Netherlands head coach Frank de Boer is relieved Memphis Depay's free transfer to Barcelona has gone through, because it removes a major distraction.

Barca confirmed on Saturday that the 27-year-old has agreed a two-year deal at Camp Nou that will officially go through when his Lyon contract expires at the end of this month.

Depay's future had been a hot topic of discussion ahead of the Netherlands' first two Euro 2020 matches – a 3-2 victory over Ukraine and a 2-0 win against Austria.

De Boer now wants Depay to do his talking on the pitch and is hopeful the forward can become an even better player after joining the Catalan giants.

"We are all looking for an improvement from him," De Boer said at a news conference on Sunday, previewing his side's final Group C clash with North Macedonia.

"It is a relief over the transfer to Barcelona, and maybe it can give him something extra to perform at the highest level.

"We need Memphis performing at his best level to reach as far as we can in this tournament. We are full of confidence and he is too.

"He knows what he wants, that's the reason why he's a special player for us."

Depay enjoyed an impressive final season in Ligue 1 with 20 goals, trailing only Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe (27).

The former Manchester United attacker's 12 assists and 94 chances created, meanwhile, were more than any other player managed in France's top flight.

He scored a penalty for the Netherlands in their win over Austria to make it eight goals since De Boer took charge last September – ahead of Sunday's Euros games, only Belgium's Romelu Lukaku had scored more across all competitions for a European nation over this period (10).

And while Depay has not been at his best in Oranje's two group games thus far, De Boer has full confidence in the PSV academy product.

"I think Memphis is the first person to criticise his own game, to say he can do better than he's shown so far," De Boer said.

"He's self-confident and knows exactly what he wants. He knows perfectly well if he played well or not, so let's hope for us that he can reach the level we have in mind.

"But still, he's really important for this team. In your eyes he maybe performs a little less than expected, but he won and scored a penalty, created some chances too, so we are confident about him."

The Netherlands are already assured of top spot in Group C ahead of Monday's match with North Macedonia, who are no longer able to reach the last 16 in their first major tournament.

De Boer plans to make changes to his starting line-up but has warned that his side will not take their foot off the gas at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

"North Macedonia want to get their first ever points at a tournament," he said. "They are proud to be here, but we want to win and will be taking it seriously.

"There is no way we will be taking them lightly. They beat Germany 2-1 recently so this will not be an easy game."

The Netherlands have never lost against North Macedonia, winning two and drawing two of their four previous meetings.

Real Madrid are among the most active clubs in the transfer market. 

Carlo Ancelotti could look to his former side for help as he starts his second spell in charge.

So, are an Everton double act on the move to LaLiga? 
 

TOP STORY – ANCELOTTI EYES EVERTON PAIR

Ancelotti has his eye on a pair of players from the club he left as he assembles his team in his return to Real Madrid.

The veteran manager would like to bring Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin to the Bernabeu, according to the Sun. 

The report says he believes £50million would be enough to convince the Toffees to part with the England international. 

Ancelotti is also contemplating a reunion with a man he brought to Goodison Park, with Sport reporting James Rodriguez is a possibility to return to Real Madrid.   

Sevilla's Jules Kounde is also on Ancelotti's list, Marca reports, though the quoted €80m (£69m) asking price will be a concern. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to bid more than £75m to bring Jadon Sancho back to England after Borussia Dortmund rejected an initial £67m offer, the Mail reports.

- United also face competition from Paris Saint-Germain for Atletico Madrid's English full-back Kieran Trippier, says France Football. 

- Manchester City will offer about £100m to lure Harry Kane from Tottenham, the Star reports.

- Barcelona would like to add Andre Silva to their strike force with a €35m offer to Eintracht Frankfurt, ESPN reported. Manchester City and Atletico also are interested in the Portugal international. 

- in the meantime, Miralem Pjanic is set to leave Barca for a return to Serie A, with Juventus the expected landing spot, Corriere dello Sport claims. 

