Gerard Pique became the first Barcelona or Real Madrid player to openly criticise the attempted formation of a European Super League.

Twelve major European clubs came together to confirm the creation of a closed-shop competition on Sunday, but within 48 hours it has been left in ruins.

Manchester City became the first club to withdraw on Tuesday and Chelsea were also reported to have begun such proceedings at a similar time, though an official statement is not expected until Wednesday.

The four remaining English teams, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United – who earlier on Tuesday confirmed club chief Ed Woodward has resigned in an apparently unrelated move – then released simultaneous statements announcing their disassociation with the breakaway.

None of Milan, Inter, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Madrid nor Barca have addressed the situation in public since the English clubs began to set their mass-withdrawal in motion.

But the cracks have started to appear, with Barca great Pique seemingly becoming the first player from the Spanish clubs to denounce the proposals that have been left in tatters.

Around the same time that Arsenal, Liverpool, United and Spurs confirmed their exits, Pique tweeted: "Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever."

Madrid president Florentino Perez was expected to appear on Spanish radio on Tuesday but ultimately failed to show.

With half of the 12 founder members pulling out, the next move of the remaining six is yet to be revealed.

However, it looks like a troubling period awaits Madrid, with Perez openly admitting on Monday that the club needed the money from the Super League due to their financial difficulties.

Pique's Barca also have issues, with their debts confirmed earlier this year to be in excess of €1billion.

Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham have all confirmed they are withdrawing from the proposed European Super League.

European Super League clubs will attempt to resurrect their crumbling plans for a breakaway competition in a few years, a leading sports lawyer has suggested.

European football was rocked to its core on Sunday following the announcement of a long-feared Super League by a group of leading clubs.

The Premier League's so-called "big six" were named as founding clubs of the Super League along with Milan, Inter, Juventus, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, whose president – Florentino Perez – was set to head up the new competition as chairman.

UEFA's response to the initial rumours on Sunday – which were followed by an official announcement from the 12 clubs later in the day – reiterated a previous threat to kick those involved out of other competitions, such as their domestic leagues and the Champions League.

A UEFA executive, Jan Moller, then went a step further on Monday after Europe's governing body had announced a revamped Champions League, saying he expected Madrid, Chelsea and City to be booted out of the continent's elite tournament this week ahead of their semi-finals.

Media reports on Tuesday claimed several clubs – including Chelsea and Manchester City – have pulled out, but Richard Cramer, managing director of the sports law firm Front Row Legal, suspects there could be another attempt a few years down the line in spite of the backlash.

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Cramer said: "Even if they put it to bed now, it's going to come up again in another three years, perhaps when maybe the TV income has plateaued out and the clubs aren't seeing an improvement on that.

"Is the European Super League, whether it's a replacement for the Champions League, or even a standalone competition equivalent to a domestic competition, is that going to be more exciting for the fans going forward and for the TV companies?"

"It's not the first time it's been floated around. And I think if you look back at previous kinds of false dawns, what it's tended to do is sort of shake up UEFA to say, 'Well, in order to avert the threat of the European Super League breakaway' – and that's always this kind of phraseology that's used – 'we want you to make the Champions League richer, and we want more money out of it'."

Reports on Tuesday have also suggested Manchester United chief Ed Woodward and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli have resigned following their respective roles in the attempted launch of the Super League.

David Trezeguet believes domestic leagues will "lose their charm" and suffer huge damage as a result of the European Super League.

The 12 founding clubs of the breakaway competition have indicated they want to remain in their domestic leagues, despite threats of severe punishments.

But World Cup winner Trezeguet, whose former club Juventus are among the group, thinks the excitement will disappear from the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A.

He also fears for the Champions League's lustre should UEFA attempt to continue with it if the European Super League is ultimately launched.

Trezeguet said to Stats Perform News: "From an emotional side it is nice to conquer your right to play in the Champions League and Europa League on the pitch. 

"At the moment in Italy we discuss if Juventus can qualify, if Napoli can overtake them, if Lazio can get closer. 

"All these everyday chats will be lost because with the Super League you already know those three clubs [Juventus, Inter and Milan] will be in and maybe somebody else will be added.

