Kieran Trippier has one year remaining on his Atletico Madrid contract.

The England international has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United.

It has been reported that Trippier wants to return to England, having left Tottenham for LaLiga in 2019.

 

TOP STORY - TRIPPIER TO WAIT ON UNITED MOVE

Manchester United target Kieran Trippier is willing to wait until late in the transfer window to secure his move, reports the Telegraph.

Atletico Madrid full-back Trippier is said to have set his sights on a move to United, who have already been busy in the transfer market by launching moves for Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

The report claims Trippier is prepared to sit tight and wait for United to raise the funds required to put together a move for the 30-year-old former Manchester City junior.

 

ROUND-UP

- Aston Villa are ready to restart talks with Jack Grealish about a new deal next week as Manchester City begin to ramp up their interest, according to the Express and Star.

- Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma is being lined up by West Ham,  with a proposed £20m bid set to be tabled, according to the Daily Mail. It had been reported Zouma may be used in a deal for Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

- Barcelona are lining up a second bid to sign Juventus defender Cristian Romero after having had a player-plus-cash deal turned down, reports SportItalia. Tottenham are also keen on Romero.

- Celtic could make a move for ex-England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who is currently on Tottenham's books, says BBC Sport.

Dani Carvajal has signed a new four-year contract at Real Madrid which will keep him at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2025.

Right-back Carvajal joins midfielder Luka Modric and versatile defender Nacho in agreeing fresh terms with the club ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Carvajal came through the youth ranks but was sold to Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in July 2012 having not managed to make a single first-team appearance.

However, Madrid exercised a buy-back option on Carvajal the following year and he has since gone on to become a regular, helping the club secure plenty of silverware. He has won LaLiga twice with Madrid, as well as the Champions League on four occasions.

However, Carvajal struggled with injury problems last season, making just 13 appearances in LaLiga as Zinedine Zidane's squad were unable to defend their league crown.

A hamstring injury ruled him out of contention for Spain's squad for Euro 2020 but he has begun training with his Madrid team-mates under the watch of new head coach Carlo Ancelotti ahead of the upcoming campaign.

 

Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland? How about both? The questions are the same as Real Madrid enter each transfer window. As in 2020, though, such queries are wholly unrealistic.

Prior to last season, which began just six months into the coronavirus pandemic, Madrid were not able to make a single first-team signing. Their most significant business was the €40million sale of Achraf Hakimi to Inter.

It is a similar story 12 months on, having failed to deliver silverware in front of an empty Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium. Free agent David Alaba is Los Blancos' sole recruit and even his arrival is offset by the departures of fellow centre-backs Sergio Ramos – at the end of his contract – and Raphael Varane – with a sale to Manchester United agreed for €50m.

Financial results earlier this month reported a loss in revenue of "close to €300m" due to the pandemic. A post-tax profit of €874,000 for 2020-21 was achieved due to "intense spending saving measures in all areas", read a statement, which added: "With regard to the economic situation, current forecasts indicate that the recovery from the pre-pandemic situation will not be immediate. In this context, the club will continue in the effort so far to contain spending."

One of the world's grandest clubs are doing things on the cheap. A change of coach was only initiated by Zinedine Zidane, whose replacement, Carlo Ancelotti, has been plucked from mid-table Everton – although Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri claimed this week he was offered the position.

Ancelotti has been here before, of course, having led Madrid to 'La Decima' in 2013-14 after a 12-year wait. How he raises the club again without this time breaking the world transfer record two months into the role is another question – one Stats Perform attempts to answer with the aid of Opta data.

Return of rapid Real?

Just as Ancelotti is returning to Madrid, so too is Gareth Bale. It was he who Madrid splashed out €100m on to inspire Ancelotti's first side to Champions League glory. Now he could be handed a starring role again.

The winger appeared to have no future under Zidane but will surely be the chief beneficiary if Ancelotti returns the team to the attacking approach he employed previously at the Santiago Bernabeu. Across his two seasons at the helm, Madrid scored 222 LaLiga goals – 22 more than across the past three campaigns combined now.

That would mean a significant shift, though. Zidane's men have not just scored fewer goals, they have moved at a slower pace. Madrid averaged 4.7 passes and 12.7 seconds per sequence in the league in 2020-21, with 662 open-play sequences of 10 passes or more. In 2013-14, with Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria leading a rapid forward line, Madrid's sequences typically lasted only 3.9 passes and 10.3 seconds, with just 475 10-plus pass sequences. Those numbers only marginally increased in Ancelotti's second season.

