Arsenal opted against offering Aaron Ramsey a new contract because matching his wage demands would have been "very harmful" to the squad's dynamic, head of football Raul Sanllehi says.

Ramsey will join Juventus on a free transfer on July 1 after accepting a deal in February that, according to some reports in the UK, will see him earn as much as £400,000 per week.

Sanllehi says it would have been irresponsible for Arsenal to match the "incredible" offers Ramsey received from other clubs when he entered the final year of his contract, even though the player himself was keen to stay at Emirates Stadium.

Gunners director Sanllehi pointed to unnamed rivals where salary discrepancies have proved a disruption within the team and threatened to damage the interests of the club as a whole.

"One of the key things for me - and I've seen that happening in other clubs - one of the key things is to keep the rationality in the salary balance of the team," he told Arsenal's website. 

"Because of our circumstances, because of not renewing Aaron on time, we were in a situation in which Aaron had incredible offers building up on the salary.

"He was really keen on staying with us, he was ready to make the effort but at the end of the whole process we had to be responsible for ourselves and protect the interests of Arsenal. We realised we were going to cause an imbalance that would have been very harmful for the team's sake in the medium and longer term."

Sanllehi says plans are firmly in place for the transfer window, however, as Arsenal look to replace Ramsey and strengthen their squad.

Only a victory in next week's Europa League final will see them return to the Champions League next season, but Sanllehi thinks the lure of the Gunners will be enough to convince top targets to join regardless.

"What I can tell you is that we have identified very clearly and unanimously with our head coach and technical people, we know what we want to prioritise and we're very clear on what our priorities are," he said. 

"We're already in the market and we're already talking with the people that can help us to cover those positions and I feel quite strong.

"It's going well and the image that Arsenal has in the football world is very strong. I do believe that we have a very good plan to cover those positions to be much stronger next year to deliver the success that we're all hoping for.

"We are a reference in the football world, so when Arsenal knocks on the door of players it's a different knock than other clubs. Of course, the fact that we have not been in the Champions League for two years and we are in question marks now for the next year, that's not helpful. But again, the image of Arsenal is strong enough to help us build a case about all the model we are bringing up, the new era that we are bringing up. It's very exciting."

Sanllehi also expects the club to appoint a new technical director soon, with former midfielder Edu said to be among the candidates.

"That role is really crucial in the whole model," he added. "We are hoping to be able to get that covered very soon… we are only missing that piece. Surely we are going to be able to cover for him in the short term but when we are talking mid-term and long term we really need that position."

Willy Caballero has signed a new one-year contract with Chelsea.

The 37-year-old, who joined after leaving Manchester City in 2017, is now committed to Stamford Bridge until the end of the 2019-20 season.

"I am very happy to renew my contract with Chelsea and hopefully we can enjoy the next season and achieve a lot of targets," he said via the club's official website after his new deal was announced on Wednesday. 

"For me to stay at a big club like Chelsea was a really easy decision."

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: "Willy is an excellent professional who has served us extremely well over the past two years. 

"He has provided reliable back-up in that time and enjoyed some memorable performances, as well as helping us secure the FA Cup last season and reach the Europa League final later this month.

"He has also been a positive presence at the training ground, demonstrating dedication and professionalism every day and helping bring out the best in our first-choice goalkeepers. We are pleased to retain his services for the 2019-20 season."

Caballero has played 22 times for Chelsea, having operated mostly as a back-up to Thibaut Courtois and then Kepa Arrizabalaga this season.

Borussia Dortmund have signed Julian Brandt from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported fee of €25million.

The Germany international midfielder has agreed a five-year contract with Lucien Favre's side and will complete his move once the two clubs finalise the details of the transfer.

"Although Julian Brandt has played in the Bundesliga for a long time and has a lot of experience both nationally and internationally, he is still a very young professional with potential for development at the age of 23," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said via the club's official website.

"He can be used in several attacking positions and will enrich our play with his creativity."

