Bayer Leverkusen have completed the signing of Girona captain Aleix Garcia on a five-year deal.

The Spain international is Leverkusen's second arrival during the close season, along with Jeanuel Belocian, who will join the club from Ligue 1 side Rennes on July 1.

Garcia played a key role in the middle of the park during a memorable 2023-24 campaign for Girona, with three goals and six assists in 37 appearances as they finished third in LaLiga and qualified for the Champions League for the first time.

The 26-year-old will link up with compatriot Xabi Alonso, who oversaw an unbeaten domestic season as Leverkusen landed the first Bundesliga title in their history.

Die Werkself also captured the DFB-Pokal and were runners-up to Atalanta in the Europa League, and Garcia hopes he can help the club build on that success.

"I'm very happy to join this big club," he told Leverkusen's official website.

"Like football fans in the whole of Europe, I have admired Bayer Leverkusen for their exceptional achievements in the season just gone. That's why I wanted to join this club, to do big things.

"I've been thrilled that a club like this has done so much to get me. Now, I definitely want to fulfil all the expectations of myself, and make my contribution to this team and the club in continuing to be successful."

Robert Lewandowski has no immediate plans to call time on his Poland career post-Euro 2024 as he battles to regain fitness in time for the tournament.

The Barcelona striker sustained a thigh injury in Monday's 2-1 friendly win over Turkiye and has been ruled out of Poland's opening match.

While Lewandowski will play no part against the Netherlands on Sunday, he will hope to be back to face both Austria and France in a tough looking Group D.

The former Bayern Munich ace turns 36 in August, but he is not yet thinking about retiring from duty with his national side.

"I cannot say that is yes or not," he told CNN. "It depends on many different things. 

"Physically, I am feeling very well. I don't see many differences, especially in this year, than before.

"But if I feel something inside, in my heart, saying maybe it's time to say goodbye, then I know that the time is coming.

"Until now, I didn't feel this kind of feeling, so it's still not this kind of way that I am thinking about this."

Poland are competing at their fourth successive European Championship after beating Wales on penalties in their play-off final in March.

Only once have they advanced through the group stage in those most recent three appearances, but Lewandowski is hopeful his side can make an impact in Germany.

"I think we can play good football," he said. "We know that we are not the favourites in the group stage.

"But I remember the last World Cup, we played the first half against France really well. I think we surprised them. I hope that we will also surprise them now at the Euros.

"[France] are so strong, even if they put a second or third XI out, still they can fight to win Europe. But you have to believe.

"If we are playing as a team, that are going in one direction, really we can achieve something. I don't know what that means in the end, but in football, everything is possible."

Barcelona dismissing Xavi after the head coach initially reversed his decision and seemed set to stay came as a shock to some, no more so than Blaugrana winger Lamine Yamal.

The LaLiga giants were expected to part ways with former midfielder Xavi at the end of the season, only for the Spaniard to change his mind and opt to fulfil his contract with the club.

Yet in another unexpected turn of events, Xavi was given his marching orders as Barca president Joan Laporta acted swiftly to bring in former Germany and Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick.

As Yamal prepares for the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament with Spain in Germany, the Barca forward admitted Xavi's sacking raised a few eyebrows.

"It was a very strange moment," the teenager told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo. "At first he left, then he stayed...

"It was strange, because we saw the same thing that you saw too.

"[It was] very sad because for me he was the first coach in the elite that I've had, but these are things that happen in football."

Though Yamal remains surprised by the decision, the Spain attacker is "excited" to link-up with new boss Flick when the 2024-25 season comes around.

"The last thing I saw was when he was at Bayern, and also in the German national team," he added.

"They have a fairly offensive game, quite direct. I'm very excited."

Barcelona fell short in their LaLiga title defence as Real Madrid roared to the Spanish crown, as well as Champions League glory for the dominant Los Blancos.

Yet Yamal believes the Blaugrana can compete with any side on their day.

