Jack Grealish felt the same as a tearful Lionel Messi did when announcing his Barcelona exit as he made the switch from boyhood club Aston Villa to Manchester City.

Grealish joined City for a British-record £100million fee on Thursday, the Premier League champions meeting the England midfielder's release clause to take him to the Etihad Stadium.

Confirmation of Grealish's transfer came on the same day Barcelona announced they would be unable to sign Messi to a new contract due to "financial and structural obstacles".

Messi, who is widely reported to be nearing a deal to join Paris Saint-Germain, then held an emotional media conference on Sunday as he confirmed the end of his 21-year stay at Camp Nou, with the Argentina superstar crying on stage before and after his remarks.

Grealish had been at Villa since the age of six and told reporters on Monday that he empathised with Messi.

"Everyone has seen the way Messi was at his final press conference," said Grealish.

"That is the exact way I felt myself.

"Before I left the hotel I spoke to the team, the staff and the players and I teared up a bit myself."

When Villa re-signed Grealish to a new contract last season, they did so while accepting his proviso that they would not stand in his way if a club playing Champions League football made an approach for him.

And he is relishing the chance to play in European club football's top competition, with City aiming to go one better in 2021-22 having lost the final to Chelsea last season.

"I felt like it was time for me to move on," Grealish added.

"I've always said how much I wanted to play Champions League football – I couldn't do that at Villa this year.

"I have come here to win silverware and play in the Champions League, so that is my only focus now."

Pep Guardiola revealed prior to Grealish's City debut in the Community Shield that he and Txiki Begiristain have long been admirers of the England international.

That admiration is mutual, Grealish insisting he is unburdened by his price tag and excited to work under the former Barca and Bayern Munich boss.

"I'm going to be learning from him every day and I genuinely cannot wait to work with him," Grealish explained.

"The way he is in training is unbelievable. The stuff he has certain players doing in certain positions – it is something I would never think of and it just works.

"Everyone here is so desperate to play under him. Pep was a massive factor in me coming here.

"When you see a football club paying that sort of money for a player, it means they trust you and value you highly and see so much potential there.

"I see it as a good thing and now I hope I can repay this football club by winning as many titles as possible and winning that [Champions League] trophy we all want."

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has confirmed he suffered ankle ligament damage in the 1-1 pre-season friendly draw with Athletic Bilbao.

The Scotland international limped off after attempting to block a cross and was replaced at half-time by Owen Beck.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said further tests were required to determine the level of damage, casting doubt on Robertson's availability for Liverpool's opening game of the Premier League season away to Norwich City on August 14.

Ahead of Monday's friendly with Osasuna, the Reds' final warm-up game before the 2021-22 season, Robertson said via Twitter that he expected to be sidelined for a time.

"Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and support," he wrote. "Scan suggests nothing too major but there's some ligament damage which will need to mend.

"I will be grafting every day so I can help the team again sooner rather than later. Good luck to the boys playing tonight."

Briana Williams, a sprint relay gold medalist at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has dedicated her gold medal to her late grandmother, Vive Colquhoun-Simpson, who passed away shortly after she departed for Japan. Vive was her mother, Sharon Simpson's, mother, who had been ailing for some time.

Australia's T20I series in Bangladesh ended in a humiliating defeat as the tourists were bowled out for 62 in the final game of the five-match series.

Bangladesh had already clinched a series victory going into the final contest in Dhaka, but rounded things off in style with a 60-run victory. 

The hosts reached 122-8 on a surface that consistently proved challenging to bat on, before Shakib Al Hasan took over with ball in hand.

Shakib took 4-9 from 3.4 overs, while Mohammad Saifuddin claimed 3-12 as Australia were dismissed with just 13.4 overs bowled.

Afterwards, stand-in captain Matthew Wade, who top-scored for Australia with 22, found little reason to be upbeat following the 4-1 series defeat.

"It's hard to say there will be more positives. Certainly a great learning opportunity for our group," Wade said. 

"I've played for a few years now, [these were] certainly the toughest conditions to play T20 cricket in.

