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."

Massimiliano Allegri hailed the "heavy legacy" Giorgio Chiellini will leave as the Juventus head coach suggested the centre-back and Paulo Dybala will feature at Fiorentina.

Chiellini confirmed he will leave Juve at the end of the season and was substituted in his final home appearance in the 17th minute on Monday to honour his 17-year spell with the Bianconeri.

The Italy veteran handed the captain's armband to Dybala as he made his way off the pitch, with the forward also heading for the exit door when his contract expires in June.

Dybala, who has 115 goals for the Bianconeri, will leave as the third-highest non-Italian scorer in Juve's history in all competitions, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

Monday's draw with Lazio was expected to be the pair's last appearance for Juve, but Allegri suggested the duo could yet feature in Florence on Saturday, while Weston McKennie might return from injury.

"A good match against a team that has the objective of hitting Europe," he said as he previewed the Fiorentina game on JuventusTV. "We will find a warm environment and we have to have fun.

"Tomorrow I think it will be an open game with many goals. Then usually in the final season in these games there are many goals.

"We will all go to Florence apart from Danilo, [Federico] Chiesa and [Mattia] De Sciglio. Then the others are all available. [Weston] McKennie comes back and maybe he will play a piece of the game."

On Chiellini's departure, Allegri added: "He leaves a heavy legacy because in any case he was an extraordinary player and he still is because he plays tomorrow.

"Also on a moral level he will have left excellent lessons to the players who remain in the locker room."

Juve will end this season with 73 points if they defeat Fiorentina, their worst total in a Serie A campaign since 2010-11 (58).

Allegri is aware that improvements are needed for next season to compete in the Champions League and with the likes of Milan and Inter, who are still vying for the title.

"They are the ones that must have a team that aims to win and that fights for all the goals for which it participates," he said of his team.

"We definitely need to improve this year's season. It's true, but also that we have a good base to start from."

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has been disappointed by questions over his side's integrity ahead of their season-ending clash with Manchester City.

It means Gerrard, a Liverpool great, has the chance to do his old club a huge favour. Should City drop points against Villa on Sunday, then a win for the Reds over Wolves would ensure the Premier League title is theirs.

Villa hosted Liverpool last week, with some doubts raised over how Gerrard would approach that game, but the Reds were pushed hard before ultimately triumphing 2-1. 

Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings started on the bench on Thursday in Villa's final home game of the season – a 1-1 draw with Burnley – with both players coming on in the final 20 minutes.

Those questions, however, have frustrated Gerrard.

"In terms of Liverpool, I totally understand and respect the external noise and the questions that have been coming my way for some time," the former England midfielder told a news conference.

"They're involved in a title race, and I spent a lot of time there. It is disappointing when people mention integrity and aim it towards me or Aston Villa or any of my players.

"We'll go out at the weekend and give it everything we've got to try to get points for Aston Villa and our supporters. If that inevitably helps Liverpool, fantastic."

City have won nine of their last 10 Premier League games against Villa (D1), including the last six in a row, while Villa have lost 15 of their last 16 trips to the Etihad Stadium in the league, losing each of their last 11 on the bounce since a 2-0 win in 2007.

Speaking of facing City and Liverpool, Gerrard said: "In terms of my experience being back in the Premier League, they have been the two best sides by far that we have faced.

"Very different – one tries to hurt you with positional play and possession and one tries to hurt you with speed and intensity.

"They are both extremely consistent and have got top managers. They have both recruited extremely well over a period of time and had a lot of time to work with the team so it is no surprise that they get the results that they do."

Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool's quadruple tilt represents one of the greatest seasons from a Premier League side, regardless of the outcome of their final-day title tussle with Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's team remain in contention for the second top-flight title of his tenure when they host Wolves at Anfield, having already won the EFL Cup and FA Cup, while reaching the Champions League final.

With Liverpool one point behind City and possessing an inferior goal difference, the Reds will need Pep Guardiola's men to slip up in their home game against Aston Villa to preserve their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple.

Liverpool and City have set a relentless pace at the top of the Premier League table this season with the Reds winning 15 and drawing three of their last 18 league games, while City are unbeaten in 11 league outings after rescuing a 2-2 draw at West Ham last Sunday (eight wins, three draws).

Alexander-Arnold was part of the Liverpool team that finished as runners-up despite amassing 97 points in the 2018-19 season as City finished one point clear of the Reds.

The England international believes Liverpool's effort on four fronts this term represents a historic achievement amongst Premier League sides, whatever the outcome of Sunday's title fight.

