Gianluigi Donnarumma hailed an "amazing and emotional year" after Paris Saint-Germain won the Ligue 1 title, but knows they cannot be "fully satisfied" due to Champions League failure.

Donnarumma was recruited by PSG ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, with Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum and superstar Lionel Messi also arriving in the French capital.

Messi joined forces with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to form a fearsome frontline, with PSG easing to a record-extending 10th Ligue 1 title, their eighth in the last 10 seasons.

The championship win was also Mauricio Pochettino's first trophy as a coach, but the former Tottenham boss appears to be heading for the exit door after failing to deliver Champions League success.

Mbappe scored in both legs of the last-16 tie with Real Madrid, but Karim Benzema's incredible hat-trick inspired a turnaround for Los Blancos, who went on to lift the trophy in May.

Christophe Galtier, Zinedine Zidane and Julen Lopetegui are among the names linked with the potential vacancy.

While Donnarumma reflected gleefully on his first season in Paris, he understands the demands at PSG when it comes to the Champions League.

"Winning ten titles is a special thing. It really is great to be able to win," the Italy goalkeeper told PSG TV. "As players, we all wanted to go for it, but that was the case for everyone else at the club, too.

"It was our aim to win the title, so it really was an important season. Unfortunately, we got knocked out of the Champions League, but by winning the title, we gave ourselves some consolation, and that made us really happy.

"It was an amazing and emotional year but also a slightly difficult one. After we were knocked out of the Champions League, it was a bit strange. We had trouble digesting it, but we had to accept it.

"We had to move on because we still had the league title to win, and in the end, we managed to react. So, I'd say that the season was positive overall.

"If you put the Champions League to one side, it was a good season, but we can't be fully satisfied with it, and next year, we'll try to win as many titles as possible."

Marseille are the only French side to win the Champions League, back in 1993, while Monaco and PSG are the only other Ligue 1 teams to reach the final of UEFA's premier club competition.

Barring their 2019-20 final appearance and a semi-final appearance the following season, PSG have failed to pass the Champions League round of 16 in four of the last six campaigns.

That has led to questions over the competition in Ligue 1, but Donnarumma assures the challenge is tougher than critics suggest.

"A lot of people on the outside think that it's easy to win Ligue 1, but I know that that's completely untrue," he added.

"There are some big teams in this league, and there are some really tough places to go here, with hostile crowds and some very competitive sides.

"It really isn't easy, and you always need to be well-prepared and working at 100 per cent because some games are really difficult.

"If we aren't at 100 per cent, it gets hard to bring back wins, so we need to play at our best every time."

A defiant Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed he will have his "head held high" following Italy's 5-2 defeat away to Germany in the Nations League on Tuesday.

Germany led 5-0 at one stage in Monchengladbach and wearing the captain's armband, the Azzurri goalkeeper had a disappointing night personally, with Timo Werner pinching the ball off him before making it 4-0.

Goals from Wilfried Gnonto and Alessandro Bastoni provided small consolation late for Italy but for an inexperienced squad, Tuesday's loss was a harsh reminder of international football's margin for error.

Asked whether distribution with his feet was an aspect he needed to improve upon post-game, after similarly getting his pocket picked in Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League exit, the 23-year-old responded angrily.

"When did it happen before? When I was fouled against Real Madrid? If we want to cause controversy over these things, then fine," Donnarumma told RAI Sport. "I am here to talk for the team. If you want to blame me, fine, I’ll take the blame, I am the captain and I keep going with head held high.

“I think you’re all trying to create something about these errors, fine.

"We are angry. There are no excuses, we have to get back out there and prove this is not us. There are simply no excuses."

The Azzurri sit third in Group A3 after two draws and a win in their opening three games but following their loss in the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima, Tuesday's defeat represents a return to square one.

Donnarumma suggested end-of-season fatigue had been a contributing factor, but it had not been primary in Italy's performance in Germany.

"We were lacking everything tonight," he said. "There was also some fatigue after four games in 15 days at the end of the season, but we don’t want to seek alibis. Now we will look each other in the eye and analyse everything.

