Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo described his feelings of "ecstasy" after his side's Bundesliga survival was secured with a last-gasp 2-1 final-day win over Cologne.

VfB were destined for a relegation play-off entering injury time on Saturday with the scoreline locked at 1-1, despite rivals Hertha Berlin trailing at Borussia Dortmund.

Stuttgart needed only one goal to be sure of Bundesliga safety and, with goalkeeper Florian Muller – whose error had put them in such peril – up for a corner, it belatedly arrived.

Wataru Endo headed the 92nd-minute winner that sparked scenes of mass celebration and condemned Hertha to the play-off – not that Matarazzo knew the identity of his hero amid the carnage.

The coach raced onto the pitch along with his substitutes – and Stuttgart mascot Fritzle, a giant, fluffy crocodile.

"I don't even remember who scored the goal," Matarazzo told Sky Sport. "I don't remember what happened.

"Suddenly, I only see that Fritzle is lying on me. It was a nice moment for all players, for all the fans and everyone part of the club."

Stuttgart were grateful to Dortmund for their role in the escape, with Hertha having led until past the hour mark at the Westfalenstadion, when the departing Erling Haaland equalised.

"The boys certainly noticed the result," Matarazzo said. "With every goal Dortmund scored, the players had more courage.

"It was an absolute goal of will at the end. I'm very happy for the boys."

He added: "I’ve got a headache after all that shouting and cheering. That was ecstasy, a great moment, outstanding. I'm so happy for the lads. You never forget a moment like today."

Borussia Dortmund bade farewell to several players on an emotional day at Signal Iduna Park, with Erling Haaland signing off in style.

Haaland is moving to Manchester City ahead of the 2022-23 season, with that move confirmed this week.

The 21-year-old – who joined Dortmund from Salzburg in 2019-20 – was presented with a wreath prior to kick-off on Saturday, as Dortmund faced Hertha Berlin in their final Bundesliga game of the season.

He was not the only player given an ovation before the match, with Axel Witsel and Dan-Axel Zagadou, who are leaving the club following the expiration of their contracts, and departing loanees Marin Pongracic and Reinier Jesus also paraded on the pitch, along with Marcel Schmelzer, who has retired.

Long-time sporting director Michael Zorc is also retiring, and was given a huge send-off by the Dortmund crowd.

The enthusiasm in the stands was not initially matched on the pitch, as relegation-threatened Hertha took an 18th-minute lead through Ishak Belfodil's penalty.

However, Haaland got his farewell goal with 22 minutes of normal time remaining, coolly slamming in an 86th Dortmund strike from the spot, in what was his 89th appearance for the club.

Zagadou and Witsel were both subbed off with the game winding down and, fittingly, it was the latter's replacement who netted Dortmund's winner.

Marco Rose insisted Dortmund would "not stop playing football" in the wake of Haaland's departure and 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko showed the future is bright as he converted from Jude Bellingham's sublime pass.

Haaland was able to enjoy a standing ovation as he made way, with Dortmund's 2-1 victory also ensuring Hertha will be in the relegation play-off.

Dortmund's place in second was already sealed, but below them, Freiburg's attempt to get into the Champions League fell just short as they lost 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen, who took third, while RB Leipzig finished fourth.

Freiburg still have the DFB-Pokal final against Leipzig to look forward to but ultimately slipped down to sixth, with Taiwo Awoniyi's late penalty sending Union Berlin into fifth with a 3-2 win over VfL Bochum.

Julian Nagelsmann was happy with Bayern Munich's performance as they swept aside Hertha Berlin 4-1 in the German capital on Sunday, particularly with the quality of their counter-pressing.

Goals from Corentin Tolisso, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry restored Bayern's six-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, despite a late reply from Jurgen Ekkelenkamp after a mistake from substitute Dayot Upamecano.

The reigning champions dominated the game, having 30 shots of which 19 were on target, registering an overall expected goals (xG) tally of 5.00.