 

This change in style is also evidenced by Madrid's direct speed, having moved 1.93 metres upfield per second in 2013-14 but just 1.41 in an average sequence last term. Making the most of the attributes of Bale, Ronaldo and Di Maria, that Madrid team had 122 direct attacks but only 112 build-up attacks – figures that have altered drastically in opposite directions to 87 and 165 respectively.

The football under Ancelotti was undoubtedly exciting and appeals again. Even as he was sacked in 2015, president Florentino Perez said: "The affection that the players and the fans have for Carlo is the same as the affection I myself have for him." Implementing that system again may not be entirely straightforward, though.

Ancelotti arrived in 2013 only a year removed from the 121-goal 2011-12 LaLiga campaign – the most Madrid have ever scored in a season. The Italian gave his superstars the freedom to play but did not need to reconfigure their approach. That tallies with the rest of a glittering career to date, which has chiefly seen him credited with man-managing big names rather than introducing the sort of tactical tweaks that might almost double a team's attacking output.

If that is Ancelotti's desire, though, between Bale, Vinicius Junior and Eden Hazard, Madrid should at least still have the players to tear through teams at pace. Indeed, getting Hazard fit and firing two years and four goals into his LaLiga career will be as crucial as rehabilitating Bale. The former Chelsea forward may put the famed 'diva whisperer' to the test, but Madrid cannot afford to have a €100m man not contributing.

Age is against Ancelotti

Madrid's play without the ball has also changed in the time Ancelotti has been away, and getting them to perform in this regard as they did during his first stint will be more difficult still. Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro – Madrid's long-standing midfield trio – were on board when Ancelotti left the club six years ago. Modric will be 36 in September. Class and experience are on their side, but the energy of youth is not.

With Di Maria occupying a key role in the 4-2-3-1 formation and Modric finding his feet in Spain, Madrid pressed relentlessly in 2013-14. Opponents were allowed only 9.3 passes per defensive action (PPDA) amid Los Blancos' 499 pressed sequences. As a result, Madrid's attacks started 42.3 metres upfield on average, boosted by their 179 high turnovers, of which 45 led to shots and nine to goals.

Even Ancelotti could not maintain these standards the following year, as Di Maria departed for the Premier League while a thigh injury restricted Modric to 16 games. Madrid regressed in every category.

In 2021, it is not that Madrid do not press, it is that they do not do so with the same intensity. There were 430 pressed sequences last term and still an impressive 178 high turnovers, but opponents were allowed 11.3 PPDA, with Madrid unable to harry at a comparable rate. It is unlikely that statistic improves as Kroos also moves through his thirties and yet more minutes are pumped into the legs of one of modern football's great midfields. The emergence of Federico Valverde – young and versatile – helps, but Ancelotti may well face the unenviable task of dismantling a unit he helped put together.

 

Alaba alters the complexion

To this point, with a former coach returning to guide the same players, Madrid's approach appears closer to devolution than evolution or revolution. The defence at least will ensure this team has a new sheen, albeit not one that necessarily improves Ancelotti's chances of success at home or abroad.

Alaba is a fine player with vast experience, six years younger than Ramos but with 10 Bundesliga titles and two Champions League triumphs to his name. It is a like-for-like change that makes sense, even with Ramos' emotional ties to the Bernabeu. However, asking Alaba to also replace Varane, the outgoing captain's stalwart defensive partner, feels like a tough ask.

Rather than settle into a new club in a new country alongside a World Cup winner – "Varane, of course, I would like to play with him," Alaba said as recently as last week – Madrid's sole signing seems set to be asked to perform the role of the senior man alongside Eder Militao, who has made just 23 LaLiga starts across two seasons.

Yet Militao crucially has attributes Alaba does not, with the converted full-back far less combative than the two departed defenders. At Bayern, in the Bundesliga last season, Alaba contested only 5.0 duels per 90 minutes – fewer than Varane (5.4), Ramos (6.4) and Militao (7.9) in LaLiga. He won just 55.4 per cent of those, another low as Varane (67.9 per cent) led the way.

