Paolo Maldini is glad that Milan can now "plan for the future" after confirming he has reached an agreement with the Serie A champions to stay on as technical director.

Club legend Maldini was considered one of the main architects behind Milan's first Scudetto success in 11 years last season thanks to his work behind the scenes.

He has held a boardroom position for the past four years, three of those in his current role, and helped sign the likes of Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan.

The 54-year-old was due to be out of contract come the end of Thursday, but he announced shortly ahead of that deal expiring that he will remain in the job.

"Everything is sorted. We renewed at the last minute, but we did it," Maldini told reporters outside Milan's headquarters.

"I am very happy to be here and ready to plan for the future, with even more victories. There's still time [this transfer window]. We started a bit late, but we'll recover lost time."

Director of football Frederic Massara is also reported to have signed an extension to the contract that was due to expire on Thursday.

According to reports from Italy, the delay in reaching an agreement with the pair was down to the lack of funds being made available for transfers this window.

Milan have already missed out on Sven Botman to Newcastle United, while Paris Saint-Germain appear to have pipped the Rossoneri to fellow Lille player Renato Sanches.

Stefano Pioli's men begin their 2022-23 Serie A campaign with a home match against Udinese on August 13. 

Paris Saint-Germain have completed the signing of midfielder Vitinha from Porto for a reported fee of €40million, marking their first new arrival of the transfer window.

Barring the permanent capture of Nuno Mendes – who spent last season on loan in Paris – Vitinha is the club's first signing of a new era, with Christophe Galtier widely expected to succeed Mauricio Pochettino as head coach.

Luis Campos, the hugely successful former Monaco and Lille sporting director, has already come in to drive PSG's transfer business – including this first buy.

Vitinha has signed a five-year contract at the Parc des Princes.

The 22-year-old Portugal international returned from a disappointing loan spell with Wolves to play a key part in Porto's Primeira Liga triumph last season, scoring two goals and providing three assists as the two-time European champions finished six points ahead of Sporting CP.

PSG are set for a busy window, having already secured Kylian Mbappe to a lucrative new contract, having fended off Real Madrid's long-standing interest in the France forward.

Further signings are expected in the French capital, with the club reported to have serious interest in Inter defender Milan Skriniar and Lille midfielder Renato Sanches.

PSG begin the 2022-23 season in the Trophee des Champions against Nantes in Israel on July 31, before the Ligue 1 campaign commences the following week, with the defending champions on the road against Clermont.

Sven Botman considered Newcastle United "a little better" than Milan as he weighed up his transfer options, settling on a "dream" Premier League move.

Lille defender Botman is expected to complete his move to Newcastle on Friday, with a deal in principle announced earlier this week.

That reported £31.8million (€37m) agreement brought to an end a long-running saga, with the centre-back the subject of interest from both Newcastle and Milan.

Botman discussed the merits of signing for both clubs following a January window in which neither could convince Lille to sell.

Milan initially seemed favourites to finally land their man following the 2021-22 season, but they could not match Newcastle's offer.

And Botman explained to De Telegraaf: "Newcastle's great project and the chance to play in the Premier League were two decisive aspects in making a decision.

"Milan had also given me good feelings, but Newcastle more so; they seemed a little better.

"I've been dreaming of the Premier League all my life and now this dream comes true."

Botman revealed he was concerned after missing out on a January transfer, believing such opportunities "only pass once".

But he was ultimately pleased to stick around, face Chelsea in the Champions League and depart Lille "in the right way", still joining Newcastle.

Lille president Oliver Letang has denied there have been discussions with Paris Saint-Germain regarding Renato Sanches.

The 24-year-old Portugal international has been heavily linked with a move to the French capital as he is poised to enter the final 12 months of his contract.

Reports have suggested Sanches is closing in on a move to Paris, who are expected to appoint former Lille boss Christophe Galtier as Mauricio Pochettino's successor, with it suggested the midfielder had arrived in the city on Thursday to finalise a transfer.

However, those claims have been rebuffed by Letang as he offered an olive branch to other interested clubs – confirming one offer from an unnamed side.

