Lyon sporting director Juninho slammed departing Barcelona-linked star Memphis Depay for wanting the Ligue 1 side to revolve around him like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Depay will leave Lyon on a free transfer this off-season and LaLiga giants Barca – led by former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman – have been tipped to sign the Dutch forward.

The 27-year-old Depay, who arrived from Manchester United in 2017, was involved in 32 goals in Ligue 1 this season (20 goals and 12 assists) – equalling his best tally in a single campaign with the French side (19 goals and 13 assists in 2017-18).

Only Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe scored more Ligue 1 goals (27) than Depay in 2020-21, but Juninho had strong words for the outgoing Lyon captain.

"Memphis Depay just wanted a team for himself," Juninho told OLTV. "It's not a criticism, I had a good relationship with him.

"But on the other hand, the whole team had to revolve around him and that is very hard. Everyone should feel like they're working the same.

"There are only four players in the world where you have to do everything for them: Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Mbappe. If you have one of them, then the team can revolve around them.

"Sorry, I think that Depay is strong, but he's not at their level. And I think that he has to work harder without the ball."

Juninho also responded to departing head coach Rudi Garcia's stunning criticism.

In an interview with L'Equipe, Garcia said: "I was badly welcomed by certain people but I thought that after the cups and being top of the table at the half-way point, things would change.

"There are some fiery minorities but in the city the messages I received were truly nice. I also have the satisfaction of having the second team in France in terms of most playing time for young players. That was one of the objectives, to give chances to and favour those who have a market value but also to play the Brazilian recruits and after a while, there is the squaring of the circle…

"…he [Gerard Houllier, who died in December] was critical in the balance of the club. He knew how to grease up the wheels. It was he who could explain the role of Sporting Director to Juninho who lacked the experience. It is essential in a club that all the people are behind each other as we saw in Lille. Here there was too much dissonance in my relationship with Juni.

"Things went well initially. Things started to go wrong without me noticing. After two or three victories in November, the sporting director no longer came to congratulate me. I found that when the Brazilian recruits weren't playing, he wasn't happy. He would have preferred to win with his players.

"He invests himself a lot, and that is a quality, but I certainly think that he must have promised them that they would start. We spoke about it, he told me that if it had to be done again, he would not push on these things. But it slowed down the emergence of certain young players like [Maxence] Caqueret in particular. Juni's opinion was that Jean Lucas was better. The problem must have come from there initially. And things quickly deteriorated."

In reply as Lyon try to replace Garcia, Juninho said: "I was surprised. I knew he was going to do something like this because that's his character. He chose an experienced journalist and the statement looks like it was prepared a long time ago. It's a long interview, but I don't feel like I'm being betrayed. We are betrayed by friends, and we worked together as professionals.

"One of the problems I had with Rudi was the different ways he treated players in the locker room. He was strong with the weak, and weak with the strong. It was creating problems in the locker room and the players came to see me. Rudi Garcia wanted to loan out Jean Lucas because he didn't play him, we didn't necessarily agree on that. He was complaining that he wasn't progressing tactically, and I thought maybe it was his fault. He took some things personally but the player had nothing to do with it. Eventually he was loaned out, maybe I insisted too much but I have the right to ask questions.

"I think he has a lack of self-confidence. It also bothered him, my way of behaving with the players and the rest of the staff. During the transfer window, it's true I didn't let him choose the players. But that's my role, I made my choices. [Lucas] Paqueta, for example, I made the effort to bring him in. He wasn't necessarily used to this; he likes to impose his choices and that is understandable. But I have defended Rudi on several occasions, it was not necessarily easy but he was doing a good job."

Milan have completed the signing of Mike Maignan from Ligue 1 winners Lille ahead of the departure of fellow goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The one-cap France international, who played a key part in Lille's stunning title success this term, has signed a five-year deal at San Siro for a reported €15million fee.

Maignan kept a league-high 21 clean sheets in 38 games – seven more than next-best Keylor Navas and Benoit Costil – and his save percentage of 78.9 was bettered only by the Paris Saint-Germain keeper among those to have played at least three times.

He made 180 appearances over six seasons for Lille in total and was named Ligue 1's goalkeeper of the year in 2018-19.

