Former Manchester City goalkeeper David James hails Pep Guardiola for "doing remarkable things" but believes he is still not at Alex Ferguson’s level.

City became the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive titles with their 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday, pipping Arsenal to the crown by two points.

Manchester United had previously won three consecutive Premier League seasons, achieving the feat twice under Ferguson (1998-2001 and 2006-2009).

Guardiola’s side can create more history on Saturday as they aim to clinch unprecedented back-to-back league and FA Cup doubles against the Red Devils.

Asked if this achievement put Guardiola’s name alongside Ferguson’s as the best Premier League manager, James, who spent two years with City, disagreed.

"No, Fergie's still the best. Look at statistics and longevity," James told Stats Perform. "And even more so, since Fergie left, what's happened to Manchester United.

"You can't even blame or use the excuse he had a good team and did well with it, Fergie rode the waves, he was up and down and even these downs weren't particularly bad.

"I think third or fourth was probably the worst they ever did; Fergie was the best and Pep will have to hang around for another decade, I think, before he can actually challenge that position.

"But what we're seeing at the moment, you've got a different style of football, a different type of game in so many different ways. The way the league is constructed at the moment with other competitions around it, Pep is having to do different things to what Fergie may have had to do.

"I know Fergie was a great manager, but not necessarily the greatest coach. Pep is a great manager and a great coach. He's also got an extra string to his bow in that sense.

"To be the winner of that league four years in a row, you need to be a superb manager. And I think Pep, in this short time frame, is doing some remarkable things, but he's going to have to hang around for a lot longer to take Ferguson's crown."

Following their victory over West Ham, Guardiola stated that he was "closer to leaving than staying", raising speculation that next season could be his last.

"I think the big question for Pep, and it is logical that he will now become the focus given that Jurgen Klopp announced his departure a few months ago, and all of a sudden it was nothing, but Jurgen and he will be the next focus," James added.

"I think the thing for Pep is, what does he want to do as a person? And it's not that he's completed the treble and that's enough because I think that he would want to do a treble treble, you want to do a quadruple.

"I can see that competitive side in him, he doesn't seem to change on the sidelines. Even yesterday, when they conceded the goal, and it was a fantastic goal from Kudus, he wasn't happy.

"I think you can still see that he's still animated, still engaged with the game. There's no question that he's feeling tired in that sense.

"I would like him to stay. I would like him to stay because I think when you've got someone so good, you need someone to beat them legitimately rather than them just step away and allow everyone else to play.

"I think he should stay. And I'm sure City will do everything they can to keep him in charge for the foreseeable future."

Atalanta captain Marten de Roon believes they have what it takes to end Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten season in the Europa League final.

De Roon will not be available for La Dea in Dublin on Wednesday due to injury but has joined up with the squad to offer his support.

Atalanta have had a memorable campaign, reaching their first European final and qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, claimed their first-ever Bundesliga title without losing a single game and are aiming to complete a treble.

Despite coming up against a tough opponent, De Roon is confident that his side will be able to end their 61-year drought without a major trophy.

"Every team is beatable. At the moment, [Leverkusen] seem unbeatable, but maybe we are the ones who can change that," he said in the pre-match press conference.

"We have to believe in our philosophy, play attacking football and try to beat them. You don't win a trophy if you don't beat the best.

"We have had a great campaign, and we fully deserve to be here. Both sides deserve to be playing this final. Let's see who will manage to lift the trophy.

Atalanta narrowly missed out in the Coppa Italia final to Juventus earlier this month, and Gian Piero Gasperini is now preparing to manage his first-ever European final.

The Italian praised Leverkusen but stressed the belief he has in his own team after an impressive campaign.

He said: "We are aware that we are facing a great team. We know that they are undefeated, and we know that they have had an amazing season.

"Our journey, however, was also very good as we beat very strong teams to reach the final, and we also have belief.

"Leverkusen are a complete team; extremely organised. They are versatile, they can defend and recover the ball well.

"The results they have achieved this season are not an accident. Certainly, small details can make the difference in a final. We have to respect them and try to adapt quickly to the opponents we are facing."

