You could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu when Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The two European giants faced off in 2018 in Kyiv, with Los Blancos running out 3-1 winners thanks to, among other things, a sensational Gareth Bale overhead kick.

Four years later Liverpool and Madrid ready to battle it out to be crowned kings of the continent, with 19 European Cups/Champions Leagues already between them.

Just how much have the two teams changed since then, though? Stats Perform has taken a look at both to see if there are any similarities and marked differences to expect in Paris.

From nearly men to trophy collectors

One of the many reasons defeat in Kyiv hurt for Liverpool was it would have not just been another Champions League success, but the first trophy won since Jurgen Klopp had taken over.

The German coach had been at Anfield since October 2015, and while there had been clear progress, it had not yet manifested in the form of silverware.

The idea that the loss was merely a bump in the road on the start of a journey has since been proven correct, as Liverpool have since hoovered up a Champions League, Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, EFL Cup and FA Cup.

At the time, though, it may not have felt that inevitable given the Merseyside club went into the final having finished fourth in the league, 25 points behind champions Man City, having also been knocked out of the EFL Cup in the third round and the FA Cup in the fourth round.

As well as making the final, the 2017-18 season was memorable for the Reds acquiring one Mohamed Salah, who went on to score 44 goals in all competitions.

They lost Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in the January transfer window, but signed Virgil van Dijk from Southampton to help out a troubled defence.

The team that started against Madrid included at least six players you would think will start in Paris in Trent Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Salah and Sadio Mane, while James Milner and Roberto Firmino will at least be on the bench.

It is perhaps the additions made that will make the difference this time, most notably in goal.

Loris Karius suffered a concussion after an elbow to the head from Sergio Ramos that night, which could explain his bizarre performance after that where he threw the ball straight onto Karim Benzema's foot for Madrid's opener, before dropping the ball into the goal from a Bale shot for their third.

Brazil international Alisson is a significant upgrade on Karius.

Instead of the... shall we say... enigmatic Dejan Lovren, Van Dijk will be partnered by either Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate, both of whom have performed well with the big Dutchman this season.

Should they be fit, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho will play with Henderson in midfield instead of Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum, while Luis Diaz will almost certainly play alongside Mane and Salah in place of Firmino.

Klopp only made two changes off the bench that night, with Adam Lallana replacing the injured Salah in the first half, while Emre Can also arrived in the second half with little impact.

He will likely have players such as Firmino, Milner, Diogo Jota, Naby Keita and, for one last time, Divock Origi to make the difference if needed in the French capital.

But overall, how much have they changed as a team since that season?

In all competitions in 2017-18, Liverpool averaged 2.39 goals for and 1.11 goals against per game, while making 584.18 passes per game.

They created 2.26 big chances per game, attempted 62.19 long passes per game and won possession in the final third on average 4.94 times per game.

Compare that to this season, they have averaged slightly fewer goals for with 2.37 per game, though have conceded just 0.76 per game, and made 624.55 passes per game, suggesting they control matches more than they used to.

They have created 2.43 big chances per game, and make fewer long passes with 57.13 per game, so are also maybe not quite as direct.

One of the more interesting stats is that they have been winning possession in the final third on average 7.32 times per game this season, significantly more than they did four years ago, so Madrid will be wary of that.

Speaking to Stats Perform, former Liverpool player and assistant manager Phil Thompson - who was captain of the Reds when they beat Madrid in Paris to lift the European Cup in 1981 - said he feels their added experience will help them this time.

"They're better equipped all round," he said. "We're better defensively. The back four, the goalkeeper, I do think all round we're more experienced now in the way we play with Sadio, Mo Salah, and Luis Diaz has brought a different element to our game."

Madrid back as Champions League experts

Back in 2018, Zinedine Zidane guided Los Blancos to their 13th European Cup/Champions League, but otherwise it was a pretty ordinary campaign.

They finished third in LaLiga, 17 points behind the champions Barcelona. They were also knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage by lowly Leganes.

