Atletico Madrid broke their transfer record and Real Madrid spent a huge amount to freshen up their squad, but Barcelona will still be the team to beat in LaLiga's title tussle.

Barca have finished top in eight of the last 11 years, including the past two, and they head into the 2019-20 season as favourites to retain their crown.

The reigning champions accrued 11 points more than runners-up Atletico last time out and have strengthened during the close season with the additions of Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong and Junior Firpo.

But with Zinedine Zidane at the Madrid helm and long-term target Eden Hazard in place, not to mention the signings of Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy and Rodrygo Goes, there is hope Madrid can bridge the 19-point gap from last season.

Across the city at the Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico replaced Griezmann with €126million sensation Joao Felix and refreshed some key areas in the squad following the exits of Diego Godin, Filipe Luis, Juanfran and several others.

Ahead of the new season commencing on Friday, we used Opta data to look at which records and landmarks LaLiga's three heavyweights are targeting over the next nine months.

The #PrimeraIberdrola gets underway on September 8th!

Who will be the 2019/20 champions? pic.twitter.com/FyzvJxjEps

— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) August 14, 2019

 

Messi has more records in sight at Barcelona

⦁ With Cristiano Ronaldo no longer in the picture, Lionel Messi is closing in on the ex-Madrid forward's hat-tricks record in the Spanish top flight. One more treble will draw him level with Ronaldo on 34; two more will take him outright top.

⦁ Messi, unsurprisingly, leads the way at the top of Barca's all-time scoring charts in LaLiga with 419 goals to his name. Team-mate Luis Suarez has the chance to move up to third in the list, requiring one more goal to overtake Ladislao Kubala (131).

⦁ Barcelona could become the second team to score more than 6,100 goals in LaLiga history. They go into the season on 6,089, 15 fewer than Real Madrid.

⦁ Messi is also high on the list of the Catalan giants' all-time appearance-makers, featuring 684 times in all competitions to leave him second to Xavi Hernandez (767). Gerard Pique has some catching up to do, but he has a landmark in sight, as he is two outings short of 500 in a Barca shirt.

⦁ In the dugout, Ernesto Valverde is on course to become the 10th manager to reach 450 LaLiga games. The Spaniard, whose future was called into question during the close season, is 26 matches short of that impressive figure.

 

Simeone closing in on milestone Atletico victory

⦁ Retaining the services of boss Diego Simeone was key for Atletico during the close season. The Argentine coach remains and he could become the second manager to reach 200 LaLiga wins with a single team after Miguel Munoz for Real Madrid (257). He heads into the weekend on 180.

⦁ Since Radamel Falcao got the Simeone era up and running with goal number one in 2012, Atletico have gone on to add another 484 in LaLiga, meaning the 500 landmark is within touching distance.

⦁ Atletico have become more synonymous with the defensive side of the game under Simeone and boast one of the world's best goalkeepers in Jan Oblak. The Slovenia international is on 88 LaLiga clean sheets and is aiming to become the third keeper to reach triple figures in the 21st century after Victor Valdes (171) and Iker Casillas (160).

⦁ In new signing Joao Felix, Atletico boast one of the hottest properties in world football. Aged 19, he could become one of the youngest players to score for the club - a record held by Ignacio Camacho (17 years and 364 days when he scored against Recreativo Huelva in 2008).

⦁ Joao Felix will hope to have a long and prosperous career at the Wanda Metropolitano, much in the way team-mate Koke has. The academy product has made 285 league appearances for Atletico and will expected to become only the sixth player to reach 300 this term.

 

 Numancia
 Chivas
 Real Madrid
 MLS All-Stars
 @AtletideSanLuis
 Juventus

 100% win rate in pre-season! #AúpaAtleti #AtletiSummerTour pic.twitter.com/k007cDdLQk

— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) August 10, 2019

 

Familiar faces out to make history for Madrid

⦁ They may have fallen well off the pace last season, but no team has won more matches in LaLiga than Real Madrid's 1690 victories, 55 more than next best Barca. They could therefore become the first team to reach 1,700 victories in the competition.

⦁ Karim Benzema hit a good patch of form towards the end of last season to go sixth on the club's list of all-time leading scorers in all competitions with 222 goals. That leaves him just 20 short of fifth-place Ferenc Puskas, but still a whopping 228 adrift of leading marksman Ronaldo.

⦁ The Frenchman will hope to retain his place up top this term, especially with Hazard now providing the ammunition from out wide. The Belgian is looking to become the eighth current player to reach 100 assists in the top five European leagues. He goes into the season on 89 from his time with Lille and Chelsea.

⦁ Zidane was brought back to Madrid in March, 10 months after stepping down, and he is closing in on 200 games for Los Blancos. The 47-year-old has taken charge of 160 matches in all competitions, leaving him behind five others, including Jose Mourinho (178).

⦁ Players and managers come and go but one thing remains constant - Sergio Ramos marshalling the Madrid defence. The Spanish skipper has made 419 LaLiga appearances in the famous white strip, although he is only seventh on the list of record appearances makers, with Paco Gento (427) the next player in his sights.

Halfway through last season, Borussia Dortmund were in pole position to dethrone Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

The new year saw Lucien Favre's bright young side falter just enough for Bayern's know how to tell, with Niko Kovac's men claiming a seventh successive top-flight crown.

But it means the anticipation is for a memorable tussle once again this time around, with the processions of recent campaigns hopefully a thing of the past. Throw in an ambitious chasing pack and you have quite a spectacle.

Before the first ball is kicked, five Omnisport journalists have put their necks on the line with some top-four predictions.

We totted up the overall scores and here's what we came up with. Apologies in advance to all at Signal Iduna Park…

 

1st – Borussia Dortmund

Unlike our near-unanimous choice for Manchester City to be Premier League champions, the panel was understandably split down the middle over who will prevail out of Dortmund and Bayern. BVB just got the edge.

STRENGTHS: Wonderful attacking quality, expertly coached by Favre, which is now bolstered by the arrivals of Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard. The returning Mats Hummels – alongside the likes of the talismanic Marco Reus and Axel Witsel – ensures a pleasing blend between experience and future stars.

WEAKNESSES: Can they handle the pressure better than last time around? Hummels is a fine addition but has a significant job on his hands to shore up a vulnerable defence in front of the gifted but error-prone Roman Burki.

2nd – Bayern Munich

Despite an unconvincing close season in the transfer market, defined by the unseemly Leroy Sane saga, it remains hard to back against the Bundesliga's dominant force. But we have!

STRENGTHS: Supreme title-winning pedigree and, although lacking some of the depth they would like, the best collection of individual players in the league. Robert Lewandowski is going for a fifth Torjagerkanone, while there are signs Manuel Neuer might be back to his best.

WEAKNESSES: Light in attack after the departures of club greats Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Significant doubts remain over whether Kovac is the right man from the job, seemingly from the terraces to boardroom level. As such, Uli Hoeness' mooted departure as chairman could lead to turmoil.

3rd – RB Leipzig

German football's new kids on the block were the only other a unanimous choice to finish inside the top four.

