Jesus Vallejo is adamant he has a future at Real Madrid and plans to stay after overcoming injury problems.

Vallejo joined Madrid from Real Zaragoza in 2015 after emerging as one of Spain's most promising youngsters.

At hometown club Zaragoza, Vallejo was appointed captain as a teenager and impressed with his technical abilities and reading of the game from centre-back.

Madrid loaned him back to Zaragoza and then to Eintracht Frankfurt, where he caught the eye despite fitness problems, which have also interrupted his career since returning to the Santiago Bernabeu for the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

Vallejo made just five LaLiga appearances this term, but all of them were in the last three months and he is feeling optimistic about the future.

"We only talk about how the season has gone," Vallejo told Marca when asked if he had spoken to coach Zinedine Zidane about his plans next season. "But I am clear that I want to stay.

"I want to stay. I am very happy in the club and I feel very loved by the fans as well as by my team-mates.

"The coach also gave me confidence in the last matches. I'm looking forward to the new season to help the team.

"It has been a complicated season, especially at the beginning due to injuries. It's not been easy, but it made me improve myself.

"I am very happy with how I finished, for having done it playing and finding myself well. As for the team, we have to improve and learn a lot from this year."

Eibar have made Marc Cucurella's loan from Barcelona permanent after triggering their purchase option following an impressive debut season in LaLiga.

Left-back Cucurella had been an important player for Barca's second string, but they allowed him to depart on loan this season and Eibar have taken up the option to keep him, reportedly paying €2million.

The 20-year-old featured 31 times in the league, nailing down a first-team role on the left flank as his energetic style of play and penchant for darting runs saw him catch the eye.

Cucurella scored his only goal in the 2-2 draw with parent club Barca on the final day of the season.

Although Eibar have triggered their option on Cucurella, Barca are rumoured to be planning on buying the player back in order to sell him on for a bigger profit, or alternatively to compete with Jordi Alba in the first-team squad.

Barca's buy-back clause is rumoured to be €4m.

Alvaro Morata says Atletico Madrid must respect Antoine Griezmann's wishes to leave the club, adding that Diego Simeone's exit would be a greater cause for concern.

Griezmann caused a stir this month when he confirmed he wants to quit the Wanda Metropolitano, his announcement coming less than a year after signing a new long-term contract following a much-publicised decision to ignore interest from Barcelona.

The Catalans have again been linked with a move for the France international, as have Manchester United, and Morata thinks a player who has contributed to Atletico as Griezmann has deserves support.

"If you're inside the dressing room, you know it's a possibility [he will leave]," he told Marca.

"The only thing to do is to respect him. He's been one of the best in the club's history; he's given so much to Atletico. We have to support him.

"He's treated me very well. We wish him well, as long as he doesn't play against Atletico, of course."

However, Morata thinks it would be a far bigger loss if Atlet's head coach opts to leave the club.

Simeone has propelled the club into the highest bracket of European teams since taking over in 2011, winning LaLiga, the Copa del Rey, the Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Super Cups and two Europa Leagues, while also twice reaching the Champions League final.

"It would be very difficult to understand Atletico without Simeone," said Morata. "There have been a lot of players, but Atletico always fight since Cholo came.

"He'd be a great loss. Simeone is Atletico. You can't imagine them without him."

Morata is also disappointed to see defensive stalwarts Diego Godin and Juanfran leaving, saying he will not forget their support after the 3-0 loss to Juventus in Turin this season to crash out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage.

"Atletico are losing two legends on the pitch, two leaders," said the striker, who is on loan from Chelsea. "They've helped me a lot. I wish I could have played with them more.

"I've experienced difficult times, like in Turin, and that's where the character of great people, of champions comes through."

Atleti finished 11 points behind champions Barca in this season's LaLiga title race, although they were eight points clear of Real Madrid in third.

Morata admits Barca, inspired by Lionel Messi, were simply too strong this term - but he does not think Spain's top flight has become one-sided.

"We hope we'll become a competitive team," he said. "We've not had luck and we know you need that for the Champions League or to win LaLiga. It's small details. It's not like Italy or France, where it's won by a lot of points.

"It's true Barcelona have been very good, with a player who has been at a level that is not normal among humans."

Manchester United battered Barcelona for nine minutes, with Cristiano Ronaldo roving maniacally in apparent pursuit of some sort of Champions League final shots record.