Milan appeared favourites for Sanches' signature for a long time. They were interested in his Lille team-mate Sven Botman, too, but saw the defender instead head for Newcastle United.

"There are players who can leave and there are players who can't leave. Without naming them today, we want to keep a competitive team," Letang told a press conference after Lille appointed Paulo Fonseca as their new coach.

"Renato is one of the boys who still has a year left on his contract. Renato could or should have gone to Barcelona last summer, before he injured his meniscus. 

"As of today, we've had no contact with PSG. We have seen lots of rumours about offers, but we've received no offer from PSG. 

"Other clubs are interested, especially one great European club, who have already made us offers. That’s the situation with Renato."

Inter have completed the signing of Kristjan Asllani on loan from Empoli with an obligation to buy.

The 20-year-old has signed a contract until June 2027 and will cost Inter €14million, with €4m of that identified as the fee for the initial loan.

A central midfielder, Asllani came through Empoli's youth system and enjoyed a breakout season in 2021-22, featuring 23 times in Serie A as the Tuscans comfortably avoided relegation.

He scored his only goal of the season in a 4-2 defeat to Inter on May 6.

While the youngster is unlikely to be a regular starter initially – rather a back-up to Marcelo Brozovic – he will bolster Inter's midfield following the departure of Matias Vecino and expected exit of Stefano Sensi.

Asllani was present at the club on Wednesday, when Romelu Lukaku completed his loan return from Chelsea, and the Belgium striker was central to a slightly bizarre announcement video.

Speaking to club owner Steven Zhang in the clip, Lukaku said: "I spoke to this guy, the new guy, Asllani... I like his mentality. You'll be surprised. He's only 20, but he speaks like a 27-year-old."

As part of the deal, promising Uruguayan striker Martin Satriano is expected to join Empoli on loan for the upcoming season.

Ernesto Valverde has secured a return to Athletic Bilbao after being appointed the club's head coach on president Jon Uriarte's first day in office.

Valverde remains a popular figure at the club following a successful second stint as the first team's coach between 2013 and 2017.

During that four-year spell, Valverde took Athletic into the Champions League, reached the final of the 2015 Copa del Rey and a few months later ended the club's 31-year trophy drought with a 5-1 aggregate defeat of Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana.

He eventually left in May 2017 to take over from Luis Enrique at Barcelona, with whom Valverde won two LaLiga titles, the Copa del Rey and Supercopa before being dismissed in January 2020.

The Blaugrana have won just one trophy since.

Valverde's return for a third spell in charge of the team he also represented for six years as a player coincides with the election of Uriarte as Athletic's new president.

Uriarte's key pledge in his election campaign was to bring Valverde back as coach following Marcelino Garcia Toral's departure in May.

Former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa – who has also coached Athletic before – appeared to be Valverde's biggest rival, having reached an agreement to take over if presidential candidate Inaki Arechabaleta had won the election.

But Uriarte took 47.7 per cent of the vote compared to Arechabaleta's 33.7 per cent, with his success confirmed last week.

As such, Valverde will extend his record as the coach with the most matches managed at Athletic (306), while supporters will hope he can maintain the feat of not finishing below seventh in his last spell – they have not ended a season higher than eighth since his departure.

Joelinton has urged Newcastle United coach Eddie Howe to get on the phone to Neymar and sign the Paris Saint-Germain superstar.

With Kylian Mbappe now the main man at PSG, having renewed his contract in France, Neymar has been linked with a move away from the club.

And Newcastle, with the world's richest football club owners in Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, are in theory one of very few potential suitors who could afford the sport's most expensive player.

The Magpies already have two Brazilians, too, in Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes.

After Thiago Silva told Globo that Neymar "has to go to Chelsea", Joelinton, speaking to Brazilian podcast Cast FC, said: "We can get him a spot. Sure, in any team in the world.

"If he comes, it will be... I can't explain it. The man is an idol. He's huge in world football.

"So, the invitation is done: Ney, if you are listening to this, you can come. I'll run to you all the time. [The ball] will come easy."

Newcastle already have a tricky winger in Allan Saint-Maximin, but Joelinton did not hesitate in offering away his team-mate's number 10 shirt.

