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."

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Leroy Sane would be Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery's successor if he decided to leave Manchester City for the Bundesliga champions.

Sane – who is contracted to City until 2021 – has been linked with a move to Bayern following back-to-back Premier League titles in Manchester.

With Bayern greats Robben and Ribery leaving Allianz Arena, Germany international forward Sane has emerged as a target for the Bavarian giants.

And Rummenigge talked up a move for Sane, who left boyhood club and Bundesliga side Schalke for City in 2016.

"You shouldn't forget that he still has two years contract and that Manchester City don't just sells their players because they need to," Rummenigge said.

"This will be difficult. But I think that the player has to be convinced to have the joy for playing here at Bayern.

"He would be the successor of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery which is very interesting. As a player, this would be a good incentive I think."

France internationals and World Cup winners Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard have already agreed to join Bayern in the off-season, however, James Rodriguez could be set to leave Munich.

Colombia international James swapped Real Madrid for Bayern on a two-year loan deal in 2017, with a €42million option to buy.

But James struggled with injuries and game time under head coach Niko Kovac in 2018-19 – the 27-year-old starting just 13 of his 20 Bundesliga appearances.

Asked about James, Rummenigge said: "We'll definitely meet next week and decide how to proceed. We have to put all the options on the table. And then decide together how to deal with these things, which now still have a question mark, so that they become exclamation marks.

"You can imagine if James does not play continuously from the beginning, that is not his claim, he is a superstar and of course he always wants to play. Now he has been injured in the last few weeks and we must not forget that. We will find a solution in line with him, I can promise you that."

When pressed on whether Bayern could buy James permanently before reselling him, Rummenigge replied: "No, that's not the style of Bayern. We don't want to do any human trafficking to earn anything from this story. Bayern has never done this before."

Real Madrid have responded strongly to Mauricio Pochettino's "demonstrations" after the Tottenham manager joked his team had not been allowed to stay at the LaLiga giants' training base ahead of the Champions League final.

Spurs face Liverpool at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano a week on Saturday and will train at Madrid's Valdebebas training base in preparation for the showpiece.

Pochettino has previously been touted as a future Los Blancos boss, most recently when the reigns of Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari were swiftly curtailed this season.

Apparently making light of these links in an interview with El Partidazo de COPE, Pochettino said: "Ahead of the final, we will train at Valdebebas and sleep in a nearby hotel.

"I asked Florentino [Perez, Madrid president] to let us sleep in the sports centre, but he told me that I can only sleep there when I become the coach of Real Madrid."

Madrid responded with a statement, in which it was deemed necessary to clarify Tottenham had never requested to stay at their club residence and that UEFA is solely responsible for such arrangements.

"Real Madrid CF is surprised by the demonstrations made by the coach of Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino, about a supposed request made to our club so that his team could stay in the residence of the Real Madrid City on the occasion of the final of the Champions League," the statement read. 

"Real Madrid CF wants to make it clear that it is outright false that this request was produced. Our club has always shown its absolute availability to meet all the requests made by UEFA, the Royal Spanish Football Federation, Club Atletico de Madrid, Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur.

"All requests submitted to Real Madrid have referred only and exclusively to the use of the training camps of the Ciudad Real Madrid and its changing rooms. And all of them have been granted by our club. 

"Thus, Liverpool plans to train in our facilities on Saturday, June 1 in the morning. Tottenham, for its part, will do so on Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31."

The statement added: "Real Madrid CF also wants to emphasise that the accommodation of the finalist teams of the Champions League are assigned by UEFA following criteria of organisation and security. And that at no time has our club been requested that these teams could be accommodated in the facilities of Ciudad Real Madrid."

Dani Alves said he would be willing to bet the Eiffel Tower that Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is still in the French capital next season.

Neymar criticised PSG's younger players following a Coupe de France final loss to Rennes last month and the world's most expensive player continues to be linked with a move back to Spain.

While a return to Barcelona has been suggested, Real Madrid are also considered possible suitors as they look to rebuild after a disappointing campaign.

Kylian Mbappe's comments about wanting "more responsibilities" also cast doubt over Neymar's long-term future in Paris, yet Alves is ready to wager the city's most recognisable landmark that his fellow Brazilian will be staying put.