Brandt had been linked with a number of European clubs after a standout season for Leverkusen under former Dortmund head coach Peter Bosz.

Explaining his decision to join BVB, he said: "I am a person who sometimes decides things from the gut, and for whom a good feeling is important.

"In the case of Borussia Dortmund, I have a very good feeling.

"One of the main reasons for my change is that BVB narrowly missed out on the title last season, so there is room for improvement.

"I am very motivated and optimistic about my personal development, but especially that of the whole team."

Brandt has been a key figure for Leverkusen since 2014, having made his senior debut in the Bundesliga in February that year.

Initially a winger, he thrived in the latter part of the past season after being moved into a more central midfield role by Bosz, his seven goals and 11 assists helping Leverkusen clinch a Champions League spot.

Maurizio Sarri hopes Eden Hazard will stay at Chelsea but will respect whatever decision the forward reaches on his future.

Hazard's contract at Stamford Bridge is due to expire at the end of next season and he has been linked with a big-money move to Real Madrid.

The Belgium international said after Chelsea's final Premier League game of 2018-19 that he had made a decision and informed the club.

However, Chelsea head into next Wednesday's Europa League final against Arsenal with the future of star player Hazard still up in the air.

Asked if the match in Baku could be Hazard's last for the club, Sarri said: "I don't know. As I said in every press conference, I want to respect his decision.

"I hope that he will stay with us, but we need to be ready if he will decide something different. Also if I have spoken with him, I don't want to say anything."

On whether Hazard could make the grade at Madrid, Sarri added: "Hazard is good for every team, of course, but he's really very good for us."

Chelsea in January agreed a £58million move for winger Christian Pulisic, who they loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season, and Sarri is looking forward to coaching the United States international.

"I spoke with him two or three months ago. Pulisic knows very well our team, our way of playing, his team-mates. So he's ready to join the group," said the Italian.

"As I said, I didn't know that the deal was done when he signed for the club, but of course I'd told my opinion to the club before. My opinion was really very positive about Christian.

"Christian is a very young player, of course, but he is really very strong. So I'm really very happy. He has the possibility to improve more, so he could become a very important player for us."

Aritz Aduriz has signed a contract extension at Athletic Bilbao that will see him play beyond his 39th birthday.

Veteran striker Aduriz on Wednesday agreed a one-year deal to take part in a 12th season for Athletic, which have been split between three separate spells.

The former Valencia player has made 390 appearances and scored 171 goals for the club, four of which came over two legs in the 2015 Supercopa de Espana victory over Barcelona - the only trophy he has won at San Mames.

Aduriz, who turns 39 in February, has twice been the highest-scoring Spanish player in LaLiga but only notched two in 2018-19 as he transitioned to being more of a squad player.

Athletic also announced on Wednesday that goalkeeper Alex Remiro will not return next season and midfielder Benat requires a finger operation.

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."

Thorgan Hazard has joined Borussia Dortmund on a five-year contract, the club have announced.

The Belgium international has been signed from Borussia Monchengladbach, where he spent five years – the first of which was on loan from Chelsea – and scored 46 goals in 182 appearances in all competitions.

Dortmund lost out to Bayern Munich by two points in the race to win the Bundesliga and Hazard's arrival follows that of Germany midfielder Nico Schulz, whose move from Hoffenheim was confirmed on Tuesday.

Hazard had been linked with a return to Chelsea and Premier League runners-up Liverpool, but he has signed a deal with BVB until 2024 for an initial fee reported to be €25.5million.

"I am grateful for five great years and Borussia Monchengladbach and the very nice memories," said Hazard in a statement.

"This was the perfect time to take the next step in my career. I am proud to play for Borussia Dortmund, a top club with incredible fans."

Sporting director Michael Zorc added: "We are delighted that Thorgan has decided to join Borussia Dortmund.

"He is a seasoned Bundesliga professional and Belgium international who will help us with his pace and finishing. He has proven his class in recent years."

