Barcelona dismissing Xavi after the head coach initially reversed his decision and seemed set to stay came as a shock to some, no more so than Blaugrana winger Lamine Yamal.

The LaLiga giants were expected to part ways with former midfielder Xavi at the end of the season, only for the Spaniard to change his mind and opt to fulfil his contract with the club.

Yet in another unexpected turn of events, Xavi was given his marching orders as Barca president Joan Laporta acted swiftly to bring in former Germany and Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick.

As Yamal prepares for the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament with Spain in Germany, the Barca forward admitted Xavi's sacking raised a few eyebrows.

"It was a very strange moment," the teenager told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo. "At first he left, then he stayed...

"It was strange, because we saw the same thing that you saw too.

"[It was] very sad because for me he was the first coach in the elite that I've had, but these are things that happen in football."

Though Yamal remains surprised by the decision, the Spain attacker is "excited" to link-up with new boss Flick when the 2024-25 season comes around.

"The last thing I saw was when he was at Bayern, and also in the German national team," he added.

"They have a fairly offensive game, quite direct. I'm very excited."

Barcelona fell short in their LaLiga title defence as Real Madrid roared to the Spanish crown, as well as Champions League glory for the dominant Los Blancos.

Yet Yamal believes the Blaugrana can compete with any side on their day.

"We struggled this season, scoring a goal and adding another before going into the second half and suddenly having two goals scored against us," he continued.

"That's the only thing we have to improve, because I think we can compete with any team in the world."

Antonio Rudiger wants to use his experience with Real Madrid for the benefit of Germany at Euro 2024, seeking to find a "killer instinct" for Julian Nagelsmann's team.

Germany duo Toni Kroos and Rudiger helped Madrid to their record-extending 15th Champions League crown last Saturday, defeating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the final.

That European glory added to this season's LaLiga success for Los Blancos, who continue to power on as a title-winning machine under the tutelage of veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti.

With Germany's Euro 2024 opener against Scotland less than two weeks away, Rudiger hopes to embed his club's efforts into Nagelsmann's national side.

"These are two different pairs of shoes," Rudiger said on Wednesday, referring to the difference between Germany and Madrid.

"Here we have a very good system that fits our game but what we can take with us from Madrid is that killer instinct.

"Our last game against Ukraine was super good. I have not seen a 0-0 from us in quite some time that was so good but the thing that was missing was the goals and that is what we can learn from Madrid."

Germany were wasteful in that Ukraine draw on Monday, producing a similar performance as to those in their back-to-back group-stage exits at the World Cup in 2018 and four years later.

They face Greece on Friday in their final warm-up match before the European Championship, where they meet Scotland, Hungary and Switzerland in Group A.

"The anticipation in our own country is huge," Rudiger added. "On Friday we have an important last test. It is important for our confidence. It is important to excite our fans in this final test.

"We have to be humble. We all know what happened in the past tournaments. The road to get here had ups and downs.

"What is important is to play a very good first game and then see what happens in the rest of the tournament."

As for Rudiger's own role within Germany's national setup, Nagelsmann wants the centre-back to guide his side through the tournament.

"Julian said that I should be a leader in my role," Rudiger concluded.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta says his decision to dismiss Xavi came after doubts the Blaugrana head coach had lost faith in his squad.

The LaLiga giants were expected to part ways with former midfielder Xavi at the end of the season, only for the Spaniard to change his mind and opt to fulfill his contract with the club.

Yet in another unexpected turn of events, Xavi was given his marching orders – and chief Laporta claims the Barcelona boss had expressed concerns over the capabilities of his current players.

"If Xavi can change his mind, so can we," Laporta said in an interview with Barca One, the Blaugrana's in-house television channel.

"Everything was a bit forced when we decided to keep him on. Xavi is a club legend and his enthusiasm led us to the decision to ratify his position.

"At the time of his U-turn, I asked him: 'Do you believe in the team?' He told me 'Yes.' He said he had faith in this team.

"However, there were then comments in which he changed his discourse after conversations with [sporting director] Deco with respect to necessary changes to the squad.