"Although they clearly stated they would go on, domestic leagues will lose their charm.

"You lose the charm of understanding clubs' goals... who aims at Champions League? Who at the Europa League? And other goals.

"And the Champions League will lose these 12 big clubs who boast a big enchantment on marketing and fans." 

But Trezeguet understands why top clubs would be tempted by the huge financial rewards on offer after the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: "Read the economic value of the Super League and what Florentino Perez said [about huge financial losses]. If these are the losses, they are huge and they are due to the pandemic. 

"My opinion is divided. They even said they don't want to give up on other [clubs] - this is yet to be verified. 

"If you read those figures, you see a big leap in quality [of finances] for these 12 clubs but whether they will help the others is yet to be seen. 

"But from an emotional point of view I don't agree because you lose the principle of qualifying on the pitch. 

"We all know for sure that football has become a big business but lest we forget the sporting side of this game. 

"Earning your titles, playing a high-level season that makes you qualify for European cups - this is a job well done. 

"I know these big clubs are used to playing at such levels.

"But from an emotional viewpoint I am perplexed because you already know these three clubs [in Italy or Spain] will be automatically qualified regardless of their seasonal path in the league."

Trezeguet foresees a lengthy political battle ahead and is unsure whether players and fans will ultimately be listened to.

He added: "It will be a long bureaucratic clash and it is not a surprise. The Super League on one hand and the UEFA on the other have been very clear. 

"They have both their ideas and formats and the economic part should not be forgotten since these figures [for losses] are huge.

"First we have to see if they will be able to do the Super League as I was watching Leeds v Liverpool and already you can see fans were emotional. 

"And the UEFA president gave a speech that was more emotional than concrete about treason, wrong ideas, phone calls unreturned.

"But it is true that we are entering in a critical moment. UEFA and FIFA were straightforward on this from a sporting point of view. 

"Politicians in very important football countries like France, Germany and England have opposed the Super League. 

"Even in Italy and Spain the prime minister and the ministers have backed UEFA rather than the Super League. Now it is politics.

"The players will be the least listened to - this Super League has been decided without even consulting the players or the fans. 

"What has struck me is fans and players coming forward very clearly against it. Will it go on regardless? We'll see."

David Trezeguet believes Jose Mourinho would have been all too aware of the risks about managing Tottenham.

Mourinho was sacked on Monday after 17 months in the role, just six days before Spurs face Manchester City in the EFL Cup final.

Wayne Rooney was among the prominent football figures to question the timing of the move, calling it "crazy".

But former Monaco, Juventus and France star Trezeguet believes no manager can afford to go on a poor run in the modern game, regardless of whether they have got close to silverware.

He pointed to how Mauricio Pochettino was sacked by Spurs shortly after reaching a Champions League final as evidence that Mourinho would not be given extended time by chairman Daniel Levy.

Spurs are seventh in the Premier League going into their home match against Southampton on Wednesday, with their Champions League qualification hopes looking slim after losing 10 of their 32 top-flight matches.

Trezeguet told Stats Perform News: "He who manages a big club knows very well that at the end of the day the results are the most important. 

"[The sacking of] Mourinho proved it on Monday. He had a young squad full of talent and yet, he was sacked. 

"Sometimes owners, board members and others talk a lot about [long-term] plans.

"But the reality check, which managers know very well, is that if you lose five or 10 games with such a squad, you are to be sacked. 

"I am very doubtful when I hear so many talking about [building long-term] projects without results. 

"Results are pivotal, look at Pochettino after having reached a Champions League final - they sacked him the season after. 

"It happened the same at PSG [with Thomas Tuchel who reached the Champions League final] or Juventus with Maurizio Sarri, who had even won the title in Italy."

Ryan Mason has been handed the role of interim head coach until the end of the season following Mourinho's dismissal. 

Tottenham are one of six English clubs who have announced their intention to join the controversial European Super League, a development that has somewhat overshadowed their managerial change.

Harry Kane faces a race to be fit for Tottenham's clash with Manchester City in the EFL Cup final after missing training on Tuesday.

