There was late disruption for Ireland as Jamison Gibson-Park and Cian Healy were ruled out of their Six Nations opener against Wales on Saturday.

Scrum-half Gibson-Park and prop Healy missed out due to injury, forcing head coach Andy Farrell to make late changes.

The vastly experienced Conor Murray replaced Gibson-Park in the number nine shirt at the Principality Stadium.

Craig Casey and Dave Kilcoyne were drafted in to take their places on the bench in Cardiff.

Ireland, the top-ranked side in the world, also this week lost key man Tadhg Furlong to injury ahead of their first match of the tournament.

Sean Dyche's Everton reign got off to a flying start as James Tarkowski's header handed Premier League leaders Arsenal a surprise 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park.

Everton looked revitalised in their first outing under the former Burnley boss, and it was two of his former Clarets players who combined for the winner – Tarkowski powering Dwight McNeil's corner home on the hour.

Arsenal were kept at arm's length by Everton during an unusually disjointed display, with the deserved victory dragging the Toffees – at least temporarily – out of the relegation zone.

Having suffered just their second league defeat of the season, the Gunners could see their lead at the summit cut to two points when title rivals Manchester City face Tottenham on Sunday. 

Despite Everton starting strongly at a boisterous Goodison Park, Arsenal missed the first clear chance on the half-hour mark, Eddie Nketiah firing wide following excellent work from Bukayo Saka.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin somehow failed to slide home Amadou Onana's low delivery three minutes later as Everton threatened, before the unmarked Abdoulaye Doucoure headed McNeil's cross wide.

Conor Coady then made a vital goal-line clearance from Saka's volley, before Calvert-Lewin almost found the top-left corner with a looping header as an entertaining first half ended level.

Visiting captain Martin Odegaard blazed over from a good position after 59 minutes, and Arsenal were punished a minute later as Tarkowski found the bottom-right corner with a fine header from McNeil's right-wing corner.

Arsenal introduced January additions Jorginho and Leandro Trossard in search of a leveller, but the latter's 20-yard attempt, saved by Jordan Pickford, was as close as they came as their title hopes suffered a huge blow.

Carlo Ancelotti hailed Vinicius Junior as a role model after the Real Madrid forward faced fresh criticism from the Real Mallorca camp ahead of Sunday's LaLiga game at Son Moix.

Madrid won 4-1 at home against Mallorca in September, with Vinicius complaining during the game of instructions from visiting boss Javier Aguirre.

The Brazilian felt Aguirre was telling his Mallorca players to hand out some rough treatment, and Vinicius confronted him about his orders.

Days later, Mallorca captain Antonio Raillo told Diario de Mallorca: "Vinicius should dance, but he shouldn't be disrespectful, he shouldn't insult or belittle his fellow professionals; then when he is branded as provocative he uses the race card."

This week, Raillo spoke again about Vinicius, saying in a clip on DAZN's Twitch channel: "If tomorrow I have to set an example for my son as a player, maybe I would give [Luka] Modric or [Karim] Benzema, but never him."

It means there will be focus on Vinicius on Sunday, but Ancelotti has no doubt the 22-year-old can cope with the attention.

"Vini's going to prepare for this game the same way as he does for all matches," said Ancelotti. "He doesn't need a sit-down, for me to have a chat with him.

"For me, Vinicius is an example of a footballer. Youngsters like players with such quality. My grandchildren have his shirt and they don't want another one."

Ancelotti spoke in a press conference on Saturday, ahead of a trip to face a Mallorca side who sat 10th heading into the latest round of games.

Defending LaLiga champions Madrid began the weekend five points behind leaders Barcelona, with a win over Valencia on Thursday atoning to some extent for last weekend's goalless draw with Real Sociedad.

Madrid have won nine of their past 10 games against Mallorca in LaLiga, including each of the last four, while Los Blancos have won six times in their last nine visits to the island outfit (D2 L1).

Ancelotti is unimpressed that Madrid have been handed an early afternoon kick-off slot on Sunday, having been in action on Thursday evening.

"We're not happy," he said. "We don't have a choice. The 72 hours is the minimum needed, so playing at two o'clock I don't think is right."

