Reggae Boyz defender Damion Lowe is now a player for the Philadelphia Union in the USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS) after being acquired by the franchise in a trade with Inter Miami CF.

The trade was announced on Wednesday.

According to the franchises, in exchange for the 29-year-old Lowe, Philadelphia sent Miami $225,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM), a natural first-round pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft and the Priority Homegrown Rights for Inter Miami II forward Shanyder Borgelin.

Sporting Director at Philadelphia Union is optimistic about Lowe’s arrival.

“Damion is an experienced defender who fits into our current needs,” he said.

“He’s an athletic, quick player and we expect him to be an important piece of our defensive unit as we begin a season that will require lineup and formation changes due to the unprecedented number of matches.”

Meanwhile, Inter Miami CSO and sporting director Chris Henderson, in a statement thanked Lowe for the time he spent at Inter Miami.

“We want to thank Damion for everything he’s done for Inter Miami during his time with the club and wish him the best moving forward,” he said.

At Philadelphia, Lowe joins his Reggae Boyz teammate, goalkeeper Andre Blake.

Aston Villa signing Jhon Duran has "all the desire in the world" to succeed at Villa Park after completing his move from Chicago Fire.

The 19-year-old striker's arrival was confirmed on Monday as he joined Unai Emery's side for a reported fee worth up to £17.8million ($22m).

Colombia international Duran enjoyed a successful debut Major League Soccer campaign, scoring eight goals and assisting three in 27 appearances for the Fire.

The former Envigado forward wants to replicate that form as he aims to make his mark on the Premier League.

"I have all the desire in the world," Duran told Villa's official website. "Lots of desire to work hard, give everything to the team and win. I'm hoping I can play soon.

"I'm a player that plays with a lot of passion, who is dedicated to the team, and a player that really wants to win always.

"I know it's the most important league in the world. It's the best league in the world, and I have all the desire in the world to get on the pitch and score that first goal."

Duran is said to have signed a contract until June 2028, and he is looking forward to the project under Emery, whose side sit 11th in the Premier League but just three points behind sixth-placed Brighton and Hove Albion.

"We have spoken; he said very touching words and gave me a huge welcome," Duran said of Emery.

"Now I can speak with him, and we can discuss everything to do with the project. It strikes me as a very good project."

Charlotte FC have confirmed defender Anton Walkes died following an accident on Thursday.

The former Tottenham academy player was 25.

Walkes, who was born in London, had played in MLS since 2020, when he joined Atlanta United after leaving Portsmouth.

He moved to Charlotte for the 2022 season after being selected in the 2021 MLS expansion draft. He made 23 league appearances in his debut season.

Following his shock death, Charlotte paid tribute to the family man.

"Everyone at [the club] is devastated by the tragic passing of Anton Walkes," Owner David Tepper said in a statement. "He was a tremendous son, father, partner and teammate whose joyous approach to life touched everyone he met.

"Anton made those around him better people in all areas of life and represented Charlotte FC to the highest standard both on and off the pitch.

"He will be greatly missed by many and our thoughts and prayers are with Anton's family during this heart-breaking time. The club offers its full support to all those impacted during this period of mourning."

 

Josef Martinez has left Atlanta United for Inter Miami, replacing the retired Gonzalo Higuain.

Miami announced the deal on Wednesday after Atlanta confirmed they had agreed a contract buyout with the player.

Martinez had been with Atlanta since their debut MLS season in 2018 and is the club's record scorer with 111 goals.

In the 2018 season, he teamed up with Miguel Almiron to lead the Five Stripes to MLS Cup glory.

Martinez was the MLS MVP, MLS All-Star MVP and MLS Cup MVP in that campaign, as well as winning the Golden Boot and scoring the opening goal in the title match.

Atlanta went on to win the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup the following year but have increasingly struggled since Almiron's record-breaking move to Newcastle United in the Premier League.

