Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Antoine Griezmann is among the top three or four players in Europe and will remain with the Spanish club beyond this season.

Griezmann sealed a return to Atletico from Barcelona last August on an initial loan with an option to buy after spending just two years at Camp Nou.

He has struggled to recapture his best form with Atleti, however, having scored just eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.

Indeed, the France international is on a 14-game run without finding the net in LaLiga, which is one short of his longest goal drought in the competition.

Griezmann's 13 direct goal involvements in 2021-22 is the fourth most among Atletico players, meanwhile, behind Luis Suarez, Joao Felix (both 15) and Angel Correa (18).

But contrary to suggestions in the Spanish press that Atleti are reluctant to purchase the 31-year-old outright, Cerezo has made clear a deal is being worked on.

"Griezmann is our player. He has a contract with Atletico Madrid and will stay here at Atletico Madrid," he said at an event on Friday, as reported by AS.

"In my opinion, Antoine is among three or four best players in Europe."

 

Atletico last week announced that Suarez will depart Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the campaign.

They still have Alvaro Morata on their books, though, with the Spain international's two-year loan at Juventus coming to an end after Saturday's Serie A clash with Fiorentina.

Unlike with Griezmann, Cerezo was less assertive when it came to discussing Morata's future in the Spanish capital.

"The truth is that I don't know what will happen to him," he said. "He's our player, but I don't know what will happen. I don't know if Juve will keep him or not. We don't know."

Atleti have conceded 42 goals in 37 LaLiga games this term, which is their worst record in a single campaign since 2011-12 when Diego Simeone took over midway through.

Jan Oblak in particular has endured a difficult campaign, though Cerezo rejected suggestions that the goalkeeper could move on in the upcoming transfer window.

"There are always rumours about everything," he said. "Jan is a goalkeeper for Atletico de Madrid, and he has a contract. He may yet renew for another 10 years."

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly will not be forced to stay at the club amid reports linking him with Barcelona, according to club president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Koulibaly's contract with Luciano Spalletti's men is due to expire in June 2023, and the Blaugrana have been touted as a potential destination if he decides to end his eight-year spell with the Partenopei.

The 30-year-old has been a key figure as Napoli secured a third-place finish in Serie A this season, and they go into their final game of the campaign, against Spezia on Sunday, having conceded the joint-fewest goals in the league (31 – along with Milan) and kept the second-most clean sheets (15, Milan have kept 17).

Koulibaly fuelled speculation over his future earlier this week when he told Onze Mondial: "We'll see what happens at the end of the season."

The Senegal international did say he would not force a move to another club, though he did suggest Napoli had ended previous negotiations over a transfer by setting a high asking price, adding: "Sometimes it was too high for some clubs, and it blocked negotiations. 

"You should know that I am not a guy who likes to go to clash to get something. If I have to leave one day, I will leave cleanly rather than fight with the club." 

Speaking at a charity event in Naples, De Laurentiis said he remains keen to keep Koulibaly, but would not force the defender to stay.

"He is a symbol of Napoli, and if he wants to no longer be a symbol, he must decide," De Laurentiis said.

"We must decide. We want Koulibaly to stay, but people can't be forced to. Everyone has their own dignity and needs. 

"We respect everyone, do you understand that I [only once] forced someone to stay? The only one, who is a dear friend, is [former Napoli head coach] Walter Mazzarri, after two years he told me he wanted to leave, I told him he would stay. He did it and he gave us four years of satisfaction."

Koulibaly has featured in 26 league games for Napoli this season, with Spalletti's men conceding just 19 goals across those contests.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. It appears time will finally run out on Sunday and the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga will finally be at its end.

Paris Saint-Germain have experienced another monumental blow this season with another cruel elimination in the Champions League and Real Madrid are waiting in the wings.

According to reports, the 23-year-old will finally announce his decision on Sunday.

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO CONFIRM DECISION ON SUNDAY  

Kylian Mbappe will announce whether he will play for Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid on Sunday, according to L'Equipe.