Militao could then be tasked with getting tight to opposition forwards, but Alaba might find it tougher to avoid being picked on in the air. He contested a meagre 1.2 aerial duels per 90, down on 2.3 for Varane, 4.3 for Ramos and 5.2 for Militao. As Varane won a league-leading 76.0 per cent of these duels and Ramos came out on top in 63.8 per cent, opponents faced a scrap against either centre-back. Alaba's 51.4 per cent success rate shows why he tends to avoid such encounters.

An area of real strength for Madrid could now become a weakness. Only Sevilla (four) conceded fewer headed goals than Madrid (five) in the league last term, while Real Betis (five goals conceded) were the sole side to be tighter from set-pieces than Zidane's outfit (six). With Ramos and Varane marshalling the area, Madrid faced the fourth-fewest headed attempts (58). They are unlikely to rank as impressively again with 5ft 11in Alaba at the heart of the defence.

Madrid are unlikely to make the most of Alaba's versatility – well stocked at left-back but now short in the middle of the back line – yet his ability on the ball, honed in different roles, should at least help to keep Ancelotti's men on the front foot. Part of a dominant Bayern team, Alaba was involved in 4.6 shot-ending sequences and 0.7 goal-ending sequences per 90, having a bigger hand in such opportunities than Ramos (3.9 and 0.4) or Varane (2.9 and 0.3).

Being able to start attacks from the back plays into the idea Madrid should be set up to again thrill supporters under Ancelotti. Whether they can combine entertainment with results, as the 2013-14 team did so successfully, might be another matter.

It seems clear that Paul Pogba will not remain at Old Trafford for the long haul.

Also clear: Paris Saint-Germain's interest in the France midfielder.

The big question that remains to be answered is the timing of a potential move for the Manchester United man.

 

TOP STORY – PSG WEIGH UP POGBA OPTIONS

Paris Saint-Germain are interested in a move for Paul Pogba but are still debating when to make their bid.

According to The Athletic, PSG have begun discussions to determine Pogba's interest in a move but have not made a formal approach to United.

While the report says a bid is expected within the next few weeks, it remains a possibility that PSG could wait until Pogba is out of contract in 2022 and deal with the player directly.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised Manchester United's transfer business as he declared the Red Devils were in a "good position" ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Jadon Sancho joined on Friday from Borussia Dortmund and with a deal agreed in principle for Raphael Varane from Real Madrid, Solskjaer hailed the work done to strengthen his squad this month.

United's manager, who signed a new contract until 2024 on Saturday, spoke after his side's 2-2 draw with Brentford in a pre-season friendly at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

"First of all the club shows ambition with one of the most exciting young players in world football, then one of the most respected centre-backs," Solskjaer said post-match.

"We have different ways of playing with Raphael. I can't wait to get him in, hopefully we can get that sorted as soon as.

"Of course, [we are] very happy that we've managed to get a deal with Real Madrid. [The] medical should hopefully be OK. He's a proven winner, a player we've followed for many years."

Varane has collected three LaLiga titles and four Champions League triumphs in a 10-year spell in Madrid, though with a year left on his contract he felt it was time to move on.

The France international also won the World Cup in 2018 before playing in all four games at Euro 2020, where he was the only France defender to not be dribbled past.

The signing of Varane is, as Solskjaer says, likely to go through soon and the former United forward is delighted to have done business early this transfer window.

"We've scrambled before towards the end of the window and now I have to say we're in a good position," he added before providing an update on Marcus Rashford's potential surgery and the return of his international stars.

"With Marcus, we'll probably make a decision in the next few days when we check him up again. What's best for him and best for the club has to be considered.

"I haven't got a Scooby Doo how they [the returning internationals] are fitness-wise. Everyone's due in Monday for training, that means three weeks since the last game. We'll see how they are, what fitness levels they are at."

The Red Devils have friendlies left against Preston North End and Everton before kicking off their Premier League campaign against Leeds United on August 14.

Memphis Depay is confident he can form a balanced front three with Lionel Messi and fellow new signing Sergio Aguero at Barcelona.

Netherlands attacker Depay joined Barca as a free agent when his Lyon contract expired on July 1 and scored a penalty on his debut in Saturday's 3-1 friendly win over Girona.

The 27-year-old got his career back on track at Lyon following a disappointing spell with Manchester United, scoring 76 goals in 178 appearance for the Ligue 1 side.

Depay played mainly as a centre-forward in the French top flight last season and scored 20 goals – only Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe (27) netted more.