"I think back in March, or April I was thinking 'this is going to happen again', but when there are seven or eight fixtures to go you think 'surely someone has got to drop a few points'," the full-back told Sky Sports.

"We have [a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham last month], but it's been quite even and it's all we could do. You think back to January and we were miles behind them, and we fought back and got ourselves into an amazing position.

"I think, to push the way we have in all competitions this season, it's got to be, for me, one of the best team performances over the course of a season in Premier League history.

"We've taken every trophy to the last game, that's all you can really ask for, and I think it's been a special achievement no matter what happens on Sunday."

Liverpool will be supremely confident of doing their part after going unbeaten throughout their last 22 home Premier League games (17 wins, five draws).

If the Reds avoid defeat against Wolves, they will have gone unbeaten through an entire home Premier League campaign for a fifth time, the joint-most of any club (alongside Chelsea).

However, rivals City have ended 10 of their last 13 campaigns with a victory (two draws, one defeat), not losing on the final day since suffering a 3-2 reverse against Norwich City in 2013, while the defending champions have won nine of their last 10 Premier League games against Villa.

Look away Liverpool, this may make for painful reading. Manchester City are not quite home and hosed in the Premier League title race, but all signs point to them brushing off Aston Villa on Sunday to clinch the trophy.

Another gripping race for domestic dominance culminates in City hosting Villa, while rivals Liverpool face Wolves at Anfield.

If City drop points, a Liverpool win would make Jurgen Klopp's team the champions. Yet recent history shows us that City rarely stumble against Villa, so a slip-up in the clash with Steven Gerrard's side would be a monumental shock.

A sixth title in the Premier League era beckons, which would rank City outright second behind Manchester United's haul of 13 championships.

Stats Perform takes a look here at key Opta numbers ahead of the final-day showdown

Saving the best for last

Pep Guardiola has repeatedly denied City lost their nerve against Real Madrid, when they remarkably surrendered what should have been a match-winning lead in the Champions League semi-finals.

Such wild things happen in football, Guardiola has reasoned, which is why he will take a meticulous approach to preparation for the Etihad Stadium clash with Villa. There could yet be an extraordinary finish to the season, but not if Guardiola can help it.

City have kept running through the tape in each of Guardiola's seasons in England, winning all five of their final league games under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss. That ranks as the best such 100 per cent record for a manager in the competition's history.

Going back even further, to the start of the Abu Dhabi ownership era, City have lost just one of their final league games in the last 13 campaigns (W10 D2). That loss came when they went down 3-2 at home to Norwich City in 2012-13 when Brian Kidd was in caretaker charge for the last game. A year previously, they famously beat QPR by that same scoreline to clinch a first Premier League title.

This season, City have lost just one of their last 27 Premier League games (W22 D4), and are unbeaten in 11 since losing 3-2 at home to Spurs in February.

 

What it would mean for Guardiola

The City manager, who reports have claimed is ready to extend his contract until 2025, stands on the brink of Premier League history.

Should his side keep Liverpool at arm's length, Guardiola will become the outright leader for English top-flight titles among non-British managers, going one clear of both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.

This would be his fourth such Premier League title success in England, with only Manchester United's Alex Ferguson winning more. Guardiola has no intention of staying long enough to match Ferguson's staggering stack of 13 titles.

City have won 168 of the 227 Premier League games they have contested in the Guardiola era, scoring 562 goals in that time. Those are inevitably league-best figures, and it would be hideously out of character for them to crack against Villa.

A one-sided rivalry

It was not always this way, of course. Villa finished ahead of City as recently as the 2008-09 season (finishing sixth to City's 10th), but the tables turned in the dynamic between the teams when the Abu Dhabi investment began at the Etihad Stadium.

In recent years, this has been almost a formality victory for City, who have won nine of their last 10 Premier League games against Villa (D1), including the last six in a row.

City's last defeat to Sunday's opponents was a 3-2 loss at Villa Park in September 2013.

It is even more of a grim story when the focus falls solely on the games in Manchester. Villa have lost 15 of their last 16 away league games against City, losing each of the last 11 in a row since a 2-0 win in April 2007. This run of 11 is Villa's longest away losing streak against an opponent in their league history.

What's more, Villa's record when facing any league-leading team is unimpressive. They have won just one of their 21 Premier League away games against league leaders (D3 L17), beating Leeds United 2-1 in January 2000, and have lost the last seven by an aggregate score of 21-1.