The Parisian has never hidden his admiration for LeBron James and appears set to mimic his 'The Decision' announcement from 2010.

What is for certain according to reports, Mbappe is intent on announcing the decision before the France national team meets up for camp in Clairefontaine on May 28.

While it has been recently reported a move to Real Madrid seems likelier, talks are still ongoing according to the L'Equipe report, with PSG aiming to scupper a potential move at the last minute.

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, France team-mate and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba had agreed personal terms with Manchester City, according to the Times, but backed out in fear of fan backlash and now appears likely to move abroad.

– Along with Pogba, Juventus are also hoping to further bolster their midfield stocks and sign Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, the Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

– Diario AS is reporting Paulo Dybala has ruled out a move to Tottenham once his contract with Juve expires at the end of the season.

– Kalidou Koulibaly has emerged as a target for Barcelona, who would be willing to add Miralem Pjanic as part of a package deal for Napoli, per Fichajes.

Barcelona have announced that they will face Major League Soccer sides Inter Miami and New York Red Bulls in the United States as part of their pre-season.

Barca still have one competitive game of the 2021-22 campaign to play – at home to Villarreal on Sunday – yet plans are in place for their preparations ahead of next season. 

Xavi's side will face David Beckham's Miami, who have been linked with Barcelona great Lionel Messi, at DRV PNK Stadium on July 19 and the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena 11 days later.

With a big gap between those two fixtures, it has been reported that Barca are still hoping to arrange high-profile friendlies against Real Madrid and Juventus.

It will be the Catalan giants' first pre-season tour in three years, when also visiting USA and Japan, owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Barca also have a friendly pencilled in this month, having previously announced an exhibition match against an A-League All Stars team in Sydney on May 25, less than 48 hours after their match with Villarreal. 

Ousmane Dembele is considering a move away from Barcelona, but Joan Laporta hopes the winger will decide to stay put. 

Barcelona paid an initial €105million to sign Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and the five-year contract he received is set to run out next month.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea are reported to be keen on the World Cup-winning winger, who could be available on a free transfer.

Laporta acknowledged that Dembele is intrigued by the interest being shown in him, but the Barcelona president believes he could well choose to stay at Camp Nou.

"He wants to stay but is very tempted by other options that offer conditions that may be considered better than ours," Laporta told Radio Catalunya.

"The offer has been on the table for some time. They will respond when the season is over. We would've liked to have an answer sooner, but we can't force it.

"The coach likes him and I like him. We've made a very important effort to make him stay. He looks very comfortable and has a good relationship with everyone. Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] has come, and they are very good friends.

"He has representatives who are in control of the situation, but I hope he stays. If not, we will reinforce that position."

Laporta sounded more confident on the prospects of teenage midfielder Gavi signing a contract extension after an impressive breakthrough campaign with the first team.

"Let's let the technical secretariat work. He has received an offer. I hope that Ivan de la Pena [Gavi's agent] responds favourably to the proposal," Laporta said.

A renewal for Dani Alves could also be on the cards as the 39-year-old right-back, who signed a cut-price deal to return to Barca, eyes a place in Brazil's World Cup squad.

Laporta said: "I would like him to continue. He adjusted a lot so as not to hurt us in the [financial] fair play issue. He is excited to play in the World Cup and if he continues with that attitude, he doesn't endanger our accounts. We'll see."

Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe wants a salary of €50million net and Barcelona had no interest in going that high, according to Joan Laporta. 

World Cup-winning attacker Mbappe has reportedly agreed personal terms to make a free-transfer switch to Madrid after his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires next month, though the Ligue 1 champions still hope to persuade him to stay.

The 23-year-old, who has scored 168 goals and supplied 77 assists in 216 games in all competitions for PSG, had also been linked with a switch to Barca.

However, the Catalan giants' president insists they would not have been willing or able to get anywhere near his demands.

