Pablo Sarabia has called on Paris Saint-Germain to "leave aside individualities" ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

The midfielder spent last season on loan at Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon, where he scored 15 goals in 29 league appearances.

But Sarabia is now back at PSG and preparing to fight for a place in the squad amid the departures of key personnel such as Angel Di Maria and Xavi Simons.

PSG won Ligue 1 last season, their fourth title in five years, but failed once more to bring their first Champions League trophy back to Paris.

They brought in Lionel Messi to try and help them achieve that goal, but a dramatic collapse to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the last 16 meant their ultimate goal went unfulfilled again.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino was sacked at the end of the season, with former Nice boss Christophe Galtier brought in to replace him.

Sarabia has been impressed by the discipline Galtier has brought to the team and wants the whole squad to form a united front.

"I think in any job, discipline and rules are important," Sarabia told AFP.

"It is necessary for a good cohabitation and to form a good group. I think it will be good for everyone.

"You have to build a good group, leave aside individualities because the most important thing is the collective.

"We see it every year, the teams that are the most united are those that end up winning titles."

Sarabia also commented on his own personal performance, and what he can bring to Galtier's team.

The former Sevilla midfielder added: "Right now, I feel that I am in the best period of my career, with a lot of confidence.

"The most important thing for a team is to have 15, 16, 17 players ready to play, at the same level, because there are a lot of matches.

"Everyone is going to be needed, so I'll be ready for that. I think I can bring work, enthusiasm, goals and assists."

PSG head coach Christophe Galtier called Neymar a "great player" when questioned about his possible exit from the club, but admitted the size of his squad has to be reduced.

The Brazilian forward has been linked with a move away from the Parc des Princes, with apparent interest from a host of Europe's top clubs.

Neymar has been with PSG for five years, since the club made him the world's most expensive player with a fee that far exceeded €200million.

The former Santos man has won four Ligue 1 titles over his time in the French capital, but his inability to help the club win their first ever Champions League, and subsequent negative fan reaction, has led to rumours of discontent.

He was booed by fans in PSG's first home game after the collapse in the round of 16 Champions League second leg against Real Madrid, where they let a 2-0 lead slip to crash out 3-2 on aggregate after Karim Benzema's hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu.

When asked about a possible Neymar departure, Galtier told reporters: "A team is always stronger with great players, and Neymar is one.

"I know where Neymar can be comfortable, whether it's a little higher off the hook or in front of two midfielders.

"I will adapt to the squad I have. We have to reduce it, but I want it to be as good as possible.

"What I want, by having an obviously very strong eleven, is that this eleven is at least as strong with the five possible changes."

Galtier also commented on Kylian Mbappe, who himself looked to be on the move away from Paris until signing a new three-year contract in May.

The former Nice coach added: "We are not going to make him bear all the responsibility, he is a 23-year-old boy who has a certain mastery.

"He knows what people are going to expect from him but there are also other players around.

"Kylian knows what he wants, knows where he wants to go, what he wants to do with his career, so he has that pressure."

Chelsea full-back Ben Chilwell has outlined his desire to "win the big trophies" with the West London club, but only if they can show the "consistency" required to keep up with Manchester City and Liverpool.

The former Leicester man missed the majority of last season after suffering a knee ligament injury in the 4-0 thrashing of Juventus in the Champions League in October 2021.

He only featured in 13 games in the 2021/22 campaign, with Spaniard Marcos Alonso filling in as his deputy as Chelsea failed to win the Premier League, Champions League or either of the domestic cups.

But Chilwell has now turned his attentions to next season, and believes that lifting silverware is well within Chelsea's reach.

Chilwell told the Athletic: "This is Chelsea, we want to win the big trophies.

"We’ve got a strong team. Hopefully we can add to that strength with some good players.

"We’ve got a great manager. New ownership. Great training ground. Good backroom staff. So everything’s in place.

"It’s up to us now to work hard and motivate each other to make that happen."

While Chelsea were the closest challengers to the top two in the Premier League as they finished third, they were a significant 18 points behind second-placed Liverpool.

And Chilwell understands that him and his teammates need to improve if they want to close the gap.