"I'm very pleased with the performance," Nagelsmann said at a post-match news conference. "The first half was a bit stronger than in the return fixture. Our players were extremely sharp in their counter-pressing. We had many chances from our possession.

"In the second half, Hertha were a bit better. Overall, it's a deserved win and a very good game from us."

 

Muller was also impressed by the team's efforts, especially in creating the number of chances they did.

"We played well. We had a lot of attacking players on the pitch," the 32-year-old said after scoring his sixth league goal of the campaign.

"We were looking forward to the game because we knew what we were going to do today. On the other hand, of course, you never know how an attacking wing pairing of Coman and Gnabry will work."

Muller added, quoted on Bayern's official website: "The first half was maybe even a bit better than the second because we had more control.

"Our counter-pressing was a bit better, we allowed practically nothing. We had Berlin pinned down right from the start and let nothing go to waste, and had chance after chance. A very good afternoon of football."

Bayern Munich restored their six-point lead at the Bundesliga summit with an extremely comfortable 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin on Sunday. 

The reigning champions saw their advantage halved when Borussia Dortmund beat Hoffenheim on Saturday, but it did not look like remaining at three points once Corentin Tolisso opened the scoring at the Olympiastadion.

Thomas Muller doubled Bayern's lead before the break and, after a string of impressive saves, Alexander Schwolow gifted Leroy Sane a tap-in with a wayward pass across the face of his own goal.

Serge Gnabry added a fourth as the visitors' relentless pressure finally told in the closing 15 minutes, though Jurgen Ekkelenkamp lobbed home a consolation 35 seconds after being subbed on.

Tolisso had a goal ruled out for offside by the VAR in the second minute, with Schwolow making saves from Sane, Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski to keep the game level midway through the first half.

After Ishak Belfodil threatened for the hosts, Tolisso stooped to head Coman's left-wing delivery into the bottom-right corner and give Bayern a deserved lead.

Tolisso missed an open goal and Schwolow kept out Lewandowski, but Bayern got their second on the stroke of half-time when an unmarked Muller guided Joshua Kimmich's free-kick home.

Suat Serdar was unable to hit the target from six yards out, and Bayern were out of sight when Schwolow's pass to Linus Gechter was intercepted by Sane, who was left with a simple finish into a vacant net.

Gechter did well to clear a looping effort from Gnabry off the line, but the winger was not to be denied again, drilling home a fine finish for Bayern's second goal in four minutes.

Dayot Upamecano had not even been on the pitch for a minute when he sold Manuel Neuer short with a back pass and, after the keeper thwarted Stevan Jovetic, Ekkelenkamp lofted in the follow-up to complete the scoring.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann remains unsure on the progress of Manuel Neuer's contract negotiations but heaped praise on the "outstanding" goalkeeper.

Neuer has made 300 appearances in the Bundesliga for Bayern since moving from Schalke and holds the record for the most clean sheets in the German top flight (209), having surpassed Oliver Kahn (196) in 2021.

But the Germany international's current contract in Munich expires at the end of the next season, when he will be aged 37, leading to questions over his future.

While Nagelsmann was unable to provide an update on the situation, he insisted that the 35-year-old can continue performing for many years to come.

"I don't know [about negotiations] but I know that he still has a contract and is an outstanding goalkeeper," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of a trip to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

"You could see right away that he played an outstanding game against Cologne. He will keep this quality for a few more years."

Asked about the competition, or lack of, between Neuer and Alexander Nubel, the Bayern head coach responded: "As long as he's playing at this level, it's difficult for any player to get past him. 

"Manuel is still the best goalkeeper because he plays every part of the goalkeeping game very consistently.

"I can't imagine it stopping abruptly at 36. We can analyse the situation when the time comes. Both are currently playing and are satisfied."