They missed out on the playoffs in two of the past three years, and Martinez has now moved on to join Eastern Conference rivals Miami.

Under Phil Neville, Miami enjoyed their best season in 2022, finishing sixth in the East, but Higuain's retirement had left a gaping hole in their attack.

"Josef is a champion and adding him to our group is exciting for us as we head into the 2023 season," said sporting director Chris Henderson.

"He's been one of the best players in the league since he first arrived and we believe he'll make a difference here at Inter Miami.

"We're adding a proven goalscorer with a track record of success in MLS. We're thrilled to have a player like Josef in our attack."

Martinez added: "I'm excited for the opportunity to represent Inter Miami and give the best of myself.

"This is a club with high aspirations and that aims to be amongst the best in the league. I hope to help the team achieve its objectives and leave my mark at the club."

Atlanta technical director Carlos Bocanegra said: "Josef has played a pivotal role in Atlanta United's history, scoring memorable goals and hoisting multiple trophies for moments that will forever live with our supporters.

"He was a foundational piece who was responsible for helping build our brand into what it is today.

"We cannot thank him enough for his contributions to the club and the community over the last six years. He will always be part of Atlanta United and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours."

Arsenal contacted Orlando City regarding Facundo Torres ahead of the World Cup, the forward has revealed.

The 22-year-old has caught the eye in MLS since joining in January 2022, scoring nine goals and contributing eight assists in 33 appearances in his inaugural season.

A move to Europe has been touted for the Uruguay international ever since his days in his homeland with Penarol and Arsenal have been attributed with a long-term interest in his services.

The Gunners missed out on Mykhaylo Mudryk to London rivals Chelsea, who swooped in to beat the Premier League leaders in the hunt for the Ukraine winger, but remain in the market for additions to bolster their squad.

Torres has opened the door for a fresh approach, expressing his desire to play in the Premier League.

"Orlando City confirmed to me that there was contact with Arsenal, but then I left for the World Cup and I didn’t want to hear about a potential transfer at that point," he told 90Min.

"So, the conversation stayed there but now that I am back with the team, we will see where the conversation goes.

"I would love to play in Europe. It's a dream I've had since I was a kid. At the moment I am focused on Orlando City.

"But La Liga or Premier League would be my targets, and that's where the rumours are coming from. But yeah, I would absolutely love that."

Romeo Beckham has a big reputation to live up to but cannot be compared to famous footballing father David, says Brentford head coach Thomas Frank.

The 20-year-old joined Premier League side Brentford on loan this week and made his debut for the reserve side in Tuesday's London Senior Cup tie with Erith and Belvedere.

Romeo's dad was in the Park View Road stands to watch his son, who made 20 appearances for Inter Miami II in MLS Next Pro last season.

Talk of another Beckham taking the Premier League by storm has garnered plenty of attention, but Frank wants Romeo to be judged on his own ability rather than anyone else's.

"Romeo is a very good player, of course he has a name that is pretty worldwide, and big," Frank said at a pre-match press conference on Friday.

"For Romeo, he is himself. He of course has a big name. You can't compare [father and son]."

Frank drew comparisons between Michael Laudrup and his son Andreas, who the Brentford boss previously managed.

"Maybe Laudrup is also a decent player [like David Beckham]," Frank said. "I coached his son and it is important to take him as a player – not as a Laudrup, but as himself.

"Romeo is here for a reason, because we think he is a good player, and we are pleased he could make the loan deal."

Brentford B coach Neil MacFarlane praised Romeo for his display in the midweek cup tie, and Frank has challenged the youngster to do enough to earn a permanent contract.

"We're pleased to see him doing well and pleased with his performance in the last game. When you have players, either permanent or on loan, it's for a reason," Frank said.

"It's either for getting the team to perform, or to extend the loan deal and make it a permanent deal, so we just hope that he keeps progressing and makes it interesting for us."