"It wasn't our series unfortunately. There's no excuses of not playing enough cricket. We had enough cricket in the West Indies to come and play good cricket, we just didn't."


Shakib stars

Shakib's masterful display with the ball saw 15 of his 22 deliveries produce dot balls.

Finishing the series with seven wickets at an average of 18.14 and 114 runs at a strike rate of 100.88, no player did more for Bangladesh as they clinched back-to-back bilateral T20I series wins for the first time in their history, following up the triumph over Zimbabwe in emphatic fashion.

"Thanks to my team-mates, this achievement wouldn't have been possible without their help," said Shakib. "I think we played some really good cricket through two series, in Zimbabwe and here. Obviously the wicket was tough, but we held our nerve well."

Modest totals beyond tourists

No match in the series produced an aggregate score of over 244 as both teams found posting big totals difficult.

However, the difference was that Bangladesh scored at least 120 in all but one match. Australia, missing several key players such as Steve Smith and David Warner, managed that feat just once.

Wade admitted as much, adding: "Credit to Bangladesh, they did well. We really had to scrounge, their batsmen found a way to get there [110-120 totals].

"Our bowling was good, but we just didn't have enough runs on the board. We've got to find a way to get better in spinning conditions."

On August 9, 2016, Manchester United completed a deal that was expected to transform them back into title regulars.

Paul Pogba – who had left United in 2012 – arrived in an £89.3million (€105m) deal from Juventus, a then-world record transfer fee.

Five years on, Pogba seems to be at something of a crossroads in not just his United career, but as a player altogether.

Like in 2016, Pogba heads into the 2021-22 season on the back of an impressive European Championship with France.

Unlike in 2016, Les Bleus failed to go deep in the competition, dropping out in the last 16 stage to Switzerland.

That game in June perhaps provided the perfect summary of Pogba the player. A global superstar in his own right, the 28-year-old has perhaps never hit the heights his talent suggested, or at least not on a consistent basis.

An exquisite long-range strike put France 3-1 up against Switzerland, yet it was Pogba who dawdled on the ball and was robbed of possession as Les Bleus contributed to their own downfall in Bucharest.

But just how has Pogba fared in the five years since he arrived back at Old Trafford, and what could come next?

 

HIS UNITED RECORD

Pogba has made 199 appearances in all competitions for United in his second spell at the club, with Marcus Rashford (252), David de Gea (216) and Anthony Martial (208) playing more games in that time.

Indeed, only De Gea and Rashford have played more minutes than Pogba's 15,708. While he has struggled at times with niggling injuries, he has more often than not been consistently available throughout his time at Old Trafford, with De Gea and Rashford the two players to start more games than the former Juve star (174).

Pogba has played 134 times in the Premier League since 2016, helping United to 73 victories –  a win percentage of 54.5 per cent.

He has missed 56 league games, with United's win percentage dropping down to 50 per cent in those matches, underlying that he is perhaps more crucial than some of his critics would suggest.

It has to be said, however, that Bruno Fernandes' arrival in 2020 did see Pogba take a back seat.

The Portugal playmaker has already netted more goals (40) in all competitions than Pogba (38), in 119 fewer appearances, though 21 of Fernandes' goals have come from the penalty spot.

Rashford, with 39, is the only United player to record more assists than Pogba, who has teed up as many as he has scored, while the Frenchman's 301 chances created is a team-high, 66 clear of second-placed Rashford.

Pogba ranks in the top three for dribbles attempted (624), with 393 of these being successful, displaying his ability to carry the ball through the thirds, and his total of 11,723 passes is way clear of Nemanja Matic in second (9,849).

 

PARIS FOR PAUL?

With just 12 months left on his contract, talks of a move away for the Frenchman at the end of his deal continue – Paris Saint-Germain his most likely destination, given their reported interest last year.

PSG already have a wealth of midfield options, though, including former team-mate Ander Herrera, Euro 2020 winner Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes.

Pogba completed 1595 passes last term, yet the PSG trio, along with Idrissa Gueye, averaged out at 2126 successful attempts – perhaps aided by their domination on the ball in Ligue 1.