A Club World Cup campaign awaits, and Ancelotti could rest veteran midfielders Luka Modric or Toni Kroos on Sunday.

Equally, he could play both, as the Italian said: "The most important game is the one against Mallorca. There is a lot riding on the match, so I'll pick my best team, with or without Modric and Kroos, we'll see.

"This is the most important game right now and will help with preparations ahead of the Club World Cup."

Raphael Varane says the "suffocating" schedule of top-level football was behind his decision to retire from France duty.

The Manchester United defender announced on Thursday he has called time on his career in international football, after winning 93 caps in a 10-year stint, landing World Cup glory in 2018 along the way.

The former Real Madrid centre-back, who joined United 18 months ago, featured in six of France's games at the recent World Cup in Qatar, where they were beaten on penalties by Argentina in the final.

At the age of 29, he could realistically have targeted another World Cup campaign, but Varane decided the punishing schedule of modern football was too much for him.

"I gave everything, physically and mentally," Varane told Canal Plus. "But the very highest level is like a washing machine, you play all the time and you never stop.

"We have overloaded schedules and play non-stop. Right now, I feel like I'm suffocating and that the player is gobbling up the man."

Varane, who captained his country 20 times, is the fifth member of France's 2018 World Cup squad to retire from international football, after Blaise Matuidi, Steve Mandanda, Adil Rami and former captain Hugo Lloris.

Xavi is expecting Barcelona's LaLiga title battle with Real Madrid to go down to the wire, despite his side opening up a five-point lead at the summit.

Barca, who last lifted the title in the 2018-19 campaign, have won 16 of their opening 19 league matches to reach the 50-point mark already.

It is only the sixth time Barca have hit that half-century milestone at this stage of a campaign, and they went on to lift the title in four of those previous five campaigns.

Reigning Spanish and European champions Madrid have struggled for consistency either side of the World Cup break, winning only half of their past eight league matches.

However, with the sides also paired together in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, Xavi insists Carlo Ancelotti's men can never be written off.

"I don't feel like the favourites, but rather just a candidate who can win the league," Xavi said at a pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday's meeting with Sevilla.

"Winning the league is one of our goals. We're competing against the current LaLiga and Champions League winners and it's hard for us to fight for titles against a strong side.

"I still consider Madrid a strong side and we will have to fight for the league right until the last or penultimate matchday."

 

Barca have won nine of their past 10 league games, including all four this calendar year, and are unbeaten in their past 14 LaLiga meetings with 13th-place Sevilla.

Jorge Sampaoli's side have won back-to-back matches without conceding to ease their relegation worries, and Xavi says his side will treat Sevilla as they do any other opponent.

"Every game brings pressure. Every time we go out on the pitch we're told it's a key game; always it's the same thing," he said.

"I've also heard that how we perform in the Europa League will determine the success of our season.

"We're a club that is exposed to pressure and that's welcome. It is better to be fighting for these titles than to be relegated.

"Up next is a difficult opponent, despite where they are in the table. Sampaoli has brought back their strong and competitive side, making them strong defensively.

"We know they are a team that can complicate things for us, a team with a lot of experience. Tomorrow is another test and we have to pass it with all three points."

The seven goals conceded after 19 LaLiga games is Barca's lowest-ever tally and the second lowest of any team at this stage after Deportivo La Coruna in the 1993-94 season.

Xavi added: "The state of the team right now is sensational. The players are working hard and getting results. In general we're in a good moment, especially in defence.

"We're playing much better football now and are understanding certain situations better. We are on the right track, but we're also still under construction in this long process."

Milan Skriniar will no longer captain Inter after agreeing to join Paris Saint-Germain, says Simone Inzaghi, but the Nerazzurri boss still expects the defender to start Sunday's derby against Milan.

Skriniar revealed he had reached an agreement with PSG last week, though the move will not occur until the expiration of his contract in June after Inter stood firm on his €20million valuation in the January transfer window.

The Slovakia international sat out Tuesday's Coppa Italia win over Atalanta, but he captained Inter on his last appearance against Empoli on January 23, when he was sent off.