Brentford's senior side are ninth in the Premier League and host Bournemouth on Saturday.

Real Madrid could face Seattle Sounders in their Club World Cup semi-final following Friday's draw.

UEFA Champions League winners Madrid will enter the tournament in Morocco at the last-four stage next month.

Carlo Ancelotti's side will have to wait to learn the identity of their opponents, but it could be MLS debutants Seattle.

The Sounders are the first American team to reach the Club World Cup, having won the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League final against Liga MX's UNAM.

Seattle are to make their debut in the second round against the winner of the sole first-round tie between CAF runners-up Al Ahly and OFC champions Auckland City.

The victors in that match will then go through to face Madrid, record four-time world champions.

On the other side of the draw, Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo, who were finalists against Liverpool in 2019, are to take on either CAF champions Wydad Casablanca – also hosts Morocco's representative – or AFC nominees Al Hilal.

With the two semi-finals to take place on February 7 and 8, the final and third-place play-off will follow on February 11.

Gareth Bale has brought an end to an illustrious playing career after announcing his retirement at the age of 33.

The forward hangs up his boots with a record of 226 goals in 664 games from spells with Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid, Los Angeles FC and on the international stage with Wales.

Initially a left-back, Bale was utilised further forward by Harry Redknapp at Spurs which sparked the start of an incredible transformation of the player – who would go on to make a significant impression at both club and international level.

Here, we've taken a look back at some of the finest moments from Bale's career.

San Siro statement

On October 20, 2010, Bale gave Tottenham fans memories to last a lifetime with a stunning hat-trick in a Champions League group stage fixture against Inter at San Siro in a year that marked Spurs' first-ever involvement in the competition.

Four goals down at half-time and down to 10 men, Bale enjoyed a meteoric display in the second period that, despite Spurs losing 4-3, still stands as one of the greatest individual performances in the competition's history.

A hat-trick saw the then 21-year-old display his raw pace and strength, tormenting opposing players Maicon and Javier Zanetti, propelling him into stardom and setting the path for a remarkable career.

World record transfer & Copa del Rey Clasico

A six-year spell in north London came to a close in 2013, when Real Madrid splashed a then world record fee of €100.8 million (£85.1m), a figure that surpassed the previous record set by Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Santiago Bernabeu from Manchester United.

Scoring on his debut against Villarreal, the first half of Bale's inaugural season in Spain was plagued by injuries and came alongside some media criticism – something that he would have to endure throughout the majority of his spell with Los Blancos.

A starring moment came in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, however, outsprinting Marc Barta and even exiting the field on his way to goal before tucking home his first El Clasico strike.

Champions League glories

Just over a month after scoring in the Copa del Rey final, Bale was at it again in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid – putting his team ahead in the 110th minute of an eventual 4-1 victory to seal Madrid's 10th European Cup, the fabled La Decima.

In 2015-16, Bale won the Champions League for a second time, Atletico on the receiving end yet again, retaining the trophy the following season against Juventus in his home city of Cardiff, and winning a third in a row in 2017-18, where Bale added to his incredible highlight reel.

Against Liverpool in Kyiv, Bale scored an overhead kick from the edge of the 18-yard box to give Madrid a 2-1 advantage, then doubling his tally for the game with a speculative 30-yard effort that goalkeeper Loris Karius fumbled into the net.

Euro semi-finalists

While criticism at club level with Madrid was rife, Bale continued to be the leading man on the international stage for Wales and excelled for his nation at Euro 2016, the first time they had featured at the tournament.

Bale scored in all three of Wales' group-stage matches against Slovakia, England and Russia as Chris Coleman's side topped the group, with victories against Northern Ireland and Belgium to follow in the knockout stage.

An incredible tournament came to a close in the semi-finals with a 2-0 defeat to eventual champions Portugal but Wales returned five years later at the rearranged Euro 2020, where they reached the last 16.

