Ancelotti: No need for Jan signings to win LaLiga

Carlo Ancelotti backed Real Madrid to challenge leaders Barcelona for the LaLiga title on Wednesday, saying it “wasn’t necessary” to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window.

Madrid, who host Valencia on Thursday, with Barca away at Real Betis 24 hours earlier, are five points behind their title rivals, with 18 games played.

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They opted not to move in the January market, and their only first-team business was agreeing a deal to re-sign left-back Fran Garcia from Rayo Vallecano this summer.

“We’ve made some mistakes. You can always do better,” Ancelotti said in a news conference on Wednesday when asked if Madrid could catch Barca at the top of the table. “We’re going at the same rhythm as last year [when Madrid won the league] but Barcelona have done much better.

“I don’t know if it’s a lot of points or not, but right now we’re confident that we can fight until the end, in every competition. A difficult January was predictable. Now the good part starts for us.”

Madrid have faced an injury crisis in recent weeks with full-back options Dani Carvajal, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vazquez and David Alaba all absent, as well as midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni.

Ancelotti said that Carvajal and Tchouameni were due to return on Thursday, with Alaba likely to be available this weekend.

“We didn’t move in the transfer market because we didn’t need to,” Ancelotti said. “If you plan well in the summer, you don’t need to go into the winter market… If you move in January, it means something has happened — an injury or a lot of things, bad planning too — we thought it wasn’t necessary.”

Rayo Vallecano president Raul Martin Presa confirmed on Tuesday that defender Garcia would be moving this summer after Madrid exercised their preferential option on the player amid interest from Bayer Leverkusen.

“It could have been an option [to bring him in now],” Ancelotti said. “But we looked at two things. First, Mendy could recover from his injury soon, and second, it’s good for Fran Garcia to stay at Rayo to get more experience.”

Meanwhile, a report in the newspaper El Mundo on Wednesday claimed that Karim Benzema and Luka Modric had been contacted about potential moves to Saudi Arabia, following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo who joined Al Nassr last month.

“They don’t need my advice,” Ancelotti said. “Madrid legends should stay at Madrid, that’s what I think.”

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