LaLiga president Javier Tebas has stated the breakaway European Super League is "dead", deeming the controversial concept "impossible" after nine of the 12 clubs involved pulled out.

The announcement of the planned competition led to a huge backlash, including from governing bodies, rival clubs, fans, players and media, leading to the majority of the teams that had signed up making a quick U-turn.

UEFA issued fines to Atletico Madrid, Inter, Milan, and the six Premier League clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - but a court ruling meant disciplinary proceedings against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, the three founding members yet to cut ties with the Super League, had to be halted.

A preliminary injunction was granted by a judge in Spain, with the case heading to the European Court of Justice.

Barca president Joan Laporta recently said his own club will not apologise for "wanting to be the owners of our own destiny", while he also insisted the project remains very much alive.

However, speaking on a media call on Wednesday, Tebas made clear Barca are incorrect to make such an assessment, considering the mass exodus.

"I've spoken with Barca executives in recent days. They believe they should keep doing what they're doing and I think they're wrong," Tebas said. 

"The concept of the Super League is impossible. Nine of the twelve clubs have asked to dissolve the company they founded."

He added: "The model they're defending, without the English clubs... I think it's dead.

"Laporta says the courts have said they're in the right, but that's not true, it's one judge in Madrid and an injunction.

"I've tried to convince them that they're wrong and should work along other lines."

Tebas was also asked about Lionel Messi's future, making clear Barca will not be allowed any leeway in terms of LaLiga's salary cap to make sure the superstar remains at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have already been busy in the transfer market as they reshape their squad, adding forward duo Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay on free transfers, as well as centre-back Eric Garcia.

"LaLiga has its rules and Barca know that. They know that they have to lower their salary costs by a lot," said Tebas, who hopes to have stadiums 60 per cent full when the 2021-22 season begins, despite the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Messi is the same as Sergio Aguero or anyone else that they are adding. We will not make any exception for Messi to stay here."

Barcelona have announced that forward Ousmane Dembele will undergo surgery on his injured knee in Finland next Monday.

The 24-year-old sustained the damage after coming on as a substitute in France's 1-1 Euro 2020 draw with Hungary on Saturday, managing just 30 minutes before being replaced by Thomas Lemar. 

France confirmed on Monday that Dembele would play no further part in the tournament, and further tests carried out by Barca on Tuesday revealed a dislocation of the biceps tendon in his right knee.

Providing another update on their official website on Wednesday, a Barcelona statement read: "Ousmane Dembele is to undergo surgery on June 28 in Turku, Finland. 

"Doctor Lasse Lempainen will be performing the operation on the Frenchman's dislocated biceps tendon in his right knee, under the watchful eye of the FC Barcelona medical services."

While no timetable was provided for Dembele's recovery, reports in the Spanish media suggest he could be sidelined for three to four months.

He took to social media on Tuesday to thank well-wishers and vowed to come back stronger from his latest injury lay-off.

"Hi all, as you may have read or heard here and there, it is time for me to leave the France team," he posted on Instagram.

"It's just a goodbye as they say! I will come back even stronger as I always have. The challenges make me grow.

"The weeks we spent training and surpassing ourselves have united us like never before. This group is strong and I know it. We all know each other!

"So I join you and become a supporter of Les Bleus!

"We must follow through on what we have started and, as always, give the best of ourselves. I trust us, I trust them!

"As for me, I will return very soon and thank you for your essential support!"

Dembele's career since his move to Barca from Borussia Dortmund for €105million four years ago has been blighted by injury setbacks.

The 24-year-old has managed just 54 LaLiga starts in four seasons at Camp Nou, while last season he completed 90 minutes in the league on just five occasions.

Barcelona have strengthened their attacking options for the 2021-22 season with the additions of Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, both forwards joining on free transfers.

The Premier League's big-money clubs are circling for Aston Villa's Jack Grealish.

The England midfielder is drawing interest from multiple suitors keen to lure him away from Villa Park.