With club captain Samir Handanovic losing his starting spot to Andre Onana, Skriniar has skippered Inter for much of the season, but Inzaghi has now revealed that will no longer be the case.

"We have hierarchies based on appearances, but because of what happened he will no longer be the captain," Inzaghi said at Saturday's pre-match press conference.

"We talked about it very calmly with the club and the boy.

"The captain is Handanovic, then we'll scale based on appearances with [Marcelo] Brozovic, [Danilo] D'Ambrosio and Lautaro [Martinez]. 

"The thing that matters most to me is the match."

Inzaghi remains likely to name Skriniar in his line-up against city rivals Milan, who have slipped out of Serie A's top four amid a six-match winless run in all competitions.

"I don't judge his choices but the man and the player, who are unique," Inzaghi said of Skriniar. "He is a splendid boy, who works very well every day. He will probably be a starter."

While both Milan giants have struggled to match the pace set by runaway leaders Napoli this campaign, Inzaghi expects the derby to be fiercely competitive.

"I can say that two teams are facing each other who fought for the Scudetto last year, who played in the Supercoppa Italiana, who are well-equipped and want to make their run without thinking about the others," he said.

"In all the derbies I have seen that they are special matches, which live as single episodes, where a single decision can change the game from one moment to the next. 

"We know that there is this gap, at this moment of the season every point is fundamental for any goal, whether it is to bring Napoli closer or to detach ourselves from the teams pursuing us." 

Having lost September's return fixture 3-2, Inter are looking to deny Milan a first Serie A double over their rivals since the 2010-11 season.

Philadelphia Eagles centre Jason Kelce says next week's Super Bowl will be more stressful for his parents than himself and brother Travis.

The pair will become the first brothers to face off in NFL's biggest match, with both aiming to land their second ring, when the Eagles take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Arizona.

Mother Donna and father Ed Kelce will be in attendance at State Farm Stadium for the family affair, and older brother Jason would rather be in his position than theirs. 

"I think it's always stressful for the people watching," he told reporters. "I think that's probably more [stressful]... not even just parents but also the coaches and fans. 

"When you don't have control on the field of what's happening, I think that's a stressful situation. 

"I feel like when you're playing, there's a sense of control in the outcome and you can have a difference in it yourself. So it's a little bit less stressful. 

"I would imagine my parents would probably be a little stressed out. I think they are every time they're watching a game."

Jason won the Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017, while Travis – two years younger than his brother – did so with the Chiefs in 2019.

While rivals on the field, however, Jason explained the pair remain as strong as ever off it, even if the dynamic of their relationship has changed over the years.

"I grew up the older brother, so I was then much more mature, which I don't know if that's a good word to describe me, but I was more mature than him," he said.

"I think when you get to a certain point being brothers, it becomes more of a peer relationship. 

"I'm no longer telling him what to do or showing them the ropes or trying to offer guidance as an older brother. 

"Now it's more just a friend and a different type of brother, right? He does the same for me. I get advice from him now, which growing up didn't happen too often. 

"I think the dynamic has changed a little bit in that regard. We get to genuinely just enjoy each other's personalities and who we are as individuals, and I think that makes it fun."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still has a future at Chelsea despite Graham Potter's "tough" decision on the striker's omission from the Blues' Champions League squad.

Chelsea head coach Potter left Aubameyang out of his 25-man squad for Europe, bringing in new recruits Joao Felix, Enzo Fernandez and Mykhailo Mudryk.

The Gabon international last started for Chelsea in November and has scored just three goals in 18 appearances – in which only 10 of those have been starts – amid a frustrating spell at Stamford Bridge.

But Aubameyang netted both home and away against Milan in the Champions League, starting all six games, with Potter acknowledging the difficulties of naming his squad with Chelsea's depth of riches.

"I don't think it's going to be difficult because Pierre is a professional and of course, I understand he will be disappointed," Potter said.

"It was a tough decision, a tough call. We had three in and two had to go out. He was the one that missed out, he's done nothing wrong at all.

"We wanted to give David [Fofana] some game time today to see where he's at and give him that opportunity. I think you saw that one flash that he's got.

