Cristiano Ronaldo has paid a glowing tribute to Marcelo following his Real Madrid departure, hailing the Brazilian as "more than a team-mate" during their time together in the Spanish capital.

Marcelo held an emotional news conference on Monday to say farewell to Madrid, where he spent 15 years and lifted 25 trophies – making him the club's most decorated player in terms of honours.

A large part of that period of success came alongside Ronaldo with the pair forging a superb relationship down the left side that was decisive in the club's years of domination in the Champions League.

That spell also saw Ronaldo become the club's all-time leading scorer before he left for Juventus and now Manchester United, and the Portugal great still holds his former colleague in the highest regard.


"More than a team-mate, a brother that football gave me," he posted on social media.

"On and off the fields, one of the biggest stars with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a locker room.

"Go with everything on this new adventure, Marcelo!"

Marcelo, 34, confirmed he does not plan to retire and would have no problem facing Real Madrid if he was to tackle them as an opponent.

"I won't retire, not now," he said. "I feel I can still play. Facing Real Madrid won't be a problem. I'm a big Madridista but I'm also a big professional."

New Zealand head coach Danny Hay has urged his players to "seize the moment" by producing an upset against Costa Rica to claim the last remaining World Cup finals spot.

The two sides face off at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday for the right to return to Qatar later this year and join Germany, Japan and Spain in Group E.

A total of 31 countries have qualified for the global showpiece following Australia's penalty shoot-out win against Peru on Monday, leaving one place up for grabs.

New Zealand enter the intercontinental play-off clash as underdogs as they sit 101st in the latest FIFA rankings, 70 places below their Central American opponents.

The All Whites cruised through the extended qualifying process, racking up 5-0 and 7-1 wins along the way, but now face undoubtedly their toughest test yet in Costa Rica.

Whereas New Zealand have only ever qualified for two World Cups, and none since 2010, Costa Rica have qualified five times and are seeking a third straight finals appearance.

Hay's side are in a relaxed mood, though, with the 47-year-old glad that all the pressure is on the opposition.

"The world's media have basically written us off, given us no chance," Hay said at his pre-match news conference. "They're 31 in the world playing against 101 in the world. 

"I'm sleeping pretty well. I'm not sure their coach will be, though.

"We've got a great group. They're injury-free, they’re in a good space mentally, that’s why we need to seize the moment now. This really is our moment, this is our time."

New Zealand have been boosted by the return to fitness of captain Winston Reid, who had been struggling with a groin injury.

They have warmed up for Tuesday's match with a 1-0 defeat to Peru and goalless draw against Oman, both of those games being friendlies.

Costa Rica have lost just one of their past nine matches, meanwhile, but head coach Luis Fernandez Suarez is not taking New Zealand for granted.

"We'll make sure that the group is strong mentally," he said. "New Zealand are a team that like to make things dangerous. 

"They are a team that from the back with their goalkeeper almost always playing inside, from the beginning to the last third, with one of their advantages being aerial football.

"But for every situation or attack New Zealand present, we have prepared something to respond to it."

Awer Mabil has declared his crucial penalty in Australia's shoot-out victory against Peru was a "thank you" to the nation that took his family in after they fled Sudan.

The 26-year-old gave Australia the lead in sudden death with his side's sixth penalty, then watched on as Andrew Redmayne denied the South Americans as the Socceroos secured a spot in a fifth consecutive World Cup.

That will now signal a remarkable journey for Mabil from a Kenyan refugee camp to the showcase finals in Qatar later this year, and he dedicated his penalty to the nation that took in his family in 2006.

"I knew I was going to score. It was the only way to say thank you to Australia on behalf of my family," he said after Monday's match, which finished 0-0 after extra time.

"I was born in a hut, a little hut. My hotel room here is definitely bigger than the hut, the room we had as a family in that refugee camp.

"For Australia to take us in and resettle us, it gave me and my siblings and my whole family a chance at life.