MLS Cup victory

Bale's Madrid career ended in June 2022, fresh from picking up a fifth Champions League victory, as he completed a move to Major League Soccer to join Los Angeles FC.

LAFC won the Supporter's Shield in the regular season, though Bale was mostly unused, but he made his impact in the MLS Cup as his side won the title for the first time, having joined the league in 2017.

Bale came off the bench to score in the 128th minute against Philadelphia Union, sending the contest to a penalty shoot-out that LAFC subsequently won.

World Cup

After a 64-year absence, Wales returned to the World Cup stage after qualifying for the 2022 tournament in Qatar – which would prove to be Bale's last involvement as a player for either club or country.

An 82nd-minute penalty against the United States saw Bale score on his tournament debut as Wales begun the group stage with a point, but two stoppage-time goals in the second game gave Iran a shock victory.

Wales' campaign came to an early end with a 3-0 defeat to England in the final group match, marking a disappointing end to Bale's international career.  

Gareth Bale announced his retirement on Monday, bringing an end to a trophy-laden and eventful career spanning 17 seasons.

Southampton product Bale made a name for himself at Tottenham, but it was in nine years at Real Madrid he truly rose to stardom – although he had a turbulent time in the Spanish capital.

Despite playing starring roles in two Champions League finals and winning 16 trophies, Bale's time in Madrid turned sour long before he departed last June.

The versatile attacker famously paraded with a banner that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" in 2019 and that understandably did not go down well with Los Blancos fans.

Playing time continued to be limited at Los Angeles FC, but Bale scored an extra-time leveller in the MLS Cup final against Philadelphia Union, which his side won on penalties.

Yet for all his success at club level, it was arguably with Wales that Bale enjoyed his proudest moments, not least reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Bale also played a huge part in ending Wales' 64-year wait to qualify for the World Cup last year, with their group defeat to England proving to be his final game as a professional.

As the curtain comes down on Bale's playing days at the age of just 33, Stats Perform breaks down the numbers from a remarkable career.

Bale played 664 matches for club and country and scored 226 goals, the majority of those unsurprisingly coming for Madrid (106).

He also netted 41 times in 111 games for Wales, becoming his country's record goalscorer and cap holder in the process.

The Cardiff-born forward also netted five goals for Southampton and three for LAFC at either end of his career, while bagging 71 in 237 matches for Tottenham.

It was his superb form for Spurs, particularly in the 2012-13 season, that saw Bale make a then-record €100.8million (£85.1m) switch to Madrid.

That would prove to be Bale's best season in terms of goals as he netted 21, nine of those from outside the box in the Premier League – a single-season record that still stands.

Add his four assists into the mix and only Robin van Persie (35) and Luis Suarez (28) played a direct part in more goals than Bale's 25 during that campaign.

As impressive as Bale was for Spurs, though, he did not have any silverware to show for it. That would all soon change at the Santiago Bernabeu.

He is the only player to score a match-winning goal in two Champions League finals, doing so in 2013-14 against Atletico Madrid and in 2017-18 to break Liverpool's hearts.

Bale scored twice against Liverpool, aided by a horror shown from Loris Karius, making him the first substitute to score more than once in a single Champions League final.

Those three combined final goals are second only to Cristiano Ronaldo (four), who it is fair to say will be far better remembered by Madrid supporters than Bale.

While his part in some of Madrid's triumphs in more recent seasons was limited, Bale does at least deserve his place in club folklore.

His 258 appearances for Los Blancos are more than the likes of Luis Figo (245) and Zinedine Zidane (227) made, and just short of the great Ferenc Puskas' tally of 262.

Furthermore, Bale is one of only 22 players in Madrid's esteemed history to have reach the 100-goal mark, his 106 strikes more than Brazil legend Ronaldo (104) managed.

Wales legend Gareth Bale has announced his retirement at the age of 33.

Bale confirmed his decision in a statement on Instagram on Monday, saying he has taken an “opportunity for a new adventure."

