Karim Benzema has been named the 2021-22 Champions League Player of the Season after helping Real Madrid to a 14th European crown.

Benzema also won the competition's Goal of the Season honour for a supreme header against Chelsea in the quarter-finals, while team-mate Vinicius Junior has been named Young Player of the Season.

The duo were instrumental in Madrid's defying run to Saturday's final in Paris, where Vinicius' finish was enough to earn a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.

With 15 goals across the season, Benzema topped the scoring charts in Europe, with a joint-record ten of those goals in the knockout stage.

The attacker, a heavy favourite for the Ballon d'Or this season, was at the centre of dramatic comeback wins against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Vinicius meanwhile delivered four goals and six assists throughout, with the latter tally only bettered by Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes.

Both Madrid players were named to the Champions League Team of the Season, alongside club-mates Thibaut Courtois and Luka Modric.

Courtois made nine saves in the final to keep Liverpool at bay. He finished the Champions League campaign having faced 72 shots on target, conceding 14 goals. According to expected goals data, the Belgium international prevented 4.7 goals.

 

Beaten finalists Liverpool also contributed four players, with Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson featuring.

Kylian Mbappe, who scored six goals in eight Champions League matches, was named alongside Benzema and Vinicius in attack – an attacking trio that might have been lining up for Los Blancos next season had the France forward not decided to stay at PSG.

City playmaker De Bruyne also made the XI, as did Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who is set to join Madrid on a free transfer.

2021-22 UEFA Champions League Team of the Season: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Andy Robertson (Liverpool); Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Fabinho (Liverpool), Luka Modric (Real Madrid); Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed Chelsea are no longer subject to UK government sanctions following the club's sale to a consortium led by Todd Boehly.

The government has also announced it has received assurances the takeover will not financially benefit Roman Abramovich or any other individual targeted by sanctions in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, the Blues announced the conclusion of the long-running takeover saga surrounding the club, with a group led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Boehly and involving Clearlake Capital acquiring the Stamford Bridge outfit.

Chelsea were originally granted a special licence to allow them to finish the 2021-22 season after measures against Abramovich were announced in March.

But with the Russian having officially concluded his time at Stamford Bridge, the club is now free to conduct business without restrictions once more.

"Today's change of ownership marks a new chapter for Chelsea Football Club in the best interests of its fans, the club and the wider football community," a government spokesperson said.

"The club is now no longer subject to the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich, an individual who has enabled Putin's brutal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine.  

"Since sanctions were imposed on Abramovich on 10 March, we have worked tirelessly to ensure the club can continue to play football, while maintaining the integrity of our sanctions regime. 

"Chelsea's long-term future is now secured, and binding commitments have been received which ensure sanctioned individuals cannot financially benefit from the sale. The government retains control to ensure that this is the case.

"We have begun the process of ensuring the proceeds are used for humanitarian purposes in Ukraine that result from Russian aggression. Further details will be set out in due course.

"I personally want to thank ministers and officials in the British government, and the Premier League, for all their work in making this happen."

 

A consortium led by Todd Boehy and Clearlake Capital completed their takeover of Chelsea on Monday.

The Premier League club announced on Saturday that the deal was officially set to go through at the start of this week.

Chelsea have now confirmed that they are under new ownership almost three months after Roman Abramovich decided to sell up.

An ownership group led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjorg Wyss brokered a deal to buy the Blues for £4.25billion this month.

The Portuguese government last week approved the sale of the London club, a green light that was required as Abramovich has Portuguese citizenship.

A statement released by Chelsea on Monday said: "Under the terms of the agreement, Boehly and Clearlake will share joint control and equal governance of the club. Boehly will serve as chairman of the holding company.

"Boehly and Clearlake are committed to investing in key areas that will extend and enhance Chelsea's competitiveness, including the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, further investment in the academy, the women's team, and Kingsmeadow Stadium. The owners will also continue the important work of the Chelsea Foundation."

Upon confirmation of the takeover, Boehly told the club's website: "We are honoured to become the new custodians of Chelsea Football Club. We're all in, 100 per cent. Every minute of every match.

"Our vision as owners is clear: we want to make the fans proud. Along with our commitment to developing the youth squad and acquiring the best talent, our plan of action is to invest in the club for the long-term and build on Chelsea's remarkable history of success. I personally want to thank ministers and officials in the British government, and the Premier League, for all their work in making this happen."