Xabi Alonso says Bayer Leverkusen are driven by self-confidence in their ability to win games ahead of the Europa League final.

Leverkusen are chasing the second trophy in a potential treble against Atalanta in Dublin on Wednesday, with the DFB-Pokal final against Kaiserslautern to follow on Saturday.

The Bundesliga champions became the first German team to go unbeaten on their way to the title and are currently on a 51-match run without defeat in all competitions.

Alonso is taking charge of his first European final as a manager, but he believes his team will draw on the experience they have already gained this season.

"Our self-confidence keeps driving us on. We know that we can produce goals until the final minute," he said in his pre-match press conference. "That's a huge development that the team has made this season.

"From the start of the campaign, we believed in our brand of football and that's right at the heart of this successful run.

"We'll prepare like we did for all the games before. We haven't lost in 51 games, so my boys know how to adapt to different situations. That also applies to the final.

"What matters above all tomorrow is mentality. We have a game plan, but the players still have that wonderful atmosphere from the title celebrations on Saturday, and we want to tap into that."

Alonso is the youngest coach to manage a men’s European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea’s Champions League victory in 2012.

He will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage a major European final this century after also playing in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals with Liverpool.

Reflecting on his time at Leverkusen, Alonso said: "I was so young in this coach career, so when I was offered the Leverkusen job, so it was 'let's go, let's see what happens'.

"In one year and a half, so much has happened; it has been a great experience, and it has only been a year and a half, but we have made so many right decisions.

"I think we have great chemistry.  The mentality we have shown throughout the year has been fantastic. I am really enjoying it."

Former Liverpool midfielder Boudewijn Zenden admits there will be a change for the Reds under Arne Slot but says the club should be ready to buy into his philosophy.

Liverpool confirmed on Monday that Slot would take over from Jurgen Klopp, who managed his final game at Anfield against Wolves on Sunday.

The Dutchman had already announced that he would be taking the job in a press conference, with Klopp then leading a chant of Slot’s name in his farewell speech.

Slot has reportedly signed a three-year deal and will officially take charge from June 1.

Asked if the former Feyenoord manager can avoid a painful transition when he begins his new job, Zenden said Liverpool need to be prepared for any outcome.

"Well, let's put it this way. Someone said life is like a box of chocolates, you know, you never know what you're going to get until it's there, and it's the same with Slot," he told Stats Perform.

"You know, there's going to be a change. You never know what the change will be like. As I said, there will be a change, that's for sure.

"For example, if you look at Arsenal, what I admire about the Arsenal people in charge is that the beginning of Arteta at Arsenal. I'm sure you remember well, it was painful for the fans, for the people that had the love for the Gunners.

"They stuck to Arteta, they stuck to his vision, his way of playing, and gradually the team that he built, with his philosophy and the players that he took in, that go with that philosophy.

"For me, it's a huge pleasure to see that if you stick to someone, if you stick to the manager, and you're convinced of his ideas, that you see where this will get you.

"There will be a change. Am I afraid? Well, of course, I'm not afraid, concerned, no, I think you have to just live with it.

"I'm sure in Liverpool, they'll keep their head up high when they go through that storm if it's there. But no, it's going to be a change, of course, but when Slot takes over, I hope that it'll go down well."

Slot led Feyenoord to the Eredivisie title in 2023 and was named Eredivisie Manager of the Year on two occasions, while also winning the KNVB Beker this season.

While some have questioned if Slot will be able to deal with the big stars at the club, Zenden does not believe that will be a problem.

"Yeah, but listen, it is what it is. Of course, Feyenoord this is nowhere near the magnitude of Liverpool. Feyenoord is a big club, but Liverpool is a massive club. So, there's certainly the expectations that come with the club," he added.

"Also, when you are in a big club, there are big players with big egos and I think what could help Slot as well is that he used to play himself.

"He knows what's happening in the mind of a player, he knows what happens in the dressing room. So, he knows a little bit about how these things can be done can work out how it works out, but it definitely will be interesting to see how he deals with these different situations.

"I think Jurgen Klopp over the years also had a few, I'm not going say run-ins, but of course, there's been issues, but they've all been solved and taken care of, one or the other."

