Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz has announced he will retire at the end of the 2019-20 season.

The 38-year-old forward has enjoyed a distinguished 20-year career, becoming a Spain international and Athletic favourite across three spells for the club.

Aduriz's star at Athletic has enjoyed a particularly impressive rise since returning to the club in 2012, but he will be 39 by the time the new season concludes and feels it will be time to focus on other facets of life.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Aduriz told reporters: "I wanted to communicate that this year is going to be my last year as a professional.

"I will leave football when I finish this season. It makes me especially excited to be able to leave it at Athletic.

"The aim of saying it now is to avoid distractions so I can focus everything on the team. Hopefully we can end the year with something very nice and we can offer all our fans something beautiful.

"I feel very happy to be able to leave football at Athletic. I will compete and enjoy every day until the end. We believe the end never comes, but choosing the end and where I will be at the end is an immense privilege.

"It is a thoughtful decision, which I could've taken last year, but circumstances have made it this year. It is a decision made with my family. I am very proud that I end at Athletic."

Although his first spell with Athletic as a youngster saw him mostly confined to the reserves and out on loan to Burgos in the third tier, Aduriz earned a move to Real Valladolid before returning to San Mames in 2006.

He featured prominently in his second stint with Athletic, but Fernando Llorente began to be preferred in the 2007-08 season, and Aduriz left for a solid two-year spell with Mallorca, scoring 23 LaLiga goals.

That form earned him a move to Valencia and, while his 17-goal haul over two seasons was good given he made only 31 starts, there was little resistance to his departure for Athletic ahead of the 2012-13 campaign.

This time Aduriz was top dog in attack, with Llorente struggling for form as he ran his contract down.

Aduriz's record of 14 strikes in 2012-13 was a personal best at the time, but there was better to come.

The burly striker followed up with 16 the following season, 18 the year after and then 20 in 2015-16, earning him a call-up to the Spain squad for Euro 2016.

Fittingly, Aduriz could feature against all three of his former employers, Valencia, Valladolid and Mallorca, in his final season, following the latter's promotion last term.

Atletico Madrid's close-season spending spree has continued with the €29million acquisition of Spain defender Mario Hermoso from Espanyol.

The 24-year-old centre-back has cost Atletico €25m upfront despite having just 12 months left on his Espanyol contract, with Hermoso signing an five-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano.

A Real Madrid academy product, Hermoso only made his top-flight debut in the 2017-18 campaign but has since enjoyed a rapid rise.

Hermoso particularly impressed last term as Espanyol - who have a 20 per cent sell-on clause - finished seventh in LaLiga, earning his first Spain cap last November.

With Atletico seeing Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis and Juanfran all depart at the end of last season, Hermoso had long been suggested as a likely arrival.

But Espanyol's apparent initial reluctance to reduce their asking price from the reported €40m release clause in his contract meant negotiations dragged on.

An agreement has been found, though, and Hermoso is the latest defender to join Atletico after Felipe, Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier, who arrived a day earlier.

Hermoso takes Atletico's reported expenditure to €248m with Marcos Llorente, Joao Felix, Hector Herrera, Nicolas Ibanez and Ivan Saponjic also new to the club, although they recouped €120m from Antoine Griezmann's controversial departure to Barcelona.

Fernando Torres believes facing former Spain colleagues David Villa and Andres Iniesta will make for "the perfect finale" when he plays his last professional match in the J.League on August 23.

Having announced his decision to retire from football and bring the curtain down on 18 trophy-laden years in the game, Torres explained his decision to make Sagan Tosu's clash with Vissel Kobe his last appearance.

The 35-year-old striker shared Spain's Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup triumphs with Villa and Iniesta, both of whom chose to move to Japan in the last 14 months.

Torres, who left Atletico Madrid for Sagan in July 2018, said the opportunity to end his career in the company of friends was too good to miss.

"When we took the decision that this was going to be the last season, we thought about doing it as best we could and there was a fixture on the calendar against Vissel Kobe, so I decided on that date," he told AS.

"Japan gives me the opportunity to retire on the football pitch with two friends who have meant a lot to me.

"I partnered up front with David when the history of the Spanish side changed, we've played so many games, we've scored so many goals.

"With Andres, our careers have been in parallel because we started together in the Spain set-up when we were 15 years old. We won everything with full Spain team, we left our clubs the same year and we came to the same league."