"There are things that even if we had the money to do it, we wouldn't because it distorts our wage bill and that cannot happen again. It is something we are instilling in the club in all areas," Laporta told Catalunya Radio.

"We can't go past a certain level of spending. Mbappe is asking for 40-50 million [euros] net. He wants 50 [million euros] net. Mbappe is at the highest level but hasn't won the Champions League. That must also be taken into account.

"We will not talk about salaries of 25, 30 or 40 [million euros] net. It would be offensive to players who are expected to be a reference in world football and are just starting out at Barcelona. We are not going to do that, nor do we want to."

Barca have been tipped to sign another of European football's elite strikers in the form of Robert Lewandowski, though.

Lewandowski does not wish to extend his Bayern Munich contract, which has a year to run, and he could become available for a transfer before the start of the 2022-23 season.

Asked if the Poland international will sign for Barca, Laporta said: "Let's let the football management and technical secretariat work. I don't want to answer in detail.

"We are working to be more competitive, but it's not easy due to the economic situation. We are working to clean up the club's finances. Then we can do things.

"I hope to be able to say that in a year we have largely cleaned up the club's finances. If we manage to clean it up, all the operations we are contemplating will be able to be dealt with."

A departure for Frenkie de Jong could be one way Barca look to raise funds, but Laporta was unwilling to divulge much when asked about the Netherlands midfielder.

"There are Barcelona players who are coveted on the market and we will do what is best for Barcelona," he said.

"If we manage to clean up the club's finances, we will have fair play, cash … I don't know if there will be sales."

Barcelona are reportedly in the box seat to land Leeds United winger Raphinha in the next transfer window.

Raphinha, 25, is believed to be finished with Leeds, regardless of if they remain in the Premier League for next season.

After a season where he has so far scored 10 goals and provided three assists in 34 Premier League appearances – including a goal away at Stamford Bridge – the Brazilian international is said to have his selection from some of the world's best clubs.

TOP STORY – BARCA LEAD RACE FOR LEEDS' RAPHINHA

According to 90min, Raphinha favours a move to Barcelona if all things are equal, but the Spanish giants will have plenty of competition for his services.

If Leeds are relegated to the Championship, a release clause in Raphinha's contract will mean he can be had for £25million, although it could be double that – or more – if the Whites retain their Premier League status.

Vying with Barca will reportedly be West Ham, who supposedly made a bid in the January window, as well as Newcastle United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Mail is reporting Ilkay Gundogan will be allowed to leave Manchester City in the upcoming transfer window, with one year remaining on his deal.

– According to The Guardian, Chelsea have entered the Robert Lewandowski sweepstakes, although he is believed to be destined for Barcelona.

Newcastle will test the waters to see if Jose Mourinho could be lured away from Roma, according to Marca.

– Marca also reports that Kylian Mbappe has agreed to a five-year deal with Real Madrid, although The Athletic insists no paperwork has been signed and PSG still hope to retain the France star.

Bayern Munich are showing interest in Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele ahead of his contract expiring in a month's time, per Sky Sports.

Barcelona boss Xavi looked to remain positive following a goalless draw with Getafe, as the club approach the end of an empty-handed season.

Barca lacked verve in the middle of the pitch without Pedri at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, creating nothing of substance despite having 71.3 per cent possession for the match.

The Blaugrana remain 12 points from Real Madrid, with both teams only managing a point this weekend, but the latter have the LaLiga title already wrapped up with a Champions League final awaiting.

Xavi wants to remain upbeat coming into the off-season, however, believing Barcelona have salvaged a season that could have finished much worse. Since his appointment, Barcelona have surged from mid-table to second place, which is where they will finish.

"As for the league, we were very far away, but the reality is that we have not been able to compete in other competitions. Now things have to be corrected, but it could have been worse," Xavi said.

"If the economic situation is good, I'm optimistic, but we'll wait. We have to plan now and we don't have much time. We are already against the clock to plan and to decide things."