"That's what I mean by thanking Australia for that chance of life, that chance of opportunity they allowed my family."

Mabil was born in a Kenyan refugee camp after his family fled conflict in Sudan, surviving on one meal a day as a child, but found a distraction in football and hopes his contribution can inspire other refugees.

"I scored, a lot of my team-mates scored, everybody played a part and maybe that refugee kid played a big part," he said.

Australia complete Group D for the World Cup alongside France, Denmark and Tunisia, with their opening game falling on November 22 against Didier Deschamps' defending champions.

Sevilla defender Jules Kounde will undergo surgery for a hamstring injury on Tuesday, having been withdrawn at half-time of France’s 1-0 Nations League defeat to Croatia. 

The 23-year-old is a rumoured transfer target for Premier League heavyweights Chelsea, who were unable to complete a move 12 months ago but have revived their interest ahead of this window – though the injury may put a dent in the Blues' plans.

Kounde’s injury was something the team were aware of prior to the game, France boss Didier Deschamps confirmed, though the extent of his problem was not detailed after the match. 

"I knew very well his physical condition today. Tomorrow [Tuesday] he will have a [surgical] intervention because he has a problem that has been going on for several months," Deschamps said.

Capped 11 times by France, Kounde has established himself among the highest-rated young defenders in world football and shot to prominence during Sevilla's Europa League success in 2019-20. 

Utilised mainly as a central defender by his club side, Kounde's versatility has seen him feature regularly down the right for France. 

Les Bleus' defeat to Croatia in the Nations League capped off a woeful sequence for the defending champions, who sit rock bottom of group A1 without a win in their opening four matches – putting them at significant risk of relegation.

Manchester City are looking to make a big midfield signing in this transfer window, with Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips reportedly at the top of their wish-list.

Phillips, 26, has been with Leeds his entire senior career, and excelled on the world stage when he started every game in England's run to the Euro 2020 final.

He was rewarded for his excellent international play with England's 2020-21 Senior Men's Player of the Year award, and may have the opportunity to parlay that into Champions League football at the Etihad Stadium.

 

TOP STORY – CITY SETS SIGHTS ON LEEDS' PHILLIPS

Phillips' stats of one goal and three assists in his past two Premier League campaigns do not tell the story of his impact, as he is arguably England's best defensive midfielder.

After 12 years with Leeds, Phillips has reportedly played his last game for the club, with The Sun claiming City have prepared a £60million bid.

ESPN mentions a factor working in Phillips' favour with City is that he will count as a homegrown player for Champions League purposes, and that Pep Guardiola views him as a strong fit for both the number-six and number-eight roles in his set-up.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Manchester Evening News is reporting Manchester United remain in discussions with Barcelona for Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong, but they are not willing to pay the current £85m price-tag.

Liverpool and City are both monitoring 17-year-old Barcelona midfielder Gavi, despite his release clause reportedly coming in at £85m, according to Marca.

– RB Leipzig have set a price of £100m for teams chasing Christopher Nkunku due to the Frenchman not desiring a move away this transfer period, with the Independent reporting interest remains from Arsenal, United and Paris Saint-Germain.

– According to the Telegraph, Newcastle United are moving on from Lille defender Sven Botman after the asking price was raised from £30m to £36m.

– The Telegraph is reporting that Tottenham have joined the race for Everton's Richarlison, with the asking price set at £50m.

German goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer looked forward to ending a string of mediocre results when his side face Italy on Tuesday, saying "a win would taste good".

Saturday's 1-1 draw against Hungary was Germany's fourth consecutive 1-1 draw, with the same result against England and Italy this month, and the Netherlands back in March.

In that last meeting with Italy, Germany controlled 65 per cent of the possession, completing over double the amount of passes (613-302), but they had to come from behind and settle for the draw thanks to Joshua Kimmich's equaliser.