"That forced me to reconsider the situation and I felt the squad needed a new impetus to be more competitive and get the best out of what we have.

"I have had to make these tough decisions with Barca legends. My heart told me he should stay on, but not my head.

"I hope [our] relationship can continue. I have been through it with [Ronald] Koeman, [Lionel] Messi, [Gerard] Pique, [Sergio] Busquets, [Jordi] Alba and now Xavi. All decisions are made for the good of Barca -- the club comes first."

In stark contrast, Laporta assured new head coach Hansi Flick – formerly of Bayern Munich and Germany's national side – backs Barcelona to succeed, with or without further investment.

"Flick feels capable of competing with this squad," the Barca president continued. "That was decisive."

"Flick's task is to win and he's accepted the challenge. The players must be well-prepared physically. The youngsters, the substitutes, players like [Robert] Lewandowski ... everyone has to be in good shape physically.

"The physical preparation is essential because, with that, and having the ball, we can win everything. This season we saw the team dip after the 60th minute physically. We didn't finish games as we wanted –in the two Clasicos, for example.

"I am not saying the team was not well prepared, but there are always things to improve. We need more."

Although adding to the playing squad was a contentious issue leading to Xavi's exit, Laporta expressed an interest in renewing the loans of Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix.

"We want the two Joaos to continue," he said. "The idea is that they are here for another year. Deco is working on it. Flick rates them highly and when he was at Bayern he was interested in signing Felix.

"Just as we don't need a big transfer out, we don't believe we need big signings. Maybe a midfielder, a winger, but we also have an academy which can help fill these positions.

"We can compete in Europe with a squad based on the academy. That's what Flick has conveyed to us and what we think.

"We have a squad that can compete in Spain and Europe with the chance of success."

Neymar says Vinicius Junior will "obviously" win the Ballon d'Or after he helped Real Madrid win their 15th Champions League title on Saturday.

Vinicius scored the second goal in Madrid's 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund and was their top scorer in the competition this campaign with six overall. He was also named the Champions League Player of the Season on Monday.

Indeed, the Brazilian became just the fifth player to score in both of their first two Champions League final appearances, after Samuel Eto'o, Sergio Ramos, Lionel Messi and Mario Mandzukic.

Vinicius was an integral part of Los Blancos' title charge too, with only Jude Bellingham (19) scoring more goals than him (15) as they won LaLiga for the 36th time.

His name regularly features in conversations over this season's Ballon d’Or winner, and he has been backed by Brazil team-mate Neymar to get his hands on the prize.

"As for Vini, obviously I think the Ballon d'Or is his today," Neymar said.

"I sent [him] messages before and after the [Champions League final] game. He's a boy I love with passion, a great friend that football gave me. He will certainly be crowned with the Ballon d'Or.

"He's incredible. Carrying our country's flag around the world, and we're really rooting for him."

The last Brazilian to win the Ballon d'Or was Kaka in 2007, while Neymar has been a contender for the award, but finished third in his closest finish.

Vinicius will now be looking to add the Copa America to his list of accolades, with Selecao's campaign beginning on June 24 against Costa Rica in Group D. 

Kylian Mbappe has completed his long-awaited move to Real Madrid, signing as a free agent on a five-year deal after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

The France international announced his decision to part ways with the Ligue 1 champions in early May, waving farewell after Coupe de France glory later in the month.

Madrid have repeatedly chased the signature of the 25-year-old, failing to secure his signing in the 2021-22 season as Mbappe opted to pen a two-year extension in the French capital.

Yet Carlo Ancelotti and Los Blancos have finally got their man, confirming the much-anticipated deal for the former Monaco forward on Monday.

In a club statement, Madrid said: "Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe have reached an agreement whereby he will be a Real Madrid player for the next five seasons."

The France captain will officially move to Madrid in July when his PSG contract expires.

Mbappe leaves Paris with a club-record 256 goals across his seven seasons, including 42 in the Champions League, as Luis Enrique and the French giants prepare for life without their superstar forward.

