Manchester City have suspended Benjamin Mendy pending an investigation after Cheshire Constabulary charged the player with four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.

Charges against the 27-year-old left-back relate to three complainants over the age of 16, with the incidents alleged to have occurred between October 2020 and August 21, police said.

"The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has authorised Cheshire Constabulary to charge a man in connection with allegations of sexual assault," a police statement confirmed on Thursday.

"Benjamin Mendy, aged 27, has been charged with four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault.

"The charges relate to three complainants over the age of 16 and are alleged to have taken place between October 2020 and August 2021.

"Mendy, of Withinlee Road, Prestbury, has been remanded in police custody and is set to appear at Chester Magistrates' Court on Friday 27 August.

"Cheshire Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service would like to remind everyone that criminal proceedings against Mendy are live and that he has a right to a fair trial.

"It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice ongoing proceedings."

Following the charges, City released a statement saying: "Manchester City can confirm that following his being charged by police today, Benjamin Mendy has been suspended pending an investigation.

"The matter is subject to a legal process and the club is therefore unable to make further comment until that process is complete."

Karim Benzema will remain a Real Madrid player through to the end of the 2022-23 season after the talisman agreed a one-year extension to his contract.

The Spanish capital giants continue to be linked with moves for Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, but they have ensured Benzema will be around to help any new arrivals settle.

A fresh deal for the 33-year-old was announced on Friday as the France striker pledged his allegiance again to the cause he joined in 2009 after beginning his career at Lyon.

Head coach Carlo Ancelotti saw Benzema prove his value to the team with two goals in the 4-1 season-opening LaLiga win at Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

This season more than ever it appears Benzema will have a crucial role to play, given his seniority and profile at the club. Marcelo has been appointed as captain following the departure of Sergio Ramos, but there is little doubt Benzema will also be expected to show leadership.

With Marcelo absent for the Alaves game, it was Benzema who skippered the team, spearheading the attack as Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard supported from the flanks.

The value of Benzema to Madrid has long been obvious, but since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Juventus in July 2018 his goals and forward play have become ever more important.

In the period since record scorer Ronaldo moved on, Benzema has scored 89 goals in 148 games for Madrid, surpassing an expected goals score of 79.88. Only four players from Europe's top five leagues have scored more in that time: Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Ronaldo.

Excluding penalties from the equation, Benzema has netted more times than Ronaldo, scoring 80 to his former team-mate's haul of 72 for Juve.

Only Bayern Munich's Lewandowski (33 goals) has scored more headers than Benzema's 23 in the same period. Messi, who left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain this month, is the only player to have hit the woodwork more often: 33 times to Benzema's 26.

Karim Benzema will remain a Real Madrid player through to the end of the 2022-23 season after the talisman agreed a one-year extension to his contract.

The Spanish capital giants continue to be linked with moves for Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, but they have ensured Benzema will be around to help any new arrivals settle.

A fresh deal for the 33-year-old was announced on Friday as the France striker pledged his allegiance again to the cause he joined in 2009 after beginning his career at Lyon.

Juventus have completed the signing of Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli from Serie A rivals Sassuolo.

The Bianconeri will pay an initial €25million, plus add-ons that could be worth a further €12.5m, to land the 23-year-old on a five-year deal.

Locatelli arrives on a two-year loan with the permanent deal to be completed at the end of the 2022-23 season.

Locatelli scored twice against Switzerland and made five appearances in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph.

Juve vice president Pavel Nedved revealed at the start of this month that the Turin giants had made what they considered to be an "appropriate offer" for Locatelli and they have now got their man.

Locatelli had the second best goals-per-90-minute ratio of any Italy player (0.66) in Euro 2020 after Matteo Pessina (0.95).

Juventus have completed the signing of Italy midfielder Manuel Locatelli from Serie A rivals Sassuolo.

The Bianconeri have paid an initial €25million, plus add-ons that could be worth a further €12.5m, to land the 23-year-old on a five-year deal.

Locatelli scored twice against Switzerland and made five appearances in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph.