Speaking to the media ahead of the contest, Neuer said his side played with the "right attitude" against Hungary, and he hopes Germany can get back on track with a strong result when the Italians travel to Borussia-Park.

"The disappointment has already prevailed, but we don't have to bury our heads in the sand either," he said. "Our hunger and our motivation are there. 

"We may have lacked creativity and vigour, but we showed the right attitude in every game.

"A win would taste good for us. We want to get the three points against Italy and the sense of achievement at the end.

"You can't just drop a game. We want to be as well-rehearsed as possible on the defensive for the World Cup. 

"That will be crucial for me, and that's why it's good to play against such good opponents in the Nations League."

Germany head coach Hansi Flick also looked on the bright side, and acknowledged he is still very much in data-gathering mode.

"The team has made good progress – we haven't lost a game yet," he said. "But in the last four games – against quite strong opponents – we've only drawn four times. 

"We were hoping for more, and I also thought that we'd made a bit more progress in development. As I said before, the four games are used for analysis, which we have to fine-tune in September. And that is our task now."

While all focus seems to be on the World Cup, Flick admitted he is desperate to get that winning feeling back in the group.

"I just don't like the four draws because I want to win, and the team feels the same way," he said. "We want to win games.

"Victories are always important for the team. We have to give everything again against Italy, with a win the conviction that you have good quality is much higher.

"Italy are doing very well. They have a broad squad and always bring freshness to the pitch. 

"We want to stress the opponent, put him under pressure. Our transition game has to get better, that's where our focus is.

"Our offensive doesn't lack direction, but rather the determination and the absolute will to finish. This requires conviction, but also freshness – and after such a long season that is not always available."

Didier Deschamps has told his France players to "clear their heads" after Les Bleus' dreadful Nations League title defence was ended by Croatia.

Luka Modric's fifth-minute penalty at the Stade de France earned Zlatko Dalic's side a 1-0 win on Monday, with Croatia gaining a measure of revenge for their 2018 World Cup final defeat.

The loss means France can no longer finish top of Group A1, and as such prevents them from qualifying for the Nations League finals and retaining their crown.

France are not in action again now until September, when their objective will be avoiding a humiliating relegation from the Nations League's top tier.

They certainly have work to do on that front as they sit bottom of the group after four games, having only mustered two draws and a couple of defeats this month.

Deschamps seemed to blame fatigue for France's struggles but also accepted the players of most other teams will have been in a comparable condition physically.

Speaking to TF1 at full-time, Deschamps said: "This month of June was very difficult in terms of results.

"We didn't have enough energy and strength against teams that had more than us. We weren't successful either. It was above all the freshness that was not there.

"There are always lessons to be learned with these results. Each match is rich in lessons.

"The succession of matches was very hard, we lost players from one match to another. No doubt that others nations were affected [by fatigue].

"[The players] will have to clear their heads and go back to their club and start again for this new season."

The defeat represented the first match since November 2020 in which France failed to score (23 games).

Australia qualified for the World Cup after beating Peru 5-4 on penalties following a goalless Intercontinental Play-off in Doha.

Socceroos boss Graham Arnold made the brave decision to substitute goalkeeper and captain Mathew Ryan for Andrew Redmayne ahead of the shoot-out, but was vindicated as the 33-year-old – who danced on his line for the spot-kicks – saved the decisive penalty from Alex Valera.

Peru, 22nd in the FIFA rankings, went in as favourites but started tentatively as Australia made the early running, particularly Martin Boyle who did well to beat two Peru defenders on the right in the 23rd minute before his inviting cross evaded everybody.

Ricardo Gareca's team improved in the second half, but the first shot on target did not arrive until the 81st minute via an Ajdin Hrustic free-kick that never troubled Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who denied Hrustic two minutes from time with a sweeping shot down to his left from a low Awer Mabil cross.

La Blanquirroja came closest to winning it in extra time as substitute Edison Flores rose to win a header at the far post, but could only hit the woodwork, and so to penalties it went.