Adding in 108 assists for the perennial Ligue 1 title-winning machine, Mbappe's 364 goal involvements rank as the most for PSG this century – ahead of Edinson Cavani (236) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (210).

Mbappe also scored 44 times in 48 games for PSG this season, a tally only matched by Bayern Munich's Harry Kane among players from Europe's top five leagues.

With Vinicius Junior, Jude Bellingham and Rodrygo to call upon already, Ancelotti adds further firepower to a Madrid side that secured their 15th Champions League crown in June, as well as LaLiga glory.

Madrid were expected to seal this deal for some time, with announcements held off before the Champions League final victory over Borussia Dortmund.

Yet with Euro 2024 on the horizon for Mbappe and France, the reigning Spanish champions have quietened the growing speculation by confirming his arrival.

France captain Mbappe is again among the favourites to top the goalscoring charts at the Euros in Germany, having scored eight times to win the Golden Boot as Les Bleus came up just short at the 2022 World Cup.

Mbappe found the net nine times in eight Euro 2024 qualifiers as Didier Deschamps' team prepare to open their campaign against Austria on June 17, before meeting Netherlands and Poland.

He will hope to power his country to a third European Championship title, having finished runners-up to Portugal eight years ago, before moving to Madrid for the 2024-25 season.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior was named the Champions League's Player of the Season by UEFA's technical observer panel on Monday.

Vinicius played 10 matches in the 2023-24 competition for champions Madrid, scoring six goals and assisting five.

He was on the scoresheet as Carlo Ancelotti's side beat Borussia Dortmund in the final on Saturday, earning his second Champions League medal with the club.

The Brazilian has 22 direct goal involvements in the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition (11 goals, 11 assists), the joint-most recorded by any player before turning 24, alongside Lionel Messi.

The UEFA panel also named Vinicius' team-mate Jude Bellingham the Best Young Player of the 2023-24 tournament.

The 20-year-old England international scored four goals and provided five assists in 11 Champions League appearances.

The Goal of the Season award also went to a Madrid player, with Federico Valverde's late volley against Manchester City in a 3-3 quarter-final draw at the Santiago Bernabeu taking the honours.

Thibaut Courtois will not be receiving a late call-up for Euro 2024, but it is down to the Belgian FA to address any off-field issues with the goalkeeper, technical director Franck Vercauteren has revealed.

The Real Madrid stopper was omitted from the Red Devils' 25-man squad for the forthcoming European Championship, despite returning from an anterior cruciate ligament injury and helping Los Blancos to a 15th Champions League title.

Courtois, who kept a clean sheet as Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at Wembley, became embroiled in a public spat with Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco last June, walking out on the squad when he was not named captain in the wake of Eden Hazard's retirement.

Koen Casteels, Thomas Kaminski and Matz Sels were named as Tedesco's three goalkeepers for the tournament in Germany, where the Red Devils will play in Group E alongside Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia.

And technical director Vercauteren confirmed there would be no U-turn on Courtois' omission, but admitted he may still have a future with the national team.

"Unfortunately, we’ll play the European Championship without him," he said. "So, now we no longer have to focus on that. It is the job of the federation to smooth out the wrinkles. That is absolutely a must.

"We never doubted his qualities or that he would not be fit. So, we must stop the matter now. Signals have been given that we must respect.

"At some point, you have to invest to solve it. That is certainly the intention. It's partly my job to make that happen. We know what we have to do."

Courtois' father Thierry, who was at Wembley to watch his son claim a second Champions League winner's medal, added: "Hopefully, the problem can be sorted out."

Champions League football is a simple game. Twenty-two men run around a field for 90 minutes, and in the end, Real Madrid always win.

Los Blancos claimed their record-extending 15th European crown at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, with late goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior enough to see off a spirited Borussia Dortmund side.

The last six of those triumphs have come within the space of 11 years, following an agonising 12-year wait for La Decima, won in Carlo Ancelotti's first stint in charge in 2014.