Torres has yet to find the net for a struggling Sagan Tosu side in 2019, making six starts and 11 appearances as the club picked up four wins from their 16 J.League matches, leaving them at the foot of the table.

Vissel Kobe are five points above them in 13th, but competitive rivalry will briefly take a backseat when the two clubs meet at Ekimae Real Estate Stadium.

"I'm going to be able to have two friends on the field, so I can give them a hug the day I hang up my boots," said Torres.

"It's the perfect finale."

Former Atletico Madrid and Spain striker Fernando Torres has announced he is to retire after 18 years in professional football.

The 35-year-old had been playing in Japan's J.League with Sagan Tosu, but will be mostly remembered for his spells with Atletico and Liverpool, plus a hugely successful international career with Spain.

Torres helped Spain to their first ever World Cup title in 2010 between back-to-back European Championship wins in a period of dominance for La Roja.

But the striker has called time on his playing career with an announcement on social media.

"I have something very important to announce," he wrote on his official Twitter account. "After 18 exciting years, the time has come to put an end to my football career.

"Next Sunday, June 23 at 10:00AM, local time in Japan, I will have a press conference in Tokyo to explain all the details. See you there."

Torres came through the ranks at Atletico having joined them as an 11-year-old in 1995, and at the age of 17 he was a fixture in the first-team squad.

Although his first full campaign in the side was by no means spectacular, scoring six times in 36 Segunda Division matches, Atletico earned promotion and Torres got his first taste of LaLiga football in 2002-03.

A haul of 13 goals in 29 games followed and Torres went on to establish himself as one of the league's most promising forwards, despite playing in a generally underwhelming Atletico side.

In 2007 he became Liverpool's record transfer in a deal reportedly worth £20million, when Luis Garcia's move the other way was taken into account, and he made a huge impact with the Reds, scoring 24 goals as he took the Premier League by storm in his debut campaign.

He remained a serious threat in the following two campaigns despite numerous injury problems, netting 32 times from 46 games, but in 2010-11 he sought a new challenge and moved to Chelsea for £50m, winning a Champions League title with the Blues.

But a lack of form and more injuries ensured Torres looked a shadow of his former self at Stamford Bridge and at AC Milan, whom he joined on loan, before returning to Atletico in 2015.

Initially an 18-month loan, Torres failed to rediscover his best form at Atletico, though he helped them to Europa League win in 2018 shortly before leaving for Japan.

Luis Enrique thanked Spain's squad, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the media after deciding to step down as La Roja coach.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that the former Barcelona boss would not be continuing with the national team, while Robert Moreno has taken over until the end of Euro 2020.

Moreno had been in charge for Spain's previous three matches, with Luis Enrique absent since March due to personal reasons.

And, in an emotional statement, the outgoing coach paid tribute to Spain's players, staff and the RFEF, as well as the Spanish press, with whom he has endured a difficult relationship in the past, for respecting his privacy and their understanding of his decision.

"Due to the motives which have prevented me from working as normal as Spain's national team coach from March until now, I've decided to step down from my role," Luis Enrique wrote.

"I can't thank the RFEF enough for their trust and the continuous understanding they've shown me.

"I'd especially like to thank everyone who forms part of my staff and the players for their professionalism.

"Not forgetting the media who have shown respect and privacy during this situation."

Luis Enrique took over as Spain coach in 2018, following a dismal showing at the World Cup under Fernando Hierro, who had been put in charge following Julen Lopetegui's dismissal.

The 49-year-old won five of his seven games in charge, losing to Croatia and England in the Nations League.

Sergio Ramos told Luis Enrique each Spain victory will still be his after the former Barcelona coach stepped down from his role as national team boss.

Having been absent from the Spain camp since March due to personal reasons, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Wednesday that Luis Enrique has called time on his spell at the helm.

Robert Moreno had overseen the three fixtures Luis Enrique missed, and the former assistant will now remain in charge until the end of Euro 2020.

Spain captain Ramos – who had previously insisted the squad were fully behind Luis Enrique's decision to remain away from the camp – offered his full backing to his former coach.

"Every victory of the national team will also be yours, coach," Ramos wrote on his official Twitter account. "All our support and our encouragement."

Barca – Luis Enrique's most recent employers at club level – also offered their encouragement on Twitter.