The UK government declared it was satisfied the deal would not benefit Abramovich, who was sanctioned due to his links to Russia's president Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian oligarch Abramovich owned Chelsea for 19 years.

The 55-year-old stated when he put the Blues up for sale that the net proceeds would go to a charitable foundation, with the money distributed to victims of the war in Ukraine.

Abramovich declared the charitable foundation being established would be the legacy he and Chelsea had created together.

A Todd Boehly-led consortium completed their takeover of Chelsea on Monday.

The Premier League club announced on Saturday that the deal was officially set to go through at the start of this week.

Chelsea have now confirmed that they are under new ownership almost three months after Roman Abramovich decided to sell up.

An ownership group led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Boehly, Clearlake Capital, Mark Walter and Hansjorg Wyss brokered a deal to buy the Blues for £4.25billion this month.

The Portuguese government last week approved the sale of the London club, a green light that was required as Abramovich has Portuguese citizenship.

The UK government declared that it was satisfied the deal would not benefit Abramovich, who was sanctioned due to his links to Russia's President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian oligarch Abramovich owned Chelsea for 19 years.

The 55-year-old stated when he put the Blues up for sale that the full amount that is paid to buy the club would go to a charitable foundation, with the money distributed to victims of the war in Ukraine.

Abramovich declared that the charitable foundation that is being established would be the legacy he and Chelsea had created together.

After keeping Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain's transfer activity can turn their attention to adding to their squad.

From the likes of Mauro Icardi to Edinson Cavani, playing as a complementary forward to Mbappe and Neymar is not a simple task.

While other clubs are reportedly interested, their target for a forward has reportedly been identified.

TOP STORY – PSG TURN TO RICHARLISON

Richarlison is facing an uncertain future with Everton as interest from Paris Saint-Germain grows, according to the Daily Mail.

The Brazil international was one of the survival heroes for the Toffees, scoring six in nine games to help them secure Premier League safety.

Reports suggest the 25-year-old is seeking a move away from Goodison Park and with the club's financial situation, he could be allowed to move on despite having two years left on his deal.

While Tottenham and Real Madrid are though to be eyeing Richarlison, PSG have emerged as the likeliest destination. 

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Bayern Munich are close to agreeing a deal for 30-year-old attacker Sadio Mane , according to Matteo Moretto.

– Meanwhile, Liverpool have made contact with the representatives of Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele, per Sport.

– The Manchester Evening News is reporting Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus will resolve his future after returning from Brazil duty, amid interest from Arsenal .

– Pau Torres is nearing a move from Villarreal with talks between his representatives and Manchester United developing, per Cadena Ser.

Real Madrid have turned their attention to Milan forward Rafael Leao after being snubbed by Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.

The 22-year-old Portuguese winger scored 14 goals and contributed 12 assists in 42 games in all club competitions this season, after 13 goals combined in his first two campaigns in Milan.

His rapid ascension has seen him fitted with an eye-opening price tag, with ESPN reporting his release clause is at €150million, and that Madrid will offer somewhere in the range of €120m.

 

TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS CLOSE IN ON MILAN'S PORTUGUESE STAR

Leao provided an assist in Milan's Champions League loss to Liverpool, scored a goal in their defeat to Atletico Madrid, and tallied three goals and six assists in the last six games of the Serie A season to seal the Scudetto.

With his lofty price tag, it is fair to assume Leao is the Spanish giants' top target in the upcoming transfer window, although he is not the only big-money signing reportedly in the works for Madrid.

ESPN is also reporting Madrid's €80m move for Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni has been held up by a tax issue, and if it is to fall through, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are all circling.

 

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– The Daily Mail is reporting Everton striker Richarlison has strong interest from Tottenham, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

– With Burnley relegated from the Premier League, the Telegraph is reporting Everton and West Ham will compete for the services of Clarets striker Maxwel Cornet.

– According to the Evening Standard, Harry Kane no longer wishes to leave Tottenham and is now ready to open talks for a new contract.

Chelsea have been told they will need to pay £45m to pry Marc Cucurella away from Brighton and Hove Albion, according to the Sun.

– Todofichajes is reporting Liverpool would like RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku to be their long-term replacement for Mohamed Salah, should the Egyptian leave the club, with his contract expiring in 2023.

As if the protracted transfer saga for Kylian Mbappe was not arduous enough, new transfer battle lines are being drawn for PSG and Real Madrid.

The need to rejuvenate Madrid's squad has been identified despite their LaLiga title win and progression to this season's Champions League final.

