Ademola Lookman will be the toast of Bergamo after his hat-trick inspired Atalanta to Europa League glory, ending Bayer Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten run after a 3-0 defeat in Dublin.

Nigeria winger Lookman is just the second player to score a treble for an Italian side in the final of a major European competition, after Pierino Prati for Milan against Ajax in the 1969 European Cup.

His single-handed match-winning heroics secured Atalanta's first-ever major European trophy as they became the 10th different Italian side to do so, second only to teams from England (13).

The records continued to tumble for Lookman, whose hat-trick was the sixth in a major UEFA final and the first since Jupp Heynckes’ for Borussia Mönchengladbach against Twente in 1975.

Having no response to a performance for the ages, Leverkusen suffered their first defeat since their final game of the 2022-23 season, ending a 361-day unbeaten run from last losing 3-0 to Bochum.

Gian Piero Gasperini's masterclass will etch his name into Atalanta history, with the Italian – aged 66 years and 117 days on Wednesday – the fourth oldest manager to win a major European trophy.

Only Raymond Goethals (71y 231d, 1993 Champions League), Heynckes (68y 16d, 2013 Champions League) and Alex Ferguson (66y 142d, 2008 Champions League), have done so at an older age.

Owing to Gasperini's genius and Lookman's quality, Atalanta are the first Italian side to lift the Europa League trophy since its rebrand in 2009, with Parma in 1999 the last Serie A side to win the UEFA Cup.

Alonso will hope to bounce back in Saturday's DFB-Pokal final but the Bundesliga champions are the first team to win the league title but lose the UEFA Cup/Europa League final in the same season since Benfica in 2013-14, and the first German side to do since Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02.

Ademola Lookman produced a performance for the ages as his hat-trick ended Bayer Leverkusen's 51-game unbeaten streak and saw Atalanta claim the Europa League with a 3-0 win in Dublin.

Xabi Alonso's Bundesliga title champions were eyeing an unlikely treble this season, but those plans came to a crashing halt as Atalanta secured their first-ever European silverware.

Lookman did the early damage with his first-half brace, the second of which was an eye-catching solo strike, as Gian Piero Gasperini's Serie A side seized unexpected control on Wednesday.

Comeback masters Leverkusen may have fancied a late fightback but Lookman's thumping 75th-minute finish completed his hat-trick and ensured Alonso's team suffered defeat for the first time this season, in what was their penultimate match of an exceptional campaign.

Leverkusen were punished for a slow start as Atalanta, making their maiden appearance in a European final, capitalised with just 12 minutes gone at the Aviva Stadium.

Exequiel Palacios was caught unaware at the back post as Davide Zappacosta slammed a low right-sided cross for Lookman to fire into the top-left corner from close range.

Lookman doubled his tally 14 minutes later, coolly flicking through the legs of Granit Xhaka before curling a right-footed finish into the bottom-right corner from the cusp of Leverkusen's area.

Alex Grimaldo should have responded shortly after but aimed a timid lob straight at the onrushing Juan Musso, who gratefully grasped the chipped effort when way out of his goal.

Charles De Ketelaere fizzed into the hands of Matej Kovar, while Granit Xhaka whipped wide before Alonso introduced striker Victor Boniface at the break.

That alteration failed to change the tide as Jeremie Frimpong blazed over the only chance before the hour-mark – and there would be no way back after Lookman scored his third with 15 minutes remaining.

Gianluca Scamacca played a simple offload out to his left, with Lookman breezing past Edmond Tapsoba before cannoning a wonderful left-footed strike beyond Kovar to seal a famous night for the team from Bergamo.

Atalanta savour legend Lookman

Lookman has etched his name into Atalanta history after helping Gasperini's side become the first Italian side to win the Europa League.

The Nigeria international is the sixth player to score a hat-trick in the final of a major UEFA competition, and the first since Jupp Heynckes' for Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1975 UEFA Cup.

Lookman's match-winning heroics will live long in the memory of Atalanta supporters, who will cherish just their second major trophy in club history – 61 years after winning the Coppa Italia.