Despite this, only Paredes (322) completed more passes in the final third than the United midfielder's 282, suggesting a different dimension Pogba could bring to Mauricio Pochettino's midfield.

Pogba also won 255 duels, recovering possession 242 times when doing his defensive duties for Solskjaer. Idrissa Gueye, PSG's best performer in this area, only managed 201 successful duels and 208 recoveries in two games more.

However, Verratti, who featured in 11 fewer games than Pogba, was victorious in 233 duels and made 174 recoveries  – could the pair form Pochettino's pivot next season?

While Pochettino now also has Georginio Wijnaldum, who made 262 recoveries albeit in six more games for Liverpool last year, to call upon, Pogba would add undoubted quality to the French giants in every midfield aspect.

Harry Kane will be available for Tottenham against Manchester City in their Premier League opener on Sunday, coach Nuno Espirito Santo has suggested.

Kane is quarantining at the club's training ground following his return at the weekend, despite initial reports he had boycotted pre-season amid growing speculation of a move away.

City, Spurs' Sunday opponents, were reported to have tabled a £100million bid for the forward that was rejected, though the reigning Premier League champions remain interested.

Nuno was on Monday due to hold talks with the England captain, whose 23 goals last term secured his third top-flight Golden Boot award, before he suggested Kane could play a part against Pep Guardiola's men.

Asked about players' availability for the City game, Nuno told Sky Sports: "All the players in the squad that work on a daily basis will be options for us, then it is up to us to decide."

Pushed further for an update on Kane, the former Wolves manager repeated his answer almost word for word, adding that Spurs would consider the "best options" from the squad.

After playing an integral role in England's Euro 2020 final run, Kane will be able to train from Thursday with the Tottenham squad – though that time scale may leave his fitness in doubt for Sunday's opener.

Guardiola has been unrelenting in his pursuit of Kane, reiterating his interest in the forward last Friday despite already signing Jack Grealish for a record-breaking £100m fee.

Whether Kane will join Grealish as a City player by the end of the transfer window remains unseen, but Nuno will hope his talisman can kick-start his side's campaign with a win.

Former hurdles star Edwin Moses questioned the Games going ahead in Tokyo but insisted time will tell as to whether the decision was correct.

Prior to the delayed Games, there was scepticism towards the safety of holding such an event amid a global pandemic, but Tokyo 2020 was completed without major incident.

Moses, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, agreed with the concern throughout Japan – and across the world – as he discussed the unusual competitive conditions.

"I was always very concerned," the former United States athlete told Stats Perform.

"I always wondered whether it was the right decision to expose the Japanese people to tens and thousands of people coming in. I guess we’ll see what the fallout is.

"I would have been compelled to go if I was 25 years old. [The] conditions are not normal for athletes. I can't imagine competing under them."

Paris awaits in 2024 before Los Angeles and Brisbane follow as the next hosts.

But Moses, who set the world record four times in 400 metre hurdles, was unsure as to whether the Olympic model has been too restrictive for a competition that prides itself on inclusivity.

"[It] was talked about trying to move the Olympics to different countries," the 65-year-old continued. "I think the set up and model now means that it will never be somewhere like Africa. They can't afford it.

"I think they're behind the eight ball in terms of moving it around. Right now they've restricted themselves to American, [Asian] and European countries. [The] model is not sustainable to diversify delivery."

Asked whether they can alter this issue and make the model more inclusive, Moses responded: "I don't know. I'm not sure if it was in somewhere like South Africa for example.

"People would want that amount of money spent on it. They've been trying but [I am] not sure theyve found a reasonable solution."

One leading light for the delayed games, however, is the conversations that have opened on mental health.

Simone Biles, who would later take to social media to further inform her audience as to her mental health struggles, made the headlines when she courageously withdrew from artistic gymnastic events before emphatically returning to secure bronze on the beam.

IOC president Thomas Bach praised the athletes for offering "hope" as one of the "most precious gifts" during Sunday's closing ceremony and Moses offered insight into the mental health aspects of being an athlete.

"It's intense," Moses added. "People have no idea what it takes. And in today's world with the commercialism, Simone Biles was expected to win five medals.