Milan announced the arrival of Maignan, who is part of France's Euro 2020 squad having made his debut in October, on their official website on Thursday.

The signing comes a day after Rossoneri director Paolo Maldini confirmed current first-choice stopper Donnarumma will leave next month when his contract expires after turning down fresh terms.

Donnarumma, a rumoured target for the likes of Juventus, Barcelona and Manchester United, has been with Milan since 2013 and has been a regular for the last six seasons.

The 22-year-old kept 14 clean sheets in Serie A this season – a joint-high along with Inter's Samir Handanovic – to help Milan to a second-placed finish, their best since 2011-12 when also finishing as runners-up.

Mauricio Pochettino is focused on achieving "great things" at Paris Saint-Germain amid rumours that Tottenham are looking to reappoint their former manager.

The 49-year-old took over as PSG boss in January – 14 months on from being sacked by Spurs – on a contract that has another year to run with the option of an extra 12 months.

He won the Trophee des Champion in just his third ​game in charge and followed that up with success in the Coupe de France with a 2-0 win over Monaco in the final this month.

However, last season's beaten finalists PSG exited the Champions League at the semi-final stage to Manchester City and finished second to shock title winners Lille in Ligue 1.

Widespread reports on Thursday claimed Pochettino's relationship with sporting director Leonardo is already strained, and he is tempted to resign just four months into his reign.

That has prompted Spurs to make contact with the Argentinian, it is claimed, while Real Madrid – who confirmed Zinedine Zidane's exit on Thursday – have also been linked.

Tottenham are on the lookout for a new manager after parting company with Pochettino's successor, Jose Mourinho, last month.

But Pochettino, who spent five years at Tottenham before his departure in November 2019, appears to be planning for a long-term future at the Parc des Princes.

In an interview released on the French club's official website on Thursday, Pochettino said: "I'm happy with the way the players adapted to the changes. 

"I think that with this way of working, and with the desire to be able to develop other kinds of ideas on the pitch, it will be possible to do great things in the future.

"I think that in football you are never satisfied. Because perfection doesn't exist. But we are always looking for that satisfaction that we can't find.

"I always believe that football challenges you every day and that from season to season you have to be better and better. 

"But in a club like Paris Saint-Germain, you are forced to think that perfection or satisfaction can come and that winning is the only option. 

"And for a club like ours, it's about winning, winning and winning. And then winning again. It's a feeling I always thought I'd like to have. 

"It requires a amount of energy and always be sure that your priority is to be professional and that the difficulties and obstacles can always be overcome. I think that's the challenge, to impose that here."

PSG missed out on the Ligue 1 title for just the second time in nine seasons – the other instance being in 2016-17 when Monaco came out on top.

The Parisians finished the campaign with 82 points, which is their lowest tally over a complete season since 2011-12 when accumulating 79 points and finishing second.

It is just a second time a team has reached that total or better without being crowned champions after PSG themselves in 2016-17 (87 points).

And while PSG fell short of reaching a second successive Champions League final, they did knock out holders Bayern Munich and Barcelona en route to the semi-finals.

Pochettino, who succeeded Thomas Tuchel in the French capital, said: "Of course I'm proud of the team's effort, because only we know what state the team was in and what we were capable of.

"I'm proud of all the people involved, not just the players, but all the staff at the club, everybody, because I think the effort was incredible. 

"Winning the Trophee des Champions, winning the Coupe de France, reaching the semi-final of the Champions League, without being in your best form.

"We also fought until the last game with the possibility of winning the championship, and given the conditions in which we arrived in January, we should be proud of everything."

Zinedine Zidane's career as head coach of Real Madrid looks set to come to an end after a trophy-less 2020-21 season.

Madrid finished as runners-up in LaLiga, while they were knocked out in the Champions League semi-finals and exited in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey.

Zidane returned to take charge of Los Blancos in 2019, after a previous stint from 2016 to 2018 where they won Europe's continental crown three times in a row.

 

TOP STORY - ZIDANE STEPS DOWN AT MADRID

Spanish outlets AS and Marca both are reporting Zinedine Zidane will step down as Real Madrid head coach.

The former France international has reportedly informed the club of his final decision following weeks of speculation around his post.

Zidane had requested a few days to consider his options and has now made his final decision and contacted his players individually, the reports say.