Neverlusen comes to an end

Prior to this stunning defeat, Leverkusen were undefeated in all 12 Europa League games this season (W9 D3) and aiming to become the fourth side to win the trophy unbeaten, along with Chelsea in 2018-19, Villarreal in 2020-21 and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2021-22.

Adding in their nine-month unbeaten run, which spanned back to a first-round DFB-Pokal thrashing of Teutonia Ottensen in mid-August, Alonso's side appeared the favourites for this clash.

Yet form went out the window as Atalanta – who also eliminated Liverpool in the quarter-finals – inflicted Leverkusen's first defeat across all competitions in 361 days, and Alonso must now rally his troops for the DFB-Pokal final on Saturday.

After months of inactivity, Trinidad and Tobago senior women's football team will get the opportunity to shake the proverbial rust, as they are set to participate in the three-team Caribbean Queen's tournament in Curacao from May 28 to June 3.

An invitation from Curacao Football Federation was welcomed by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), as participation in the tournament will not only assist in player development, but more importantly, will keep players engaged ahead of next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

The week-long tournament, which will also involve Aruba, will see each team will play each other twice, in what will be Trinidad and Tobago’s senior team’s first competitive outing since their Concacaf women's Gold Cup qualifying campaign, last year.

"The respective member associations have been working together to facilitate the tournament to provide competitive matches for our respective women's teams as there are no Concacaf or Fifa women's competitions this year," TTFA said.

The team will once again be led by former Police FC coach Richard Hood, who will be assisted by Rajesh Latchoo, the TTFA Director of Youth Football and Under-17 women's coach.

Hood's squad is expected to be a development team, featuring senior players, members of TTFA's ongoing High Performance programme, and standout performers from the 2024 Republic Bank National Youth Football League campaign.

"This tournament is viewed as an ideal opportunity to continue to expose our younger players to a competitive environment," TTFA stated.

The women Soca Warriors will kick off the tournament against Aruba on May 29, before crossing swords with host Curacao, a day later. After a two-day break, Hood's team will wrap up the friendly competition with matches on June 2 and 3 respectively.

Last year, the women Soca Warriors finished bottom of their three-team Concacaf women's Gold Cup qualifying group with Mexico and Puerto Rico. They ended with a solitary point from four matches.

Trinidad and Tobago women are ranked 75th, while Curacao and Aruba are ranked 179th and 185th respectively.

Reported Chelsea target Thomas Frank is in no rush to leave Brentford, saying "the grass is not always greener" for managers who choose to jump ship.

Chelsea are hunting their fourth permanent boss under the Todd Boehly regime, having surprisingly parted ways with Mauricio Pochettino by mutual consent on Tuesday.  

With the Blues reportedly looking for a dynamic young coach capable of working within their existing set-up, Ipswich Town's Kieran McKenna and Bees boss Frank have been touted as possible successors.

Brentford's finish of 16th in 2023-24 was their worst since Frank led them to the Premier League in 2021, but they remained comfortably clear of the drop zone despite battling a lengthy injury list and seeing Ivan Toney suspended for the first half of the season.

Across their three seasons in the Premier League, Brentford rank ninth for expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes (1.44) and eighth for expected goals against (xGA) per 90 (1.38).

While Frank has refused to rule out a move after almost six years as Brentford's head coach, he is not actively searching for a new job.  

"I will probably be on that touchline on August 17," Frank told The Athletic. "I think that will happen. I'm happy here. I've said it many times and I mean it. 

"It's close to the perfect football life. I'm not in any rush or searching to do something else but I also think I've learned in life I'm open for what can happen.

"I can see myself being here for a long period. Can I stay here for seven more years? I don't know and that's not that I don’t love Brentford, it's just, do I want to try something different? 

"I'm very aware the grass is not always greener in the garden next door, even if it looks like it. You get in there, take a closer look and see there are a lot of weeds in the grass."

Brentford have already seen set-piece coach Bernardo Cueva agree to join Chelsea, and reports have suggested the Blues' hierarchy were unimpressed with how Pochettino's staff dealt with dead balls.

