Cristiano Ronaldo's future has been widely discussed this off-season.

The 36-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner has only one more year on his existing Juventus contract.

Ronaldo has been linked with several suitors among Europe's elite clubs as well as a switch to MLS after Juve failed to win the 2020-21 Serie A title.

 

TOP STORY - RONALDO SET TO EXTEND JUVE STAY

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to remain with Juventus amid talk of a new cut-price deal, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Portugal international has attracted interest from Paris Saint-Germain and former club Manchester United this off-season.

However, Ronaldo is close to extending his Juve stay with a fresh one-year contract, taking a pay cut.

 

ROUND-UP

– Manchester City are determined to sign Aston Villa's Jack Grealish, according to The Athletic, although the Birmingham Mail claims the England winger is expected to sign a new deal at Villa Park.

– The Sun reports Inter are ramping up their bid to sign Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin on a one-year loan deal with the option of a permanent switch.

– Real Madrid have not received any offers for Gareth Bale, who is expected to remain in the Spanish capital for another season, according to Mundo Deportivo.

– Goal claims Juventus have had their initial €30million offer for Manuel Locatelli rejected by Sassuolo, who have a higher price in mind.

Arsenal are set to land Brighton's Ben White, having agreed to a deal in principle, worth around £50m, reports The Athletic.

Nuno Espirito Santo insists Harry Kane is very much part of his plans as he aims to propel Tottenham back into the Champions League.

Nuno was appointed by Spurs in June, replacing Ryan Mason, who had been interim charge since Jose Mourinho's dismissal in April.

Paulo Fonseca and Gennaro Gattuso were among the coaches who had been in talks with Tottenham prior to Nuno's appointment, with the former Wolves boss having previously been close to joining Crystal Palace and then Everton.

One of Nuno's first tasks will be helping to convince star man Kane, fresh from his run to the Euro 2020 final with England, to stay put.

Kane disclosed in May that he was open to moving away from Tottenham, with reports claiming he is hoping to sign for Manchester City, who have held discussions with Spurs – rumours of a £100million bid, which included potential player swaps, surfaced last month.

However, Nuno is adamant Kane will remain a Spurs player.

"Harry’s our player. Period. No need to talk about anything else," he said in his first news conference as Tottenham boss.

"Now is the moment for him to recover his energy and rest. Then we can speak. I am looking forward to him joining the group.

"I have no doubts in my mind. What I wish is for Harry to recover well, to have a good rest and when he arrives he will feel that every one of us needs to commit themselves to become better.

"We are very ambitious people. We want to do it well. We count on Harry on that.

"I am excited to work with all the players. Harry is one of the best players in the world. That is all I need to say."

Kane failed to register a single touch in the penalty area during England's defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, though he had netted four goals in the knockout stage to equal Gary Lineker as the country's leading goalscorer in major tournaments with 10.

The 27-year-old finished as the leading scorer (23) and leading assister (14) in the Premier League last term but could only help Spurs to a disappointing seventh-placed finish.

While Kane's future remains up in the air, Spurs may also be facing something of a reshuffle elsewhere in their squad.

Toby Alderweireld has reportedly asked to leave, while Lucas Moura, Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier and Erik Lamela could all be sold.

"A lot of work to be done. Improving this squad is not easy because of the quality we have," Nuno said when asked about incoming transfers.

"We [the coaches] have opinions and ideas. We do our job and try to find the best decisions."

Tottenham fans would understand if Harry Kane pushed for an exit from the club in this transfer window, according to former Spurs star Chris Waddle.

Kane is yet to win a major trophy despite a prolific Premier League career and this year is seen as a pivotal one to determine his long-term future.

Spurs finished seventh last season which was only good enough to reach the new UEFA Conference League, with the forward being open with the media on thinking seriously about his future.

Manchester City are rumoured to have already had a £100million offer knocked back by Tottenham, while Manchester United have also been linked with the England captain.

Kane revealed last week towards the end of Euro 2020 that he had yet to speak to new Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who has replaced Jose Mourinho.

Fabio Paratici, now managing director at the Premier League club, has stressed Spurs have no intention of selling the "special player" while he has three years to run on his contract.