Dortmund are also said to be close to signing Bayer Leverkusen attacking midfielder Julian Brandt, who is reportedly set to turn down interest from Liverpool and Tottenham to head to Signal Iduna Park.

Ilkay Gundogan has no doubt Manchester City will do their best to fight off reported interest from Bayern Munich and keep Leroy Sane.

Germany international Sane is said to be a target for the Bundesliga champions, who are expected to be busy in the transfer market during the close season.

Bayern will be looking to strengthen on the wings due to the departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben and the 23-year-old is thought to be a primary target after seeing his number of Premier League starts drop from 27 to 21 this season.

But Pep Guardiola last week said City are keen to extend Sane's contract beyond 2021 and Gundogan is unconcerned by the speculation about his team-mate's future.

"If players of his quality do not play at one time or another, it has become normal that there are automatic rumours," Gundogan told Sport Bild.

"As our manager has already said, the club wants to keep Leroy.

"I know Leroy very well and know that he can and will prevail anywhere."

Gundogan, whose own future had been shrouded in doubt, told Bild after City completed a domestic treble by adding the FA Cup to their Premier League and EFL Cup triumphs on Saturday he intended to re-open contract talks with the club.

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."

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."

Didier Deschamps says his future remains with France amid speculation he is wanted as the next Juventus head coach.

The Serie A champions have begun searching for a replacement for Massimiliano Allegri, after it was announced he will leave at the end of the season.

Deschamps, who led France to World Cup glory in Russia last year, is reportedly among the contenders for the role.

But at a news conference on Tuesday, the 50-year-old dismissed speculation he could return to Juve, where he was in charge for the 2006-07 season.

"It's a kind question... What am I going to say?" Deschamps told reporters.

"The situation is clear today: my mind, my energy is focused on qualifying for the Euros, and I hope France will play in that Euros.

"It's very clear, even if it's always nice to hear that big clubs are talking about me, and Juventus are among them.

"But my near future is the French team. There are no doors to open - it's crystal clear."

Kylian Mbappe's future has also been making headlines after the France striker hinted he was considering leaving Paris-Saint Germain.

Mbappe was reportedly a target for Real Madrid a year ago and the 20-year-old is again being linked with the LaLiga giants after suggesting he was keen on a "new project".

"Surprised… In today's world, nothing surprises me," Deschamps said when asked about Mbappe's comments. "Information is leaking all the time.

"I'm not used to commenting on what players are saying, whether they are in my team or not. I'll have a chance to talk to Kylian, as happened during our previous gatherings and like I do with other players.

"It is what it is: one day it's him, one day it's someone else. Of course, when it's Kylian, it becomes bigger and more important."

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt has suggested he could join team-mate Frenkie de Jong in signing for Barcelona.

De Jong's €75million switch to Barca for 2019-20 was confirmed earlier in the year, with De Ligt reportedly close to following his fellow Netherlands international to the Catalan club.

Both players thrived as Ajax thrilled the football world in their run to the Champions League semi-finals, where Erik ten Hag's side were denied a place in the final in by Tottenham despite having led 3-0 on aggregate with 45 minutes to play.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool are also reportedly interested in the 19-year-old defender, but De Ligt has suggested his future could be at Camp Nou with De Jong.

"I think he had a great season. He deserves to sign for Barcelona," De Ligt said of De Jong.

"Play with him there? It would be good to play with Frenkie at a club, but in these moments I don't know what will happen."

Ajax have completed the signing of defender Lisandro Martinez from Defensa y Justicia, which could pave the way for De Ligt's sale.

The Argentina international signed a four-year deal on Monday, with sporting director Marc Overmars hailing the 21-year-old's potential.

"Martinez is a left-footed player who can handle multiple positions at the back. He is a defender who wants to play football," Overmars told Ajax's website.

"He brings a certain mentality that we can use well here, comparable to what his countryman Nico Tagliafico shows here.

