Sergio Ramos has been the face of Real Madrid, especially since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure in 2018.

Ramos highlighted his importance as Madrid dethroned Barcelona in LaLiga this season.

As the 34-year-old's current deal winds down, talks are reportedly underway to prolong his stay.

 

TOP STORY – RAMOS REVEALS RENEWAL PLANS

Real Madrid captain Ramos wants €17million to renew his contract with the LaLiga champions, according to Diario Sport.

Ramos is out of contract in 2021 and there have been question marks as to whether the Spain skipper will sign a new deal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The defender has called Madrid home since arriving from Sevilla in 2005.

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Thursday's Diario Sport claims Barcelona are determined to sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia. The 19-year-old left Barca for City in 2017. It comes as Premier League outfit City push for a swap deal involving full-back Joao Cancelo and Barca's Nelson Semedo.

- Could Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic reunite with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at Milan? According to reports, Fali Ramadani – agent to both Jovic and Rebic – met with Milan directors Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara on Wednesday. Jovic has struggled since leaving Eintracht for Madrid at the start of the season, with the Serbia international linked to Milan, Napoli, Leicester City and Chelsea among others. Rebic, meanwhile, is on a two-season loan from Eintracht.

Manchester United are interested in signing Adrien Rabiot from Juventus, claims Calciomercato. Fellow Premier League teams Everton and Newcastle United are also reportedly interested.

- Sky Sport Italia and Sportitalia report Victor Osimhen is set to be presented as a Napoli player on Friday. The Lille forward had previously been the subject of reported interest from the likes of Liverpool and United. Sky journalist Fabrizio Romano also says talks are ongoing for Napoli to sign Jeremie Boga from Sassuolo.

- According to RAC1 journalist Gerard Romero, Barca are eyeing Villarreal defender Pau Torres. The 23-year-old – also linked to City – reportedly has a €50m release clause.

City have offered Yangel Herrera to Valencia in an attempt to lure winger Ferran Torres to Manchester, says Gols Media. City are looking to replace Leroy Sane following his Bayern Munich switch.

Milan have contacted the agent of Brescia star Sandro Tonali, claims Sportmediaset. While Inter remain the frontrunners, their city rivals are not giving up on the Italy midfielder.

- Mundo Deportivo says Chelsea are dreaming of signing Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen amid doubts over current number one Kepa Arrizabalaga. Chelsea have also been linked to Atletico Madrid star Jan Oblak.

Santi Cazorla has agreed to join Al Sadd following the expiration of his Villarreal contract.

The 35-year-old midfielder will soon head to Doha and complete the formalities of the deal before joining the team coached by former Spain team-mate Xavi, alongside whom he won two European Championships.

Cazorla spent close to two years on the sidelines from October 2016, during which he feared he would have to have his foot amputated due to an infection following ankle surgery.

However, he returned to Villarreal from Arsenal and made 86 appearances over the past two seasons, earning a recall to the Spain squad in June 2019, and will continue his career in Qatar.

"We have reached an agreement with Santi Cazorla," a tweet posted by Al Sadd read.

"He will reach Doha soon to complete the formalities and join the team. Welcome to Al Sadd, Santi!

"We wish you all the best and that we can get many titles together. Thank you very much."

Xavi signed a one-year contract extension with Al Sadd in July, despite links to the Barcelona job.

The 40-year-old took charge of the team last year and led them to the Qatari Super Cup and Qatar Cup in his first season at the helm.

Santi Cazorla said Villarreal will always be his "home" after the veteran star bid farewell to the LaLiga club amid links to Xavi's Al-Sadd in Qatar.

Cazorla and long-serving captain Bruno Soriano played their final match for Villarreal in a 4-0 final-round rout of Eibar on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Cazorla, who has made a big impact in his third spell with Villarreal after returning from a serious Achilles injury in 2018 following 636 days on the sidelines, has been linked with a move to Al-Sadd – coached by former Barcelona skipper Xavi.