Waddle believes Spurs fans would not query Kane, who suffered heartbreak with England at the Euro 2020 final on Sunday when Italy triumphed on penalties, if he decided to move on.

"Tottenham fans I don't think would have any complaints if he left," Waddle said to Stats Perform.

"I think they've got it and accept that he's given a lot of service to Tottenham – he's enjoyed it, he supports them and he'd love to win trophies.

"Now Harry Kane can win the golden boot each year and be the top scorer of the Premier League, top scorer of the Premier League and top scorer of the Premier League again.

"When he looks back, he will say personal achievements have been great.

"Now he probably wants to say I want to stand up and lift that trophy to say Tottenham have won the FA Cup, League Cup – something! - and I think he feels he needs to win trophies.

"He has done everything he's wanted to do personally, obviously he'd love to win something with England but personal-wise I think he's probably thought I've got them [the individual accolades].

"But [he will think], 'I've not won any medals as a footballer as a team player' and it's probably getting to him now." 

Kane, who turns 28 this month, finished as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals in 2020-21.

He also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Kane then finished the Euros with four goals – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (five each) managed more – to draw level with Gary Lineker as his nation's leading scorer at major tournaments.

Waddle understands why a striker of that calibre feels the urgency to seek a resolution on his club future, with Manchester being his likely destination one way or another.

"He's 27, 28 years old and his next contract will be the last big contract he will think where he's going to win something," added Waddle.

"And let's be honest, it's only Man City who are definitely a fair chance of winning a trophy, two or three.

"Manchester United is another club, but if you look abroad, most teams are skint.

"So I think there's only a couple of teams who can afford Harry Kane."

Waddle is certain Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will hold out as long as it takes to get a huge transfer fee for Kane, even if that results in a protracted transfer saga.

While the final transfer fee could be eye-watering, Waddle insists Kane is worth it.

Waddle said: "Tottenham will hold out for money because they want to buy their own players on their budget.

"So it's going to be an interesting two or three weeks because if he's desperate to get away, Daniel Levy as we've seen in the past does drive a hard bargain.

"He may not be forced into Harry Kane leaving on the cheap, put it that way, and if it means keeping hold of him for a longer period, then they will do that.

"They want the money and if we look at the valuation, yes, it is a hell of a lot of money.

"But you've got to say in modern-day football he is worth it."

Milan target Dusan Tadic will not be moving to San Siro, with the forward having agreed a new three-year deal with Ajax.

Ajax captain Tadic was reportedly close to a switch to the Serie A giants, who are back in the Champions League for the 2021-22 season after a second-place finish last term.

However, the 32-year-old has opted to stay in Amsterdam, penning a new deal keeping him at Ajax until June 2024.

It is a one-year extension on his previous contract, which was set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

Tadic joined Ajax from Premier League side Southampton in 2018 and went on to play a key role in the Dutch team reaching the Champions League semi-finals that season.

He scored 28 goals in the Eredivisie and added a further six in the Champions League proper, following three goals in Ajax's qualifiers.

Only Lionel Messi (12) and Robert Lewandowski (eight) scored more times than Tadic in UEFA's flagship competition in 2018-19, with his tally of four assists second to Kylian Mbappe and Jordi Alba (five). No player created more chances than the Serbian (37), who was eight ahead of his nearest rival in that regard (Toni Kroos, 29).

Tadic outscored his expected goals (xG) figure of 4.79, suggesting his finishing from certain situations was more proficient than would be expected. His standout performance came in a 4-1 last-16 win at Real Madrid, with the former Twente forward scoring a stunning effort and assisting two other goals.

In total, Tadic has played 149 competitive games for Ajax, scoring 76 times, and he was named Dutch footballer of the year in 2020-21 as he helped Ajax retain the title, with the previous season having been voided due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ajax's director of football Marc Overmars told the club's official website: "It is no secret that Dusan plays a very important role for the team.

"Both on and off the pitch, he is a real leader. So, it's fantastic that we can keep him at Ajax even longer."

Real Madrid's desire to sign a new forward is not a secret.

The Spanish giants missed out on silverware in 2020-21, much to their dismay.