STRENGTHS: Julian Nagelsmann has cast himself as a generational coaching talent and should be the man to take last season's beaten DFB-Pokal finalists on to the next level. They have bought shrewdly by bringing in the likes of Christopher Nkunku and Ademola Lookman.

WEAKNESSES: The distraction of star forward Timo Werner entering the final year of his contract. Adapting to Nagelsmann's detailed pressing system is likely to be a challenge.

4th – Bayer Leverkusen

Peter Bosz's time in charge of Dortmund might have ended abruptly but he is doing plenty to convince with a vibrant Leverkusen side.

STRENGTHS: Kai Havertz scored 20 goals in all competitions last season and is a superstar-in-waiting. They have bought well, with Moussa Diaby an exciting replacement for Brandt. The arrival of Hoffenheim duo Kerem Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri also strengthens Bosz's hand significantly.

WEAKNESSES: The coach's system is always likely to lead to defensive vulnerability and there is a lack of quality cover for Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender at centre-back.

Zinedine Zidane must have anticipated problems when he returned as Real Madrid coach in March, but whether he predicted the shambles that has since come to envelop the club is unclear.

Poor pre-season form, rumours of a power struggle with the president emanating from a farcical handling of Gareth Bale's future, uncertainty over new signings – these are all issues on Zidane's plate heading into the 2019-20 LaLiga season.

Madrid finished a whopping 19 points adrift of Barca last season, and the champions certainly don't appear any weaker. Even Atletico Madrid, amid a major rebuild, look better prepared than their neighbours.

Although few will be surprised if Los Blancos fall apart again as they did last term, this season there is at least a little uncertainty surrounding their rivals – could Antoine Griezmann be a disruptive influence at Barca? Will Atletico cope with so much upheaval?

 

Power struggle engulfing a disorganised Real Madrid

Madrid and their fans were supposed to be reinvigorated during the close season, with the transfer business expected to see the squad boosted, deadwood offloaded and supporters excited.

While Eden Hazard will surely thrill, little certainty can be garnered from the rest of their signings. Ferland Mendy has struggled with injury, Eder Militao and Rodrygo are inexperienced and Luka Jovic is reported to have already left Zidane underwhelmed, sparking rumours of a loan exit.

Furthermore, Madrid's outgoings raise questions about their vision. Sergio Reguilon, Dani Ceballos, Jesus Vallejo, Borja Mayoral, Theo Hernandez, Marcos Llorente and Raul de Tomas – all young, all Spanish and all gone.

James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale remain, however, with the latter reportedly at the centre of a power struggle. Zidane wants him out, president Perez doesn't.

How much of an impact the growing tension has on the season remains to be seen, but it cannot help ease the pressure Zidane is under following disappointing pre-season results and winning just 45 per cent of his matches in charge last term.

Compared to Santiago Solari's win percentage of 69, it's fair to say Zidane hasn't been a positive force of change yet. He might not be given the time to turn things around.

 

Simeone's Atletico 2.0

Rarely under Diego Simeone have Atletico been a thrill to watch in the conventional sense, mostly shirking all-out attacking tendencies and relying on a stable, full-blooded defence.

Don't expect that to change despite the most significant overhaul in Simeone's time at the helm, with Griezmann, Diego Godin, Juanfran, Filipe Luis, Lucas Hernandez and Rodri all moving on.

Simeone accepts things will be slightly different given the sheer scale of the changes, but he is not sparing newcomers of his exhaustive methods.

"We must be realistic," he told La Nacion recently. "It will be a moment of renewal. We are going to have to reinvent ourselves, so we have to think only of the day-to-day.

"Perhaps over time that [attitude] has faded, so now we will have to redouble our philosophy."

Atletico's dealings have generally been quite shrewd, if we ignore the somewhat risky signing of the inexperienced – albeit hugely talented – Joao Felix for €126m.

Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi are very much in the mould of the full-backs they've replaced; Marcos Llorente and Hector Herrera offer a typical Simeone blend of tenacity and technique; Felipe is experienced, and Mario Hermoso was one of LaLiga's best centre-backs last term.

Early indications are encouraging, particularly after that 7-3 pre-season drubbing of Madrid.

 

'La Decision', the sequel

If you didn't get enough of the Antoine Griezmann soap opera last year, by now you're surely sick of the sight of him.

The contrived and ill-conceived 'La Decision' video documenting his agonising over a choice between Atletico or Barca just before the World Cup did little to endear him to either set of supporters, even though he opted to remain in Madrid for another season.

After finally getting the move he reportedly desired in 2018, the pressure couldn't be greater for Griezmann. By all accounts, he had an underwhelming final campaign at the Wanda Metropolitano, with 15 goals in 37 LaLiga games.

A few poor games and Barca supporters – who were widely reticent to the idea of Griezmann signing after last year's debacle – will be straight on his back.

A cursory glance at their treatment of Philippe Coutinho shows what could be in store for him.

But either way, Griezmann does add further depth to an already star-studded line-up of attackers and such a move may provide the jolt he needs to again elevate himself to the level of the world's best.

Despite his relative lack of experience compared to Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong looks more of a ready-made success and will surely take LaLiga by storm following his move from Ajax.

Manchester City and Liverpool spent months staring each other down, waiting for one of them to blink in last season's Premier League title race.

As the absurd relentlessness unfolded week after week, neither budged and City's 98 points edged out 97 from the runners-up.

No one blinked. The question heading into Sunday's Community Shield encounter at Wembley is has this made them sick of the sight of one another?

"I went to university in Liverpool years ago and I remember Liverpool and Everton fans would ask 'are you City or United?'," Dan Burke, content editor for OneFootball and a contributor to the Blue Moon Podcast, recalled.

"I'd say City and they were like, 'oh, we don't mind City'. I think definitely Liverpool don't like City anymore.

"Both sets of fans know how to get under the other ones' skin."

The reasons for football rivalries vary in each instance. Some are rooted in simple geography, others fester and mutate amid sporting competition and some exploded out of a controversial flashpoint.

They develop and evolve over time, which leads to the obvious question of what relationship do Manchester City and Liverpool share on the back of 2018-19's remarkable exploits?

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp share a deep mutual respect, which compels each to conduct themselves above the fray for the most part.

At his news conference ahead of the English season's traditional curtain-raiser, Guardiola declared himself "bothered" by Klopp's recent comments on City's spending capacity. Naturally, a few moments later he described his former Bundesliga foe as a "class manager, top manager… incredible".

Klopp and Guardiola might bristle occasionally but will never make a Jose Mourinho-Antonio Conte spectacle of themselves. Whether the same can be said of two fanbases where enmity appears to be growing is debatable.

Faux-rivalry

"For me it seems like a faux-rivalry based on current events because we have two great teams who look quite sustainable in terms of what they want to achieve," said Nina Kauser of the Anfield Index.

"You had 2013-14, when City pipped us to the league and it was quite respectful. Maybe there was a turning of the tide when Raheem Sterling signed for City in 2015 and that made it a bit bitter for Liverpool fans.

"But as a whole, I really don't see it as a rivalry. I find it quite petty."