"We’re really disappointed for the fans, for what they saw tonight. We had a few chances, but it’s not good enough. We’ll analyse everything and start again.

"All of us made mistakes. I could’ve dealt with the situation better at 4-0 and kicked it away, but you learn from mistakes and grow. Now we just have to rest and come back much stronger than this."

Gianluigi Donnarumma admitted he was left "speechless" after leading Italy to victory over Hungary in the Nations League. 

Goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Pellegrini helped the Azzurri prevail 2-1 at Dino Manuzzi on Tuesday.

Gianluca Mancini's own-goal set up a nervous finish in Cesena, but the reigning European champions held out for maximum points in the Group A3 encounter.

Once again, Roberto Mancini handed the captain's armband to Donnarumma, who shook off an injury to his finger to take his place between the sticks.

The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper became Italy's youngest skipper since 1965 when he donned the armband against Belgium last October.

And following his nation's failure to qualify for the World Cup – as well as the commanding Finalissima defeat to Argentina earlier this month – the 23-year-old has been pleased with the response of Mancini's youthful squad.

"We knew that we had to change and restart with young players after a difficult period," Donnarumma said.

"They [the youngsters] came here with the right spirit knowing that you have to do everything you can for this shirt.

"The captain's armband is an indescribable emotion, wearing the number one shirt and the armband is something that leaves you speechless. 

"For this shirt, I would play even without a finger, I have to thank the medical staff who helped me a lot; with my desire and their help, I was able to play tonight. 

"For me, this shirt is incredible and I will play as long as I can with this shirt."

Italy displaced Hungary at the top of Group A3 with four points from their opening two games.

As a result, Mancini believes his players can carry plenty of belief as the campaign continues against England later this week. 

"We played a good game, especially in the first half,” the head coach added.

"Their goal, however, created us some fear and pressure in a game we should have won with a bigger margin of goals. Both teams were a bit tired at the end.

"We are playing with several youngsters and we are aware that we have plenty of work to do, the road is still long. 

"We can go forward with confidence, however, because we played two good games against difficult teams in Germany and Hungary."

Gianluigi Donnarumma hailed the "perfect year" after Paris Saint-Germain and Milan won their respective leagues, but the goalkeeper has no regrets after leaving the Rossoneri.

Donnarumma was met with widespread condemnation by the Milan supporters after not renewing his contract, before opting to join PSG on a free transfer ahead of the 2021-22 season following his successful Euro 2020 campaign with Italy.

The 23-year-old kept five clean sheets in his 17 Ligue 1 appearances as he shared the goalkeeper duties with Keylor Navas, with PSG securing a record-equalling 10th Ligue 1 title.

Milan, meanwhile, edged out Inter to secure their first Serie A crown in 11 years, much to the delight of Donnarumma.

"After winning the title, the perfect year was the Scudetto of Milan and I congratulate them, they did an incredible job and I'm proud of them," said Donnarumma in a news conference on Sunday.

"I have no regret, I'm happy with what Milan have done and I wrote to all my team-mates to congratulate them."

Donnarumma was also praised the performance of fellow goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was on top form to help Real Madrid to a 1-0 Champions League final victory over Liverpool on Saturday.

Courtois pulled off nine stops in the final, the most on record since Opta began recording data in 2003-04, as Madrid secured a 14th European Cup, more than double any other side.

"I saw the match and he played an incredible match, he kept Real Madrid standing until the end," Donnarumma said of Courtois.

"It made me feel a bit like we could have been there, but unfortunately football is like that. They won and I congratulate Courtois, he made great interventions."

Donnarumma's focus now turns to the 'Finalissima' between Italy and Argentina at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, in a meeting between the European Championship and Copa America winners.

Italy defeated England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley before missing out on World Cup qualification for Qatar after play-off defeat to North Macedonia.

"We must not forget what we did at the European Championship, this is a fantastic group and they gave us an incredible result," Donnarumma added.