Milan defender Simon Kjaer will leave the Serie A club at the end of the current campaign, he announced on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old Denmark captain arrived at the San Siro in January 2020 on loan from Sevilla before signing a permanent deal at the end of that season.

In a video shared on Milan's page on the social media platform X, Kjaer said: "This is my club. It's my place. It always will be.

"My time here was the pride and dream that gave me great joy and a lot of satisfaction in my career and life.

Kjaer played 120 matches for the club and won the Serie A title in 2022, but has struggled with injuries this season, managing just 24 appearances in all competitions.

Mauricio Pochettino will leave Chelsea by mutual consent after one season in charge, the club announced on Tuesday.

Despite a poor start to the season, Pochettino led Chelsea to a sixth-place finish, confirming a European place - an improvement on their 12th-place finish in 2022-23.

He also led them to the EFL Cup final and the semi-final of the FA Cup.

Speculation surrounded Pochettino's position during the latter stages of the Premier League campaign, though he remained tight-lipped about his future.

The Argentinian had one year left on his contract but now leaves the club with immediate effect.

In a club statement, Pochettino said: "Thank you to the Chelsea ownership group and Sporting Directors for the opportunity to be part of this football club's history.

"The club is now well positioned to keep moving forward in the Premier League and Europe in the years to come."

Sporting Directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said: "On behalf of everyone at Chelsea, we would like to express our gratitude to Mauricio for his service this season.

"He will be welcome back to Stamford Bridge any time, and we wish him all the very best in his future coaching career."

 

Xabi Alonso is hopeful that his Bayer Leverkusen side can make more history in their Europa League final against Atalanta on Wednesday.

Leverkusen became the first side in Bundesliga history to go unbeaten in a single season on their way to the top-flight title, and across all competitions, they have not lost any of their last 51 matches.

Now, they have the opportunity to complete an unbeaten treble if they can get past Atalanta before taking on Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal on Saturday.

Only three sides have previously won the competition without losing a game – Chelsea in 2018-19, Villarreal in 2020-21 and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2021-22, with Leverkusen looking to be added to that list.

Alonso is taking charge of his first European final as a manager and highlights the ambition the club have to do something significant.

"It would mean a lot, a lot to me [to win a European trophy]," he told UEFA. "To be able to share it with the people from the club, with the fans.

"You see what it meant when we won the Bundesliga. To be able to win a European title after so many years since we won [the UEFA Cup in 1988] would be historic, and we want to do that, to have a historic season.

"It would be something written in golden letters, not only in the history of our club but probably all European football. I hope we can."

Like his counterpart, Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini is also taking charge of a European final for the first time in his career.

The Italian side clinched a top-five finish in Serie A with their win over Lecce on Saturday and are looking to win their first major trophy in 61 years.

Looking back on the season, Gasperini says he is proud of the work his side have done to make it through to the club's first European final.

"It feels good," Gasperini said. "It's a great achievement and source of satisfaction, achieved with a really good season from this whole team.

"Is it the highest point of my career? Yes, in terms of accomplishment and prestige, absolutely. In terms of gratification, fortunately, I've had quite a few, although perhaps not on the same level.

"This team always wanted it. Sometimes, you get teams who are good technically but lacking in determination and hunger.

"From the start, from the group stage, since we played in Lisbon, in a group where we were not the favourites – Sporting [CP] were the favourites – we played great matches against strong opponents. Of course, winning at Anfield boosted our confidence even more."

Gareth Southgate believes Phil Foden's starting position is less important than the spaces he is allowed to attack, pledging to find a way of letting him operate centrally at Euro 2024.

Foden was included in England's 33-man preliminary squad on Tuesday, and he is expected to be among the first names on the teamsheet after enjoying a fine campaign.

Foden was named Premier League Player of the Season as he helped Manchester City win an unprecedented fourth straight title, scoring 19 goals and adding seven assists.

Only three players in the league bettered Foden's goal tally, while he also ranked seventh in the division for chances created (73) and fourth for possession won in the final third (35 times).

Foden scored two excellent goals as City clinched the title with a 3-1 final-day win over West Ham, drifting infield from the right to find space between the lines and in the penalty area.