The striker looks certain not to be involved in Wednesday's Premier League home match against Southampton after suffering an ankle injury in last Friday's 2-2 draw with Everton.

Caretaker head coach Ryan Mason, who took over from the sacked Jose Mourinho on Monday, could offer no guarantee the England captain would be ready for Sunday's Wembley trip.

Mason said in a news conference: "I'm not sure currently. He didn't train today. It's one of those cases of taking it day by day. We're still not sure about the weekend just yet.

"What we do now is Harry's working extremely hard to get over this injury."

Kane has scored 31 goals and had 16 assists across all competitions this season, making him the only player from Europe's 'top five' leagues to score 30 or more times and add at least 15 assists.

Handed the job until the end of the season, rookie coach Mason is a former Tottenham player who had to retire three years ago due to a head injury sustained while at Hull City.

The 29-year-old said he was "very proud" to be chosen to lead the team, and rallied the players by declaring: "I want us to be brave and aggressive and play like Tottenham Hotspur."

Chairman Daniel Levy proposed Mason should succeed Mourinho as interim boss after dismissing the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager.

"We had a very long conversation," Mason said. "I took training, we had another conversation and he asked me if I wanted it."

Former Charlton Athletic and England defender Chris Powell and ex-Watford man Nigel Gibbs will be assistants to Mason.

Mason said he and former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino had "exchanged a few messages" since the dramatic upheaval. He also said he had not spoken to Mourinho.

Mason was in the line-up the last time Saints won at Spurs in the Premier League, a 2-1 victory in May 2016, but Tottenham have typically had Southampton's number in north London, winning eight of their past nine at home in this fixture.

Tottenham's impressive record in home Premier League games on Wednesday is another positive omen as Mason seeks a winning start. Since a 1-0 loss to Leicester City in January 2016, they have won 10 of their 11 such matches (D1), scoring 25 goals and conceding just four.

Son Heung-min scored four goals in Tottenham’s 5-2 win against Southampton in the reverse fixture earlier this season, with all four assisted by Kane. That remains the only occasion in Premier League history when a player has scored four goals in a match with each of them assisted by the same player.

Mason will have plenty to think about as he prepares to boss a team in a Premier League game for the first time, a situation he had not seen coming and described as "crazy".

The man who joined Tottenham's academy as an eight-year-old, going on to reach first-team level and England selection, is determined to take the change of circumstances in his stride.

"It's football," he said. "Anything can happen. You just have to be ready for what football can throw at you at times."

The 14 Premier League clubs left out of plans for a European Super League have "unanimously and vigorously" voted against the proposals as England's top flight considers "all actions available" to halt the breakaway competition.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham have announced plans to join a lucrative new tournament.

The 'big six' suggested this would run alongside the Premier League, in place of the Champions League.

But their guaranteed involvement in the Super League has been widely criticised as anti-competitive, with Premier League performance having no impact on European fortunes.

The Premier League and The Football Association (FA) each condemned the idea when it was first reported on Sunday.

And the two bodies held a meeting for the 14 remaining Premier League clubs on Tuesday, at which the league added it would hold the 'big six' "to account under its rules".

"The Premier League, alongside The FA, met with clubs today to discuss the immediate implications of the Super League proposal," a statement read.

"The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition.

"The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders involved to account under its rules. 

"The league will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, government, UEFA, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.  

"The Premier League would like to thank fans and all stakeholders for the support they have shown this week on this significant issue.

"The reaction proves just how much our open pyramid and football community means to people."

This meeting took place as City manager Pep Guardiola announced his opposition to the Super League in a pre-match news conference.

Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp said on Monday he did not support the plans but added the club's Boston-based owners Fenway Sports Group were "reasonable people" and "never have to explain these decisions to me or ask for permission".

"Profit-driven" projects like the European Super League threaten the existing structure and mission of sport, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

Bach appeared at the UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland on Tuesday.

The furore caused by 12 of Europe's leading clubs announcing a breakaway competition that would see them leave existing structures in place under UEFA and FIFA continues to cause intense debate.

Bach warned that self-interest and commercialism would come at a huge cost for European sport.

He insisted such an approach was not what was needed as society rebuilds as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have to realise that this European sport model is under threat today," Bach said. 