"The disappointment of not qualifying for the World Cup is still fresh, we are still disappointed. It hurts, some guys will no longer be with us but we young people must bring Italy back to where it deserves."

Roberto Mancini will have Giorgio Chiellini to call upon for one final game before his international retirement, and Donnarumma says Italy will miss the experienced centre-back.

"We will miss everything about Giorgio, both on and off the pitch he was a point of reference for Italian and world football, especially for us young people," he continued. 

"He gave us great help, now we want to give him great joy. He will be missed on the pitch, he is truly fantastic and will always give you a hand, even just with a simple word."

Gianluigi Donnarumma "still has a lot to give", says former Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, despite the Italy shot-stopper's recent spate of high-profile errors on the biggest stages.

The 23-year-old ended last season on the high of a Euro 2020 triumph with the Azzurri, shortly before a move to Paris Saint-Germain alongside fellow new recruits Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos.

But fast-forward nine months, and he has struggled with costly performances for club and country, resulting in Italy's failure to reach the World Cup and PSG's Champions League exit.

Ex-Selecao goalkeeper Julio Cesar feels Donnarumma has possibly struggled with expectations since his arrival at the Parc des Princes.

"Being a keeper is tough," he told Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "Donnarumma made his debut at AC Milan when he was 16, then he joined the national team.

"He has already won a European Championship at such a young age, and then to join one of the strongest teams in the world, which is full of champions.

"Many positive things happened to this young man, sometimes it is not easy to have that personality you need to get on the pitch after all the things he has been through down the years.

"From being the strongest keeper of the world, to become the player making the mistake that kicked PSG out of the Champions League.

"Everybody was expecting PSG to reach the final simply because the club brought [Sergio] Ramos, [Achraf] Hakimi, [Lionel] Messi and him [Donnarumma]."

Donnarumma may not have been solely at fault for Italy's World Cup play-off exit to North Macedonia or PSG's elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, but Julio Cesar believes the ex-Milan star needs to learn to maintain his level amid the peaks and troughs of the game to become one of the best in the business.

"In football there are ups and downs, but you need to be consistent if you want to become a great keeper," he added. "If you make a mistake during a match, you cannot miss the next 10 or 20 balls.

"Otherwise, you are out. This is what I think, however, the team did not help. I am talking about both club and national team.

"PSG did not do a nice game against Real Madrid, same for Italy when they had the chance to qualify for the World Cup.

"He is a lad who still has a lot to give to football, he can offer a lot to this sport. He is very young, and fans will be happy to watch him playing, because he is a young talent."

Marco Verratti has come to the defence of his Paris Saint-Germain and Italy team-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The goalkeeper came in for criticism following PSG's recent Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, in particular for his error that led to Karim Benzema scoring the Spanish side's first goal at the Santiago Bernabeu in an eventual 3-2 aggregate loss for the Parisians.

Donnarumma has conceded six goals in his last two club appearances, but ahead of Italy's World Cup qualifying play-off against North Macedonia, Verratti wants Azzurri fans to remember his performances during the run to winning Euro 2020.

"We need to be confident. Thursday will be an important match against a team that deserves to be here," Verratti told a news conference.

"As we did during the Euros, we have to go far with enthusiasm and desire.

"Each of us has different stories with our clubs, then here, we have to give everything. With the national team we have always managed to move forward."

It was put to the 29-year-old midfielder that players from PSG and Juventus who were knocked out of the Champions League could bring their dented confidence with them, and he was specifically asked about Donnarumma's mood.

"When you walk into Coverciano [Italy's training complex], you forget everything that happened before, the defeats with our clubs, and you remember what we did last year," Verratti retorted. "We are back to talking about the victory of the European Championship, it's different.

"He [Donnarumma] is sorry for his error against Real Madrid, but Gigio is a special guy. He was already back working the next day with the same enthusiasm.

"Let us not forget what he did for Italy during the Euros. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world."

Donnarumma played seven games at the rescheduled tournament last year, making 10 stops at a save percentage of 71.43, conceding four goals and making key penalty saves from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the final shoot-out against England to clinch the trophy at Wembley Stadium.