Barca were knocked out of the Champions League's group stage and the Copa del Rey's last-16, opening with only four wins in their opening 11 league games before Xavi was announced to replace Ronald Koeman in November.

A 4-0 win over title winners Madrid in March was soured by their eventual elimination at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-final of the Europa League, confirming a trophy-less season.

Post-match on Sunday, despite Getafe generating a greater xG (0.43-0.22) with 28.7 per cent possession, Xavi tried to bring the result into context.

"The goal was to qualify for the Super Cup, to finish second, and we've covered that," he said. "Just as we were in November, December, January, we can be happy. Not so much with this game, we were too tidy in the first half, we need to generate more.

"We have not achieved the main objective of winning titles, I would not have signed for it [when taking the job], but we have denied the blow of a disastrous season."

Getafe and Barcelona played out an almost entirely uneventful 0-0 draw at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on the penultimate weekend of the LaLiga season.

A game with an enormous 'end of term' air about it never got going, though in reality that suited both teams.

The draw means that Barca have sealed second spot in LaLiga, while Getafe are now safe from relegation.

It represents an improvement on last season for the Catalan giants after they finished third behind Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

A very quiet first half unsurprisingly saw Barca dominate possession, but it was Getafe who created more chances and former Blaugrana player Carles Alena tested Marc-Andre ter Stegen from range, though the effort was easily dealt with by the German stopper.

Little of note happened early in the second half either, with Barca's first shot on target not arriving until the 48th minute as Ferran Torres tried to chip David Soria, but it was an easy save.

Memphis Depay was forced off with an injury, replaced by fellow Dutchman Luuk de Jong, who set up Alejandro Balde for a shot that flew over the bar following nice work from Ansu Fati down the left.

It was an otherwise quiet game, though, and the important thing for both was that they secured the point needed for a positive end to the campaign.

Julian Nagelsmann has "two or three" transfer targets in mind for when Bayern Munich have to replace Robert Lewandowski.

Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski has told Bayern he wants to leave and is eager to move on during the close season, rather than have to wait for his contract to expire in June 2023.

That conflicts with the club's plan, as they remain steadfast Lewandowski will remain at Bayern for the duration of his deal.

It remains to be seen what happens next and Nagelsmann is not looking for an immediate signing to take the place of Lewandowski.

Instead, he is planning for the striker who might come in in 12 months' time and the Bayern head coach said on Sunday: "I have two or three names in mind, but we still have to explore the market."

Speaking to German broadcaster BR, Nagelsmann confirmed he would nevertheless be looking to bolster Bayern's squad in certain areas over the coming months.

He said: "We're trying to strengthen the team. We'll see what is financially possible. We'll meet with players to convince FC Bayern of their path."

Nagelsmann said he "would be happy if things would be a little quieter next year", after a testing first season at the helm in Munich. A disappointing Champions League exit to Villarreal in the quarter-finals followed a crushing 5-0 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal.

Before any calm descends, the Lewandowski situation may have to be resolved.

The 33-year-old is reportedly wanted by Barcelona and Bayern would sorely miss the contributions of a player who hit 50 goals in the season that ended on Saturday for the Bundesliga champions.

Speaking at Bayern's championship celebration event on Sunday, star midfielder Thomas Muller sang the praises of Lewandowski, but said the club would find a way to succeed without him.

"FC Bayern is constantly changing," Muller said. "We are constantly losing players, including those we would have liked to keep.

"You're not solely dependent on one player. Of course, Robert is a brutally good individual player. I don't know how long he'll be here. Maybe longer, but there was Bayern before Robert Lewandowski. The club is above everything."

Manchester United's midfield has long been an area of dysfunction, even in relative terms at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have not been able to find balance with the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred.

As a result, Erik ten Hag's rebuild at United could mean a big-name signing to rejuvenate their play in the centre of the pitch.