Brentford ranked second for xG from set-pieces in the Premier League this season (15.7) and allowed opponents the third lowest xGA figure from such situations (8.6), behind only Arsenal and Manchester City.

Newcastle United overcame Tottenham on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Wednesday's controversial friendly in Melbourne, just three days after the end of the Premier League season.

A crowd of 78,419 packed into Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch two of the Premier League's top seven face off in a post-season game which had been criticised on player welfare grounds. 

James Maddison celebrated being named in England's preliminary Euro 2024 squad by firing home Spurs' opener after 32 minutes, before his Three Lions team-mate Kieran Tripper was substituted after just 36 minutes.

Alexander Isak levelled from close range on the stroke of half-time, and the game went straight to spot-kicks after neither team was able to force a second-half winner. 

Bryan Gil was denied by Mark Gillespie from Tottenham's first kick, with the nine subsequent attempts all successful as the Magpies triumphed 5-4.

After the game, Newcastle boss Howe moved to allay fears over Trippier's condition, saying his withdrawal was planned.

"We spoke with Kieran and thought the best thing to do was for him to start the game," Howe said.

"He's still in the early stages of recovery from his calf problem, we didn't want to take risks with him so half an hour was the aim. No injury there."  

Ange Postecoglou, meanwhile, immediately turned his attentions towards the transfer window after failing to oversee a win in his native Australia.

"Last year, it certainly benefited us having a couple in early and having all the whole squad for pre-season," he said. 

"Everyone wants to do business early, everyone is keen to bring players in but the reality of it is it usually takes a little bit of time.

"But the good thing for us is we know what we need to do, we've had the plan in place for quite a while and it's just about now going through that process." 

Investment fund Oaktree Capital Management has taken ownership of Serie A champions Inter after a missed €395million payment from the club's majority shareholder.

Granted by Oaktree in 2021 to the Luxembourg-based vehicle through which Chinese conglomerate Suning 002024.SZ controlled Inter, the loan was guaranteed by a stake in the club.

That gave Oaktree, which specialises in providing rescue funding to struggling firms, the potential right to take control of the club in the event of a default.

"Oaktree is committed to working closely with Inter's current management team, partners, the league and governing bodies to ensure the club is positioned for success on and off the pitch," it said in a statement.

A person close to the matter said Oaktree, which has only limited previous involvement in sports franchises, was not planning to sell Inter immediately and was prepared to be a "patient investor."

The upheaval off the field contrasts with the club's success on it, with Inter having last month secured their 20th Serie A league title and the second under Suning's ownership.

There was no immediate comment from Suning, which bought a majority stake in the club in 2016 in one of the highest-profile forays by a Chinese business into European soccer.

Since then, Chinese authorities have imposed curbs over overseas spending in sport and Suning has been hit by the COVID-19 downturn.

That prompted Suning three years ago to get a €275m emergency financing package from Oaktree, which helped Inter to weather the pandemic crisis.

In a letter to fans published on the club's website on Saturday, Inter chairman Steven Zhang, the son of Suning's founder Zhang Jindong, warned the club's stability was at risk as attempts to find an agreement with Oaktree had failed.

Oaktree's move mirrors the takeover of Inter's rivals Milan by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management in 2018.

Elliott took control of Milan after Chinese businessman Li Yonghong missed a payment to the club.

Arne Slot should block out any noise around trying to catch Manchester City and instead set his sights on compiling 90 points in his first season in charge of Liverpool.

That is the view of former Liverpool goalkeeper David James, who believes securing Champions League football should be seen as the minimum requirement for former Feyenoord boss Slot, who is replacing Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.

While Klopp lifted the EFL Cup in his final campaign as manager, James feels it is very difficult for Premier League teams to set any targets relating to any silverware due to the consistent dominance of City under Pep Guardiola.

City have won an unprecedented four straight Premier League titles and will face rivals Manchester United this weekend at Wembley in an attempt to win back-to-back FA Cup crowns. Guardiola also has four EFL Cup trophies to his name.

James feels Slot should therefore focus only on what he can control and believes 90 points is an aspirational target that will at least put the Reds in contention.

Liverpool made it to 82 points in 2023-24, which saw them finish nine behind Man City and seven adrift of second-placed Arsenal.