They just had a knack in the Champions League, though, and remarkably won their fourth in five years.

Similarly to Liverpool, you would imagine at least five of their starting XI in Kyiv will also start in Paris, with Dani Carvajal, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Benzema key men in Carlo Ancelotti's side.

Thibaut Courtois has replaced Keylor Navas in goal, while Eder Militao, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy will probably be the ones to take the places of Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo.

It is up top where things have mainly changed though, and not just in personnel.

Isco has become a squad player, who will leave at the end of the season, while Cristiano Ronaldo has long since departed, paving the way for Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo to come in, while Benzema has drastically increased his output.

The France striker scored 12 goals in all competitions in 47 games in the 2017-18 season, but has bagged 44 in 45 this campaign.

As for the team overall, in 2017-18 they averaged just 2.14 goals for per game, and 0.91 against, creating 2.11 big chances per game.

Somewhat bizarrely, their goal averages both for and against are the same as Liverpool's were four years ago (2.39 goals for, 1.11 against per game), though they have increased their average of big chances created to 2.71 per game.

However, they have won LaLiga this season, in addition to the Supercopa de Espana, and somehow found their way past Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to reach the final.

Looking at those numbers and what has been achieved since, it is fair to say that both teams have improved since their Kyiv meeting.

Klopp's men have gone from a relative also-ran in English football to one of the strongest teams in the world, and had it not been for City's incredible comeback against Aston Villa on Sunday, would be playing to complete a phenomenal and unprecedented quadruple on Saturday.

Madrid have taken back their place as the best in Spain, and whether it was through luck or determination, have toppled three of the best teams in the competition to make it here.

You would assume the match in Paris will be a closer affair than 2018, and as finals so often are, is likely to be decided by the fine margins.

With the strength of both teams, though, do not be surprised if this isn't the last time we are sat here preparing to do battle in Europe's showpiece club game in May.

Kylian Mbappe remains at the centre of a disagreement between French and Spanish footballing bodies after snubbing Real Madrid to stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe, long linked with Madrid, announced last week he would be signing a new contract in Paris rather than joining the Champions League finalists as a free agent.

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas swiftly responded to the news by claiming it to be "an insult to football".

Those comments have unsurprisingly prompted replies from France, firstly from LFP president Vincent Labrune, whose letter to Tebas was reported on Thursday.

Labrune questioned "your latest attacks against Ligue 1 and one of our clubs", believing his counterpart's behaviour to be "completely inappropriate".

And that is a view shared by the UNFP, the French players' union, which released a statement also directed at Tebas later on Thursday.

"We can hear and understand the disappointment of people from Madrid and their compatriots, even knowing, especially in the world of football, that you don't win every time and that it is possible to say 'no' to Real Madrid, even for a third time," said the body on its website.

"But demonstrating to the point of incomprehension does not justify disrespecting the player, his club and all of French football in this way, unless we call into question the freedom for a footballer to sign a contract with the club of his choice?

"The arrogance of the remarks made is shocking and there is no need here to reply to our Spanish friends that they have hardly any lessons to give to French football in terms of financial management, protectionism and equality...

"Once again, the most enraged is Javier Tebas who, when it comes to PSG, forgets to turn his tongue in his mouth seven times before speaking.

"And his offensive, hateful remarks, without restraint or foundation, bring shame and discredit to him, especially with regard to his position.

"In the heart of the 70s, Jeannette sang 'Porque te vas?' ['Why must you leave?']. But Kylian Mbappe will not leave, no offence to the president of the Spanish league...

"So 'Porque Tebas?' asks the UNFP..."

Aston Villa have agreed a deal with Sevilla to sign centre-back Diego Carlos for an undisclosed fee.

The club confirmed on Thursday the player will travel to England "in the next few hours" to finalise personal terms and undergo a medical, with reports suggesting the fee will be in the region of £26.4million (€31m).

Diego Carlos would be Villa's second signing in the space of a few days, with a deal also announced earlier this week for Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara, who will soon become a free agent.