Villa pulled off a shock of sorts when beating fourth-placed finishers Chelsea on the final day of last season, but they have not won their last game of a league campaign in consecutive seasons since the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. The second of those wins came against champions Arsenal, but that is almost a quarter of a century ago.

 

Doubling up on the last day?

City will have Erling Haaland on board next season, so a flip of tactics seems inevitable to accommodate the prolific striker. This term, City have tended to rely on their midfield and attacking wide players to deliver in front of goal, and three players have reached double figures: Kevin De Bruyne (15 goals), Raheem Sterling (13) and Riyad Mahrez (11).

Now it could be Phil Foden's turn.

Foden has scored nine Premier League goals this season, and if he scores against Villa it would make this season the first for City with two English players (Foden and Sterling) scoring at least 10 goals in a league campaign since 2004-05, when Robbie Fowler and Shaun Wright-Phillips were the pair.

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch says he expects to stay with the club regardless of whether the Whites can "outpoint" Burnley in the Premier League relegation battle.

Marsch inherited a struggling side from Elland Road favourite Marcelo Bielsa and has been unable to transform their fortunes, with Leeds in 18th due to an inferior goal difference compared with 17th-placed Burnley.

Everton secured their Premier League status with a dramatic 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Thursday, when Burnley took the lead but were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa.

Leeds must better Burnley's result on Sunday to escape the drop but face Thomas Frank's Brentford, who are unbeaten in their last 10 home league games against the Whites (W6 D4) since a 2-1 loss in 1950.

Marsch, speaking at a pre-match news conference on Friday, acknowledged the game with Brentford likely represents a must-win clash otherwise Leeds will be reliant on Burnley faltering against Newcastle United.

"[There were] lots of emotions watching it. We can learn a lot from how the other players can handle the pressure differently," he said of watching Thursday's Premier League games.

"We're excited for this challenge – we know we have to be at our best. I never came here to think it would be easy. I knew we'd have to fight for everything. I'll make sure we'll do this on Sunday.

"It would have been a lot easier if we were locked into the league already, but the fact that we have to outpoint Burnley makes it very clear for us. A win gives us the best opportunity.

"I slept well last night because I still have confidence in our group. [It is] better when we control our fate, but that's not the case. [We need] to do whatever we can to get the points."

Marsch will be hoping to call upon Patrick Bamford, who has been out since mid-March with a foot injury, but is yet to make a final decision.

"More than anything, we're not risking him at any level," he said of his star striker. "At the moment I don't believe we would be able to.

"We will have one more meeting tomorrow with Patrick on what it looks like, what the loads have been, how he feels and then do a final assessment of is he available, how many minutes, what's the best strategy and then we have to be ready to let him go and play. That's where we are at."

Regardless of whether Leeds will be playing Championship football next campaign, Marsch plans to still be in charge.

"I'm still planning to be here even in relegation," the American added. "It's a long-term project and the club committed to me in that way. The connections we have made mesh well together.

"The support from everyone has been amazing, but I'm not thinking about the long-term project, only about Sunday and preparing for that."

Kylian Mbappe's mother has confirmed the forward has reached contract agreements with both Paris Saint-German and Real Madrid, and all that remains is for the 23-year-old to make a final decision.

Mbappe, who is out of contract next month, is a long-standing target of Champions League finalists Madrid, although PSG have also made their desire to keep the 2018 World Cup winner public – with head coach Mauricio Pochettino declaring on Friday he wants the France international to stay "for many more years".

He has scored 25 league goals and added 17 assists to guide PSG to their 10th Ligue 1 title this term, with his total of 42 league goal contributions the highest of all players in the big five European leagues.

Mbappe was voted Ligue 1 player of the season for a third successive time last week, before declaring at the Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionnels (UNFP) award ceremony in Paris that he would announce a decision on his future before France's Nations League fixtures in June.

The player's mother and agent Fayza Lamary has now confirmed reports that Mbappe has agreed similar terms with both PSG and Madrid. 

"There are no new sessions in order to negotiate the future of Mbappe after the expiration of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain. These sessions have ended," she told Kora Plus.

"We have an agreement with Real Madrid and another agreement with Paris Saint-Germain, and the negotiations have already ended, now Kylian has to choose.

"The two offers are equal from Real Madrid and Saint-Germain, there are no big differences between them, but we are waiting for Kylian to choose what he wants."

PSG will bring the curtain down on their Ligue 1 season when they host Metz on Saturday, with Mbappe having contributed to seven more league goals than their final-day opponents have scored this season (35).