"Sending you all of our love and respect, Luis," they wrote.

Robert Moreno has been appointed as Spain's permanent head coach after Luis Enrique stepped down from the role.

The 41-year-old has already overseen three Euro 2020 qualifiers – all of which were wins – while Luis Enrique was absent due to a family emergency and has now been handed the reins on a full-time basis.

During Wednesday's news conference, Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales confirmed Moreno will be in charge until the end of Euro 2020.

But who is Moreno and how did someone with such little pedigree as a head coach come to arrive in Spanish football's most senior role?

 

EARLY CAREER

Rather than the traditional route of going from the pitch to the dugout, Moreno, born in Barcelona in 1977, started out as a coach at a young age.

Moreno worked his way up through the coaching ranks at a local level in Catalonia, plying his trade at several teams including Damm, a youth club famed for its development of young players.

Nurturing youth players set him up nicely for a role at Barcelona B, where he met Luis Enrique.

 

LUIS ENRIQUE LINK

Moreno soon struck up an effective working relationship with Luis Enrique, so much so he joined the head coach in moving to Roma in 2011, serving as assistant.

Things did not go to plan for the pair in Serie A, however, leaving after one season having failed to secure European qualification.

But they were back together in Spain at Celta Vigo in 2013, the same year Moreno's book 'My Recipe of 4-4-2' – including a prologue written by Luis Enrique – was published.

Luis Enrique's star as a coach rose in Vigo and he earned a return to Barcelona in 2014, again taking Moreno with him.

A stunning start to life back at Camp Nou saw Barca claim a treble in 2014-15 and, although they did not maintain those lofty standards, Luis Enrique's reputation was enhanced by the time he departed at the end of his contract in 2017.

Moreno returned to Celta Vigo to assist Juan Carlos Unzue – a former Barca colleague – as Luis Enrique sat out the 2017-18 season, yet the Spain call came after the World Cup.

 

SPAIN JOB

Moreno continued to work under Luis Enrique throughout Spain's Nations League campaign, where impressive victories over England and Croatia were followed by defeats to the same two sides.

However, when international football returned earlier this year, a family emergency meant Luis Enrique was absent following the opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Norway.

Moreno was left in charge and guided Spain to a 2-0 win over Malta on what he called the "worst day" of his career, as he got a taste of the big job because of his friend's family emergency.

He reprised the role again earlier this month with Luis Enrique still on leave. Spain defeated Faroe Islands 4-1 and Sweden 3-0.

The long-time assistant insisted he was eager to have Luis Enrique back available for the next fixtures in September, yet the latter has now called time on his career with Spain.

Moreno said on Wednesday: "It's a bittersweet day. I didn't expect to be the head coach this way. We are going to try to continue the high-level work that Luis started."

Robert Moreno has been named as the permanent Spain head coach, with Luis Enrique stepping away due to personal reasons.

Former assistant coach Moreno oversaw Spain's past three matches after Luis Enrique was granted leave following a family emergency in March and will remain in charge until the end of Euro 2020.

Moreno and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) were keen to see the former Barcelona boss return for the next international break in September.

However, it was confirmed on Wednesday that Moreno will take on the job on a full-time basis in the latest coaching change for La Roja.

"Luis Enrique has informed us that he will not continue as coach. I have to thank him, he has behaved with the RFEF in a '10' manner, we do not have the slightest rebuke. Our doors will always be open to him," said RFEF president Luis Rubiales.

"The decision of the RFEF is to trust Robert Moreno as the coach. He will continue on the same duration of the contract that was already signed. He will be in charge of taking us to Euro 2020 and of doing a good job if we qualify."

Moreno said: "I want to thank you [the RFEF] for placing your trust in us. It's a bittersweet day.

"I didn't expect to be the head coach this way. We are going to try to continue the high-level work that Luis started.

"I've been involved in football for many years, and since I was 14 years old I've thought about reaching the highest level. But I did not expect it this way, and Luis has agreed and supported us."

Spain sacked Julen Lopetegui on the eve of last year's World Cup after he agreed a deal with Real Madrid, before Luis Enrique came in for Fernando Hierro following an underwhelming tournament in Russia.

The three-time European champions finished second behind England in their Nations League group but have since won their opening four Euro 2020 qualifiers.