Former Nantes defender Diego Carlos was pursued by Newcastle United for much of the January transfer window – even reportedly handing in a transfer request – but will now link up instead with Steven Gerrard's side, who finished 14th in the Premier League this season.

The 29-year-old played 136 games for Sevilla since his signing in 2019, winning the Europa League in 2020 when his overhead kick was turned into his own net by then Inter striker Romelu Lukaku for the decisive goal in the final.

Diego Carlos was also a part of the Brazil team that won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

A statement on Sevilla's website also confirmed the news, with the Spanish club adding: "Sevilla FC wants to thank the player for his work during all these years in Seville and wishes him the best of luck in his new professional stage."

Erik ten Hag will have an early chance to test his Manchester United team against European heavyweights after a clash with Atletico Madrid was revealed.

On the weekend before the Premier League season begins, Ten Hag's United will tackle Atletico at Oslo's Ullevaal Stadium.

The July 30 fixture sees United take on the team that knocked them out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage this season.

Ralf Rangnick oversaw a 1-1 draw in Madrid followed by a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, but the interim boss has stepped aside after former Ajax head coach Ten Hag was named manager on a three-year contract.

United football director John Murtough, who alongside Ten Hag is set to lead an overhaul of the club's playing staff during the close season, said the Atletico game would be a significant fixture.

"Pre-season is such an important part of the squad's preparations for the season ahead," Murtough said.

"Our players and coaching staff will be relishing the opportunity to play against such a high-calibre opponent in Atletico Madrid, as well as the chance to perform in front of a full stadium of passionate Norwegian fans."

United trailed home a dismal sixth in the 2021-22 Premier League, losing their last six away games, finishing with their fewest points since 1989-90, and ending the campaign with a goal difference of zero.

Atletico, a year on from winning the LaLiga title, finished third in the Spanish top flight as Real Madrid took top spot and Barcelona edged into second position.

Xavi is hopeful Barcelona will be able to announce a new contract for Gavi "in a few days". 

Barca president Joan Laporta this week publicly stated the club were frustrated by the delay in the 17-year-old signing a renewal. 

Laporta suggested Gavi's agent Ivan de la Pena – a former Barcelona team-mate of Xavi – was comparing the offer to others, with the Spain international only having one year left on his deal. 

However, Xavi was optimistic Gavi will put pen to paper in the near future after Barca beat the A-Leagues All-Stars 3-2 in Sydney on Wednesday. 

"These things take time, but I'm hopeful that in a few days we can announce something," said Xavi. 

 

The Barca boss was far less convincing when asked about the future of Frenkie de Jong. 

De Jong has been linked with a move away to help the club finance a move for Robert Lewandowski. 

Xavi said of the Netherlands midfielder: "He is a key player for us and he will continue to be, but everything depends on the financial situation of the club. We'll see what happens." 

Sadio Mane cast doubt on his Liverpool future by saying he will reveal whether he is staying at the club after the Champions League final. 

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for Mane, who has one year remaining on his contract at Anfield. 

After missing out on Premier League glory at the weekend, the Senegal international hopes to help Liverpool lift the trophy in Europe's leading club competition for the seventh time. 

They will need to overcome Madrid at the Stade de France – a repeat of the 2018 final that was won by LaLiga's champions – for their third piece of silverware this season. 

Madrid's interest in Mane has reportedly stepped up after they missed out on Kylian Mbappe, and the 30-year-old intends to provide clarity on his future after the final. 

"I will answer after the Champions League. Whether I'm staying or not, I'm going to answer after the Champions League," he told Sky Sports. 

Mohamed Salah, whose Liverpool deal is also set to expire in June next year, confirmed on Wednesday that he will still be at the club next season. 

The Egyptian winger said the Reds want revenge over Madrid following the result in the 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv, but Mane does not feel the same way. 

"I think Mo is just Mo," he said with a smile. "For sure it's not a revenge. In four years a lot of things have changed, we have more experience and quality in the team. 