He also showed his ability to create for others by laying on 12 assists and creating 94 chances, which were more than any other player managed in Ligue 1 in 2020-21.

And the PSV academy product believes he is capable of playing with ex-Manchester City striker Aguero and Messi, who is expected to sign a new deal to remain at Camp Nou.

"We are all attackers, but we are all different in my opinion," Depay told Sport. "I have different abilities and strengths than Aguero, for example, or any other player.

"I think the three of us are compatible and different. But we will see how everything goes.

"It would be amazing to play with Messi and I hope that is possible. He has a number of qualities that the team needs and it's important to build everything around that.

"There is a lot of talent here. It would be great to play alongside him and win titles."

 

Depay previously played under Barca head coach Ronald Koeman for the Netherlands national side and is glad to have reunited with his compatriot in Catalonia.

"He has had a great impact on me," Depay said. "He changed the Netherlands team and counted on me, giving me confidence. 

"Now he is counting on me for this adventure, so he has undoubtedly been an important figure in my career.

"I know him and how he trains, so it's easier for me to adapt. I know what he expects of me after working together for a long time.

"Even with him on the bench it will obviously not be easy, but without him it would have been different."

Depay has been labelled a "rebellious" figure during his career to date but, citing comparisons to former Barca player Luis Suarez, is not fazed by that tag.

"I think 'rebellious' is often used as a negative, but sometimes you can use it as a good thing," he said. 

"Sometimes if you are rebellious on the field it can give you something extra and help you win the game. 

"For example, Luis Suarez has won many games and scored many goals without being the nicest and sweetest person in the world. 

"Maybe because of my appearance people may think that I am a rebellious boy. When you meet me, you see that I am a normal guy, like any other person. 

"Maybe I'm a little different because of the way I express myself, how I make music. I may be more misunderstood for that. 

"But boy, I don't mind being called a rebel. People have a feeling about me that may either be very good or they may not like. 

"The truth is that everyone is free to create their own opinion, their image."

Real Madrid have confirmed new signing David Alaba has tested positive for coronavirus.

Alaba, who played in all of Austria's Euro 2020 matches, agreed to join Madrid following the expiration of his contract with Bayern Munich, where he had spent his entire career, winning 27 trophies.

The 29-year-old – who has taken Madrid's number four shirt vacated by Sergio Ramos – was officially unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu on July 21.

However, his pre-season preparations have been hit by a positive COVID-19 test.

Madrid revealed the news in a brief statement on their official website. They did not clarify whether Alaba was asymptomatic. 

Alaba, who has signed a five-year deal with Los Blancos, is the second Madrid player to test positive in as many weeks, after Karim Benzema also contracted the virus.

With Madrid having agreed to sell Raphael Varane to Manchester United, Alaba is set to lead a new-look defence this season.

Carlo Ancelotti's team were beaten 2-1 by Rangers in a pre-season friendly on Sunday – Alaba did not feature, but has been training with the squad.

Jack Grealish has been linked with a move away from Aston Villa in the past, and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is a known long-term admirer.

Grealish is currently on holidays after Euro 2020, but talks of a huge transfer to City have not gone away.

Could the Premier League champions be about to make their move?

 

MAN CITY SET TO TABLE GREALISH BID

Manchester City are set to officially commence their move for Aston Villa's Jack Grealish with a £75m bid, claims the Daily Mail.

According to the report, Villa will hold out for £100m for their star England international.

Villa have no desire to sell Grealish for anything less and will know Guardiola is keen to secure his services.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have opened talks with Sevilla about potentially signing French centre-back Jules Kounde, according to The Guardian. The 22-year-old has a release clause worth €80m (£68.4m).

- Arsenal have enquired with Inter about star forward Lautaro Martinez, reports the Telegraph. It is believed Inter may be willing to sell the Argentina striker for €90m (£77m).

- Eurosport reports that West Ham are interested in a move for Manchester United defender Phil Jones who has struggled with injury in recent times.

- Newcastle are closing in on a deal for Arsenal's Joe Willock, and it could be finalised  within the next 48 hours after his loan stint last season, claims Mail Online.

- Liverpool may sign Wolves' Spanish winger Adama Traore in a cut-price £30m deal, according to the Star.

Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement in principle with Real Madrid for defender Raphael Varane.