The former Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Los Angeles FC forward called time on a 17-year playing career, in which his honours included three LaLiga titles, the Champions League five times and the Club World Cup on three occasions.

Bale’s final appearance came in 3-0 defeat to England as Wales were knocked out of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar.

He posted on Instagram: "After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football.

"I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love. It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of highs over 17 seasons, that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.

"From my very first touch at Southampton to my last with LAFC and everything in between, shaped a club career that I have an immense pride and gratitude for. Playing for and captaining my country 111 times has truly been a dream come true.

"To show my gratitude to all of those that have played their part along this journey, feels like an impossibility. I feel indebted to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in a way I couldn’t have ever dreamed of when I first started out at 9 years old.

"To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC. All of my previous managers and coaches, back room staff, team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable.

"My parents and my sister, without your dedication in those early days, without such a strong foundation, I wouldn't be writing this statement right now, so thank you for putting me on this path and for your unwavering support.

"My wife and my children, your love and support has carried me through. Right beside me for all the highs and lows, keeping me grounded along the way. You inspire me to be better, and to make you proud.

"So, I move on with anticipation to the next stage of my life. A time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure…"

Bale began his career at Southampton before moving to Tottenham, where he spent six seasons and won two PFA Players' Player of the Year awards.

His exploits with Spurs earned him a blockbuster move to Madrid in 2013 for a reported fee of £77million (€91m).

Despite suffering injury issues and often struggling to emerge from Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow, Bale enjoyed some huge highs at the Santiago Bernabeu, including a spectacular winner in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, putting Los Blancos ahead against Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final and scoring twice against Liverpool to win the 2018 Champions League final.

Being pictured with a flag while on international duty that read ‘Wales, golf, Madrid. In that order' did not go down well with Madrid fans and Bale continued to suffer with injuries.

He left for a spell in Major League Soccer last June, winning the MLS Cup with LAFC on penalties after he equalised in the final against Philadelphia Union in the 128th minute.

Bale starred on the international stage, leading Wales to an improbable run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 as captain, as well as playing a key role in their qualification for the 2022 World Cup, the first they had participated in since 1958.

He finished his international career with 41 goals in 111 caps.

Wales legend Gareth Bale has announced his retirement at the age of 33.

Bale confirmed his decision in a statement on Instagram on Monday, saying he has taken an “opportunity for a new adventure."

The former Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Los Angeles FC forward called time on a 17-year playing career, in which his honours included three LaLiga titles, the Champions League five times and the Club World Cup on three occasions.

Bale’s final appearance came in 3-0 defeat to England as Wales were knocked out of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar.

David Beckham's playing career may be over, but one Premier League club will list a Beckham among their ranks this season after the former England captain's son Romeo joined Brentford.

The young Beckham made 20 appearances for Inter Miami II – the reserve side of his father's Major League Soccer franchise – in the MLS Next Pro league last season.

The 20-year-old previously spent time in Arsenal's academy before being released in 2015, and he joined Inter Miami II in 2021 when the team were known as Fort Lauderdale CF.

In a statement released on Friday, Brentford revealed the winger would join their B team until the end of the season.

"Brentford are delighted to announce the signing of Romeo Beckham from Inter Miami CF on loan until the end of the 2022-23 season," the club said.

"The 20-year-old will join Neil MacFarlane's B team for the rest of the campaign to continue his development as he makes the temporary switch from the MLS club. The move is subject to international clearance."

Revealing Beckham had been training with the club since the end of the MLS Next Pro season, MacFarlane said: "He came to us from Inter Miami with the aim of working with us during their close season.

"Romeo has applied himself unbelievably well, he's really bought into the culture and the group which he has become a big part of. I love his standards and the way he conducts himself on and off the pitch."

The new recruit said he was relishing his opportunity, telling Brentford's website: "I'm very proud and very happy to be here.