"His quality, the visibility... if we have the chance, I hope," the forward-turned-midfielder said. "Coach, call him. The number 10 shirt is there waiting for him.

"I'll send a message to Bruno. Bruno has his contact; he can send a message inviting Ney to play there."

Pedri has been hailed as "the Iniesta, the Xavi" of the Spain team that will go after World Cup glory in Qatar.

The praise came from former Liverpool and Newcastle United left-back Jose Enrique, a player who was crowded out of the Spain squad by the country's last golden generation.

Jose Enrique's peak playing years coincided with Spain's most dominant period in international football, and although he does not consider Luis Enrique's squad quite at that same level, the likes of Barcelona youngster Pedri make him optimistic for the World Cup.

Spain won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Euro 2012 in a sensational period of dominance. They have not won a major tournament since, but a burgeoning group of young talent is emerging once again, with 19-year-old midfielder Pedri among the most exciting talents in the world game.

"To me, the player that has more projection in terms of image on that team is Pedri, he won't be out of the team," said Jose Enrique.

"You also have Ferran Torres doing well for Barcelona and Pau [Torres], the central defender of Villarreal; I think he will be key for the team as well."

Speaking to Stats Perform, Jose Enrique said Spain's final squad for the finals would be "difficult to predict" due to head coach Luis Enrique often filtering players in and out of his squad.

"But to choose one who will make the difference 100 per cent, and that already did in the past, it is Pedri," Jose Enrique said.

"For me, he is the star of the national team, the Iniesta, the Xavi. Back in that day it was different because there were many and that is why Spain won everything. But if you mention Spain now, the first player that comes to my mind is Pedri."

Pedri endured an injury-disrupted 2021-22 season with Barcelona, scoring five goals and having one assist in 22 games across all competitions. Only five Barcelona players created more chances than the 31 he carved out.

In the previous season, he played a team-high 52 matches, going on to win Tuttosport's prized Golden Boy award as Europe's top young talent. He will be expected to continue to grow into his responsible role in coach Xavi's Barcelona team in the new season.

Barcelona greats Xavi and Iniesta were at the heart of Spain's indomitable midfield for their three successive big tournament triumphs.

Jose Enrique was starring in the Premier League at the time but got no further than the Spain Under-21 team, such was the strength throughout the national squad.

He says the current group of players and the pool that brought glory to Spain during a dazzling four-year period cannot be compared, but stressed that does not mean the new breed cannot be successful.

A run to the Euro 2020 semi-finals was a step in the right direction for Spain, after a run of disappointing big-stage performances, fuelling Jose Enrique's belief they will be a threat when Qatar hosts in November and December.

Spain must navigate a challenging group that will see them face Germany, Japan and Costa Rica.

"Spain will always be one of the favourites because I believe that Spain always is," Jose Enrique said. "But to win a World Cup isn't easy and Spain did it: Euro-World Cup-Euro when they had a brutal selection of players, and now it is completely different.

"It has a magnificent coach and a squad that changes depending on the players' performances and I love this about Luis Enrique, but it is true that we cannot compare.

"We now have a young squad with few veterans, and they could win the World Cup because anything can happen in football. England had a very young squad and made it to the [2018 World Cup] semi-finals.

"Youngsters have more support than before and Spain can be a surprise because Luis Enrique knows very well how to play. He has young players but full of desire and hunger. The most important thing for me is to start well. If they do, they are capable to win against any team, and why not Germany."

Barcelona have given themselves a major financial boost that should see their salary cap increase significantly after selling 10 per cent of their LaLiga TV rights for the next 25 years to an investment firm.

Last week, club president Joan Laporta promised to activate the "levers" that would ease Barcelona's financial concerns, and Thursday's announcement is the first such step.

The deal sees Barcelona generate capital gains totalling €267million, with Sixth Street Partners making an initial investment of €207.5million.

The investment group will subsequently receive 10 per cent of Barca's domestic TV rights revenue until 2047.

Barca's need for a financial injection was urgent due to their financial year ending on June 30 – their accounts at the end of Thursday would have impacted the salary cap for the upcoming season.