According to reports, however, they should prepare for not having everything their way again, with a new player in mind.

TOP STORY – PSG TO MAKE LATE PLAY FOR TCHOUAMENI    

PSG are preparing to make a late bid for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni in an attempt to snatch him from Real Madrid , according to Goal.

The 22-year-old Monaco star is almost certain to leave the Principality this off-season, but his destination remains unclear.

Madrid have reportedly been in talks with Monaco over a prospective transfer for over a year, but have not yet completed the deal.

Kylian Mbappe was believed to have recommended Tchouameni when he was in talks over a move to the Santiago Bernabeu himself.

Now Mbappe has decided to stay in the French capital, it has accelerated the race to sign Tchouameni.

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– Chelsea are considering a move for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, according to Goal.

Arsenal target Tammy Abraham insists he is happy at Roma but would not rule out a move back to the Premier League, per Metro.

– In need of a striker, Tuttosport reports the Gunners are also monitoring Alvaro Morata's situation, with his loan deal at Juventus expiring this off-season.

– Tottenham are targeting Inter centre-back Alessandro Bastoni, with Manchester United also interested, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Speculation over Declan Rice's future has long centred on an apparently inevitable departure from West Ham United.

The Hammers run to the Europa League semi-final has amplified talk around the England international midfielder, with Chelsea and Manchester United linked.

According to reports, though, the 23-year-old appears content at London Stadium with a World Cup on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – DECLAN RICE TO STICK WITH WEST HAM    

Declan Rice will not leave West Ham despite interest from Manchester United and Chelsea, according to The Mirror.

The 23-year-old has been reticent to sign a new deal at the club, but he is reportedly in no hurry to leave yet either, seemingly wanted to stay settled ahead of November's World Cup in Qatar.

United have looked to Rice as one of their primary transfer targets as Erik ten Hag looks to overhaul the squad, but Rice appears set for one more season at West Ham following their run to the Europa League semi-final this term.

Hammers management had previously advised that Rice is not for sale, and strong performances at the World Cup with England would likely only increase his already lofty market value.

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Real Madrid are showing interest in Milan's Rafael Leao after Kylian Mbappe opted to stay at Paris Saint-Germain, according to Marca.

– Los Blancos are also looking to scupper Liverpool's move for Aurelien Tchouameni, despite the player having already agreed terms with the Reds so say The Mirror.

Barcelona are discussing personal terms with Marcos Alonso, who is set to leave Chelsea, Fabrizio Romano reports.

– Arsenal defender William Saliba wants to stay at Marseille, where he has been on loan, per Goal.

The inevitable at Camp Nou has arrived along with the end of the season in LaLiga.

Xavi's rebuild and transformation of the Barcelona has lingered over this past season, despite the need to recover from their slow start.

According to reports, the Blaugrana are not wasting any time.

TOP STORY – XAVI CLEAR-OUT TO BEGIN AT BARCELONA   

Xavi has informed a number of Barcelona's players that the club is intending to sell them, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Riqui Puig, Samuel Umtiti, Oscar Mingueza and Martin Braithwaite have already been notified they are not in the club's future plans.

The four of them have been peripheral figures under Xavi, since he took over as head coach in November, but he had avoided contract talk with the press during the season.

While the 42-year-old has confirmed he has spoken to those four players "and others", it appears to be only the start of a sizeable squad transformation.

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– Meanwhile, the Barca boss has confirmed they are in talks to sign Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, Goal reports.

– Napoli have rejected a €90million (£76m) bid from Arsenal for Victor Osimhen, according to Calciomercato.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Paris Saint-Germain are preparing a final offer for Paul Pogba, but Juventus are confident their offer of a €14.2m yearly salary will be sufficient.

– The Daily Mail is also reporting that Inter want Ivan Perisic to agree to a new contract amid interest from Tottenham and Chelsea.

Tick-tock, tick-tock. It appears time will finally run out on Sunday and the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga will finally be at its end.

Paris Saint-Germain have experienced another monumental blow this season with another cruel elimination in the Champions League and Real Madrid are waiting in the wings.

According to reports, the 23-year-old will finally announce his decision on Sunday.

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO CONFIRM DECISION ON SUNDAY  

Kylian Mbappe will announce whether he will play for Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid on Sunday, according to L'Equipe.

The Parisian has never hidden his admiration for LeBron James and appears set to mimic his 'The Decision' announcement from 2010.

What is for certain according to reports, Mbappe is intent on announcing the decision before the France national team meets up for camp in Clairefontaine on May 28.