"I think we've all forgotten about what happened in 2018. For sure, Real Madrid were the better team and deserved to win the final, but it's going to be a different game." 

Mane added: "For me, relaxed, no pressure, nothing at all – just enjoy it. I think it's a dream moment for us, so let's enjoy it without putting pressure on ourselves. 

"Everybody is smiling and confident, which is amazing. We know it won't be an easy game against one of the best in the world, but that will make the game special." 

Xabi Alonso is set to leave Real Sociedad after a three-year spell in charge of the club's B team.

Alonso has built a reputation as a highly rated young coach since returning to his first club.

He took La Real's youngsters – often known as Sanse – to a fifth-placed finish in Segunda B2 in his debut campaign, before surpassing expectations the following year.

Alonso secured Sanse's first ever promotion to the second tier in the 2020-21 season as they finished top of Subgroup 2A and Promotion Group 2C in the reformatted Segunda B.

Their relegation back to the third tier has already been confirmed despite having one match left, but Alonso's spell in charge has largely been considered a success.

According to local reports, La Real wanted Alonso to take charge of the senior team for the upcoming 2022-23 season, such is the regard president Jokin Aperribay holds the former Spain international in.

But incumbent head coach Imanol Alguacil is said to have rejected the offer of a promotion to a directorial position as head of the club's academy in a suggested management reshuffle.

Alonso's departure was announced soon after such rumours began to surface.

"Xabi Alonso will not continue at Real Sociedad once the 21-22 season is over," a statement read. "The coach from Tolosa, coach of Sanse for the last three years, will leave the txuri urdin club having completed a brilliant stage, in which he achieved historic promotion to [the second tier] and enriching, thanks to his knowledge and involvement, the training and progress of the players of our subsidiary, many of them having debuted during this time with the first team.

"Xabi Alonso will not continue at Real Sociedad next year, but the doors of the txuri urdin club will always remain open to be able to join their paths again.

"Real Sociedad wishes to thank Xabi Alonso for the dedication, effort, commitment and involvement shown in the three years in which he has remained at the club in this stage as a coach and wishes him the best for his personal and professional future."

Karim Benzema insists he does not feel "betrayed" by Kylian Mbappe's decision to stay with Paris Saint-Germain instead of joining him at Real Madrid.

After well over a year of intense speculation, Mbappe finally confirmed on Saturday that he had signed a new three-year contract at PSG.

It was a decision few saw coming given Madrid's apparent confidence the France international was going to join them on a free transfer at the end of June.

Mbappe's decision infuriated LaLiga chief Javier Tebas, while others associated more closely with Madrid were said to have been stunned.

An Instagram post by Benzema later the same day attracted particular attention, as he uploaded a photo of late rapper Tupac Shakur that was deemed to be veiled reference to betrayal.

According to Madrid-based newspaper Marca, which is generally regarded to have strong ties to Los Blancos, Benzema had been key in trying to persuade international team-mate Mbappe to join the club, hence why he might have felt betrayed.

But Benzema is adamant such stories are nonsense.

Speaking to Movistar Plus on Tuesday, Benzema said: "I'm going to tell you that we're going to play a Champions League final on Saturday. This is not the time to talk about those little things. I'd rather not talk.

"I'm not angry, I'm just telling you that I'm focused on the Champions League final, which is more important than listening to other things."

Asked if he felt "betrayed", Benzema continued: "Why? Everyone has to be focused on their things.

"Mbappe and other players have no reason to call me. Everyone decides their future. I'm calm here, preparing for Saturday's game. Each person does what he wants.

"There is no history of betrayal, or anything… Every month and a half I [post] photos of Tupac, who is my favourite.

"It's not a photo with a message; if I have a message I will see the person. Madrid is the best club in the world, but it was not a message."

Benzema did acknowledge, however, that the news was unexpected.

"I was surprised, like everyone else," he said. "He is a Paris player and we have a game on Saturday."