Carlo Ancelotti has replaced Zinedine Zidane as head coach with big expectations.

 

TOP STORY - MADRID TARGET SALAH IF MBAPPE FAILS

Ancelotti has told Real Madrid president Florentino Perez he wants to sign Liverpool's Mohamed Salah , reports Fichajes.

The Italian believes Los Blancos needs another forward, with Salah seen as his back-up plan if they fail to land Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

Madrid's financial situation is complicated, with the club not making any major signings in 2020-21 amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they appear determined to land a major forward this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- 90min reports that Manchester United's Jesse Lingard has emerged as a target for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, having caught Diego Simeone's eye during his loan spell at West Ham United.

- Chelsea have shopped around striker Tammy Abraham and Arsenal are interested, according to The Telegraph.

- The Athletic believes Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, although he has a £26m (€30m) release clause.

-  Poor relations between Spurs and Southampton, stemming from 2020's Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg deal, may scupper a proposed move for Danny Ings, according to Standard Sport.

- Newly promoted Brentford are set to splash a club record transfer fee of £13.5m to land Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, claims The Telegraph.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is optimistic Lionel Messi will sign a contract extension with the club but knows they must stay patient.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is now a free agent after his deal at Camp Nou expired on June 30.

According to reports, Messi has agreed a new five-year deal with the Blaugrana while accepting a substantial pay cut – although there has yet to be official confirmation.

Barca's significant financial difficulties are likely to mean other players must leave before Messi – or any of the club's new signings, including Sergio Aguero – can be registered.

Nevertheless, club president Laporta says negotiations are progressing well and is confident there will be a positive update in the near future.

"The professionals are doing their job well," he said. "We are very satisfied with how everything is progressing.

"But you know that it is a special market that requires patience, skill and sometimes some juggling.

"But I think, as the summer progresses, we will be able to give good news."

Messi has spent his entire playing career with the Catalan giants, for whom he is the all-time leading scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances.

The 34-year-old has also won 10 LaLiga titles with Barca since making his senior debut in 2004, as well as the Copa del Rey seven times and the Champions League on four occasions.

And he recently captured his first major international honour; captaining Argentina to Copa America glory following a 1-0 victory over Brazil in the final.

Arsenal have loaned defender William Saliba to Marseille for the duration of the 2021-22 campaign.

The 20-year-old has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Gunners since being signed for a reported £27million (€29.7m) in July 2019.

Saliba was loaned straight back to Saint-Etienne and spent the second half of last season with Nice after being left out of Arsenal's Premier League and Europa League squads.

He will now return to Ligue 1 for another spell after Marseille reached an agreement with Arsenal over a season-long loan.

Following confirmation of the deal on Thursday, Arsenal technical director Edu told the club's official website: "Together with William, we have decided it will be good for his continued development to spend another season on loan.

"William joined us as an 18-year-old, and he is still only 20, so he is still developing all the time. William is a player with strong natural ability and next season has the potential to be really beneficial for him at Marseille, a good club.

"To play another season in Ligue 1 will be very important for his development. We will of course be keeping in close contact with William during the season and wish him all the best in France with Marseille."

 

Speaking earlier this year during his time on loan with Nice, Saliba claimed he was "judged on two and a half matches" by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

The France Under-20 international featured 22 times for Nice in all competitions in the second half of last season, 20 of those appearances coming in Ligue 1.

Among defenders to have played at least four times in the French top flight last season, Saliba ranked fifth for successful passes per 90 minutes (66.75), behind Marquinhos (67.98), Nayef Aguerd (70.02), Dante (72.81) and Presnel Kimpembe (72.95).

He averaged 73.15 attempted passes per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 last term, which compares to 69.85 for Gabriel Magalhaes for Arsenal in the Premier League, 55.17 for Rob Holding and 55.1 for Pablo Mari.

Marseille have already signed Matteo Guendouzi from Arsenal on a permanent transfer during the close season.

Reports in Spain suggest Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann could be set for a reunion, just two years after Barcelona broke their transfer record to sign the France star.

Griezmann spent five seasons at Atleti, joining Diego Simeone's team from Real Sociedad.