Memphis Depay has been confirmed as a Barcelona player, with the Netherlands forward joining on a free transfer from Lyon.

Depay is on international duty with the Netherlands, with his penalty against Austria on Thursday having helped Frank de Boer's Oranje secure top spot in Euro 2020 Group B with a 2-0 win.

Once the Netherlands' Euros campaign is over, Depay will link up with Barca, who have held a long-standing interest in the former Manchester United attacker.

The 27-year-old, who joined Lyon in 2016-17 after failing to find his feet at Old Trafford, will sign a two-year deal with Barca upon the expiration of his contract with the Ligue 1 club on June 30.

Depay excelled at Lyon and was close to joining Barca – coached by his former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman – for much of the past year, yet he stayed in France.

He enjoyed a fine final season in Ligue 1, scoring 20 times, trailing only Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe (27), while his 12 assists and 94 chances created were the most in France's top flight.

Depay becomes Barcelona's fourth signing of the close season, following on from Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia – both signed on free transfers from Manchester City – and right-back Emerson.

However, Barca missed out on the signing of Depay's Netherlands team-mate Georginio Wijnaldum, who elected to join PSG when his Liverpool contract expires.

Memphis Depay has been confirmed as a Barcelona player, with the Netherlands forward joining on a free transfer from Lyon.

Harry Kane reportedly informed Tottenham of his desire to leave the club in the final week of the 2020-21 season.

The England international has since been linked with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Tottenham are desperate to retain their talisman, let alone allow him to join a rival English club.

 

TOP STORY – KANE OPEN TO CONTINENTAL SWITCH

Harry Kane is willing to move abroad for his next challenge as Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain circle for his signature, according to 90min.

The report claims Kane is unimpressed with Tottenham's search for a new manager to replace Jose Mourinho and the England international has been linked to Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

PSG, who are in the market for a striker having been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland amid doubts over the future of Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe, are led by Kane's ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

 

ROUND-UP

PSG have renewed their efforts to sign United star French midfielder Paul Pogba, reports to Le Parisien. Juventus and Madrid have also been linked.

United, PSG and Sevilla are keen to sign superstar defender Sergio Ramos after he left Real Madrid, claims 90min.

- Diario AS says Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Alexander Isak is attracting interest from Chelsea, joining Arsenal in the race to sign him.

Liverpool are interested in Sassuolo's Italy international winger Domenico Berardi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Corriere dello Sport reports Miralem Pjanic could be headed back to Juventus from Barcelona on a two-year loan, part financed by the Catalans. Inter and Chelsea have also been linked.

European champions Chelsea and French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain have both been in hot pursuit of Achraf Hakimi.

Morocco international Hakimi, 22, helped Inter win the Serie A title.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid full-back is a star on the rise.

 

TOP STORY – HAKIMI AGREES TO CHELSEA MOVE

Chelsea appear to have won the race for Inter defender Hakimi after he "verbally agreed" to join the European champions, according to Calcio in Pillole journalist Ekrem Konur.

Konur claims Inter want £43million (€50m) and full-back Marcos Alonso from Chelsea as part of the deal.

Footmercato reports PSG will table a second bid for Hakimi worth €70m.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have made their move for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane with a £50m (€58m) bid for the French defender, claims the Manchester Evening News. It is alleged Madrid want £80m (€93m) for Varane.

- Roma will turn their attention to Aston Villa's Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz should they fail to sign Arsenal's Granit Xhaka, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Football Insider reports Everton are keen to pursue Wolves defender Conor Coady.

- Wolves are weighing up a move for ex-Chelsea forward Diego Costa , who is a free agent, according to UOL.

Zinedine Zidane described his time working with Sergio Ramos as "a great pleasure and an honour" after the defender's departure from Real Madrid was announced.

Ramos and Zidane won two LaLiga titles, two Supercopa de Espana titles and four Champions Leagues together at Madrid during the Frenchman's two spells as coach.

Madrid announced on Wednesday that Ramos' future had been resolved and that the 35-year-old is to leave the club.