 

ROUND-UP

- Het Nieuwsblad reports that Belgium international and Leicester City's FA Cup final hero Youri Tielemans is among Liverpool's targets as they seek to replace Georginio Wijnaldum.

- Liverpool have also reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate, according to ESPN.

- The Mirror reports that Leicester City may offer a deal to Schalke defender Ozan Kabak after he spent the second half of the season on loan at Liverpool.

- Kicker reports that Bayer Leverkusen are pondering an off-season swoop for Arsenal defender William Saliba.

- Le10Sport claims that French champions Lille are ready to replace the departed Christophe Galtier with Thiago Motta at the helm.

Tottenham have been linked with a host of big names as their search for a new head coach continues, but could they be set to turn to a familiar face?

Spurs dismissed Jose Mourinho last month amid an underwhelming campaign where they fell off the top-four pace in the Premier League, as well as crashing out of Europe to Dinamo Zagreb despite having led 2-0 from the first leg.

With speculation mounting around superstar forward Harry Kane's desire to leave, Spurs are getting busy.

 

TOP STORY - SPURS PLOT POCHETTINO RETURN

The Sun reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will consider if he can convince former boss Mauricio Pochettino to complete an astonishing return to the club.

Pochettino, who took Spurs to the 2019 Champions League final, is currently in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, who finished Ligue 1 runners-up on the weekend.

The Sun claims that Pochettino is unhappy in Paris and would consider heading back to north London, where he was sacked in November 2019 after a poor run of results.

Sky Sports also reports that Spurs are in talks with Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fresh from winning the Serie A title, Antonio Conte and Inter could split by mutual consent according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Inter are trying to cut their salary bill, offloading key members and restricting their off-season business, with those details not yet agreed with Conte.

- Sport claims that Barcelona have stepped up their pursuit of off-contract Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and they are close to a three-year agreement after his representative met with president Joan Laporta.

- Wolves are ready to sell midfielder Ruben Neves as they look to fund a rebuild after Nuno Espirito Santo's exit, according to The Athletic. They want £35million for the Portugal international.

- Sky Sports reports that Willian wants to return to Chelsea, barely a year after leaving the Blues for London rivals Arsenal.

- Bild claims that RB Leipzig defender Nordi Mukiele is being chased by Paris Saint-Germain and Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen wants to stay with Barcelona and is not considering any other option with Borussia Dortmund not pursuing him, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Lille will demand compensation from Christophe Galtier's next club after the coach behind the stunning Ligue 1 title success announced his departure.

The northern side pulled off a remarkable championship success by pipping big-spending Paris Saint-Germain, with Galtier a man in demand following that achievement.

Lyon, Nice and Napoli are said to have made contact with the 54-year-old former Saint-Etienne boss, who could have his choice of jobs.

Olivier Letang, the Lille president, said he gave his blessing for Galtier to leave after being unable to talk him around.

But given that Galtier had 12 months remaining on his Lille deal, the club have a claim on him.

"There's still a year on Christophe's contract with LOSC and in the first instance we will have to discuss the terms of his departure with the club that he chooses," Letang told Lille's website.

"While waiting to find an agreement with this club, we are going to calmly begin to discuss with several coaches of a high level, always with the best interests of the club, namely sporting ambition and competitiveness. Christophe has said he'll always remain a supporter of LOSC; in the same way and in all friendship, I wish him a lot of happiness for the rest of his brilliant coaching career."

Lille clinched the French league title on Sunday and it was Tuesday when Galtier made his desire to leave formally known.

"I obviously showed him my willingness to continue with him, because he is someone for whom I have a great deal of friendship and esteem, as a coach but also as a man," Letang said.

"We spent five months together. They were intense and formidable, on a human and professional level. But Christophe made the decision to leave LOSC. I respect him and have to accept it.

"I naturally tried to convince him [to stay], but I think his decision had already been taken. Everyone at Lille will keep great memories of his time at LOSC, with the peak of this title of champions of France. We can only thank him for what he brought here."

Christophe Galtier has announced he is leaving his role as Lille head coach after guiding the club to a shock Ligue 1 title.

The 54-year-old says he has had contact from fellow Ligue 1 sides Lyon and Nice as well as Serie A team Napoli.

