Alvaro Morata has returned to Atletico Madrid after Juventus failed to strike a deal that would keep the Spaniard in Turin.

Juve signed a loan agreement with Atletico back in September 2020, but the finances of the deal always looked to be on the expensive side.

Although initially a one-year loan agreement worth €10million and with a purchase option of €45m, Juve had the right to extend the temporary stay by another season for an extra €10m, which would bring the release clause down to €35m.

But Juve had reportedly been trying to negotiate the purchase figure down since the end of the season, with stories from Italy suggesting they offered €15m, at least €11m less than Atletico's asking price.

A third year on loan had emerged as an option, but seemingly Juventus opted to walk away from the deal as they confirmed on Thursday the striker's second spell at the club is over.

As part of a farewell note on their website, Juventus said: "Alvaro Morata's adventure at Juventus has come to an end.

"The Spanish forward, on loan from Atletico Madrid over the last two seasons, leaves the Bianconeri for the second time and returns to the ranks of Los Colchoneros."

Although Morata's Atletico contract expires next year, rumours at the end of the season suggested the club saw him as a potential short-term solution to Luis Suarez leaving.

The Uruguayan did not have his contract renewed and is expected to join River Plate in Argentina.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is eager to bring in two attacking players this off-season following their third-place Premier League finish last term.

The club's new owners are set to back Tuchel's plans, with the Blues linked to Raheem Sterling, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Everton's Richarlison.

However, Chelsea could be set for their first splash of the window by signing a superstar from Elland Road.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO WIN RAPHINHA RACE

Chelsea are set to win the race to sign Leeds United's Brazilian forward Raphinha claims The Guardian.

Raphinha is being pursued by Arsenal and Barcelona along with the Blues, who are set to complete a £55million deal for the 25-year-old.

The winger is contracted with Leeds until 2024 and may follow Kalvin Phillips out of Elland Road with the England midfielder set to complete his move to Manchester City.

 

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mail reports Chelsea are also interested in a move for Inter defender Milan Skriniar who has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain. L'Equipe claims that PSG's initial offer for the Slovakian was worth €50m.

- Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches is eager to join PSG from Lille according to Le Parisien, with a €10m offer on the table. Sanches has one year remaining on his contract.

- Univision reports that LAFC are not pursuing Atletico Madrid forward Luis Suarez amid speculation linking the Uruguayan with the MLS club after they recently landed Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.

- Milan are looking into swooping to sign Juventus' Paulo Dybala who has been heavily linked with Inter, claims RadioRadio.

- Liverpool's Divock Origi is set to join Milan on a four-year deal pending a medical as widely reported by the Italian media.

- Argentinean outlet Relevo reports that Angel Di Maria is set to sign a deal with Juventus on Wednesday, having left PSG as a free agent.

Having finishing 15 points behind champions Real Madrid in LaLiga season, Atletico Madrid are in a bit of a rebuilding process.

While Hector Herrera, Luis Suarez and Sime Vrsaljko head for the exit, Saul Niguez and Alvaro Morata return from loans, with Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel potentially also signing on a free transfer.

Reports suggest that Atleti are also particularly keen on keeping one of Witsel's international team-mates.

TOP STORY – ATLETI TO WARD OFF CARRASCO INTEREST

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is unwilling to let go of Yannick Carrasco amid growing interest from Premier League clubs, according to Diario AS.

Although Carrasco's contract expires in 2024, his reported release clause of €60million reportedly makes him an attractive prospect to the likes of ChelseaTottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

Simeone has apparently ordered the club to not field any offers for the 28-year-old, who he considers fundamental to his future plans.

Though the player is reportedly happy at the Wanda Metropolitano, offers from elsewhere could potentially play a role in any contract negotiations.

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– Cristiano Ronaldo is considering a departure from Manchester United in response to a lack of recent transfer activity under Erik ten Hag, Record reports.

Barcelona have finally made a bid for Robert Lewandowski, with an opening offer to Bayern Munich of €40m, according to the Telegraph.

– The same publication is also reporting that, with one year remaining on his contract, France international Adrien Rabiot has requested a transfer from Juventus to the Premier League.

Milan are considering making an offer for Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, per TuttomercatoWeb.

Real Madrid begin the defence of their LaLiga title on the road against Almeria, with the fixtures for the 2022-23 season confirmed on Thursday.

Xavi's first full season in charge of Barcelona begins at the Nou Camp against Rayo Vallecano, while Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid kick off their campaign away from home against Getafe.