"In fact, the very existence of the values, solidarity and volunteer-based model is under threat. 

"It is challenged by a purely profit-driven approach that ignores the intrinsic values the social mission of sport and the real needs of the post-coronavirus world. 

"It is under threat because the social mission of sports organisations is losing ground to the purely profit-oriented goals of commercial sport providers and investors. 

"If everything is only looked at from a business perspective. If only the economic rules are applied to measure the impact of sport on society then the social mission of sport is lost.

"In this polarising environment narrow self-interest and egotism have been gaining ground over solidarity, shared values and common rules. 

"We can only address the challenges of the post-coronavirus world in solidarity. This means for us solidarity within sports organisations and solidarity among sports organisations."

At the same conference, FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the European Super League.

Infantino warned clubs involved they "cannot be half in or half out" and must fully commit to the breakaway competition.

Ryan Mason has been handed the role of interim head coach at Tottenham until the end of the season following Jose Mourinho's dismissal. 

Spurs sacked Mourinho on Monday six days before the EFL Cup final against Manchester City, with their Champions League qualification hopes hanging by a thread.

Mason took first-team training after that move and will now lead the team for the remainder of the 2020-21 campaign.

The first game for Mason will see seventh-placed Tottenham host Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Mason will be assisted by Chris Powell and Nigel Gibbs, with Ledley King continuing as a first-team assistant and Michel Vorm as his goalkeeping coach.

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy talked up the quality of the club's squad after Mason's appointment was confirmed on Tuesday.

"We have great belief in this squad of talented players," he said. 

"We have a cup final and six Premier League games ahead of us and we shall now focus all our energies on achieving a strong finish to the season."

Tottenham are one of six English clubs who have announced their intention to join the controversial European Super League, a development that has overshadowed their decision to sack Mourinho.

Mason, 29, was a Spurs player for eight years after coming through the club's youth system.

He later joined Hull City but suffered a fractured skull in January 2017 that eventually forced him to retire, prompting his early move into coaching with Spurs in 2018.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino condemned the European Super League as he warned clubs involved they "cannot be half in or half out" and must fully commit to the breakaway competition.

Twelve elite clubs announced on Sunday their plans to launch a tournament to rival the Champions League in which they would be assured of qualification.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United, among others, would compete in the Super League every season without risk of demotion.

The news has prompted a strong reaction throughout the football world, with governing bodies, rivals clubs, players, coaches and fans critical of the idea and its anti-competitive format.

An initial FIFA statement on Sunday read: "FIFA can only express its disapproval to a 'closed European breakaway league' outside of the international football structures."

Infantino, FIFA president since 2016, had not subsequently discussed the Super League in public until Tuesday's UEFA Congress, however.

But he made clear in Montreux, Switzerland, that the clubs involved could not continue in their domestic leagues, as proposed, while bans from international football for players at those clubs have been threatened.

"At FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove the creation of the Super League, which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA," Infantino said.

"There is a lot to throw away for maybe a short-term financial gain of some. People need to think very carefully. They need to reflect and they need to assume responsibility.

"If some elect to go their own way, then they must live with the consequences of their choice. They are responsible for their choice.

"Concretely, this means either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in or half out."

Everton have accused the six Premier League clubs who have signed up to the European Super League of "betraying" football supporters.

Plans for a breakaway league were announced on Sunday, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham among the 12 teams confirmed to have signed up.

The news was met with a wave of criticism from across the spectrum, including fans, governing bodies, players, ex-professionals and other clubs.

And on Tuesday the Toffees made clear their feelings on the matter in a scathing statement which attacked the involvement of their fellow English top-flight outfits.

"Everton is saddened and disappointed to see proposals of a breakaway league pushed forward by six clubs," read a statement from the club's board of directors.

"Six clubs acting entirely in their own interests.

"Six clubs tarnishing the reputation of our league and the game.

"Six clubs choosing to disrespect every other club with whom they sit around the Premier League table.

"Six clubs taking for granted and even betraying the majority of football supporters across our country and beyond."

The Merseyside club were particularly critical of the timing of the move, coming amid a global pandemic which has threatened the very existence of some clubs.