Both teams failed with one each from the first five kicks, before Mabil scored and the dancing Redmayne saved from Valera to win it for Australia, who will go into World Cup Group D when they return to Qatar in November to go up against France, Denmark and Tunisia.

France can no longer successfully defend their Nations League crown after Monday's 1-0 home defeat to Croatia left the finals beyond their reach.

Didier Deschamps' side had flattered to deceive in their first three matches this month, losing once and drawing the other two, and they were no better against a stubborn Croatia at the Stade de France.

They proved to be their own worst enemy with a needless early penalty concession that Luka Modric took full advantage of five minutes in.

The hosts' performance was full of bluster but lacked subtlety, with clear-cut chances difficult to come by on another disappointing day for the reigning world champions.

Ibrahima Konate was the guilty party for the penalty as the Liverpool defender clumsily tripped Ante Budimir and, after a long VAR review, Modric just about squeezed his kick past Mike Maignan.

The game became frantic as Les Bleus desperately searched for a leveller, but Ivica Ivusic was not forced into a meaningful save until early in the second half when substitute Aurelien Tchouameni shot straight at the goalkeeper.

It was a sign of renewed purpose, however, and Kylian Mbappe saw a 30-yard strike go agonisingly wide a few moments later.

Yet, Croatia ended up creating the better chances in the closing stages, with Lovro Majer and Nikola Vlasic forcing saves from Maignan as the visitors gained a measure of revenge for their 2018 World Cup final loss.

Erling Haaland will not guarantee more success for Manchester City, according to Liverpool great and television pundit Jamie Carragher.

City confirmed Haaland's arrival on Monday after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical, with the Norway striker signing a five-year contract.

The announcement came just over a month after City initially revealed they had reached an agreement with Borussia Dortmund over a deal reportedly worth £64.2million (€75m).

At Dortmund, Haaland developed into one of the world's most feared strikers, scoring 86 goals in 89 games across all competitions, averaging one every 84 minutes.

Over the same period, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (123 in 108 matches) boasted a better scoring rate among players from Europe's top five leagues.

City have largely gone without a recognised central striker for the best part of two years, with Sergio Aguero having left in 2021, though he had not been a regular during his final campaign in 2020-21.

Fans of other clubs might fear Haaland's signing takes City another step closer to domination and, while Carragher accepts such concerns are well-founded, he is adamant the 21-year-old's arrival brings no guarantee of greater success.

"It's a worry for the rest of the Premier League," Carragher told Sky Sports. "We are talking about one of the world's greats, even at such a young age, but I don't think anyone should be raising the white flag too early because it's going to be really interesting how he fits into the team.

"Pep Guardiola hasn't really used a central striker in the last couple of years and he's still been very successful. So, it will be really interesting to see how he settles, but from the Premier League's point of view, I think it is fantastic that we've got one of the world's leading players right now joining our league.

 

"That doesn't always happen, certainly at a young age, and a lot of his best years are going to be in the Premier League. So, it'll be really exciting for everyone to watch, but it's obviously going to be a tough proposition trying to stop Manchester City."

Elaborating on his comment regarding how Haaland fits into the team, Carragher suggested the striker will probably not make a huge difference to City's points total in the Premier League.

But in the Champions League, where the margin for error in two-legged ties is much less forgiving, he could be decisive.

"They have so many players now who don't play through the middle. They keep the ball so well and they control the game so well. Maybe they will lose a little bit of that," Carragher continued. "So, I don't think it's a forgone conclusion that means City are going to win everything.

"They have a great team and a great manager, and I actually think Haaland coming in won't make that much of a difference in terms of how many points they get. They always get in the mid-90s for points anyway, which is a remarkable feat.

"He may have been brought in just to make that difference in those games where they just fell short, maybe more in the Champions League than the Premier League, actually.