Chilwell added: "Manchester City and Liverpool have set the bar, for maybe the last five years, which every other team in the league is aspiring to get at.

"We showed in patches last season that we could compete with them, but it’s that consistency that they’ve shown.

"They’re not just one-season wonders, they’ve done it season-in, season-out for the last five years. That’s where we’re trying to get to."

Chelsea's underperformance at times last season, as well as their ownership issues, led to some speculation over manager Thomas Tuchel's future, but the 25-year-old left-back was full of praise for his German boss.

"We know we’re not going to get a better manager here," Chilwell explained.

"I’m not just saying it. He’s an unbelievable manager in all aspects and he has a lot of trust in us as well.

"Everything that could have potentially been tricky last season has all been resolved so it’s up to us to work and try to get that consistency on the pitch."

Chelsea's Premier League campaign begins on August 6, when they will face former player and manager Frank Lampard's Everton.

Richarlison has revealed he is hoping to make history with Tottenham and relishing the opportunity to play Champions League football under Antonio Conte.

The Brazil international became Spurs' fourth signing of this transfer window earlier this week when he arrived from Everton in a deal reported to be worth around £60million.

The forward played a key role in steering the Toffees away from the threat of Premier League relegation last season, scoring six times in their final nine games under Frank Lampard.

Richarlison, who previously played for Watford in the English top flight, is excited to get down to work with his new club, who will play in the Champions League this season.

And he cannot wait to fulfil his dream of appearing in Europe's premier club competition.

"I remember when I was in Brazil and the offer came from Tottenham, I couldn't believe it. And after I signed the contract, even more so," he told the club's official website.

"When I arrived here, it gave me a chill in my stomach to see my new team-mates and a new home.

"Now, it's about working with the great coach I have, with great team-mates too. I hope to make history here in this shirt.

"I always said it was my dream to play in the Champions League, and now this dream will come true. And let's see what will happen.

"All the players dream of playing in this great competition, so I think when the time comes, I'll be quite emotional."

It is now 14 years since Tottenham's most recent silverware, with Juande Ramos guiding them to glory in the League Cup in 2008.

But Richarlison is confident that the squad boast the necessary credentials to finally end that wait this season.

"Antonio Conte is putting together a great team to be able to compete in all competitions," he added.

"The coach will prepare us very well for this because there are many competitions, and now we have to be focused as much as possible. 

"So, I think we have everything to make great competition, and in the end, we have everything to lift a trophy."

Kalvin Phillips has signed for Manchester City from Leeds United in a deal that is reportedly worth up to £45million.

City, who had already signed striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, were in the market for a holding midfielder to complement Rodri after Fernandinho confirmed he would be leaving the Premier League champions after nine years with the club.

Phillips was identified as the ideal replacement and City have moved quickly to sign the England international, who has penned a six-year contract.

It was reported last month that City and Leeds had agreed a fee of £42m plus a further £3m in add-ons and the move was officially confirmed on Monday.

City director of football Txiki Begiristain said: "Kalvin is a player that we have long admired, and at both domestic and international level, he has proved his fantastic ability and quality over the past few seasons. 

"His reading of the game, alongside his passing ability, energy and drive make him a formidable talent and he is a player who has a fantastic will to win. 

"We feel he will be a superb addition to our squad and that he will complement our game perfectly. 

"Everyone here is looking forward to watch Kalvin play and develop even further over the next few years."

Phillips came through Leeds' academy and helped the Whites back into the Premier League under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa after a 16-year absence from the top flight.

The 26-year-old was an integral part of Leeds' success in their first season back in the big time, making 29 appearances as Bielsa's side finished ninth, and the midfielder went on to start every game for England at Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate's team losing to Italy on penalties in the final.

However, Phillips' impact was limited in the 2021-22 season as he struggled with injury. He returned for the run-in as Leeds - under Bielsa's replacement Jesse Marsch - managed to stave off relegation.

Despite only playing 20 league games, he ranked third in ball recoveries (180) among Leeds outfield players while also recording the sixth most tackles (54).

He will hope to help Pep Guardiola's side retain the league title as well as deliver the club's first Champions League crown after disappointing final and semi-final defeats in the past two years.