He went on to score 94 LaLiga goals for the club, before a long-mooted switch to Barca went through in 2019.

Yet Griezmann, who turned 30 in March, has never quite managed to scale the same heights at the Camp Nou as he did in Madrid.

A disappointing first campaign marred by injuries and inconsistency left Griezmann playing catch up last term, though he did net 20 times across all competitions to finish as Barca's second-highest goalscorer, behind the imperious Lionel Messi.

With the uncertainty over Messi's future seemingly set to be resolved by a new five-year deal, reportedly worth half of the 34-year-old's previous contract, Barca have to clear their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's salary cap.

The Blaugrana have added Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal in the close-season, though are unable to register those new signings until players are moved out.

Griezmann, who is one of the club's highest earners, looks set to be one of the names to make way in a swap deal involving Saul Niguez – though Renan Lodi and Mario Hermoso have also been touted as potential options for Barca. Ahead of his potential return, Stats Perform assesses how Griezmann's efforts last season match up to his best campaign from his first Atleti stint.

 

GRIEZMANN AT HIS PEAK

Griezmann was the perfect example of consistency throughout his time at Atleti, as he became the perfect, versatile forward for Simeone's disciplined side.

He partnered Mario Mandzukic, Fernando Torres and Diego Costa among others during his time at the club, transforming himself from a nippy winger to a central striker with predatory instincts in the area, as well as harbouring plenty of creative talents.

Though he played more games (54) and scored more goals (32) during the 2015-16 season, Griezmann's finest campaign at Atleti arguably came in 2017-18.

His tally of 19 LaLiga strikes was 11 more than any other Atleti player, as he finished sixth in the scoring charts overall.

Griezmann added another 10 goals across the cup competitions, however, including a brace in the Europa League final, which Atleti won 3-0 against Marseille in Lyon.

Only Griezmann got into double figures for Atleti in terms of assists (13), while only Koke (81) created more chances than his 65.

Griezmann was clinical when opportunities came his way, too, converting 52.38 per cent of the 42 "big chances" that were crafted for him, and he ranked top for attempts (124) as he averaged a goal every 133 minutes.

To cap off an exceptional domestic campaign, Greizmann put in a man of the match display as France beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final.

 

PAST HIS BEST?

After making much of his call to stay put at Atleti – Griezmann having taken part in a mini-documentary to confirm his decision before the World Cup – the 28-year-old completed a €120million switch to Barca a year later.

It came with controversy; Atleti insisting Barca had fallen some €80m short of the obligated fee, but the transfer was nevertheless upheld.

His first season at Camp Nou was one to forget. The coronavirus pandemic merely prolonging a dismal campaign by Griezmann's lofty standards – the nadir for all involved at Barca coming in the humbling 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Yet Griezmann came into his second season with a renewed sense of purpose and finally seemed to click under new boss Ronald Koeman.

While still having to fit in around key man Messi, Griezmann played 51 times in all competitions, making 45 starts, clocking up 3,904 minutes in total (the second most he has managed in a campaign since his move to Atleti).

A total of 20 goals sees him fall some way short of the 29 he managed in 2017-18, though his 12 assists come close to matching his Atleti peak.

 

His expected assists (xA) total of 8.99 does, however, suggest the quality of opportunities he created was perhaps not wholly responsible for his 12 goal provisions. Given he was linking up with Messi, that is perhaps no surprise. This was, though, also the case in 2017-18, with Griezmann tallying an expected assists figure of 6.3, suggesting his Atleti team-mates were finishing chances they may not have been expected to.

Griezmann created more chances (67) last term than in his 2017-18 season, though his conversion rate of gilt-edged opportunities dropped to 39.39 per cent from 33 such openings.

Only in 2018-19 (15.11) did Griezmann have a lower shot conversion rate than last term (18.02) while there was no international glory for him this time around either – he scored once as France dropped out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.

Arjen Robben has decided to bring his playing career to an end just a year after announcing his return with boyhood club Groningen.

Former Bayern Munich and Netherlands great Robben initially called it quits in 2019 following a decade in Bavaria, having seen the final few years of his time in the Bundesliga partially interrupted by fitness problems.