Galtier joined Lille in December 2017 after having an eight-year run in charge of Saint-Etienne.

"I simply have the deep belief that my time is up here," he told L'Equipe on Tuesday.

"I've made up my mind. I informed my president, Olivier Letang, after listening to him a lot this morning that I was going to leave LOSC.

"This four-year cycle is long enough for a coach. I feel inside that this is the time to leave this beautiful club, this magnificent club."

Lille defeated Angers 2-1 on Sunday to ensure they finished one point clear of a usually dominant Paris Saint-Germain side in France's top flight.

It was just the club's fourth league title in the professional era and their first since 2010-11, when Eden Hazard was part of a star-studded squad.

Lille's points tally of 83 was the best in their history and they only lost three matches all season, the last of which was in March against Nimes.

Their success was only the second time in nine seasons that PSG have not been crowned champions, with Monaco also having lifted the trophy back in 2016-17.

Galtier, who replaced Marcelo Bielsa when he took over at Lille, saved the club from relegation in that 2017-18 season.

He then led them to a second-place finish in 2018-19 and to fourth last season, which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Veteran striker Burak Yilmaz was one of the stars of a Lille squad who upset the odds in 2020-21 and ensured the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe missed out on Ligue 1 silverware.

Paris Saint-Germain youngster Kays Ruiz-Atil has confirmed he will leave the club when his contract expires next month.

The 18-year-old featured seven times for PSG in Ligue 1 this season, all but one of those outings coming from the substitutes' bench.

Ruiz-Atil joined the French giants in 2015 from Barcelona – where he spent six years in the famed La Masia academy – and made his senior debut in September's 1-0 loss to Lens.

A return to Barca has been touted for the teenager, while a reunion with Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea is also reportedly being considered.

Announcing his departure on Instagram on Tuesday, Ruiz-Aril posted: "Thanks from the bottom of my heart to the whole club, the president, the staff, the different coaches.

"Each time you see Kays Ruiz, know that my heart will always be with yours where the supporters' chant of 'Ici c'est Paris' will forever resonate."

Across his seven appearances in 2020-21 – each of which came before Mauricio Pochettino replaced Tuchel – the youngster totalled 180 minutes of playing time.

In this limited involvement, Ruiz-Atil averaged 89.5 passes per 90 minutes in Ligue 1 – the fifth-highest return of any player to have been used more than once.

The 55.2 passes per 90 in the opposition half were also fifth-highest, as soon-to-be former team-mate Marco Verratti led the way with 72.6 across 21 matches.

Is the Gianluigi Donnarumma-Milan relationship coming to an end?

Donnarumma made his debut as a 16-year-old for Milan in 2015, however, the Italy international is reportedly close to making the move to Serie A rivals Juventus.

Step forward Mike Maignan…

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA OUT, MAIGNAN IN?

Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan is poised to undergo a medical with Milan as Gianluigi Donnarumma edges closer to a blockbuster Juventus switch, according to widespread reports.

Donnarumma is set to become a free agent and the Milan star is yet to re-sign with the Rossoneri, who qualified for the Champions League.

Gianluca Di Marzio reports Milan are no longer waiting on Donnarumma as they step up their pursuit of Maignan, who will arrive in Italy on Tuesday after helping Lille to Ligue 1 glory.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano says Massimiliano Allegri's priority is to take charge of Real Madrid, despite interest from former club Juve and Napoli in Serie A. Allegri is the favourite to replace Zinedine Zidane should he leave the Spanish capital. Despite securing a top-four finish, Andrea Pirlo is being tipped to leave Juve.

- There is set to be a coaching merry-go-round in Serie A this off-season. The front page of Tuesday's Corriere dello Sport says Porto boss Sergio Conceicao is favourite to succeed Gennaro Gattuso at Napoli, with the latter tipped to replace Simone Inzaghi at Lazio. Ex-Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca is the new first choice to join Fiorentina.

Inter must sell one star – Lautaro Martinez or Alessandro Bastoni – due to their financial situation, according to Corriere dello Sport. Martinez has been linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Bastoni has attracted interest from Liverpool and Manchester City. There is also speculation regarding the future of coach Antonio Conte and star Romelu Lukaku, who is reportedly wanted by Chelsea, Barca and Madrid.