Antonio Conte insisted Champions League candidates Tottenham can stomach any sickness crisis as they bid to avoid a crisis comparable to 2006's 'lasagne-gate' on the final day of the season.

Gary Lineker raised concerns among Tottenham fans when he wrote on Twitter that he had heard of "a food poisoning outbreak" at the club ahead of Sunday's trip to Norwich City.

Former Spurs striker Lineker, now a respected television presenter, added: "No, I am not joking."

It then emerged that Harry Kane had reported feeling unwell on Friday and pulled out of an event he was due to attend at a London museum.

The speculation sparked concerns there might be a repeat of the 2005-06 season-ending drama when food poisoning hit Tottenham hard on the final weekend. Then, a string of stars were left stricken and played their game against West Ham despite vomiting in the changing rooms before kick-off.

Tottenham lost 2-1 and were overtaken by north London rivals Arsenal, who snatched the fourth Champions League place thanks to a 4-2 win over Wigan Athletic. The episode was quickly branded 'lasagne-gate', given the choice of pre-match dinner of several of the Spurs players, as conspiracy theories abounded.

This time around, Tottenham hold a two-point advantage over fifth-placed Arsenal, who slumped to a dismal 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Monday, and Spurs will be virtually assured of fourth with a draw due to their considerable goal difference advantage over the Gunners.

Conte said on Friday: "If you remember the last game, the game against Burnley, we had three, four cases of a stomach problem.

"In this week, to be honest we had a couple of cases about this, but we overcame the situation. Members of the staff for one day they were not feeling so good, I don't know why, but last week and also this week, we faced this kind of situation.

"But in this moment, this virus is the last of our problems, because we are very close to reaching a big achievement for the club, for our fans and for the players.

"We are totally focused on the game, and the situation of the players and the availability is the same as for the last game against Burnley."

Asked whether he expected Kane to be available, Conte said: "For sure. For sure Harry doesn't want to miss this type of game, and this game it means a lot for everybody.

"The whole season is behind this game. We can reach something amazing for us, because I think no one can imagine Tottenham in the top four this season. 

"This must be a big push for us because we've worked very hard and deserve to be in this position. Everything is in our hands. For this reason, we want to get it."

Told about the saga which unfolded 16 years ago when Martin Jol's sickly Spurs surrendered fourth place, Conte said: "I don't want to know this story, it is not good. It is not a lucky story."

Norwich have already had their relegation confirmed, so Spurs will be facing a side with little incentive other than to finish a gloomy campaign on a high at Carrow Road, but Conte is not taking anything for granted.

"In England there are no easy games," Conte added. "I remember in my experiences as a player that I had in the last game lucky situations and unlucky situations. For this reason, we have the right focus, and we are understanding very well the importance of the moment."

Norwich have won just one of their last nine league games against Tottenham (three draws, five losses), a 1-0 home victory in February 2014. The Canaries have conceded at least twice in each of their last five against Spurs (one draw, four defeats).

That loss is also the only defeat Spurs have suffered in their last 10 trips to Norwich, winning six and drawing three in that stretch.

One concern for Tottenham, however, may be their record against teams already relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the season.

Surprisingly, they have lost more of those games (three) than they have won (two), beating Wolves in 2003-04 and Hull City in 2016-17, but losing against Leicester City in 2001-02, Burnley in 2009-10, and Newcastle United in 2015-16.

Should Spurs claim a result at Carrow Road, Conte will become the fifth manager to finish in the top four of the Premier League with two different clubs, after Kenny Dalglish, Rafael Benítez, Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho.

World number one Iga Swiatek is heading to Roland Garros in a laid-back mood as she looks to win her second major title.

Swiatek won her first and only grand slam when she triumphed in Paris in 2020 as a teenager.

The 20-year-old – who rose to number one in the WTA rankings when Ash Barty retired in March – has been in sparkling form in 2020.

Having reached the Australian Open semi-finals, Swiatek has gone on to win five successive titles, becoming the fourth player since the turn of the century to manage that feat.

She became the third-youngest player to win her second title in Rome when she triumphed at the Internazionali d'Italia earlier this month, while she has won five of the last nine WTA 1000 titles.

Swiatek was defeated by Maria Sakkari in last year's quarter-finals at Roland Garros, but feels she has little to prove going into the second major of the season.

"I'm more relaxed. I don't know about being nervous, because usually it comes closer to the match, so we will see," Swiatek, who has won her last 28 matches, told a media conference.