Could a move be on the cards after the Euros? 

 

TOP STORY – BLUES WANT GREALISH

Chelsea are strong contenders to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, Football Insider reports. 

The England international has also drawn interest from Manchester City, but the Blues' involvement could change the dynamic. 

Football Insider claims owner Roman Abramovich has approved the type of expenditures that would be necessary to land players like Grealish, and winning the Champions League will only loosen the reins on Chelsea's spending. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Kylian Mbappe wants to move on from Paris Saint-Germain, according to RMC Sport, which says the France international will depart on a free transfer when his contract expires next year if he does not move during this window. 

- Lionel Messi's long-anticipated new contract with Barcelona could be announced as soon as Thursday, according to Le 10 Sport. 

- If Man City are to complete a deal to land Harry Kane from Tottenham, they will need to do it without using Raheem Sterling in a swap deal. Sterling has no interested in joining Spurs as part of the reported £100million move for Kane, ESPN said. 

- Sergio Ramos plans to join PSG, AS reports, spurning interest from City and Manchester United

- Chelsea see Villarreal's Gerard Moreno as a fall-back option if they cannot sign Erling Haaland, according to Fichajes. 

- Milan are looking at Rafinha of PSG as a potential addition as Hakan Calhanoglu moves on, Calciomercato reports. 

- England defender James Tarkowski is drawing interest from Wolves and West Ham, the Telegraph reports, while the Mail says Leicester City also are eyeing the Burnley man. 

- Scott Parker is set to depart Fulham and become Bournemouth's new manager, The Athletic reports. 

Ousmane Dembele will need surgery on the knee injury he suffered while on duty with France at Euro 2020.

The Barcelona winger was hurt after coming on as a substitute for Les Bleus in the 1-1 draw with Hungary, managing just 30 minutes on the pitch before being replaced by Thomas Lemar on Saturday.

After undergoing scans, France confirmed on Monday that Dembele would be unable to play any further part in the tournament.

His club have carried out further tests on the issue, revealing a dislocation of the biceps tendon in his right knee. In a statement on Tuesday, Barca announced the player will require surgical treatment.

While no timetable was provided for his recovery, reports in the Spanish media suggest he could be sidelined for three to four months.

Dembele's career since his move to Barca from Borussia Dortmund for €105million four years ago has been blighted by injury setbacks.

The 24-year-old has managed just 54 LaLiga starts in four seasons at Camp Nou, while last season he completed 90 minutes in the league on just five occasions.

Barcelona have strengthened their attacking options for the 2021-22 season with the additions of Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, both forwards joining on free transfers.


Is Harry Kane headed for Manchester?

The England international, busy on Euro 2020 duty, is reportedly unhappy at Tottenham.

A move from London to Manchester could be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – CITY MAKE KANE OFFER

Manchester City have made an official £100million bid to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Kane reportedly wants to leave Tottenham amid links with Premier League champions City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Spurs are reluctant to sell the star Tottenham and England forward.

City are offering up Gabriel Jesus as they look to sign either Kane or Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, claims The Times.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky Sport reports Inter are expecting PSG to make a new bid for star full-back Achraf Hakimi in the next few days. Chelsea and Bayern Munich have also been linked.

United want Villarreal defender Paul Torres in a swap deal, claims the Manchester Evening News. United are keen to bolster their defence and have also been linked with moves for free agent Sergio Ramos, Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Cristian Romero of Atalanta.

- Mundo Deportivo says LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid are interested in Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne. The Italy international is heading into the final year of his contract at Napoli. Barcelona, Milan and Liverpool have been linked previously.

Juventus will open talks with Sassuolo for star midfielder Manuel Locatelli, according to Sky Sport. Locatelli has also been linked with Inter, Madrid and City.

- Marca reports Milan could make a move for Madrid defender Alvaro Odriozola, who is a target should the Rossoneri fail to retain the services of United's Diogo Dalot.