Italy are looking to make amends having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and Verratti insists they will "give everything" to get to Qatar.

"We are accustomed to playing under this kind of pressure," he said. "We know it's a very important moment and we cannot afford to be out of the World Cup, but the only thing I know is to work, give my best and do everything there is.

"When Roberto Mancini arrived [in 2018], we were a broken team and he took us to win the European Championship. He worked on our minds above all, now we are a completely different side and we will do everything to go to Qatar."

Arrigo Sacchi says Gianluigi Donnarumma made a mistake by turning his back on Milan to join Paris Saint-Germain, criticising him for "choosing the money".

Donnarumma left Milan after being lured to PSG on a five-year deal last July after his contract with the Serie A giants expired.

The Italy goalkeeper's start to life in France has not gone to plan, as he has only made 18 appearances for the Ligue 1 leaders.

Donnarumma was at fault for the first of three Karim Benzema goals as Real Madrid fought back from two goals down to knock PSG out of the Champions League with a dramatic 3-2 aggregate win on Wednesday.

Former Rossoneri and Italy head coach Sacchi believes Donnarumma should have stayed at Milan.

"He made a mistake in choosing the money," Sacchi told the Corriere della Sera. 

"I also told his father and mother, last summer, here in Milano Marittima. Stay at Milan not so much for gratitude, but because it was the ideal place to grow.

"Never leave the places where you feel good. But he remains a great champion, I have known him since he was little more than a child, in the youth national teams."

PSG's latest quest for Champions League glory ended at the round-of-16 stage and it came as no surprise to Sacchi.

He added: "It is not a project. As George Bernard Shaw said, football is the art of compressing universal history in 90 minutes. In football, as in life, talent is not enough. 

"Money is not enough. It is the group that wins, never the individual. The game and the organisation are like the plot for a writer and the score for a musician. 

"The secret of everything is ideas. Anytime, anywhere. And I see few ideas at PSG."

Gianluigi Donnarumma says Paris Saint-Germain will recover from the "hard blow" of crashing out of the Champions League as they turn their attention to winning Ligue 1.

PSG capitulated in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie against Real Madrid, squandering a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 on aggregate at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Italy goalkeeper Donnarumma was at fault for the first of Karim Benzema's three goals, an error that sparked an incredible Madrid fightback.

The former Milan man has called on the Ligue 1 leaders to regroup as they prepare to face Bordeaux on Sunday.

He tweeted: "The elimination from the Champions League was a hard blow.

"The last two days have not been easy, but we come out stronger from these moments of difficulty.

"Now we have to think about the present, about winning Ligue 1, giving everything as I have always done for this shirt, for this club and for our fans. Let's start again together! Allez Paris."

Former Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon earlier backed Donnarumma to silence his critics.

Taking aim at Donnarumma's critics, Buffon told the Corriere dello Sport: "Errors from goalkeepers are normal. Gigi can still give a lot for PSG. One or two mistakes a season are psychological.

"He made an unpopular choice joining PSG, but it must be respected. He wanted to fuel his ambition, something many didn't like. 

"They're the people who were waiting for this mistake. The problem is not the French who are enjoying it, but the Italians who were waiting for that."

Kylian Mbappe was described as "an alien" and the best in the world by Gianluigi Donnarumma and Danilo Pereira after firing Paris Saint-Germain to a win over Real Madrid.

The France star struck the winner with practically the final kick of the game as PSG claimed a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were the more adventurous overall as Madrid ended the match without a shot on target, their expected goals tally of just 0.14 well below PSG's 1.87.

Mbappe was the most enterprising player throughout against the team he has been tipped to join at the end of the season, but Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept his side at bay, saving a Lionel Messi penalty midway through the second half.

Yet in the 94th minute, Mbappe collected Neymar's backheel, worked space in the box and slotted a finish past Courtois, taking his tally to 52 direct goal involvements in 52 Champions League appearances.