"But I'm more relaxed, because I have so many [ranking] points and I feel like my position in the WTA is already like, you know, I have worked for it.

"Already I've kind of proved to myself and to other people that I can be in the top of the game. Before I wasn't feeling that much confidence, so this year I feel much more peace.

"I'm taking the experience of the whole process, and playing seven matches in two weeks, having the routines. Also like getting to know how it is to go higher and higher in a grand slam.

"These kind of experiences help me not only for other grand slams but for many tournaments."

Pep Guardiola has defended his claim "everybody in this country supports Liverpool", suggesting Manchester City's modern success does not yet compare to the Anfield giants.

Guardiola became the centre of much attention following City's 5-0 win over Newcastle United earlier this month when he gave a remarkable post-match interview to beIN SPORTS.

The Catalan coach responded to discussion of City reclaiming control of the Premier League title race by saying: "One week ago, we were [already] one point in front. But everybody in this country supports Liverpool, the media, everyone."

City are again one point ahead of Liverpool heading into the season's final round of fixtures, certain to win the title if they can beat Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola was asked to explain his comments and suggested they had been lost in translation, although he then suggested Liverpool were indeed favoured in England due to their history.

"I'm pretty sure my English is not good enough after four or five years, so maybe I don't explain well," he told a news conference.

"All I said was when you arrive to win titles, the teams with more tradition, more history winning leagues and winning Champions Leagues, they have more supporters through the media.

"It happens in Spain with Barcelona and Madrid, it happens in Germany with Bayern Munich, it happens in Italy with Milan, Inter and the other ones.

"We are new outsiders in the last decade. We were not there in that moment.

"Of course people don't want Liverpool winning, like us. If you win too much, they don't want you to win again. Of course the Liverpool fans want to win it, other fans don't want them to win it, they prefer us.

"I'm not saying all the country is doing that, but in general, because they are a team with history in terms of titles.

"If you want to deny it, deny it; maybe I'm wrong. But if you compare all the countries around the world, there are two or three or four teams who the people support more than the other ones because they have been there more times.

"Here it's the same. People support more United than the other ones, Liverpool than the other ones, Arsenal when they were there, because they have a lot of history.

"We are new in this position. How many times have we been in this position in our history? How many times? The Aguero moment, Brighton [in 2019], Paul Dickov to be promoted [in 1999] and then... I don't know? It's not much. It's new for us."

Guardiola has gone some way to establishing City among the elite, on the brink of an eighth top-flight title, the fifth-most of all time.

A sixth Premier League triumph – and fourth in five seasons, all under Guardiola – would be the outright second-most behind Manchester United (13).

United's Alex Ferguson (13) alone would rank ahead of Guardiola for championships in the Premier League era, while he could move clear of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho (both three) for the most top-flight successes by a non-British manager.

The omens are good, too, given City have lost only one of their past 13 final-day matches (to Norwich City in 2012-13) and Guardiola has won five from five, the best 100 per cent record in Premier League history.

Mikel Arteta is pleased with the progress made by Arsenal this season, but says financial backing is imperative if the club are to push on next season.

The Gunners enter the final round of Premier League fixtures sitting fifth in the table, two points adrift of fierce rivals Tottenham in the final Champions League spot.

Arsenal's fate had been in their own hands prior to losing back-to-back matches against Spurs and Newcastle United without scoring a goal.

They now need to beat Everton at Emirates Stadium on Sunday and hope that Tottenham fail to win away at already relegated Norwich City.

A fifth-placed finish would still mark Arsenal's best season in three years, though, and Arteta – who signed a new deal earlier this month – is eager to focus on the positives.

"It’s been a long journey and a very challenging one this season but I think we have come a long way as a club," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"As a team I think we have transformed the energy of the club and we’ve done it together. Now I can sense I have the support to take the next step.

"We are back in Europe, hopefully it will be the Champions League, and we want to take the club to the next level.

"We have a clear plan. We need resources and we need to improve the quality and the depth of the squad."

Arsenal have been linked with a number of players ahead of the transfer window opening, with reports on Friday suggesting Marquinhos is close to finalising terms.

While Arteta was unwilling to confirm his interest in Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos, the Spaniard is confident he will get the chance to strengthen his squad.

"When there is a player to announce in the next few weeks, we'll be dealing with that then," he said when asked specifically about Marquinhos.

"We are going to have certain resources, not unlimited resources, certain resources.

"We don't know what the rest are going to have, which I assume is going to be challenging because now it’s not a top three, it’s a top eight.

"This club's history is to be the best in this country. It takes time to get there."