- The Telegraph claims Manchester United are prioritising the signing of Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, who has long been tipped to join the Red Devils. Dortmund team-mate Erling Haaland is also wanted at Old Trafford, while Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a sensational return.

Tottenham are interested in re-hiring Mauricio Pochettino, reports the Independent. Pochettino is in charge of Paris Saint-Germain after replacing Thomas Tuchel in January but he was unable to oversee a successful title defence this season.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona are targeting Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum on a free transfer, says Sky Sports.

The domestic football season concluded at the weekend in typically dramatic fashion.

The title went down to the wire in France and Spain, while Champions League qualification was up for grabs for some big names in England and Italy.

Much of the focus during the closing rounds in Germany was on Robert Lewandowski's record bid, but there was no shortage of intrigue whichever way you looked.

It was in keeping with the rest of an unpredictable campaign, one that Stats Perform breaks down with the use of Opta data.
 

LILLE, LALIGA AND LUKAKU SHAKE THINGS UP

Lille, Atletico Madrid and Inter all have relatively recent history of league glory, but a pre-season wager would have fetched long odds.

In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain had won seven of the previous eight titles and would have expected to do so again, having claimed a domestic treble and reached the Champions League final in 2020.

As it was, under new coach Mauricio Pochettino, they had to settle for pushing Lille all the way.

Les Dogues claimed the title but had already set a club points record when they reached 79 with two games to spare. PSG finished on 82, though, meaning Lille desperately needed the final two results to boost their tally.

Despite the presence of Real Madrid and Barcelona in LaLiga, Atletico's triumph was perhaps more likely, even if the impressive nature of it may have come as a surprise.

Although they stuttered on the home stretch and had to come from behind on the last day to edge out Madrid, Atleti spent 30 matchdays at the top of the table – a mark only bettered once in their 10 other title-winning campaigns (36 matchdays in 1995-96).

Indeed, Atleti are used to having to wait to celebrate, with 10 of their 11 championships seeing the destination of the trophy decided on the final day (all except 1976-77).

Inter are another big name but had been waiting even longer than Lille for their most recent title, with one Milan victory and then nine in a row for Juventus since the 2009-10 Nerazzurri treble.

Antonio Conte's men completed the job in style, though, confirmed as champions with four games to play before finishing with 91 points (behind only their 2006-07 haul of 97) and 89 goals (third-most behind the classes of 1949-50 and 1950-51 – 99 and 107 respectively).

Talisman Romelu Lukaku was involved in 35 of them, becoming the first Serie A player to have at least 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season since at least 2004-05.


BAYERN BACK ON TOP, CITY SCALING NEW HEIGHTS

In Germany, the title race was a little less exciting. Winners of everything in 2020, Bayern Munich took home the Bundesliga crown for a ninth successive season.

Prior to this run, no team had won more than three on the bounce, yet there appears no end to Bayern's dominance in sight. They have now won 52 per cent of the championships since the formation of the competition in 1963.

Julian Nagelsmann, arriving from RB Leipzig, will be the coach tasked with achieving 10 in a row and Hansi Flick has set the bar high. His 86 games brought seven trophies.

Manchester City could soon be reflecting on a similarly dominant dynasty having now claimed three titles in four seasons.

Pep Guardiola played a big part in Bayern's run and now has nine league wins in 12 top-flight seasons as a coach, although this was an unprecedented achievement, with City eighth on Christmas Day – the lowest position at that stage for an eventual Premier League champion.

A record English league run of 12 away victories played a pivotal role in City's season, while defending champions Liverpool saw a club-record 68-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League ended as they subsequently lost six consecutive league matches at Anfield for the first time in their history.

City could yet win the Champions League too, where Sergio Aguero is in line for his final appearance before his contract expires. He will hope it is as successful as his last league outing, during which he scored twice against Everton on Sunday to set a new record for the most Premier League goals by a player for one club (184).
 

RECORD-BREAKING LEWY DELAYS NEXT GENERATION

Aguero might have had his say on the final day, once the title was secure, but he largely took a backseat – unlike Lewandowski at Bayern.

His 41 Bundesliga goals broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 in a single season. The next-best tally in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21 saw Lionel Messi trailing well behind on 30.

