Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey has signed for Ligue 1 side Nice after being released by Juventus.

The 31-year-old joins as a free agent less than a week after agreeing to terminate his contract with the Bianconeri, with Nice yet to disclose the length of his deal.

Ramsey spent three years with Juventus, joining in 2019 after his contract at Arsenal expired, but he struggled to establish himself in Italy and made just three Serie A appearances last season before joining Rangers on loan.

He featured seven times for Rangers in the Scottish Premiership, but his time in Glasgow will mostly be remembered for his crucial penalty shoot-out miss in the Europa League final against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville, which Rangers went on to lose.

Ramsey will be keen to get some minutes under his belt to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar in November.

He becomes the second Wales international in quick succession to move to France's top tier, with centre-back Joe Rodon joining Rennes on loan from Tottenham on Monday.

Nice finished fifth in Ligue 1 last season and have already added Alexis Beka Beka, Rares Ilie and Badredine Bouanani in recent weeks.

The club have also been linked with moves for Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and Empoli centre-back Mattia Viti.

Wales defender Joe Rodon has secured a season-long loan move from Tottenham to Rennes, with a permanent option included.

The 24-year-old leaves Antonio Conte's side in search of more regular opportunities ahead of Wales' World Cup campaign, which will be the nation's first since 1958.

Rodon made just 10 appearances for Spurs last season, including in the Conference League against Rennes, amid fierce competition for first-team football – and the signing of Clement Lenglet from Barcelona pushed him further down the pecking order.

Opportunities should be more forthcoming with the Ligue 1 side, who hold a clause to make the deal permanent next year for a reported fee of £17million.

The former Swansea City defender is a key part of Rob Page's international set-up, forging a partnership with Spurs' Ben Davies at the heart of Wales' backline and earning 28 caps to date.

Wales sealed their spot in Qatar with a play-off victory against Ukraine and will be in Group B alongside England, Iran and the United States.

A transfer to Rennes will also offer the opportunity of European football, with a fourth-placed finish in Ligue 1 last season securing a spot in the Europa League.

Rennes technical director Florian Maurice said Rodon had "no hesitation" about joining.

"He's a real central defender who likes to defend, he has that aggressive side that we need to allow us to be even more effective defensively," Maurice said.

"He is an international, a starter with Wales and will certainly be called up to play in the World Cup in November."

Ben Davies has signed a new contract with Tottenham, keeping him at the club until 2025.

The 29-year-old was one of seven signings upon Mauricio Pochettino's hire as Spurs manager in 2014, and has gone on to make 271 appearances for the club in all competitions.

With Davies coming into his ninth season with Spurs, it has been another busy transfer window for the North London club, who can count Richarlison, Yves Bissouma and Ivan Perisic among their six signings ahead of the new campaign.

The Wales international revealed Tottenham's upward trajectory and ambition under Antonio Conte made the decision to extend an even easier one, especially in a World Cup year.

"I'm delighted to sign my new contract," he told the club's website. "After last season and the summer this club has had, there's no more exciting time than right now to be at this club.

"I was enjoying my football and when the opportunity came from the club to extend my contract, I was more than happy to do so. I've had some really enjoyable times here, it really feels like home now.

"It's an exciting season for both club and country. It'll be a bit strange, stopping mid-season for that tournament, but I can't wait. It's been a long time since Wales have been there and we've given everything to get there, so you just have to enjoy it."

 

Chelsea and Wales defender Ethan Ampadu is desperate to break into the Blues' first team this season, but admits he needs regular playing time ahead of a likely World Cup appearance in Qatar.

Ampadu spent last season on loan at Venezia, making 29 Serie A appearances but failing to prevent them from finishing bottom of the Italian top flight. 

Having also spent time at RB Leipzig and Sheffield United since joining Chelsea from Exeter at the age of 16, Ampadu – already a Wales regular with 36 senior caps – is eyeing a breakthrough campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Asked whether he hoped for a long-term future with Chelsea by The Athletic, Ampadu, who is part of Thomas Tuchel's squad for a pre-season tour of the United States, replied: "Of course – I'm here, aren't I?