After a season away he announced in June 2020 that he was to return to football with Groningen, the club at which he started his career, in an attempt to help them out amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It was to be his first season in the Eredivisie since 2003-04, which was the last of his two campaigns with PSV prior to joining Chelsea.

However, injuries and fitness issues restricted Robben to just six league outings and he hinted at the end of the season that he may not return.

Now it is official that Robben has hung up his boots, with another U-turn somewhat more unlikely this time at the age of 37.

He said: "A year ago I announced my comeback as an FC Groningen player. I embarked on this adventure with great energy and enthusiasm.

"Looking back on the past season, I have to come to the honest conclusion that the number of match minutes was disappointing. After the last game I said I would take the time to make an informed decision about the future.

"That was very difficult, because the mind and the emotion were in direct opposition. The football heart wanted to move on, especially with that ultimate goal of a full Euroborg [Groningen's stadium] in prospect.

"But the decision to quit is fair and realistic. That is why from today I am no longer a player, but a supporter of our football club.

"I would like to thank all football supporters and enthusiasts for all the warm support and sweet messages I have received over the past year. That was wonderful and heartwarming.

"I wish everyone a great football season in full stadiums, but above all good health."

Groningen technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus was keen to stress that the club's wish was for Robben to carry on for another season, but his decision has been met with respect and understanding.

Fledderus said: "It was common knowledge that we really wanted Arjen to stick with it for another year, but we also said that we appreciate and respect every decision made by him.

"We are especially grateful to Arjen that he took the step last year to make his comeback at FC Groningen.

"What that decision has meant for the club is unique. It shows the incredible commitment to FC Groningen and his love of the club.

"That is unprecedented for a player with his track record. His presence and influence on and off the field was invaluable."

While the Groningen return perhaps was not the fairy tale ending he had hoped for, Robben's career was a glorious one.

Robben made his professional debut with Groningen in 2000 and spent two seasons there before joining PSV, where he won a league title in the 2002-03 season.

He won further championships in England, Spain and Germany with Chelsea, Madrid and Bayern respectively, in the process becoming one of the world's best wide players.

He helped win eight Bundesliga titles during his decade with Bayern, plus the Champions League in 2012-13, making 309 appearances across all competitions.

Despite the injuries, Robben still managed to score 144 times for Bayern, including six in 19 matches in his final campaign.

He won 96 caps for the Netherlands, scoring 37 times, and was part of the Dutch team that was beaten in the 2010 World Cup final by Spain in South Africa.

Manchester City's pursuit of a new striker is well known.

Sergio Aguero's exit has left a void for the Premier League champions.

City have been linked with a host of big names including Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.

 

TOP STORY - MAN CITY MONITORING LEWANDOWSKI

Manchester City are monitoring the status of Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski, according to the Daily Mail.

Lewandowski has two years remaining on his Bayern Munich deal but has previously indicated he may be open to a move elsewhere.

The report claims City are worried they may not succeed in their pursuit of Kane and see 32-year-old Lewandowski as an option given his quality and potentially lower asking price.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool is readying a £60million (€70m) bid for Inter and Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella according to La Repubblica. However, Fabrizio Romano claims Inter will not sell him.

- Everton have submitted a £30m (€35m) bid for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, but the Italian club have told the Toffees to double the offer, claims Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports that England full-back Kieran Trippier is desperate to return to the Premier League as he waits on a move from Atletico Madrid to Manchester United.

- The Telegraph also claims that Joe Willock will spend time on loan again at Newcastle from Arsenal. He will join the Magpies on a season-long deal.

- SPORT claims that Chelsea are tracking Sevilla's Jules Kounde after he recently rejected interest from Tottenham.

- Chelsea are looking to utilise Tammy Abraham as a sweetener in any deal to land Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, reports The Mirror.

- West Bromwich have turned down West Ham's offer for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, claims The Athletic.

Real Madrid revealed they have lost "close to €300million" in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic as their financial results were announced on Wednesday.

However, Los Blancos reported a post-tax profit of €874,000 for 2020-21, up from €313,000 in the previous financial year.