It was time for Pep Guardiola to again make the switch that helped to destroy Real Madrid earlier that month: Lionel Messi inside to false nine – a long forgotten position his exquisite Barca team and mercurial forward were beginning to revive.

Samuel Eto'o shuffled from centre-forward to the right of the front three and duly opened the scoring. Messi belied his diminutive stature to net a wonderful second-half header and Barcelona unseated reigning European kings United 2-0, adding the most satisfying part of a historic 2008-09 treble.

Ten years on, the ripples from that captivating night at Rome's Stadio Olimpico can still be felt across modern football. For the outstanding coach and player of their generation, it was the night it became clear everything was possible.

Messi unleashed

The season that earned Messi the first of his five Ballons d'Or was undoubtedly a watershed moment in his career.

Prior to Guardiola's arrival the Argentinian kid with a fondness for pizza and fizzy drinks had suffered frequent injury problems. The 2008-09 campaign was the first where he appeared in more than 30 LaLiga matches.

It was also the first time he broke through 20 top-flight goals. Only twice in the intervening years has he failed to net more than 30.

Messi's game, as with all true greats, has continued to evolve. While he was the most dazzling cog in Guardiola's whirring 2008-09 machine, he now carries Barca on his slight shoulders to a greater degree than ever before.

It feels like heresy to suggest Messi might have become simply the latest "next Diego Maradona", a shimmering talent waylaid by injury and expectation. But that was a possibility 10 years ago.

The Champions League final against United coming hot on the heels of him inspiring a 6-2 routing of Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu demonstrated he was so much more. That he did it within Guardiola's intricate team structure was perhaps the most compelling element.

Messi looked like a superstar entirely at odds with the Galactico age. In that sense he was completely in tune with his coach.

Winning Romanticism

Guardiola's swift salvage job at Barcelona after success had turned to excess under Frank Rijkaard, primarily through giving a tranche of outstanding youngsters their head, is a well-worn tale.

However, the wider footballing landscape in which he prevailed was just as important in establishing the meticulous Catalan as this decade's foremost tactical influencer.

This was the age of 4-2-3-1 – power, pace, pragmatism and confirmation of an accepted basic truth. Flair and invention would always capture the imagination and maybe even win occasionally, but organisational and solidity were the foundation of major titles.

Bolt on a superstar signing or two in an era of ever-spiralling transfer fees and you satisfied both factions, or at least tried to. Real Madrid's "Zidanes y Pavones" model of combining hard-working local players with global superstar yielded mixed results.

The difference with Guardiola's La Masia graduates was his "Pavones" – the label given life by unremarkable Madrid defender Francisco Pavon, the unassuming face of the other side of the Galactico coin – included Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, players every bit as good as Zinedine Zidane.

Guardiola updated Johan Cruyff's Barcelona vision of slick passing and positional play with some of his own influences – namely tactical fundamentalists such as Marcelo Bielsa, Juan Manuel Lillo and Ricardo La Volpe, men romantically attached to their principles of how the game should be played, seemingly at the expense of major honours. Guardiola winning because of, and not despite, those virtues was revelatory.

It captured the imagination of fans everywhere, including some men with very deep pockets.

Petrol and ideas

Fast forward to Manchester City's domestic treble this season and the reaction in some quarters to Guardiola's latest masterpiece has been very different. He is the darling of the romantics no more.

Critics have expressed distaste that City's back-to-back Premier League points hauls of 100 and 98 come fuelled by an Abu Dhabi fortune, fearing their dominance to be a demonstration of a game broken beyond repair. This aspect of coverage seems to have troubled Guardiola, whose commitment to playing the "right" way – as Cruyff would see it – has always projected an element of football moralism.

Big finance and big success have long been easy bedfellows but the focus of City's spending – leaving aside its sources and any outcome of ongoing investigations – is significantly different because Guardiola was always their priority signing. His system suitably fitted out guaranteed success in a way that simply punting on the latest superstars would not.

Arsene Wenger's observation of City having "petrol and ideas" remains pertinent and the influence of the methods European football first fell for in Rome are easy to spot far beyond Manchester.

Bayern Munich, steeped in their own historically successful style, grabbed a piece of the action as Guardiola led them to three consecutive Bundesliga titles between 2013-14 and 2015-16. When he left Germany's top flight, his nearest rival was Borussia Dortmund's Thomas Tuchel. A disciple of the positional style, Tuchel is now trying to bring ideological focus to Paris Saint-Germain's own petrol.