Arsenal have avoided defeat in their final league game in the past 16 seasons, winning the last 10 of those, while at home they are unbeaten on the final weekend since 1992-93.

However, they have lost their past three league games with Everton and are aiming to avoid four losses in a row against them in the competition for the first time since 1924.

Everton make the trip to London with little to play for on the face of it after confirming Premier League safety with a 3-2 victory win against Crystal Palace on Thursday.

That impressive comeback was somewhat overshadowed, though, as Palace boss Patrick Vieira was involved in an altercation when Everton fans ran onto the pitch at full-time.

Merseyside Police and the Football Association are investigating, and Arteta wants to see an end to pitch invasions following a number of high-profile recent incidents.

"We have to stop it and we have to minimise the risk and exposure of players and staff in this situation," he said.

"You cannot control it. When there are so many people involved it becomes dangerous."

Nemanja Matic hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as "an example to everyone" and a "winner", as the midfielder prepares to make his final Manchester United appearance on the final day of the season.

Having joined United from Chelsea in 2017, Matic will depart Old Trafford as a free agent after the Red Devils travel to Crystal Palace for their final Premier League outing of the campaign on Sunday.

Matic has made 23 league appearances for United this term, although the Red Devils can only finish as high as sixth after enduring a frustrating campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick. 

The form of Ronaldo has been one positive during United's underwhelming season, with the Portuguese legend scoring 18 goals in 30 league appearances since returning to Old Trafford at the start of the campaign.

As he prepares to play his final game for United, Matic told the club's official media channels he was proud to have been able to share a dressing room with Ronaldo, hailing the striker's influence.

"He's a fantastic player. He's an example to everyone, an example to young guys," he said of the 37-year-old. 

"It's very important for them to see how he behaves every day and how he approaches the games and the training sessions. He's a winner. 

"He's a great character and a very nice man outside of the pitch. I'm very pleased I had the opportunity to share the dressing room with him."

Ronaldo's 18 Premier League goals this season make it his second-most prolific campaign in the competition, after he scored 31 times in 2007-08. However, just four of Ronaldo's league goals have come away from home this season ahead of Sunday's trip to Selhurst Park.

Meanwhile, among all players to have scored 100 or more goals in Premier League history, Ronaldo has netted the highest percentage of his strikes in home games (70 per cent, 71/102).

Matic, meanwhile, says he is yet to decide on his next move, and has refused to rule out a move abroad after spending over eight years in the Premier League with Chelsea and United.

"I haven't decided yet. Let's finish the season and in June probably I will decide my future. But nothing is decided yet," he added. "All options are open for me and let's see." 

With United already looking ahead of the imminent arrival of Ajax coach Erik ten Hag, the 33-year-old also reassured Red Devils fans that the future at Old Trafford was bright, thanking them for their support during a difficult era at the club.

"I just want to say thank you for the fantastic support. I know that we had a couple of difficult seasons, but I just want them to know that us at the training ground, we're doing our best and United will come back, for sure," he added.

"It's going to take some time, but United will be back and just keep supporting the team. Stay together."

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.

We are at the final gameweek of the Premier League fantasy football season, and the moment of truth has arrived – not for Manchester City and Liverpool, but for the fantasy players out there.

Balancing between premium players and those who can provide particular value could be the difference at this time of the season, whether you need to consolidate or make up ground.

Stats Perform has you covered with some Opta-powered recommendations below, so here are our suggestions for this week's picks.

HUGO LLORIS (Norwich City v Tottenham)

A good start at this point of the season is determining which teams have something to play for, and with Champions League qualification on the line, Tottenham are one of the more relevant examples this weekend.

Sitting on 15 for the season so far, Hugo Lloris is one clean sheet away from recording his most in a single Premier League campaign, with only Alisson and Ederson ahead of him on 20.

The 35-year-old has made a solid 2.65 saves per 90 on the way to his 15 clean sheets, holding that bit of extra motivation coming into the final round.

ANDREW ROBERTSON (Liverpool v Wolves)

Liverpool need to win to keep their Premier League hopes alive, and they will likely have the majority of the ball against Wolves on Sunday. Expect crosses and dead balls.

As a result, expect as ever for Liverpool's full-backs to be prominent, and Andrew Robinson is just one shy of recording 50 assists in the Premier League. He would become only the second defender to do so, after Leighton Baines.