And former Arsenal playmaker Cazorla bowed out on a winning note with Villareal, providing the assist for Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's 71st-minute opener at home to Eibar.

Cazorla ended the 2019-20 campaign with 11 goals and 10 assists as Villareal finished fifth in LaLiga to qualify for the Europa League.

"I'm eternally grateful to this club and the fans for having opened the doors to me and for all the love they've shown me for so long," Cazorla, who was replaced in the 82nd minute, said via the club's website.

"I've had a great time, but it's time to end this stage of my career. It's a decision I've thought about a lot. Every game I find it harder to give 100 per cent and I had to be honest with myself and the club.

"I feel that this club is inside me. It isn't a goodbye, it's a 'we'll meet again', because Villarreal CF will always be my home."

Bruno also made an emotional swansong on the final day of the season at Madrigal, with the 36-year-old retiring after more than 300 appearances for Villarreal.

The one-club player returned to the field in June following more than three years on the sidelines due to two operations and a painful recovery.

"I've thought about it a lot and I've taken this tough decision. I've realised that my body is no longer able to give 100 per cent and play 90 minutes week in, week out, which is what I've always wanted to do. That's why I've taken the decision to end my career," Bruno said.

"This club is part of my life and that doesn't stop here. I am going to continue coming to cheer on the team every Sunday, alongside the rest of the fans and those who love this club."

Leganes' four-year stay in LaLiga came to an end on Sunday, despite a spirited display against champions Real Madrid, while Getafe miss out on a place in Europe.

Madrid already had the league title wrapped up heading to their city neighbours, but still claimed a point which proved enough to send Leganes down following a 2-2 draw.

Javier Aguirre's Leganes had won three of their previous four outings but, despite twice coming from behind, they failed to claim the win they needed to overtake Celta Vigo, who were held to a goalless draw by relegated Espanyol.

At the other end of Spain's top flight, Granada made a late charge for a place in the Europa League with a 4-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao, who finished 11th.

Granada's triumph meant Getafe, who went down to a 109th-minute goal from Coke against Levante, dropped out of the top seven.

A 4-0 win over Eibar saw Villarreal consolidate their place in fifth, with the Yellow Submarine four points above Granada and Real Sociedad, who snatched a late 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid to be sure of their European qualification.

Villarreal have confirmed Santi Cazorla will leave the LaLiga club and Bruno Soriano is to retire after Sunday's clash with Elbar.

Cazorla has made a big impact in his third spell with the Yellow Submarine since returning in 2018 after a serious Achilles injury.

The 35-year-old playmaker, who did not play for 636 days prior to his comeback two years ago, has scored 11 goals and provided nine assists in the Spanish top flight this season.

Cazorla will play his last game for the club this weekend, though, and has been linked with a move to Qatari club Al Sadd - coached by former Barcelona captain Xavi.

It has also been reported that Cazorla could take up a coaching role with Arsenal, but a switch to Qatar looks more likely for a player who earned a Spain recall last year.

Cazorla told Villarreal TV ahead of his final appearance: "Villarreal have given me everything. When I was 18, they gave me all the confidence.

"A guy from Oviedo who was unknown almost for everyone."

Long-serving skipper Soriano will make an emotional swansong on the final day of the season at El Madrigal.

The 36-year-old, a one-club man, has made over 300 appearances for Villarreal since making his debut 14 years ago.

"What I am going to be, for now, it is being the fan number one of Villarreal. Villarreal will be part of my life forever." he said.

Zinedine Zidane is the "prodigal son" whose status as a top coach was already secure before Real Madrid clinched LaLiga glory on Thursday, says Christian Karembeu.

Madrid defeated Villarreal 2-1 at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano to dethrone Barcelona and win the top-flight title for just the third time in the past 12 seasons.

Zidane led Los Blancos to success in the Champions League three straight times during his first spell in charge of the club and has now overseen 11 trophy wins across both his tenures.