Both players are expected to be on international duty with France next month when Les Bleus begin their Nations League title defence.

Athletic Bilbao will be searching for a new head coach ahead of next season after Marcelino confirmed he is leaving the club.

Marcelino took over at the Basque club on January 3, 2021. He took Athletic to the Supercopa de Espana title later that month.

Athletic also made the final of the 2021-22 edition of the tournament but lost to Real Madrid, while former Villarreal and Valencia coach Marcelino oversaw two Copa del Rey final defeats – one of which was delayed from the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Marcelino's side made the semi-finals of this season's Copa, beating both Barcelona and Madrid, but they lost over two legs to Valencia, who were beaten by Real Betis in the final.

The 56-year-old's contract expires at the end of June and will not be renewed. He took Athletic to eighth in LaLiga in the 2021-22 season, following on from a 10th-placed finish in the previous campaign.

Marcelino oversaw 59 league games in total, winning 19 (32.2 per cent) and losing 17, with his team scoring 70 goals while conceding 59 in return, averaging 1.36 points per game.

Marcelino told a news conference on Tuesday: "We believe the time has come to step aside and bring an end to a beautiful story. We're proud to have had the privilege of coaching Athletic Club.

"Thank you to everyone, I wish you all the success in the future. This is not a goodbye. You will always be in our hearts. Always.

"Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the fans. We were orphans while the pandemic attacked us. Then I found out what it really means to be at San Mames as Athletic's coach.

"We have had some magical nights and unforgettable moments."

Athletic, who lost 1-0 to Sevilla in their final game of the season, have been linked with Mauricio Pochettino, should the former Tottenham boss be dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain.

Carlo Ancelotti said he would "respect" Kylian Mbappe's decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain and turn down Real Madrid, as the coach attempted to move on from the saga.

Mbappe was widely expected to leave the French league behind and move to Madrid on a free transfer at the end of this season, with the red carpet ready to be rolled out for the World Cup winner's arrival.

Yet the 23-year-old was eventually persuaded to sign a lucrative three-year contract in Paris, a jolt to the system for Madrid and LaLiga, with league president Javier Tebas left seething and questioning how PSG's finances could allow for such a deal.

Ancelotti has a Champions League final coming up on Saturday as Madrid face Liverpool, and a news conference on Tuesday gave him an opportunity to answer Mbappe questions before game-day comes closer.

His responses were predictably curt, and the Italian said: "We haven't talked about players who don't form part of this club.

"We respect the player and his decision, and we've got to work hard and of course we've got something big coming up which is the final."

Asked again about Mbappe, Ancelotti said: "I don't talk about players who aren't here, who aren't Real Madrid footballers."

Mbappe had said it was a dream of his to pull on the famous white shirt of Madrid, but his snub to Los Blancos may mean that never happens.

In an interview with Marca, published on Tuesday, Mbappe said: "I think it's disrespectful to say that my dream is to play for Real Madrid after signing my contract just a few days ago.

"The dream is fine, but today I am only focused on my new contract, in the present. You never know what can happen... I have a three-year contract, but for the moment I have to focus on my year at PSG."

PSG were eliminated by Madrid in the last-16 stage of the Champions League, and the French club have never won the Champions League.

By contrast, Madrid will be chasing a 14th such title when they tackle Liverpool, in a match that by a quirk of fate takes place in Paris.

Mbappe insisted his decision to commit to the Ligue 1 champions was not a question of money.

"People can talk about what they want, but everyone knows me. I have spoken with everyone at Real Madrid, I have spoken with PSG, and they know that I have never discussed money with the president, with Florentino Perez, or with Nasser Al-Khelaifi," Mbappe said.

"My lawyer talked a little about money, as did my mother, but I didn't. I talk about sport because I talk on the pitch. 

"My money goes to my account, I look at it a bit, but I don't care. I am here to win titles, to show that I am the best and to be happy. I think right now I'm happy."