Burke agrees that the 2013-14 Premier League title battle and Steven Gerrard's fateful slip left a mark, but events have accelerated over the past year and a half.

Liverpool's rousing 4-3 win over City at Anfield in January 2018 handed the champions-elect the first defeat of their 100-point Premier League season.

Three months later, City were back on Merseyside for a Champions League quarter-final that began with smashed bus windows and ended in a 5-1 aggregate defeat.

Liverpool's defeat to Real Madrid in that season's Champions League final was then commemorated in a – to use Burke's description – "tawdry" terrace chant at City, which brought embarrassing PR when it featured fleetingly in the squad's 2018-19 title celebrations.

"I think the Champions League two legs is where it really began. That ramped it up – the arguing, the bickering," Howard Hockin of the 9320 Podcast explained, slightly wearily.

"I'm not going to go anti-Liverpool on you, but we'll think they were terrible and their fanbase is appalling and living on past glories. And they'll say different things about us.

"It's a different era now with social media, you see everything. I'm not going to judge a fanbase by what you see on Twitter because it's a very strange world where you live in a bubble.

"I went to a party at the end of last season and spoke to a Liverpool fan. You have a completely normal conversation.

"For all I know, I might have an argument with that person behind an anonymous user name the next day, saying ridiculous things."

Don't read the replies

Social media noise is undeniably a factor here. If long-standing rivalries should be aged and enjoyed like a fine whisky, the modern equivalents can often feel like someone throwing payday Jagerbombs down their throat before happy hour ends.

"I cannot be bothered with online bitterness in any way, shape or form. It's fundamentally boring," said Neil Atkinson from the Anfield Wrap.

"I genuinely don't care what Manchester City supporters are doing or saying. It bores me to tears.

"In terms of a sporting sense there is a rivalry between the two sides and the two managers. Thus far it's been intense on the pitch, but it's also been friendly.

"I think if you could offer both managers a magic button and the Community Shield was Manchester City versus Watford they'd probably take that.

"Whereas if you go back to the Liverpool-versus-Everton rivalry of the 1980s, or the classic Premier League rivalry of Manchester United versus Arsenal, those sides would have liked to play each other and kick lumps out of each other every week. That's where I think it's different."

The best of enemies

Everton and Manchester United. The can't-live-with-them, can't-live-without-them characters in this story who means all passions City and Liverpool direct at one another over the coming seasons might ultimately feel like a passing fling.

"We play Everton and it's massive and it dominates my life," Atkinson added. "It's psychologically huge.

"Everton could be 19th having not won in 10 and, if we were going to Goodison Park, it would be all I'm thinking about all week. That will never be the case with City and that's fine."

It's a position that Hockin and many of the thousands who will descend upon Wembley this weekend share.

"There's no doubt, if you ask most City fans they will say it has to be United who are our rivals," he said. "They'd have to be relegated for that not to be the case and go down three divisions.

"We've lived in their shadow for decades and five or six years finishing above them in the league doesn't change the fact that my whole lifetime it's been about United and getting one over them."

On the back of a stellar campaign for Lille that saw him register a combined 33 goals and assists in Ligue 1, Nicolas Pepe has completed a big-money switch to Arsenal that makes him one of the most expensive players in British football history.

The 24-year-old rose through the ranks in France and acquired a growing band of admirers, with Arsenal winning the race after having an €80million (£72.9m) offer accepted by Lille.

Pepe is now under pressure to match the form he showed last season as he embarks on a new chapter, in what will be his first spell outside of French football.

Following confirmation of his move to Emirates Stadium, we look at Pepe's career to date and explore exactly why Arsenal decided to break their transfer record to sign him.

Goalkeeper... striker... winger

The Ivory Coast international made a name for himself with his performances from the right-hand side of attack last season, but things could have turned out very differently.

Marcelo Bielsa, the man who brought Pepe to Lille from Angers in June 2017, used him in a central striking role until he was sacked and replaced by Christophe Galtier in December that year.

It was only then that Pepe's career started to take off. He played an important part in Lille's survival bid in 2017-18 with 13 goals and pushed on last season with 22 in the French top flight - a tally only bettered by Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe - on top of chipping in with 11 assists.

Going further back, meanwhile, the talented wideman often played as a goalkeeper in his teens while at FC Paris Solitaires Est, only focusing on a career as an outfield player when he joined Poitiers in 2012.

Big chance at Angers

Pepe was recommended to Angers by Poitiers sporting director Philippe Leclerc in 2013 and made his professional debut in November 2014, before a spell on loan with third-tier side Orleans.

The winger was named as the best player in the division as he helped Orleans to promotion, and he impressed enough on his return to Angers to earn a transfer to Lille in June 2017.

His form at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy last season ensured he was a name on the lips of pretty much every elite team across Europe, becoming the first Lille player to score at least 19 goals in a Ligue 1 campaign since Eden Hazard in 2011-12

Napoli are known to have had a bid accepted, while Liverpool and Manchester United are among the English sides rumoured to have made enquiries.

What can Arsenal expect?

But it is Arsenal supporters who can look forward to seeing Pepe up close on a weekly basis, having made him the fourth most expensive player in Premier League history behind Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk.

No player did more to lift Lille from 17th in 2017-18 to second in 2018-19, with only Lionel Messi (49), Kylian Mbappe (40) and Fabio Quagliarella (34) surpassing Pepe's combined number of goals and assists (33) in Europe's top five leagues.

He is a player that thrives on the counter, scoring six goals and attempting 15 shots from fast breaks last season, and he is a nuisance to defend against - as highlighted by the 108 fouls won, the most in Ligue 1 last term.

In fact, Pepe won his team five penalties with his tricky footwork and converted from the spot nine times - only Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic (10) was more successful from 12 yards in the top divisions.

Set to line up alongside world-class attacking talents in the shape of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, and with ammunition provided by Mesut Ozil and fellow new recruit Dani Ceballos, there is every reason to believe Pepe can follow in the footsteps of Hazard by continuing his remarkable rise in his new surroundings.

England and Australia will spend the next seven weeks as fierce rivals with the Ashes on the line.

The return from suspension of three Australia star batsmen means the visitors are back up to full strength as they chase a first Test series win in England for 18 years.

The triumphant 2001 side was loaded with all-time greats including Steve and Mark Waugh, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.

Few of the England team of the day would have earned a place in Australia's side, such was the absurd strength of the tourists' squad.

However, the gap has closed considerably in the years since, and merging the teams for a combined Ashes XI in 2019 would test the judgment of any selector.

Here is a look at how such a team might look, with grovelling apologies to the strong contenders who missed the cut.


Cameron Bancroft (Australia)

Edgbaston will have a welcome waiting for the man who used sandpaper to tamper with the ball during Australia's Test with South Africa at Newlands last year. Bancroft has the runs for Durham this year to justify his return to Australia's ranks on form, even if many might feel uneasy about his presence after serving a nine-month ban. It could be touch and go whether he opens or bats in the middle order, but he gets the nod for this XI on the basis of England being in an opener crisis.