While it has been recently reported a move to Real Madrid seems likelier, talks are still ongoing according to the L'Equipe report, with PSG aiming to scupper a potential move at the last minute.

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– Meanwhile, France team-mate and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba had agreed personal terms with Manchester City, according to the Times, but backed out in fear of fan backlash and now appears likely to move abroad.

– Along with Pogba, Juventus are also hoping to further bolster their midfield stocks and sign Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, the Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

– Diario AS is reporting Paulo Dybala has ruled out a move to Tottenham once his contract with Juve expires at the end of the season.

– Kalidou Koulibaly has emerged as a target for Barcelona, who would be willing to add Miralem Pjanic as part of a package deal for Napoli, per Fichajes.

Manchester City's dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid this season is apparently cause for another raid on the transfer market.

After already wrapping up Erling Haaland's transfer from Borussia Dortmund, the midfield is the next area of business.

With veterans in the midfield likely on their way out at the Etihad Stadium at this end of this season, replacements could soon be on the way.

TOP STORY – CITY EYE PHILLIPS AS FERNANDINHO REPLACEMENT 

Manchester City have emerged as contenders for the signature of Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to the Mirror.

While Manchester United have also identified Phillips as a potential addition for their midfield, the 26-year-old has reportedly made it clear to his inner circle that he will not join Leeds' fierce rivals.

However, Phillips would appear likely to leave Leeds if they are relegated, with West Ham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United all also linked.

Fernandinho will depart City at the end of the season, while Ilkay Gundogan could follow, and the £50million-rated Phillips is a more attainable target than £100m international team-mate Declan Rice.

ROUND-UP

– According to Bild, Paris Saint-Germain are prepared to move on a deal for Liverpool's Sadio Mane amid reports he is stalling on a renewal of his contract, which expires in 2023.

– Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has added Ajax's Lisandro Martinez to the list of players he wants to bring to Old Trafford, the Telegraph is reporting.

United have also shown renewed interest in Lazio and Serbia midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, per Calciomercato.

– Chelsea want to sign Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this season, Mundo Deportivo reports.

Thomas Tuchel has no idea if Andreas Christensen will play for Chelsea again after the defender ruled himself out of the FA Cup final for "private" reasons.

Christensen's contract expires at the end of the month and Barcelona are the favourites to sign him on a free transfer.

The Denmark international started in the 3-0 Premier League win at Leeds United, but was not in the squad for a defeat to Liverpool on penalties on the FA Cup final at Wembley last Saturday.

Blues boss Tuchel on Wednesday confirmed the centre-back told him he was unavailable on the morning of the game.

Tuchel is unsure if Christensen will play in the London club's two remaining Premier League games against Leicester City on Thursday and Watford three days later, as they strive to secure third place. 

Asked if Christensen will return, the German said in a press conference: "Not sure yet if he's involved tomorrow and at the weekend.

"Andreas came on the morning of the match and told me he was not ready to play.

"He had his reasons, they stay private and confidential, but it was not the first time as you can see over the last weeks we had some of the same situations why he did not play so regularly.

"We thought that we are in a good progression and good development because he played very strong in the match before the final against Leeds but the conversation took place and we have to respect it and we of course respected it and he has our support.

"It is unlikely for the weekend, it was on very short notice before the cup final and other matches in the weeks before. So no chance I have any prediction for tomorrow and the weekend."

Timo Werner will miss the clash with Leicester due to a thigh injury, while Kai Havertz also has a thigh problem and will be monitored ahead of the game.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated the national anthem should never be booed after Jurgen Klopp defended Liverpool fans voicing their disapproval ahead of the FA Cup final.

Boos could be heard ringing around the Liverpool end at Wembley Stadium on Saturday when 'Abide With Me' and national anthem 'God Save the Queen' were performed before kick-off.

More disapproval followed when Prince William, a member of the royal family and chair of the Football Association (FA), shook hands with the Liverpool and Chelsea players.

Liverpool went on to win their eighth FA Cup by defeating Chelsea on penalties, and Klopp described the "majority" of his supporters as "wonderful people" even if he did not want to hear the boos.

"Of course I have thoughts but I think in these situations it's best to ask the question: 'Why does it happen?' Klopp said on Monday ahead of a Premier League clash with Southampton.

"They wouldn't do if there was no reason. I've not been here long enough to understand the reason for it – it's for sure something historical – and that's probably questions you can answer much better than I could ever.