Back at Barcelona, Gerard Pique this week dismissed suggestions that a dispiriting end to the season is in part down to a turn away from Guardiola's style.

The Champions League final will be contested by Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool and Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham – coaches who have come closer than most to finding the Guardiola antidote, but who similarly demonstrate the prime importance of a high-tempo, hard-working collective. Like Guardiola, they are the single most important people at their clubs. Real Madrid's mooted €500m spending spree on the biggest names looks a strangely dated approach by comparison.

Such cycles invariably come to an end, but for the foreseeable future football's course remains set by the magic Messi and his colleagues weaved so irresistibly 10 years ago.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak hit out at the "jealousy" of detractors and insisted "facts" will clear the club of alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches.

The UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) referred City to its adjudicatory chamber earlier this month following a formal investigation into allegations made by German publication Der Spiegel.

City branded the claims of financial irregularities as "entirely false" and welcomed UEFA's investigation but now face the potential for a season-long Champions League ban if found guilty of FFP wrongdoing.

Manager Pep Guardiola reaffirmed his "trust" in the club's hierarchy prior to a triumphant appearance in the FA Cup final and Al Mubarak is adamant no sanctions will be brought against the domestic treble winners.

"Am I uncomfortable? No," Al Mubarak said in an interview with City TV.

"I think I respect regulatory bodies doing their job, and any regulatory process that asks questions we have to professionally respond to, which I think we've done.

"We are dealing with each one of these entities as per the process. We have clear answers. I believe quite comfortably if the process is going to be judged on facts then unquestionably we will prevail.

"If it's not about facts and it's about other things then it's a different conversation, but I certainly hope these regulatory bodies will ultimately make decisions based on facts."

He added: "In sports in general, with success there is a certain level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it – that's part of the game.

"The reality is we didn't buy the most expensive player in the Premier League, we didn't buy the most expensive goalkeeper, we didn't buy the most expensive defender, we didn't buy the most expensive midfielder, we didn't buy the most expensive striker."

Al Mubarak's defence of City's spending formed part of an impassioned rebuttal to recent criticism from LaLiga president Javier Tebas, who accused City and Paris Saint-Germain of turning football into the "plaything of a state" – in reference to the funding behind both clubs – and of "ruining the entire system" in Europe.

"He talks about how we distorted the market? There is a hypocrisy in this statement that is ironic," Al Mubarak said.

"Let's go back to the world records, [Luis] Figo, [Zinedine] Zidane, these huge jumps in these transfers, where did they happen? 

"You have to look back at the history of LaLiga, a league dominated by two clubs, and Mr Tebas should look back at the history of that league and how distortion has happened throughout the ages."

Matthijs de Ligt insists his next destination remains undecided as Barcelona and Manchester United reportedly battle for the star defender's signature.

The 19-year-old Netherlands international is one of the most wanted players in Europe and his impending departure from Ajax was confirmed by Erik ten Hag in April.

Where he will end up, however, continues to be a matter for debate, with speculation in recent weeks suggesting United could trump LaLiga champions Barca with a big-money bid.

Questions have been raised over just how much both clubs are willing to pay for the centre-back's services and the player himself is keeping all options open.

"Where do I see myself? Well, obviously the Premier League is a big competition, Spain also," De Ligt told reporters from a Netherlands training camp.

"But you have other competitions, it's not just about those two.

"I still don't know anything about where my future is, so I'll see how it goes. First we have to play two games and then after that I will see what happens next."

De Ligt heads into the off-season fresh from skippering Champions League semi-finalists Ajax to the Eredivisie title.

He and Ronald Koeman's Oranje side are preparing for a Nations League date with England on June 6, the winner of which will face either Switzerland or hosts Portugal in the final.

Ernesto Valverde seemingly has no plans to quit as Barcelona coach despite growing fan unrest and Saturday's Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia.

Marcelino's side ran out 2-1 winners at the Benito Villamarin in Seville, with Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno netting in the first half to render Lionel Messi's tap-in after the break immaterial.

Defeat means Barca end the season with only the league title to their name, despite appearing to have a strong chance of winning the treble just a few weeks ago.

A shock Champions League elimination at the hands of Liverpool, a tie in which they won the first leg 3-0, saw the discontent from fans towards Valverde increase significantly and that situation is unlikely to improve after Barca failed to clinch an unprecedented fifth successive Copa del Rey crown.