Joan Laporta insists Barcelona will not apologise for "wanting to be the owners of our own destiny" in am impassioned defence of the doomed European Super League.

The contentious project failed to get off the ground after nine of the 12 founding members pulled out amid a furious backlash to competition.

Last month, UEFA issued fines to Atletico Madrid, Inter, Milan, and the six Premier League teams involved but a court ruling meant disciplinary proceedings against Barca, Real Madrid and Juventus – the three teams yet to cut ties with the Super League – had to be halted.

Barca president Laporta remains adamant the Super League will still go ahead in some guise in the future as he issued a note of defiance when addressing the club's general assembly, where he explained a vote on participation in the competition was no longer necessary as the format no longer existed.

"We spoke with the clubs [involved] and said we liked [the proposals], but that we needed them to accept that our members would have to approve entry at the next assembly," Laporta said.

"It was logical to have that vote before June 30. But now, as the format doesn't exist, I won't ask you to vote. But the project is alive, I insist.

"We're still trying to enter into dialogue with UEFA. We won't apologise for trying to organise a competition. We won't say sorry to UEFA for wanting to be the owners of our own destiny. At least not while I am president."

Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham had all signed up as participants from the Premier League.

Laporta suggested the English teams may now be rueing their decision to withdraw.

"The English clubs were the competition's driving force and they got scared under pressure from UEFA," he added.

"I think they regret leaving the Super League now, seeing how UEFA have backtracked on their threats."

Laporta claimed the Super League would have been worth "€700m in addition to variables" for Barca, a sum that would have helped boost the coffers of a club reportedly over €1.2billion in debt.

On Sunday, a vote agreed to accept a loan from Goldman Sachs worth up to €525million, money that Laporta insists will not be used on transfers.

"We're talking about the viability of the club," Laporta said prior to members voting. 

"No one should think that this money will be for signings or other projects. We have to stop the bleeding."

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United has been uncertain for the past 12 months.

But the Red Devils are understood to be eager to hang on to the France international.

Pogba is entering into the final 12 months of his contract with United.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO OFFER POGBA SENSATIONAL DEAL

Manchester United are readying a sensational new contract offer to make Paul Pogba the highest-paid Premier League player, reports The Sun.

Pogba has been linked with a move away from United in recent times, with Juventus rumoured to be interested.

The Red Devils are poised to ward off that interest with a new 104million deal, offering him wages of 400,000 a week for the next five years.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims that new Roma head coach Jose Mourinho wants to bring Sergio Ramos to the club after exiting Real Madrid.

- Paris Saint-Germain have reached out to Real Madrid to discuss a move for Raphael Varane , who has been linked with Manchester United, reports Foot Mercato.

- Barcelona are keen on German full-back Robin Gosens , with the Catalans making contact with his Italian club Atalanta according to Sport1.

- Talksport claims that Borussia Dortmund will stand by their £77 million (€58m) valuation of Jadon Sancho, as Manchester United circle for the English winger.

- Arsenal have made contact with Eintracht Frankfurt to discuss a deal for striker Andre Silva , with a fee of around £34m (€25.5m) according to Express.

- Arsenal are also leading the race to sign Real Betis' Argentina international Guido Rodriguez reports Marca.

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.

Had Euro 2020 actually started on time last year, it's fair to say Pedri wouldn't have been in the Spain squad.

Although he impressed for his country at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, Pedri did not make a LaLiga appearance until September 2020.

Even earning a spot in Barca's first-team squad wasn't a given after he linked up with them from Las Palmas. It was initially expected he would either go on loan to a smaller LaLiga club, or feature for the B team.

But Pedri suitably impressed Ronald Koeman in pre-season and was fast-tracked into the senior side and he went on to play in all but one of their 38 LaLiga games.

The teenager then earned his first call-up to the Spain squad in March, and at that point few would have bet against him playing a leading role for the national team for the next 15 years.