That tally was comfortably enough to seal a return to the Champions League for next season, a status which James says Slot must ensure he maintains.

"As we have seen under Jurgen Klopp, the fantastic manager, there are teams around in the Premier League who don't really care what you think you want to do, namely Manchester City," James said to Stats Perform when asked what Slot's minimum target should be.

"There could invariably be a situation where whatever it is, such as if Pep decides it is his last season, then it might be fairytale stuff again, that he goes for the quadruple and he does it.

"Then it doesn't matter [what your targets are], no one wins anything domestically. 

"The minimum requirement, which Pep can't stop you from doing, has to be qualifying for the Champions League of course. But beyond that, I think it's just getting the performances. 

"If you get 90 points, and I know this has happened to Liverpool and they have got records to prove it, but if you get 90 points or even more and still don't win the league, then it's not down to you doing something wrong, it's down to the excellence of whoever finishes above you. 

"I would say minimum Champions League qualification and then just going for 90 points and see where it takes you. As I say, 90 points is the benchmark in the Premier League.

"You know, it isn't that difficult to achieve when you think about it. You can literally lose to the four best teams, again subjectively, four best teams, home and away, and as long as you beat the others, the other 30 games, that's 90 points.

"Who cares [which teams you beat]? You don't get an extra three points for beating the teams above you. It's just winning."

James expects to see plenty of movement in the transfer window now that there have been substantial changes to the staff, but says Slot and his coaching team may not always get their own way.

He added: "I do [expect a lot of movement]. There are a couple of things to say. The analysis department will have their numbers, they'll know who they need to keep, they'll know who they need to replace and obviously they'll know who they need or want to bring in. 

"This wasn't just about Jurgen leaving, this was the whole staff going. This is a massive shift, and everybody [left at the club] has their opinion [on the squad], even the analysis guys.

"[Those opinions] might encourage or discourage the manager from making choices, whether it's selection choices in games or whether it's selection choices for transfers. 

"The conversation with Slot will be a whole room of [new] opinions added to a data analysis group [trying] to find replacements because some of the players are leaving. 

"With transfers I think it will cause a little bit of a ruffle. It will be done for the right reasons but I don't think there'll be a situation where Slot will just bring the ones he likes in. 

"It will be a group decision with the analysis department. It will need to be the right players and, as Liverpool have proven under Jurgen's tenure, when they get it right, they are very successful."

Florian Wirtz will stay at Bayer Leverkusen next season despite interest from Europe's elite clubs, says Die Werkself's managing director Simon Rolfes.

Wirtz has been in irresistible form throughout Xabi Alonso's first full season at the BayArena, which could yet end with an unbeaten treble.

Leverkusen won 28 of their 34 games as they became the first team to go unbeaten through a Bundesliga campaign, and they face a pair of finals this week – against Atalanta in the Europa League and Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal.

Wirtz was named Bundesliga Player of the Year earlier this week, having scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists throughout the campaign. He has also been involved in eight goals (four goals, four assists) and created 28 chances from open play in the Europa League this term.

That form has reportedly put the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Manchester United on alert, but Leverkusen are not entertaining a sale.

"He will stay. His father and agent said it before. He has a contract here and he's really happy," Rolfes told Sky Sports.

"This is the right place for him to develop as a player and person. His future is bright, that's for sure. He is such a good player and shows a great will to win and to work. 

"It's not normally the attribute of a number 10 but he combines talent with the work rate of a six or a defensive player along with producing special magic moments."

When Bayern Munich last failed to win the Bundesliga title in 2012, they responded by raiding rivals Borussia Dortmund for the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze and Mats Hummels over the next few years.

Asked if Leverkusen had any concerns about that happening to them, Rolfes said: "For sure 10, 15 or 20 years ago that was a normal thing but things are changing. The European environment has changed a lot. 

"It's an international market now with the Premier League, and clubs in Spain, Italy and France as well."

Bayern were, alongside Liverpool, unsuccessful in attempting to lure Alonso away from Westphalia, and Rolfes says he was always convinced the Spaniard would stay.