"We struggled this season, scoring a goal and adding another before going into the second half and suddenly having two goals scored against us," he continued.

"That's the only thing we have to improve, because I think we can compete with any team in the world."

Fernando Torres has been named as the new head coach of Atletico Madrid's B team, in a statement released by the LaLiga club on Tuesday. 

The former World Cup-winning Spain striker started his coaching career in 2021 with Atleti's Under-19's side after retiring from professional football two years prior. 

His new role will be his first in senior management and he will succeed Luis Tevenet, who has joined Diego Simeone's senior staff ahead of the 2024-25 campaign. 

"I am at home and I feel an enormous responsibility since I decided to face this new stage," Torres said. "It has been three years of constant learning.

"For me this step is very important and I want to be ambitious to do things better every day, face the challenges that come and the responsibility in the best way and at the same time knowing that I am in no hurry and no need to take a wrong step.

"I accept it as a great challenge with a lot of ambition and the peace of mind of knowing that we are prepared."

The 40-year-old scored more than 100 goals in two spells for the 11-time Spanish champions, and helped his nation win the European Championship in 2008 and 2012. 

Vinicius Junior has described himself as a "tormentor of racists" after three Valencia supporters were given prison sentences for abusing him in May 2023.

Three people were sentenced to eight months in prison and given two-year stadium bans on Monday after being found guilty of hurling racist abuse at Vinicius at the Mestalla last year.

Vinicius was sent off following a scuffle in second-half stoppage time as Los Blancos were beaten 1-0 in a game that was paused for several minutes due to racist chanting.

The convictions – the first issued in Spain for racist abuse inside a football stadium – were welcomed as "great news for the fight against racism" by LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

Vinicius also welcomed the judgement on Monday, thanking Madrid for their support in the aftermath of the incident and expressing hope that other offenders will be convicted. 

"Many asked me to ignore it, many others said that my fight was in vain and that I should just 'play football'," Vinicius wrote on X. 

"But, as I've always said, I'm not a victim of racism. I am a tormentor of racists. This first criminal conviction in the history of Spain is not for me. It's for all black people.

"May other racists be afraid, ashamed and hide in the shadows. Otherwise, I'll be here to collect. 

"Thank you to La Liga and Real Madrid for helping with this historic conviction. More to come…"

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also responded to the convictions on his Instagram story, writing: "Our message to people anywhere in the world who still behave in a racist way when they are dealing with football is clear: we don't want you. 

"These people have to be excluded, they are not part of our community and not part of football."

Three Valencia supporters have been sentenced to eight months in prison for hate crimes against Vinicius Junior.

The trio, who were also banned from entering football stadiums for two years, were found guilty of hurling racial slurs towards Vinicius when Valencia welcomed Real Madrid to the Mestalla in May 2023.

The conviction - the first to be issued in Spain for racial insults inside football stadia - was welcomed by LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

"This ruling is great news for the fight against racism in Spain," he said.

"It repairs the damage suffered by Vinicius Junior and sends a clear message to those people who go to a football stadium to insult that LaLiga will identify them, report them and there will be criminal consequences for them."

LaLiga reported 16 incidents of racial abuse towards Vinicius in the last two seasons.

The Brazil forward broke down in tears during a press conference in March, when he urged Spanish authorities to take action after admitting he had lost a lot of enjoyment and motivation due to the recurring abuse.

Kylian Mbappe's move to Real Madrid is "a nail in football's coffin" and symptomatic of the transfer market approaching breaking point, believes Bayern Munich's sporting director Max Eberl.

Mbappe finally sealed his long-awaited move to Madrid earlier this week, leaving Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent after seven years at the Parc des Princes.

The forward has signed a five-year contract with the European champions and will reportedly earn €15million (£12.7m) per year and receive a signing-on bonus of €150m (£127.7m).

Eberl believes that level of financial outlay cannot be sustained, predicting the tendency for top players to run their contracts down will kill the market.