"I think it was a combo of physical and mental. Her internal GPS system disconnected from her motor system and she could have been in danger."

Moses, who credited athletes for removing the stigma of mental health by opening up on the topic, concluded: "At a certain level competition is competition and if you are not ready for it it's okay.

"The problem is big athletes are pulling out of events now. Athletes will have had deaths in the family, people ill, all kinds of situations."

Barcelona's nightmare has continued after it was confirmed Sergio Aguero is likely to be out until mid-October due to a calf injury.

Already having to contend with the unexpected departure of talisman Lionel Messi, Barca are in a dire financial situation heading into the new season.

They will now also be without one of their new arrivals for up to 10 weeks, though LaLiga's salary restrictions have meant Barca have not yet been able to register Aguero, who joined on a free transfer from Premier League champions Manchester City.

The 33-year-old left City after 10 years with the club, but his final season was hampered by injury and COVID-19 lay offs.

He managed only eight starts in 2020-21, playing 720 minutes in total across 20 appearances in all competitions.

Aguero's tally of six goals – two of which came from the penalty spot – was by far the fewest he managed for City since joining in 2011. Indeed, his previous low was 17, in the 2012-13 season.

His Barca career has now stalled before it has even started.

Reports in Spain on Monday suggested Aguero had already been expected to miss a month due to the injury, but further tests had revealed a tendon tear in his inner right calf – this was subsequently confirmed by Barca.

"Tests carried out on first-team player Kun Aguero have confirmed a right calf injury. He will be out around 10 weeks," a Barca statement read.

Aguero will miss Barca's opening nine LaLiga fixtures and at least the first two rounds of the Champions League group stage.

Reports emerged over the weekend that Aguero wished to leave Barca already, with the possibility of playing with his good friend and compatriot Messi having been a major factor in his decision to sign on at Camp Nou.

On Sunday, Aguero posted a farewell message to Messi on his official Instagram account.

"All the best in whatever comes my friend. And always with that smile. I love you," the post read.

Barca kick-off their LaLiga campaign – and the post-Messi era against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is fit and raring to go as Liverpool prepare for their Premier League opener against Norwich City on Saturday.

The right-back, who signed a new long-term contract at Anfield in July, suffered a thigh injury in June, forcing him to pull out of England's Euro 2020 squad.

Alexander-Arnold has been eased back into pre-season action and finally completed a full 90-minute outing in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao.

"Yes, definitely," the 22-year-old responded when asked if he was 100 per cent ready. "I’ve started pre-season quite well, in training I've been putting the work in, got the all-clear from the medical staff early doors in pre-season and have been able to push on, get fit and get the full 90 under my belt today.

"I think we've timed it well and it gives us a good couple of days to recover and then go on to Norwich next week."

Jurgen Klopp provided Alexander-Arnold his opportunity down the right flank and the wing-back has appeared in over 40 games a season for the last three campaigns – in which time the Reds have won the Champions League and the Premier League.

Since the start of 2018-19, no Liverpool player has created more chances than Alexander Arnold's 212, while he also leads the assist charts with 32 in that period.

Despite failing to recreate his best form from the 2019-20 season which saw him net four times and provided 13 assists, Alexander-Arnold still managed 34 starts and two goals last campaign but was part of a defence hampered by the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez as Liverpool failed to retain their top-flight crown.

But Klopp has potential problems ahead of the Norwich opener on the other flank, with Andrew Robertson sustaining a suspected ankle injury in Sunday's outing against Bilbao.

"No, I haven't seen him, to be fair, but I think you know it’s going to be quite bad if Robbo has to come off," Alexander-Arnold said after being asked if he had spoken to his full-back partner.

"It's not something that he normally does so it’s disappointing to see, but I’m sure he will bounce back as soon as he can."

With or without Robertson, after a taste of the Anfield crowd returning for the Bilbao friendly, Alexander-Arnold is excited to perform in front of them during the 2021-22 term.

"This is the moment we’ve been waiting for," he added on seeing a near-full Anfield. "Obviously last season it was very quiet in here but to have the fans back today was special for us all. We've all been waiting for this moment."