Real Madrid have set their sights on Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling after missing out on Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

The Spanish giants were widely regarded as favourites to land Mbappe until a late change of heart led to him signing a three-year extension to stay in France.

Madrid and City went head to head in the Champions League semi-final, but they may find themselves talking business soon for the England international.

 

TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS PREPARE BID FOR STERLING

Sterling has spent seven seasons with City, racking up 131 goals in 338 appearances in all club competitions, and has played no fewer than 46 games in any of those campaigns.

Despite this, his playing time waned in the closing stages of this season, culminating in the Champions League when he only played a combined 28 minutes across both fixtures against Madrid.

Sterling set a record at the time for the most expensive transfer of an English player when he was sold to City for £44million plus add-ons in 2015, but Madrid are not looking to overshoot that number by much, with the Daily Star reporting they will offer £50million.

ROUND-UP

– According to Sky Sports, Sadio Mane fancies a move to Bayern Munich in the upcoming transfer window.

– The Telegraph is reporting Tottenham will sign six players, heavily investing in an attempt to convince Antonio Conte to stay.

– The Telegraph is also reporting one player high on Tottenham's wish-list is Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, who also has strong interest from Arsenal.

Arsenal will try to sell as many as seven first-team players in the upcoming transfer window – with Hector Bellerin and Bernd Leno named by The Sun. The Telegraph added that Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans is a key target for the Gunners.

– The Times is reporting Leeds United are set to sign 21-year-old USA international Brenden Aaronson from RB Salzburg for £23m.

Kylian Mbappe has revealed he stayed at Paris Saint-Germain for sentimental reasons and because "the project has changed".

Mbappe was widely expected to join Real Madrid as a free agent, but snubbed the LaLiga champions to stay at PSG.

The 23-year-old forward's new three-year deal was confirmed before the Ligue 1 champions' 5-0 rout of Metz on Saturday and he celebrated by scoring a hat-trick.

Mbappe ended the campaign as the first player in a Ligue 1 season to be top goalscorer, with 18, and the leading assister on 17 since the awards were first given out by the LFP for the 2007-08 campaign.

Reports of Mbappe's deal have varied, though a common suggestion has been that the France international has been given additional power at the club.

Some reports have even suggested Mbappe would be able to act as a de facto sporting director, and would be given control over possible transfers and even coaching appointments.

But Mbappe said during a news conference on Monday: ""Leaving my country like that, there is this sentimental side. And also the project has changed.

"The club has changed a lot of things and I think my story is not over."

Asked about talk of him having more power, he said: "I remain a football player, I remain anchored in a collective.

"I remain a football player and I would not go beyond this function."

Mbappe also had a word for Madrid supporters, who he thanked for accepting him as "one of their own", even after he scored twice against Los Blancos in the Champions League this season.

"I want to thank them, they have always accepted me as one of their own," he said.

"I understand their disappointment, but I hope they will understand that I am staying in my country and as a Frenchman I want to help my country and make grow the championship."

Kylian Mbappe discussed a possible move to Real Madrid with Lionel Messi and Neymar, but says he did not need persuading to commit his future to Paris Saint-Germain.

The France international had been strongly linked with a switch to Madrid prior to Saturday's announcement that he has signed a new deal to remain at the Parc des Princes.

Mbappe, who had been due to become a free agent next month, penned a new three-year deal in the French capital and celebrated that with a hat-trick against Metz later that day.

He will once again link up with fellow superstars Messi and Neymar next season, and the 23-year-old revealed he talked about his future with the pair before making his decision.

"We had a difficult season, but we talked a little bit – not a lot, because they told me it was a personal choice. They understood," Mbappe said at a news conference on Monday.

"Whether it's PSG or Madrid, these are clubs that you don't need convincing to play for. For any player it's an honour to play for one of these two clubs.

"I'm playing with great players and that's what I wanted."

Mbappe scored 39 goals in all competitions this campaign, which is behind only Karim Benzema (44) and Robert Lewandowski (50) among players from Europe's top five leagues.