"You can always become more of a money-grubbing person, but everyone who is a money-grubbing person will gradually become a nail in football's coffin," he told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

"If all the money goes out [of the market] at some point, there will be nothing left for us to do business with. 

"We're talking about hundreds of millions. That's too much and at some point you get the feeling that it will burst. 

"At some point it will be oversaturated and Saudi Arabia will come along. That doesn't feel very good. The money is leaving the market. No club benefits from it. 

"Players, families, agents, everyone benefits, but not the clubs. In the past, at least clubs profited. The money stayed in the cycle and that will become less and less now."

Mbappe scored a club-record 256 goals for PSG, including 42 in the Champions League.

Adding 108 assists for the perennial Ligue 1 victors, Mbappe's 364 goal involvements rank as the most for PSG this century – ahead of Edinson Cavani (236) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (210).

He also scored 44 times in 48 games for PSG in 2023-24, a tally only matched by Bayern star Harry Kane among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Mbappe is currently preparing to lead tournament favourites France at Euro 2024, having scored 12 goals across Les Bleus' last three major tournaments – the 2018 World Cup, Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup, with all of those strikes coming at the World Cups. Kane is also the only player to match that figure.

 

Antonio Rudiger wants to use his experience with Real Madrid for the benefit of Germany at Euro 2024, seeking to find a "killer instinct" for Julian Nagelsmann's team.

Germany duo Toni Kroos and Rudiger helped Madrid to their record-extending 15th Champions League crown last Saturday, defeating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the final.

That European glory added to this season's LaLiga success for Los Blancos, who continue to power on as a title-winning machine under the tutelage of veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti.

With Germany's Euro 2024 opener against Scotland less than two weeks away, Rudiger hopes to embed his club's efforts into Nagelsmann's national side.

"These are two different pairs of shoes," Rudiger said on Wednesday, referring to the difference between Germany and Madrid.

"Here we have a very good system that fits our game but what we can take with us from Madrid is that killer instinct.

"Our last game against Ukraine was super good. I have not seen a 0-0 from us in quite some time that was so good but the thing that was missing was the goals and that is what we can learn from Madrid."

Germany were wasteful in that Ukraine draw on Monday, producing a similar performance as to those in their back-to-back group-stage exits at the World Cup in 2018 and four years later.

They face Greece on Friday in their final warm-up match before the European Championship, where they meet Scotland, Hungary and Switzerland in Group A.

"The anticipation in our own country is huge," Rudiger added. "On Friday we have an important last test. It is important for our confidence. It is important to excite our fans in this final test.

"We have to be humble. We all know what happened in the past tournaments. The road to get here had ups and downs.

"What is important is to play a very good first game and then see what happens in the rest of the tournament."

As for Rudiger's own role within Germany's national setup, Nagelsmann wants the centre-back to guide his side through the tournament.

"Julian said that I should be a leader in my role," Rudiger concluded.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta says his decision to dismiss Xavi came after doubts the Blaugrana head coach had lost faith in his squad.

The LaLiga giants were expected to part ways with former midfielder Xavi at the end of the season, only for the Spaniard to change his mind and opt to fulfill his contract with the club.

Yet in another unexpected turn of events, Xavi was given his marching orders – and chief Laporta claims the Barcelona boss had expressed concerns over the capabilities of his current players.

"If Xavi can change his mind, so can we," Laporta said in an interview with Barca One, the Blaugrana's in-house television channel.

"Everything was a bit forced when we decided to keep him on. Xavi is a club legend and his enthusiasm led us to the decision to ratify his position.

"At the time of his U-turn, I asked him: 'Do you believe in the team?' He told me 'Yes.' He said he had faith in this team.

"However, there were then comments in which he changed his discourse after conversations with [sporting director] Deco with respect to necessary changes to the squad.

"That forced me to reconsider the situation and I felt the squad needed a new impetus to be more competitive and get the best out of what we have.