Elsewhere on the opening matchday, Sevilla travel to Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao host Mallorca and play-off winners Girona face Valencia.

The LaLiga season begins on August 12 and will run until a mid-season break for the World Cup in Qatar, with the campaign pausing on November 13 and resuming on December 29.

A move to take Antoine Griezmann to Athletic Bilbao is "impossible" according to Inaki Arechabaleta, the presidential candidate who has pledged to appoint Marcelo Bielsa if he wins the club's upcoming elections.

Griezmann came through the ranks at Athletic's local rivals Real Sociedad, meaning the 2018 World Cup winner is often spoken about as a potential target for the club, who remain committed to a policy of only recruiting players hailing from the Basque Country.

Having returned to Atletico Madrid on a two-year loan deal from Barcelona last August, Griezmann struggled to tie down a regular starting spot during an injury-hit season.

He made fewer appearances in all competitions (36) than fellow forwards Angel Correa (49), Luis Suarez (45) and Matheus Cunha (37).

The 31-year-old's frustrating campaign in the Spanish capital had fuelled speculation he could be targeted by Athletic, particularly as prospective boss Bielsa attempted to sign the forward during his first spell at the club between 2011 and 2013.

But Arechabaleta says the France star's significant wages make such a move implausible at this stage.

"With Marcelo we have talked about the possibilities of signing players for Athletic and, therefore, we will be attentive to the possibilities we have to strengthen our squad," he told Spanish podcast El Partidazo de Cope.

On a potential move for Griezmann, he said: "He could be [a target] because it's part of the club's philosophy, but I think it's absolutely impossible.

"The problem is not whether Griezmann enters our philosophy. Griezmann is unattainable at the moment for salary and what you have to pay for him."

Meanwhile, Arechabaleta revealed he has been in contract with managerial target Bielsa since the immediate aftermath of his Leeds United dismissal in late February, as he prepares for the elections on June 24. 

"Marcelo is a great professional, one of the best in the world and is an asset, who joins a lot of assets that we have presented these days," he added.

"I had one of the first contacts in the month of March. The first thing he told me is that he really likes the Basque Country and Athletic, but that we should let him analyse the Spanish league and the current Athletic.

"He is a very up-to-date football genius."

Real Madrid enjoyed a brilliant season, winning LaLiga comfortably before also being crown champions of Europe by beating Liverpool in Paris.

That 1-0 win at the Stade de France capped a remarkable run in the Champions League, with Los Blancos having instigated great escapes against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City.

It's difficult to recall any team enduring a tougher run to Champions League success, and yet Carlo Ancelotti – who was seen as a steady if slightly underwhelming appointment – managed to mastermind arguably his greatest triumph as a coach.

There's no sign of Madrid standing still, either. While the Spanish giants may have missed out on Kylian Mbappe, the fact they were in the hunt for him is evidence enough they are in a strong financial situation, perhaps unsurprising given their generally modest – by Santiago Bernabeu standards – outlay in the transfer market over the past couple of years.

Antonio Rudiger was signed up for next season nice and early, Aurelien Tchouameni's reported €100million signing was confirmed on Saturday, and the departures of Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Isco will give Madrid plenty of room for manoeuvre when it comes to wages.

Either way, there's nothing to suggest the LaLiga champions aren't going to be stronger in the 2022-23 campaign, meaning the chasing pack – namely Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla – have work to do, given how far behind they finished this term. 

Out with the old, in with the Nou

After a rocky start to 2021-22 that ultimately led to Ronald Koeman's dismissal, Xavi got Barca back on track and eventually secured second place, which was impressive given the top four looked beyond them for a while.

Nevertheless, their form did tail off a little in the final five or six weeks of the season, losing four of the final nine matches across all competitions.

Barca's season in general vindicated the decision to ditch Koeman for the inexperienced but well-regarded Xavi. It also proved the potential in the Blaugrana squad, as well as a degree of mental weakness at the business end.

 

Of course, it would be much easier for the club to build on the positives of this season were they not in a financial quagmire equivalent to over €1billion in debt.

As such, reports suggest Barca will largely be relying on free transfers, two of which are said to have been concluded already. Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen have apparently agreed to join, while Cesar Azpilicueta may follow the latter from Chelsea.

But the big question mark hangs over Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich talisman has made no secret of his desire to leave the Bundesliga, and Camp Nou is where he sees himself next – but Die Roten are playing hardball, and who can blame them?