"The majority of our supporters are wonderful people. Really smart, go through lows and highs. They wouldn't do it without reason."

The behaviour of the Liverpool supporters has been met with widespread condemnation and Johnson's official spokesperson criticised the vociferous Reds supporters.

Asked if the Prime Minister believes there is ever a justifiable reason to jeer the anthem, he said: "No. Obviously the events over the weekend, it was a great shame that as we were marking 150 years of the FA Cup that brings people together that a small minority chose to act in that way."

Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, added: "I utterly condemn any fans who booed Prince William at Wembley today.

"The FA Cup final should be an occasion when we come together as a country. It should not be ruined by a minority of fans' totally shameful behaviour.

"In this year of all years – the Queen's Platinum Jubilee – this is dreadful."

RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku has been named Bundesliga's Player of the Season for the 2021-22 campaign as speculation over a Premier League move persists.

Nkunku won the German top flight's Player of the Month award a single-season record four times - in October, February, March and April - and has been subsequently rewarded with the end-of-season accolade.

Robert Lewandowski, Manchester City-bound Erling Haaland and Bayer Leverkusen's Patrik Schick were all in contention, but only the Bayern Munich talisman (38) can boast more direct goal involvements this term than Nkunku, who has scored 20 goals and recorded 13 assists in 34 league games.

Meanwhile, across Europe's top five leagues in all competitions only Karim Benzema (59), Kylian Mbappe (57) and Lewandowski 56) have been involved in more goals than the Leipzig striker (50).

That goalscoring form and creative prowess guided Leipzig to the Europa League semi-finals, where they were defeated by Rangers, and helped them finish fourth in the Bundesliga.

Nkunku's development has not gone unnoticed by France coach Didier Deschamps, as the 24-year-old made his Les Bleus debut in a friendly against Ivory Coast in March.

He will hope to make Deschamps' squad as France aim to defend their World Cup title at Qatar 2022 in November and December.

There remains uncertainty over who Nkunku will be playing for next season, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all reportedly interested but Leipzig eager to keep him.

United could be the most likely destination for Nkunku, given Ralf Rangnick's association with the Bundesliga club.

Nkunku goes in search of DFB-Pokal success when Leipzig face Freiburg in the final in Berlin on Saturday.

Antonio Rudiger said the sanctions placed on Chelsea by the UK government were not the reason behind his decision to leave the club.

Germany defender Rudiger has been a crucial player for Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea but has not agreed to a new contract.

The former Roma centre-back will therefore leave at the end of the season on a free transfer, with Real Madrid his likely destination.

Rudiger has helped Chelsea to four FA Cup finals, winning one, and a Champions League success since joining in 2017. The UEFA Super Cup, Europa League and FIFA Club World Cup are also included in his honours.

When confirming that Rudiger had asked to leave Chelsea in April, Tuchel suggested that the sanctions placed on the club's owner Roman Abramovic in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine meant the Blues were unable to match the 29-year-old's financial demands.

Rudiger, however, insisted that the sanctions had no impact on his decision.

"I don’t want to go too deep into things," he told reporters at Wembley on Saturday, after Chelsea lost 6-5 on penalties to Liverpool in the FA Cup final, their third consecutive defeat in the competition's showpiece.

"There was a chance but sanctions were not the problem.

"It’s been five years with ups and downs as normal. There were a lot of positive things, but that's why I'm even more frustrated because I wanted to have a different ending.

"It's about both sides. Chelsea have been great to me and I have been great for Chelsea. I am very, very thankful, both me and my family.

"I became a man here. My kids were born here and everything. London, and especially Chelsea, will always be special to me."

Chelsea have become the first side since Newcastle United (1974, 1998 and 1999) to lose on three consecutive FA Cup final appearances, while the Blues are the first team since Middlesbrough in 1996-97 to lose both of England's domestic cup finals in the same campaign, after their penalty shoot-out loss to Liverpool in the EFL Cup final in February.

"I think it was a good game just like the EFL Cup final. We had chances, they had chances," reflected Rudiger.

"But at the end of the day we know that penalties are always a lottery and we lost.

"It's about winning, it's not about next season. The game was about today and it was there to take. Unfortunately we didn't win.

"It's always difficult to say whether we are lucky or unlucky. For myself it's the third time [I have lost an FA Cup final] so you can't always say unlucky, unlucky, unlucky."

Rudiger has two games left before he leaves Chelsea, with the Blues hosting Leicester City on Thursday before closing out their season against Watford.

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