Comparisons with Andres Iniesta have been prevalent ever since he broke into the Las Palmas team as a 16-year-old, such is his effortless ability on the ball, and for both Barca and Spain he is expected to carry out a similar function of bringing the team forward with the ball at his feet.

 

While Spain weren't exactly impressive in their 0-0 draw with Sweden, their inability to find the net despite dominating a worrying sign, Pedri's comfort in such a role on his major tournament debut was at least a reason for encouragement.

Aged 18 years, six months and 18 days, Pedri became Spain's youngest-ever player to feature at a European Championship, breaking a record that had stood for 41 years.

Though there was no hint of nervousness on his part, the midfielder getting on the ball with great regularity as Spain tried to plot a way through Sweden's packed defence.

The only non-defender to better his 113 touches was Koke (128), but in fairness the Atletico Madrid man often dropped into the right-back area to occupy the space vacated by Marcos Llorente, thus almost making him an orthodox full-back in possession.

But what was particularly notable about Pedri's display was his desire to keep hold of the ball.

 

His 60 carries – defined as movements of five metres or more in possession – wasn't bettered by any other player on matchday one.

Similarly, Frenkie de Jong (714m) is the only midfielder to better Pedri's 582.4m in terms of overall carry distance, while the youngster's 14 progressive carries of at least 10m is also second to just his Barca team-mate (15) among midfielders. The Netherlands star has played 180 minutes to his colleague's 90.

To add another layer of context to Pedri's work, Iniesta's 109 carries from four games at Euro 2016 was the seventh-most at the tournament.

Another outing like the Sweden game for Pedri against Poland on Saturday will see him surpass that figure posted by Iniesta. While the Barca great was 32 at the time, he was still very much among the world's best.

Firstly, this all highlights how much confidence Pedri has in himself, but it also shows the trust Luis Enrique and the rest of the squad have in the 18-year-old.

 

One area some may want to see an improvement in is his decisiveness in the final third, as he failed to make a single key pass against Sweden – though it's still perfectly arguable that Spain shouldn't have needed more creativity, given four players set up at least two shooting opportunities, while La Roja's 2.35 expected goals (xG) value shows they were let down by poor finishing rather than a lack of ingenuity.

Either way, Spain are likely to face similar tactics against Poland as they did versus Sweden, with an emphasis on Luis Enrique's side to pick a way through a rigid backline.

Pedri's maturity and positivity on the ball should at least ensure La Roja have the possessional nous to probe and test Poland's resolve at the back.

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."

In a move that football purists, romanticists and aficionados of 1990s Serie A will be excited by, Gianluigi Buffon is returning to Parma after 20 years away.

Buffon came through the club's academy in the early '90s and made 220 appearances for them in all competitions, winning the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana and UEFA Cup during a six-year spell in the first-team.

Juventus made Buffon the world's most-expensive goalkeeper at the time when they paid €52million for him in 2001 and he played 685 times for them across two spells, 20 short of Alessandro Del Piero's club record.

Nevertheless, Buffon's longevity has ensured he is the record holder for the most Serie A appearances (657) and titles (10) in the league's history.

After leaving Juve at the end of the 2020-21 season, it was unclear what would be next for Buffon, but links with Parma began to stir despite their relegation to Serie B.

And on Thursday the club confirmed Buffon is back. While the days of challenging for major honours are long gone for Parma, the goalkeeping great represents a coup and the kind of transfer that tugs at heartstrings.

In honour of Buffon's momentous return, Stats Perform takes a look at other greats who've gone back to their spiritual home to close out their career.

Arjen Robben - Groningen

Arjen Robben's retirement lasted just a single season, as the Netherlands and Bayern Munich great announced last year that he was returning to his boyhood club Groningen for the 2020-21 campaign. Robben, now 37, initially brought an illustrious playing career to an end in July 2019 shortly after his 10-year spell with Bayern finished. Although at the time he was linked with a potential return to the team that gave him his professional debut, Robben – who suffered with numerous injury problems throughout his career – opted to retire. He then caused something of a shock as he finally went back to the place where it all began, but once again injuries blighted his season, restricting him to just seven Eredivisie appearances. It's unclear if he'll play on into 2021-22, though either way it's safe to assume Groningen will be where he retires once and for all.