In a tribute to Ramos on Instagram, Zidane, who left Madrid at the end of May, said: "LEGEND.

"It was a great pleasure and honor to have you as a partner and player!

"A great captain for history! Thank you so much for everything."

Sergio Ramos claims he belatedly accepted a contract offer from Real Madrid but then the club withdrew it, resulting in his impending departure.

Madrid confirmed on Wednesday that the club was to host a farewell news conference and ceremony for Ramos the following day, with his future finally resolved.

The 35-year-old's contract was due to expire at the end of June and speculation had long been stirring about what would come next for Ramos, with 2020-21 a difficult one for him due to injuries and illness.

For several weeks there had been rumours suggesting Ramos had decided to leave, with the reports generally claiming Madrid were unwilling to meet his contract demands.

It was said Ramos wanted a two-year deal but Madrid would only offer him a one-year extension – at the same time, it was claimed his former club Sevilla had offered a contract until 2026.

While stories about such an offer from Sevilla have since gone quiet, Ramos has now given his side of the story in public, accusing Madrid of withdrawing their offer.

Speaking in a farewell news conference, Ramos said: "A lot has happened. I never wanted to leave, my first choice was to stay.

"I got offered a contract extension but because of the COVID pandemic we didn't really talk until the last few months.

"I received an offer, one-year contract with a salary cut. The money wasn't an issue, I got offered a one-year deal and I wanted a two-year contract.

"I'm going to insist it was never a financial issue. We had conversations since and I accepted finally the offer and the club informed me that the offer was no longer there."

He continued: "I didn't know the offer had an expiry date. I've signed many over the years. I respect the club decision but I was surprised the offer was no longer on the table as we'd had meetings and chats.

"I don't know why it was no longer there. I wasn't informed. When negotiating you ask for something at the start and you keep negotiating, but I wasn't told the offer had an expiry date."

Speculation regarding his next destination has, understandably, gone into overdrive since his Madrid departure was revealed.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and even Barcelona have been mentioned as potential suitors.

While Ramos revealed little about his plans, a move to Barcelona is out of the question and a return home to Sevilla appears unlikely, perhaps partly down to the animosity between the centre-back and the club's supporters since his departure.

"We've yet to look at other clubs," he continued. "In January I could negotiate with other clubs, we received calls, but I never wanted to leave. I was honest and we'd not looked.

"But now we are going to look for a good club. I enjoyed my time at Sevilla, it's my boyhood club.

"The only thing I would change would have been doing a press conference in Seville before joining this club, which was the best decision of my career.

"But I don't think Sevilla are looking at Sergio Ramos and I don't think I am looking at Sevilla."

As for Barca, he added: "No, I wouldn't sign for Barca. Impossible."

While Ramos' declarations may not go down well with the Madrid hierarchy, he assured that he and president Florentino Perez retain a strong relationship.

"I've a good relationship with Perez, a father-son relationship, and I have to thank him for the opportunity [to play for Madrid]," Ramos said.

"I've had so much fun here in the 16 years. Even in the best of families there are arguments, fallouts.

"The hug we just shared – I'm not bitter, you learn to mature and I stay with the positives. We've enjoyed some amazing years here, but I like to tell the truth, I've always been that way."

Sergio Ramos vowed to return to Real Madrid in some capacity one day during an emotional farewell speech following confirmation of his impending departure.

Madrid announced on Wednesday that the club was to host a farewell news conference and ceremony the following day, with Ramos' future finally resolved.

The 35-year-old's contract was due to expire at the end of June and speculation had long been stirring about what would come next for Ramos, with 2020-21 a difficult one for him due to injuries and illness.

For several weeks there had been rumours suggesting Ramos had decided to leave, with Madrid unwilling to meet his contract demands.

And although the two parties will part ways, a tearful Ramos reflected on a remarkable 16-year spell at the Santiago Bernabeu that has seen him win four Champions League crowns.

"I arrived on the first day with my father and my brother, I was 19, just a child and now I've got an amazing family of my own, a wife and four kids," he said in a speech to club officials and employees.