TOP STORY – KANTE TARGETED BY 

New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants N'Golo Kante to form the basis of his rebuild at Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

The 31-year-old has one year left on his contract at Chelsea and Ten Hag is reportedly confident in Kante's sustained ability to perform at the highest level.

Kante is believed to be an attainable target if Todd Boehly's takeover at Stamford Bridge is rubber-stamped, giving Thomas Tuchel a sizeable transfer budget to work with.

United are no guarantee to even play in the Europa League, sitting three points ahead of West Ham, who have a game in hand.

ROUND-UP

- The Sun is reporting Frenkie de Jong is prepared to waive €7million of unpaid wages by Barcelona in order to move to Manchester City.

- Arsenal have agreed on a fee of up to €25m with Bologna for Scotland international Aaron Hickey, according to Calciomercato.

- Robert Lewandowski is set to leave Bayern Munich and join Barcelona on a three-year deal, the Sun reports.

- Ousmane Dembele might be moving in the other direction to join Bayern when his contract expires at the end of the season, per Sky Sports.

Julian Nagelsmann is taking emotion out of the situation after it was confirmed Robert Lewandowski wants to leave Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored his 50th goal of the season across all competitions as Bayern capped off another successful Bundesliga campaign by drawing 2-2 at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

However, it was revealed before the match that the 33-year-old had refused the offer of a new deal.

Lewandowski is under contract until the end of next season but wants a new challenge after eight years with the Bundesliga giants. Barcelona have been heavily linked with making a move.

While Nagelsmann acknowledged it will be a loss whenever Lewandowski does leave Bayern – the club must decide whether to cash in over the coming months or instead keep him for next season and allow a free transfer – he insisted there is no time for sadness.

Instead, he must focus on the task of finding a replacement for a player who has broken countless records.

Nagelsmann told a news conference: "Yes, it is or would be a loss, but he still has a contract until 2023, and I think we have all already commented on this.

"There is also no other statement about it, except that he has a contract until 2023. There is really nothing more to report.

 

"Of course, it's always the case that if you lose a very good player, or lose a player in general, then it's always not nice. 'Sad' is maybe the wrong word, there are other things in life to be sad about.

"It rather gives the incentive to look for a new striker after the next season or in the next season who can then replace Lewy. That is then the job we have to do.

"There is little room for sadness, but you have to try to make the best out of the situation for the future."

Reflecting on his first season as Bayern coach, in which he led the Bavarians to a 10th straight Bundesliga title but failed to get past the quarter-finals in the Champions League, Nagelsmann said: "It was tough. It was not that easy this season.

"The first half of the season was good. We expected another result in the cup, but in the end, we were very good in the Champions League group stage, and we were very good in the league.

"In the second part of the season, we were struggling a little bit. It was not that stable anymore. Sometimes we played well, we did not get the best results, especially in the Champions League. At the end, I think we could have done it a bit better."

Robert Lewandowski anticipates swift progress after he asked to leave Bayern Munich, a shock to the system for the Bundesliga champions.

The 33-year-old striker, who reached 50 goals for the season by netting a header in Bayern's final match of the campaign on Saturday, has made it clear he does not see his future at the Allianz Arena.

All involved at Bayern are aware of Lewandowski's stance, which was confirmed before the 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

They must either sell him and bring in useful funds or face losing the Poland striker on a free transfer in 12 months' time. Keeping a disenchanted player would be a risk and Lewandowski urged all parties to find a positive outcome.

"I spoke to Hasan Salihamidzic and told him that I had made a decision not to extend my contract with Bayern," Lewandowski told Polish broadcaster Viaplay.

"Both sides must think about the future. I informed the coach of my decision. I am not renewing the contract, and now the most important thing for both parties is to find a good solution.

"It is very possible that this was my last game for Bayern. I have one more year on the contract, everything will be clarified in the near future."

According to Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy, Lewandowski added: "We want to find the best solution for me and the club. Both sides want the decision to quit in the summer or stay for the final season as soon as possible."