"He'll change, he'll evolve, he's still a lot to learn, he's a young player. He'll learn off one of the greatest coaches in world football. He'll bring things to his game. But he should also remember not to change too much. He is what he is. Powerful, his pace, the goals he gets.

"That's what I'm intrigued with, how he fits into that Pep Guardiola style which is a bit more slow and technical than the end-to-end type of football you see in the Bundesliga."

Robert Mancini has expressed his excitement at the future after offering opportunities to a number of young players with Italy during the Nations League campaign.

Italy crashed out in the World Cup play-offs to North Macedonia, failing to make Qatar 2022 after missing out on the tournament in Russia four years earlier.

That capped a turbulent period in Italian football after winning Euro 2020, with many questioning Serie A coaches for allowing younger domestic players the chance to develop.

Mancini responded by promising more opportunities for youthful players with Italy, after the 'Finalissima' defeat to Argentina at Wembley Stadium at the start of June's international schedule.

Davide Frattesi, Federico Gatti and Gianluca Scamacca were among that emerging crop to feature in the Nations League campaign, with Italy drawing two games and winning the other.

That has left the Azzurri top of League A Group 3, which includes Germany, England and Hungary, ahead of Tuesday's clash with Hansi Flick's side.

Coach Mancini revealed he is learning a lot as he looks ahead to the future.

"I saw some guys who can have a great future," he said. "The level in the national team is very high. I think the boys need to have the chance to play.

"The first time they made me play was Radice, 1981, in the first team. It wasn't Serie A, it was a New Year's tournament.

"At the first ball they gave me, I lifted my foot and the ball passed, I did not touch it. For a young person, it is not easy, you have to have confidence and let them play even without optimal performance.

"It can be an important thing, it is possible to get to know them more closely. Seeing those guys for three days gave us the opportunity to understand who could be more ready."

While Mancini has started to utilise younger players, he remains unsure how Lorenzo Insigne will progress playing in MLS for Toronto FC.

"He will depend on how he will be and what will happen there. He has given so much to us, he is a great player, it depends on what happens in MLS," he added.

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax.

The 20-year-old has joined the Bundesliga champions for a reported fee of €19million plus a further €6m in add-ons, signing a five-year deal.

He becomes the second Ajax player to sign for Bayern in recent weeks, with Moroccan full-back Noussair Mazraoui also moving to the Allianz Arena.

Gravenberch made 103 appearances in all competitions for Ajax, scoring 12 goals, having come through the club's world-famous youth system.

He also played in all eight of Ajax's Champions League games this season, making 376 passes at a completion rate of 88.8 per cent.

Gravenberch also took more shots at goal (four) than all but two of his team-mates, with only Antony (eight) and Mazraoui (five) attempting more.

Speaking to Bayern's website after his signing was confirmed, Gravenberch said: "When the offer came from FC Bayern, I didn't have to think about it for long. FC Bayern are one of the biggest clubs around; players from all over the world want to play for this club.

"I'm coming to Munich to win lots of titles - and FC Bayern are used to winning lots of titles.

"Anything is possible with this club, including winning the Champions League. The togetherness in this team is very strong, which I like."

Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn added: "Ryan Gravenberch is a young, highly interesting player who lots of Europe's top clubs would've liked to have signed.

"He's chosen FC Bayern because he can develop at the highest level here. Players with his qualities are important for Bayern's future path."

Harry Kane says the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez in the Premier League will drive him to improve in an enticing Golden Boot race.

Kane has won three Golden Boot awards in the English top flight – in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2020-21 – and managed 17 goals this season as Tottenham qualified for the Champions League.

Spurs team-mate Son Heung-min shared the accolade for the most Premier League goals with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah this season, the pair scoring 23 goals each.

Jurgen Klopp looks set to add more firepower to his attack at Anfield, with Nunez close to joining Liverpool for an initial fee of £64million (€75m) from Benfica.