Few clubs have enjoyed sustained success in Europe's elite club competition. Fewer still have built the kind of dynasty established by Madrid in recent years.

But how does their recent success compare to those of yesteryear, and how do their players and effortlessly cool Italian coach stack up against those who dominated Europe in the past?

Here, we take a deep dive into the Opta data to find out.

Europe's second-greatest side? 

Given the depth of talent found across Europe in modern times, the lure of the Premier League and the financial power of state-owned clubs such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, modern-day Madrid can arguably lay claim to the most impressive run of success in European history.

To triumph in the world's most difficult knockout competition more often than not over the course of 11 years, while replacing stalwarts like Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Iker Casillas, shows an incredible capacity for reinvention.

However, it might be incorrect to suggest Los Blancos' current crop are the most dominant team in European history. That honour goes to… well, Madrid.

Under the tutelage of Jose Villalonga, Luis Carniglia and Miguel Munoz, Madrid won the first five editions of the European Cup from 1955-56 to 1959-60.

That glorious era was capped by a 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 final at Hampden Park, a game that has almost taken on mystical status, with Alfredo Di Stefano scoring a hat-trick and Ferenc Puskas upstaging him with four goals. 

 

While Puskas was only around for the last two of those five victories – also featuring in Madrid's sixth triumph in 1965-66 – Di Stefano was inspirational throughout the first five editions of the European Cup, his total of 36 goals coming in just 35 games and more than doubling that of his closest competitor (Crvena Zvezda great Bora Kostic, with 15).

Left winger Paco Gento was the only player to match Di Stefano's 35 European Cup outings during that time, and his longevity allowed him to play on until 1966 and become the first player to win six European crowns. Only on Saturday was that feat matched, with Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Carvajal and Nacho following in his footsteps.

Madrid went 32 years without lifting the European Cup after 1966, before the Galacticos delivered three titles in five years between 1998 and 2002, Zinedine Zidane's volley against Bayer Leverkusen being the defining moment of the club's second golden era.

Other sides can lay claim to a period of dominance in the European Cup, with Benfica (1960-61, 1961-62), Inter (1963-64, 1964-65), Liverpool (1976-77, 1977-78), Nottingham Forest (1978-79, 1979-80) and Milan (1988-89, 1989-90) all winning back-to-back titles. 

Ajax (1970-71, 1971-72 and 1972-73) and Bayern Munich (1973-74, 1974-75, 1975-76), meanwhile, both managed three-peats.

Madrid's recent run of success may have been broken either side of their own three-peat from 2015-16 to 2017-18, but only the great Blancos side of the 1950s and 1960s have previously won as many as six titles in an 11-year spell. 

If the likely arrival of Kylian Mbappe propels them to number 16 next year, modern-day Madrid will have a real claim to have upstaged their forerunners. 

Don Carlo: The undisputed GOAT 

When it comes to the men in the dugout, there is simply no debate. UEFA's flagship competition belongs to Ancelotti. 

Saturday's win was Ancelotti's seventh European crown overall, with two coming as a functional midfielder in Arrigo Sacchi's great Milan side and five arriving as a coach. 

That is as many titles as any other club has won, with Milan being crowned kings of Europe on seven occasions (four times with Ancelotti involved as a player or manager).

 

No other manager has won more than three European Cup/Champions League titles, with Bob Paisley, Zidane and Pep Guardiola joint-second in the charts. 

Ancelotti's three triumphs with Los Blancos, meanwhile, are the joint-most by any coach with a single club, alongside Paisley with Liverpool and Zidane with Madrid. 

The Italian has won 71.4 per cent of his Champions League games in charge of Madrid across two spells (45/63), while he has the most victories of any Blancos boss since the competition's 1992 rebrand. 

As a player and a manager, Ancelotti has experienced eight European Cup/Champions League finals and only failed to lift the trophy on one occasion. It took perhaps the most memorable comeback of all time to deny him, as Liverpool fought back from 3-0 down to beat Milan on penalties in 2005.

Madrid's European aura 

For all Madrid's success in the last decade or so, few would argue they have been the continent's most consistent or aesthetically pleasing side throughout that span. 