"I arrived here with my family and I leave with my family, who've always been there for me. Thanks to them for always being with me in the highs and lows, to everyone else for the respect and for sometimes just putting up to me.

"To the president [Florentino Perez], my coaches and team-mates, without you it wouldn't be possible. Also the employees of the club. It's hard not to look at you and swell up with emotion.

"I also want to thank the supporters, unfortunately it's not possible for you to be here. You'll always have a place in my heart.

"I hope the club continues to enjoy success. This has been a unique experience, I won't experience anything similar, but I am looking forward to another chapter in my life.

"I want more titles and I look forward to playing for more years. This is not a goodbye but see you soon, because I'll be back one day."

After 16 years, Sergio Ramos is moving on from Real Madrid.

The 35-year-old is far from finished, though, as his wage demands indicate.

His next club will have to meet high salary expectations. 

 

TOP STORY – BIG CLUBS IN MIX FOR RAMOS

Manchester City has been in contact with Ramos' representatives for some time, AS reported, and the Premier League champions should be able to handle the Spaniard's reported €12million annual salary demands. 

That number figures to limit the number of serious contenders to sign the superstar centre-back, with Manchester United also reportedly in the mix. 

Paris Saint-Germain could also turn to Ramos after failing to find a suitable replacement for Thiago Silva in central defence. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Bernardo Silva's agent has had talks with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid over a move to LaLiga for the Manchester City man, the Daily Mail says. 

- Juventus lead the race to sign Euro 2020 star Manuel Locatelli, Fabrizio Romano reports, with Sassuolo seeking a fee of around €40million (£34m). 

- Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri is Napoli's top target during this transfer window, Gazzetta dello Sport reports, with the Blues seeking a €15m (£13m) fee. 

- Everton face competition from Inter in their pursuit of PSV Eindhoven defender and Netherlands international Denzel Dumfries, according to Voetbal International. 

- Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma will join PSG on a five-year contract, Romano reports, adding that the 22-year-old goalkeeper is expected to undergo his medical Monday in Florence. 

- Brighton have agreed a £25m fee with Stuttgart for forward Nicolas Gonzalez, the Guardian reports, while Sky Sports says the Seagulls rejected Arsenal's £40m bid for England international Ben White

- Arsenal are also in pursuit of Porto winger Jesus Corona along with Sevilla and Fiorentina, according to the Daily Mail. 

Sergio Ramos is leaving Real Madrid, the Spanish giants confirming on Wednesday that the 35-year-old defender will hold a farewell event on Thursday.

Ramos joined Madrid from Sevilla in 2005 and went on to cement his name as a legend at Santiago Bernabeu.

During his 16-year stint with Los Blancos, Ramos has won LaLiga five times and helped Madrid to four Champions League titles.

Diminishing returns last season, mainly due to injury, mean he does not quite go out on a high, but he will nevertheless be considered as one of the club greats.

BRILLIANT IN BOTH BOXES

It is not often that a defender is known for his goalscoring exploits, but Ramos certainly bucks the trend.

Indeed, he is the only defender to score 100 goals while playing in one of Europe's top five European leagues since the turn of the century.

His total of 101 goals is split between Sevilla and Madrid, though he only scored three times for the Andalusian club before his move to the Spanish capital.

In fact, his tally of 98 Madrid goals mean that, since the turn of the century, the only players to outscore Ramos – who also takes a mean penalty – for the club in all competitions are Cristiano Ronaldo (450), Karim Benzema (279), Raul (225), Gonzalo Higuain (119) and Gareth Bale (105).

Ramos first hit double figures for goals in the 2016-17 campaign, scoring 10 times. He improved on that in 2018-19, registering 11, before netting 13 times in his penultimate season with Madrid, albeit seven of those came from the penalty spot.

Defending, of course, still comes first. Ramos played in 206 games in which Madrid kept a clean sheet. It is a figure beaten for the club only by Iker Casillas (243) since the 1998-99 campaign.