"At this time of national and international crisis – and a defining period for our game – clubs should be working together collaboratively with the ideals of our game and its supporters uppermost," the statement continued.

"Instead, these clubs have been secretly conspiring to break away from a football pyramid that has served them so well.

"And in that Pyramid Everton salutes EVERY club, be it Leicester City, Accrington Stanley, Gillingham, Lincoln City, Morecambe, Southend United, Notts County and the rest who have, with their very being, enriched the lives of their supporters throughout the game's history. And vice versa.

"The self-proclaimed Super Six appear intent on disenfranchising supporters across the game – including their own – by putting the very structure that underpins the game we love under threat."

Since the plans were made public, the dissenting voices have come from every corner, with UEFA threatening sanctions, fans protesting and even players and managers speaking out against them.

It is a reaction that Everton say must be taken on board by those leading the charge for a European Super League.

"The backlash is understandable and deserved – and has to be listened to," the club's board said.

"This preposterous arrogance is not wanted anywhere in football outside of the clubs that have drafted this plan.

"On behalf of everyone associated with Everton, we respectfully ask that the proposals are immediately withdrawn and that the private meetings and subversive practises that have brought our beautiful game to possibly its lowest ever position in terms of trust end now.

"Finally we would ask the owners, chairmen, and Board members of the six clubs to remember the privileged position they hold – not only as custodians of their clubs but also custodians of the game. The responsibility they carry should be taken seriously.

"We urge them all to consider what they wish their legacy to be."

If you are a football fan there is simply no escaping the controversy caused by the announcement 12 teams have signed up to form a breakaway European Super League.

Talk of such a competition is nothing new, rumours have been swirling for years, but the furore caused has still been widespread with pundits, players and fans alike united in their disapproval.

UEFA and the major European governing bodies and leagues have vowed to do all they can to kill the proposals and huge sanctions have been threatened if the teams go ahead with the league.

But part of the debate has also centred around the credentials of some of the teams who have been invited to participate, with six from the Premier League, three from LaLiga and three from Serie A agreeing to join. Below we have reviewed each of the 12 clubs involved.

THE 'BIG SIX' FROM THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Arsenal

Arsenal's place on the list comes with the club having failed to qualify for the Champions League since the 2016-17 season, the penultimate year of Arsene Wenger's long reign. The Gunners appear unlikely to make a return via the domestic route this season, as they sit well adrift of the top four in the Premier League. However, they are still in the Europa League, with a semi-final tie against Spanish side Villarreal – coached by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, no less – to come.

Founded: October 1886 (initially as Dial Square)

Trophies won: 
First Division/Premier League: 13 times (last time was in 2003-04)
FA Cup: 14 times
EFL Cup: 2 times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter: 17.3m
Instagram: 19.2m
Facebook: 38.3m

Chelsea

The outlook for Chelsea changed dramatically in 2003, when Roman Abramovich became the new owner. Prior to the Russian's arrival, the Blues had one the top-flight title just once. They have been crowned Premier League champions five times since, however, and also enjoyed Champions League success in 2012. In overcoming Porto across two legs, they have reached the semi-finals of the competition this term for the first time since 2014.

Founded: March 1905

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: Six times 
FA Cup: Eight times
League Cup: Five times
Champions League: Once
Europa League: Twice 
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter - 16.6m
Instagram - 25.9m
Facebook - 49.4m

Liverpool 

The Reds have a storied history, but there has been success in recent seasons under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. No British club has won Europe's premier club competition more times than Liverpool, while the 2019-20 Premier League title triumph finally ended a 30-year wait to get back on their perch at home. However, they only featured in the Champions League once between the 2009-10 and 2017-18 campaigns, while their hopes of repeating their success of 2019 since lifting the trophy in Madrid have resulted in exits to Spanish opponents who also involved in the Super League. 