Asked whether he would be willing to bet a dinner that Neymar would stay, Alves told ESPN: "A dinner is not enough. Should I bet the Eiffel Tower?

"I believe that he will stay with PSG.

"If Madrid calls me, I'd say no. And if it calls me to ask about Neymar, I'd say no as well."

Alves, himself a former Barcelona star, thinks a return to Camp Nou is also unlikely for Neymar.

"I think it's very difficult," he added. "People inside Barca, I think, won't be willing to acknowledge that they need him.

"And that's a problem, you can't go anywhere guided by your ego. You can't let your ego dictate your life.

"Barca has that problem and they won't recognise that they need him and that already drives him away from Barca.

"Which side doesn't need Ney? Everyone needs Ney."

PSG retained the Ligue 1 title this season but failed to win either the Coupe de France or Coupe de la Ligue, while they exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage.

Alves believes it is only natural that such disappointment has left Neymar displeased.

"He is not happy since he didn't get the results he wanted and that brings him unhappiness," he added.

"I would beat the c**p out of him if he feels happy without winning."

Barcelona are aiming for a record fifth successive Copa del Rey triumph on Saturday when they face Valencia, with the Catalans' recent dominance in the competition seeing them reach the final sixth times in a row.

If Ernesto Valverde's men complete the feat, they will certainly have done it the hard way, as they have had to get past Real Madrid and Sevilla en route to the final and will now face a Valencia side who finished fourth in LaLiga.

The pressure is on, however. Barca disappointed supporters by failing to reach the Champions League final, despite beating Liverpool 3-0 in the semi-final first leg, and some are calling for Valverde to lose his job.

Winning only LaLiga when a treble looked extremely likely just a few weeks ago could potentially spell doom for the head coach, but the omens are good for Barca, as their previous five finals have shown…

2013-14: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona

Having seen LaLiga and the Champions League move out of reach in the build-up, Barca – and specifically coach Gerardo Martino – needed a victory in the 2013-14 final. Things got off to a bad start when Angel Di Maria opened the scoring after a good move in the 11th minute. Marc Bartra levelled with a powerful second-half header, but Gareth Bale clinched the first piece of silverware of his career with a spectacular late solo winner, consigning Barca to their first trophyless season since 2008, which cost Martino his job.

2014-15: Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Barcelona

If 2013-14 was a failure, the following season was the complete opposite. Having already wrapped up the league title, Barca cruised to victory in the Copa, giving club great Xavi the ideal final Camp Nou outing. The magnificent Lionel Messi starred, opening the scoring with a marvellous solo effort, before Neymar rounded off a flowing move for 2-0. Their Argentinian talisman ended Athletic's chances towards the end, with Inaki Williams' goal a mere consolation. Barca then went on to complete a treble with a 3-1 win over Juventus in the Champions League final.

2015-16: Barcelona 2-0 Sevilla (AET)

Fresh from beating Liverpool in the Europa League final, Sevilla were eager to upset another European giant. Barca were not helped by Javier Mascherano's dismissal for hauling down Kevin Gameiro in the first half, but they ended up managing the rest of the regulation 90 minutes fairly well and the numbers were evened up late on when Ever Banega was sent off. Barca simply had too much for Sevilla in extra time, as Jordi Alba and then Neymar got the goals, while Daniel Carrico was shown the game's third red card.

2016-17: Barcelona 3-1 Deportivo Alaves

A first ever Copa final for Alaves promised little given who they were up against. A Theo Hernandez free-kick offered them a measure of hope just after Messi's 30th-minute opener, but Barca ultimately had things wrapped by half-time, with Neymar and Paco Alcacer putting the game beyond Mauricio Pellegrino's men. Having missed out on the league title, Copa success at least meant Barca did not end the campaign empty-handed, with Luis Enrique leaving his post shortly after.

2017-18: Sevilla 0-5 Barcelona

While Barca's Copa tussle with Sevilla in 2016 was a gripping encounter, last season's meeting showed an alarming gulf. Andres Iniesta starred in what proved to be his last final for the club, scoring the fourth goal, but victory was effectively secured by half-time given a Luis Suarez double and a solitary Messi effort had them 3-0 up at the interval. Philippe Coutinho's penalty finished things off, as Barca went on to seal a domestic double, while Sevilla sacked Montella a week later.