"And Lisandro is still young, so we expect him to continue in the coming years to be an even better player."

Antoine Griezmann's decision to turn down a move to Barcelona last year "hurt" the club, according to Xavi.

Griezmann was strongly linked with signing for Barca after the 2017-18 season but he eventually announced in a televised documentary he would stay at Atletico Madrid.

However, after Barca held off Atleti to defend their LaLiga crown, France forward Griezmann confirmed his intention to leave the Madrid club after five years.

Barca are reportedly again front-runners for his signature, though head coach Ernesto Valverde has refused to discuss how Griezmann could fit into a forward line with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

And Xavi, who won eight LaLiga titles at Barca and made his last professional appearance for Al-Sadd before hanging up his boots this week, hinted there may be leftover bad feeling at Camp Nou over Griezmann's previous rejection of a move.

"I understand it hurt what he did last summer," Xavi said to Sport. "If the reason for the rejection [from Barca players] was only a footballing issue, I'd speak with the dressing room to make them see he's a player who can bring something.

"We have to see, however, who is signing him? The sporting director? Valverde? The president? If I came to Barca I would ask for the signings, and if the dressing room doesn't agree with any of them I'd speak with them, but in the end I decide. Be it Griezmann or whoever.

"Another thing would be if the coach doesn't want him either. Then we have a problem."

Barca have given Valverde their backing despite their latest Champions League disappointment, with Xavi making his ambitions to coach at Camp Nou clear.

"If one day I come back to Barcelona it's all a consequence of knowing that I will be judged," he added.

"Everyone wants to be at a big team. It would be more comfortable to go to a second division club but I'm competitive and I like big challenges.

"I know what will come, I will go bald or my hair will turn white, but it is what it is."

Messi made it clear the Champions League was Barca's top priority in 2018-19 but he was unable to add to the four European titles he has won at the club.

"That's more than a few, we only had one before," Messi's former team-mate Xavi said. "We were able to win more but it's hard to win the Champions League.

"[Pep] Guardiola's Barca were better than the rest of the teams and we only won two of four. Chelsea and Inter knocked us out. But be calm, Messi's not finished yet.

"We always talk about the post-Messi era, but Leo has three or four good years left. At the top level, like now, because he looks after himself, he's incredibly professional, he's physically strong, a beast mentally. He's the number one at everything."

Borussia Dortmund have announced the signing of Nico Schulz from fellow Bundesliga side Hoffenheim for a reported €25million fee.

Dortmund fell short in their bid to unseat Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich but have moved quickly to add to their squad for 2019-20.

Schulz has broken into the Germany team since swapping Borussia Monchengladbach for Hoffenheim in 2017 and feels joining Dortmund is a natural next step.

"Borussia Dortmund are a top club whose team plays a football that simply suits me and my style, and I think I can help the team with my way of playing and we can achieve great things together," he told Dortmund's official website.

Schulz, 26, will be reunited with a familiar face in Dortmund as he played under head coach Lucien Favre at Gladbach.

"Nico Schulz is a defensive player who has made another leap in performance over the past few years and, like the German national football team, we will benefit greatly from his physique, his pace and his extreme dynamism," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc added.

Schulz becomes the third biggest sale in Hoffenheim's history, although neither club disclosed the fee, behind Roberto Firmino and Kerem Demirbay who joined Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.

"Even though we agreed to the transfer at the end after weighing all the circumstances, of course we regret the loss of Nico," said Hoffenheim's director of football, Alexander Rosen.

"He has made a sensational development in just two years and is symbolic of the way players can improve at TSG."

Schulz, meanwhile, is grateful for the part Hoffenheim have played in his rise over the past two seasons.

"I know very well what I owe to TSG Hoffenheim, the people here in the club, the coaching staff, the fans and my team-mates," he told the club's official website.

"That's why I've been thinking about the change for a long time and, now I've chosen this path, I'm grateful to TSG for agreeing to the transfer."

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