Thiago Silva has implored his Brazilian team-mate Neymar to join him at Chelsea if he decides to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

There has been recent speculation about Neymar's future at PSG, with the French club reportedly open to selling him should an acceptable bid come along.

Neymar's former agent Wagner Ribeiro said last week the 30-year-old wants to remain with PSG, to fulfil his dream of winning the Champions League there.

Chelsea's 37-year-old defender Thiago Silva, who has played alongside Neymar at international level and at PSG from 2017 to 2020, has urged to join him at Stamford Bridge.

"He has to go to Chelsea," Silva told Globo about Neymar who is contracted until 2025.

"If he is about to leave, then he must go there. If it happens, then the expectation is the best possible one.

"We don't even need to talk about Neymar's ability. Besides that, he is a super friend.

"I hope this happens instead of only being something on the news, but I don't know anything about it."

In recent days, Chelsea have been linked with another Brazilian, Leeds United's Raphinha, but are yet to spend in the transfer market this off-season.

Chelsea had a change of ownership completed in May with a group led by Todd Boehly replacing Roman Abramovich following a long association with the London club.

Neymar's former agent Wagner Ribiero believes the Brazilian is not about to leave Paris Saint-Germain as he is still dreaming of Champions League glory with the French champions.

The 30-year-old is contracted in Paris until 2025, but there have been rumours that PSG could look to offload him, having signed Lionel Messi in 2021 and recently renewing Kylian Mbappe's contract.

A return to Barcelona has long been muted for Neymar, with whom he won the Champions League with in 2014-15, while he has also previously spoken about his desire to play in the United States. 

However, when quizzed about Neymar's future, Ribiero made it clear his understanding that the former Santos starlet is not considering an exit and has his eyes firmly set on ending PSG's wait for Champions League glory.

"Neymar has a dream: to be champion of the Champions League with PSG," he told Goal.

"Despite all the rumours regarding a possible exit, he is very motivated and will not stop until he achieves it."

 

Asked whether Neymar likes the project at PSG, he added: "Of course. Every year that passes Nasser Al-Khelaifi (club president) improves the team in every way.

"They just finished the training centre, which will be one of the best. And now he wants to have the best French players at PSG."

Since Neymar joined PSG in 2017, the French giants have been eliminated at the quarter-final stage in three of the five seasons – finishing runners-up in 2019-20 and falling at the semi-finals the following year.

During that period, Neymar has scored 20 Champions League goals and secured 13 assists – with the only player to have more assists in the same period being team-mate Mbappe.

And so at the end of a gruelling 63-game season, mentality monsters Liverpool met their match against the miracle men of Real Madrid.

For the best part of an hour in Paris, Carlo Ancelotti's side looked off the pace and seemingly in need of some inspiration. Yet Madrid did what Madrid do. 

Just ask Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City exactly how that feels.

Unlike in the previous three rounds, no comeback was required on Saturday thanks to Vinicius Junior's 59th-minute strike and a string of incredible Thibaut Courtois saves.

The pair, who along with Karim Benzema have been key in Los Blancos' run to the final, will now forever be synonymous with their side's 14th continental triumph.

That is double the number of European Cups or Champions Leagues won by the next most successful side, with Milan on seven and Liverpool just behind, still stuck on six.

Back in the city of the first of their triumphs, you can be sure that this will not be the last for the true kings of Europe.

 

Not for the first time this season, Ancelotti's men were slow getting out of the blocks, perhaps not helped by a delay to kick-off of more than 30 minutes.

That was down to crowd congestion, as UEFA put it, with one half of the ground swathed in white 45 minutes before the scheduled start time and the Liverpool end a patchy red.

Those Liverpool fans who didn't make it into the ground on time would have missed a dominant first-half display from their side.

The Reds had more shots on target in the first 22 minutes than they did in the entire of the 2019 final, which ended in victory against Tottenham.

Madrid had not even registered a shot or a touch in the Liverpool box by that point, and the Premier League side's dominance only grew as the warmth in the Paris air turned to a slight chill.