Lewandowski finished as the Bundesliga's leading scorer for a seventh season, matching Gerd Muller's record to secure the league's cannon trophy once again. In the league alone, he managed 35 goals, and that form has seen him strongly linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona.

The former Borussia Dortmund star is the top scorer among players from Europe's top five leagues, ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, who came into the weekend on 44 goals across all competitions.

Madrid could yet bring in Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain to pair up with Benzema, and that would add to the onus on Barca to make their own statement signing.

Barca have financial issues to iron out before any deal could go ahead, as head coach Xavi pointed out on Saturday.

He has not spoken directly about Lewandowski to confirm Barca's interest, but Xavi could use a prolific goalscorer if his team are to challenge Madrid for domestic silverware next season.

Xavi explained he would not be averse to signing a veteran player, having noticed how stars in their mid to late thirties are increasingly staying in good shape, pinpointing the likes of Luka Modric, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca's own Dani Alves.

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann said after the Wolfsburg game that a busy week awaits him at the club's headquarters, even with the season at an end.

"Next week is going to be a lot of time for me at Saebener Strasse," Nagelsmann said.

"Lots of appointments, with the players as well, just to work on the future, so we'll hopefully be more successful than we are currently."

Robert Lewandowski has asked to leave Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said on Saturday.

The record-breaking striker wants a new challenge at the age of 33 after eight years with the Bundesliga giants.

His intentions had been mooted in recent days but have now been confirmed, with Salihamidzic telling Sky television the Poland international has made his position known.

In response, Bayern have told Lewandowski he remains under contract until the end of next season.

It means there could be months of uncertainty ahead as Lewandowski seeks to leave and Bayern look to convince him his future remains in Munich.

Barcelona have been strongly linked with a move for the striker, but their head coach Xavi would not be drawn on Lewandowski when he spoke on Saturday.

Salihamidzic explained his conversation with the player, who hit a record 41 goals in last season's Bundesliga.

"He said that he would like to do something else. But our attitude hasn't changed: Lewa has a contract until June 30, 2023. That's a fact," Salihamidzic said.

"I spoke to Lewa. In the conversation he told me that he did not want to accept our offer to extend the contract and that he would like to leave the club."

Salihamidzic declined to entertain the question of what might change to alter the stand-off, saying: "I don't deal with that because our stance has always been clear."

The announcement regarding Lewandowski came in the minutes before kick-off in Bayern's final game of the season at Wolfsburg.

Predictably, he scored in the 40th minute to take his goal tally to the season to 50 across all competitions.

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo is a shock contender to face Getafe on Sunday – just five days after suffering a head injury that caused him to spend a night in hospital.

The 23-year-old Uruguayan suffered a heavy blow in Tuesday's 3-1 LaLiga win against Celta Vigo, clashing heads with team-mate Gavi shortly after the hour mark.

Both sets of players urged medical staff to come onto the field, and Araujo received around 10 minutes of treatment before leaving the pitch in an ambulance.

Xavi said after the match that Araujo was "conscious and out of danger", and his discharge from hospital was confirmed on Wednesday.

Barcelona stated on Tuesday that Araujo had suffered concussion, which is a brain injury.

In England, Football Association rules stipulate that any player with concussion should not be allowed to play again for at least six days; however, Barcelona believe Araujo could be ready to feature in Spain's LaLiga after coming through training with team-mates.

"Araujo wants to play," Xavi said on Saturday. "For us that means a lost. At no time was he unconscious, and he wants to play. He wants to be with us.

"I am moved by the commitment he has. The feelings on the training field are very good. He was not unconscious and in that sense it is important so that he can be there tomorrow."

Araujo posted on Twitter on Friday: "Thank God everything went well and it was nothing serious. Thank you all for your support. Blessings!"

The Uruguay international has played 42 times this term, totalling 3,181 minutes on the field – only Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong have played more minutes among outfield Barca players.

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