Sometimes, the weight of that iconic white shirt alone seems to be enough to drag Madrid through knockout ties, with almost 70 years of history causing Los Blancos' opponents to wilt at the crucial moment.

Most would hold Manchester City up as the absolute pinnacle of footballing excellence in the modern age, yet in the 2021-22 semi-finals, two Rodrygo goals within the space of 90 seconds were enough to undo 180 minutes of excellent work from Guardiola's team.

In 2023-24, City fired 33 shots at Andriy Lunin's goal over the course of 120 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, the most in any Champions League knockout game since Liverpool attempted 34 against Atletico Madrid in March 2020. But it was all in vain as Madrid clung on before triumphing on penalties.

It is difficult, impossible even, to explain Madrid's logic-defying European results with facts and figures. 

Saturday's final saw Dortmund produce 2.08 expected goals (xG) to Madrid's 1.13. BVB's first-half total of 1.68 xG was the largest on record in a Champions League final (since 2013-14) while Los Blancos did not record a shot on target before the break.

Across their last six Champions League knockout games of 2023-24, Madrid lost the xG battle on four occasions, only creating a greater quality of chances than their opponents in both legs of their semi-final triumph over Bayern. 

It was a similar story in 2021-22, when Los Blancos lost the xG battle in four of their seven knockout games including the final, when Thibaut Courtois' heroics kept Liverpool at bay.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Madrid have 'lost' 26 Champions League knockout games on xG, but boast a record of 11 wins, six draws and nine losses in those contests. 

If you fail to put them away, they simply will punish you. Why? A plethora of big-game players certainly helps… 

The men for the big moments

Having players well-versed in coming up with clutch moments has helped turn Madrid into a winning machine, almost making their performance levels irrelevant.

It all starts between the sticks. In Madrid's last two Champions League finals, Courtois has faced 12 shots on target but saved all of them, keeping two clean sheets. According to Opta's expected goals on target (xGoT) model, the Belgian prevented 3.4 goals in those matches.

At the other end, Madrid have put their trust in lethal finishers. 

In this season's Champions League, Vinicius (six goals from 4.49 xG), Jude Bellingham (four, 3.02 xG) and Brahim Diaz (two, 1.53 xG) all outperformed their underlying numbers, while Rodrygo (five, 5.71 xG) and Joselu (five, 5.44 xG) were not far away. 

In 2021-22, their charge was spearheaded by Benzema, who scored an incredible 15 goals from chances totalling just 8.35 xG. With five goals from 2.39 xG, Rodrygo was another notable overperformer.  

And of course, Ronaldo was at the forefront of their previous four triumphs. Between the start of 2013-14 and the end of 2017-18, he plundered 53 goals from just 42.9 xG in 50 Champions League matches. The fact he turned those chances into 51.4 expected goals on target (xGoT) only further demonstrates the supreme quality of his finishing.

It hasn't all been about the strikers, though. Who could forget the contributions of Ramos, whose last-gasp header saved Madrid from defeat in the 2014 final against Atletico?

Modric and Kroos, meanwhile, have dictated midfield battles at the highest level well into their thirties.

Kroos produced another metronomic performance in the final game of his club career on Saturday, leading all 22 starters for touches (108), passes attempted (94) and passes completed (91). Only Julian Brandt matched his four chances created, one of which was the corner-kick assist for Carvajal's opener. 

With Ancelotti – and Zidane previously – allowing some of the game's greatest improvisers to do their thing, sometimes the data goes out of the window. 

Gareth Southgate was delighted to see Jude Bellingham crown a "phenomenal year" by helping Real Madrid to Champions League glory at Wembley.

Los Blancos completed the double with a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the final, having also regained their LaLiga crown after finishing 10 points clear of rivals Barcelona in second place.

It capped a memorable maiden season at Santiago Bernabeu for Bellingham, who was named LaLiga's Player of the Year after scoring 19 goals in the Spanish top flight - a tally only bettered by Girona's Artem Dovbyk (24) and Alexander Sorloth of Villarreal (23).