"Maybe that was a little more special but I'm always convinced you have to concentrate on your strengths," he said. 

"I was convinced we could offer a lot to him and our players with other interest in them. That's why I was always calm."

 

Teenage Liverpool forward Ben Doak has been included in Scotland's 28-man preliminary squad for Euro 2024, with Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams also in despite fitness concerns.

Doak has never previously been called up to Scotland's senior squad, having won seven caps at under-21 level.

The 18-year-old made five appearances for Liverpool in all competitions in 2023-24, including four starts, and could now make his senior international debut when Steve Clarke's side face Gibraltar and Finland in pre-tournament friendlies next month.

Clarke must then cut two of the 28 players he has selected ahead of Scotland's trip to Germany, who they face in the opening game of the tournament on June 14.

Elsewhere, Southampton duo Armstrong and Adams have been included despite fitness concerns, with the former being sidelined by a muscle injury since late April and the latter missing both legs of their Championship play-off semi-final tie against West Brom.

Forty-one-year-old goalkeeper Craig Gordon is included after returning to the fold earlier this year, but Clarke has something of a selection dilemma at right wing-back.

With Aaron Hickey and Ryan Patterson both out injured, uncapped Bristol City man Ross McCrorie has made the cut, while Celtic's James Forrest has been discussed as an option in that role after finishing the Scottish Premiership season in fine form.

Scotland have never reached the knockout stages in four previous appearances at the Euros, only recording two wins in nine total matches at the tournament and failing to score in six of those games.

However, Clarke's side qualified in style from a difficult group headlined by Spain, their five wins representing their best ever tally in an eight-game campaign. 

Full 28-man squad: Angus Gunn (Norwich City), Zander Clark (Hearts), Craig Gordon (Hearts), Liam Kelly (Motherwell), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq), Ryan Porteous (Watford), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Scott McKenna (Copenhagen), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Greg Taylor (Celtic), John Souttar (Rangers), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Ross McCrorie (Bristol City), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Billy Gilmour (Brighton and Hove Albion), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Jack (Rangers), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Che Adams (Southampton), Lawrence Shankland (Hearts), Ben Doak (Liverpool), James Forrest (Celtic).

Nicolas Jackson appeared to question Chelsea's decision to part company with Mauricio Pochettino as Cole Palmer paid thanks to the Argentine.

On Tuesday, Chelsea announced Pochettino had left the club by mutual consent after just one season in charge, which ended in a sixth-place Premier League finish.

Several pundits expressed shock at the decision, after an upturn saw Chelsea recover from a poor start to the season to clinch European qualification.  

Only four teams – Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle United – had a better expected goals (xG) figure than Chelsea (75.3) in the Premier League in 2023-24, while only three – City, Liverpool and Arsenal – had more shots on target than the Blues (215).

From March 11 onwards, Chelsea's return of 27 points was only bettered by eventual champions Manchester City, who took 28 in that span.

A number of Chelsea players appeared to be surprised by Pochettino's exit when reacting on social media, most notably Jackson.

Alongside an image of himself alongside Pochettino, Jackson wrote on Instagram: "Love you coach. Wish we could stay together more.

"But may God continue to bless you and your family. Thanks for the advice and support, you're a true lion and a fighter, wish you all the best."

Leading goalscorer Palmer, meanwhile, paid a heartfelt tribute to Pochettino in an Instagram post of his own.

"Gaffer, thank you for everything you have done for me and making my dreams come true," the England international wrote. "All the best."

Former Blues captain John Terry, meanwhile, said he was "gutted" to see Pochettino depart.

Posting to his Instagram story, Terry added: "I just hope we don't sign or sell any players until we get a manager in."

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna and Brentford's Thomas Frank have been touted as possible successors, with co-owner Todd Boehly reportedly looking to hire a progressive young coach to work within Chelsea's existing structure. 

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna is blocking out speculation linking him with the vacant posts at Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion.

McKenna has earned plaudits after leading Ipswich to back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League, ending the Tractor Boys' 22-year exile from the top flight.