Sergio Busquets insists Barcelona are "looking to compete on all fronts" despite club legend Lionel Messi departing.

Messi was expected to sign a new contract but financial complications at Barca left the forward no option but to leave, with Busquets now assuming the captaincy role.

Prior to Sunday's Joan Gamper Trophy clash, the 33-year-old took the opportunity to reassure the Blaugrana faithful who were rocked by the news of Messi's departure on Thursday, with the Argentina international set to join Paris Saint-Germain.

"We'll do it with you [the fans]," Busquets said at the Estadi Johan Cruyff. "We need you more than ever. We need your help, your support, and we're sure you'll give it to us."

Busquets, who led the tackles and interceptions charts at Barca last term while also completing the second most passes, joins an illustrious group of players to have captained the Catalan club.

Carles Puyol, Xavi and Messi all came before the midfielder and Busquets acknowledged he must now "meet the standards" set by those club legends in a role which he is "very proud" to take.

Having made his debut four years after the Argentina captain, the Spain midfielder was also quick to pay tribute to his former team-mate, with whom he enjoyed a 14-year spell with.

"I want to give a special mention to Leo," Busquets continued. "Thank you, Leo, for taking Barca to the very pinnacle; for making history while being the best player in the world, and for beating all the individual and collective records [imaginable].

"We will always be very grateful for everything you have done. We will miss you and we wish you all the best."

While Messi, who netted 672 times in 778 appearances for the Spanish giants, edges closer to joining PSG, Barca begin their LaLiga campaign against Real Sociedad on August 15 as they begin the post-Messi era.

As the Tokyo Olympics bade farewell Sunday a year later than planned, organisers of the 2024 Paris Games looked forward to welcoming the world to France in three years. 

Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet, a three-time gold medallist in canoe slalom, praised everyone involved with the Tokyo Games for managing to hold the event amid a global pandemic. 

As the Olympic flag was passed from Tokyo to Paris on Sunday, though, Estanguet talked up his team's plans to host their first Summer Games since 1924.

"We waited an extra year for this moment, but we are already waiting 100 years to bring the Olympic flag back to Paris, so the excitement is very strong in our team and back home in France,” Estanguet said.

The Paris bid, awarded in 2017, features venues familiar to any tourist, with competitions to be held at the Place de la Concorde, Champs de Mars, Les Invalides and the Palace of Versailles, among other high-profile spots.

"Every host city must bring something new and contribute to the evolution of the Games," Estanguet said. 

"With Paris 2024, our ambition is to offer a new model to open the Games to more people. This starts with offering the Games to the city.

"Our plan is based on taking sport out of its traditional spaces and putting competitions at the heart of the city, in front of the most famous Parisian landmarks; the Eiffel Tower for beach volleyball, wrestling and judo, and equestrian at the Chateau de Versailles.

"The ambition is simple: invite the world, including the hundreds of millions of viewers, into the very heart of Paris.”

Thanks to that one-year delay, the welcome will occur relatively quickly. On July 26, 2024, Paris will take centre stage. 

Fans got their first glimpse of top NBA Draft pick Cade Cunningham in Detroit Pistons colors on Sunday as he scored 12 points in the Summer League.

The 19-year-old drained two early three-pointers in his 12-point haul along with six rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes for the Pistons, who went down 76-72 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Expectations are high for Cunningham with Detroit who finished bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 20-52 record last season and have not won a playoff game since 2008.

"It was fun getting to put the jersey on for the first time," Cunningham said after the game.

"Obviously, we wanted a win out of this, but we spent the last week beating on each other. It’s our first time being able to get to go and be with each other and really try to get this chemistry down.

"We got a lot from this game we can learn from. That’s the main thing you want out of your first game. Now we’re going to try to keep building off of that."

He added: "I wanted to step into the game confident, ready to shoot, ready to play. To see the first two go down, it’s a good feeling. Now it’s building off of that."

Cunningham played the first half alongside 20-year-old French guard Killian Hayes, who was selected seventh overall in the 2020 Draft, with the pair likely to be the side's main ballhandlers.

"I think more than anything, we’re on the same page mentally in where we want this team to be," Cunningham said.