The midfielder also netted four times in the Champions League, while providing the assist for Vinicius Junior to score the decisive second goal against Dortmund on Saturday.

And Southgate has been thrilled by the 20-year-old's exploits this term.

"It's an incredible year for him," Southgate told reporters ahead of England's Euro 2024 warm-up match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday. 

"To cap that season with winning the Champions League, it's a phenomenal year, and I'm delighted for him.

"His family have to take credit for that. The way he is authentic in interviews, that's how he is. The way he reacts with staff and players, he has the humility and understanding.

"He had to earn the respect of people like [Luka] Modric and [Toni] Kroos, he went on to attack that challenge."

England team-mate Kieran Trippier concurred: "He doesn't seem like a 20-year-old. He's so mature for his age. He's taken it in his stride and all the boys are absolutely delighted for him - not just [for winning] the Champions League, but the season he has had."

Bellingham will miss the Three Lions' penultimate match before the European Championship as he enjoys a much-needed rest, but will link up with the squad before they travel to Germany.

England, who will play Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in Group C, are among the favourites to go all the way at the tournament, and Southgate knows this is an important period of recuperation for his star midfielder. 

"The most important thing is rest, recovery at this moment, for Jude and for the team," he added. "Have time with his family, clear his head.

"He's played right to the end [of the season]. He's super professional, so he's going to physically tick over, but we need to see him before next Saturday."

Marco Reus waved farewell to Borussia Dortmund after Champions League agony on Saturday, with former team-mate Roman Burki expecting the Germany veteran to join him in MLS.

Burki ended a seven-year stay with Dortmund in 2022, switching the Bundesliga for MLS football as the goalkeeper joined the newly created St. Louis City.

The St. Louis goalkeeper faced Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba in Sunday's 3-3 draw with Inter Miami, and hinted that the league could soon welcome another European star.

"I talked to Marco Reus ahead of the Champions League game, I texted, we didn't talk about the move then because he was obviously focused on the game, but Major League Soccer has a very good chance of seeing him next year or the summer," Burki told ESPN.

"I can't tell which team, I am still trying [to convince him] but at some point it's up to [sporting director] Lutz [Pfannenstiel] and [club owner] Carolyn [Kindle] to make a move."

Reus leaves Dortmund after 12 years with the German side, signing off with a heartbreaking 2-0 defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium.

Previous reports have suggested Reus could make the switch to the United States, opening up the potential for a reunion with Burki.

St. Louis head coach Bradley Carnell would love to bring the pair back together, though warned that the move is not guaranteed.

"Every time there is a transfer window opening, whether it's our club or not, everyone gets names thrown out at them. We've had plenty of names, whether it's to join now or in six months," Carnell told ESPN.

"We go through our lists, and we see if it makes sense or not. When we are in the position that we are in, sure maybe something comes around.

"The Marco Reus rumours are flattering, it would be something interesting for the league and our team. It's one of Roman's best friends, it would be a nice fairytale story.

"But sometimes reality is far from that. We're working ways and figuring things out, but right now there's nothing to be said about the Marco Reus rumour. But the window opens up pretty soon."

St. Louis owner Kindle echoed Carnell's sentiment, adding: "It's absolutely amazing [being linked to Reus.] In full disclosure, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction.

"Sometimes I call and ask about the rumours, but I thought it would take us three to five years to get to this point of being linked to these figures and we're on year two and these rumours are amazing."

Toni Kroos is set to leave Real Madrid as a six-time Champions League winner but Carlo Ancelotti wants the Los Blancos midfielder to reverse his retirement decision.

The Germany midfielder appears to have played the final club game of his career, signing off with European glory after a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in Saturday's final.

Kroos delivered a perfect corner-kick assist for Dani Carvajal's 74th-minute opener at Wembley Stadium before Vinicius Junior sealed Madrid's 15th crown in UEFA's top club competition.

The 34-year-old Kroos will head to Euro 2024 with Germany this month before calling time on his glittering career, though Ancelotti hopes he will change his mind.