"This club fights for everything, Champions League, Premier League. It's all about fighting here and trying to get to the top.

"There are a few of us with that same mindset that want to break through. We're out here now and it's our chance to show it.

"Like every footballer out there, my dream is to be at the top. I don't think that's a bad thing to say and dream, everyone wants to be at the top. It's about fighting and getting towards that."

Ampadu appeared from the bench in Chelsea's 2-1 friendly win over Mexican giants Club America on Sunday.

But the 21-year-old will face fierce competition in his bid to force his way into a defence which conceded just 33 Premier League goals last season (only Liverpool and Manchester City conceded fewer).

Chelsea have already signed Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and are being linked with Paris Saint-Germain's Presnel Kimpembe.

With Ampadu likely to feature when Wales begin their first World Cup campaign since 1958 against the United States on November 21, he recognises the importance of playing regularly.

"The World Cup adds something else, but even if there wasn't the World Cup, as a professional footballer you want to play," Ampadu added.

"I enjoy playing and I want to be playing week in, week out. But the World Cup is definitely something you want to be going to feeling fit and fresh."

Gareth Bale claimed the standard of football in Major League Soccer has risen in recent years after he and Giorgio Chiellini made their Los Angeles FC debut in a 2-1 win over Nashville SC.

Bale made his MLS bow as a 72nd-minute substitute in Tennessee, while Italy and Juventus legend Chiellini played the first hour of a victory that put LAFC one point clear at the Western Conference summit.

The Wales winger, who won five Champions League titles during a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid before his contract expired in June, suggested last week that MLS was "not a retirement league".

And Bale repeated that assertion after his maiden appearance, telling LAFC's website: "The standard of football, even just watching, has improved massively from when I used to watch it in the past and when I've played against an all-star team or played other teams in the past.

"The football's good, I enjoyed being on there. I definitely think the perception [of the league] is changing, I think a lot of players came over and really struggled and got a big wake-up call by it.

"I've spoken to other players about it, so I know the quality is improving. I haven't come here just to wind down, I want to contribute as much as I can, to try to win games and trophies."

Bale caught the eye during his first cameo with the 2019 Supporters' Shield winners, and admitted he had grown restless watching from the bench early on.

"It felt amazing, I was itching from the first half, as soon as I got on the bench I wanted to get off and help the team," he added. "[It's] important as well for me individually that I get my fitness going, obviously it's the end of the season in Europe. 

"It's good to get some minutes and more importantly, we got the three points, so everybody's happy.

"I want to come in and do what I do, but fit into the team's style of play as well. It's going to take a bit of time to get used to everything, but I'm quite switched on."

Chiellini, meanwhile, highlighted the difficulties caused by the humid conditions in Nashville, but was pleased to have passed his first test since departing Serie A.

"I expected the difficulties we had in the match because it is good team and also for me especially, it's my first match for almost two months, and it's too hot in Nashville!" the defender said.

"But I was feeling better minute by minute. I'm very happy because it was a difficult game, and it is very important for us to win"

Ryan Jones says he feels like his "world is falling apart" after the former Wales captain was diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41.

Jones revealed he was given a diagnosis of probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) last December.

The back row won 75 caps for Wales and three for the British and Irish Lions on the 2005 tour of New Zealand in an illustrious career.

Jones said in an interview with The Sunday Times: "I feel like my world is falling apart.

"I am really scared. I lived 15 years of my life like a superhero and I'm not. I don't know what the future holds. 

"I am a product of an environment that is all about process and human performance. I'm not able to perform like I could. I just want to lead a happy, healthy, normal life.

"I feel that's been taken away and there is nothing I can do."

The ex-Ospreys skipper says he was initially diagnosed with depression after retiring seven years ago and started to have short-term memory issues, while also becoming forgetful.

He added: "I've got three children and three step-children and I want to be a fantastic dad. I can't train harder, I can't play the referee. I don't know what the rules of the game are anymore.