 

The reigning Bundesliga champions head to Berlin six points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top after a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick inspired them to a 4-0 win over Cologne.

Hertha have won just one of their last 21 league meetings with the Bavarian side, while Nagelsmann has not lost any of his 12 top-flight clashes with them as a coach.

Only Christoph Daum, against Bochum, has faced an opponent more often (20) without losing a single time but Nagelsmann downplayed the importance of his record against Sunday's opponents.

"It's more of a coincidence," he added on his success against Hertha. "We didn't always play exceptionally well in Berlin. If you have a positive record, you should make sure that it's like that remains.

"They play significantly more football than before, more flat balls, but still a lot of chip balls to [Ishak] Belfodil, who is one of the most under-rated strikers in the league.

"He works well with his body, it's incredibly difficult to defend. 

"With [Marco] Richter and [Suat] Serdar, there are good footballers on the outside. It's more the footballing, courageous approach that [Tayfun] Korkut also demands. 

"The rest of the defence will be very important for us. In the end, you saw against Wolfsburg that there are a lot of spaces you can attack from, but they also defend much more actively and aggressively."

Despite Bayern's recent dominance, Nagelsmann insisted there is still potential for much improvement, though he feels their progress in Europe could depend on coronavirus.

"I'm satisfied, but we still have a lot of potential," he added. "The processes haven't worked consistently for several weeks. Me and the players take a critical look. 

"It's the case that the coronavirus issue is the season will affect how the teams get through. 

"There are no longer the extreme quarantine rules. Corona is a thing that you cannot influence very well. If you want to go far in the Champions League, you also have to be a little lucky with Corona quarantines."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann lauded Robert Lewandowski, labelling him a Bundesliga great following his hat-trick in the 5-0 rout of Hertha Berlin.

Lewandowski was in ruthless form on Saturday, scoring three goals to lead Bayern to a crushing win at home to Hertha.

The Poland international, who has been linked with a move away, netted in his 13th successive Bundesliga match – only the late Gerd Muller (16, 1969-70) found the net in more consecutive league games than Lewandowski.

Lewandowski surpassed 300 goals for Bayern, reaching 301 in just his 333rd appearance for the German giants. It is a mark only surpassed by Muller (566 goals in 607 matches) in the club's history.

The 33-year-old forward (15) is second in the list of hat-trick scorers, behind only Muller (32).

"He is definitely one of the best in Bundesliga history," Nagelsmann told reporters post-match.

"You would have to go through many of them, the league has been around for quite a while. But he is very consistent, has a great ability to get himself between the lines in possession. That's what makes him hard to catch.

"He's not just someone who waits for the balls up front, he participates in the game and creates a numerical advantage in the box. He is really dangerous because he can finish with all body parts really well."

"He does that with quality and has a great character. If you win so much like he did in the last two years and are still as hungry from the first game, if you have these transfer rumours revolving around you, which is normal for him, and then still perform as hungry as he does, this is extraordinary.

"No question. He's probably top of the top."

Teenage sensation and Germany international Jamal Musiala was also on target for Bayern after Thomas Muller opened the scoring inside six minutes against Hertha.

On the 18-year-old Musiala, Nagelsmann added: "The best thing is his modesty and humility. He's not one to over-celebrate his performances but wants to keep going. I think this is a prerequisite for a great career if he keeps that modesty.

"He has incredible qualities in one-on-one situations and a good finish. This is hard to find in today's youth teams: players with a certain football ground mentality. He has that and I don't want him to lose it but my biggest task will be making him keep it."

Bayern are unbeaten in 29 Bundesliga home games (W24, D5) – since moving to the Allianz Arena in 2005, the club have only had a longer streak without defeat in top-flight home games from March 2016 to April 2018 (38 fixtures).

Robert Lewandowski created a new personal best as his hat-trick helped Bayern Munich to a commanding 5-0 win over Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena.