 

Last year, Barca's financial woes saw their salary cap slashed by €280m to just €97m for the 2021-22 campaign – to put that into context, six clubs had larger wage limits. Real Madrid were top of the pile with a cap of €739m.

That was ultimately the reason they could not sign Lionel Messi to a new contract, but the capital injection on Thursday will allow Barca to end this financial year with a profit, thus ensuring a salary cap increase that should be significant.

The club are also expected to sell almost 50 per cent of the Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) part of the business, but that is now less urgent.

Speaking after the TV rights deal was announced, Laporta said: "We are activating economic levers and executing on our patient, sustainable, and efficient strategy to strengthen the club's financial footing.

"Sixth Street is a proven supporter of football, an experienced investor across global sports and media, and a partner that will contribute significant knowledge and resources while allowing us to independently manage our operations."

Barca are still yet to confirm the arrivals on free transfers of Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie, who have been strongly tipped to join.

The club are also keen on signing Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, while Manchester City's Bernardo Silva and Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde are reportedly key targets.

Thursday's news should allow the club greater room for manoeuvre in the transfer market.

Alvaro Morata has returned to Atletico Madrid after Juventus failed to strike a deal that would keep the Spaniard in Turin.

Juve signed a loan agreement with Atletico back in September 2020, but the finances of the deal always looked to be on the expensive side.

Although initially a one-year loan agreement worth €10million and with a purchase option of €45m, Juve had the right to extend the temporary stay by another season for an extra €10m, which would bring the release clause down to €35m.

But Juve had reportedly been trying to negotiate the purchase figure down since the end of the season, with stories from Italy suggesting they offered €15m, at least €11m less than Atletico's asking price.

A third year on loan had emerged as an option, but seemingly Juventus opted to walk away from the deal as they confirmed on Thursday the striker's second spell at the club is over.

As part of a farewell note on their website, Juventus said: "Alvaro Morata's adventure at Juventus has come to an end.

"The Spanish forward, on loan from Atletico Madrid over the last two seasons, leaves the Bianconeri for the second time and returns to the ranks of Los Colchoneros."

Although Morata's Atletico contract expires next year, rumours at the end of the season suggested the club saw him as a potential short-term solution to Luis Suarez leaving.

The Uruguayan did not have his contract renewed and is expected to join River Plate in Argentina.

Paul Pogba is seemingly closing in on a return to Juventus after the club's CEO claimed talks are progressing "very, very well".

Manchester United confirmed at the start of June that Pogba was set to leave at the end of his contract, with former club Juventus his likeliest next destination.

His United contract officially expired on Thursday, and although he has not already reached an agreement with another club, it would appear to be a formality.

Nevertheless, reports suggest Pogba will be paid significantly less than he was at United, with Juve said to be the only club taking an interest in him.

As such, Juve chief Maurizio Arrivabene seems confident a deal is likely, and the Frenchman will be considered a major signing from a "commercial" perspective.

"We are talking to him, things are evolving very, very well," he told Tuttosport. "[The idea came about] in our meetings, when names are mentioned.

"It was like that with [Dusan] Vlahovic. You open the door, throw a name and everyone looks at you like you're crazy. Then, little by little, the machine starts up and the operation is built.

"[The idea of] Pogba was born this way. His presence will also be fundamental from a commercial point of view, even if my dream is to have an Italian player who is internationally recognised, like a [Francesco] Totti, a [Alessandro] Del Piero, a [Gianluigi Buffon] Buffon."

Arrivabene also expressed regret over last year's departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to Manchester United.

Ronaldo spent three years at Juve and has been tentatively linked with a move back to Turin – Arrivabene appeared to dismiss that idea, even if he believes the club needs experienced players to guide their more promising youngsters.

"He was not fully exploited because of COVID [the pandemic], but I am convinced that Juve goes beyond every player," he said.

"125 years of history are not written by a single player; the team is more important than individuals, and here everyone has to respect the rules.

"It's not a change of course, but we need points of reference. I saw the Ronaldo effect on our young players, now players like [Nicolo] Fagioli, [Matias] Soule and [Fabio] Miretti must have players to learn from."