Founded: June 1892

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: 19 times
FA Cup: Seven times
League Cup: Eight times
Champions League: Six times
UEFA Cup: Three times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Four times
FIFA Club World Cup: Once

Social media following: 
Twitter - 17m
Instagram - 30.5m
Facebook - 39.1m

Manchester City

The Premier League champions in waiting are on course to claim a third title with Pep Guardiola at the helm. However, City slipped down to the third tier of the English football pyramid as recently as 1998, while only became one of the powerhouses of the domestic game following the arrival of a new owner in Sheikh Mansour. They first appeared in the Champions League in 2011-12 and are yet to get beyond the semi-final stage, meaning the Cup Winners' Cup success in 1970 remains the club's only European trophy.

Founded: April 1894

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League: Six times
FA Cup: Six times
League Cup: Seven times
European Cup Winners' Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter - 9.5m
Instagram - 23.3m
Facebook - 40.2m 

Manchester United

United were the dominant force in the Premier League era under Alex Ferguson, winning the title 13 times to overtake Liverpool's record tally. However, since their legendary manager departed, the Red Devils have not managed to add to their overall tally as 20-time top-flight champions. There was FA Cup success under Louis van Gaal - who was then sacked - and an EFL-Europa League double during Jose Mourinho's time in charge at Old Trafford. In the Champions League, United have only gone as far as the last eight since losing the 2011 final to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona.

Founded: 1902

Trophies won:
First Division/Premier League - 20 times
FA Cup - 12 times
League Cup - Five times
European Cup/Champions League - Three times
Europa League - Once
European Cup Winners' Cup - Once
European Super Cup - Once
FIFA Club World Cup - Once

Social media following:
Twitter - 25.1m
Instagram - 40.1m
Facebook - 73.2m

Tottenham

Now searching for a new manager following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho less than 24 hours after confirming their Super League involvement, Spurs' best-ever finish in a Premier League season came in 2016-17 when second behind champions Chelsea. There was a Champions League final appearance in 2019 too, though they missed out on glory when losing 1-0 to Liverpool. Indeed, Tottenham have not secured silverware since the League Cup triumph in 2008, while the most recent of their two top-flight league titles was way back in 1960-61.

Founded: 1882

Trophies won:
First Division - twice
FA Cup - eight times
League Cup - four times
UEFA Cup - twice
European Cup Winners' Cup - once

Social media following:
Twitter - 5.8m
Instagram - 10.2m
Facebook - 22.5m

THE REMAINING CLUBS INVOLVED

Atletico Madrid

A huge club in their own right, of that there is no doubt. But the last of Atleti's LaLiga title wins came in 2014, and that was only their second since 1977. Three times runners-up for Europe's greatest continental prize but as yet there has been no Champions League triumph for Atletico Madrid. While Diego Simeone has overseen a great period at Atleti, and the club has muscled into the fight with their more illustrious Clasico rivals, it should certainly be no shoo-in that Atleti deserve an automatic spot at this table.

Founded: April 1903

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 10 times
Copa del Rey: 10 times
Supercopa de Espana: Twice
Europa League: Three times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once
UEFA Super Cup: Three times

Social media following:
Twitter – 4.9m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 11.1m
Facebook - 13m

Barcelona

Another LaLiga heavyweight, boasting the talents of Lionel Messi of course, that would certainly not be out of place in a Super League, both in terms of history and trophies won. Barcelona's well-documented financial issues off the pitch may also offer a further explanation for the desire for a mind-boggling windfall. While Barca were beaten to LaLiga by Clasico rivals Madrid last term, they have already collected silverware this time around in the form of the Copa del Rey. Champions League success has not arrived since 2015 but Barca's credentials stand up to scrutiny.

Founded: March 1899

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 26 times
Copa del Rey: 31 times
Supercopa de Espana: 13 times
Champions League/European Cup: Five times
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Four times
UEFA Super Cup: Five times
Club World Cup: Three times

Social media following:
Twitter – 15m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 95.9m
Facebook - 103m

Inter

The Milan giants are a club rich in history, who have scaled the heights in European football.  But also another who have struggled to reach such past glories until this term – with Antonio Conte's side appearing primed to win a first Serie A title since 2010, the year Jose Mourinho oversaw a famous treble also comprising the Coppa Italia and Champions League. While some would dispute Inter's place in a Super League, the signs are the Nerazzurri are on the way back to consistently challenging among the elite.