Lewandowski unsurprisingly also led Europe in expected goals, with his chances worth 32.2 xG, and expected goals on target, producing shots with a value of 35.8 xGOT.

As Lewandowski took the Kicker-Torjagerkanone and Messi went away with the Pichichi, Cristiano Ronaldo (29 goals) won the Capocannoniere, having also previously topped the charts in England and Spain.

Kylian Mbappe (27) was the leading marksman in France, while Harry Kane (23) earned the Premier League Golden Boot for a third time.

Kane is set to be the subject of intense transfer speculation throughout the close-season – replacing Aguero at City might be one option if he gets his wish to leave Spurs – and he will join Mbappe and Erling Haaland in that regard.

Haaland also scored 27 league goals and only just trailed Mbappe's seven assists with his six.

The expectation is both players will establish themselves as the world's best in the coming seasons, but it is now Lewandowski, rather than Messi and Ronaldo, they must surpass.

Kylian Mbappe will "100 per cent" be staying at Paris Saint-Germain despite the club missing out on the Ligue 1 title, according to president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Superstar France forward Mbappe was on target as PSG won 2-0 at Brest on Sunday but it was not enough to deny Lille a famous title triumph as the underdogs ran out 2-1 victors at Angers.

PSG also faltered in the Champions League, going down 4-1 on aggregate to Manchester City in the semi-finals and Mbappe – who finished top scorer in Ligue 1 for a third consecutive season – has consistently been linked with a move away from the club.

With only a little over a year remaining on his contract, the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool have been credited with an interest in securing Mbappe's services.

But Al-Khelaifi was defiant about the 22-year-old's future when addressing the issue with Canal +.

"For me, Kylian is a PSG player and will be a PSG player. I am not worried," he said. 

"Do not worry, let us work. Mbappe is Parisian. He is French, he is Parisian, he is under contract and he wants to stay 100 per cent.

"He's not going anywhere. We are not blocked at all. We are really calm, very relaxed."

As well as finishing top of the scoring charts with 27 goals, Mbappe also led the way for shots on target (55), while there were seven assists and nine Opta-defined 'big chances' in the top flight.

Additionally, Mbappe had a very impressive big-chance conversion rate of 60.53, and created 33 chances for his team-mates.

His achievement of winning the top scorer award for three straight seasons saw him become the first player to do so since Jean-Pierre Papin won five times between 1987-88 and 1991-92.

For his own part, Mbappe declared his love for the club but did lay down a challenge to the PSG hierarchy to enter the transfer market.

"I cannot say what needs to be done, I am just a player, but I think that people have seen, everyone has seen," he said.

"When everyone sees, it is easier to draw conclusions, but there is no problem. We lost the title, but now we have to concentrate on the future.

"Everyone knows how profoundly attached I am to the club. I have always been very thankful towards the president, my different coaches.

"What I want, is to win, feel like I am somewhere where I can win, where there is a solid project around me. The footballing project is essential."

Ronald Koeman's first season in charge at Barcelona was less than convincing, creating doubts about his future.

Koeman guided Barcelona to third place in La Liga in 2020-21, as well as lifting the Copa del Rey, but they bowed out of the Champions League in the last 16.

It was a season of change at Barcelona, with Joan Laporta taking over as president in March and recently stating they will undergo an off-season "renovation" and that their "cycle has ended".

 

TOP STORY - KOEMAN SET FOR BARCA SHOWDOWN TALKS

Ronald Koeman will sit down with Barcelona president Joan Laporta this week for showdown talks about his future, claims Diario Sport.

Koeman was appointed by previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu on a two-year deal in August last year.

Laporta will also likely inform the Dutchman to sell up to 10 players to fund their off-season transfer plans.

Barcelona have been linked with a host of players including Sergio Aguero, Erling Haaland and Georginio Wijnaldum this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims that David Alaba will join Real Madrid irrespective of Zinedine Zidane's future. Alaba has completed and agreed to a pre-contract.

- Le10Sport claims Paris Saint-Germain are shaping as the favourites to sign Liverpool's off-contract midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum rather than Barcelona who are yet to make an offer for the Dutchman.

- Barcelona are weighing up an off-season move for Atalanta's German versatile full-back Robin Gosens, claims Diario Sport.