June 30, 2002, Yokohama. Ronaldo pounces on Rivaldo's dummy to side-foot past Germany's Oliver Kahn, becoming just the ninth man to score twice in a World Cup final and making Brazil champions of the world.

That moment, the pinnacle of the legendary forward's career, remains unmatched to this day for the Selecao, with Brazil failing to add to their five World Cup crowns in the subsequent two decades.

Should Brazil fall short of glory in Qatar later this year, that drought will stretch to at least 24 years, matching their longest wait for World Cup glory since their maiden title in 1958 (also between 1970 and 1994).

For a country whose hopes have been entrusted to such footballing icons as Ronaldinho, Kaka and Neymar in subsequent years, such a drought seems inexplicable, with three quarter-final exits and one historic semi-final humiliation the sum of their efforts since 2002. 

Exactly 20 years on from Brazil's triumph in Japan and South Korea, Stats Perform looks back on that momentous success, questions why it is yet to be repeated, and asks whether Tite's class of 2022 are equipped to bring glory to one of the world's most football-mad nations.

2002: Irresistible Ronaldo fires Selecao to glory in Japan and South Korea

It is no exaggeration to say Brazil's last World Cup win was one of the most impressive triumphs in the competition's history.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's men went from strength to strength after requiring a late Rivaldo penalty to edge a tense opener against eventual third-placed finishers Turkey, winning all seven of their games by an aggregate score of 18-4.

The class of 2002 thus hold the record for the most games won by a nation at a single World Cup, with Ronaldo – coming off an injury-blighted four seasons at Inter in which he managed just 36 Serie A appearances – the star of the show.

Partnering Rivaldo and supplied by Paris Saint-Germain's breakout star Ronaldinho, O Fenomeno netted eight goals across the tournament, the joint-most of any Brazilian at a single World Cup and the highest tally of anyone since West Germany's Gerd Muller struck 10 times in 1970.

 

Ronaldo's 19 shots on target in the tournament has not been matched in any subsequent World Cup, while his total of 34 attempts was more than five different nations managed. 

Quarter-final opponents England, vanquished when Ronaldinho audaciously (perhaps fortuitously) lobbed David Seaman from long-range, were the only side to keep Ronaldo out as he took the competition by storm.

A 25-year-old Ronaldo's final double against Germany represented his 44th and 45th international goals in just his 64th Brazil appearance. He managed just 17 further strikes in the famous yellow shirt during his career.

There was nothing in the 2002 squad's make-up to suggest a long wait for further tournament success was imminent: The experienced Cafu (31 in 2002) and Roberto Carlos (29) were still around in 2006, while future Ballon d'Or winners Ronaldinho (22) and Kaka (20) had their whole careers ahead of them.

How, then, did one of the greatest sides in modern international history contrive to fall so far short in subsequent World Cups?

 

2006-2010: Zidane and Sneijder sparkle as drab Brazil fall short

Brazil looked set for another shot at glory in Germany in 2006. Ronaldinho was crowned the world's best player in 2005; Kaka was to follow in his footsteps in 2007; and Ronaldo had hit a century of goals in his first four seasons with Real Madrid.

Brazil conceded just once in group-stage clashes with Croatia, Australia and Japan before crushing Ghana 3-0 in the last 16, but with Carlos Alberto Parreira cramming his three attacking stars into a rigid 4-4-2 shape, it was France who more closely resembled the Brazil sides of old in the last eight. 

Zinedine Zidane's performance in Frankfurt stands as one of the finest in the competition's history, as he tormented the defending champions' flat midfield before assisting Thierry Henry's winner.

It was the first of two masterful midfield displays to end the World Cup hopes of drab Brazil teams, with Wesley Sneijder assuming Zidane's role as the Netherlands vanquished Dunga's men in South Africa in 2010.

Progressing from the group stages has not been an issue for Brazil. Astonishingly, they are unbeaten in their last 15 group games, last suffering a first-stage defeat against Norway in 1998.

A lack of tactical nous against the world's best, however, has been a legitimate charge, and an understandable one given the identities of some of their head coaches.

Parreira's one Brazilian top-flight title was won way back in 1984, while Dunga's only club-level experience remains, to this day, a dire 2013 campaign with Internacional.