Nunez has scored 48 goals in 85 games for Benfica in all competitions and averaged 1.2 goals every 90 minutes in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola bolstered his own wealth of attacking options with the Premier League champions Manchester City by triggering Haaland's release clause at Borussia Dortmund.

The Norway international scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg in January 2020, averaging a goal every 84 minutes across all competitions.

Kane cannot wait to compete with the duo next season as the Premier League adds more talismanic talent to their ranks.

 

"Look, I think the battle for the Golden Boot is always tough," Kane said at a pre-match news conference while on Nations League duty with England on Monday. 

"The Premier League has produced some top strikers around the world for a number of years now.

"I think every season I've been playing it's always been a tough battle to win that Golden Boot and it's no different.

"You expect the top strikers to want to play in the Premier League and with those two new signings, that's gonna be the case.

"I think it helps me as a player to have good competition, it drives me to improve and get better. I look forward to the challenge."

The build-up to Kane's 2021-22 campaign was filled with distraction as City tried and failed to secure the services of the England striker, attempting to replace the void left by Sergio Aguero at the Etihad Stadium.

Kane will likely have a smoother pre-season this time around and will look to utilise that to prepare for another campaign under Spurs head coach Antonio Conte.

 

"I try and focus on myself to begin with. Going into any season I have things I want to achieve and goals I want to reach," he added.

"I try not to focus too much on other players in that aspect, I can't control what they do.

"But what I will do is continue to work hard and improve and after this game have a nice break but then look forward to what will be a tough pre-season.

"And then I'll get ready for the new season as I have done for the last seven, eight years now."

Giorgio Chiellini has confirmed he will join MLS side Los Angeles FC on a free transfer.

The Juventus great revealed his intentions to leave Turin at the end of the season, ending a 17-year spell with the Bianconeri in which he made 425 Serie A appearances.

Chiellini also retired from international football with Italy two weeks ago following the 3-0 'Finalissima' defeat to Argentina in a meeting between the Euro 2020 winners and Copa America champions.

The 37-year-old has expressed his desire to use his vast experience to go into management or a director role, once his playing career is finished.

Los Angeles will likely be his final club that he plays for, after Chiellini took to Twitter on Monday to confirm his move to the Black and Gold on a reported 18-month contract.

"I am ready for a new role on the pitch," he said. "But mentally, I'd also be ready to become a director.

"I'd like to know everything going on around the pitch, inside the offices, but it takes time, patience and desire to sacrifice.

"We'll talk again in a few years and hopefully, I'll have understood the particularities and difficulties of the role.

"My adventure in the USA will prepare me for what will happen next."

Chiellini will hope to bolster the defence of a Los Angeles side that sit four points clear at the Western Conference summit after 14 games.

The experienced defender represents another big-name signing to go to MLS, joining the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play in America.

Erling Haaland has revealed that Riyad Mahrez told him to sign for Manchester City last year, and the striker is also looking forward to playing with Phil Foden.

The Premier League champions announced on May 10 that an agreement was in place to sign Haaland from Borussia Dortmund after triggering his reported €60million (£51.2m) release clause, and Haaland has now officially put pen to paper on a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium, with the deal to go through on July 1.

Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund upon joining from Salzburg in January 2020, averaging a goal every 84 minutes across all competitions.

The 21-year-old was pictured with Mahrez while on holiday in Greece in 2021, and Haaland told City's official website that the Algeria international had spoken to him about moving to Manchester at the time.

"He told me to come to City!" he said in the interview published on Monday. "He was right about that. He said some good things about the club."

Haaland also expressed his excitement at the prospect of linking up with another highly-rated young player in Foden.

The England international recorded 11 assists in 45 games in all competitions for City last season, while creating 63 chances overall and 18 big chances, which is an opportunity from which a goal would normally be expected.

 

"I have been watching a lot of City games for as long as I can remember. Of course, then I also watched Phil and he is an amazing player," Haaland said.

"He is still a talent because he is still young, but he is an amazing player.

"He still has to develop and then we can really talk."

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