Despite questions about his true ability as a coach given all his success has come with one of the world's biggest clubs, Zidane's former France team-mate, and ex-Madrid player, Karembeu thinks his credentials were validated before he returned to the club last year.

He told Stats Perform News: "[Zinedine] Zidane doesn't need to prove to anyone anymore that he's a great coach. Everyone can agree on that, winning three Champions Leagues in a row is enough. And then he won LaLiga.

"For me, he's the prodigal son and he deserves to win so many titles because he's innovative and he's learned a lot, despite players coming and going, he managed to create a winning team, there's nothing else to say."

Karim Benzema struck both Madrid's goals against Villarreal to take his LaLiga tally for the season to 21 – the first time he has surpassed 20 in back-to-back league campaigns.

Asked if Benzema is a contender to win the Ballon d'Or, Karembeu said: "Zizou himself said it, all his players deserve the Ballon d'Or, so that includes Karim as well, obviously.

"Karim has always played efficiently in all of his games and he has also scored plenty of goals every season, in all competitions.

"He knew how to move between the lines when Cristiano [Ronaldo] was there but can also offer himself to lead the attack when he needs to.

"He knew to play with [Gonzalo] Higuain, with [Alvaro] Morata, with Cristiano, and with [Gareth] Bale. And now he's still there, still efficient as ever."

Madrid's defence was key to their LaLiga triumph and if they let in fewer than three against Leganes on Sunday they will set a club record for the fewest goals conceded in a 38-game season.

Captain Sergio Ramos has been central to that effort, while he has contributed 10 goals to equal the most prolific LaLiga campaign by a defender since the turn of the millennium.

Ramos has entered the final year of his contract but expressed a hope to retire at Madrid amid their title celebrations, and Karembeu detailed how important he is to the team.

"I think Sergio Ramos is the key player for Los Blancos," said Karembeu.

"He's the captain. He's a role model for everyone. He's a warrior, he does his job. He also enjoys the game, but when they have to win, he knows how to raise his level and inspire Real Madrid to victory.

"When he signed for Real Madrid and took Fernando Hierro's number on his jersey, a defender who had scored many goals, I already knew he'd be a success.

"Sergio is doing very well. He has surpassed everyone. When he's playing good, the whole squad is playing good."

Zinedine Zidane hailed Real Madrid's latest LaLiga triumph as one of his best days in the professional game.

Karim Benzema scored twice as Los Blancos defeated Villarreal 2-1 at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano to secure the trophy with a game to spare.

Madrid won 10 straight games since LaLiga restarted after the break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, while it marks the first silverware they have won since Zidane returned for a second spell as head coach in March 2019.

Zidane has now won 11 trophies over his two spells and dedicated the title to Madrid's supporters, who could only watch at home as restrictions remain in place due to COVID-19.

"We won the league in the end because we won the most points it's as simple as that," he told LaLiga's coverage of the game. 

"Today is one of the best days for me as a professional and after everything that happened, the three-month break, it's fantastic what's been achieved.

"It's strange for everyone, we can't control the situation, we would have loved to be with the supporters, hopefully that can happen further down the line but for a question of health that can't happen.

"But I'm sure the supporters are happy celebrating at home. I say hello to all those supporters watching at home."

Zidane led Madrid to three straight Champions League titles during his first stint but when asked if this achievement was better, he replied: "Yes, yes.

"Look, the Champions League is the Champions League but the Spanish league requires such an amount of effort. 38 weeks and effort and at the end of those 38 weeks you have more points than everyone else. It's fantastic."

Zidane said Madrid's achievement would not be possible if it were not for the entire efforts of everyone in his squad, including those on the fringe who have not featured as often as their core regulars.

"Well I have my role to play, I believe in the players and I'm just happy for them because they're a group of humans before footballers, they're good people," Zidane added.

"I'm just happy, I'm very content.

"Even the players who didn't play as much they were committed, there are always players who play more and players who play less but you have to give something to the team even if you're one of those who's not playing more.