That compares to just 13 goals for Neymar and 11 for Messi in what was a disappointing campaign for PSG on the whole, despite reclaiming their Ligue 1 crown.

 

Reports from France also claimed that Mbappe was persuaded to sign a new deal after being promised additional powers, including a say of transfers and coaching appointments.

It was also suggested that Mbappe would take over as captain as a reward for his loyalty, though the World Cup winner is not looking to take the armband from Marquinhos.

"He deserves his armband," Mbappe said. "I don't need to be a captain to be heard and set an example on the pitch. 

"Marquinhos is a great player and a very good captain. He is very important for us."

Speculation over Declan Rice's future has long centred on an apparently inevitable departure from West Ham United.

The Hammers run to the Europa League semi-final has amplified talk around the England international midfielder, with Chelsea and Manchester United linked.

According to reports, though, the 23-year-old appears content at London Stadium with a World Cup on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – DECLAN RICE TO STICK WITH WEST HAM    

Declan Rice will not leave West Ham despite interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, according to The Mirror.

The 23-year-old has been reticent to sign a new deal at the club, but he is reportedly in no hurry to leave yet either, seemingly wanted to stay settled ahead of November's World Cup in Qatar.

United have looked to Rice as one of their primary transfer targets as Erik ten Hag looks to overhaul the squad, but Rice appears set for one more season at West Ham following their run to the Europa League semi-final this term.

Hammers management had previously advised that Rice is not for sale, and strong performances at the World Cup with England would likely only increase his already lofty market value.

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid are showing interest in Milan's Rafael Leao after Kylian Mbappe opted to stay at Paris Saint-Germain, according to Marca.

– Los Blancos are also looking to scupper Liverpool's move for Aurelien Tchouameni, despite the player having already agreed terms with the Reds so say The Mirror.

Barcelona are discussing personal terms with Marcos Alonso, who is set to leave Chelsea, Fabrizio Romano reports.

– Arsenal defender William Saliba wants to stay at Marseille, where he has been on loan, per Goal.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is satisfied but expects more after his side's season ended with a 2-1 win away to Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Having already confirmed Champions League football next season, Atleti secured third spot over Sevilla with the win through second-half goals from Argentine duo Rodrigo de Paul and Angel Correa.

After holding out against Real Madrid to win the LaLiga title last season, Simeone's side were considered favourites to repeat after strengthening the squad with De Paul, Matheus Cunha and Antoine Griezmann's arrivals, but finished 15 points adrift of their title-winning city rivals.

Securing Champions League qualification is satisfactory according to Simeone, but this season has been a reality check for Atleti.

"As we were champions last year, this always seems little," he said post-match. "In the end we ended up rounding off an important season, a good one, and one that leaves us in a privileged place," he said post-game.

"I'm not going to lie, because I always expected more and I always want to be the champion. It's not easy because we live in a league with Barcelona and Real Madrid and it's difficult for both of them to fail, but on two occasions since I've been coach of Atletico we've achieved it.

"This season has given us a wake-up call."

Four consecutive LaLiga losses in December put the Rojiblancos in a difficult position, 14 points off Real Madrid by Christmas and out of the Champions League places with a resurgent Barcelona gaining ground under Xavi.

They were eventually able to turn around a nine-point deficit to Sevilla, while pushing Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League, in what was a positive second half to the season.

Following a solid performance to end the season, Atleti's strong run home gives Simeone confidence going into the next campaign, despite the Spanish league's natural order.

"It's not a problem of improving positions, although it's clear how we can strengthen ourselves, but the team is already there and it has very good players who have won 10 in the last 14 games, which are numbers of a champion," he said.

"We were very close to not making it [Champions League]," Simeone said. " This season leaves us with a lot of things, it was hard. We need to rest, since it started it wasn't easy. It cost a lot. It would be great to be able to generate hope, reverse how the end of the season was done. The rebelliousness of the players give us hope."

Page 1 of 146
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.