Jose Mourinho believes Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech would have chosen to bow out in a game against Chelsea and will be determined to beat his old club in the Europa League final, despite being linked with a return to Stamford Bridge.

Cech, 37, has already confirmed he will retire after next week's final against the Blues, when the Czech will hope to feature having played the majority of the Gunners' Europa League matches this term.

Reports have suggested Cech has already agreed to become Chelsea's sporting director for next season, though the player himself denied that is the case on social media.

Yet even if a return to west London is on the cards after the final, his former Chelsea boss Mourinho is confident there will be no split loyalties in Baku.

"It is Petr Cech's last football match - I think it's the match that he would choose," Mourinho told Sky Sports News.

"If he could choose a match to retire, I think this would be the match.

"It looks like he goes home next season - home [is] Chelsea.

"I think of course he would love to do it in a winning way because he's a winner, he won so many things."

Another player who could make his final appearance for his current club is Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard.

The Belgian, who won a Premier League title under Mourinho in 2014-15, has long been linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

And although it may be his Chelsea farewell, Mourinho does not believe it will impact Hazard's performance.

"It looks like it's the last match in blue for Eden Hazard, a player that was crucial for Chelsea's success in this last generation," the Portuguese added.

"I think Eden will try to be what he is the majority of the time, a fantastic player on the pitch, and win and go possibly - I don't want to say more than possibly - to Real Madrid with a last trophy for Chelsea."

Julio Baptista has announced his retirement at the age of 37, declaring his intention to "begin a new life" after his playing career.

The former Brazil international started out at Sao Paulo before heading to Spain, where he played for Sevilla – scoring 20 goals in the 2003-04 LaLiga season – and Real Madrid.

Baptista helped Arsenal win the League Cup during a loan stint in 2006-07, including an astonishing four-goal haul against Liverpool in a 6-3 quarter-final win at Anfield.

There were also spells with Roma and Malaga, as well as a return to his homeland with Cruzeiro in 2013, prior to joining Orlando City in MLS.

Last at CFR Cluj, Baptista made just two appearances for the Romanian club in 2018 and, via Twitter, confirmed on Thursday he is hanging up his boots.

"After more than 20 years in the football elite, it is time to step aside and announce that I have decided to end my career as a player," he wrote.

"I begin a new life, and I want to show my gratitude to all those who have made it possible for me to fulfill my dream. Thank you all."

Gareth Bale's future at Real Madrid has been the subject of constant speculation – and it appears the majority of the Santiago Bernabeu faithful would be glad to see the Welshman move on.

There is expected to be plenty of transfer activity at Madrid in the coming months after a disappointing season which saw Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari both fired, before the club finished some 19 points off the pace in LaLiga under the guidance of the returning Zinedine Zidane. 

Bale found himself frozen out of the Frenchman's plans towards the end of the season, failing to play a minute of the final three games of the season.

And when AS polled over five million fans to gauge the popularity of each member of Zidane's squad, Bale received just nine per cent approval.

Other standout members of the team to have lost the backing of those in the stands were Isco on 31 per cent, Marcelo on 33 and Toni Kroos on 36.

During the Clasico defeat to Barcelona in March, Bale was jeered by fans when he was replaced by Marco Asensio.

Dani Carvajal proved to be the most popular member of the Madrid squad with 92 per cent approval, with Vinicius Jr second on 89 and club captain Sergio Ramos third on 84.

Another player linked heavily with a Bernabeu exit is goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but he got 76 per cent of fans' backing, ahead of Thibaut Courtois, his principle rival for the number one shirt, on 65.

Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric only got a middling score, with 63 per cent backing the Croatia star.

Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastien Haller could all leave Eintracht Frankfurt in the close season, admits sporting director Fredi Bobic.

Jovic, who only moved to the Commerzbank-Arena on a permanent basis in April having proved a success since arriving on loan from Benfica in 2017, has been heavily linked with a switch to Real Madrid after scoring 27 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions this season.

Croatia international Rebic has been touted as a potential target for Arsenal and Tottenham, while Haller is also reportedly being chased by a host of Premier League teams.