David Warner (Australia)

The brains behind the Newlands plot is also back in the Test arena. Warner is a mighty batsman, and nobody would question his ability. He comes into the Ashes off a fine World Cup performance, and his wicket will be a prized one within the England ranks. Described in one newspaper verdict of sandpapergate as "the most hated man in cricket", Warner is the man the home crowds would love to see fail, even if privately they would happily have him on their side.

Steve Smith (Australia)

Culled as captain, and banned along with Warner for a year, Smith did nothing to prevent Bancroft and Warner's actions and he will be braced for a barrage of flak during the Ashes. He has the batting chops and the temperament to handle sledging from the stands, however. Smith is the finest middle-order batsman of his generation, a rock of Australia's team and, past mistakes notwithstanding, a de facto leader.

Joe Root (England, captain)

If questions are asked of England's batting line-up, England's skipper usually finds an answer. He may need to provide the glue to bond together several unstable innings over the coming weeks, and there are few more accomplished anchor batsmen in world cricket. His team are the bookmakers' favourites to take the urn, with Root's contribution expected to be pivotal.

Jonny Bairstow (England)

A galvanising force behind England's glorious World Cup campaign, Bairstow has produced worrisome form in the longest format and went for a pair against Ireland. He averages 25.83 in 10 Tests over the past 12 months, dragging down his overall batting average. The Ashes might bring the best out of the Yorkshireman.

Ben Stokes (England)

Stokes will hope to enjoy August 2019 more than August 2018, when he faced the stress of a crown court trial on a charge of affray. Stokes cleared his name and has moved on, reinstated for the Ashes as England's vice-captain and hailed a national hero after his World Cup exploits. Many have crumbled in the face of comparisons to Ian Botham but Stokes thrives on the all-rounder role and could far surpass Beefy's achievements before his career is out. A man who seems made for an Ashes series.

Jos Buttler (England, wicketkeeper)

Tim Paine captains Australia, as well as keeping wicket, because in both senses he is considered a safe pair of hands. But Buttler gets the stumps role here, his explosive batting a tremendous complement to his skill with the gloves. Buttler has come on as a Test cricketer in the last year, as well as being a key component of the white-ball team that many expect him to captain before long. He gives back the Test vice-captaincy to Stokes for this series, but is unlikely to mind.

Pat Cummins (Australia)

Rated by the ICC as the world's number one bowler, Cummins has taken wickets at a prolific rate over the past couple of years. He would earn his place on that basis alone, but Cummins can bat too and made three scores in the forties in the last Ashes series. Years of injury woe are behind him, with the tall paceman capable of wreaking havoc in this series.

Jofra Archer (England)

Here's the wild card. Archer is launching his Test career in the Ashes but has already demonstrated he is a swimmer when tossed in at the deep end. The Barbados-born fast bowler enjoyed a terrific World Cup, defying a painful side strain to emerge as a star of the tournament. The 24-year-old looks like the man England have been waiting for, as the established Anderson-Broad axis enters its twilight days. He should thrive, and play in many of these series.

Nathan Lyon (Australia)

England have worries in the spin department when it comes to Tests, with neither Moeen Ali nor Adil Rashid establishing themselves as reliable wicket-taking slow bowlers at this level. Lyon's average is comfortably better than both England men, and with 86 Tests behind him the one-time Adelaide Oval groundsman has come a long way in the game. He has pouched 343 Test wickets and, regardless of conditions that should favour the seamers, will fancy taking more victims on this tour. A shoo-in for an Ashes dream team.

James Anderson (England)

This will be an Ashes farewell, surely, for Anderson. Few would doubt his capacity to go out in style, with the 37-year-old bidding to add to 575 Test wickets, 104 of which have accounted for Australians. He has succeeded McGrath as the preeminent paceman in the ongoing story of the Ashes, with few seamers capable of matching the craft of the man from Burnley. A late-summer Ashes, after the British heatwave, with plenty of cloud cover likely, could have been designed for Anderson.

Old habits die hard, as Team INEOS – formerly Team Sky – look set to claim their seventh Tour de France win in eight years, and the first since a change of name.

Colombia's Egan Bernal is the leading man on this occasion, with the 22-year-old capitalising on poor conditions and a shortened final competitive stage to make history.

He joins Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas – who put his arm around Bernal as they crossed the line together on Saturday – in clinching the Tour under the Sky/INEOS banners.

Bernal is also set to become the first Colombian to win the Tour and the youngest victorious rider in 110 years, with the traditional parade all that remains on Sunday.

We look back on the team's domination of the race in recent years.

 

2012 – Wiggins makes history

After a promising start by Fabian Cancellara in the first week in 2012, Wiggins took over on stage seven and never looked back. He became the first Briton to win the Tour, while his team-mate Froome came second in the general classification.

2013 – Froome takes the lead

With Wiggins missing out due to a knee injury, Froome took charge in 2013. He took the yellow jersey on stage eight and did not relinquish his lead, with his impressive performances in individual time trials and the mountains standing him in good stead.

2015 – Froome back on top

Astana's Vincenzo Nibali was victorious in 2014, but Team Sky resumed their dominance a year later. Tony Martin led the fight against Froome before a crash on stage six forced his withdrawal, with the Kenya-born rider managing to hold off Nairo Quintana towards the end.

2016 – Va va Froome

Strong form in the mountains again proved vital for Froome, who claimed the yellow jersey in stage eight and surged to glory. Quintana was unable to offer the same kind of threat this time around, as Froome further extended his advantage in the final stages.

2017 – Three in a row

Fabio Aru appeared best placed to test Froome's dominance two years ago, as the Italian took the yellow jersey from him after stage 12 – the Team Sky ace disappointing on the steep finish up to Peyragudes. But in the 14th he retook the lead and held on to make it three wins on the trot.

2018 – Chris-crash gives Thomas his moment

Having won the 2018 Giro d'Italia to complete the Triple Crown just a few weeks earlier, Froome went into the Tour among the favourites. However, crashes on stages one and nine accentuated some rusty performances elsewhere, leading to Froome focusing on aiding team-mate Thomas, who succeeded in beating Tom Dumoulin to the top step of the podium.

2019 – New era, same habits

The name on the jerseys might have been slightly different, but the outcome was the same, as Team INEOS picked up where Team Sky left off. Bernal took the yellow jersey from Julian Alaphilippe in the penultimate competitive stage in bizarre circumstances, as it was cut short in the Alps due to a hail storm and mudslides. The Frenchman cracked 13 kilometres from the finish on Saturday, allowing Bernal to get the job done.

Gareth Bale's long goodbye to Real Madrid is edging closer after head coach Zinedine Zidane confirmed the club is actively working to sell the Wales international.

A move to either Paris Saint-Germain or the Chinese Super League looks most likely for a player who cut a frustrated figure for the majority of the 2018-19 season.

Bale is poised to be forced out at the behest of Zidane and there are a host of significant players across Europe who have yet to negotiate an exit despite expressing a desire to move on.

Here, we look at the players who are stuck in limbo with the start of the 2019-20 season just weeks away.