"I have had to make these tough decisions with Barca legends. My heart told me he should stay on, but not my head.

"I hope [our] relationship can continue. I have been through it with [Ronald] Koeman, [Lionel] Messi, [Gerard] Pique, [Sergio] Busquets, [Jordi] Alba and now Xavi. All decisions are made for the good of Barca -- the club comes first."

In stark contrast, Laporta assured new head coach Hansi Flick – formerly of Bayern Munich and Germany's national side – backs Barcelona to succeed, with or without further investment.

"Flick feels capable of competing with this squad," the Barca president continued. "That was decisive."

"Flick's task is to win and he's accepted the challenge. The players must be well-prepared physically. The youngsters, the substitutes, players like [Robert] Lewandowski ... everyone has to be in good shape physically.

"The physical preparation is essential because, with that, and having the ball, we can win everything. This season we saw the team dip after the 60th minute physically. We didn't finish games as we wanted –in the two Clasicos, for example.

"I am not saying the team was not well prepared, but there are always things to improve. We need more."

Although adding to the playing squad was a contentious issue leading to Xavi's exit, Laporta expressed an interest in renewing the loans of Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix.

"We want the two Joaos to continue," he said. "The idea is that they are here for another year. Deco is working on it. Flick rates them highly and when he was at Bayern he was interested in signing Felix.

"Just as we don't need a big transfer out, we don't believe we need big signings. Maybe a midfielder, a winger, but we also have an academy which can help fill these positions.

"We can compete in Europe with a squad based on the academy. That's what Flick has conveyed to us and what we think.

"We have a squad that can compete in Spain and Europe with the chance of success."

Kylian Mbappe has revealed that some people at Paris Saint-Germain made him "unhappy" in his first news conference since joining Real Madrid.

The Frenchman announced last month that he was leaving PSG after seven seasons at the club, and his long-awaited move to the Spanish capital was confirmed on Monday.

He has signed as a free transfer on a five-year contract with Madrid and will officially make the move in July when his PSG contract expires.

Speaking to the media ahead of France's friendly against Luxembourg, Mbappe addressed speculation over his situation at PSG prior to his move.

"Everyone knows the news, it's official, I'm going to be a Real Madrid player for the next five seasons," he said.

"It's an immense pleasure, a dream come true. It's very exciting. I am very happy, liberated, relieved and extremely proud. This is the club I've always dreamed of being at, so I want to thank them.

"I wasn't unhappy at PSG, that would be a slap in the face of the people who defended me - I have always been happy.

"But certain things made me unhappy, but a player like me couldn't show that because I am a leader, so I tried to be as positive as possible. The coach, the players and the employees of the club supported me, and it would be bad form to come and moan and say that I was unhappy. But certain things and people made me unhappy."

Last season began in turmoil for Mbappe, who was left out of the PSG squad due to an argument with the club's president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, over his contract renewal.

The France captain has highlighted Luis Enrique as the main reason for the turnaround, as he finished the season with 44 goals, winning Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France.

"[The club] made me understand that I wouldn't play, they told me to my face, they told me violently," he added.

"Luis Enrique and Luis Campos saved me. I wouldn't have set foot on the pitch again without them.

"Just the fact I was playing was a great source of pride, but it's certain that next year I won't be satisfied with a year like that."

Neymar says Vinicius Junior will "obviously" win the Ballon d'Or after he helped Real Madrid win their 15th Champions League title on Saturday.

Vinicius scored the second goal in Madrid's 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund and was their top scorer in the competition this campaign with six overall. He was also named the Champions League Player of the Season on Monday.

Indeed, the Brazilian became just the fifth player to score in both of their first two Champions League final appearances, after Samuel Eto'o, Sergio Ramos, Lionel Messi and Mario Mandzukic.

Vinicius was an integral part of Los Blancos' title charge too, with only Jude Bellingham (19) scoring more goals than him (15) as they won LaLiga for the 36th time.