Nevertheless, with president Josep Maria Bartomeu indicating Valverde is safe from the axe, the coach appears relaxed about his future.

"I feel good, but when you win, you are happier," Valverde said. "The reading of the game is different from the one we played 15 days ago, but the reality is that we have lost again.

"We have not fulfilled the expectations created. We thought about the treble and we lost ourselves on the road at the decisive moment. It is evident that we are here to win titles.

"I'm fine, what we – the coaches – want is a rematch, to fight to have a challenge ahead.

"I know that losing is hard, something has failed. This responsibility is difficult and it has to be assumed."

Barcelona's Copa del Rey final defeat to Valencia on Saturday was not the fault of under-pressure coach Ernesto Valverde, according to the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

A 2-1 defeat at Real Betis' Benito Villamarin in Seville left Barca feeling as though the 2018-19 season has been something of an underachievement despite retaining their LaLiga crown.

Just a few weeks ago, after beating Liverpool 3-0 in the Champions League semi-final first leg, Barca looked entirely capable of winning the treble.

But they were humiliatingly beaten 4-0 by Liverpool in the return leg and Saturday's loss robbed them of a domestic double, with Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno putting the game beyond Barca despite Lionel Messi pulling one back.

Valverde's suitability has been called into question by many supporters since the humbling Liverpool loss, but Bartomeu backed the head coach.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Bartomeu said: "We have always said that Ernesto has a contract for next season.

"I do not think he's the culprit. We had many opportunities, but they did not find the net. But count the goals and Valencia scored one more than us.

"It is not a season of excellence, but [nor is it one] of failure. We have reached the final of the Copa, the semi-finals of Champions League.

"In the end, we lost two games, but we are out of the Champions League and we are Copa runners-up."

Barcelona were denied an unprecedented fifth successive Copa del Rey crown as they lost 2-1 to Valencia in Saturday's final, heaping the pressure on under-fire coach Ernesto Valverde.

Having had a realistic chance at a treble just a few weeks ago, Barca finish the season with only the league title to show for their efforts, a situation likely to increase Valverde's unpopularity among supporters.

Barca were way off their best in the first half at the Benito Villamarin and deservedly found themselves trailing 2-0 at the break, as Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno clinically punished the defending champions.

Valverde's men pushed forward desperately after the break and Lionel Messi pulled one back shortly after being denied by the post, but their dominance proved futile as Valencia held on to win the Copa for the first time since 2008.

The warning signs were there for Barca after just five minutes, as Gameiro pressured Clement Lenglet into a wayward pass at the back and Rodrigo pounced, skipping past Jasper Cillessen and seeing his effort blocked on the line by Gerard Pique.

Neither Cillessen nor Pique could spare Barca 16 minutes later, however, as Jose Gaya charged forward on the break and picked out Gameiro, who shook off Jordi Alba and blasted home.

Rodrigo doubled the lead just past the half-hour mark, heading in Carlos Soler's inch-perfect cross from close range.

Malcom and Arturo Vidal were introduced for Nelson Semedo and Arthur at half-time, as Barca pushed for a comeback.

Messi remained the one to watch, though, hitting the left-hand post with a gorgeous outside-of-the-boot effort just before the hour after a one-two with Malcom.

But he was not to be denied in the 73rd minute, as Messi tapped in after Lenglet's header came back off the upright.

Valencia squandered two chances to finish Barca off on the break deep into stoppage time, as Goncalo Guedes put wide when one-on-one and also missed an open goal from distance, but they held on to consign Barca to a disappointing end of the season.


What does it mean? Valverde's future surely in doubt

If Valverde's popularity was not already a matter for debate, it certainly is now. With a LaLiga and Copa double, you could justifiably see him hanging on to the job for another season, but now things look a little cloudier, particularly given the increasing fan criticism of his leadership.

Arguably the only thing saving him at the moment is Messi's apparent backing.

Rodrigo and Gameiro lead by example

They got the goals, but Rodrigo and Gameiro did so much more as well. The pair led the line brilliantly, never giving Barca's defence a moment's rest, while their link-up play – with each other and the rest of the team – was exceptional.

Clement's long day

It started poorly for Lenglet, as the Frenchman made an awful error after just five minutes from which Valencia should have scored. He rarely looked comfortable thereafter, with Gameiro and Rodrigo giving him the runaround.