"In this way, the club will be one of the few big clubs in Europe that does not incur losses in these two years, given that – according to a UEFA study – the operating losses accumulated by European clubs between 2019-20 and 2020-21 will approach €6billion," Madrid said.

A statement attributed the club's financial performance to "intense spending saving measures in all areas".

These measures, Madrid said, were the only way to compensate for a sizeable nine-figure revenue loss, "to which we would have to add the loss of new income that could have been achieved if the pandemic had not existed."

The 13-time European champions did not make a single first-team signing in the 2020-21 season while selling Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Reguilon and allowing James Rodriguez to leave.

Further big names are following this year, with Sergio Ramos departing after claiming a contract offer was withdrawn and Raphael Varane widely linked to Manchester United.

However, Madrid are not considered to be in as tricky a situation as rivals Barcelona, who are closing on a new deal for Lionel Messi but must first clear room under their salary cap.

And Los Blancos – whose Santiago Bernabeu stadium is under renovation, with the team playing elsewhere during the pandemic – continue to be linked with high-profile moves for the likes of Kylian Mbappe.

But the final line in Madrid's financial report appeared to rule out sudden significant expenditure.

"With regard to the economic situation, current forecasts indicate that the recovery from the pre-pandemic situation will not be immediate," the club said.

"In this context, the club will continue in the effort so far to contain spending."

Julian Nagelsmann is not surprised Robert Lewandowski is being linked with a move away from Bayern Munich and has revealed he has already held talks with the star striker.

Lewandowski enjoyed his most prolific campaign yet last time out with 41 Bundesliga goals for Bayern to break Gerd Muller's long-standing single-season record.

His 48 in all competitions were the most scored by any player in Europe's top five league in 2020-21, followed by Kylian Mbappe (42) and Erling Haaland (41).

Poland striker Lewandowski has netted 294 goals in 329 appearances overall for Bayern since joining from domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, including 203 in 219 league games.

Reports from Spain earlier this week suggested the 32-year-old is ready for a new challenge and Real Madrid are his preferred club should he leave the Allianz Arena.

 

Lewandowski is no stranger to transfer speculation, though, and Nagelsmann – named as Hansi Flick's successor in April – is not concerned by the gossip as the striker is under contract until 2023.

"The rumours about Robert have been around for ages, ever since he has been with FC Bayern," he told Sky Sport.

"I think it's somewhat normal when someone scores so many goals that almost every club puts out its feelers.

"On one hand Robert knows what he has in Munich, what he has in this team. Point two is his contractual situation – this is also clear.

"I've spoken to him. I'm not very fond on the first act with a player being to immediately discuss his contractual situation."

Lewandowski is currently enjoying an extended break after featuring in all three games for Poland at Euro 2020.

The former Dortmund striker scored three times as Poland suffered a disappointing group-stage exit after finishing below Sweden, Spain and Slovakia.

That return of one goal every 90 minutes was the fifth-best of any player to have scored more than once in the competition, behind Karim Benzema (87.25), Patrik Schick (81), Kasper Dolberg (75.33) and Cristiano Ronaldo (72).

Milan director Paolo Maldini has confirmed Olivier Giroud is close to joining the Serie A side from Chelsea.

The France international has spent the past three and a half years at Stamford Bridge and recently had a 12-month extension in his contract triggered by the Blues.

Giroud was restricted to just 12 starts in all competitions last season, yet he still finished as Chelsea's top scorer in their Champions League-winning campaign with six goals, and only Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham (both 12) scored more goals across all competitions.

Milan are reported to have agreed a €3million (£2.56m) fee with Chelsea, offering Giroud, who represented France at Euro 2020, a two-year deal.

"Olivier should arrive tomorrow," Maldini told DAZN on Wednesday. "Olivier is a champion. He's done great things with France and Chelsea.

"He is a very reliable player and that's what we are looking for, as we have the youngest squad in Serie A, so we need some with more experience."

Giroud will become the second player to make the switch from Milan to Chelsea this window after the Italian giants took up the option to make Fikayo Tomori's loan deal permanent.

The 34-year-old is expected to lead the line for Stefano Pioli's side in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is recovering from a knee injury which ruled him out of Euro 2020.