The Pole netted in his 13th successive Bundesliga match, with Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala also on target at the start of each half as Julian Nagelsmann’s men moved level on points with leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Freiburg.

Only the late Gerd Muller (16, 1969-70) has found the net in more consecutive league matches than Lewandowski, who surpassed his previous best streak of 12 from the 2012-13 season.

Meanwhile, Bayern are now unbeaten in 27 home league matches against Hertha, who are the only side yet to register a point in the German top flight this term.

Bayern edged in front after just six minutes. A quick counter culminated in Lewandowski dummying Alphonso Davies’ pass for the onrushing Muller to clinically tuck away his first league goal of the season.  
 
The lead was doubled in the 35th minute. Lewandowski’s initial header from Serge Gnabry’s centre crashed against the crossbar, but he reacted quickest by rising above the defender to nod home the rebound. 
 
Fresh from scoring twice in the 12-0 DFB-Pokal demolition of fifth-tier Bremer in midweek, Musiala got in on the act four minutes after the break as he neatly bent a shot into the far corner. 
 
Lewandowski grabbed his second 20 minutes from time. Substitute Leroy Sane played a neat one-two with Muller before squaring for the striker, who made no mistake from close range. 
 
And the Pole completed his treble with six minutes remaining; heading home after Tanguy Nianzou cushioned Joshua Kimmich’s corner invitingly into his path.

Atletico Madrid have completed the signing of Matheus Cunha from Hertha Berlin for a reported €26million fee.

Cunha, who is Brazil Under-23s' all-time leading goalscorer, joins Diego Simeone's side on a five-year deal and will provide capable support to talisman Luis Suarez up top.

Speculation had linked the 22-year-old to Everton, Atalanta and Napoli, but the reigning LaLiga champions swooped in to secure his services after a move for Dusan Vlahovic fell through.

Cunha initially moved to Europe to play for Swiss side Sion, subsequently joining RB Leipzig before finding a new home with Hertha in 2020.

Last term, the versatile attacker scored eight and assisted six across 28 games in all competitions, leading Hertha's charts ahead of second-place Dodi Lukebakio with 12 goal involvements.

The Brazil striker created 54 chances - 18 more than closest team-mate Vladimir Darida – putting him sixth among forwards playing in Germany.

Solely in the Bundesliga, the former Leipzig man has improved in front of goal in every campaign since 2018-19 and most recently scored a career-high seven goals in the German top-flight, finding the target with 62.5 per cent of shots.

Similarly, Cunha almost doubled his touches in the opposition box in such fixtures last year, producing 98 in comparison to 53 last term and 58 the year before.

 

However, it is in terms of dribbling where Atletico's new man comes to the fore.

Since his arrival in Berlin on January 31, 2020, only five forwards across Europe's top-five leagues have completed more dribbles than Cunha's 123 – successful in just over 60 per cent of all dribbles he attempted.

No player in the Bundesliga can match that dribbling tally while Yannick Carrasco is the only Atletico player to have completed more than 100 dribbles in the same time frame.

Cunha will likely be tasked with partnering Suarez as a second striker, perhaps replacing the in-form Angel Correa as Los Colchoneros go in search of back-to-back LaLiga titles.

Makeshift forward Correa has scored eight goals in his last 10 across all competitions - including three in his last two - for Simeone's men, having previously netted seven times in his last 73 for the club.

Cunha could feature as early as Sunday against Villarreal for the defending Spanish champions, who have started a new campaign with consecutive wins for the fourth time during the Simeone era.

Could the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga be nearing a conclusion?

Long linked with Real Madrid, Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain's attempts to re-sign Mbappe have been fruitless up until this point and the Ligue 1 giants are reportedly willing to cash in.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE NEARING MADRID?

Paris Saint-Germain are prepared to accept an offer for Kylian Mbappe should one arrive from Real Madrid before the end of the transfer window, according to RMC.

PSG have been fighting to re-sign Mbappe, who is in the final year of his current deal in the French capital.