"Anything could happen, and, of course, it could be that we lose all three," Bobic told Bild.

"I can guarantee that all three are happy here. The love of the fans is an important factor.

"But at some point other forces will come into play."

The trio helped Frankfurt reach the Europa League semi-finals, but a late dip in form saw them slip to seventh in the Bundesliga and miss out on Champions League qualification.

Vinicius Junior had "a great season" despite Real Madrid falling short in domestic competitions and the Champions League.

Madrid splashed out a reported €45million to sign Vinicius in May 2017 - when the winger was just 16 years old - but let him stay on loan at Flamengo for another year.

The Brazilian teenager made the move to Europe ahead of the 2018-19 season, which he started by playing for Castilla before becoming a regular part of the first team under Santiago Solari.

Vinicius developed rapidly and was keeping Gareth Bale out of the side after the turn of the year, but an ankle injury sustained against Ajax on March 5 ruled him out for two months and cost him a place in Brazil's Copa America squad.

And although Los Blancos were eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage by Ajax and lost to Barcelona, who they finished 19 points adrift of in LaLiga, in the Copa del Rey semi-final, Vinicius was proud of his first campaign in the Spanish capital.

"It was a great season for me. I started at Castilla, but I knew that could happen and that's how it was. Then I went to the first team, I started playing and I learned a lot," he said.

"It was a shame that we did not do well in any of the three competitions, but the team had won three Champions Leagues in a row. Unfortunately, it can happen.

"We all hope things will go better next season. I'm sure we will win again.

"We have to rest, but I'm ready to start all over again."

Zinedine Zidane's return as Real Madrid coach less than a year after quitting was nothing short of "heroic", according to club great Jorge Valdano.

The former France international left the club shortly after guiding them to a third successive Champions League title last May, with Cristiano Ronaldo subsequently following him out of the door at the end of an era.

Things did not go to plan under Zidane's successor Julen Lopetegui, who lasted until October, and his replacement Santiago Solari was dismissed in March following Champions League elimination to Ajax.

Zidane's return did not produce a huge improvement, as Madrid still only finished third in LaLiga and 19 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

But coming back in president Florentino Perez's hour of need should – Valdano believes – earn him two statues and the right to build the squad he wants for next season.

"Zidane's return was, for me, almost an heroic act," Valdano told ESPN. "He knew it was risky, but he did it.

"The president, and the club, must be very grateful. He should have a statue here at the Santiago Bernabeu, and another in Florentino's garden.

"Just from his presence, the season ended much more peacefully than it could have. When there is no sporting director, it is the coach who must make the decisions.

"The risk he took would be in exchange for having the power to design the squad for next season.

"Things are different now from his first spell in charge, when he had clear leaders – Sergio Ramos for spirit, Luka Modric for football, Cristiano Ronaldo being decisive, and all at the height of their careers.

"Now Zidane must put together something new, with new players coming in. We don't know how they will adapt to a new city and the unique nature of this club.

"That will test him, but if anyone has won the confidence of the club, it is Zidane."

Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe and Luka Jovic are just some of the stars linked with moves to Madrid over the coming months, with many fans and commentators of the belief the squad needs serious refreshment.

Valdano is convinced Pogba would play a more central and constructive role at Madrid than at Manchester United, but the Argentine also feels the midfielder would need to be just one of five or six signings.

He added: "Pogba scores goals. He does not have so much influence in the construction of the play at Manchester United.

"But if Zidane is thinking of him for Real Madrid, for sure he would have a conducting role in the team.

"I have no idea what Zidane is thinking, but it is true that the team needs a big shake-up, they must move in the market in a much more decisive way than in recent seasons.

"There is a need for five or six really well-chosen players. You must choose very well, both the players to come in, and those who will leave."

Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard joining Real Madrid is possible because great players are always welcome at the club, says Raphael Varane.

Madrid have been linked with big-money moves for the Manchester United midfielder and Chelsea winger as Zinedine Zidane looks to rebuild the squad following a disappointing 2018-19 season.

Pogba has struggled to stamp his mark on United since returning in 2016 for a then world-record £89million, while Hazard appears set to leave Stamford Bridge with just one year remaining on his contract.