Juve vice president Pavel Nedved revealed at the start of this month that the Turin giants had made what they considered to be an "appropriate offer" for Locatelli and they have now got their man.

Locatelli had the second best goals-per-90-minute ratio of any Italy player (0.66) in Euro 2020 after Matteo Pessina (0.95).

Thibaut Courtois has signed a fresh five-year deal with Real Madrid, the club confirmed on Monday.

Madrid have allowed experienced defenders Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane leave the club, as they look to ease financial difficulties compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Madrid have decided to secure the long-term future of goalkeeper Courtois, who has signed a deal running until June 30, 2026.

Courtois joined Madrid from Chelsea in 2018, having impressed for Belgium at the World Cup in Russia where he won the Golden Glove.

He has gone on to establish himself as Los Blancos' number one after what was an initially tricky start to a second stint in LaLiga - Courtois having previously played for Atletico Madrid on loan from Chelsea.

The 29-year-old has helped Madrid to three trophies, winning LaLiga in 2019-20, that season's Supercopa de Espana and the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup.

 

Since he joined Madrid, only Karim Benzema (148), Casemiro (136) and Luka Modric (135) have made more appearances in all competitions than Courtois (130), who is level with Toni Kroos in that time frame.

Of those appearances, 100 have come in LaLiga, with only five goalkeepers playing in more matches.

Courtois ranks seventh for total saves (238), registering an impressive save percentage of 73.52, ranking him third out of LaLiga goalkeepers to have made over 50 appearances in the past three seasons.

He has conceded 85 league goals in total, with 82 of those coming from attempts inside the box.

A tally of 2,009 successful passes is second behind only Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen, proving Courtois' quality with the ball at his feet.

However, the vast majority of these were short passes, with Courtois only landing 338 long passes, which is a better total than just Joel Robles (299).

That being said, it perhaps demonstrates Madrid's tendency to play out from the back, rather than go long, with Courtois only attempting 961 long passes, the third-fewest from the division's goalkeepers to have made over 50 appearances since the start of 2018-19.

Thibaut Courtois has signed a fresh five-year deal with Real Madrid, the club confirmed on Monday.

Bayern Munich and Germany great Gerd Muller has died at the age of 75, the Bundesliga champions have confirmed.

Muller spent 15 years of an illustrious playing career with Bayern, marking himself as one of the finest goalscorers in the history of the sport.

He remains Bayern's all-time leading goalscorer with 566 in 607 matches and has also netted more times in the Bundesliga (365) than any other player.

Across his time in the German top-flight, Muller won the top-scorer award on seven occasions and five of those were with hauls of at least 30.

His remarkable abilities in front of goal were not just limited to Bayern, however, as he was also Germany's record scorer until 2014 when Miroslav Klose surpassed his haul of 68.

It was as recently as May when Robert Lewandowski broke Muller's record for the most Bundesliga goals scored in a single season, with the man nicknamed 'Der Bomber' amassing 40 in 34 matches as Bayern won the 1971-72 title.

At the end of that season Muller helped West Germany to European Championship success and two years later scored the winning goal to beat the Netherlands in the 1974 World Cup final.

Following his passing, Bayern officials paid tribute to Muller, with the former striker's legacy at the club almost unrivalled by any other individual.

Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn said: "The news of Gerd Muller's death affects us all deeply. He is one of the greatest legends in the history of FC Bayern, his achievements are unmatched to this day and will forever be part of the great history of FC Bayern and all of German football.

"As a player and as a person, Gerd Muller stands like no other for FC Bayern and its development into one of the largest clubs in the world. Gerd will be in our hearts forever."

President Herbert Hainer added: "Today is a sad, black day for FC Bayern and all of its fans. Gerd Muller was the greatest striker there has ever been – and a fine person, a personality in world football.

"We are united in deep sorrow with his wife Uschi and his family. Without Gerd Muller, FC Bayern would not be the club we all love today. His name and the memory of him will live on forever."

Bayern Munich and Germany great Gerd Muller has died at the age of 75, the Bundesliga champions have confirmed.

Virgil van Dijk has signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool on the eve of their first game of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

The Netherlands captain, who made his return from a serious knee injury in pre-season following a nine-month absence, has committed his future to the Reds "well into the coming years".