While the presence of Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham and Arsenal's Bukayo Saka has led many to conclude Foden will be stationed on the left in Germany, Southgate is aware of the need to grant him positional freedom.

"Phil has played off the right, off the left, the key is where he ends up, not his starting position," Southgate said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"He plays on the left with City, sometimes he stays wide, but he's allowed to drift, and it has always been the same with us. He's allowed to drift. 

"Then there's where a player has to defend. Jude has played as a 10 all season, and sometimes he has defended on the left for Real Madrid. 

"It's about where these players arrive and where you allow them to drift, that's the key. I think if you spoke to all of our players, we never pin them to a touchline, that's not how we work so there is that freedom."

Foden produced a series of talismanic displays for City in the run-in, scoring match-winning hat-tricks against Brentford and Aston Villa and masterminding a vital comeback against Manchester United with two goals in March.

The 23-year-old stepped up while players like Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland were sidelined through injury, and Southgate has been impressed by his ability to shoulder that responsibility.

"It's obvious the brilliant season Phil has had, how he stepped up in big games not only when big players have been out but when he's been playing alongside them as well," Southgate added.

"You want him in central areas as you do one or two others, so we have to find the best way of making that happen."

Despite including him in his preliminary squad, Gareth Southgate says it is a "long shot" that Luke Shaw will be fit for Euro 2024.

Shaw has been sidelined since February with a muscle injury but is the only recognised left-back in Southgate’s 33-man squad as Ben Chilwell also misses out due to injury.

Joe Gomez is an option for the position after filling in for Liverpool at times this season, while Kieran Trippier has also played at left-back for England in the past.

However, Shaw has been the first-choice left-back for the last two major tournaments, and Southgate admits that he will give him every chance to be fit.

"[Luke Shaw's] up against it," said Southgate. "He's missed a lot of football.

"The fact that he has been our first choice in that position, we've probably given him a lot longer than we would have done.

"I’ve talked with him and the medical team, we’ve been liaising with Manchester United, I'm not sure what's realistic at this time. I have to say, he's a long shot."

Southgate may have other injury problems on his hands. Harry Kane missed the end of Bayern Munich’s season due to a back injury, while Harry Maguire has not played since April.

"The job here is to adapt to the hand of cards you're dealt with," Southgate added.

"The injuries are a very complex thing. Sometimes players have had to play more than they might have done. Some players have come back earlier than they might have done.

"There's definitely been a lot of matches in the calendar. But it's too easy to say it's just the [fault of a] winter World Cup. It's lots of different reasons."

Southgate will cut his squad down to 26 players after England face Iceland in their final pre-tournament friendly at Wembley Stadium on June 7. 

Gareth Southgate says Jordan Henderson will "be a miss" after omitting the midfielder from his preliminary 33-man England squad for Euro 2024.

Henderson has 81 senior caps for England but saw his place fiercely debated after joining Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq last year from Liverpool.

The 33-year-old was booed by some England fans during a friendly win over Australia last October, having suggested his presence in Saudi Arabia could be a "positive" thing for LGBTQ+ rights in the country in a widely criticised interview with The Athletic.

In January, he secured a move to Ajax but has only made nine Eredivisie appearances as the former Dutch champions finished fifth.

Asked about Henderson’s absence, Southgate said: "[Jordan Henderson] will be a miss. He's an exceptional individual and a fantastic human being. He's been in that leadership role for a long time.

"We've got young players with a lot of caps. There's no reason why young players can't lead.

"The 33 isn’t quite a fair definition because we’re taking a longer squad with some younger players to look at. Hendo has given himself every chance.

"From the last camp, he missed five weeks through injury, and he hasn’t been able to get to that tempo since then. It’s a big call to make, the three players from last time, he, Ben [White] and Marcus [Rashford] all had excellent professionalism."

Marcus Rashford is another one of the names overlooked after a poor season for Manchester United.

He scored just seven goals in 33 Premier League games this campaign after netting 30 in all competitions for the Red Devils in 2022-23.

"These are of course difficult calls," Southgate added when asked about Rashford.

"You are talking about players that are very important players. With Marcus, in that area of the pitch, I feel that other players have had better seasons, it’s as simple as that."