"Pierre is just unfortunate and he will be fighting for his place for the rest of the season. Whichever decision we made there was always going to be a conversation about it but it was my decision.

"It was a tough decision absolutely, sometimes you have to make these calls but it's absolutely nothing bad against him. He's done nothing wrong at all."

An image posted on Instagram by Aubameyang's brother Willy sparked controversy after it appeared the former Arsenal forward was in Italy as Chelsea were held to a goalless draw by Fulham on Friday.

Potter dispelled the speculation over an unexpected absence, though, explaining Aubameyang was free to do what he pleases with a rare chance to take time away.

He added: "He trained today, he trained very well and he's got the weekend off so we can report on Monday. It's a free world."

The trophy every player in the NFL wants to lift will be hoisted in Arizona a week on Sunday, when the Kansas City Chiefs face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII.

On the preceding Thursday, a host of players and coaches will receive recognition for their individual efforts at the annual NFL Honors ceremony.

The candidates for the awards are furiously debated throughout each season, though this year the field has been trimmed for each prize with the NFL releasing list of finalists for the first time.

In the case of MVP, the top two candidates are the quarterbacks facing off in the Super Bowl, with Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts also going head to head for the game's most illustrious award.

But who does Stats Perform's advanced data say should be the recipients of the prizes on offer at Symphony Hall in Phoenix? Here we name our award winners for 2022, including one not among the finalists who'll be on the red carpet next week.

MVP: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Though these are regular-season awards, Mahomes' heroics on one leg in the AFC Championship Game were the perfect illustration of why he is the most valuable player in the league.

Even when physically impaired by a sprained ankle, Mahomes can produce magical plays through the air and on the ground in the biggest moments, and this season he has elevated a supporting cast shorn of the downfield threat of Tyreek Hill.

Only Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills averaged more yards over expected in true passing situations than Mahomes' 1.66 (minimum 100 such plays). Mahomes, though, had the edge in terms of accuracy, delivering a well-thrown ball on 82.1 per cent of his pass attempts, outperforming both Allen (79.7%) and Hurts (81).

Surpassing 5,000 passing yards and 40 passing touchdowns in a single season for the second time in his career, Mahomes was the best regular-season player in the NFL in 2022, and the reality is it wasn't especially close.

Offensive Player of the Year: Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders' acquisition of Adams in a blockbuster trade with the Packers did not produce the team results they desired in 2022, but individually his debut season with Las Vegas ranked as one of the finest of his career.

Adams' 14 receiving touchdowns led the NFL and, though his 1,516 receiving yards trailed Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill, his combined open percentage across man and zone coverage of 52.18 was superior to both Jefferson and Hill.

With 10 touchdown receptions of 20 yards or more in 2022, Adams was the NFL's most explosive receiving threat in a season where he once again reaffirmed his status as one of the finest route-runners of his generation. The Raiders may want to forget this season in a hurry, but Adams' campaign was one well worth remembering.

Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs

This award will almost certainly go to Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers next week, but there's a strong case for Jones as a more impactful defender on a down-to-down basis in 2022.

Indeed, Jones' pass rush win rate of 58 per cent and his run defense win rate of 72.7 per cent outstrip those of Bosa, who finished a season in which he led the NFL in sacks (18.5) with a pass rush win rate of 51.4 per cent and 63.6 per cent run block win rate.

Like his quarterback, Jones shines when the situation is at its most pressurised, with his ability to create pass rush working on the interior and off the edge making him a ceaseless nightmare for opposing offensive lines. If the Chiefs are celebrating under confetti in Arizona next Sunday, Jones will likely have been a big reason why.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers

Sample size be damned! Purdy not only kept the 49ers afloat after Jimmy Garoppolo joined Trey Lance in heading to the sideline with a serious injury, but helped the offense improve as San Francisco won all five of his regular-season starts as part of a 10-game winning streak to end the 17-game campaign.

Albeit undoubtedly aided by the cavalcade of offensive talent at San Francisco's disposal and the play-calling of head coach Kyle Shanahan — Purdy threw to an open target on 84.7 per cent of his attempts — the last pick in the 2022 draft piloted at an offense that was remarkably efficient in expected passing situations.