Van Dijk's previous contract ran until 2023 but the big-money signing from Southampton has agreed to extend his stay on Merseyside.

He told Liverpoolfc.com: "Amazing. It is something to be very proud of, that I am very proud of, that my wife and my kids are very proud of and obviously my agency.

"All the hard work we've put in so far continues and I am looking forward to what the future brings together with Liverpool. I'm delighted, very happy and proud."

The commanding centre-back became the most expensive defender of all time when he left the Saints to join Liverpool for a fee of £75million in January 2018.

Former Celtic defender Van Dijk has been key to the Reds' success, helping Jurgen Klopp's side win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

He has made 130 appearances for the club, scoring 13 goals, and follows Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Alisson in signing new contracts in recent weeks.

Van Dijk and fellow defender Joe Gomez, who also suffered a serious knee injury, were sorely missed by Liverpool last season as they failed to defend their Premier League crown but were able to secure a Champions League spot.

They will travel to Norwich City for their opening game of the 2021-22 campaign on Saturday, with Klopp having suggested Van Dijk will not be rushed back into action – although the player feels ready to return after a good pre-season.

"I feel good. Obviously [they were] friendlies, you get your match fitness up, get into repetitions of doing things again and again," he said.

"I feel like I am ready for the weekend, so we'll see what the manager decides. It is going to be a totally different atmosphere and mindset for me personally as well. It is something we fight for, for the points, and hopefully we can get a positive result out of it."

Virgil van Dijk has signed a new long-term contract with Liverpool on the eve of their first game of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

Romelu Lukaku has returned to Chelsea after the European champions signed the Belgium forward from Inter for a reported £97.5million (€115m) fee.

After winning the Champions League, Chelsea have been in the hunt to further bolster Thomas Tuchel's squad with the acquisition of a top-tier striker.

Erling Haaland was a target, but Chelsea saw their approach rebuffed by Borussia Dortmund, who are in no need to sell the Norwegian star after they brought in €85m (£72.6m) for Jadon Sancho.

Chelsea subsequently switched their focus to Lukaku, who led Inter to their first Serie A title in a decade last season, netting 24 league goals.

An initial offer was reportedly turned down but, after Lukaku – who had earlier claimed he wanted to stay at San Siro and play under new coach Simone Inzaghi – indicated he wished to leave, Inter opted to sell their prized asset.

"I'm happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club," Lukaku told Chelsea's website. "It's been a long journey for me: I came here as a kid who had a lot to learn, now I'm coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.

"The relationship I have with this club means so much to me, as you know. I have supported Chelsea as a kid and now to be back and try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling."

Chelsea have by no means signed the 28-year-old cheaply, however, with the reported fee a club record.

It also falls just £2.5m short of the British transfer record set by Jack Grealish's switch to Manchester City. Lukaku has signed a five-year deal to head back to Stamford Bridge.

 

Lukaku's departure will come as a blow to Inter but does relieve some of the financial pressure on the Italian giants, as they needed to raise funds through player sales.

Achraf Hakimi has left to join Paris Saint-Germain, while Lautaro Martinez has also been touted as potentially leaving, though Inter would surely be loath to lose both of their forwards in the same transfer window.

Lukaku joined Everton on a permanent basis in 2014 after enjoying a stellar campaign on loan with the Toffees.

He had signed for the Blues as a teenager in 2011 from Anderlecht, though his first-team outings were limited before he went on to join West Brom on loan.

Lukaku became Everton's record Premier League goalscorer, netting 68 times before joining Manchester United for £75m in 2017. 

Despite a promising start at Old Trafford, Lukaku failed to find his best form under Jose Mourinho. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer allowed him to leave for Inter in 2019, a move that reignited his career.

Having thrived under Antonio Conte, Lukaku now rejoins Chelsea as one of the world's leading players at his position.

Romelu Lukaku has returned to Chelsea after the European champions signed the Belgium forward from Inter for a reported £97.5million (€115m) fee.