What's next?

Given they finished the season with just one trophy, a big close-season awaits Barca. There are doubts about Valverde's suitability, while their squad is short in a number of areas, such as centre-forward and full-back. As for Valencia, if they can keep hold of their star players and bolster their squad for the Champions League, they will be confident of another promising campaign next term.

Philippe Coutinho, Nelson Semedo and Arthur all start for Barcelona against Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday after recovering from injuries just in time.

Coutinho has endured a particularly difficult season for Barca, with supporters regularly getting on his back in response to underwhelming performances.

He had been considered a major doubt for the final after sustained a hamstring injury against Getafe on May 12, but Barca announced earlier on Saturday the Brazilian had been given the all-clear.

With transfer links to other clubs surfacing recently, while Antoine Griezmann has been reported as a potential replacement for him, it gives Coutinho the perfect opportunity to silence the doubters.

His international team-mate Arthur's season has been completely the opposite, with the former Gremio star seamlessly adapting to life in Camp Nou.

Arthur had been struggling with muscular problems, but he will slot into the midfield as normal.

Semedo had been a doubt after a head knock, though serious injury was soon ruled out.

Valencia have named an attack-minded XI in a 4-4-2 formation, with Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo Moreno leading the line, supported by Goncalo Guedes and Carlos Soler out wide.

Full-backs Jose Gaya and Daniel Wass – usually a midfielder – will be expected to offer support in attack as well, as Valencia go for their first Copa del Rey since 2007-08.

Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez is confident star forward Luis Suarez will be fit for the Copa America in Brazil.

Suarez, who scored 25 goals in all competitions this season, will miss Barcelona's Copa del Rey final against Valencia on Saturday after undergoing knee surgery.

The surgery put Suarez in doubt for next month's Copa America – with Uruguay set to open their campaign against Ecuador on June 16 – however Tabarez has "high hopes".

"I think yes, I hope so, he's working well," Tabarez told reporters when asked if Suarez will be fit for the tournament. "I can't give you details but he keeps us updated through videos and images.

"He's working on his recovery and I know the meaning Luis gives to these things, I know he'll give 100 per cent to be fit when the competition starts.

"I don't want to rush, injuries are always due to circumstances, not to the players' will, he's got his mind set on the recovery.

"He's very professional about it and he has a good record on it, so I have high hopes to have him ready on our team, he's very important to us."

Uruguay – who reached the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals – failed to progress beyond the group stage of the Copa America three years ago.

For the 2019 edition, Uruguay will face Ecuador, defending champions Chile and guests Japan in Group C.

Lionel Messi claimed his sixth European Golden Shoe thanks to his 36 LaLiga goals for Spanish champions Barcelona.

Messi clinched the award – handed to the player with the most league goals in any of Europe's top-flight leagues – for the third consecutive year, beating Kylian Mbappe by three following Paris Saint-Germain's defeat Friday.

Mbappe needed to score five goals in PSG's Ligue 1 finale to collect the Golden Shoe, however, the French sensation could only manage one in a 3-1 loss at Reims.

Messi now has two more Golden Shoes than Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who last won the award in 2014-15.

The 31-year-old Messi led Barca to back-to-back LaLiga titles ahead of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid this season.

Messi and Barcelona will face Spanish rivals Valencia in the Copa del Rey final Saturday.

Lionel Messi feels Barcelona are still yet to recover from their crushing Champions League loss to Liverpool.

Ernesto Valverde's side have the chance to complete back-to-back domestic doubles when they face Valencia in Saturday's Copa del Rey final.

LaLiga glory was wrapped up at a canter, meaning their remarkable collapse to a 4-0 thumping at Anfield – having won the first leg of the semi-final 3-0 – threatens to define an otherwise excellent campaign.

Messi was unable to stem the tide as Jurgen Klopp's side ran riot after half-time and, more than two weeks on, the loss still stings.

"The Liverpool game was a really, really hard blow. It was the hardest moment of the year, it was hard to get back up," Messi told a pre-match news conference, where he insisted he and his team-mates should take responsibility for what unfolded on Merseyside.

"I blame the players, not only the coach. I heard a lot of the critics of Valverde but I do not make him guilty for the loss to Liverpool. The coach has done impressive work.

"I blame the squad. We cannot afford games like that any longer."

Messi is guaranteed to collect the European Golden Shoe unless Kylian Mbappe scores four times in Paris Saint-Germain's Friday encounter against Reims on Friday.