In that context, the return of Scolari, the emergence of Neymar and a home World Cup lifted expectations to monumental levels by 2014, when Brazilian dreams were to be shattered in the most incredible manner imaginable.

2014-2018: Home humiliation and Neymar reliance see Brazilian woes continue

The 2014 World Cup was billed as a festival of football, lit up by jubilant Brazilian crowds and thrilling football – the 171 goals scored across the tournament are the joint-most on record, alongside 1998.

Sadly for Brazil, eventual winners Germany provided 18 of those, with seven coming in a scarcely believable semi-final rout at the Mineirao.

Having gone 5-0 down within 29 minutes in the absence of Neymar and Thiago Silva, Scolari's men collapsed to arguably the greatest humiliation in World Cup history and, as almost goes without saying, the heaviest semi-final defeat the tournament has ever seen.

Only when Yugoslavia faced Zaire in 1974 had a side previously been 5-0 up after 29 minutes at a World Cup, but for all the excitement building around the host nation, Brazil's class of 2014 always appeared flawed.

An over-reliance on Neymar – cruelly sidelined by a dreadful quarter-final challenge from Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga – was clear in both 2014 and 2018, when Brazil fell to a 2-1 defeat to a Kevin De Bruyne-inspired Belgium in Russia.

 

Across those two tournaments, Neymar's six goals and two assists saw him directly involved in 42 per cent of Brazil's goals.

Fluminense striker Fred, ridiculed by many for his performances in 2014, wasn't exactly up to the task of replacing his goal threat, while Gabriel Jesus failed to find the net despite starting every match under Tite in 2018.

Indeed, coming into the 2018 tournament, Neymar – with 55 goals in 85 caps, was the only player in the Brazil squad to have scored more than 12 international goals.

Having achieved the rare feat of holding onto his job after leading Brazil at a World Cup, Tite will hope the emergence of several other stars lessens the burden on his number 10 this time around.

The road to Qatar: Can the class of 2022 end World Cup drought? 

Assuming he remains in charge when they face Serbia on November 24, Tite will become the first coach to lead Brazil at back-to-back World Cups since Tele Santana in 1982 and 1986.

While neither of Santana's campaigns ended in glory, the current boss – a Copa Libertadores and FIFA Club World Cup winner – will hope his six years moulding the side will prove invaluable in Qatar.

Brazil have already ended one mini trophy drought under his watch, winning a first Copa America title in 12 years on home soil in 2019 before finishing as runners-up to Argentina two years later.

Most impressively, Brazil triumphed without the injured Neymar in 2019 as Everton Soares top-scored, and the form of a series of Selecao stars has given Tite enviable squad depth.

In Allison and Ederson, he can choose between arguably the top two goalkeepers in the Premier League, while Fabinho was crucial as Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool fell narrowly short of a historic quadruple last term.

Casemiro, who won his fifth Champions League title with Madrid in May, could partner him in a fearsome midfield duo, but most of the excitement is centred on his club team-mate Vinicius Junior, whose 22 goals and 16 assists for Los Blancos last term suggest he can be the man to dovetail with Neymar.

 

After landing an appealing group-stage draw alongside Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon, the excitement around Brazil is building once more.

With the Selecao topping the FIFA World Rankings, having fairly recent a Copa America win under their belts and possessing some of European football's most-effective players, 2022 seems as good a time as any for Brazil to end 20 years of disappointment and bring 'o Jogo Bonito' to the world once more.

Matthijs de Ligt "wants to leave" Juventus according to chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene, who defended the club's conduct over Paulo Dybala's departure.

De Ligt signed for Juve from Ajax in 2019 and has made 87 appearances in Serie A since then, but has struggled to find his feet in Italy, amid high expectations that came with an €85million price tag.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a move away from Serie A with Chelsea said to be interested in striking a deal, and Juventus are reportedly eyeing his transfer as a means to finance new signings.

In an interview with Tuttosport, Arrivabene conceded De Ligt himself is keen to leave Turin, but his departure will ultimately be a matter of satisfying all parties.