"We don't know where to go, where to find support. We haven't got any friends in this space. It terrifies me. That's the fear. That's the bit that never leaves. That’s the bit I can’t shake off."

Jones says more must be done to prevent an increasing number of players from suffering.

"It [rugby union] is walking headlong with its eyes closed into a catastrophic situation," he added.

 

Handre Pollard claimed a 20-point haul as South Africa beat Wales 30-14 to win the Test series in Cape Town on Saturday.

Wales secured a historic first victory in South Africa last weekend to set up a decider at DHL Stadium, but the world champions outscored Wayne Pivac's side three tries to one to take the series 2-1.

Pollard put the Springboks in front with an early penalty and the fly-half then powered over from close range for a try following a sustained period of pressure.

Wales hit back courtesy of Tommy Reffell's first international try and Dan Biggar's penalty reduced the deficit to two points after South Africa lost Cheslin Kolbe to injury.

But the world champions were outmuscling the tourists at the set-piece and Bongi Mbonambi marked his 50th Test by charging over from the back of a ruck following a lineout late in the first half.

Another two Biggar penalties made it 17-14, but captain Siya Kolisi crossed after South Africa went through the phases just before the hour mark and Pollard added the extras.

Eben Etzebeth was then given a great ovation after he was replaced in his 100th Test, with the excellent Pollard making no mistakes with another two penalties late on as the Springboks deservedly wrapped up the series.

Wales were forced to make a late change for the decisive third Test against South Africa when Gareth Anscombe was ruled out due to a rib injury.

Anscombe came off the bench to kick the conversion that sealed a dramatic first win for Wales against the Springboks on South African soil last weekend, levelling the series at 1-1.

He will not feature at the DHL Stadium on Saturday after suffering an injury blow, so Rhys Patchell takes his place on the bench.

Captain Dan Biggar was passed fit to start at number 10 after recovering from a shoulder problem.

Wales are eyeing a first series win in South Africa after Wayne Pivac's side snatched their historic success over the world champions in Bloemfontein.

Dan Biggar and Dillon Lewis have been passed fit to start Wales' series decider with South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday.

Wales skipper Biggar and tight-head prop Lewis left the field in last weekend's 13-12 victory in Bloemfontein with shoulder and arm injuries respectively.

However, both players were named in Wales' starting XV on Thursday, with head coach Wayne Pivac making just one enforced change.

With wing Alex Cuthbert having already been ruled out, Josh Adams – who scored Wales' late try last time out – comes into the side for the crunch clash.

It means the tourists will go with the same side that started the series opener two weeks ago, which ended in a dramatic 32-29 defeat in Pretoria.

George North will also start, seeing him overtake Stephen Jones as Wales' most-capped men's international back of all time with 105 appearances.

 

South Africa named their squad on Tuesday, with Jacques Nienaber making 11 changes to the hosts' line-up.

Eben Etzebeth will become the seventh Springboks player to win 100 Test caps, while Bongi Mbonambi reaches the half-century mark.

The Boks, gearing up for next month's Rugby Championship, are out to avoid successive home defeats for the first time since losing three in a row between July 2015 and June 2016.

 

South Africa: Willemse, Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, De Allende, Mapimpi, Pollard, Hendrikse; Nyakane, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, De Jager, Kolisi, Du Toit, Wiese.
Replacements: Marx, Kitshoff, Koch, Mostert, Smith, Louw, De Klerk, Le Roux.

Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, Tompkins, Adams; Biggar (c), Hardy; G Thomas, Elias, D Lewis, Rowlands, Beard, Lydiate, Reffell, Faletau.
Replacements: Lake, W Jones, S Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones, Navidi, T Williams, Anscombe, Watkin.

Former Wales centre Jamie Roberts says playing rugby has been "the best job in the world" and he intends to remain with the sport after announcing his retirement at 35.

The ex-Cardiff Blues back, who has enjoyed a prolific club and international career that saw him play his domestic trade in five countries and win 94 caps for his nation, finishes his time after a brief stint with the Waratahs.

Roberts, who also won three caps for the British and Irish Lions, says he plans to stay in the game after hanging up his boots, and has spoken of the honour he has enjoyed to be able to live out his career.