Juan Roman Riquelme - Argentinos Juniors

Perhaps more synonymous with Boca Juniors, where he made his professional debut and also spent most of his final years, Riquelme also had a strong affinity with Argentinos Juniors. He came through the club's academy in the early-to-mid 1990s, before then finishing his immense career at Estadio Diego Maradona in 2014, having also played for Barcelona, Villarreal and Argentina. Although the iconic attacking midfielder appeared close to joining Paraguay's Cerro Porteno the following year, the move never materialised.

Dirk Kuyt - Quick Boys

Kuyt briefly came out of retirement three years ago to help Quick Boys, with whom he spent 13 years as a youth. Playing in the Derde Divisie Saturday league, Kuyt was already working as assistant at the time, but made himself available for selection during a striker shortage and he made three appearances. The former Netherlands and Liverpool forward had retired the year before following a second spell with Feyenoord, where he had made his initial breakthrough in the mid-2000s, his form at the time earning a move to Anfield.

Rafael Marquez - Atlas

One of Mexico's greatest players, Marquez's longevity at such a high level was nothing short of incredible, as he accumulated 147 international caps. After breaking into the Atlas team as a teenager having come through their academy, the elegant centre-back enjoyed a sparkling career in Europe, winning 14 titles across spells with Monaco and Barcelona. Time with New York Red Bulls, Leon and Hellas Verona followed, before a final two-year stint back at the Jalisco ended in 2018. Although plagued by off-field allegations towards the end of his career, Marquez went on to become the club's sporting president, before standing down last in 2019 to focus on other areas of the sport. He is expected to be taking up a youth coaching role at Barca next season.

Juan Pablo Angel - Atletico Nacional

Angel perhaps never quite lived up to the expectations he set during his early days as part of River Plate's so-called 'Fantastic Four' with Javier Saviola, Ariel Ortega and Pablo Aimar, having joined from Colombia's Nacional. Nevertheless, he became a fan favourite at Aston Villa in the Premier League, before spending six years in MLS with New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA. In 2013 he returned to Nacional for two seasons, having left them in 1997. He called it quits in late 2014, just a few days after losing to his former club River in the final of the Copa Sudamericana. "I am ending my career with a final between the two clubs I love the most," he said.

Henrik Larsson - Hogaborgs

While the Swedish club most may associate with Larsson is Helsingborgs, he actually made the breakthrough at a smaller side – Hogaborgs. It was here where he trained from the age of six, before eventually becoming a regular in the senior side and earning a move to Helsingborgs. A trophy-laden career followed, taking him to Feyenoord, Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United. Although he retired in 2009, he returned to the pitch for Raa in the Swedish third tier three years later, before then finding himself back in the team at Hogaborgs in 2013, helping out due to an injury crisis despite him only previously being registered to a casual team for 'seniors'. This gave him the chance to play alongside his son, Jordan.

Carlos Tevez - Boca Juniors

The Tevez-Boca love affair has dominated most of the striker's successful and complex career. After coming through their youth ranks, the feisty forward was seen as the heir to Maradona. A brief stint in Brazil with Corinthians followed, but Europe had long since beckoned, even if West Ham was by no means the expected destination. He went on to play for Manchester United and Manchester City, increasing tension between the clubs, before then going to Juventus, but throughout this time Tevez seemed to long for a return to Boca. He went back to La Bombonera in 2015, his homecoming interrupted by a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua in 2017 in the Chinese Super League, though even Tevez acknowledged he saw his time in China as a "holiday". "He filled Santa's sack with dollars and now he has returned to Boca" was Maradona's assessment upon 'El Apache's' return from the CSL. His third spell with Boca ended in June 2021, though it remains to be seen if he ever plays for another club.

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