With only 12 months remaining on his Madrid contract, Varane has been allowed to join the Red Devils.

United are reported to be paying a fee of £42.7million (€50m) to secure the transfer, which is subject to a medical and terms being finalised with the player.

Having recently brought in Jadon Sancho, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is poised to add one of the world's best defenders as United outspend their major European rivals ahead of the new season.

Varane is expected to sign a four-year deal and Solskjaer, who has cited defensive frailties as a problem throughout his tenure, fills yet another key position.

Having moved to Madrid in 2011 from Lens, Varane has a wealth of experience, winning three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns as he has racked up over 350 appearances in the Spanish capital.

In the absence of Sergio Ramos for much of last season, Varane impressed again.

The centre-back ranked second among Madrid defenders in terms of both duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga.

It was Varane's aerial presence that really shone through at the back and his 73 successful aerial duels were more than double the tallies of his defensive colleagues.

Indeed, out of all defenders in LaLiga to contest 20 or more aerial duels, Varane's success rate of 76 per cent was the best during the 2020-21 campaign.

That ability in the air will boost a United side lacking in that sense last term, despite Harry Maguire's expertise. Excluding penalties, only Leeds United (15) conceded more Premier League goals from set-pieces than United's 14.

 

Varane's vast experience even beyond his Madrid exploits should aid Solskjaer's side, too.

The defender has played 79 times for France, winning the World Cup in 2018 before playing in all four games at Euro 2020 on the way to Les Bleus' shock last-16 exit.

Varane was the only France defender who saw action and was not dribbled past by an opponent at the Euros, showing his talent on the ground as well as in the air.

With pace to get out of trouble, Varane appears an excellent foil for Maguire as United look to improve on last campaign's second-placed Premier League finish.

United finished 12 points behind rivals and champions Manchester City and will hope to have both Sancho and Varane available when they start their quest to bridge that gap against Leeds at Old Trafford on August 14.

Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement in principle with Real Madrid for defender Raphael Varane.

With only 12 months remaining on his Madrid contract, Varane has been allowed to join the Red Devils.

United are reported to be paying a fee of £42.7million (€50m) to secure the transfer, which is subject to a medical and to player terms being finalised.

 

 

 

Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand has expressed his admiration for Raphael Varane, labelling the Frenchman as a "genuine world-class centre-back" whose achievements speak for themselves.

The Real Madrid defender is understood to be days away from a move to Old Trafford for a reported fee of £42.7million (€50m) as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally finds a suitable partner for Harry Maguire.

United previously ticked another target off their transfer list when they announced the signing of Jadon Sancho, although Varane will provide much-needed experience at the other end of the pitch for the Red Devils.

And former United defender Ferdinand, who amassed 455 appearances and won six Premier League titles in Manchester, could not contain his excitement for Varane's potential arrival.

"When you watch him sometimes he almost purrs, he's got that pace, that poise," Ferdinand said on his self-titled 'Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE' YouTube channel.

"We've signed a genuine world-class centre-back. His list of honours is ridiculous, it's as long as my arm."

Indeed, Varane does ooze class and experience, having won the World Cup in 2018 and collected three LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues with Madrid.

Despite playing all four games at Euro 2020, the France centre-back was the only one of Didier Deschamps' defenders to not get dribbled past, while he also led LaLiga defenders in terms of aerial success last season.

Though Varane's aerial duels were also more than double any of his defensive team-mates, he also ranked second in terms of both interceptions and duels won among the club's defenders in 2020-21.

 

Ferdinand, whose £30m move from Leeds United to Man Utd was a record fee for a defender in 2002, also found time to praise former colleague Solskjaer and the recruitment by United this transfer window.

"It's a great job by the [recruitment] people at Manchester United. United have been criticised in the past, and rightly so, for dilly-dallying in the market," the former centre-back added.

"This one they were assertive, they went for their man and they got him. No doubt in my mind, he would have said to Real Madrid 'I need it, I want it, I have to go'."

Having seen Sancho join the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Maguire, Ferdinand was adamant that Varane's transfer would be due to his own insistence to move onto a fresh challenge in England.

"What a signing. There's been talk in the transfer market since it opened up – it must have come from the player," Ferdinand continued.

"He must have wanted to leave, and be part of the new Man United way, the project that's going ahead.

"The talent they've got there, the ability to play alongside Maguire after he did so well at the Euros probably played a part. I just think he sees this as a better project than what he's got at Real Madrid now."