His outstanding work has led to suggestions he is a target for other clubs, with Brighton and Hove Albion being linked with a move after Roberto De Zerbi left the club.

On Tuesday, meanwhile, reports suggested he was a possible contender to take over at Chelsea after Mauricio Pochettino surprisingly left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent.

McKenna saw off competition from Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Sean Dyche, Unai Emery and John Mousinho to win the League Managers Association's Manager of the Year award on Tuesday, and his focus is simply on celebrating Ipswich's achievements.

"When you do well as a manager, or as a player, there's always going to be speculation," McKenna said at Tuesday's awards ceremony.

"What we've achieved is no ordinary thing so of course there's going to be speculation. That's not where my focus is, to be honest.

"It's been a wonderful couple of years and tonight is about celebrating that. Everyone's looking forward to next season and I know the club's going to be in a really good place."

McKenna has also been tentatively linked with a return to Manchester United, where he spent five years as a coach with the academy and the first team, as Erik ten Hag's position continues to be questioned.

Former Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson presented McKenna with his award on Tuesday, which he described as "one of the most humbling and proudest moments" of his life. 

"It's the best thing in the world and I've had good experience as a first-team coach, but to be a manager in the Premier League and go up against great managers is going to be a great challenge and something I can't wait for," he added.

Gareth Southgate has confirmed England captain Harry Kane will be fully fit for Euro 2024, saying the back injury which has kept him out in recent weeks has cleared up.

Fears were expressed about Kane's chances of featuring in Germany when he missed Bayern Munich's final two games of the Bundesliga season, returning to England to seek treatment on a back problem.

Kane enjoyed a stunning individual campaign in 2023-24, with no player from Europe's top five leagues bettering his 44 goals in all competitions, though he was unable to end his wait for a first major trophy.

England will hope that arrives in his new homeland in July, and Southgate is confident Kane will be in peak condition for the tournament. 

"Kane is pretty much clear now. He is quite relaxed about it. I think a sensible decision was taken not to push for the last game there," Southgate said.

"Back problems can just happen, but it is not something we are concerned about at this moment in time. 

"Our understanding of it is that it is something that is pretty much clear now."

Kane has scored 12 goals across the last three major international tournaments, netting six at the 2018 World Cup, four at Euro 2020 and two at the 2022 World Cup, with Kylian Mbappe the only other European player to equal that haul.

While Kane's incredible goalscoring feats are yet to be rewarded with silverware, Southgate says his striker is determined to put that right at the Euros.

"It won't be nice for him and I am sure he will be aware of what people will say about that," Southgate said of Kane's failure to win a trophy with Bayern.

"But his love for this challenge and desire to make this work has never wavered and he is definitely looking forward to this tournament.

"He has delivered what we thought he would deliver in terms of goals in that league and I know the club are super happy with what he has done."

Pep Guardiola has been named Premier League Manager of the Season for the fifth time after leading Manchester City to a fourth straight title.

City edged out Arsenal by two points on the final day of the season to win their eighth Premier League title, their sixth under Guardiola and their fourth in a row.

They are the first team in English football history to win more than three consecutive titles, while Guardiola is just the fourth manager to win six English top-flight crowns. 

Alex Ferguson leads the way with 13, while Guardiola has matched former Aston Villa manager George Ramsay and Liverpool legend Bob Paisley.

With 11, Ferguson is also the only person to win the Premier League Manager of the Season award more often than Guardiola, with his fifth dragging him further clear of Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger (three each).

Guardiola also claimed the prize after overseeing title-winning campaigns in 2017-18, 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2022-23.

Having seen off competition from four other nominees, Guardiola said they deserved to share the honour with him.

"I want to share it, especially with Mikel [Arteta] for the incredible job he has done until the last game, bringing us to our limits," said Guardiola.

"Of course, for Jurgen [Klopp], for the unforgettable battles for many, many years. And Unai Emery, making something unbelievable again to bring Aston Villa to the Champions League.

"And Andoni Iraola, with Bournemouth, being his first season in the Premier League, doing what he has done and coming back from a tough start to the season.

"It is an honour to be alongside all of them and to win this trophy. We will defend this award as best as possible in the future."