"There's no doubt I'll stay with the sport past retirement," he said. "Whilst I figure everything out, that'll be predominantly in a broadcasting capacity.

"My experiences in the game have indeed taken me to immeasurable highs as well as desperate lows, eliciting every emotion possible along the way. Above all, the game has provided a sense of belonging, friendship and healthy competition.

"I'll miss the changing room, the matchday buzz and the aches and pains. I guess most of all I'll miss the lads.

"I've had the privilege of playing alongside and against many of the modern day greats; not just great players but great men. To all those I've been fortunate to share the field with, it was a pleasure.

"For a short while, we have the best job in the world. Never forget it."

Roberts made his debut for Wales in 2008, in a Six Nations win over Scotland on the wing, and retires as the joint-eighth most-capped man in the country's history.

He featured in their 2011 and 2015 World Cup campaigns - helping them to fourth in the former - and was a member of two separate Lions tours, to South Africa in 2009 and Australia in 2013.

"Representing my country was always a childhood dream, I'm fortunate it became reality," said Roberts. "It meant the world to me and forever will.

"I'll also never forget the immense pride of captaining my country. Singing the anthem had the same impact whether at home in Cardiff, away at some of the most iconic stadiums in World rugby, or during two Rugby World Cups.

"I'll remember fondly reaching the pinnacle of representative rugby and touring twice with the Lions. The joys and despair I experienced on both tours amounted to nothing short of experiences of a lifetime."

Gareth Bale's new Los Angeles FC team-mate Jose Cifuentes has explained why he decided to hand over his squad number to Major League Soccer's latest star import.

Bale signed for LAFC in June after leaving Real Madrid on the expiration of his contract.

The Welsh winger, who turns 33 this week, has signed a one-year deal with the MLS team, though that deal can be extended through to 2024.

With a World Cup campaign with Wales on the horizon in Qatar, Bale has the chance to stay at the top of his game in California, and he will be able to do so while wearing his preferred shirt number – 11.

Bale has worn the number 11 for his country for over a decade, while he also wore it in his last season at Tottenham in 2013-14, and his first seven campaigns with Madrid.

With the number occupied by Erik Lamela when Bale returned to Spurs on loan in 2020, the forward took number nine, while he was given the number 18 last season for Los Blancos.

However, even though Cifuentes was already wearing 11 for LAFC, he was happy to hand it over to Bale.

Writing on his official Instagram account, Cifuentes said: "[Number] 11 has accompanied my career at LAFC from the beginning and although it is special and has an important meaning, I have decided to give it to Gareth, who has used that number much longer than me.

"My interest is to contribute so that my team-mates, the club and the fans feel supported by me and with this gesture I want to demonstrate that.

"Let's stay together because we need each other to achieve the goals."

Cifuentes scored twice in LAFC's last game, a 3-2 derby win over LA Galaxy, with only Carlos Vela and Cristian Arango having managed more MLS goals than the midfielder among his team-mates so far in 2022.

Bale's MLS debut is likely to come against Nashville later this week.

Gareth Bale insisted Major League Soccer is "not a retirement league", and he hopes his move to Los Angeles FC will allow him to stay in contention for Wales at least until Euro 2024.

While his initial deal with LAFC is only a one-year agreement, it could be extended through to 2024, when Wales will be hoping to compete in the European Championship.

Bale left Real Madrid at the end of June after his contract was allowed to expire, with the forward – who was once the most expensive player of all time – enduring a difficult final few years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His attitude and commitment to Madrid were often called into question by supporters, who routinely voiced their frustration towards him in recent years.

But Bale has continued to be worshipped by Wales supporters, and he more than played his part in helping them secure qualification to the World Cup for the first time since 1958 earlier this year.

Keeping himself fit ahead of Qatar 2022 is undoubtedly a key reason for the move to MLS, although Bale was eager to stress how he sees the potential for a long-term future in the United States.

While MLS has garnered a reputation for being a league where high-profile European players go to retire, Bale is adamant that is no longer the case.