 

Neymar

Neymar has not publicly stated he wants to leave the Ligue 1 champions but the club's sporting director, Leonardo, has said he can move on if the price is right.

The Brazilian superstar has yet to feature for PSG so far during pre-season and was again absent as Thomas Tuchel's side laboured to a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg on Saturday.

A possible swap deal involving Bale could be a possibility, although a move back to his former club Barcelona looks more likely. Will the Catalan giants stump up the money, though, and end the impasse?

Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku joined United from Everton in a £75million deal in 2017, scoring 28 goals in 66 Premier League games since then, but his performances have been much maligned.

He fell out of favour towards the end of last season and has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shakes up his United squad ahead of the new campaign.

The two clubs appear to be some way apart in their valuation of the Belgium international – who has yet to feature in pre-season – and, for now, he remains a United player.

Philippe Coutinho

Things have not gone according to plan at Barcelona for Coutinho following his January 2018 move from Liverpool, with the Brazilian admitting last month he does not know what his future holds.

Coutinho only managed five LaLiga goals in 34 appearances as Barca retained their crown in 2018-19, with 12 of his league outings coming from the bench.

With Antoine Griezmann now on board at Camp Nou, Coutinho's playing time is likely to be reduced even further and a move might suit both parties.

Paul Pogba

The French World Cup winner hinted at being unsettled at Manchester United last month, telling reporters he was interested in a new challenge three years after returning to Old Trafford from Juventus.

His agent, Mino Raiola, doubled down on that recently, telling The Times: "Everyone within the club, from the manager to the owner, knows Paul's wishes."

A move back to Juve has been mooted for the 26-year-old, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are also rumoured to be interested in the playmaker. United are standing firm, though, and it is looking increasingly likely that he will spend at least another season in the Premier League.

Mauro Icardi

Icardi endured a controversial 2018-19 campaign with Inter, the Argentina international stripped of the captaincy amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury and internal disagreements with the club's hierarchy.

The club's chief executive, Giuseppe Marotta, recently told the striker he was no longer wanted and both parties mutually agreed he would withdraw from their pre-season tour of Asia.

That has not hastened his departure from the club, though, with potential suitors perhaps wary of signing a player who will bring plenty of baggage.

Christian Eriksen 

The Denmark international stunned Tottenham supporters last month when he declared he wanted to "try something new".

Eriksen arrived from Eredivisie giants Ajax in 2013 and the 27-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League and Europe's best midfielders.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have been linked with the playmaker but no firm offers appear to have been tabled yet.

The closing stages of England's remarkable Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand provided drama by the bucketload, with the hosts eventually prevailing following a Super Over at Lord's.

After New Zealand had posted 241-8, the final overs of England's chase could hardly have been more thrilling, and it turned out that was just the start.

We look back on how the drama unfolded as an astonishing final was won by the narrowest of margins, England prevailing due to the fact they scored more boundaries than the Black Caps.

 

STOKES SURVIVES MAJOR SCARE

Ben Stokes underpinned England's pursuit of 242, but the hosts were in big trouble after Jos Buttler's dismissal for 59 ended a fifth-wicket stand of 110.

When Liam Plunkett holed out to long-off in the 49th over, England needed 22 runs off nine deliveries.

Stokes then picked out Trent Boult on the long-on boundary from Jimmy Neesham's next ball, but the fielder could not avoid stepping over the rope while he still had the ball in his hands, meaning a crucial six runs were added to the home total.

 

IF YOU THOUGHT THAT SIX WAS UNUSUAL

A target of 15 from the final over became much tougher when Stokes failed to score from successive Boult deliveries.

England's key man thumped a maximum over midwicket to keep the chase alive, but no one could have possibly imagined what was to happen next.

As he came back for a tight second run to midwicket, Stokes dived and inadvertently deflected the ball - thrown in by Martin Guptill - to the boundary. The end result was one of the most unusual sixes you are ever likely to see and suddenly England needed just three from two deliveries.

 

NO WINNER AFTER 100 OVERS

To his credit, Boult responded superbly, and a fine yorker limited Stokes to a single from the penultimate delivery, with Adil Rashid run out at the non-striker's end as he chased a second that was never there to keep his partner on strike.

Stokes then played the final ball somewhat cautiously and could again only manage one, with Mark Wood also run out to ensure a Super Over was needed to split the teams.

 

YET MORE MOMENTUM SWINGS IN ONE-OVER SHOOTOUT

After such a gripping contest, it was no surprise to see even more twists and turns in the eliminator.

Stokes and Buttler were chosen to lead the England charge and both batsmen hit boundaries off Trent Boult to help Eoin Morgan's men to a healthy total of 15.

That score looked set to be surpassed when Jofra Archer started with a wide and was then taken for 12 in four balls - including a monstrous six over midwicket - by Neesham.

Yet the next delivery brought only a single, putting Martin Guptill on strike for the deciding ball with New Zealand needing two.

 

ARCHER AND ROY COMBINE TO SEAL GLORY

In arguably the most dramatic scenes Lord's has ever played host to, Guptill swiped Archer's final ball towards the deep midwicket boundary, where Jason Roy was lurking.

Roy had been guilty of a fumble earlier in the over, but on this occasion, he was not found wanting.

An accurate throw from the deep enabled wicketkeeper Buttler to break the stumps with Guptill well short of his ground and England duly celebrated an incredible victory by virtue of their superior boundary count, with the scores tied once again.

 

The greatest tennis player of all time squandered two championship points. Match point had to be replayed after a line-call blunder.

And Wimbledon had its equivalent of a Super Over when the final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic went down to a deciding set tie-break at 12-12 for the first time.

Was there some sort of competition between London's great sporting spectacles on Sunday? A bet on which could end in the highest drama? Sneaky attention seekers, both of them. Let's call it a draw, because just sometimes there doesn't need to be a winner.

England's Cricket World Cup triumph barely registered at Wimbledon, just as this match would have been an afterthought at Lord's. Keeping tabs on both would have blown the mind.

Djokovic certainly hit Federer for six with his triumph on Centre Court, coming back from the brink of defeat to beat the Swiss for a third time in the men's title match.

After 2014, 2015 and now 2019, no wonder Federer said he wanted to "forget" all about the latest loss. Fat chance of that. Classics like this live long in the memory.

The record books that Federer has rewritten over the last 20 years may soon be due a redraft, with Djokovic fast closing both on the man from Basel and Rafael Nadal in the grand slam stakes.

His 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) success was remarkable in many ways, not least because he trailed 8-7 and 40-15 in the deciding set, with Federer having the match on his racket as he served for a ninth title in SW19 and 21st slam overall.

Djokovic may one day consider the passing shot to save the second of those championship points as the most important of his career.

He becomes the first man over 30 in the Open era to successfully defend this title and has won four of the last five slams, missing out only at the French Open last month, where he fell in the semi-finals.

The 32-year-old Serbian's tally stands at 16 slams, with Nadal's 18 and Federer's 20 under threat. At Wimbledon he has matched Bjorn Borg's five. Federer's eight may still be reachable.