"I'm really grateful to Kroos," Ancelotti said. "He finished at the very top, there is no way to finish higher than this.

"He had the boldness to finish it [his career] and he is a legend at this club.

"All the fans are grateful to him for his attitude, his professionalism. I've told him we are waiting for him to change his mind – we are waiting for you."

It was the sixth winning campaign for Madrid quadruple Kroos, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and Nacho in the Champions League.

Only Paco Gento (six) has won the European Cup/Champions League as many times among players in history.

This success will be further boosted by the expected arrival of Kylian Mbappe, who is reportedly set to join Madrid after announcing his intentions to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

Ancelotti says Los Blancos will look to new arrivals, as well as the current crop of Madrid stars, to combat Kroos' retirement.

"We have lost an important player, but we have players who can replace him and we will adapt and play a slightly different way," Ancelotti said.

"We have fantastic players and the resources to remain competitive."

Kroos' Germany face Ukraine and Greece in warm-up fixtures before opening their Euro 2024 campaign against Scotland on June 14.

Edin Terzic was unsure whether Jadon Sancho will return to Borussia Dortmund but said the "brilliant" winger will play in more Champions League finals.

The on-loan Manchester United attacker was unable to stop Real Madrid from securing their 15th title in Europe's top continental club competition on Saturday.

Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior did the damage late on for Carlo Ancelotti's side at Wembley Stadium, where Sancho was playing on home turf at England's national home ground.

Sancho is set to return to Old Trafford after being dismissed following his widely reported fallout with manager Erik ten Hag, though Terzic hailed the BVB loanee.

"I am very happy to work with Jadon," Terzic said after the 2-0 defeat. "I don't know what the future will bring, but for sure it will bring him another Champions League final.

"I didn't speak about his future [at Dortmund} because we have been talking about the present and the present is playing a Champions League final in his hometown, a very special moment for him.

"He is very happy with us and you can see the joy he has and the joy he brings to us. For the last six months, he has been brilliant for us.

"Of course, he took time to get into shape, but you can feel his quality and skills improved our game immediately.

"He not only improved his game, but those around him. He is very gifted."

Terzic's Dortmund will feel they should have, at the very least, got something out of the first half against Madrid.

Madrid's left-hand post denied Niclas Fullkrug, while Karim Adeyemi rounded Thibaut Courtois but could not find the target.

Dortmund have now lost each of their last three major European finals in a row, against Feyenoord in 2002, Bayern in 2013 and Madrid this year.

Yet veteran centre-back Mats Hummels, who played every minute of this Champions League campaign, remains proud of Terzic's men.

"We showed a lot of courage, heart and footballing skill," speaking with Germany's ZDF network.

"We missed out on scoring and then conceded the goal. That's how they always do it.

"That shows their quality, but it also took a bit of luck today."

Jude Bellingham lauded Carlo Ancelotti for unlocking previously unknown potential in his game as the pair celebrated Champions League success on Saturday.

The England international ended his first season in the Spanish capital with LaLiga and European glory, after the 2-0 victory over Bellingham's former club Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium.

A battling victory secured Los Blancos' 15th trophy in Europe's top competition, at least eight more than any other side (Milan, seven), as Ancelotti made further history.

The Italian has won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League more times than any other manager (five), with three of those coming in charge of Madrid.

That is also the joint-most for a manager in charge of a specific team, along with Bob Paisley at Liverpool (three) and Zinedine Zidane, also at Madrid (three).

Bellingham was quick to hail the work of veteran boss Ancelotti before the party started for Madrid in London. 

"He has unlocked a part of my game that I didn't know I had," Bellingham told TNT Sports. "That is the thing about world-class coaches, they make you realise how good you can be.

"They test the limits of your potential. It is like being at school again, you learn something new every day and get better and better."

This was the sixth winning campaign for Madrid quadruple Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and Nacho in the Champions League, taking them level with Paco Gento (six) as the players who have won the European competition the most times in history.

Working alongside those players comes with its challenges, though, Bellingham says.