By half-time, Jurgen Klopp's side had aimed as many shots on target as in their previous two finals combined, including the defeat to Madrid four years ago in Kyiv.

Crucially, though, Courtois had kept out each of them, including a fine stop from Sadio Mane, helping his shot onto the post.

That was the seventh time Liverpool had hit the woodwork in the Champions League this season – the most of any side – yet the first signs of the tide turning arrived just before the break.

Benzema, kept quiet for large parts, fired the ball in after a mix-up between Alisson and Ibrahima Konate, only for the officials to deem the France striker to be offside.

It was a hugely contentious call, one that took three minutes for VAR to review, although it will now represent a mere footnote when looking back at this game in years to come.

 

Vinicius – and Courtois – ultimately proved the difference, despite Liverpool throwing all they had at their opponents. The Belgium international made the most Champions League final saves (nine) of any goalkeeper on record (since 2003-04).

And so, for the eighth final running, the side that scored first went on to win, a run stretching back to Madrid's comeback victory against Atletico Madrid in 2014.

Digging deep is nothing new for Madrid, then, and again in Paris – albeit perhaps not quite to the same extent as witnessed in previous rounds – their grit and character was on show.

A side who had trailed for 178 minutes in the semi-final, and 243 minutes in total in this campaign (21 per cent of their minutes played), came through this most difficult of runs.

Let it not be forgotten that the LaLiga winners saw off the champions of France, the champions of England and the erstwhile champions of Europe en route even before facing Liverpool and toppling them, too.

It will be particularly special for Ancelotti, who becomes an outright record four-time winner of the Champions League, but this success was about a team who refused to be beaten and again had the ability to grind out a victory just when required.

Never has a Champions League triumph been so hard-fought and yet so deserved.

Sadio Mane has revealed he came close to joining Manchester United in 2016, agreeing a contract with the Red Devils before making a last-minute decision to join Liverpool after a call from Jurgen Klopp.

Mane has scored 23 goals in 50 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions this term, helping Klopp's team to win the EFL Cup and FA Cup trophies, while the Reds could yet add the Champions League when they face Real Madrid in Saturday's final in Paris.

The 30-year-old scored when Liverpool faced Madrid in the 2018 final in Kyiv, though substitute Gareth Bale netted a brace to condemn Klopp's side to a 3-1 defeat.

Liverpool are bidding to win their seventh European crown at the Stade de France, and Mane has been touted as a potential Ballon d'Or contender after also firing Senegal to their first Africa Cup of Nations title earlier this year.

However, things could have been very different for Mane, who said he had the chance to join Liverpool's rivals United when he departed Southampton in 2016.

Speaking to former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher in an interview for the Telegraph, Mane recalled how a phone call from Klopp, who had attempted to sign him for former club Borussia Dortmund on a previous occasion, saw his head turn.

"I have to say, I was really close to going to Manchester United," Mane said. "I had the contract there. I had it all agreed. 

"It was all ready, but instead I thought, 'no, I want to go to Liverpool'. I was convinced to go with Klopp's project. 

"I still remember the first time I got the call from Klopp. He said, 'Sadio, listen, I want to explain to you what happened at Dortmund'. 

"That was when he thought of signing me for Dortmund and for some reason, it didn't work out. He tried to explain and I said, 'it's okay, it happened'. I forgave him.

"Then he said, 'now I want you at Liverpool', and I said, 'okay, Dortmund is behind us, let's focus on the future'. He said, 'we have a big project at Liverpool and I want you to be part of it'."

Mane scored in both legs of Liverpool's Champions League semi-final win over Villarreal, setting up the Reds' ninth European Cup/Champions League meeting with Madrid.

Having won the first three such contests between 1981 and 2009, however, Liverpool are winless in the last five (one draw, four defeats), including their 2018 final loss.

Luis Diaz insists Liverpool are not favourites to beat Real Madrid in Saturday's Champions League final, as he prepares for a "dream" appearance in European football's showpiece event.

Having already lifted the EFL Cup and FA Cup this season, Jurgen Klopp's team are looking to make up for missing out on the Premier League title by being crowned European champions for a seventh time in Paris.