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, PSG goalkeeper Donnarumma, who was largely a spectator throughout the contest, said of Mbappe: "He's spectacular, on and off the pitch. He's an alien. He settled things today.

"He'll take care of [his future]. They're matters for him and he'll decide. In everyday life, from the warm-up to the games, you can see he's an incredible player."

Donnarumma said he praised opposite number Courtois for his performance as he described the victory as hugely important.

"I complimented Courtois. There's respect there. We often talk, and I complimented him," said the Italy international.

"It's a very important victory. We made a great start, we needed to score first, but the ball didn't go in.

"There's a return leg now, and we'll have to do even better. We go there to win – nothing changes for us. We'll have to play a great match. If we do, we'll go through."

For Danilo, Mbappe is simply the best player in the world at the moment, one who offers something different to his rivals.

"Mbappe isn't a player like others. He showed that with his goal. For me, right now, he's the best," he said to RMC Sport.

"I'm happy. We won, and we played a huge game against a great side. It's always good to win at home."

Gianluigi Donnarumma stands by his decision to leave Milan for Paris Saint-Germain despite having to share goalkeeping duties with Keylor Navas since arriving in France.

Italy's Euro 2020 hero Donnarumma has only made 10 league starts since joining PSG on a free transfer last year, while Costa Rican competitor Keylor Navas has appeared between the sticks in 13 of the side's Ligue 1 outings.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Donnarumma, who made 215 Serie A appearances at Milan after coming through the Rossoneri's youth ranks, thanked his former club for their role in his development, but stressed that he was happy with life at PSG.

"I can only thank the club for what they did for me", the 22-year-old said. "I improved as a man and as a footballer in Milan.

"I think PSG was in my destiny.

"They had been following me for many years and have always made sure I knew about their interest. Everyone at the club makes me feel important, from President Al-Khelaifi to director Leonardo. I am happy and proud to be here.

When asked about his competition with Navas, Donnarumma responded: "I knew that this was the situation when I signed with PSG.

"I don't know what he [Navas] thinks, but I am okay with it because everyone here always makes me feel important.

"It's not true that we are not on good terms, there is an excellent rapport between us, he is a good guy and there are no problems."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed he urged Kylian Mbappe to leave his comfort zone and join Real Madrid after being approached for advice by the Paris Saint-Germain forward. 

Mbappe was the subject of two big-money bids from Madrid in the last transfer window and recently revealed he asked PSG to grant him a move away.

The France international is out of contract at the end of the season and continues to be linked with a free transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu.

He has spent five seasons with PSG, the first of those on an initial loan from fellow Ligue 1 side Monaco, whom he represented for two campaigns.

More than six years after bursting onto the scene, former PSG striker Ibrahimovic believes it is time for Mbappe to test himself in a new league.

"Only Kylian can answer you about where he has to go. It depends on what he wants, what he thinks," Ibrahimovic told L'Equipe.

"Me, I would have gone. But if I am PSG, I would try to keep him. It's him who will decide. PSG want to keep him, obviously, but does he want to stay?

"I also think that there are other clubs that want him: if you are a manager, and you have the means and you do not want to take Mbappe, you are in the wrong business. 

"He asked me [for advice], yes, and I told him: 'If I were you, I would go to Real'.

"I had the chance to play in different teams, different countries, with different champions, and that's how I learned and grew. 

"Playing at home all your career is easier, in my opinion. Whereas if you pack your bags and go to other places, it's an adventure."

Ibrahimovic himself spent four seasons with PSG and scored 156 goals, a tally bettered only by Edinson Cavani (200) in the club's list of all-time goalscorers.

Mbappe is fast closing in on Ibrahimovic in that regard as he has 151 goals in 198 appearances for the Parisians in all competitions since his debut in September 2017.

That is the fourth-most of any player from Europe's top five leagues across that period, behind Cristiano Ronaldo (158), Lionel Messi (168) and Robert Lewandowski (212).

 

While Mbappe is a guaranteed starter for PSG when available, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has struggled to hold down a place in the side since joining from Milan.