Purdy averaged 1.2 yards over expected in true passing situations, fifth among quarterbacks with at least 100 such plays.

Other rookies may have played well for a longer period, but in terms of level of influence on his team's performance, no first year offensive player matches Purdy, who unfortunately now faces a long recovery after tearing an elbow ligament on the first offensive series of the Niners' NFC Championship Game loss in Philadelphia.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sauce Gardner, New York Jets

Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner backed up his ostentatious nickname by quickly establishing himself as one of the league's premier defenders and a lockdown corner at the highest level.

Gardner lost just 19 of his 92 matchups in man coverage and 24 of his 92 in zone. His combined open percentage allowed of 18.8 was bettered by only four defenders across the  entire NFL.

In addition to his remarkably impressive coverage skills, Gardner showed a knack for finding the football in the air, registering a league-leading 20 pass breakups.

If he can improve on his interception tally of two, Gardner will be in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion in the coming years.

Comeback Player of the Year: Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

From the forgotten man whose hopes of becoming a starter in the NFL looked to be over, to the most accurate quarterback in pro football.

Smith led all quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts with a well-thrown rate of 87.1 per cent, improbably guiding a Seahawks team that appeared to be rebuilding to a playoff berth.

The former New York Jet also had the best passer rating (125.8) on throws of at least 21 air yards among all signal-callers with at least 10 such attempts. Smith threw for 13 touchdowns and one interception on his 52 attempts of that distance.

Smith unexpectedly emerged as the answer at quarterback for the Seahawks in the wake of the Russell Wilson trade. With a better ecosystem around him in 2023, he could be the leading man for a true contender.

Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

Brian Daboll and Doug Pederson deserve a great deal of credit for transforming also-rans into playoff teams in short order, while Nick Sirianni's case is an extremely compelling one after turning the Eagles into the favourite to win the Super Bowl next week.

But for a combination of overcoming adversity and leading a Super Bowl-contending team, no coach can compete with Shanahan.

Shanahan calmly navigated his team through the stormy waters of losing not one by two starting quarterbacks during the regular season, putting Purdy in a position to succeed, with the rookie's readiness and the support he received from the NFL's best defense a testament to the 49er head coach's ability to assemble a top-tier staff.

Winning 13 games, 15 when counting the pair of playoff victories, in the circumstances the 49ers faced on offense is a remarkable achievement. San Francisco finished the season first in overall Efficiency Versus Expected, doing so after being forced to turn to Purdy is a feat worthy of Coach of the Year recognition.

Pep Guardiola says his admiration for Harry Kane has not dwindled since missing out on the Tottenham star, who he considers one of the greatest strikers he has ever seen.

Manchester City fell short in their pursuit of the England international ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, with Tottenham standing firm on their huge valuation at the time.

The reigning English champions instead turned to Erling Haaland a year later and the 22-year-old is currently the most prolific striker in world football.

While pleased with the impact Haaland has made since arriving from Borussia Dortmund, Guardiola still remains a fan of Kane.

"We are extremely happy with Erling and, of course, I think Tottenham are extremely happy with Harry Kane," Guardiola said.

"What an exceptional player – the numbers and, more than the goals, the quality. That they didn't win a title [doesn't mean] he is not a good player. I think he proved that.

"Harry Kane remains one of the best strikers I have ever seen in my life."

Haaland has scored 31 goals in 27 matches for City this season – six more than Europe's next highest goalscorer, Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe (25).

Kane has himself been in good form this campaign for an inconsistent Spurs side, with his tally of 18 goals bettered only by Haaland, Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski (23).

He has scored 16 goals in the Premier League this season and is now just one short of overtaking club legend Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham's all-time record goalscorer.

The 29-year-old also needs one more goal to become the third player after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208) to reach the 200 mark in the Premier League.

Those records will be in Kane's sights when Spurs host City on Sunday, a little over two weeks on from the sides facing off in a thrilling clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola criticised his side after they recovered from two goals down at half-time to win 4-2, but they have since won back-to-back matches without conceding.

"From the results since then, if we'd lost or drawn it would have been seen as a bad approach," Guardiola said.