West Ham have announced the capture of Pablo Fornals, who becomes the second most expensive player in the club's history after Felipe Anderson.

The Spain midfielder joins the Hammers from Villarreal for a reported £24million fee, signing a five-year deal that includes the option for a further 12 months.

Fornals, who started his career at Malaga, starred in Villarreal's run to the quarter-finals of the Europa League last term, scoring three goals and creating 22 chances from open play.

The 23-year-old, set to play at this year's European Under-21 Championship, is the first player to join Manuel Pellegrini's squad after the 2018-19 Premier League season.

Pellegrini managed at both Malaga and Villarreal, with Fornals looking forward to working with the former Manchester City boss as well as reuniting with the club's director of football Mario Husillos.

"I'm very happy to be part of West Ham," Fornals told West Ham's website. "I feel very good, very happy and very grateful for the opportunity that has been provided to me.

"I want the club to continue betting on young and ambitious people, people who want to do well for the long term.

"I know about the loyal fans and the stadium, which is a beautiful stadium. The fans fill the stadium every weekend and that is something admirable, especially with the passion with which football is lived there. I think it is important to play with the support of your fans at home.

"I have worked with Mario before – I know him from when I was in Malaga. With Manuel, only when I saw him and admired him on TV.

"Of course, Manuel was a big influence because in the end he is one of the best coaches in the world and who doesn't want to work with people like that?"

In 2017, Fornals missed a LaLiga fixture against Barcelona after fainting during training, although Villarreal said he made an "immediate recovery".

He won his first cap for Spain in 2016 but has only made one further senior appearance for his country since then.

Villarreal veteran Santi Cazorla re-signed with the LaLiga club, it was confirmed on Thursday.

Spain international midfielder Cazorla, 34, renewed for the 2019-20 season after impressing last term following his return to the Yellow Submarine.

After re-joining Villarreal – where he left for Malaga in 2011 – from Arsenal, Cazorla scored seven goals and tallied 11 assists in 46 matches across all competitions.

Cazorla, whose final three years at Arsenal were wrecked by serious physical problems, was rewarded with a return to the Spain squad for the first time since 2015.

He was handed a call-up by Luis Enrique for last week's 4-1 rout of Faroe Islands in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Iker Casillas has denied fresh reports he is retiring from football after he suffered a heart attack during training with Porto last month.

The Real Madrid and Spain great had a myocardial infarction on May 1 and underwent emergency surgery before returning home five days later.

Reports in Portugal claimed Casillas will announce his retirement on Thursday, with the goalkeeper said to be taking up a role on Porto's board of directors.

But the 38-year-old indicated the media have jumped the gun, because he is yet to be told by medical experts whether he has recovered enough to play football again.

"The same as this tweet a month ago, except for the part of the medical check with the doctor," Casillas wrote on Twitter, referencing a previous retirement denial.

"More than anything because I have it tomorrow."

Casillas came through Madrid's academy and established himself in their first team as a teenager, going on to play 725 times for the club in all competitions, a total bettered only by striker Raul (741).

He won every trophy possible with Los Blancos, including three Champions League crowns and five LaLiga titles, and was also a part of the historic Spain team that won the country's first World Cup in 2010 and ended a 44-year wait for European Championship success two years earlier.

The keeper, who went on to win Euro 2012 and is regarded among the finest of his generation, remains Spain's all-time leading appearance maker with 167 caps, though Sergio Ramos will likely overtake him soon.

Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga said he understands David de Gea's sadness after the Manchester United star watched Monday's Euro 2020 qualifier from the bench.

De Gea was overlooked in favour of Kepa for a third consecutive game as Spain defeated Sweden 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

It has been a tough period for De Gea, who endured an error-riddled end to the Premier League season with United.

Speaking to reporters after Spain moved five points clear in Group F, Chelsea keeper Kepa told reporters: "I'm going to continue working as I have until now, doing my best at my club to keep the confidence of the coach.

"Whoever plays will do very well. Of course I understand that David is sad, we all train to play and then it is the decision of the coach, and it is up to you to respond well."

"I have a great relationship with David," Kepa continued. "We train a lot of the time together apart from the team, as well with Pau Lopez, because we are keepers.

"We have a relationship from many years ago and we don't need to say anything each other to help each other."

Asked if he feels like Spain's number one keeper, Kepa added: "I just felt tonight because I am not feeling the main goalkeeper now.