The 20-year-old continued: "Special feeling. Some of my team-mates have five or six titles and they said enjoy your first as it's a feeling like no other when you reach the top of the mountain.

"It's important to maintain that level but never forget your first and enjoy it. They were the better team for the majority but it comes down to moments and if you don't kill us, then it will come back to haunt you."

Having celebrated their league and continental double, Madrid could soon welcome the arrival of world-class forward Kylian Mbappe, who is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires.

With Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo usually either side of him up top, Bellingham expressed his excitement over an enticing link-up with the France attacker.

"It would be amazing if a player like him arrived," Bellingham added. "One of the best in the world."

Edin Terzic says he feels "proud but empty" following Borussia Dortmund's 2-0 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday.

Dortmund were the better side in the first half, though lacked a clinical edge to punish a Madrid side struggling to create chances.

Late goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior clinched a record-extending 15th European crown for Los Blancos, with Dortmund suffering Champions League heartbreak on Wembley turf for a second time.

The Black and Yellow have now lost their last three major European finals, though Terzic was still able to reflect on the positives from the game despite the disappointing result.

Speaking to TNT Sports after the game, he said: "After a Champions League final we've lost, I'm proud but also empty. It's difficult to think about the last 12 months and analyse that period. But I think we've had a season with a lot of ups and downs.

"Today was a perfect example of what is possible with this team, what we can achieve and that's what's important from tomorrow onwards. We have to try to be more consistent.

"It's difficult to find the words. Performance-wise, we played a great game, but we found out why they've become champions for the 15th time. They were so effective and that was something we missed.

"We showed that we were here to win, not just play a game. We were close. Small things missing. But congratulations to them to keep this kind of hunger. You can see why they are champions.

"This is a proud moment. We took 100,000 people from Dortmund to London, and everybody had the belief. It was a fantastic journey, but I'm also a bit empty inside as it was a great opportunity, but we didn't take it."

On the opposite side, former Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham became the third-youngest player to start a Champions League final for Madrid at 20 years and 338 days, after Iker Casillas in 2000 and Raul in 1998.

Terzic was full of praise for his former player and passed on his well wishes to the England international.

"When he left us, I said the same thing I said to Erling Haaland - that I was proud to be their manager," he added.

"It is his first Champions League win, and it is a proud moment for him.

"I know what Mark, Denise and Jobe are doing to get this success in the family. Congratulations to Jude."

Toni Kroos was hailed as a "legend" by his fellow midfielder Federico Valverde after helping Real Madrid win their 15th European crown in the final game of his club career on Saturday.

Kroos enjoyed a winning send-off in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium, assisting Dani Carvajal's opener in a hard-fought 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund.

The 34-year-old – who will hang up his boots after representing Germany at Euro 2024 – joined Luka Modric and Nacho in winning his sixth European crown, a feat only previously achieved by Paco Gento.

Kroos led all 22 starters for touches (108), passes attempted (94), and passes completed (91), while only Ferland Mendy, with perfect distribution, bettered his passing accuracy (96.8 per cent). Dortmund's Julian Brandt matched his four chances created.

Speaking to Movistar after the game, Kroos expressed relief that Madrid had survived a below-par first half, in which Dortmund missed several decent chances.

"The decisive thing was that we didn't concede in the first half. The first half really wasn’t good from us," Kroos said.

"Then we got into the game better and scored the goal. We were fully there and the better team. But it took a long time until we were the better team tonight."

Valverde, meanwhile, was glowing in his praise for Kroos. 

Asked how much he would miss his retiring midfield partner, the Uruguayan said: "A lot, like everyone else. 

"He is a person who has left his legend here, his mark. We, as youngsters, try to learn as much from him as possible, like with Modric. 

"Thank you for all that you have given and taught us on a day-to-day basis, for that competitiveness."

Asked about Madrid's winning mentality, he added: "It comes from the greatest, those who give this value to this club: you always win. 

"Tomorrow we'll go to celebrate, but they'll tell us to win it again next year!"

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