Goalkeeper Mike Maignan has also joined from Ligue 1 champions Lille as a replacement for Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has signed for Paris Saint-Germain.

After spending last season on loan at Milan, Sandro Tonali also arrived on a permanent deal from Brescia earlier this month.

The Rossoneri did lose playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu to rivals Inter, though they are reportedly close to striking a deal with CSKA Moscow for Croatia international Nikola Vlasic, while Everton's James Rodriguez has also been linked.

Milan finished as runners-up in Serie A and will begin the new campaign away at Sampdoria on the week ending August 22.

Gianluigi Donnarumma has joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer after Italy's Euro 2020 penalty shoot-out hero left Milan.

The Italy international has signed a five-year deal with the Ligue 1 giants after failing to agree fresh terms with the Rossoneri.

Donnarumma had spent his entire senior career to date at San Siro, making 251 appearances for his boyhood club since emerging through their youth ranks in 2015 aged just 16.

But the 22-year-old, who saved spot-kicks from England's Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the European Championship final shoot-out, will start a new chapter at the Parc des Princes this coming season.

PSG confirmed the signing on their official website, as Donnarumma said: "I am delighted to be part of this huge club.

"I feel ready to take on this new challenge and continue to grow here. With Paris, I want to win as much as possible and to bring joy to the supporters."

PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi added: "We are delighted to welcome Gianluigi Donnarumma to Paris Saint-Germain.

"We congratulate him on his UEFA Euro 2020 success and winning Player of the Tournament.

"I know Gianluigi will receive a warm Parisian welcome from everyone at the club, including his team-mates, our staff and all the supporters."

Donnarumma kept 14 clean sheets in Serie A last season – a joint-high along with Inter's Samir Handanovic – to help runners-up Milan to their best league finish since 2011-12.

However, Milan director Paolo Maldini confirmed last month that Donnarumma was seeking a fresh challenge amid links with PSG, Manchester United and Juventus.

Milan have already moved to bring in Mike Maignan from Ligue 1 winners Lille as a replacement for Donnarumma, who will rival Keylor Navas for the number one spot at PSG.

Donnarumma's 14 clean sheets in all competitions in 2020-21 were the same number managed by Navas, though the latter played in eight fewer matches.

The Costa Rica international conceded 18 goals across those games, compared to the 38 let in by new arrival Donnarumma for Milan.

Donnarumma becomes the second high-profile player to choose to leave Milan since the season's end, with Hakan Calhanoglu making a shock switch to bitter rivals Inter.

Lionel Messi has agreed a five-year contract extension with Barcelona after accepting a substantial pay cut, according to reports.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner became a free agent when his contract at Camp Nou, where he has spent his entire senior career, expired at midnight on June 30.

However, following months of speculation regarding Messi's future, Catalan dailies L'Esportiu and Sport reported on Wednesday that the 34-year-old has agreed to stay on.

An announcement could be made as early as Thursday, it is claimed, once LaLiga officials have signed off on the contract.

Barcelona are facing high-profile financial problems and need to reduce their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's financial fair play rules.

Speaking on Monday, however, Barca president Joan Laporta revealed talks between the Catalan giants and Messi were "progressing adequately".

The same reports suggest Messi has agreed to a far lower salary, potentially as much as 50 per cent on his previous deal that was signed in 2017.

The five-year contract will take the superstar forward through to the age of 39, though Barca may allow Messi to see out the final part of his career in Major League Soccer.

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City were the main frontrunners for Messi last year, though neither club made an immediate move for the free agent.

 

Messi was again hugely influential for Barcelona last season, finishing as LaLiga's top scorer and managing 38 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

Taking all competitions into account, he created 117 chances for others and netted a goal every 110.32 minutes. 

Full-back Jordi Alba was next on the list of the most chances created for Barca in 2020-21, teeing up 85 goalscoring opportunities.

Despite the speculation surrounding his club future, Messi carried his club form onto the international stage by inspiring Argentina to their first Copa America crown since 1993.

He scored four goals and chipped in with five assists to win his first piece of silverware for his country.

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