Former Manchester City goalkeeper David James hails Pep Guardiola for "doing remarkable things" but believes he is still not at Alex Ferguson’s level.

City became the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive titles with their 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday, pipping Arsenal to the crown by two points.

Manchester United had previously won three consecutive Premier League seasons, achieving the feat twice under Ferguson (1998-2001 and 2006-2009).

Guardiola’s side can create more history on Saturday as they aim to clinch unprecedented back-to-back league and FA Cup doubles against the Red Devils.

Asked if this achievement put Guardiola’s name alongside Ferguson’s as the best Premier League manager, James, who spent two years with City, disagreed.

"No, Fergie's still the best. Look at statistics and longevity," James told Stats Perform. "And even more so, since Fergie left, what's happened to Manchester United.

"You can't even blame or use the excuse he had a good team and did well with it, Fergie rode the waves, he was up and down and even these downs weren't particularly bad.

"I think third or fourth was probably the worst they ever did; Fergie was the best and Pep will have to hang around for another decade, I think, before he can actually challenge that position.

"But what we're seeing at the moment, you've got a different style of football, a different type of game in so many different ways. The way the league is constructed at the moment with other competitions around it, Pep is having to do different things to what Fergie may have had to do.

"I know Fergie was a great manager, but not necessarily the greatest coach. Pep is a great manager and a great coach. He's also got an extra string to his bow in that sense.

"To be the winner of that league four years in a row, you need to be a superb manager. And I think Pep, in this short time frame, is doing some remarkable things, but he's going to have to hang around for a lot longer to take Ferguson's crown."

Following their victory over West Ham, Guardiola stated that he was "closer to leaving than staying", raising speculation that next season could be his last.

"I think the big question for Pep, and it is logical that he will now become the focus given that Jurgen Klopp announced his departure a few months ago, and all of a sudden it was nothing, but Jurgen and he will be the next focus," James added.

"I think the thing for Pep is, what does he want to do as a person? And it's not that he's completed the treble and that's enough because I think that he would want to do a treble treble, you want to do a quadruple.

"I can see that competitive side in him, he doesn't seem to change on the sidelines. Even yesterday, when they conceded the goal, and it was a fantastic goal from Kudus, he wasn't happy.

"I think you can still see that he's still animated, still engaged with the game. There's no question that he's feeling tired in that sense.

"I would like him to stay. I would like him to stay because I think when you've got someone so good, you need someone to beat them legitimately rather than them just step away and allow everyone else to play.

"I think he should stay. And I'm sure City will do everything they can to keep him in charge for the foreseeable future."

Atalanta captain Marten de Roon believes they have what it takes to end Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten season in the Europa League final.

De Roon will not be available for La Dea in Dublin on Wednesday due to injury but has joined up with the squad to offer his support.

Atalanta have had a memorable campaign, reaching their first European final and qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, claimed their first-ever Bundesliga title without losing a single game and are aiming to complete a treble.

Despite coming up against a tough opponent, De Roon is confident that his side will be able to end their 61-year drought without a major trophy.

"Every team is beatable. At the moment, [Leverkusen] seem unbeatable, but maybe we are the ones who can change that," he said in the pre-match press conference.

"We have to believe in our philosophy, play attacking football and try to beat them. You don't win a trophy if you don't beat the best.

"We have had a great campaign, and we fully deserve to be here. Both sides deserve to be playing this final. Let's see who will manage to lift the trophy.

Atalanta narrowly missed out in the Coppa Italia final to Juventus earlier this month, and Gian Piero Gasperini is now preparing to manage his first-ever European final.

The Italian praised Leverkusen but stressed the belief he has in his own team after an impressive campaign.

He said: "We are aware that we are facing a great team. We know that they are undefeated, and we know that they have had an amazing season.

"Our journey, however, was also very good as we beat very strong teams to reach the final, and we also have belief.

"Leverkusen are a complete team; extremely organised. They are versatile, they can defend and recover the ball well.

"The results they have achieved this season are not an accident. Certainly, small details can make the difference in a final. We have to respect them and try to adapt quickly to the opponents we are facing."

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