Founded: March 1908

Trophies won:
Serie A: 18 times
Coppa Italia: Seven times
Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
Champions League/European Cup: Three times
UEFA Cup: Three times
Club World Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter – 2.3m (Italian account)
Instagram – 6.5m
Facebook – 28m

Juventus

The Old Lady of Italian football. With 36 Serie A titles to their name, Juventus are the most successful club in the history of the Italian top flight. While the Bianconeri have not won the Champions League since 1996, they have been runners-up in 2015 and 2017 and no one can doubt the grandeur of this historic club. The past decade in Italy has been dominated by Juventus who have won nine titles in a row, but their quest for 10 has hit a bump as a side spearheaded by the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo sits fourth in the maiden campaign of Andrea Pirlo.

Founded: November 1897

Trophies won:
Serie A: 36 times
Coppa Italia: 13 times
Supercoppa Italiana: Nine times
Champions League/European Cup: Twice
UEFA Cup/Europa League: Three times
UEFA Super Cup: Twice

Social media following:
Twitter – 9.1m (Italian account)
Instagram – 48.2m
Facebook – 45m

Milan

Once of the most revered and loved teams across the globe, the Rossoneri have fallen on hard times in recent years. Only Madrid can boast more than Milan's seven European/Champions League victories, while many of the all-time greats have donned the famous red and black jersey. But you have to go back to 2007 for the last time Milan were crowned champions of Europe, while 10 years have past since they lifted the Serie A title. Indeed, they have not even played in the Champions League since the 2013-14 campaign – albeit Stefano Pioli's men appeared destined to return to the competition this term.

Founded: 1899

Trophies won:
Serie A: 18 times
Coppa Italia: Five times
Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
Champions League/European Cup: Seven times
European Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Five times
Club World Cup: Once

Social media following:
Twitter – 7.7m
Instagram – 9.7m
Facebook – 24m

Real Madrid

While some of the teams in this controversial process may raise a few eyebrows, there is little doubt a club with the prestige of Real Madrid would not be involved. Record winners of the European Cup/Champions League on 13 occasions (the last of which coming as recently as 2018, the third in succession under Zinedine Zidane), and 34 times winners of LaLiga (including last season) there is little doubt Los Blancos are an established part of the European elite. This term, they are into the semi-finals of the Champions League and sit second in a tight race for the top flight title in Spain.

Founded: March 1902 (initially as Madrid football club)

Trophies won:
LaLiga: 34 times
Copa del Rey: 19 times
Supercopa de Espana: 11 times
Champions League/European Cup: 13 times
UEFA Cup: Twice
UEFA Super Cup: Four times
Club World Cup: Four times

Social media following:
Twitter – 36.8m (Spanish account)
Instagram – 97.1m
Facebook – 110m

France, Spain or Germany?

Eduardo Camavinga has admirers following his exploits for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Some of Europe's biggest clubs are interested, but could he be set for Bavaria?

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA WANTED IN GERMANY

Bayern Munich are hoping to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to France Football.

Camavinga is unwilling to extend his Rennes contract and the 18-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Florian Neuhaus is also on Bayern's list, though the Bundesliga champions reportedly feel Camavinga could be better value for money.

 

ROUND-UP

- Who will permanently replace Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach following his sacking on Monday? Football Italia claims Spurs have contacted former Juventus, Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. The Daily Mail, however, reports RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann is Tottenham's top candidate.

- La Razon says West Ham are leading the race to sign Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, who has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

PSG are the most likely suitors for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, according to Sport. Bellerin is likely to leave the Gunners and he has been linked to Barcelona.

- Sport says Barca's plans depend on Lionel Messi's future. Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, but president Joan Laporta is keen to re-sign the superstar amid reported interest from PSG and Manchester City. It comes as Barca target Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with rivals Real Madrid, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus. Lyon captain Memphis Depay, City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly wanted at Camp Nou.

Inter great Walter Zenga believes the European Super League will go ahead despite strong opposition and criticism as the former Italy goalkeeper had his say on the "big mess".

The 'big six' from the Premier League – Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – have collaborated with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Inter, Juventus and Milan to reveal plans for a new midweek club competition to rival UEFA's Champions League.