"Like I said, this is a league that's really grown, that's come a long way in the last 10 years," he told reporters at his official presentation on Monday.

"Everyone's striving to improve the league, the players who come over see that as well. I don't think anyone sees it now as a retirement league, it's really a league that's physical, demanding; the weather changes are difficult, the travel is difficult.

"But it's exciting, and to play football in front of fans like these is what you play football for."

Bale's new club were only founded in 2014, debuting in MLS in 2018, but have since gone on to make a real impression on the sport in North America, even reaching the final of the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

Many were surprised by Bale's decision to head for the States given he reportedly had offers from English clubs and boyhood team Cardiff City, but he is convinced the European perception of MLS is outdated.

"I've watched MLS for a long time," he said. "Obviously the time difference makes it difficult, but whenever I could watch I'd try to catch it on the TV.

"The standard is really increasing, it's a lot better than people in Europe really think.

"The quality is improving, the league is improving, the stadiums are improving, the teams are improving.

"It's a league really on the rise. Yes, it's a new club, but it feels like it's been here forever. The job Larry [Freedman] and John [Thorrington, co-presidents] and rest of the team here have done to create such an amazing fanbase so quickly is remarkable.

"It's testament to how well the club is run, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

"To have my first training session today was amazing, the first step in hopefully a long journey."

Wales wing Alex Cuthbert has been ruled out of this weekend's series decider against South Africa with a shoulder injury.

The 32-year-old was forced off the field 17 minutes into the visitors' 13-12 victory in Bloemfontein on Saturday, which levelled the three-match series at 1-1.

Wales confirmed on Monday that Cuthbert will play no part in the third and final Test, with no replacement being called up.

Josh Adams, who replaced Cuthbert and scored Wales' late try, is now expected to start the crunch clash in Cape Town.

Captain Dan Biggar and prop Dillon Lewis suffered shoulder and arm injuries respectively in the second Test, but they have not yet been ruled out.

South Africa confirmed earlier on Monday that centre Andre Esterhuizen, who started for the much-changed hosts last time out, will play no part after breaking his hand.

South Africa centre Andre Esterhuizen has been ruled out of Saturday's series decider against Wales with a broken hand.

The 28-year-old sustained the injury during the Springboks' 13-12 loss in Bloemfontein over the weekend.

Boks assistant coach Deon Davids confirmed on Monday that Esterhuizen is facing around a month on the sidelines.

However, South Africa were always expected to revert back to the XV that started the first Test, which ended in a dramatic 32-29 victory.

That would see Lukhanyo Am and Damian De Allende recalled as the hosts' starting midfield combination for the Cape Town showdown.

Esterhuizen is now in a race against time to be fit for South Africa's opening Rugby Championship match against New Zealand on August 6.

Josh Adams scored a late try as Wales claimed a dramatic 13-12 victory over South Africa to level the series in Bloemfontein.

Wales secured their first away win over the Springboks in 12 attempts after Adams went over in the corner with Gareth Anscombe converting with just over a minute remaining at the Toyota Stadium.

Wayne Pivac's side had lost their four previous Tests away from home, but they went into the break level at 3-3 following a scrappy first half in which Dan Biggar and Handre Pollard exchanged kicks.

Pollard was captaining the reigning World champions after Jacques Nienaber made 14 changes from the narrow 32-29 win in the first Test last weekend.

The Montpellier fly-half kicked a further nine points as the hosts edged closer to maintaining their record of having never lost a three-Test series on home soil when winning the opener.

But Wales did well to hold their own with a numerical disadvantage after Alun Wyn Jones was controversially sin-binned; the replacement deemed to have been cynical with his hands in the breakdown.

Upon his return, the visitors launched one final surge and following a neat build-up, Anscombe - who had earlier split the uprights with a penalty to keep Wales in striking distance - offloaded for Adams to cross in the corner.

Anscombe subsequently held his nerve under the most intense pressure to convert from a tight angle; his nation recording their first Test victory in South Africa since overcoming Japan at the 1995 World Cup.

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