"If you want to win things, everyone has to contribute, it's difficult to win every week, there are 38 weeks - look at us we're winning it on the penultimate match day."

Karim Benzema scored a goal in each half as Real Madrid clinched a 34th LaLiga title with a 2-1 victory over Villarreal.

The Frenchman's 20th and 21st league goals - the second of which came from a contentious penalty - of the season ultimately earned a win at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano that meant Barcelona's result against Osasuna was rendered immaterial.

Zinedine Zidane's men were in control against game opponents until Vicente Iborra's late header made for a nervy finish, but a 10th straight win since LaLiga's resumption means Madrid are champions with a game to spare.

Benzema has scored seven times in that run and it was fitting his contribution should round out their title success given the striker's goals and a solid defensive base have been the pillars of Madrid's campaign.

This game did not initially look like being the banana skin it had the potential to be and it felt a matter of time before Madrid found an opening, albeit bar Luka Modric's long-range drive their early endeavours proved fruitless.

The opener arrived after 29 minutes, though. Casemiro picked off Sofian Chakla's pass and Modric quickly laid into the path of Benzema, who drilled through the legs of Sergio Asenjo.

Asenjo denied Dani Carjaval early in the second half after the full-back showed quick feet to get a left-foot shot away.

Madrid were gifted a golden opportunity to double the lead when Sergio Ramos tore forward and was awarded a dubious penalty when the referee judged Chakla to have clipped Los Blancos' captain.

Ramos cheekily passed the ball off the spot for Benzema to score, only for the latter to have encroached, but Benzema clinically dispatched the re-take into the bottom-left corner.

Toni Kroos rattled the crossbar prior to Iborra's thumping header to set up a tense finale, in which Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved from Bruno Soriano and Iborra in the same move.

Marco Asensio thought he had calmed the nerves in the final minute of added time only to be denied by the VAR, but it did little to dampen the mood of the new champions.


What does it mean? Madrid reign again in Spain

There are few who would argue Madrid are not worthy champions. The goals again have not flowed as freely as once they did in the halcyon days of Cristiano Ronaldo but Zidane's men have been far and away more consistent than deposed champions Barcelona.

Madrid have now won 11 trophies during Zidane's two spells in charge, while with 34 top-flight titles they have eight more than their Clasico rivals.

Benzema the Karim of Madrid's title-winning crop

Much of Madrid's success this term has been built on the back of a stoic defence that has been breached just 23 times.

But Benzema has been their chief goal threat and was once again outstanding at linking Madrid's midfield and attack. A landmark goal is just reward for a tremendous campaign and he has now registered 20-plus goals in consecutive LaLiga seasons for the first time.

Los Blancos accept Chakla gift

Chakla had already been booked having been caught out by Eden Hazard and his lack of awareness was pounced upon by Casemiro. He was unlucky with the penalty award but it was not a night the full-back will remember with fondness.

What's next?

Madrid will celebrate their title triumph with a short hop to Leganes, while Villarreal end their own campaign at home to Eibar.

Sevilla's return to the Champions League was confirmed on Monday after Villarreal failed to defeat Real Sociedad in LaLiga. 

Villarreal needed to win their final three games to deny Sevilla a top-four finish but succumbed to a 2-1 loss against La Real at the Estadio de la Ceramica. 

LaLiga's top four has now been confirmed as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Julen Lopetegui's side. 

Sevilla reached the Champions League quarter-finals in 2017-18 but this season are in the Europa League – a competition they have won five times. 

They will play their last-16 tie against Roma on German soil after the first leg was postponed due the coronavirus pandemic.

Gerard Pique urged Barcelona to continue fighting in LaLiga despite trailing leaders and rivals Real Madrid.

Having won back-to-back league titles, Barca are four points adrift of Madrid after a 4-1 thrashing of Villarreal on Sunday.

Pique called for his side to keep pushing ahead of hosting Espanyol in a derby clash on Wednesday.