Those founding members would automatically qualify each season no matter where they finished in their respective domestic leagues.

UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) have condemned the new competition, while FIFA has also disapproved of the move as fans and pundits continue to slam the breakaway league.

Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Zenga – who amassed 473 appearances for Inter, winning two UEFA Cup titles, the Serie A trophy and Supercoppa Italiana during his time at San Siro – said he is not a fan of the Super League.

"It's a big mess," the 60-year-old – who emerged from Inter's youth team in 1978 before leaving the club permanently in 1994 – told Stats Perform News.

"I think that I read one interview about [former Manchester United manager Alex] Ferguson that he said that he came from one passion football like when he was young, child play on the street and run over the dreams and everything and now probably the Super League can destroy the oldest small club like he mentioned that he won the Europa league with Aberdeen a small club.

"I don't think it's going to be okay for football, it looks like it has become a private club."

"I think that every club they have own problems now because of the covid situation," said Zenga, who was last head coach of Serie A side Cagliari in August last year. "We can just say our point of view that's just opinion it's not the truth no? We don't know what are the big problems inside some clubs, we don't know why they want to create a Super League probably to save the money or something like this.

"I think the only thing in this situation was thinking about the commercial and how to make more money and everything. Then honestly if you ask me do I like the Super League I say no. If you ask me about why one club takes a decision to approach these things I say I don't know because I'm not involved inside a club, I don't know the problems this is very difficult to understand."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin branded the planned Super League as a "disgraceful, self-serving proposal" fuelled by greed, as well as confirming players from the 12 breakaway clubs involved will be banned from international football.

Madrid president and European Super League chairman Florentino Perez insisted the primary aim of the competition is to "save football".

When asked if there was any turning back following Sunday's initial announcement, Zenga – named the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper for three consecutive years in 1989, 1990 and 1991 – replied: "I think that now after UEFA send a letter to everybody I think it is very difficult because it is [not just] one big problem to solve.

"I don't think so I think the clubs go for themself. I don't think so after this, I think the Super League continues."

Florentino Perez insists the primary aim of the European Super League is to "save football" after the breakaway competition came in for relentless and vitriolic criticism in the 24 hours after it was announced.

The Super League launched its competition website late on Sunday after a day of speculation, with Perez named as chairman of the new competition.

Madrid, fellow LaLiga giants Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, the Premier League's 'big six' – Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal – and Juventus, Milan and Inter are all on board, with founding members set to benefit from an initial windfall of €3.5billion.

Nevertheless, Perez told El Chiringuito TV that he felt there were higher ideals at play than mere greed.

"The biggest clubs in England, Italy and Spain have found a solution to the very difficult situation that football is experiencing," he said.

"Real Madrid in just two season have lost €400m and that's just Real Madrid. When you only have income from television, you understand the solution is to create games that are more competitive and more attractive and that can be seen around the world.

"We decided, in midweek, instead of the Champions League we could have a Super League with more matches.

"Football has to evolve. It is losing interest. We have to think why 16-24 year olds are losing interest. There are bad quality matches and other platforms for entertainment.

"We have to make it more attractive. It is not something for the rich. We do this to save football."

Perez rejected the criticism that the league was creating a closed shop, due to the intention to allow five teams to enter on "sporting merit" and bring the total number of competitors up to 20, alongside 15 founding clubs.

He also has no concerns over Madrid, their opponents Chelsea and fellow semi-finalists City being expelled from this season's Champions League, nor UEFA and FIFA banning Super League players from taking place in international tournaments.

"Every player can be calm because that's not going to happen," he said.

"Real Madrid will not be kicked out of the Champions League. Nor City, nor anyone else.

"It's not going to happen. I don’t want to get into the legal reasons but it's not going to happen. Legally it's impossible."

Despite the historical animosity between Madrid and Barcelona, Perez said it was easy to convince recently elected Camp Nou president Joan Laporta to take part in the project.

He added: "Games between the big clubs are the most attractive, they generate the most money. I don't think the smaller ones are more attractive.

"There are national competitions people don't even know the name of. Football as it is cannot continue."

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