"I am just one more out of the three keepers Luis Enrique has been calling in and when I have the chance of playing I try to add my experience to the team."

 

Spain made it four wins from as many games in Euro 2020 qualifying despite coach Luis Enrique's continued absence as a second-half flurry saw them beat Sweden 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday.

Luis Enrique has been on leave since March due to a family emergency, but Robert Moreno continues to keep the ship on course in his stead, with Serio Ramos, Alvaro Morata and Alvaro Oyarzabal scoring in the final 26 minutes to send Spain five points clear in Group F.

Sweden could count themselves extremely fortunate to remain on level terms until the break, as Robin Olsen was forced into several fine saves and Dani Parejo had a goal controversially disallowed.

But Spain eventually found a way past Olsen via Ramos' penalty, before Morata netted the game's second spot-kick and Oyarzabal wrapped up the routine win.

Sergio Ramos said Eden Hazard's arrival at Real Madrid could herald a new era for the club, while insisting the recent speculation over his own future had not affected his morale.

Hazard completed his transfer from Chelsea on Friday in a deal that could be worth €140million and Ramos indicated he feels the Belgium international can help Madrid to challenge for LaLiga in 2019-20.

Zinedine Zidane's men lost three of their last four LaLiga games of the 2018-19 season as they finished third, 19 points behind winners Barcelona, but Madrid supporters will hope the marquee signing of Hazard finally fills the gap left by Cristiano Ronaldo when he left Santiago Bernabeu before the season commenced.

Ramos expressed his satisfaction at the 28-year-old's arrival, telling reporters: "I'm happy. I think it's a great signing. He's one of the top players in the world.

"It's good to reinforce the squad with those types of players that can define an era."

Ramos explained his decision to appear at a news conference at which he announced his desire to stay at Madrid until he retires, saying he wanted to end media reports linking him with a possible move to the Chinese Super League.

The 33-year-old is currently on international duty with Spain and scored in their 4-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over the Faroe Islands on Friday.

Ahead of Monday's clash with Sweden, Ramos quelled the idea that linking up with Spain came as a relief after a torrid season at Madrid, saying: "I had to go out and give the press conference because I thought it was the best thing for everyone, the important thing was to turn the page and end all the speculation.

"I am happy where I am. I'm very happy in Madrid and meeting up with the national team is not a relief.

"It is something you take pride in. I am very excited about both the national team and Madrid.

"I play each game like it's my last."

Ramos described assistant coach Robert Moreno as "very capable" after he took Luis Enrique's place in the dugout, the head coach still absent due to a family emergency.

Moreno was unsure whether Luis Enrique would return for the Sweden game, saying: "There is no news, and we are taking it a day at a time.

"It is likely tomorrow he will not be there. I hope I'm wrong. We hope he can be in the next one, in September [away at Romania on September 5]. But that is going to depend on his personal situation.

"We are a pretty united staff. We have Luis, even if it's by phone."

Luis Enrique's continued absence is not a problem for Spain, according to captain Sergio Ramos.

Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique was not on the sidelines for Friday's 4-1 win over Faroe Islands in Euro 2020 qualifying, and has not been a part of Spain's camp since missing the victory against Malta in March due to a family emergency.

Assistant Robert Moreno confirmed that the Spain coach had been in constant contact with his team, however, as La Roja prepare to take on Sweden in Group F on Monday.

And Ramos, who was taken off at half-time in Friday's victory after opening the scoring early on, insists that the team are fully focused despite Luis Enrique not being present.

"The subject of the coach is delicate and we have the utmost respect," said Ramos.

"His absence is important, Luis is the skipper of the ship, he has a lot of personality, he guides us very well.

"But we also have to reward his staff, they are very good professionals. We try not to notice his absence, we are going to try to let it not affect the group. He wants the team to win and not to talk about his absence.

"[Moreno] leads the way while Luis Enrique returns and he does it very well, he is very capable, he is assuming the role in a humble way."

Ramos broke the record for featuring in the most international victories for Spain with his appearance on Friday, overtaking former team-mate Iker Casillas.

"To beat a record is a huge joy, football is a collective sport but at the individual level you are happy," added Ramos.

"It is always a nice reward for work, perseverance. After beating a great friend like Iker, it was a tremendous joy, I still feel very excited and eager to keep going."

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