"Now it’s about having a better feel for each other. We haven’t played a lot together."

He added: "We have so much time to build and grow from this. We are not going to hang our heads off of this one game."

Internazionale defender Alessandro Bastoni remains bullish about the club's Serie A title defence despite a tumultuous off-season which spilled over with fan protests in Sunday's friendly win.

Inter won 2-0 over Parma at Stadio Tardini as some of the approximately 500 fans in attendance brought banners and chanted abuse aimed at owners the Suning corporation, calling for president Steven Zhang to quit, barely months after their breakthrough Scudetto triumph.

Since lifting their first Serie A title since 2010, Inter have seen the departure of title-winning head coach Antonio Conte, who was frustrated as the club tightened its purse strings.

The Serie A champions have also sold Achraf Hakimi to Paris Saint-Germain with Romelu Lukaku set to depart for Chelsea. Lautaro Martinez has also been linked with a move to Tottenham.

The largest fan banner read "Zhang if you want to save Inter, then you have to leave". Another read "Zhang, the time is over".

Footage emerged on social media of ultras singing "you have to sell" and "we’ll give you the money" and waving €10 bills.

Fans did offer support to new Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi who has taken over at a difficult time, with expectations lowered for their title defence.

Italy centre-back Bastoni is one of numerous Inter players to recently return to the club following a delayed break due to his Euro 2020 commitments, with others also participating at Copa America.

"We’ve only joined up with the group recently – we’ve got a new manager and we need to grasp his system," Bastoni told Inter TV.

"We’re ready to put our trust in him so we can perform well this year."

Former Inter star forward Hernan Crespo told the Italian media on Sunday that the Nerazzurri are "starting from scratch", criticising their handling of the transition after winning the Serie A.

Crespo said Inter are unlikely to defend their title given their off-season tumult, labelling Juventus the favourites.

Bastoni added: "These friendly run-outs are key because we joined up with the squad only recently, so we’ve not got that much time to prepare for a league campaign in which we want to do well.

"We have a league title to defend and we will try to do that in every possible way."

Inter will commence their Serie A campaign on Saturday 22 August against Genoa.

Football has been a part of Peyton Manning's life since the day he was born, and his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech Sunday amounted to a love letter to the sport. 

The former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback was the headliner at the ceremony in Canton, Ohio, that honoured the 2020 and 2021 inductees. 

Famously personable, Manning took amiable shots at former rivals like Tom Brady and thanked those who helped him reach the game's pinnacle – starting with his father, Archie – but spent a significant portion of his speech looking ahead. 

"We have inherited the history of this sport, even helped create it, but our responsibility cannot stop there," Manning said. "If we simply relive history and don't ignite the future of the sport, then we're not doing football justice."

Manning acknowledged threats to his sport's hegemony in the United States and its worldwide appeal, from an increasingly fractured entertainment market to concussion concerns and polarising social-justice issues, before vowing to do what he could to maintain the sport's prominence and encouraging others to do the same. 

"I don't know about you but I'm not done with this game. I never will be," he said. "I'm committed to ensuring its future, and I hope you will join me in that commitment.

"As members of this honoured class, we have a responsibility to make our game stronger, from the corner playground to the most-celebrated stadiums. ...

"When we leave this stage tonight, it is no longer about us. It is about cultivating the game that has given so much to us. It's about nurturing football to live and thrive another day, another year, decade and another generation."

Joining Manning in the Class of 2021 were receivers Calvin Johnson and Drew Pearson, defensive back Charles Woodson, safety John Lynch, guard Alan Faneca, pioneering coach Tom Flores and legendary scout Bill Nunn.

The Class of 2020, whose induction was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, included receivers Isaac Bruce and Harold Carmichael, safeties Steve Atwater and Troy Polamalu, defensive backs Bobby Dillon and Donnie Shell, tackles Jim Covert and Winston Hill, defensive tackles Alex Karras and Duke Slater, ends Mac Speedie and Ed Sprinkle, running back Edgerrin James, guard Steve Hutchinson, coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson, general manager George Young, NFL Films co-founder Steve Sabol, and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue. 

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