Donnarumma played a key part in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph and impressed across six years at San Siro, but he has had to share goalkeeping duties with Keylor Navas this term.

That has come as a shock to Milan striker Ibrahimovic, who spent two and a half years playing in the same side as the Italian stopper.

"I am very surprised. But I know it's not easy for the coach, and I know Navas is a great goalkeeper too," he said.

"They have two phenomena in goal. In my world, Donnarumma is the number one today.

"I don't know if it's good to alternate goalkeepers, or if it's more of a favour you do to one of them. I'm used to having a goalkeeper who is number one and is always the same. 

"And about Donnarumma there is no question: he is the best in the world, and that's that. I played with him, I know what I'm talking about."

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain each have four nominees in the 23-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11 for 2021.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold are also included, although there is no place for Mohamed Salah.

PSG's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are among the forwards, as is Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Veteran Dani Alves also won enough votes to make the list, even though the 38-year-old, who recently rejoined Barcelona, only played 16 times in domestic competition in Brazil this year.

Professional footballers across the world were asked to vote for the three players they considered to have the best seasons during the 2020-21 season among goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

FIFPRO said: "For the first time in 17 years, FIFPRO is updating the announcement about the most-voted players, reducing the shortlist from 55 to 23. This has been done to resemble a real-life 'squad' which, usually for international competitions, is the number of players involved. 

"The three goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and six forwards with the most votes earned a place in the 23-men World 11 'squad'. To complete this elite selection, the two remaining outfield players with the most votes were added."

The keeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards with the most votes will be chosen for the World 11, with the remaining spot assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes.

The final 11 will be announced at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on January 17.

 

FIFA FIFPRO MEN'S WORLD 11 23-PLAYER SHORTLIST:

Goalkeepers:
Alisson (Liverpool, Brazil)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan/Paris Saint-Germain, Italy)
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, Senegal)

Defenders:
David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Austria)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona, Spain)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)
Dani Alves (Sao Paulo/Barcelona, Brazil)
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy)
Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal)

Midfielders:
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, Spain)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal)
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona, The Netherlands)
Jorginho (Chelsea, Italy)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea, France)

Forwards:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United, Portugal)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)
Romelu Lukaku (Inter/Chelsea, Belgium)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil)

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi clinched a seventh Ballon d'Or, extending his record as the player to have won the individual accolade on the most occasions.

The 34-year-old enjoyed a fruitful year at club level, scoring 32 times in 40 appearances across all competitions for PSG and Barcelona, but it was his exploits with Argentina that were most impressive, claiming the first major international trophy of his career by winning the Copa America. 

Bayern Munich's prolific striker Robert Lewandowski came second to Messi, but became the first winner of the Striker of the Year award after outscoring every player in Europe's top five leagues, netting 53 times in 42 appearances across all competitions so far in 2021, averaging a goal every 67 minutes.

Messi's PSG team-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed the Yashin Trophy, awarded to the best goalkeeper, and was named 10th in the Ballon d'Or voting.

Donnarumma starred for Italy as they won Euro 2020, making a number of crucial saves in the shoot-out victory over England in the final.

Barcelona and Spain youngster Pedri won the Kopa Trophy after featuring heavily for club and country despite only turning 19 on November 25, also being shortlisted for the Ballon d'Or and finishing 24th.

Another Barca midfielder, Alexia Putellas, picked up the women's top prize, having helped the Catalan giants' women's team to Champions League and domestic glory in 2020-21.

Finally, Chelsea had 11 players nominated across all categories, making them the inaugural Club of the Year winners.

Award winners in full:

Men's Ballon d'Or – Lionel Messi (PSG and Argentina)
Kopa Trophy – Pedri (Barcelona and Spain)
Yashin Trophy – Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG and Italy)
Club of the Year – Chelsea (England)
Striker of the Year – Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland)
Women's Ballon d'Or – Alexia Putellas (Barcelona and Spain)

Arrigo Sacchi is not surprised Gianluigi Donnarumma was jeered on his return to San Siro after suggesting the Italy goalkeeper "betrayed" Milan by joining Paris Saint-Germain.