Such a triumph would see Liverpool draw level with Milan's tally of European Cup/Champions League successes, leaving only Madrid (13) with more titles in the competition's history, as well as avenging their 2018 final loss to Los Blancos.

Liverpool have been touted as favourites after ending their domestic league campaign with a 19-match unbeaten run (16 wins, three draws), while Madrid have already required several spectacular comebacks in the competition, becoming the first team to reach a Champions League final after losing a match in each of the round-of-16, quarter-finals, and semi-finals.

Diaz has been a key part of Liverpool's extraordinary four-front fight since joining from Porto in January, recording six goals and four assists in 17 starts for the club.

But Diaz was cool to temper expectations ahead of an intriguing final.

"Always I have dreamed of winning the Champions League. Even more so against a team like Real Madrid, I am living a great dream," Diaz said. "I want to take advantage of these moments and be happy.

"Are we favourites? No, there are no favourites here. 

"We know that a final is contested minute by minute. We are going to give 100 per cent. We know what we have to do."

When asked if he was the side's most in-form player, the 25-year-old responded: "No, I don't believe so. I think every one of us is in very good shape to compete at a high level, not only me. 

"Everyone in the squad is in good form. I know if I am given the opportunity, I will go out there to take advantage like always."

The winger also highlighted attacking duo Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, alongside midfielder Toni Kroos, as the key threats for Carlo Ancelotti's side, with the former having scored 15 goals for Madrid in the Champions League this season to sit just two strikes shy of Cristiano Ronaldo's single-season record in the competition (17 for Madrid in 2013-14).

"Clearly, we know what Real Madrid have, what a great team they are, the experience they have," he said.

"But we also have a great squad and a great game, and we are going to counteract what they do. Who are Real's best players? I don't know – Karim, Vinicius, I really like Toni Kroos."

Jordan Henderson and the Champions League trophy will become well-acquainted again if Liverpool beat Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday – though he might not be allowed to take it to his local pub.

Phil Thompson was the Reds' captain in 1981, when Liverpool also faced Madrid in a European final in Paris.

A 1-0 win at the Parc des Princes ensured the trophy was going back to Merseyside once again following their successes in the European Cup in 1977 and 78.

But this time there was even more of a local flavour to Liverpool's victory, with Thompson becoming the first Scouser to lift the trophy, and he was determined to make it a memorable homecoming.

The UEFA delegate who handed him the cup might not have expected Thompson to take it to the pub, however.

Alan Kennedy, who scored Liverpool's crucial goal in that final, told Stats Perform: "First of all, we knew that Phil Thompson had it, but we didn't know what he was going to do with it.

"We thought he might take it in his car. What was it? I'm sure he had a Ford Capri at the time, and it was a souped-up one, if I remember rightly!

"He put it on the front seat and everybody else had to get in the backseat and whatever. But he knew we had to look after it. He knew he was responsible for it.

"I think the rest is history about going to some of the pubs in Kirby [a town on the outskirts of Liverpool]."

There were no such stories after Henderson and his Liverpool team-mates returned to Merseyside victorious in 2019, with the trophy seemingly guarded with greater security these days.

Though Thompson insists the cup never left his sight.

"It wasn't a mission, it was always in my safe hands," he added. "I'd always planned that I was taking it back to the Falcon [a pub], I was taking it home to the Falcon in Kirby, so it's now become quite legendary.

"I travel the country and they say, 'Is it a myth?' Or, 'is it true that you took the European Cup to a pub in Kirby?' And I did.

"After we'd done the [parade] I put the European Cup in a big velvet bag in the back of the Ford Capri, an awful one, to the Falcon."

Henderson will surely just be happy to get his hands on the trophy once again, even if bringing it to his local is out of the question.

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso says both teams should be described as "mentality monsters" ahead of Saturday's Champions League final.

Alonso played for Liverpool between 2004 and 2009, before moving to Madrid where he also spent five seasons, winning the Champions League with both clubs.

The English and Spanish giants meet at the Stade de France at the weekend in a repeat of the 2018 final, which Madrid won 3-1 in Kyiv.

Speaking to BT Sport, Alonso expressed his admiration for Reds boss Jurgen Klopp and his ability to get the most from his team.