However, PSG have reportedly accepted defeat in their efforts to retain Mbappe beyond the 2021-22 season as Madrid look to lure the Frenchman to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Premier League pair Manchester United and Liverpool have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror writes United are prepared to offer cash plus a player-swap – believed to be Jesse Lingard – to sign West Ham's Declan Rice.

- Atletico Madrid are closing in on a deal to sign Hertha Berlin's Matheus Cunha, says Fabrizio Romano. LaLiga champions Atletico had been linked with Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic – also wanted by the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham, Inter and Arsenal – but have so far failed to reach an agreement.

- The Daily Telegraph reports Tottenham are preparing a £40million bid to reunite Nuno Espirito Santo with Wolves star Adama Traore.

Napoli are eyeing unwanted Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic, per Correire dello Sport. Pjanic had looked set to return to Juventus.

- Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira will move to Fiorentina after turning down Eintracht Frankfurt, according to Romano.

Chelsea are continuing to eye Sevilla defender Jules Kounde, claims Romano. The Frenchman is ready to swap Seville for London after agreeing personal terms on a deal until June 2026.

- Inter are monitoring Torino star Andrea Belotti as they seek to replace Romelu Lukaku, says Calciomercato. The Serie A champions have also been linked to Lazio forward Joaquin Correa.

Aaron Ramsey has not set the world on fire since joining Juventus from Arsenal two years ago.

It has been reported in Italy that the Serie A club are ready to listen to offers.

Ramsey reportedly earns £250,000 per week and Juve are said to be keen to ease that burden.

 

TOP STORY - SPURS SHOCK MOVE FOR RAMSEY

Tottenham are lining up a shock move for former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, claims The Sun.

Juventus may be looking to offload the Wales international, who has made 46 league appearances in two seasons in Turin.

Tottenham's managing director of football Fabio Paratici is keen to bring Ramsey back to London to team up with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham have ramped up their bid to sign Atalanta centre-back Cristian Romero who will cost around £40million (€46m), according to The Telegraph.

- Marca claims Inter, Sampdoria and Genoa are monitoring Real Madrid's 23-year-old striker Luka Jovic.

- Monaco's Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic has agreed to join Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin on a deal until 2024, reports Sky Sport.

- The Telegraph reports that Newcastle United  are keen on signing Manchester United defender Axel Tuanzebe, with a loan or permanent move discussed.

- Sky Sports claims West Ham are still interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who spent last season on loan at Fulham.

- Italian clubs Lazio and Napoli,  along with Spanish outfit Villarreal,  fancy Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri, reports Sky Sports.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed centre-back Virgil van Dijk is in contention to make his long-awaited return from injury in Thursday's pre-season friendly with Hertha Berlin.

Van Dijk appeared just five times for the Reds in the Premier League last season and missed the Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained against Everton in October.

The 30-year-old was included as part of Liverpool's squad for their warm-weather training camp in Austria this month, but he was not used in last week's 1-0 win over Mainz and Klopp made clear he would not rush the defender back.

However, the Liverpool boss is now ready to give Van Dijk some minutes at Tivoli Stadion, while fellow centre-back Joe Gomez – who has not featured since injuring his knee while on England duty last November – is also closing in on a return.

"I hope, I am not sure, there is the opportunity Virgil could play a few minutes. He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring him in, but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we'll see," Klopp told Liverpool's website.

"If you see the games now as part of their rehab training, that makes sense. Joe is very close. There is no race between the two of them; they had different injuries and stuff like this, but he is very close.

"If Virgil can play now 20 then probably Joey can in the game after. We will see. In training they both look really good.

"I think from time to time there are some pictures of them from training sessions and everyone can see how good it looks, but there is no rush for us. 

"It is not about they now need five pre-season games to be ready for the start or whatever. It is a long season and we prepare them after these very, very serious injuries for the rest of their careers and not for the first game of the season.