This astonishing match finished in bizarre circumstances, with the last point having to be played twice after a faulty line ruling.

At the second time of asking, Federer clattered the ball off his racket frame, high, ugly and way out of court.

Four hours and 57 minutes it lasted, the longest men's Wimbledon final ever. Federer, at 37, still has the hunger and plenty of game, but it is hard to imagine him having a better chance of a ninth crown.

He was first nagged about his age as he inched towards his late twenties, peppered with questions about how long he might have left at the top.

In January 2009, the 27-year-old Federer was asked at an Australian Open press conference if he needed to win a couple more grand slams before there would be "a whole lot of Gulbises and Cilices and Del Potros breathing down your neck".

Bless Ernests Gulbis, for he is an outlier in this story.

Federer's longevity is a modern wonder of the world. A poll from Swiss broadcaster SRF showed 86 per cent expected another Federer victory in London, with Wimbledon's own Twitter survey revealing 70 per cent fancied the same outcome.

Swiss newspaper Blick said Djokovic would need to "shift up a gear" to be competitive, as John McEnroe delivered the same verdict but about Federer.

This was their 48th match. Djokovic has now won 10 of their 16 grand slam meetings.

Conventional wisdom dictated that Federer would struggle if he dropped the opening set, but there has been little about his career that has adhered to convention. Pete Sampras' 14 grand slams were widely reckoned to be an insurmountable stack before Federer, Nadal and then Djokovic all overtook the American.

It was "conventional wisdom" that was cited at the 2008 US Open when a reporter, after Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets to take the title, pointed out how some had portayed the Swiss as a declining force.

Back on Centre Court, over a decade on, Federer the revisionist duly banished tie-break frustration and sauntered through the second set against Djokovic.

Where would this match pivot? They had split the first two sets of each of their three previous Wimbledon matches, when Federer won in the 2012 semi-finals and Djokovic the 2014 and 2015 finals.

The man who captured the third set in each of those matches wound up prevailing. When the third went to a tie-break this time, Djokovic punched the air at 5-1, an action of hostility he had the chops to back up.

Centre Court has become a Church of Federer to which his disciples - celebrity, royalty, and civilian - flock with unflinching faith. Prince William was watching on. Movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston were at courtside too, along with Federer favourites Stefan Edberg and Rod Laver.

Into the fifth set they went after Federer hit back again, his wife Mirka on her feet, whispering a wish to the gods.

John Bercow, the speaker of the United Kingdom's House of Commons, was toadying up his role of chief Federer fan boy.

Before the match began, Nick Kyrgios tweeted: "Federer please win", a snippy reminder of the Australian's disdain of Djokovic.

Djokovic would never court the affection of Kyrgios, nor give a Castlemaine XXXX for his opinion, and the man from Belgrade feels worthy of greater admiration from the Wimbledon crowds.

They rose to acclaim his success, which perversely might not help him in the popularity stakes.

At Wimbledon, they hold a unique place for Federer, this greatest of men's champions.

It is high time they showed a similar deference to Djokovic.

Atletico Madrid may be unhappy with the deal, but at long last Antoine Griezmann is a Barcelona player.

Griezmann looked set to join the Catalans last year only to announce in a televised documentary he was staying at Atletico.

But that was only part of a transfer saga that looks set to rumble on after Atletico complained Barcelona should have paid €200million for the France forward, rather than €120m.

We look back at the long road Griezmann has travelled in order to finally join Barcelona on a five-year deal.

June 2017 – linked with Manchester United

Griezmann hit 16 LaLiga goals in the 2016-17 season and was subsequently linked with joining Premier League giants Manchester United. But after United's interest in the forward reportedly cooled and Atletico had a transfer ban upheld, Griezmann suggested he had decided to stay. At the time, €100m would have been enough to trigger the release clause in Griezmann's contract.

November 2017 – rumours pick up pace

Despite a slow start to the 2017-18 season, Griezmann continued to be linked with a move away from Atletico. Diego Simeone defended his lack of form with United, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona all said to be circling.

 

December 2017 – Atletico report Barca to FIFA

Soon after, it became clear Barca were at the front of the queue for Griezmann, but Atletico were already taking issue with the Catalans' transfer tactics. It came to a head when Atletico reported Barca for an alleged illegal approach. Barca's director of institutional and sporting relations Guillermo Amor had previously suggested the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu may have met Griezmann to discuss a move.

January 2018 – Barca deny deal agreed

A report in Sport claimed Barca had agreed a deal to sign Griezmann at the end of the 2017-18 season. But Barca hit back, fiercely rubbishing the reports in a statement that read: "Barcelona strongly denies the information that has appeared over the course of the last few hours in different media regarding Atletico Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann, and an alleged deal with our club."

 

March 2018 – Simeone ignoring speculation

Only a few weeks later, there were widespread reports saying Griezmann had agreed a deal with Barca, but Atleti boss Simeone rejected the rumours. "I have to talk about realities," Simeone told reporters. "Today he is with us, he plays fantastically well and there is very good togetherness with the fans."

June 2018 – La Decision

After Griezmann's goals earned Atletico Madrid the Europa League title, downing Marseille in the final, speculation over his future reached fever pitch. He seemed certain to leave for Barcelona, but in a documentary made by Gerard Pique's Kosmos production company, he announced he would instead stay. Griezmann then signed a new contract with an improved release clause of €200m.

 

Early 2019 – Rumours build, La Decision II?

Griezmann fired France to World Cup glory after La Decision, but rumours he was going to leave Atletico simply would not go away. And, as the end of the season neared, it was reported Griezmann had another documentary planned in which he would mull over his future once again.

May 2019 – Griezmann goes public

In a video posted to social media, Griezmann confirmed his intention to leave Atletico, with production values in the hastily published clip a far cry from the previous year's La Decision. In his final appearance for Atletico, he was subsequently booed by unhappy supporters.

July 5 – Atletico release scathing statement

After a strangely quiet few weeks, Atletico accused Barca of prompting Griezmann to break his contract. Atletico claim they learned the forward and Barca had put an agreement in place as long ago as March, when his release clause was still €200m, while the club said they had been negotiating since mid-February. Griezmann's release clause dropped to €120m on July 1.

July 7 – Griezmann misses training

The transfer rapidly gathered pace as Griezmann failed to report for the first day of pre-season training with Atletico, who opened disciplinary proceedings against the player as a result.

 

July 12 – Deal finally confirmed

Five days later, Griezmann is a Barcelona player after the club deposited his release clause. He put pen to paper on a five-year deal to end his stay at Atletico. But the Rojiblancos immediately released a statement announcing the club are challenging the transfer. Because Atletico claim Griezmann and Barcelona had a deal agreed before his release clause was reduced, they demand €200m – €80m more than Barca paid. The saga is not over yet.

When Paris Saint-Germain made their world-record €222million move for Neymar in 2017, Barcelona were caught off-guard as the Ligue 1 giants paid the forward's release clause and left the Catalans powerless.

Barca could only sit and watch as the Brazilian made his exit, stepping from the shadow of Lionel Messi in the hope of usurping his former team-mate and Cristiano Ronaldo in the battle for the Ballon d'Or.