"We don't like to be behind in the standings, but we will fight to turn the situation around, knowing how complicated it is," the Barca defender told Movistar.

"We will fight to the end."

After a Pau Torres own goal and Luis Suarez strike, Antoine Griezmann scored his first goal since February, and Ansu Fati sealed Barca's win late on.

Pique hopes Griezmann, who has netted 15 times this season, gains confidence from his goal.

"Playing in this way makes the three of them [Lionel Messi, Suarez and Griezmann] closer to the goal," he said.

"We feel more protected. In addition, Antoine's goal is very important so that he is confident."

Quique Setien praised Antoine Griezmann after the forward finally returned to the scoresheet in Barcelona's 4-1 LaLiga victory over Villarreal.

Griezmann netted his first goal since February to go with strikes from Luis Suarez and Ansu Fati after Pau Torres' own goal as Barca pulled back to within four points of leaders and rivals Real Madrid.

Setien was happy with what he saw from Griezmann, whose goal was his 15th in his first season at Barcelona.

"He has associated himself very well and has been gaining confidence," the Barcelona head coach said, via AS.

"I am very satisfied as I suppose he will be after the goal so beautiful that he has scored, reminded me of one of [Lionel] Messi's at [Real] Betis."

Setien praised Barca's performance as they claimed just their second win in five games.

"All teams are different. Today, we have had everything," he said.

Setien added: "Other teams like Atletico [Madrid] or Sevilla, firmer in defence created more problems for us. Perhaps they were stronger than this.

"This helps us a lot in confidence. We have pressed very well and we haven't allowed them to leave. We have made a very balanced match. I would have liked to be right before."

Meanwhile, there was further controversy in Real Madrid's win over Athletic Bilbao as another Sergio Ramos penalty saw Zinedine Zidane's men claim three points.

The spot-kick was awarded via the VAR and Setien said the system was becoming more confusing.

"I understand it [the VAR] less and less," he said.

Barcelona reached 9,000 goals in all official competitions following their 4-1 rout of Villarreal in LaLiga on Sunday.

Barca celebrated the milestone thanks to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, who came off the bench and scored the team's fourth goal away to Villarreal.

The two-time reigning LaLiga champions, who are four points behind bitter rivals Real Madrid with four matches remaining, netted their first official goal in April 1909.

Just over 111 years later, Barca have scored their 9,000th goal – superstar captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi contributing 630.

Of Barca's overall tally, 6,165 goals have been scored in LaLiga, followed by the Copa del Rey (1,474) and the Champions League (543).

Antoine Griezmann ended his goal drought with a stunning finish and Lionel Messi tormented Villarreal as Barcelona cruised to a 4-1 LaLiga victory on Sunday.

Barca's grip on the title had slipped with back-to-back draws and bitter rivals Real Madrid moved seven points clear at the top with a win at Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day, but the champions responded at Estadio de la Ceramica.

An early Pau Torres own goal put Barca in front and the mercurial Messi set up sensational strikes from Luis Suarez and Griezmann after the in-form Gerard Moreno equalised, with Ansu Fati adding a fourth late on.

Griezmann had gone eight games without a goal, but silenced his critics with a moment of class in a breathtaking attacking display from Barca, with Messi – who had a goal disallowed and hit the crossbar – starring at the end of a week in which his future has been the subject of more speculation.

Previously in-form Villarreal have still not beaten the Catalan giants since 2008 and their first defeat since the season restarted is a blow to their bid for a Champions League spot.

Barca made a blistering start and they were rewarded when Torres turned the ball into his own net just three minutes in with Griezmann waiting to pounce on Jordi Alba's cross behind him.

The Blaugrana were causing the home side all sorts of problems going forward but looked vulnerable on the break and Moreno levelled clinically against the run of play with 14 minutes played after Marc-Andre ter Stegen palmed away Santi Cazorla's strike.