Milan will look to secure Fikayo Tomori from Chelsea on a permanent deal, with a €28million option to buy him, claims Fabrizio Romano.

- Arsenal have opted out of the race for Brighton's Yves Bissouma, boosting Liverpool's hopes of signing him reports The Mail.

- Leicester City are in the hunt for Sassuolo midfielder Jeremie Boga, joining the race along with Atalanta and Napoli, according to Calciomercato.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino said he is disappointed his side missed out on the Ligue 1 title, while lamenting their hectic fixture schedule.

PSG won 2-0 at Brest on the final day of the Ligue 1 season on Sunday but leaders Lille secured the trophy with their 2-1 victory away to Angers.

The result ended PSG's run of three consecutive league titles, leaving former Tottenham boss Pochettino – who replaced Thomas Tuchel in January –  "sad and disappointed".

Pochettino pointed to the fact PSG won both the Trophee des Champions and Coupe de France, while they also reached the Champions League semi-finals after eliminating Barcelona and holders Bayern Munich.

PSG played 57 matches across a lengthy campaign where they had little time to rest after reaching last season's Champions League final, which they lost to Bayern.

"I think it's important to put everything in context and to look at what happened in January," Pochettino said post-game. "We arrived and had no time to work, but we were welcomed really well by the club and the players.

"We were playing every three days and we made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League, beating Bayern Munich and Barcelona. We won the Trophee des Champions and the Coupe de Franc, which was important for the team.

"But Paris Saint-Germain will always be disappointed when finishing in second. We need to use the experience for the future of the club and of course to change things.

"It's important for the club to improve and we believe that we can get better. We are going to work hard for that to happen."

It is only the second time in the last nine seasons that PSG failed to win the title after 2016-17, when the French capital club were edged out by Monaco.

PSG finished the season with 82 points, their lowest tally over a complete season since 2011-12 (79, second place). It is only the second time a team have reached this total or better without being crowned champions after PSG, who totalled 87 points in 2016-17 when Monaco won the title.

Pochettino said PSG dropped too many points when they should not have in 2020-21.

"It is clear that during the whole season, not just from January, we lost points that we should have never lost in normal circumstances," he said.

"Today we won but we depended on a bad result from Lille in Angers. First of all I want to congratulate Lille because always when you win a championship it is well deserved, so the first thing I have to do is to congratulate them."

Kylian Mbappe became Ligue 1’s top goalscorer for a third consecutive season – the first player to achieve the feat since Jean-Pierre Papin (five between 1987-88 and 1991-92).

It is the 12th time a PSG player has finished as top scorer at the end of a campaign (Mbappe and Zlatan Ibrahimovic three times each, Carlos Bianchi, Pauleta and Edinson Cavani twice each), equalling the record currently held by Marseille.

Pochettino added: "Of course we are disappointed, we really believed that anything could happen in Angers, but it didn't happen. I think we were professional and we won. But in the end, it wasn't enough to win the title. We are disappointed and really sad."

Ligue 1 champions Lille had just two players named in the competition's Team of the Season, with runners-up Paris Saint-Germain represented by five.

It was an incredible season for Christophe Galtier's Lille, who had finished fourth in the shortened 2019-20 campaign.

A talented squad full of vibrant, youthful attackers – albeit spearheaded by veteran campaigner Burak Yilmaz – clinched Ligue 1 title number four for the club on Sunday, with their success confirmed when they beat Angers 2-1 on the final day of the season.

PSG finished top in the previous three seasons since Monaco's Kylian Mbappe-inspired win in 2016-17.

Indeed, it is only the second time since 2012-13 that the capital club has not won the title… Not that you would know it when looking at the Team of the Season as announced by the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) following the conclusion of the season.

The Parisians dominate the XI with five players: Keylor Navas, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

The only two Lille players to be included in the selection were left-back Reinildo Mandava and Benjamin Andre.

Yilmaz in particular will have every right to be disappointed by his exclusion, with the veteran Turkish striker only outscored by Cristiano Ronaldo (29) among players over the age of 35 across Europe's top five leagues.

His penalty on Sunday, which ultimately proved to be the goal that sealed Lille the title, was his 16th in Ligue 1, a haul bettered by only Mbappe, Monaco's Wissam Ben Yedder and Lyon star Memphis Depay.