"Jurgen, I have played many times against him," he said. "He is intense, he is very passionate and I think that one of his best qualities is that he is able to get the best from his players and he is able for them to commit in a very generous way and create proper teams.

"Each manager, I think they have their own way, their own book. Some managers, they do it on a tactical way, on a very analytical way. There are others that like to create more of that connection, to give that freedom, but you need to know the players.

"You need to be able to give them the right recipe for them to show their best level. That’s the beauty - you don't have just one way, you have many different ways and Carlo [Ancelotti] is different to Jurgen, Jurgen is different to Pep [Guardiola], Pep is different to Thomas Tuchel to Xavi, so they are all different."

Klopp regularly refers to his Liverpool team as "mentality monsters" in relation to their ability to respond to adversity and find a way to win, and Alonso believes this is an accurate assessment, but also feels Ancelotti's men have the same attribute.

"I love when Jurgen says that they are 'mentality monsters' because to do what they are doing, it is not easy," he said. "It's not just this year, it's what they have been doing for the last few years and they have that mentality.

"But, another thing is the final. The final, it is a big one and when you need to show that mentality because Madrid, they are other mentality monsters, so it's a big, big clash that we are going to have. Enjoy it.

"I was in Kyiv a few years ago and it was great to enjoy with two of my teams. It's not all about the final, it's also about reaching the final and enjoying it with the crowd. I was there with friends from Madrid and friends from Liverpool and I am kind of in the middle of both teams, so I will win whatever happens.

"[They are] both great teams, they both deserve [to win] so I will feel for one not to get it.

"We will see. It's the Champions League final so just enjoy it."

Lionel Messi believes "good things are coming" after ending his first season at Paris Saint-Germain with a 5-0 win over Metz, as the Parisians celebrate Kylian Mbappe's decision to stay with the club.

But while highlighting his delight at helping the club to their 10th Ligue 1 title, Messi also recalled the "bitter taste" of March's Champions League elimination against Real Madrid, a tie in which he still believes PSG were the better team.

Messi recorded an assist as PSG rounded off their season by thrashing Metz, with the Argentine ending his first campaign at the club with 25 goal contributions in 34 appearances across all competitions (11 goals, 14 assists).

The 34-year-old's first season in France has not gone entirely to plan, however, with the Parisians squandering a two-goal lead in their 3-2 aggregate Champions League defeat to Los Blancos in March.

That collapse led to both Messi and Neymar being jeered by their own supporters in subsequent matches, while head coach Mauricio Pochettino has come under increasing pressure after his failure to deliver PSG their first European crown.

Nevertheless, a celebratory mood surrounded PSG after Saturday's announcement that Messi's strike partner Mbappe had agreed a three-year contract extension with the club.

The 23-year-old, who was heavily linked with a blockbuster move to Madrid, celebrated his new deal with a hat-trick that take him to 45 Ligue 1 goal contributions for the season (28 goals, 17 assists) – the highest tally across Europe's top five leagues this term.

Reflecting on a mixed first season in Paris, Messi expressed his belief that the club was on course for better things next term.

"The season is over, and I wanted to thank my teammates for how they treated me since I arrived and my family for always accompanying me and supporting me," Messi wrote on Instagram, alongside an image of him celebrating with team-mates Mbappe, Neymar, and Marco Verratti. 

"It was a different year because of everything that happened, but at the end of it all we achieved a league that I was very excited to achieve, because of what it means to be the first trophy here in Paris.

"We are left with the bitter taste of losing in the Champions League in a tie that we were being better [in], and at the same time, I want to be left with the joy of having added another title that was also one of the objectives.

"Surely good things are coming in 2022; it will be an important year, and we are going to fight to be competing with ambition for everything."

Rafael Nadal believes he can win a 14th French Open title despite other players arriving at Roland Garros in better condition, as he labelled the venue the "most important" place in his tennis career.

Nadal won a record 21st grand slam title when he recovered from two-sets down to beat Daniil Medvedev in a thrilling Australian Open final in January, and has won 13 of the last 17 editions of the year's second slam.