"Losing a little bit of patience for them to return as a supporter or as a coach even is not bad, it just means they were pretty good and we want them to be back in the team."

The imminent return of Van Dijk is a major boost for Liverpool, who sorely missed the Dutchman's leadership and defensive attributes last season, having played every match in their successful 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

Only one defender in the league bettered his 191 aerial wins during that season, while he attempted and completed more passes than any of them. Trent Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, was the sole defensive player to have more than his 3,624 touches.

Liverpool won 81.4 per cent of the 43 Premier League matches Van Dijk played between August 2019 and his injury, but that fell to just 51.5 per cent between October and the end of the season when he was out of the team.

Van Dijk is not the only player in line to return to the Liverpool side this week, with Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota set to feature against Bundesliga side Hertha.

Robertson and Jota represented Scotland and Portugal respectively at Euro 2020, but both players linked up with their club colleagues last week and are now deemed ready to feature in pre-season action.

"They will have minutes, that's the plan. They obviously trained completely normal all the time now and we try to involve them," Klopp said.

Liverpool also have friendlies against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna to come before beginning their Premier League campaign against Norwich City on August 14, so Klopp will continue to rotate his side during the upcoming matches.

"Some of the players are ready for 60 minutes. It will be hard for them definitely, but it means then others play 30 minutes and stuff like this, or even maybe 20 minutes and these kind of things," he said.

"Pre-season is about trying. It's a proper, proper challenge to make all these individuals to bring them in the best possible physical shape and make us more ready or stronger as a team. 

"Unfortunately, football is not like cycling, so you don't miss it completely but the pedals and stuff like this just go away so quick that's incredible. So we have to work on that again, that's what we do.

"Today is a really tough [double session]. I like it, the players probably sleep now already and that would be better because this afternoon it would be really hard."

Germany's men's Olympic football head coach Stefan Kuntz says his players had no option but to walk off the field with five minutes remaining of their match against Honduras after defender Jordan Torunarigha was allegedly racially abused.

Saturday's pre-Tokyo 2020 friendly, which was played behind closed doors in Wakayama, was brought to an early close shortly after Felix Uduokhai had cancelled out Douglas Martinez's first-half opener.

A tweet from the official Germany team account read: "The game has ended five minutes early with the score at 1-1. The Germany players left the pitch after Jordan Torunarigha was racially abused."

The Honduras national team later tweeted that the incident "was a misunderstanding", but Kuntz stands by his side's decision to take a collective stand by making their way off the pitch.

"When one of our players is racially abused, playing on is not an option," Kuntz said at his post-match news conference.

"It was a strong statement. After the situation calmed down, the whole Honduras squad came to us and apologised. That was the end of the topic for us.

"We talked to each other about whether we should do anything else, but Jordan said 'No, that was a strong enough statement'.

"We want to end the subject there because now we fly to Yokohama to prepare for our next game."

Torunarigha plays for Hertha Berlin at club level and has represented Germany from Under-16s to Under-23s level.

The 23-year-old was also the alleged victim of racist abuse in February 2020 in a DFB-Pokal match between Hertha and Schalke.

Following the latest incident on Saturday, Hertha offered their support to the centre-back, tweeting of the decision to leave the pitch in unison: "That is the only right decision!"

"His team-mates picked him up straight away and hugged him for a few minutes," added Kuntz, who earned 25 caps for the Germany men's senior side in his playing days.

"He was very relaxed and you could tell he was happy to be with us. Afterwards we even started to joke a bit again.

"This team is great. It helps of course when you can see that your colleagues support you so much. It's also a strong statement from Jordan to say what we did was enough."

Germany face Brazil on July 22 in their opening Group D fixture at the Olympics, before taking on Saudi Arabia and Ivory Coast.

Germany's men's football team walked off the pitch in a pre-Tokyo Olympics friendly against Honduras after defender Jordan Torunarigha was allegedly racially abused.