His name regularly features in conversations over this season's Ballon d’Or winner, and he has been backed by Brazil team-mate Neymar to get his hands on the prize.

"As for Vini, obviously I think the Ballon d'Or is his today," Neymar said.

"I sent [him] messages before and after the [Champions League final] game. He's a boy I love with passion, a great friend that football gave me. He will certainly be crowned with the Ballon d'Or.

"He's incredible. Carrying our country's flag around the world, and we're really rooting for him."

The last Brazilian to win the Ballon d'Or was Kaka in 2007, while Neymar has been a contender for the award, but finished third in his closest finish.

Vinicius will now be looking to add the Copa America to his list of accolades, with Selecao's campaign beginning on June 24 against Costa Rica in Group D. 

Kylian Mbappe revelled in a "dream come true" after completing his long-awaited blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

The France captain signed a five-year deal with the newly crowned Champions League winners, who he will join as a free agent in July when his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires.

Mbappe, who was heavily linked with a move away, officially announced his departure from the Ligue 1 champions in early May, bowing out after Luis Enrique's side completed the double with victory in the Coupe de France.

The forward was expected to join Madrid in the 2021-22 season, but rejected the opportunity in favour of signing a two-year contract extension with PSG.

However, two years later, Los Blancos have finally got their man, who took to Instagram to share his delight at joining "the club of my dreams".

"Nobody can understand how excited I am right now!" Mbappe told his 116 millions followers. "A dream come true. So happy and proud to join the club of my dreams."

Mbappe departs PSG as the club's all-time leading scorer with 256 goals, with 44 of those coming in 48 appearances last season.

He now turns his attention to Euro 2024, where Didier Deschamps' France will be targeting their third European crown and looking to go one better than their run to the 2022 World Cup final.

Les Bleus, who complete their preparations with friendlies against Luxembourg and Canada this week, begin their campaign against Austria on June 17, while also facing the Netherlands and Poland in Group D.

Kylian Mbappe has completed his long-awaited move to Real Madrid, signing as a free agent on a five-year deal after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

The France international announced his decision to part ways with the Ligue 1 champions in early May, waving farewell after Coupe de France glory later in the month.

Madrid have repeatedly chased the signature of the 25-year-old, failing to secure his signing in the 2021-22 season as Mbappe opted to pen a two-year extension in the French capital.

Yet Carlo Ancelotti and Los Blancos have finally got their man, confirming the much-anticipated deal for the former Monaco forward on Monday.

In a club statement, Madrid said: "Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe have reached an agreement whereby he will be a Real Madrid player for the next five seasons."

The France captain will officially move to Madrid in July when his PSG contract expires.

Mbappe leaves Paris with a club-record 256 goals across his seven seasons, including 42 in the Champions League, as Luis Enrique and the French giants prepare for life without their superstar forward.

Adding in 108 assists for the perennial Ligue 1 title-winning machine, Mbappe's 364 goal involvements rank as the most for PSG this century – ahead of Edinson Cavani (236) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (210).

Mbappe also scored 44 times in 48 games for PSG this season, a tally only matched by Bayern Munich's Harry Kane among players from Europe's top five leagues.

With Vinicius Junior, Jude Bellingham and Rodrygo to call upon already, Ancelotti adds further firepower to a Madrid side that secured their 15th Champions League crown in June, as well as LaLiga glory.

Madrid were expected to seal this deal for some time, with announcements held off before the Champions League final victory over Borussia Dortmund.

Yet with Euro 2024 on the horizon for Mbappe and France, the reigning Spanish champions have quietened the growing speculation by confirming his arrival.

France captain Mbappe is again among the favourites to top the goalscoring charts at the Euros in Germany, having scored eight times to win the Golden Boot as Les Bleus came up just short at the 2022 World Cup.

Mbappe found the net nine times in eight Euro 2024 qualifiers as Didier Deschamps' team prepare to open their campaign against Austria on June 17, before meeting Netherlands and Poland.