He is averaging more assists per 90 (0.37) and chances created per 90 (2.02) for Liverpool this season than in any of his previous campaigns.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Brentford v Leeds United)

Granted, Brentford have little to play for aside from professional pride, but Christian Eriksen's return to the Premier League has reinforced his transformative quality as a footballer. They're also playing Leeds.

The 30-year-old has either scored or assisted in five of his nine Premier League starts this season, while only Kevin de Bruyne has created more chances than him per 90 this term. 

While Eriksen also trails De Bruyne for assists since the 2013-14 season on 66, this season has seen him create a chance every 32 minutes on average.

MICHAIL ANTONIO (Brighton and Hove Albion v West Ham)

Despite West Ham's elimination in the Europa League at the hands of eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt, the season is not over. The Hammers still need a win to stand a chance of taking that last Europa League spot from Manchester United.

Another goal for Michail Antonio would see him score at least 10 goals in three consecutive seasons, which would also make him the first West Ham player to do so in the Premier League. 

He also has 17 goal involvements for the season, his most in the competition.

Three of Manchester City's five previous Premier League triumphs have gone right to the wire, where margins are so fine the title battle can be settled by a single man in a single moment.

Sergio Aguero of course set the standard in 2011-12 with surely the most iconic goal of the Premier League era, defeating QPR at the death and clinching a first City championship in 44 years.

Then, in 2018-19, it was Vincent Kompany's turn. Although the departing City captain made only 17 league appearances that year, he will forever be associated with the title win after his thunderous strike secured a vital late-season victory over Leicester City.

"Where do you want your statue, Vincent Kompany?" asked Sky Sports' Gary Neville. Both Aguero and Kompany – and those celebrations – have since been committed to steel structures outside the Etihad Stadium.

The City hero was perhaps not quite so clear-cut in 2013-14, when Liverpool's collapse took centre stage, but Yaya Toure's 20 goals from midfield kept his side in touch. While City spent only 15 days of the season at the summit, the win that put them there in the final week perhaps provided the defining image of the champions' campaign, as Toure charged through the Aston Villa defence to score a goal that BBC Sport's Alan Shearer considered "like watching a 15-year-old against under-12s".

Three City legends have had seasons to call their own. Kevin De Bruyne, until now, had not.

De Bruyne was the PFA Players' Player of the Year in consecutive years, but the 2019-20 campaign in which he equalled Thierry Henry's 20-assist, single-season record ended with Liverpool on top. The 2020-21 season played out largely without fans and ultimately without a serious challenge to City, robbing their leading man of his platform.

Consistent excellence had for so long characterised the midfielder's career rather than any particular peak.

Now, however, 2021-22 might be remembered as the De Bruyne season – a most unexpected conclusion given how the campaign started, as perhaps his worst in a City shirt.

'Difficult physically and mentally'

The player of the year he may have been, but De Bruyne's 2020-21 season did not finish in the manner he would have wished.

The former Chelsea man lasted only an hour of City's Champions League final defeat to the Blues last May, suffering facial fractures that impacted his preparation for Euro 2020. De Bruyne found form again at the finals, only to hobble out of Belgium's last-16 win over Portugal with an ankle issue.

Although De Bruyne played in the next round, as Belgium lost to Italy, he continued to be hampered by the injury at the start of this season, appearing in City's Premier League opener but then not again for almost four weeks.

"It's been a bit difficult physically and mentally," the 30-year-old told the MIDMID podcast in November, revealing he had played through "some serious pain".

"It's going to be a little more difficult this year than usual," De Bruyne suggested, and that seemed a fair prediction.

The City superstar, who also missed time with COVID-19, made his 10th league appearance of the season in a 1-0 home win over Wolves on December 11. At that stage, he had scored only twice in the competition and failed to provide a single assist – averaging a goal involvement every 246 minutes.

The only comparable De Bruyne season in a City shirt was in 2018-19, when two knee ligament injuries meant his 10th league appearance did not come until early February. Over 465 minutes up to that point, he scored once.

That is the sole other example of De Bruyne not contributing an assist through his first 10 league outings in a season for City; in fact, he had tallied at least four assists and six goal involvements by that point in each of his other five campaigns prior to 2021-22.

A week before De Bruyne's podcast appearance last year, Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was also asked to address his star man's form, acknowledging the "scrutiny" he faced while underperforming in a team as talented as City's.

"I'm not worried at all," Martinez said. "We feel that his best football is coming back."

De Bruyne added: "I just needed more time than expected."

'Now he scores a lot'

De Bruyne's 11th game of this campaign was very different. In a 7-0 City win over Leeds United, the team's talisman doubled his seasonal tally by scoring twice, including a thunderous 25-yard drive for his second.