United get their Premier League campaign underway against Leeds on August 14 and Solskjaer will be hoping to be able to call upon both of his high-profile signings should the deal go through.

Bryan Gil has joined Tottenham in a deal that involves Erik Lamela moving to Sevilla.

Bryan, who spent last season on loan from Sevilla at Eibar, is playing for Spain at the Tokyo Olympics.

Reports emerged last week that Spurs were close to signing the 20-year-old for a fee of £21.6million (€25m) plus Lamela, who joined the Premier League club from Roma in 2013.

While no fee has been confirmed, the deal has now gone through, subject to international clearance.

Bryan, who has represented Spain at senior level and has signed a five-year contract with Spurs, scored four times in 29 appearances last term, with 29-year-old Lamela netting three goals and providing one assist from 33 games in all competitions.

Lamela has penned a three-year deal with Sevilla, and will wear the number 17 shirt for the 2021-22 campaign.

The Argentina international made 257 appearances in all competitions during his eight-year stint with Tottenham.

Bryan, meanwhile, becomes Spurs' second signing under Nuno Espirito Santo, following on from the arrival of goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini on loan from Serie A club Atalanta.

Spurs have also tied down Son Heung-min to a new contract, though uncertainty surrounds Harry Kane, who has been heavily linked with Manchester City.

Barcelona and Neymar have reached an amicable agreement to end their long-running dispute over the Paris Saint-Germain forward's contract.

The Brazil international had claimed he was owed €43.6million in unpaid bonuses by LaLiga giants Barca.

Neymar insisted he was due the huge sum as a loyalty bonus, having signed a new five-year contract with the Catalan club in 2016.

A judge ruled in Barca's favour in June 2020, ordering Neymar to pay his former employers €6.7m.

Barca on Monday revealed the case is now closed.

A club statement said: "FC Barcelona announces that it has extrajudicially and closed amicably different labour and civil litigations that had opened with the Brazilian player Neymar da Silva Santos Junior.

"Thus, the club and the player have signed a transactional agreement to end legal proceedings that were pending between both parties: three claims in the labour jurisdiction and one civil proceeding."

Neymar joined PSG for a world record fee of €222m in August 2017.

Former Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres has returned to the LaLiga club as a coach of their youth team.

Torres himself progressed through Atletico's academy setup and spent 11 seasons with Los Colchoneros across two spells.

The 37-year-old former Spain forward retired from playing in August 2019 and has already spent time working behind the scenes with Atleti, but he stepped away in February for personal reasons.

He will now take the next step in his post-playing career by coaching the Spanish champions' Juvenil A side from the 2021-22 campaign.

Atletico confirmed the news on their official website on Sunday in a post titled "Fernando is coming home".

Torres scored 129 goals in 404 appearances for Atleti in all competitions and also represented Liverpool, Chelsea and Milan during an 18-year playing career.

Memphis Depay claimed he will thrive on the expectancy at Barcelona after scoring his first goal for the club in a friendly match.

The Netherlands forward converted an 85th-minute penalty as Barca clinched a 3-1 win over Girona at Johan Cruyff Stadium on Saturday.

Depay joined the Blaugrana on a free transfer earlier this month after his contract expired with Ligue 1 club Lyon.

"I know they expect a lot from me," Depay told a post-match media conference.

"I'm very happy to have played with this shirt. I enjoyed the fans in the stadium, they were very enthusiastic throughout the match and they have shown a lot of energy. 

"I work hard to provide incredible moments for Barca fans. 

"When we play in the stadium it will be incredible too. The fans will give us energy."

Depay netted 76 goals in 178 appearances for Lyon where he enjoyed an impressive final season in Ligue 1 with 20 goals, trailing only Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe (27 goals).

The 27-year-old's 12 assists and 94 chances created were more than any other player managed in France's top flight in 2020-21.

In all competitions, meanwhile, Depay scored 22 goals last term at an average of one goal every 141.5 minutes, making it his second-best season since arriving.

He massively exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 12.38.

"He is a high-quality player," Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman said of Depay after the win over Girona.

"He has shown it in certain moments of the game. It is important because you have to have competition in the positions at the top.

"Some players may have more minutes than others in pre-season. The internationals, not yet. Little by little we will give more. We will try to be prepared for the first league game."

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