While things haven't exactly gone to plan for Neymar in Paris, Barca certainly appear to have learned from their mistake with respect to release clauses and the opportunity they present clubs willing to spend big.

Friday's announcement of Antoine Griezmann's arrival also brought confirmation of the club inserting a whopping €800m release clause in the Frenchman's contract.

Every player in Spanish football must have such a clause in their contract and, while they do not always come into play in a transfer, they can give clubs an automatic position of strength - or weakness.

Here, we examine the biggest release clauses in football and, although transfer fees continue to inflate, it will probably be a while before we see any of these figures matched...

 

€1billion - Karim Benzema

Perhaps surprisingly, no player has a bigger release clause than Benzema. Real Madrid would be able to demand up to £1bn if another club wished to attain the Frenchman's services.

Despite enjoying a solid 2018-19 season in which he scored 21 LaLiga goals, Madrid shouldn't be worried about another team triggering that monumental figure, given for a comparable figure you could buy almost any club on Earth.

 

€800million - Antoine Griezmann

It has been a deal nearly two years in the making, but Griezmann is finally a Barca player.

It's been a chaotic saga, which included Atletico reporting Barca to FIFA in 2017, a narcissistic and contrived documentary that saw the Frenchman commit to Los Colchoneros last year and finally the two clubs squabbling about release clauses.

Atletico are convinced Barca and Griezmann struck a deal in March when the player's buyout figure was €200m, meaning they feel entitled to that fee rather than the €120m deposited at LaLiga headquarters on Friday.

Regardless of the outcome of that wrangle, Griezmann's Barca release clause stands at €800m, even more than Messi's.

 

€750million - Luka Modric and Brahim Diaz

The reigning Ballon d'Or winner, Modric is the joint-second most valuable player in Madrid's squad - in terms of contractual release fees.

But curiously, the player he is tied with is Brahim, the January arrival from Manchester City. The young Spaniard featured only a handful of times in the second half of the season and there have been reports he could leave the club already.

It's fair to say it will not take €750m to lure the youngster away.

 

€700million - Lionel Messi, Vinicius Junior, Isco and Marco Asensio

When Messi entered the final year of his Barca contract in July 2017, the club remained publicly very calm about the prospect of him leaving on a Bosman deal at the end of the 2017-18 season.

Perhaps it was never really in doubt, as they did eventually tie him down in November 2017, but in the months afterwards there were murmurings that Real Madrid had been keeping tabs on the situation.

But Barca managed to insert a €700m release clause into Messi's deal. It might not be on the same level as Benzema's, but it should be enough to deter bidders, while the same can be said of three of Madrid's brightest young stars Isco, Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior, who have identical figures in their contracts.

 

€500million - Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Dani Ceballos

In the two years since Neymar left for PSG, Barca have tied Pique, Sergi Roberto and Busquets all down to new contracts with massive €500m release clauses.

But three Real Madrid players already had clauses for the same amount in their contracts, highlighting that Los Blancos have been rather more prepared than Barca for the situation that arose with Neymar's departure.

Bale - once the world's most expensive player - is among them, with Kroos and Ceballos also boasting hefty buyout clauses at half a billion Euros.

 

€400million - Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Arthur and Frenkie de Jong

Dembele and Coutinho are living proof of Barca's determination not to get caught off-guard ever again like they did with Neymar.

Signed for €105m and €160m, respectively, the pair are two of Barca's three most expensive purchases ever.

Granted, €400m is the smallest in this list, but Barca can feel safe in the knowledge that - at least for the time being - they are fairly well protected from unwanted advances.

However, neither has truly set LaLiga alight since joining the club, so Barca would be unlikely to demand the full release clause of either player at this point.

It remains to be seen how De Jong settles at the club, but Arthur has been a big hit in his one season.

After what feels like years of flirting and transfer speculation, Antoine Griezmann is finally a Barcelona player and it is a move that could ruffle a few feathers at Camp Nou.

Griezmann's arrival comes 13 months after the France star committed his future to Atletico in a documentary, rebuffing Barca and signing a new five-year contract at the time.

But, with Atletico's season fading away in May, Griezmann and the Madrid club published a video to Twitter in which the forward confirmed his desire to leave.

Barca's failure in the Champions League and Copa del Rey was proof of a need for Ernesto Valverde's squad to be improved and there can be little doubt his arrival achieves that.

However, there are reasons for trepidation for several of Griezmann's new team-mates, as we have examined…

 

Philippe Coutinho

Despite a promising start, it is fair to say Coutinho's time at Camp Nou has not gone to plan since joining from Liverpool for a reported €160m in January 2018. The Brazil international has failed to nail down a regular spot in midfield or attack, starting only 22 league games in 2018-19, often filling in either role with minimal success to make him a frequent target for jeers. If Barca see Coutinho as more of a forward, there may not be space for him with Griezmann's arrival, with first-team opportunities likely to be even trickier to come by. Linked with a move, the former Liverpool star would not be short of suitors, particularly in England.

Ousmane Dembele

Like Coutinho, Dembele was brought in as part of the post-Neymar splurge. While the winger is undoubtedly talented and has shown flashes of his potential, his Barca career has been interrupted by injuries and reports of immaturity. Few can argue Griezmann is not a model professional, even if his behaviour over the past year or so has angered Atleti and his new employers. Perhaps, as an international team-mate and fellow World Cup-winner, Griezmann might just be the influence Dembele, whose move could eventually be worth €145m, needs to find his best.

Luis Suarez

In the opening months of last season Suarez showed signs of decline, as he endured a couple of uncharacteristic droughts. Thankfully for Barca he recovered and has managed to score 21 goals in LaLiga, though his form in the Champions League remains a concern, the Uruguayan netting just five times in his past 29 games in the competition.

While there is no suggestion Griezmann is set to replace Suarez, the fact the Frenchman could fill in for him and allow him more rest can only be a good thing, particularly with the former Ajax star now 32 years old. However, for the two to co-exist, they may need to bury the hatchet, with Suarez unimpressed by Griezmann's efforts to show respect to Uruguay - a country he professes to love - after his goal against them for France at the World Cup.

 

Lionel Messi

The main man, the superstar and the one who makes everything tick. None of that will change if Griezmann arrives. Messi was inspirational again last season, scoring 36 times in 34 LaLiga games. He was used a little more sparingly and Griezmann's potential arrival could allow him more rest, but the Argentine's status as top dog will certainly remain either way. Nevertheless, another superstar forward might just alleviate some of the goal-scoring burden.

Malcom

A transfer that promised much has yielded little. Brazilian winger Malcom is almost certain to leave Barca over the next month or so, and his departure will surely be hastened now a deal for Griezmann has been struck. A gifted player that Barca pipped Roma to at the last minute in July 2018, it has been pretty clear from the outset that he does not have Valverde's faith. Links with Sevilla soon vanished after Monchi - the scorned sporting director of the Giallorossi last year - returned to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, though he will likely have plenty of options should the Catalan decide to offload him.