He will hope to power his country to a third European Championship title, having finished runners-up to Portugal eight years ago, before moving to Madrid for the 2024-25 season.

Kylian Mbappe has been left out of France's 25-man preliminary Olympics squad ahead of the Games in Paris starting next month. 

Thierry Henry, who is the coach of Les Bleus' under-23 side, did not include the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who is expected to complete a move to Real Madrid in the coming days following Los Blancos' 15th Champions League success. 

The 46-year-old has until July 3 to confirm his final 22-player list ahead of group-stage fixtures against the United States on July 24, Guinea on July 27 and New Zealand on July 30.

Henry has revealed he faced plenty of difficulties when selecting his squad, with several clubs refusing to release their players for the tournament. 

Because the football event at the Olympics is not formally recognised by FIFA, clubs are not obliged to release their players for the competition, which begins on July 24 and ends on August 9.

"Real Madrid were really straightforward about the Olympics," Henry said when quizzed about Mbappe's omission from the squad. 

"The last time I received so many rejections was at the university. There have not even been negotiations. You go, you ask, they say no, and you leave."

Henry was able to include several talented stars from across European football, including Crystal Palace duo Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta, while Bayern Munich's Mathys Tel and PSG's Warren Zaire-Emery were among the other high-profile inclusions. 

However, Chelsea stars Malo Gusto and Benoit Badiashile were refused release from Stamford Bridge, but the Blues were able to offer midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu. 

Asked if he was disappointed by the decisions made by Premier League clubs, Henry replied: "I will respond to this one very, very clearly – it's not the time for me to talk about that, firstly.

"Secondly, am I disappointed or surprised? No. Neither disappointed nor surprised, the clubs are within their rights, unfortunately, and I think what I have been saying hasn't changed since I started talking about the Olympics."

Les Bleus have previously won two medals at the Olympic Games, taking silver on home soil in Paris back in 1900 and gold at Los Angeles in 1984.

The rules of the competition state that each team must be made up of players born on or after January 1, 2001 (aged 23 at the time of the Games). However, three players born before that date can also be included.

Robert Lewandowski has denied reports he could join Jose Mourinho at Fenerbahce, also insisting he is not considering retirement as he approaches his 36th birthday.

Lewandowski scored 26 goals in 49 games across all competitions in 2023-24, though that was down on his total of 33 goals as Barcelona won LaLiga in his first season with the club in 2022-23.

With the Blaugrana finishing a distant second to Real Madrid in LaLiga and exiting the Champions League at the quarter-final stage, reports had suggested an attacking refresh could be in the offing.

Lewandowski – who is halfway through a four-year deal with the Catalan giants – was linked with a move to Fenerbahce, who appointed Mourinho as their head coach on Sunday.

However, the Poland international has not heard anything about a transfer, telling Sport: "Fenerbahce have not contacted me. I don't know anything about it."

Lewandowski will turn 36 shortly after LaLiga's 2024-25 campaign commences in mid-August. 

He was asked whether he might follow in the footsteps of Toni Kroos, who went out at the top of his game by helping Real Madrid win the Champions League in the final match of his club career on Saturday.

"My heart will tell me that moment. Before making a decision, I must first feel something," Lewandowski said. 

"I don't know when it will happen, it's difficult to determine it by myself. I need to hear my decision to be sure of it and now I don't have it.

"Physically I feel very good and that means I can't think about retirement. Maybe Toni Kroos felt that moment, but it's not the case for me. I'm realising that the hard work I've done and I'm still doing is paying off."

Lewandowski will hope Hansi Flick's arrival at Camp Nou helps him step things up next season, having registered an incredible 83 goals and 18 assists in 71 games under him at Bayern Munich, between November 2019 and June 2021.

The striker also set the Bundesliga's single-season goal record under Flick, netting 41 times in 29 league matches as they won the title in 2020-21. 

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