A FULL-BLOODED WINNER

There are no half-measures when it comes to Ramos, who tallied up 214 yellow cards in 659 Madrid appearances, seeing red on 25 occasions. Remarkably, four of those dismissals came in his first season at Madrid.

Since making his Sevilla debut, Ramos has 452 wins under his belt, with 430 coming during his time with Los Blancos.

His trophy count speaks for itself, and his mastery of the dark arts – as Liverpool fans will cite from the 2018 Champions League final – is second to none.

A consistently reliable figure in Madrid's team, he played over 40 times in all but two of the last 16 seasons. His lowest total of appearances came last term, when he managed just 21 games, all of which were starts.

He leaves Madrid as the player with the fourth-most LaLiga appearances for the club, with 469, while only Paco Gento (23) has won more than Ramos' haul of 22 trophies.

SPAIN SNUB

Luis Enrique explained Ramos "has not been able to compete since January in the right condition, or even train with group", meaning he could not be included in Spain's squad for Euro 2020, despite the former Barcelona boss picking only 24 players, and that was before a coronavirus outbreak affected their preparation. 

Knee, calf and hamstring complaints limited the World Cup winner's involvement in 2021, but he had also already missed more matches than Madrid would have liked in the first half of the campaign.

Those 21 games and 1,790 minutes are by far the fewest Ramos has played across a season since joining Madrid in 2005, undercutting the previous low marks of 33 and 2,843 in 2015-16.

Had Ramos been able to get on the pitch more often, his performances would surely have seen him included by Luis Enrique, as he was second behind only Diego Llorente (of defenders called up) in terms of interceptions and recoveries in 2020-21.

However, he could not prove his fitness, and his last appearance in a Madrid shirt will ultimately be the disappointing Champions League semi-final defeat to Chelsea last month.

Now, the onus will be on Carlo Ancelotti to restructure Madrid's defence without the presence of a club stalwart.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta remains confident Lionel Messi will sign a new deal at the club and insists persuading him to remain at Camp Nou is a straightforward process.  

The Barca legend is entering the final weeks of his current deal, which expires on June 30, and reports have previously suggested he is close to penning a two-year extension.  

However, negotiations have not been completed just yet, but Laporta indicated he is calm about the situation.    

"He wants to stay," said Laporta, speaking at the presentation of the TV3 documentary about Messi.

"I do not contemplate a no. But it isn't easy. We'll do what we can." 

Should Messi prolong his Barca career it would represent a remarkable end to the last 12 months, which saw the 33-year-old send shockwaves through world football by declaring he wanted to leave before agreeing to stay.  

Laporta said: "There is no need to seduce him. He is determined, if there are a series of circumstances, to stay." 

Messi is currently on international duty with Argentina at the Copa America in Brazil, scoring a free-kick in Monday's 1-1 draw with Chile in their tournament opener.  

And Laporta revealed Sergio Aguero, Barcelona’s new recruit following his Manchester City exit, is doing his bit to ensure his Argentina team-mate commits to Barca.  

Laporta said: "Kun Aguero tells him every day: 'Sign that, we will play together.' 

"In economic terms, he [Messi] has made it very easy, but financial fair play is another battleground." 

Messi finished top scorer in LaLiga last season with 30 goals in 35 appearances and is the club's record scorer.

Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos is set to announce his departure from the club on Thursday.

The LaLiga giants confirmed there would be a farewell tribute to the 35-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the month.

It will bring to an end the defender's 16-year association with Los Blancos.

Ramos was reportedly ready to sign an extension to his contract, but negotiations appear to have fallen through.

The veteran centre-back was thought to be holding out for a two-year deal at the Bernabeu, with Madrid preferring a shorter option.

Ramos made just 15 LaLiga appearances in 2020-21, giving him little opportunity to tempt potential suitors for his signature.

He was left out of the Spain squad for Euro 2020 due to a lack of form and fitness, with hamstring, calf and knee injuries having hampered his season.