Barca wasted little time in regaining the lead, though, Messi running from just inside the Villarreal half and beating two players before finding Suarez, who picked out the far corner with a sublime first-time finish from the edge of the penalty area.

Arturo Vidal and Suarez came close before Griezmann added a third just before half-time, lobbing Sergio Asenjo with a superb effort after Messi set him up with a cheeky backheel following another penetrating run.

The busy Asenjo denied Suarez and Vidal after the break and Messi had a goal chalked off after VAR ruled he had been offside before tucking in Sergi Roberto's cutback.

Fati came off the bench to put the icing on the cake, cutting in from the left to fire home and Messi rattled the crossbar with a free-kick before Asenjo superbly saved Martin Braithwaite's header following up.

  

What does it mean? Relief for Setien

Barca boss Quique Setien has come under fire, but his players appear to be behind him on the evidence of this performance.

On a day when it was revealed Xavi, linked with the Barca hotseat, will stay at Al-Sadd, the defending champions showed they will not give up their title without a fight with four games to play.

Messi magic, Griezmann shows his class

Griezmann has had a tough first season at Barca, but he showed what he is capable of with the finish of a player who is anything but short of confidence.

It was Messi who was the star of the show, though, yet again, slipping away from defenders with ease and laying on two goals with sheer brilliance and not looking like a man eager to leave Camp Nou.

Semedo all at sea

Barca full-back Nelson Semedo looked vulnerable defensively in the first half and was hooked off early in the second. Setien's men were too open at the back in the first half and Semedo was caught out too often.

What's next?

Barca host lowly Espanyol in a derby clash on Wednesday, with Villarreal facing a tricky trip to sixth-placed Getafe on the same evening.

Barcelona will be without Junior Firpo when they face Villarreal in LaLiga on Sunday.

A right hip problem will keep the left-back out of the meeting at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

The issue further restricts Quique Setien's senior options in defence, with Samuel Umtiti ruled out of the match due to a left knee injury.

Junior has featured 20 times in all competitions for Barca this season, starting just once since the league resumed last month following its suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Defending champions Barca will be seven points adrift of top spot at kick-off if leaders Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao earlier in the day.

Villarreal are unbeaten since LaLiga returned, winning five of their six games, and are just three points behind fourth-placed Sevilla in the final Champions League qualification spot.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien insists he "does not spend a minute" thinking about his future amid speculation he is close to being sacked.

The 61-year-old's position has been called into question following a run of three draws in four matches that leaves Barca four points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid.

Setien was handed a two-and-a-half-year deal when succeeding Ernesto Valverde at Camp Nou in January, but club icon Xavi is reportedly being lined up to take charge.

However, the former Las Palmas and Real Betis boss says he takes no notice of the rumours and is instead focused on Sunday's trip to in-form Villarreal.

"I don't spend a minute thinking about that," he said at his pre-match news conference on Saturday. "I focus on what I have to focus on, which in this case is Sunday's game.

"This is the circus we're involved in and we accept it, but I don't waste time listening or reading [speculation]. I know there is noise being made but I have to focus on my own job.

"It is not the first time that I have experienced it, nor is it the first time a coach has lived through a situation like this when they don't win a game."

Setien is said to have been summoned to a meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and other members of the board following Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid.

But the Spaniard did not get the impression from the face-to-face talks that he is on the verge of losing his job.

"I have said I am not going to reveal the conversations we had that day, but I didn't sense that, not at all," he said.

Barca could find themselves seven points off top spot by the time they face Villarreal should Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao earlier on Sunday.

Unlike the reigning Spanish champions, fifth-placed Villarreal have hit the ground running since the restart by taking 16 points from a possible 18.

"I don't know if they are the best or [one of] the best teams returning from isolation," Setien said of Sunday's opponents.

"They are doing things very well, with a lot of talent and players in good form, who defend well and who are going to compromise us a lot because they are playing at home.

"But we played a pretty good game against Atletico and I hope we are at that level and get through the game."

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