"De Ligt? Today it is impossible to keep a player who wants to leave," Arrivabene told Tuttosport. "But it is always a question of numbers, it is not that if one wants to go away you answer, 'Please, take a seat.'

"It is difficult to keep a player, but from the negotiation table all three have to get up satisfied."

Meanwhile, the 65-year-old executive defended Juve's actions that led to Dybala's departure after a protracted renegotiation that ultimately failed to materialise.

The breakdown in contract talks punctuated a tumultuous period between Juve and Dybala upon Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival, following a long-term injury layoff and near exit, with the Argentine breaking down in tears after his final home game for the club against Lazio.

Effectively telling Dybala he was not wanted after Dusan Vlahovic's signing in January, Arrivabene said no player is bigger than the club.

"There was an agreement, then there was the capital increase, we all took a break, of which the prosecutors were informed, and agreed to carry out evaluations within the board of directors," he said.

"We met again and we said that the terms had changed, because we wanted to move in a different way. So from a four-year contract with certain figures, which I would like to avoid mentioning to avoid further controversy, we moved on to another strategy. Also, everyone knows who arrived in January, don't they?

"I hope that Dybala will find the team and the satisfactions he deserves. From our point of view, things have a beginning and an end. Juventus is above everyone who have left a profound mark, but the Juventus name is more important."

Former Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale has given a stern warning to Paris Saint-Germain, revealing a fractious dressing room under Christophe Galtier.

Galtier is set to replace Mauricio Pochettino and take over as PSG boss, following the Parisian club's dramatic failure to claim the Champions League.

Nice were second in Ligue 1 at the end of January last season, but the proverbial wheels fell off, with four wins from 12 games between February and April before eventually finishing fifth.

Cardinale, who has been without a club since his contract expired with Nice at the end of the 2020-21 season, cited Galtier's negative impact on the dressing room as a factor and claimed his potential departure for PSG benefits all.

"Honestly, I think it's a good thing that he's leaving," Cardinale told RMC Sport. "For having had two or three conversations with players who are still in the Nice dressing room, there was a big break in the dressing room. There were a lot of problems.

"The coach alienated the dressing room to make himself heard better by management. What I was told, problems between the management of Nice and the coach had become so important that it was rubbing off on the dressing room.

"The coach put the dressing room on his back to be better heard by the management, in view of the signings which were arriving."

Meanwhile, Lucien Favre has been confirmed as Galtier's replacement at Nice, with whom he qualified for the Champions League in 2017, before being taking over at Borussia Dortmund in 2018.

Cardinale, who made 36 Ligue 1 appearances for Nice in that first season under Favre, reiterated his belief the coaching changes will benefit both clubs.

"I think this deal is going to be a win-win. Galtier will be happy," he added. "The Nice locker room, with the Favre's return, I think he's going to be a winner too. And in the eyes of the fans especially, it's the right pick.

Sadio Mane insists Robert Lewandowski is "one of the best" strikers in the world, but does not want to be involved in discussions over his future at Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, with the striker after a new challenge following eight seasons at Sabenerstrasse, and 12 in total in the Bundesliga.

Mane arrives this off-season at Bayern in similar circumstances, seeking a departure from Liverpool with a year left on his deal after six seasons at the club, helping them win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, while also winning the African Cup of Nations with Senegal in 2021.

Speaking in an interview with BILD, Mane did not want to get caught up in any unnecessary drama with that in mind.

"Clearly, Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world," Mane said. "But I'm not the right person to talk about his future or to say what the club should do now."

The 30-year-old revealed he was following Bayern Munich during the past season, expressing lament over their Champions League exit at the hands of Villarreal despite dominating play, likening it to Liverpool's own exit in the 2019-20 season.

Mane also insisted with his help, this upcoming season in Europe will be improved for the reigning Bundesliga champions.

"Of course I saw the games. Bayern tried everything, but they couldn't perform at their best" he said.

"I know that feeling all too well, that's how we felt at Liverpool against Atletico Madrid. But I assure you, next season will be different. I'm here now and we'll give everything.

"We have to be convinced that we can do anything. And when I look at the quality of this team, I think it's one of the best in Europe."

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