Cristiano Ronaldo will lead Portugal into his 11th major international tournament after being named in Roberto Martinez's 26-man squad for Euro 2024.

Ronaldo opted against retiring from international football after Portugal suffered a surprise exit at the hands of Morocco at the 2022 World Cup, remaining an integral part of the Selecao setup under Martinez. 

His 14 European Championship goals are an all-time tournament record, putting him five clear of Michel Platini, and he will look to widen that gap in Germany this year.

Portugal, who won all 10 of their qualifiers while scoring 36 goals, will open their Group F campaign against the Czech Republic before facing Turkey and Georgia. 

There are few surprises in Martinez's squad overall, with Manchester City's Matheus Nunes and fellow midfielder Renato Sanches among the most notable absentees.

Bayern Munich's Raphael Guerreiro is absent after missing the end of the Bundesliga campaign through injury, but Wolves winger Pedro Neto is included despite only returning from a hamstring issue on the final day of the Premier League season.

He is one of 10 players from England's top flight to receive the call-up, with Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes and City star Bernardo Silva among the biggest names to make the cut. 

Unlike England boss Gareth Southgate, Martinez opted against naming an expanded squad and cutting it down to 26 closer to the tournament, so his final party will take on Finland, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland in warm-up friendlies next month. 

Full 26-man squad: Diogo Costa (Porto), Jose Sa (Wolves), Rui Patricio (Roma), Antonio Silva (Benfica), Danilo Pereira (Paris Saint-Germain), Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), Goncalo Inacio (Sporting CP), Joao Cancelo (Barcelona), Nelson Semedo (Wolves), Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain), Pepe (Porto), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Joao Neves (Benfica), Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Otavio Monteiro (Al-Nassr), Ruben Neves (Al-Hilal), Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Cristiano Ronaldo (Al-Nassr), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Francisco Conceicao (Porto), Goncalo Ramos (Paris Saint-Germain), Joao Felix (Barcelona), Pedro Neto (Wolves), Rafael Leao (Milan).

Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson have been omitted from Gareth Southgate's 33-man preliminary squad for England's Euro 2024 campaign.

Rashford scored 30 goals in all competitions for Manchester United in 2022-23 and has been a fixture in Southgate's England squads, but a dismal 2023-24 campaign has led to him being overlooked.

He scored seven goals in 33 Premier League appearances this season, making it his second worst campaign since netting five times as a teenager in 2016-17. He scored just four times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick in 2021-22.

Newcastle United's Anthony Gordon has benefitted from Rashford's drop-off, receiving the call-up ahead of June's warm-up friendlies against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland.

Henderson, meanwhile, has seen his England place fiercely debated since he left Liverpool to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq last year. 

The 33-year-old was booed by some England fans during a friendly win over Australia last October, having suggested his presence in Saudi Arabia could be a "positive" thing for LGBTQ+ rights in the country in a widely criticised interview with The Athletic.

Henderson – who has 81 senior England caps – swapped Al-Ettifaq for Ajax in January in a bid to ensure he made Southgate's squad, but that effort has been unsuccessful. 

Henderson made nine Eredivisie appearances for Ajax in 2023-24, failing to prevent them from finishing fifth, their lowest position since 1999-00 (also fifth).

His exclusion, which could spell the end of his international career, has opened the door for a surprise call-up for Adam Wharton, who has excelled since joining Crystal Palace from Blackburn Rovers in January.

The 20-year-old, who has only been capped once at under-21 level, contributed to a stunning upturn under Oliver Glasner as Palace clinched a top-half Premier League finish.

Palace have won 24 points in 13 Premier League games under Glasner. From his first match on February 24 onwards, only Manchester City (35), Arsenal (34) and Chelsea (28) bettered their tally.

Wharton's Palace team-mate Eberechi Eze is also in after scoring 11 goals and registering four assists in 2023-24, while Liverpool's Curtis Jones is another uncapped midfielder to make the squad.

Elsewhere, Southgate has several fitness concerns among his defensive cohort, and Chelsea full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell are two big-name omissions after enduring injury-hit campaigns. 