Donnarumma arrived at the Ligue 1 giants on a free transfer in July after reaching the end of his Milan contract and failing to agree fresh terms with his boyhood club.

The 22-year-old made 251 appearances for Milan between emerging through their youth ranks in 2015 at the age of 16 and departing for PSG three months ago.

Donnarumma's reluctance to sign a new deal at San Siro, thus meaning Milan received no transfer fee, angered some supporters of his former club.

A section of Milan fans inside San Siro made that frustration known when whistling the young keeper every time he touched the ball for Italy in last week's Nations League semi-final loss to Spain.

Azzurri head coach Roberto Mancini criticised the supporters who booed their former hero, but Milan great Sacchi can understand the reaction.

"I have never jeered anyone in my life, but at times people do go looking for these insults," he said at the Festival dello Sport event in Trento.

"Evidently, there was a betrayal. In football and in everyday life, betrayal has to be repaid in kind. So let's not be shocked by a few jeers."

 

Despite his young age, Donnarumma has already appeared 218 times in Serie A and Ligue 1 combined since making his Milan debut in October 2015.

Only Samir Handanovic (219) and Inaki Williams (220) have featured more regularly in Europe's top five leagues across that period.

Donnarumma has kept 72 clean sheets in those 218 league games and has a save percentage of 72.72.

Eleven others to have played at least 100 times in that timeframe rank higher in that metric than Donnarumma, with Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak (78.87) leading the way.

He earned his 38th cap for Italy in Sunday's 2-1 win over Belgium as the Azzurri finished third in the Nations League.

Lionel Messi did not want to leave Barcelona and his eventual signing for Paris Saint-Germain even caught them by surprise, according to the Parisians' sporting director Leonardo.

Messi ended a 21-year association with Barca back in August when it was announced he would not be re-signing for the club.

His contract had officially expired at the end of June but Barca and Messi were expecting to be able to announce a new deal on a reduced salary.

But even with the reduced terms, Barca were still unable to get their wage expenditure under their LaLiga-imposed salary cap, which prevented them registering new signings.

As such, Messi was officially a free agent and PSG quickly swooped to bring him in, with the Ligue 1 champions and Manchester City both being linked with him extensively in the past.

The situation surrounding Messi's inability to re-sign for Barca and his move to PSG shocked the world of football, and that included those at PSG.

"Messi was convinced to stay at Barcelona," Leonardo told reporters at the Festival dello Sport on Saturday.

"We had some contacts. Some rumours were saying he may not stay at Barcelona because his contract was expiring.

"We checked the situation, we talked but we did not have the feeling he wanted to leave Barcelona. However we started networking. This helped us to be in a good position.

"Then Barcelona announced the end of their relationship, so that's the moment we started and it's been great. It's been a surprise for everybody.

"Then he arrived. The way he arrived… he was at Barcelona for 21 years. It was the first transfer he'd done.

"It was a new thing for him to be in a new dressing room. He's got an impacting silence, he doesn't talk much but he is someone to admire."

Another high-profile player signed by PSG on a free transfer in pre-season was Gianluigi Donnarumma, who departed Milan after running his contract down.

Many in Italy have been intensely critical of Donnarumma for opting to leave for the greater riches on offer in Paris, but Leonardo insisted PSG did not get in touch with him until June, two months after his exit was confirmed.

"I know it's a difficult situation," Leonardo said. "We never contacted Donnarumma before June. I don't want to be wrong, I think Milan announced in April that they were not extending the contract [of Donnarumma].

"They signed a new goalkeeper in Mike Maignan, so Donnarumma was free for the market. We had never contacted Donnarumma before, then some things happened.

"I had been in Milan but his future was not decided yet. He was free in June. We talked and we took this decision.

"We had never done previous work to have him for free. He was going to another team if it wasn't PSG. He wouldn't have stayed at Milan."

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