However, Nadal admitted he was "living with an injury" after falling to a third-round defeat to Denis Shapovalov at the Internazionali d'Italia earlier this month, and will need to overcome a tough draw to build on his fine record in Paris, with Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz both on his side of the bracket.

Ahead of his first-round clash with Australia's Jordan Thompson, Nadal insisted that while he was not the favourite to triumph at Roland Garros, he hoped to replicate his performance at the year's opening grand slam in order to give himself a chance.

"I just enjoyed all my tennis career to be where I am, and I always feel very privileged and lucky to have the chance to enjoy all the experiences that I am enjoying and I am living because of this sport," Nadal said.

"And here I am in Roland Garros, another year. It is a place I know well. It is a place that I consider the most important one in my tennis career, without a doubt, and with a lot of positive memories.

"Today, it looks difficult and there are players that are in better shape than me, without a doubt, that is true today. But you never know what can happen in the next couple of days.

"The same happened in Australia, and I put myself in a position to have a chance, and here is no different. Things can change quick, and the only thing that I can do is try to be ready if that change happens."

 

Pressed on the effects of the foot injury which troubled him in Rome, Nadal said he is feeling better, but maintained it was a case of managing, rather than curing, the pain.

"What happened in Rome is something that happened very often in my practices," he added. "I was suffering after that for a couple of days, but I feel better.

"The pain is there always. It's not going to disappear now. It's about if the pain is high and strong enough to allow me to play with real chances [of winning] or not.

"But in my case, is something that I live every day, so it's nothing new for me and is not a big surprise. 

"I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland Garros. And if I didn't believe that this thing can happen, probably I would not be here."

Meanwhile, the stars appear to have aligned for Nadal, with his beloved Real Madrid facing Liverpool in the Champions League final on May 28 just a short journey across Paris at the Stade de France.

Nadal, a known supporter of Los Blancos who requested not to play at the same time as their semi-final win over Manchester City while competing at the Madrid Open earlier this month, revealed he has already made plans to attend the conveniently located contest. 

"Well, I am here to play Roland Garros more than anything else. But of course, I have my tickets already," he smiled.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was furious after his side's 2-0 Premier League defeat against Newcastle United, saying Mikel Arteta's team "don't deserve" Champions League qualification after the damaging reverse.

A Ben White own goal gave the Magpies the lead in a must-win clash for the Gunners, before Bruno Guimaraes sealed Newcastle's victory late on, leaving Arsenal's top-four hopes hanging by a thread.

Arsenal are now two points behind Tottenham in the standings with one match remaining, where Spurs will need to lose to Norwich City to allow the Gunners a chance to sneak back into the top four, courtesy of their inferior goal difference.

The Gunners were comprehensively outclassed in the crucial encounter, producing just 0.40 expected goals compared to Newcastle's 1.38, and only controlling 33 per cent of the first-half possession.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the loss, Xhaka called it a "disaster performance", accusing his team-mates of not following Arteta's gameplan and asserting the team did not deserve European football after producing such a showing.

"So difficult to find right words after the game," he said. "We came here to show a different game, but from the first minute until the 90th minute we didn't deserve to be on the pitch today.

"I can't explain why we didn't do what the game-plan was. Not listening to the coach, [it] was a disaster performance.

"[If you] play like this you don't deserve Champions League, don't even deserve Europa league. Very hard to take it at the moment, I don't know why we are not doing what the coach is asking of us."

Xhaka went on to declare Arsenal had not shown the necessary fight at St James' Park and his told team-mates that if they didn't "have the balls", they should have stayed at home.

"I don't know if someone is not ready for this game, stay at home." he added. "Doesn't matter the age. You can be 30, 35, you can be 10, you can be 18 – [if you're] not ready, stay on the bench, stay at home, don't come here. 

"We need people to have the balls - sorry to say that - to come here to play, because we knew this game is maybe one of the most important games for us.

"A performance like this… [we cannot] accept it, very very sad for us. Sorry for the people that came over here to support us. I feel sorry for Arsenal supporters, this is the only thing I can say – to say sorry to them."

Arsenal play Everton at the Emirates Stadium in their final fixture of the Premier League season on Sunday.

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