But the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is not thinking of such individual awards and the bad taste of what happened against Liverpool still lingers.

"I'm still thinking about the Liverpool loss. I don't really have time to think about the Golden Shoe award," said Messi, who observed the parallels with last season's Champions League quarter-final defeat against Roma - when Barca won the initial game 4-1 - were particularly tough to take.

"I am focused on winning tomorrow and trying to forget the game at Anfield.

"We did a very similar game to in Rome the year before. In the second half we didn't compete and that's something we cannot afford. Liverpool were much, much better than us.

"We played a lamentable game. It can happen one year, but to happen two years in a row [when you] have the chance to be in a Champions League final… it's impermissible.

"The sensation is strange and that's why the team have to focus on trying to get a double. We were hit so hard by Anfield. We were so focused on the Champions League and trying not to repeat the performance from Rome."

Messi rejected the suggestion that such a loss could persuade him to call time on his exceptional Barcelona career – likening such a reaction to the hysteria that accompanies his every setback with Argentina at international level.

"No, no and no. It happens the same with the Argentina national team," he said. "Whichever time we lose, I am wanting to fight on and on and on to win titles. It is the same with Barca.

"I have to apologise for the second half at Liverpool, not because of the result but because of the image we gave."

Messi added: "We have to be focused on trying to win and trying to get the Copa del Rey. If we lose, it is going to be even worse than the way that we are at this moment.

"Apart from the Liverpool game, Barca have made a great year, winning LaLiga and trying to win the Copa del Rey. Apart from that game at Liverpool, we've done a really nice job. We've had a great year if you take out that game."

Former Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas thinks Gareth Bale returning to the Premier League is the most likely outcome if the forward leaves Real Madrid in this transfer window.

Bale is seemingly surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabeu having not featured in any of Madrid's last three games, with returning head coach Zinedine Zidane admitting the Wales international faced an uncertain future.

However, with Bale under contract until 2022 and reportedly on £600,000 a week, moving him on is likely to be a challenge for Los Blancos.

Villas-Boas was in charge of Spurs for Bale's final season before he left for Spain in 2013 and the Portuguese believes Premier League clubs are most likely to give the 29-year-old a way out of Madrid.

"I have no idea what he wants to do," Villas-Boas told Omnisport from the Bilbao International Football Summit.

"He was extremely successful at Real Madrid. He left Tottenham to chase trophies and achieved that immediately, scoring in Champions League finals.

"Of course, at the moment, there's a lot of bad noise surrounding him. A lot of criticism, [there is] probably not a lot of confidence from the coach right now.

"It looks more likely that he's going to leave and you would expect him to go to England now."

Despite playing a major part in Madrid's three successive Champions League triumphs, Bale has battled injuries throughout his time in Spain.

He featured in 33 league games under Villas-Boas in his final season at Spurs - more than any of his campaigns in Madrid - and his old boss admitted Bale had to be managed carefully.

"He always suffered a lot of muscular and back pain, so we gave him a lot of work with the physio to have him 100 per cent for the matches and he always performed for us," Villas-Boas added.

"So, with him, it's reaching that balance, but at a club like Real Madrid you are always under pressure and expectation.

"Real Madrid have access to the best players in the world in every single transfer window so, yes, at the moment, I think Gareth is under pressure and the most likely move for him will be the Premier League but he's a player that can play anywhere in the world."

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo said it was up to Antoine Griezmann if he wanted the chance to bid farewell to the LaLiga club.

Griezmann, 28, confirmed earlier this month he was leaving Atletico after five years with the club, with Barcelona reported to be his next destination.

In what is shaping as an exodus at Atletico, Diego Godin and Juanfran have both bid emotional farewells.

However, Cerezo said it was up to Griezmann to decide if he wanted to do likewise after announcing his intention to leave.

"Griezmann, I do not know if he wants to say goodbye or not, the truth is that I do not know," he said on Thursday.

"The farewell depends on Griezmann, who is the one who leaves. If he wants to say goodbye, he will say goodbye."

Griezmann won the Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and Supercopa de Espana during his time at Atletico.

Cerezo feels there is no chance the France international stays at the Wanda Metropolitano after his announcement earlier this month.

"It is irreversible. The only thing I tell him is that he has a lot of luck where he goes," he said.

"And, that at least they treat him as we have treated him here."

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