"I came here at the start to keep fit during the off season. The chance then came to come on loan here and I've never been so excited."

Last July, Inter Miami coach Phil Neville defended his decision to bring on Beckham – as well as his own son Harvey – in a friendly against Barcelona, saying they both "earned the right" to feature in a game which ended in a 6-0 defeat for the MLS side.

Cristiano Ronaldo finally put an end to speculation regarding his next destination on Friday as he completed his anticipated move to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr.

Manchester United parted ways with the Portugal superstar by mutual consent in November, despite the 37-year-old having over six months to run on his contract at Old Trafford.

That move came after an explosive interview in which Ronaldo declared he felt "betrayed" by United and expressed his lack of respect for manager Erik ten Hag and former boss Ralf Rangnick.

The World Cup appeared the immediate priority for Ronaldo, but he offered little with just one group-stage strike against Ghana as Portugal failed to progress beyond the last eight. 

Despite Ronaldo unsuccessfully pushing to join a Champions League club prior to the start of the season, a return to Europe's elite competition still appeared possible with Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Sporting CP linked.

Major League Soccer was also touted as another avenue for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, though he opted for a move to the Middle East as he left Europe for the first time in his remarkable career.

Here, Stats Perform explores why some potential destinations for Ronaldo did not come to fruition.

Major League Soccer

With the MLS season recently concluding, a move to North America would have presented Ronaldo with a clean slate for 2023 and boosted the profile of the league ahead of the 2026 World Cup taking place in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Ronaldo required a Designated Player spot for any franchise looking to make a move, eliminating several clubs from the equation, but David Beckham's Inter Miami were attributed with a strong interest.

However, as speculation grows over the Herons making a move for Lionel Messi, could Beckham and Miami really afford both superstars?

 

Sporting CP

Ronaldo's return to United was not as successful as fans would have wanted, but a fairytale reunion with boyhood club Sporting was still repeatedly suggested.

The prospect of Champions League football next season may have appealed to the forward, though Ruben Amorim's side will be playing in the Europa League this term after dropping out of UEFA's premier club competition.

While a storied move home may have interested the romantics, the links became increasingly frustrating for Amorim, who angrily responded to such questions during the World Cup.

"Ronaldo was in Qatar, they had the opportunity to ask him and they didn't. I've been asked 500 times and I already answered," he said after a December 19 win over Braga.

Bayern Munich

Reports suggested Julian Nagelsmann held talks with Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes, though Bayern Munich chief executive Oliver Kahn never envisaged the former Real Madrid star moving to Germany.

"We briefly discussed Ronaldo at Bayern and Dortmund probably did too," Kahn told BILD. "We also see the big picture of the Bundesliga.

"Of course, superstars like Ronaldo are an important factor in attracting attention to the league. He is one of the greatest of the last decade. But we quickly dismissed that."

Chelsea

Chelsea were repeatedly named as contenders to snatch the attacker from Premier League rivals United in a bid to appease new owner Todd Boehly's desire for a marquee Blues signing.

Thomas Tuchel was reportedly against the proposal – though his dismissal as Chelsea head coach earlier this year could have provided the catalyst for a change of heart at Stamford Bridge.

But Graham Potter and Boehly opted against a move with a plethora of attacking talent to call upon, while the Blues also appear strong favourites to sign breakout RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku.

 

Napoli

Top of Serie A and heading into the World Cup break on the back of an 11-match winning run, Napoli were touted as potential suitors for Ronaldo, who dominated the Italian top flight during three years with Juventus.

Striker Victor Osimhen has been linked with a move to United, but Napoli executives want to focus on the future – despite Ronaldo's remarkable output in the Champions League.

"We wanted to invest in a young team," Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli told Corriere dello Sport.

He later added to Sky Sport Italia: "We never really talked about Ronaldo. In football you get nowhere with ifs and buts. We are happy with the squad we have, we are confident this is a competitive team."