Yilmaz is performing well in excess of his expected goals (xG) figure of 9.97. A positive differential of 6.03 is the sixth-best in the elite divisions behind Robert Lewandowski, Marcos Llorente, Son Heung-min, Luis Muriel and Lionel Messi.

Similarly, goalkeeper Mike Maignan may feel a slightly hard done by, his 21 clean sheets two better than anyone else across the top five leagues.

Although, using the xGOT (expected goals on target) conceded model, Navas (8.1) is one of the three goalkeepers in Europe's top leagues to have prevented more goals than Maignan (5.8).

Either way, Lille may not even notice the team has been announced as they look set for a long night of celebrations at the end of a momentous campaign.

Paris Saint-Germain are no longer champions of France after Lille completed their stunning march to Ligue 1 glory on Sunday.

PSG headed into the final matchday with some hope remaining and upheld their end of the bargain, sweeping aside struggling Brest 2-0 – Kylian Mbappe on target after Neymar missed a penalty.

But Lille and their talisman Burak Yilmaz saw off Angers 2-1 to prevail by a point.

Considering the meagre victory margin, it is hard not to conclude that PSG's fate was sealed by a dreadful record against Lille, Monaco and Lyon, their fellow top-four incumbents this season.

In a mini-league made up of all the games played between those clubs, PSG came bottom in 2020-21 due to a mere four points from six matches.

Here, we take a closer look at how the Parisians let their domestic dominance slip.

Monaco 3-2 PSG (November 20)

PSG looked set for a routine win as Kylian Mbappe tore through to open the scoring against his former club before making it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

But Kevin Volland poached a brace and Cesc Fabregas, whose introduction at the interval proved key, converted a penalty six minutes from time. Abdou Diallo was sent off for bringing down the former Arsenal man.

It was the first time PSG had lost a Ligue 1 game after leading by at least two goals since going down 4-2 to Bastia in January 2015.

 

PSG 0-1 Lyon (December 13)

The defending champions had seen Lille replace them at the top of the standings before kick-off and were unable to respond in a lacklustre performance when they only managed one shot on target.

As such, Tino Kadewere's 35th-minute finish after PSG carelessly gave away possession was enough for Lille to leave the capital with three points.

 

Lille 0-0 PSG (December 20)

Pressure was mounting on Thomas Tuchel after that defeat and PSG were similarly listless at Lille a week later.

Again, their all-star attack only hit the target once as Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan bolstered his eventual collection of 21 top-flight clean sheets – the best in Europe's big five leagues this season.

PSG got back on track with a 4-0 win over Strasbourg but, on Christmas Eve, Tuchel was sacked.

PSG 0-2 Monaco (February 21)

PSG were starting to look like a team reborn under Mauricio Pochettino heading into their return fixture with Monaco fixture having thrashed Barcelona 4-1 in the Champions League.

They were brought back down to earth by Niko Kovac's Monaco, as Sofiane Diop headed them into an early lead and Guillermo Maripan slotted home in the 51st minute.

Once more, PSG were shot-shy on the big occasion and Monaco became the first team to complete the Ligue 1 double over them since Nancy in 2011-12.

 

Lyon 2-4 PSG (March 21)

Following another home slip-up against Nantes, PSG belatedly started to show their teeth domestically, dispatching Lille 3-0 in the Coupe de France.

On the back of that triumph, they travelled to Lyon and were in rampant form. Mbappe gave PSG a 15th-minute lead and Danilo Pereira slammed home when the hosts failed to clear a corner.

Angel Di Maria's wicked free-kick delivery from the right went straight in shortly after half-time before Mbappe charged on to Marco Verratti's long ball and become the youngest player to reach 100 Ligue 1 goals. Islam Slimani and Maxwell Cornet restored a touch for pride for Lyon.

 

PSG 0-1 Lille (April 3)

A week on from that victory, PSG erred decisively as Lille claimed their first win at Parc des Princes since 1996.

Jonathan David's deflected 20th-minute effort from Jonathan Ikone's cutback was enough to be decisive on the day and in the final reckoning, considering Les Dogues ended up as champions by such a fine margin.

Neymar was sent off after a late clash with Tiago Djalo as the match and, ultimately, the title slipped away from Paris.

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