Chilwell, who also missed the 2022 World Cup through injury, was limited to just 756 minutes across 13 Premier League appearances this campaign. 

James, meanwhile, returned from a long-term hamstring injury in a 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest recently, but saw his season end one game early when he was sent off in a victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Liverpool's Jarell Quansah, Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite, Palace's Marc Guehi and Brighton and Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk have all been included at centre-back alongside regular starters Harry Maguire and John Stones, while Luke Shaw is also in despite missing long periods through injury.

Captain Harry Kane is also present after missing the end of Bayern Munich's season with a back issue, which required him to travel back to England to undergo treatment.

Southgate will cut his squad down to 26 players after England face Iceland in their final pre-tournament friendly at Wembley Stadium on June 7.

Full 33-man squad: Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), James Trafford (Burnley), Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Curtis Jones (Liverpool), Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Australia captain Sam Kerr will miss the Olympic Games in Paris after failing to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament injury in time for the team's upcoming friendlies. 

The Chelsea forward suffered the injury during a mid-season training camp in January, leaving her participation in serious doubt.

Kerr represented the Matildas at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, also playing at four World Cups and four Asian Cups during her international career.

On Tuesday, Football Australia confirmed Kerr will not make the Olympic tournament – which begins on July 25 and ends on August 10 – while announcing the squad for two matches against China this month.

"Attacker Amy Sayer (ACL) and forward Sam Kerr (ACL) remain on the sidelines with long-term injuries," a statement from the governing body said. 

"Kerr and Sayer will continue their rehabilitation programmes in their home club environments and subsequently will not be available for selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Kerr, who is Australia's record scorer with 69 goals, was limited to just seven starts in the 2023-24 Women's Super League, contributing four goals and three assists for the eventual champions. 

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos will retire from football after representing Germany at Euro 2024.

The 34-year-old was thought likely to sign a new contract with Los Blancos, but he announced on Tuesday that he will hang up his boots after representing his country on home soil at the Euros. 

Kroos has enjoyed a distinguished 10-year spell with Madrid, who he joined from Bayern Munich in 2014, winning LaLiga and the Champions League four times apiece with the Spanish giants.

He played a crucial role as Carlo Ancelotti's men regained their domestic title in 2023-24, but next week's Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund will be the final game of his club career before his Euros swansong. 

He initially quit international football after the delayed Euro 2020 three years ago, only to agree to return to the fold under Julian Nagelsmann earlier this year.

In an open letter to Madrid's fans, Kroos wrote: "As I have always said, Real Madrid is and will be my last club.

"After 10 years, at the end of the season this chapter comes to an end. I will never forget this successful time! I would like to thank everyone that welcomed me with an open heart and trusted me. 

"But especially I would like to thank you, dear Madridistas, for your affection and your love from the first day until the last one. 

"At the same time this decision means that my career as an active footballer will end this summer after the Euro championship."

Kroos also issued a rallying cry as Madrid target a record-extending 15th European crown, adding: "I am happy and proud that in my mind I found the right timing for my decision and that I could choose it myself. 

"My ambition was always to finish my career at the peak of my performance levels. From now on there is only one leading thought, la 15! Hala Madrid!"

Mary Earps will seek answers from Manchester United regarding the club's direction before making a decision on her future, saying she has felt like a "punching bag" this season.

Earps' contract with the Women's FA Cup winners is set to expire in June, and there have been few signs of progress concerning a new deal.

Last year, United rejected a world-record bid for Earps, who starred as England won Euro 2022 and finished as runners-up at the 2023 World Cup.

Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and other clubs have been linked with Earps, and she is biding her time after enduring a difficult campaign in which her commitment to United was called into question.

"The honest reality is that conversations are still ongoing," Earps told Sky Sports on Tuesday. "I've been clear I don't want to make an emotional decision.

"The beginning of the season was really tough, I felt really upset about things that were being said about me and things that came out that weren't true.

"I've tried to be professional, keep my head down, work hard, get on with my job and that's been hard. I've been a punching bag at times.

"I know I've given my heart and soul for the whole season. It's a tough situation.

"I've asked the club for some confirmation on what they're trying to achieve and when I have those answers I'll be able to make a decision. It's up to the club."

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