Frank Lampard has completed his remarkable journey from Chelsea player to head coach after being named as Maurizio Sarri's successor.

The 41-year-old spent the vast majority of his playing career at Stamford Bridge and will go down in history among the club's greatest players.

Following spells with Manchester City and New York City after leaving the Blues in 2014, Lampard made the move into coaching last year and impressed during his one and only campaign with Championship side Derby County.

He guided a youthful Derby to the play-off final, where they suffered a 2-1 loss to Aston Villa, but that has not put Chelsea off making a move for the former England international.

As Lampard prepares for a new chapter, we look at why he is so highly respected at the club where he spent 13 years of his career, as well as dissecting his managerial record to date.

LEGENDARY STATUS AT CHELSEA

11 - Lampard won 11 major honours as a Chelsea player, including three Premier League titles and two European trophies.

3 - Only three players have made more appearances for the Blues in the club’s history than Lampard, who appeared 648 times between August 2001 and May 2014. They are John Terry (717), Peter Bonetti (729) and Ron Harris (795).

211 - The Englishman holds the record for scoring the most goals for Chelsea in the club’s history, finding the back of the net 211 times. He has also scored the most Premier League goals for the club (147) and provided the most assists (90).


PREMIER LEAGUE GREAT

4 - Only four players have scored more goals for a single club in the Premier League than Lampard’s tally of 147 goals for Chelsea - Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Alan Shearer (Newcastle United).

39 - During his Premier League career, Lampard holds the record for scoring against the most different teams in the competition (39) and scoring the most goals from outside the box (41), as well as being the highest-scoring midfielder in the competition’s history (177 goals).

44 - In his time in the Premier League with West Ham, Chelsea and Manchester City, Lampard registered at least one victory over all 44 clubs he faced.


YOUNGSTERS GIVEN A CHANCE
 
13,137 -
Derby gave more minutes to players aged 21 and under in the Championship last season than any other club.

20 - Lampard won 20 of his 46 league matches as Derby boss (excluding play-offs), earning 74 points - one fewer than the Rams won in their previous season under Gary Rowett. 

0 - In both the EFL Cup and FA Cup, Lampard faced Premier League opponents on five occasions during 2018-19, winning none of those games (W0 D3 L2). But he progressed on penalties against Manchester United in the EFL Cup and Southampton in the FA Cup after drawing 2-2 away from home in both matches.


AGE NOT A PROBLEM FOR ABRAMOVICH

17 - Lampard is Chelsea’s 17th permanent Premier League manager, but only the third Englishman after Glenn Hoddle and David Webb.

41 - Aged 41 years and 52 days on the opening day against Manchester United, Lampard will become the youngest manager to take charge of Chelsea since Andre Villas-Boas in March 2012 (34 years, 138 days vs West Brom).

Joao Felix is Atletico Madrid's new record signing having joined from Benfica for a whopping €126million, meaning the pressure is on for him to succeed and the omens aren't great.

A fine talent in his own right, Joao Felix scored 15 goals and set up another seven in 26 Primeira Liga games last season, while also impressing with his technical ability and creativity.

But at just 19 years of age, it's a huge price tag to live up to and Atletico's record of signing creative players and forwards in recent years has been verging on woeful.

While Antoine Griezmann has proven a huge success, few others since he joined can be considered as such, while the Frenchman is expected to leave.

With Joao Felix brought in as his replacement, we look back on the other players brought to add a bit of craft since Griezmann signed.

2014-15

Alessio Cerci - €15m

Technically gifted and clearly talented, Cerci secured a move to Atletico after scoring 13 Serie A goals and setting up 11 for Torino the previous season. But things started badly in LaLiga, as he was overweight when signing and managed just a smattering of appearances before being loaned out to AC Milan. His career has never really recovered.

Angel Correa - €8m

A heart problem delayed Correa's initial introduction, but he showed real promise once he was fully integrated into the squad. Although clearly a useful squad player, it is not so farfetched to suggest the 24-year-old is yet to live up to those early expectations, as he only scored three times in 36 league games last term. If played a little further forward, he might just thrive.

2015-16

Yannick Carrasco - €25m

An up-and-down first season was followed by a hugely promising second campaign at Atleti for Carrasco. The Belgian scored 10 in LaLiga and his skillset appeared to make him the perfect winger for Simeone's system, which required athleticism, enterprise and proactivity. But he partially regressed in 2017-18 and was subsequently deemed dispensable, joining China's Dalian Yifang.

Luciano Vietto - €20m

Although predominantly an out-and-out striker, Vietto showed himself to be well-rounded during his solitary season at Villarreal, and the fact he had worked with Simeone at Racing Club meant it was surely a fool-proof transfer. However, he scored just once in 25 games, converting three per cent of his shots and was little better in loan spells at Sevilla, Valencia and Fulham, despite starting well at the former. He has since been sold to Sporting CP for about €7.5m.

Jackson Martinez - €37m

Granted, Martinez was not signed to offer any kind of creativity, but he highlights the fact Simeone has also struggled to integrate many strikers. Martinez arrived following three fine seasons at Porto, but he scored just twice before being offloaded to China, where injuries restricted him badly. He spent 2018-19 back in Portugal with Portimonense attempting to rebuild his career, though Guangzhou Evergrande still own him.

 

2016-17

Nico Gaitan - €25m

Hailed as a fine addition due to his ability to play on either flank, Gaitan joined Atletico with a big reputation. While he was by no means a humiliating failure, he made very little impact on the first-team, making just 12 LaLiga starts in about 18 months. Another who was sold to the Chinese Super League, he is now in MLS with Chicago Fire.

Kevin Gameiro - €32m

A classic Monchi signing at Sevilla, Gameiro impressed as a partner to Carlos Bacca and as a lone frontman. However, at Atletico Simeone often deployed the Frenchman as more of a winger and that impacted on his effectiveness in front of goal, scoring 27 in 82 games. His conversion rate (24.1 per cent) is the second best of Atletico players with a minimum of five goals under Simeone, however, suggesting he might have netted more if played through the middle regularly.

2017-18

Vitolo - €36m

Another signed from Sevilla, the purchase of Vitolo was a massive ordeal given the legal dispute it spawned, with his former club adamant he had verbally agreed to a new contract including a bigger release clause. As it happened, Atletico probably wish they hadn't bothered. He has scored four goals and set up another five in 51 games, starting only 20. He is tipped to leave this year.

2018-19

Gelson Martins - €22m

Gelson joined having rescinded his Sporting contract after incidents of violence with the club's fans, though Atletico did eventually have to cough up some money. He made one LaLiga start before being loaned to Monaco in January, where he will remain on a permanent basis. He attempted more dribbles (28) than the number of shots (11) and chances created (six) combined.

Thomas Lemar - €70m

A star of the Monaco side that won the 2016-17 Ligue 1 campaign and reached the Champions League semi-finals the same season, Lemar was seen a big coup for Atletico. Three goals and as many assists was all he had to show for his debut LaLiga season, however, a poor amount given his fee. Used to being deployed in a freer role, he still seems to be adapting to life with Simeone.

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