potentially signing the Scandinavian centre-forward. “I understand completely people ask the day before and this week of Haaland because of course he’s an exceptional striker.
“But you understand it’s not appropriate for me to talk about a player from another club.”
United, who once again find themselves sat at home watching the TV when it comes to the Champions League’s most enthralling final rounds, will be among those keeping a close eye on Haaland’s exploits against City, the former club of his father Alf-Inge.
MORE MAN UTD NEWS… Man Utd have another transfer mind game to overcome this summer Haaland and Messi transfer decision is blow to Man Utd and Chelsea Man Utd transfer shortlist: Four players United could sign
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows Haaland as well as anyone, having managed him at Molde a few years back, and the Norwegian coach would love his towering countryman to lead the line at Old Trafford from next season onwards.
Tonight, and in the second leg against City, Haaland can prove that he would be able not just to come to Manchester and score goals for fun but that he could help United to catch their noisy neighbours, who have collected major honours galore during the Red Devils’ post-Sir Alex Ferguson decline.
Since the Scot retired with United as champions in 2013, they haven’t got near City. Their best season since last winning the league was when they came second to their rivals under Jose Mourinho in 2017-18. They ended a league-record 19 points adrift.
United are currently 14 points behind City, albeit having played one match less, but have made progress this term. Next year though the onus will be on them to put together a sustained challenge for the top-flight crown. Solskjaer’s long-term future may even depend on it.
Having Haaland up top putting away chances created by Bruno Fernandes and co. would significantly improve their prospects of getting the better of City and what is expected to be a rejuvenated Liverpool, who have been wrecked by injuries this term.
Haaland won’t come to United on the cheap – at least this summer (he has a £64million release clause in his contract that becomes active in 2022). On top of the transfer fee, that will be at least £127m, his agent Mino Raiola and father Alf-Inge are said to want £17m (€20m) apiece for helping facilitating a move.
Then there’s the player’s contract, with it having been alleged that Raiola wants to get Haaland on a £600,000-a-week salary at his next club – which would see him bank £127.5m across a five-year contract.
Add the transfer fee, the wages and the fees paid to Raiola and Haaland Snr and you’re talking £289m. That’s before thinking about goal bonuses and trophy-winning payments. It is an eye-watering amount.
But against City, Haaland can make a case that he would be worth every penny. Fire Dortmund past the English champions elect, or at least make them work incredibly hard for a semi-final spot, and United will be doubly eager to sign him up. Whether they can pitch themselves as a better destination than City is another matter entirely.
Update [Sat 20th Mar, 2021 15:30 GMT]: The latest issue of V-Jump has revealed Yu-Gi-Oh! Rush Duel: Saikyou Battle Royale!! will arrive in Japan this Summer (via Gematsu). It will include a “game-original” story featuring characters from the anime, Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS. The official game website has also gone live.
Original article [Sun 20th Dec, 2020 07:45 GMT]: At Jump Fiesta 2021 Online this weekend, Konami announced Yu-Gi-Oh! Rush Duel was in development for the Switch.
This latest take on the card game series first appeared in Japan alongside the Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS anime earlier this year, and is the seventh Yu-Gi-Oh! show. Gematsu provides a little extra insight about what players can expect from the Switch version:
Players can Normal Summon any number of monsters from their hand in one turn, as well as draw until at least five cards are in their hand.
In the Switch game, players will be able to battle against the characters that appear in the Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS anime.
The anime itself hasn’t even been localised yet, although a trademark for an English version was filed in June this year. If this goes ahead, perhaps the Switch game will follow.
If you want a Yu-Gi-Oh! fix sooner rather than later, why not try out Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution which is available on the Switch eShop right now.
Would you be interested in playing a game based on the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! series? Tell us below.