After winning the Champions League, Chelsea have been in the hunt to further bolster Thomas Tuchel's squad with the acquisition of a top-tier striker.

Erling Haaland was a target, but Chelsea saw their approach rebuffed by Borussia Dortmund, who are in no need to sell the Norwegian star after they brought in €85m (£72.6m) for Jadon Sancho.

Chelsea subsequently switched their focus to Lukaku, who led Inter to their first Serie A title in a decade last season, netting 24 league goals.

An initial offer was reportedly turned down but, after Lukaku – who had earlier claimed he wanted to stay at San Siro and play under new coach Simone Inzaghi – indicated he wished to leave, Inter opted to sell their prized asset.

"I'm happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club," Lukaku told Chelsea's website. "It's been a long journey for me: I came here as a kid who had a lot to learn, now I'm coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.

"The relationship I have with this club means so much to me, as you know. I have supported Chelsea as a kid and now to be back and try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling."

Chelsea have by no means signed the 28-year-old cheaply, however, with the reported fee a club record.

It also falls just £2.5m short of the British transfer record set by Jack Grealish's switch to Manchester City. Lukaku has signed a five-year deal to head back to Stamford Bridge.

 

Lukaku's departure will come as a blow to Inter but does relieve some of the financial pressure on the Italian giants, as they needed to raise funds through player sales.

Achraf Hakimi has left to join Paris Saint-Germain, while Lautaro Martinez has also been touted as potentially leaving, though Inter would surely be loath to lose both of their forwards in the same transfer window.

Lukaku joined Everton on a permanent basis in 2014 after enjoying a stellar campaign on loan with the Toffees.

He had signed for the Blues as a teenager in 2011 from Anderlecht, though his first-team outings were limited before he went on to join West Brom on loan.

Lukaku became Everton's record Premier League goalscorer, netting 68 times before joining Manchester United for £75m in 2017. 

Despite a promising start at Old Trafford, Lukaku failed to find his best form under Jose Mourinho. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer allowed him to leave for Inter in 2019, a move that reignited his career.

Having thrived under Antonio Conte, Lukaku now rejoins Chelsea as one of the world's leading players at his position.

England defender John Stones has signed a new five-year contract at Manchester City, committing him to the Premier League champions until June 2026.

Stones joined City from Everton in 2016 for £47.5million, becoming one of Pep Guardiola's first major signings at the Etihad Stadium.

It has not always been plain sailing for the 27-year-old, however, and struggles for form and fitness during 2019-20 saw him fall out of the reckoning at international level, while Guardiola conceded he could leave the club.

Had Eric Garcia not opted to run his contract down in order to join Barcelona on a free transfer, that might well have been the case, but Stones stayed to forge an impressive partnership with new arrival Ruben Dias in central defence as City claimed their third Premier League title in four seasons.

Guardiola's men also lifted a fourth consecutive EFL Cup – the Wembley winner against Tottenham scored by Aymeric Laporte, who was dislodged as a first-choice selection by Stones during the 2020-21 campaign – and the Barnsley-born centre-back has won eight major honours overall during his five seasons in Manchester.

Stones' form earned a recall from England boss Gareth Southgate and he was an ever-present as the Three Lions plotted a path to the final of Euro 2020.

"I couldn't be happier. I love being part of this squad. There are so many quality players here and I know we can continue winning trophies, which is my main focus," Stones said, before hailing Guardiola's influence upon his development.

"Working with the manager is a dream. He has taught me so much about the game and I feel like I learn something new every single day.

"The success we've had in the last four years has been incredible. To be a part of it has been a dream come true and I just want to continue winning.

"This is the best place for me to play my football and fulfil my ambitions."

City's director of football Txiki Begiristain paid tribute to "an exceptional footballer and a fantastic defender".

"We knew when we signed him that we were getting a talented centre-back, but he has really matured in his five years here and, as we saw last season, is at the top of his game right now," he said.

"John has been an important part of our recent success and we believe he can continue to help us achieve our goals, so for him to commit his best years to us is a major boost for the club."

England defender John Stones has signed a new five-year contract at Manchester City, committing him to the Premier League champions until June 2026.

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