Varane, who has vowed to remain with the club next term despite links to the likes of United and Juventus, believes players of such calibre will always have a place at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I can't say what I talk to [Pogba] about, but any great player has a place at Madrid and he is one," Varane told Marca.

"In Madrid there is a lot of competition. It is a possibility, there is a lot of noise around and we will see in August where he is."

On Hazard, he added: "I've known him since I started at Lens. He is a top player and it's like I said to explain the case with Pogba, he could also play at Madrid.

"He is in the best moment of his career with the age and quality he has. When we [France] faced [Belgium] in the World Cup semi-finals we knew we had to have a special plan to stop him."

Madrid have long been expected to sign a new striker to replace Karim Benzema, but the former Lyon man hit 30 goals in all competitions this season – his best since the 2011-12 campaign.

"To play for Madrid for 10 years and also being the number nine you have to be very good and have a huge mental strength. He is very talented and has reached a moment of fulfilment," said Varane.

"He knows himself very well, he knows what he has to do to be at his best level and he has had a very good season.

"It may be the best of his career, and it is true that I have seen him very comfortable in his role as leader of the attack. I am very happy for him."

Vicente del Bosque defended the standard of Spanish football after LaLiga clubs missed out on European success.

Both European finals will be played between English clubs, with Liverpool and Tottenham meeting in the Champions League and Chelsea facing Arsenal in the Europa League decider.

But former Spain and Real Madrid coach Del Bosque defended Spanish clubs, pointing to their recent record in Europe.

Madrid or Barcelona have won the past five Champions League titles, while Atletico Madrid or Sevilla have claimed four of the previous five Europa Leagues.

"Well, if you saw the last 20 years, the Spanish clubs have won 50 per cent of the Champions League titles," Del Bosque said on Tuesday.

"Also, we've had very good performances of Sevilla and Atletico, who win the Europa League.

"Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna and others contributed to a great hegemony of Spanish football during the past two decades."

Raphael Varane has ended speculation over his future after insisting he will still be at Real Madrid next season.

Varane, 26, had been linked to the likes of Manchester United and Juventus after eight seasons with the LaLiga giants.

Like many of his team-mates, the France international has endured a difficult 2018-19, which resulted in Los Blancos finishing third in the table – a whopping 19 points behind champions Barcelona.

Varane, though, is adamant that he will remain at the Santiago Bernabeu as Zinedine Zidane looks to reverse the club's faltering fortunes.

"I'm going to stay here next year; I'm sure we're going to relive strong emotions,” Varane told Marca.

"We have fought, we have tried hard and we cannot blame anything in particular but it is true that we missed that spark in the difficult moments.

"In football you have cycles and last season I was not at my best level, but we will see the best Varane again.

"We have to evolve and Zinedine Zidane is clear about it: we have to rebuild, and we have to change things."

France head coach Didier Deschamps is happy to give Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba his opinion on their futures but has warned them to be sure they make the right choice for their careers.

Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann confirmed last week that he intends to leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season, despite only agreeing a new five-year contract last year.

Pogba, meanwhile, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid after a largely difficult season with Manchester United.

Deschamps – who has named both players in his squad for a friendly against Bolivia and subsequent Euro 2020 qualifiers against Turkey and Andorra next month – will give them his view but is keen for them not to come to regret their decisions.

"Players are making choices, I'm not there to advise them," he told a media conference.

"I'm here to give them my opinion, but it's about them. It depends on their career, people and family.

"Most of them ask for my opinion. They can use it or not; it's not my choice.

"What matters is that when they decide something important, they think it is the correct choice. But sometimes you think, 'yes it's a good choice to join that club' and then it's not. It's easy to say after the fact. It goes well or badly."

Despite criticism of Pogba's form towards the end of the campaign, he ended 2018-19 with 13 Premier League goals and a further nine assists – more than any of his United team-mates managed – and earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year.

Deschamps believes people are too quick to find faults in the 26-year-old's game and says he brings a lot more than just goals.

"I hope you're watching all his games in the Premier League," he added. "We see Paul when he scores and gives assists, but Paul is not just about that. With us, he scores fewer goals, but he was and still is very important.

"A season lasts 10 months and players can't be at their peak all the time. With France, he knows I'm asking him different things because we have a team, and he's doing it very well."

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