Atletico Madrid

He couldn't have, could he? After scoring 311 times in LaLiga for Real Madrid, a move to fierce rivals Atletico would have represented one of the most memorable transfers in history.

While some at the Civitas Metropolitano may have flirted with the idea of a seismic move for their archnemesis, coach Diego Simeone was never interested.

He told Tigo Sports: "Ronaldo is an absolute benchmark for Real Madrid and I would not see [Martin] Palermo ever playing for River, just as I wouldn't see [Juan Roman] Riquelme or [Ariel] Ortega playing for Boca. There are situations that are very clear."

 

Pele leaves an "inestimable" legacy after changing football with his "sporting artistry and genius", the Brazil great's former side New York Cosmos said on Thursday.

The three-time World Cup winner's death was confirmed by Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital after he suffered multiple organ failure.

Pele had battled colon cancer prior to his passing, with his family travelling to be alongside him earlier in December after he had been moved to palliative care when his body stopped responding to treatment.

The 82-year-old has been lauded by numerous tributes from sporting greats, clubs and various organisations after his iconic career with Brazil and Santos.

He scored 643 goals in 659 matches over an 18-year period for Brazilian side Santos before representing the Cosmos between 1975 and 1977.

"The New York Cosmos family, past and present, grieve the loss of sporting icon Pele," read a statement from the Cosmos, for whom the forward played in the North American Soccer League.

"In 1975, Pele joined the New York Cosmos and helped popularise soccer across the United States. O Rei treated fans to numerous legendary moments on the pitch, including winning the 1977 NASL Soccer Bowl.

"During three seasons with the Cosmos, Pele helped transform the domestic landscape of the sport of soccer. Where once there had been baseball diamonds, now there were also soccer pitches.

"The Cosmos and their king not only started a sporting revolution in America, they also travelled the world to spread the gospel of the beautiful game, representing the world's most global city at the global game, leaving a lasting sporting legacy in India, China, and Japan, where their visits remain a cherished part of local sporting lore.

"His last game as a professional footballer was played on October 1, 1977, before a sold-out crowd at Giants Stadium and a global television audience.

"Pele played one half each for the only two clubs he ever represented, Santos and the New York Cosmos. Pele's name will forever be synonymous with sporting artistry and genius.

"His lasting impact on the sport of soccer is inestimable. Rest in peace, O Rei."

Lionel Messi is currently holidaying in his homeland after Argentina's World Cup victory.

But the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's club future is a hot topic, having put off any contract talks until after the event.

Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of this season, with former club Barcelona consistently linked.

TOP STORY – MESSI AGREES TO STAY WITH PSG

Lionel Messi has agreed to a one-year contract extension with PSG, according to Le Parisien.

The 35-year-old had put off contract talks until after the World Cup, which concluded on Sunday with Messi lifting the title with Argentina.

The report claims Messi and PSG have reached an agreement in principle, with the deal to be sealed once the Argentine returns to France.

ROUND-UP

– CBS's Ben Jacobs claims PSG will not let Kylian Mbappe exit the club in January and any off-season move will only be permitted at the right price. Mbappe was heavily linked with Real Madrid previously, but the move did not materialise, as he ultimately re-signed in May with the Parisians until 2025.

Barcelona have lost interest in Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, moving on from the idea of attempting to sign the 32-year-old on a free transfer in the off-season due to his age, claims SPORT.

Manchester United are interested in Aston Villa's Argentina World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, claims Football Insider. That comes with David de Gea's future at Old Trafford unclear.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that Chelsea are on the verge of reaching agreement on a deal for Vasco da Gama's 18-year-old Andrey Santos. The Daily Mail claims the deal is worth £18m.

Tottenham will rival Bayern Munich in pursuit of Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer, according to GiveMeSport. Spurs are looking for a successor to veteran Hugo Lloris, while Bayern have lost Manuel Neuer to injury.

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