"But I explained my feelings. I know my team, I know the players. It doesn't matter what happened.

"The decisions we take are to do our best and for our benefit. I take responsibility for that, that's why I'm in charge. I didn't know what would happen when I said my comments. 

"I just expressed my feelings, first to the team and then in public and that's all. It's just three games after that and we have to continue."

Guardiola has lost all four of his visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in all competitions, making it the away ground he has managed at the most without winning.

Bayern Munich chief executive Oliver Kahn has warned Manuel Neuer his comments on the sacking of the Bundesliga champions' goalkeeping coach do not align with the club's values.

Germany veteran Neuer, speaking in an interview with The Athletic, questioned the dismissal of long-time mentor Toni Tapalovic as he acknowledged the "blow" of the goalkeeping coach's sacking.

The 36-year-old, who is out of action for the season after suffering a season-ending skiing injury, said the decision "came out of nowhere" and "really knocked me down".

Kahn was not impressed with Neuer's public comments, firing back at the Bayern star ahead of a crucial run-in for Julian Nagelsmann's side in February.

"What Manuel said in parts of these two interviews in connection with the release of Toni Tapalovic does not do justice to him as captain or to the values of FC Bayern," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

"Moreover, his statements come at an inopportune time because we are facing very important games."

Kahn sympathised with Neuer's situation, having seen his own goalkeeping coach Sepp Maier dismissed by Germany in 2004, but said he cannot understand his motivations.

Kahn added: "He is personally affected, you have to understand that to a certain extent. We were also aware of that when we explained to him that the decision on the question of the goalkeeper coach, which was not taken lightly, was the best thing for our team at that moment. I was faced with a similar situation as an international in 2004.

"Our goalkeeper coach Sepp Maier felt badly treated by the DFB and it came to a separation. I had worked with Sepp for years and we had a friendly and trusting relationship.

"I was also disappointed at the time, and I was angry with the DFB. But the common goals were in the foreground for me.

"They were more important to me than my personal feelings. And for that reason, I decided at the time not to speak out publicly. Manuel has now done the opposite.

"We will talk to him about it very clearly."

Pep Guardiola referenced "genius" Barcelona mentor Johan Cruyff as the Spaniard detailed the small margins that will dictate the Premier League title race.

Manchester City sit five points behind top-flight leaders Arsenal, having played a game more on the weekend where Mikel Arteta's side visit strugglers Everton and Guardiola's men travel to Tottenham.

The reigning Premier League champions are no strangers to a late-season run to propel to glory, going unbeaten in 28 games to eventually overcome Liverpool in the title race last term.

City have arguably a much more daunting task at hand, having to overthrow Arteta's in-form Arsenal this time, but Guardiola says he will use lessons from Netherlands great Cruyff in 2023.

He told Sky Sports: "I won four La Ligas in a row in Spain when I was a football player. In the fifth I was not the same. In the sixth I was not the same. I was not starving enough.

"Caviar. Madrid beat me. The fifth and the sixth. I understand the players. But I am here to do it.

"I realised a little bit later. It is difficult for a player to realise in real time exactly what is happening.

"It is ridiculous how small the margin is between winning and losing. You have to pay attention. I tried to do my best. I never doubt that players do their best.

"But at the same time you think, 'OK, I have done it, I have won.' After, to be on top again, it takes time.

"Johan had many great attributes but one of them was that he knew exactly how you were going to feel before you felt it, before it happened.

"That is why he was a genius. He would tell us, 'Now this will happen.' Fortunately or unfortunately, most of the time it did."

Erling Haaland has hit a remarkable 25 goals in just 19 Premier League appearances since joining City from Borussia Dortmund ahead of this campaign.

But change in Manchester has brought difficulties, despite the Norway international's record-breaking exploits, with City an entirely different side to the first title-winning campaign under Guardiola.

"It has happened. We change, everyone changes. It is normal. Most of the time it is the players who decide they want to leave," he added.

"The club is always open to do it. There are other clubs where the release clause is the most important. Someone has to pay it or you stay. I completely disagree with that.

"Always, when they are not comfortable working with the manager, the staff, the club, the city, whatever, they have to try to move on.