"For the whole team, it's a booster," De Bruyne told NBC Sports – although that surely applied more to the two-goal star than his team-mates, with City moving four points clear at the top of the table with the victory.

"There's been a lot happening this year, a little bit out of my control, so the only thing I can do is try to work hard and come back as quick as possible," he said.

It was clearly a turning point for De Bruyne, who has scored 13 goals and provided seven assists in 19 matches from the Leeds game onwards. A goal involvement every 81 minutes over this period just beats his single-season best from 2019-20 (85 minutes per goal involvement).

Yet De Bruyne's role has altered in the past two years. He will not match his outstanding 33 goal involvements from the year Liverpool won the title, but 15 goals already represent a career high with one game still to play on Sunday.

The reason for that change perhaps has more to do with De Bruyne's City team-mates than the player himself.

In 2019-20, six of De Bruyne's 20 assists were for record goalscorer Aguero – more than for any other player. Of course, Aguero has since departed.

The retired striker was City's leading marksman in six of his 10 league campaigns in Manchester, including each of his first four playing alongside De Bruyne.

With Aguero gone and Erling Haaland not arriving until next term, City needed someone to fill the void in front of goal. De Bruyne, whether used in midfield or attack, has done that in the second half of the season.

Despite the slow start, City's top scorer has scored with 20.3 per cent of his shots in 2021-22; his previous high, in his debut 2015-16 season, saw a shot conversion rate of 14.3 per cent.

"I like it a lot," Pep Guardiola said in April after De Bruyne had netted four in four games – including two against Manchester United and one against Liverpool.

"He is not just a player to make assists – now he scores a lot of goals. I've said to him many times, 'I know you enjoy making a lot of assists, for you and your team-mates, but you have to score goals to reach another stage'. Now he is doing that, a lot of goals and chances."

'We have to move on'

De Bruyne has either scored or assisted in 13 of his past 19 games, but he saved his best performances for when it mattered most – at least in the league.

There were suspicions City's season might fall apart when Real Madrid's remarkable semi-final recovery eliminated Guardiola's side from the Champions League at the start of May. With Liverpool in hot pursuit in the Premier League, the leaders were afforded little time to regroup as they headed straight into matches against Newcastle United at home and Wolves away.

"We are going to play against Newcastle thinking about [the Madrid defeat], for sure," said Guardiola in an enthralling news conference, revealing two days before the Newcastle match: "We didn't speak. No words can help what all of us feel. It's just a question of time."

Time, and Tottenham drawing at Liverpool, as it turned out.

A rare slip-up at Anfield on the eve of City's game against Newcastle eased the pressure on the champions. Then De Bruyne got to work.

Briefly restored to his 2019-20 vintage, De Bruyne attempted only a single shot at the Etihad but created six chances in a 5-0 win – his most in a single game this season – including an assist for Rodri's goal.

That performance prompted Jamie Carragher in the Sky Sports studio to declare De Bruyne "the greatest player to ever play for Manchester City", "the best midfield player in the world right now" and "the best player in the Premier League for the past three or four years".

Yet better was still to come at Wolves, where City became the first team in English top-flight history to win five consecutive league games by a margin of at least three goals. De Bruyne alone outscored Wolves by three, netting four in a 5-1 victory.

The first hat-trick of his City career was completed inside 24 minutes – the third-fastest in Premier League history – to blow away a Wolves team who had briefly threatened to cause their visitors some problems.

"It should have been five, to be honest," De Bruyne told Sky Sports, before conversation turned back to the Madrid match.

"It's very difficult to explain because it was just a mad five minutes," he said. "It's not that we played bad or something, it was just five minutes that you can't explain as a player. I don't know what happened. I was out of control on the bench anyway, so you feel a little bit in shock. It's not nice and the feeling is still not nice.

"But you need to move on. We're trying now to win the title and whatever happened unfortunately happened. We have to move on."

The Wolves display would have been fresh in Carragher's mind on Monday when he named De Bruyne his personal player of the season. Whether established individual end-of-season honours beckon for De Bruyne is another matter, though. He was nominated for the official Premier League prize, but many such awards are voted on well in advance of the final weeks of the campaign – before De Bruyne had done his best work.

Mohamed Salah is the FWA Footballer of the Year; he has scored three goals in his past 10 games – fewer than De Bruyne managed on one night in Wolverhampton.

A Premier League title, defined by his clutch performances, would not be a bad consolation.

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