Arriving at the Bernabeu from Sevilla in 2005, Ramos was just 19 when he inherited the number four shirt from Fernando Hierro.

He went on to win five LaLiga titles and two Copa del Rey titles during a glittering decade and a half at the club, lifting the Champions League trophy four times ­– including la Decima, the club's historic 10th title.

He also won the Spanish Super Cup four times, three European Super Cups and four FIFA World Club Cup titles.

Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos is set to announce his departure from the club on Thursday.

The LaLiga giants confirmed there would be a farewell tribute to the 35-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the month.

It will bring to an end the defender's 16-year association with Los Blancos.

Andriy Shevchenko has no worries about Ukraine's mentality as they look to end what is a historic European Championship losing streak against North Macedonia on Thursday.

Ukraine will have gained admirers for their spirited performance against Netherlands on Sunday, as they fought back to 2-2 from 2-0 down – before Andriy Yarmolenko's screamer, they had not scored any of their previous 72 shots in the Euros.

Unfortunately for them, they switched off late on and Denzel Dumfries scored the Oranje's winner in a 3-2 victory, but the performance showed Ukraine can cause problems for the traditionally better teams.

But against tournament debutants North Macedonia on Thursday they will have to cope with the pressure of being favourites, a potentially confusing situation for Ukraine given they are just one defeat short of setting a new Euros record for consecutive losses (currently six, level with Yugoslavia).

In fact, those six defeats equate to 86 per cent (6/7) of Ukraine's total Euros matches, which is the worst losing percentage of any nation to play at least five games in the tournament.

But Shevchenko is adamant his players know the gravity of the situation.

"We have complete understanding within the team," he told reporters. "We know the tasks we have ahead of us and additional words aren't necessary. The team is getting ready mentally.

"This is a really important tournament. It's not every year that we get to the group stage of the European Championship, so every player understands the importance of each match and has responsibility for their own game and the game of the team.

"So, we don't need any additional words."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ukraine – Ruslan Malinovskiy

After a stellar season with Atalanta, Malinovskiy came into the Euros with much of Ukraine's creative burden placed on his shoulders. While he was quiet at times against the Netherlands, his three key passes were not bettered by anyone else on the pitch. A good dribbler and generally classy player, North Macedonia would be wise to pay him special attention – though he can still be decisive from set-pieces, as highlighted by his assist for Roman Yaremchuk on Sunday.

 

North Macedonia – Enis Bardhi

While their squad may not be full of instantly recognisable names, in the likes of Goran Pandev, Eljif Elmas and Bardhi, they definitely possess some technical ability. Given they will likely be under pressure again for long periods, the latter's expertise at free-kicks could be particularly dangerous. Since he joined Levante in 2017, only Lionel Messi has scored more goals than Bardhi (six) from such situations.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- North Macedonia's 3-1 defeat to Austria was their first defeat by more than one goal since losing 2-0 to Poland in October 2019. They have not lost consecutive games by two or more goals since a run of three between June and September 2005 (6-1 vs Czech Republic and 3-0 and 5-1 defeats vs Finland).

- All four of Ukraine's goals at the European Championship have been scored in the second half, attempting 37 efforts at goal without success in the first half of matches. They are the only nation to play at least five matches at the Euros and never score in the first half of a game.

- Pandev – who has scored 20 more goals than any other North Macedonian player in history (38) – netted his first international goal on August 21, 2002 against Malta in a friendly, 11 days before Ukrainian centre-half Illia Zabarnyi was born (September 1, 2002).

- Pandev scored his nation's first goal at a major tournament in their first game against Austria. He will become the oldest player to ever score in consecutive matches in the same European Championship tournament – five years older than the current record holder Rui Costa for Portugal at Euro 2004 (32y 87d) – if he nets against Ukraine.

- Only current manager Shevchenko (48) has scored more goals for Ukraine than Yarmolenko (41), with the West Ham winger looking to score in three consecutive matches for his national side for the first time since October 2016.

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