"Of course, there has to be an offer. But if you come with an offer, I am pretty sure we are going to reach an agreement.

"For example, Gabriel [Jesus], Alex [Oleksandr Zinchenko] and Raheem [Sterling] have gone this season.

"I could not be more grateful for what they have done for me and for this institution, winning 11 trophies in five years. It is just amazing. Believe me, I wish the best for them personally and professionally.

"It is the same with me when I leave. One day they are going to bring in a new manager with his own passion and his own ideas. Everything is going to move on."

Manuel Neuer backed Yann Sommer to succeed at Bayern Munich but questioned the dismissal of their goalkeeping coach after his freak skiing injury.

Germany veteran Neuer suffered a season-ending injury to his lower right leg in a fall in December.

The 36-year-old subsequently underwent surgery, with the setback coming just days after Germany tumbled out of the World Cup in the group stage.

Bayern searched frantically to replace their star goalkeeper in the January transfer window, eventually bringing in Sommer from Borussia Monchengladbach in a deal Neuer has "no problem at all" with.

He told The Athletic: "I put up a picture in our WhatsApp group and apologised. I also called the people in charge, apologised to them and said I'm sorry.

"I'm not a coward who goes into hiding. I explained everything to them, including the background.

"It created a lot of work for the people who run the club and that I might have harmed the team, yes. I didn't want that. I'm the happiest person when Sven Ulreich does well, as he always has done when he stood in for me.

"When Yann was brought in, I told the bosses I had no problem at all with that. I think it's good we have two great goalkeepers. I'm a team player. It's important to me what happens at Bayern.

"I look at the overall picture I don't just think of me and my pain and so on. I have a vocation, I have a job.

"I'm an important part of the team and also an important part of the club and I want the club and the team to be as successful as possible. That's the most important thing to me.

"I've known Yann for a long time and know that he's a good guy – and a good goalkeeper. The club found a great solution. It was important to me that there's someone there and that I don't have to worry."

While Sommer eased Julian Nagelsmann's goalkeeping fears, Bayern dismissed Neuer's long-time coach Toni Tapalovic.

"That blow hit me extremely hard," Neuer added. "Toni was always a team player with us, everyone saw it that way.

"He wasn't working for me for eleven and a half years, but for the entire goalkeeper group, for the coaching staff and for the club.

"We were always able to separate work and private life. I understand that it might sound like I'm not being objective or not believable, but I can really tell the difference.

"For me, that was a blow – when I was already down on the ground. I felt like my heart was being ripped out. It was the most brutal thing I've experienced in my career. And I've experienced a lot."

Bayern sit a point clear of Union Berlin at the Bundesliga summit ahead of Sunday's visit to Wolfsburg.

Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista has apologised for his horrendous challenge on Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior and insists "it was never my intention to harm him".

Gabriel was issued a straight red card for a wild kick on Vinicius in the 72nd minute of Valencia's 2-0 loss at Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday.

Vinicius, who had earlier doubled his side's lead after Marco Asensio had opened the scoring, was sent flying to the ground and a scuffle between both sets of players ensued.

Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois later called for his team-mate to be better protected by officials, having been on the end of a number of bad tackles this season.

Former Arsenal defender Gabriel is now facing a two-game LaLiga ban after the Spanish Football Federation's disciplinary committee added another game to his suspension.

The 32-year-old, who will miss games against Girona and Athletic Bilbao, took to social media on Friday to apologise to Vinicius.

"I accept the criticism and the red card," Gabriel posted. "I am a physical player, but also a noble one. I respect Vinicius and it was never my intention to harm him. 

"We are struggling a lot in this great club, going through a difficult period and emotions are running high.

"Sometimes it is impossible to control one's emotions. I lost control and I sincerely ask for forgiveness."

Vinicius was able to play the remainder of the match and took part in training on Friday ahead of Madrid's league meeting with Real Mallorca.

The Brazil international has been fouled 103 times this season, which is at least 19 more than any other player across Europe's top five leagues in all competitions.

Forty-six of those fouls have been in the final third – exactly double the number of Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, who is the next highest on the list.

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