Saturday's match in Wakayama was tied at 1-1 when abandoned with five minutes to go, moments after Felix Uduokhai had cancelled out Douglas Martinez's first-half opener.

The Germany national team's official Twitter account later confirmed the reason for the game, which was split into three 30-minute sessions, being cut short.

"The game has ended five minutes early with the score at 1-1," the tweet read. "The Germany players left the pitch after Jordan Torunarigha was racially abused."

Torunarigha plays for Hertha Berlin at club level and has played for Germany from Under-16s to Under-23s level.

The 23-year-old was also the alleged victim of racist abuse in February 2020 in a DFB-Pokal match between Hertha and Schalke.

Following the latest incident on Saturday, Hertha offered their support to the centre-back, tweeting of the decision to leave the pitch in unison: "That is the only right decision!"

Germany face Brazil on July 22 in their opening Group D fixture at the Olympics, before taking on Saudi Arabia and Ivory Coast.

Marseille have confirmed the signing of Matteo Guendouzi, who joins on a one-year loan from Arsenal with an option to buy.

The French midfielder moves to Ligue 1 to continue his career after spending the 2020-21 season out on loan at Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin.

Guendouzi made 24 appearances during the temporary stint in Germany, scoring two goals and providing one assist as Hertha avoided relegation with a 14th-placed finish in the top tier.

Signed from Lorient in July 2018, the 22-year-old played in 82 games for Arsenal and was a regular under former Gunners boss Unai Emery.

However, Guendouzi had an altercation with Neal Maupay during a game with Brighton and Hove Albion in June 2020 that led to Mikel Arteta leaving the player out of his squad. He did not feature for the club again, with this latest move seemingly ending his time at Emirates Stadium.

 

Despite departing, the France Under-21international made clear he will recall fondly his time at Arsenal as he prepares to start a new chapter with Marseille.

"Thank you Arsenal, thanks for everything!" Guendouzi posted in the first of a series of tweets.

"I discovered and learned so much during my time here. It would be impossible to list everything without forgetting one memory or word… but I will never forget any minute spent with the Gunners jersey.

"I will never forget the Emirates Stadium. I will never forget the fans. I will never forget the city. I will never forget everything I've been through here. I will never forget that my only will was to defend with pride Arsenal colours.

"Thanks to all of those who believed in me during my time here, during the good and the bad moments. I can only wish the best to the club and its fans who deserve so much, trust me! Goodbye Arsenal, I will never forget you and will be a Gooner forever."

Guendouzi's arrival continues a busy offseason for Marseille. The French club had already added Cengiz Under – who was on loan at Leicester City last term – from Roma for the 2021-22 season, as well as midfielder Gerson and centre-back Leonardo Balerdi on permanent deals.

Hertha Berlin midfielder Sami Khedira has announced his retirement from football at the end of the 2020-21 season. 

The 34-year-old's last game will be against Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Saturday. 

Khedira joined Hertha in February after five-and-a-half years with Serie A giants Juventus, where he won five Scudettos and three Coppa Italia titles. 

Prior to that he enjoyed five seasons at Real Madrid, claiming one LaLiga title and the Champions League in 2013-14. 

He made 77 appearances for Germany and was an important part of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup.

Khedira, who won the Bundesliga with Stuttgart in 2006-07, has made just eight appearances for Hertha this season, with only three of those starts. 

"Exactly 14 years ago to the day I was allowed to celebrate the championship with Stuttgart," he told a media conference.

"That was a wonderful day. Today is one that is very difficult for me personally because my football career will be over on Saturday at around 5:15 pm.

"It's a pretty tough step and it's hard for me to talk about, but it's the right decision. Fifteen years in professional football have left their mark and I have to honestly judge what I can and cannot do.

"First of all, I would like to gain some distance and relax. I will stay with football, in what form remains to be seen."

 

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