A whole raft of players are expected to depart Barca, however, with Ousmane Dembele seemingly destined for Chelsea and the likes of Clement Lenglet, Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Umtiti, Oscar Mingueza, Riqui Puig, Martin Braithwaite and Sergi Roberto all expected to leave permanently. On top of that, Adama Traore and Luuk de Jong are highly unlikely to have their loans renewed, while Frenkie de Jong appears the most likely to deposit some serious money in the coffers, given Manchester United's interest.

But such upheaval will be difficult to contend with. Even if Lewandowski signs, it'll take something spectacular for Barca to be champions this time next year.

Finally Joao Felix's time to shine?

Diego Simeone's side were dethroned with little more than a whimper. Their title defence looked over before it ever really got started.

It was a disappointing season given many felt Atletico's squad was strengthened significantly last year. Griezmann, Matheus Cunha and Rodrigo de Paul provided extra spark, creativity and goal threat, though arguably none of them quite reached expectations, even if the Brazi forward did prove a dependable option off the bench.

The departure of Luis Suarez means a new striker is likely to arrive, and early indications are Alvaro Morata may be returning – granted, that may not be enough to get Atletico fans excited.

Either way, fans and neutrals alike will once again be hoping Simeone can finally find a way to get the best out of his more creative players.

 

Joao Felix is still yet to shine on a consistent basis, with 2021-22 a tricky campaign in which injuries, illness and suspension contributed to him making only 24 league appearances; just 13 of those were as a starter.

His 12 goal involvements came at roughly one every 100 minutes, which is a decent return, but there is clearly an element of Simeone not completely trusting him yet, otherwise he'd surely have started more frequently.

The exit of Suarez might allow for Joao Felix to take on a little more responsibility in attack, and who's to say that won't be the making of him?

No one doubts the talent's there; he just needs to show he can be Atletico's talisman on a regular basis. If he can, Atletico may again be the most likely to stop Los Blancos.

A Sevilla summer of upheaval

Sevilla fans are accustomed to seeing most of their squad replaced over the course of a transfer window – it's just what Monchi does.

While their rebuild may not be quite as extensive this year as in past windows, expect to see plenty of ins and outs; in fact, there's already been one key departure.

Diego Carlos has joined Aston Villa in a move that begins the dismantling of Julen Lopetegui's bedrock of a defence. In 2021-22, no team in LaLiga conceded fewer than Sevilla (30 goals), while only Manchester City (57) and Madrid (52) kept more clean sheets than Julen Lopetegui's side (51) across the top five leagues during the Brazilian's time at the club.

His centre-back partner Jules Kounde is widely expected to leave as well, with long-term admirers Chelsea once again able to flex their financial muscle now they're no longer sanctioned.

But while Sevilla boasted the best defence in LaLiga, it's easy to forget that for a while they looked to be the only team capable of challenging Madrid for the title.

 

In the end, they scraped fourth place, with their form between February 1 and the season's conclusion seeing them rank seventh with 24 points; Barca led the way with 38 in that period, while Madrid took 36.

Sevilla's biggest issue was scoring goals. Only Rafa Mir (10) reached double figures in LaLiga, with Lucas Ocampos (six) the one other to net more than five.

That – and centre-back – would appear to be where Monchi's focus will lie over the coming months, particularly now it seems Lopetegui will be staying.

But Monchi's got his work cut out keeping the team as competitive given the likely upheaval and small gap between themselves and bitter rivals Real Betis in fifth. 

A title challenge like that of 2020-21 would be an impressive feat, but if Sevilla can limit the break-up of their defence and sign a reliable striker, it would become more realistic.

Alvaro Morata admits he has "preferences and options" over his next destination, as he looks set to end his second stay with Juventus.

The Spain forward has been on loan from Atletico Madrid in Turin over the past two seasons but appears poised to not remain at the Allianz Stadium.

Juventus held a purchase option on Morata and have previously hinted at completing a full deal, but that appears to now be up in the air.

Morata, previously a reported January target for Barcelona, concedes his immediate future is unclear and wants to join a club where he will get regular minutes.

"It's not up to me, I can't do anything about it," he told Relevo. "But I want to go where the club is interested in playing me.

"My wife and children will follow me wherever I need to go. I do have preferences and options."

Morata yielded 32 goals in 92 games for Juventus - five more than his first spell at the club between 2014 and 2016, when he netted 27 times in 93 matches.

The former Real Madrid and Chelsea star will hope to push for regular minutes at whatever destination he arrives at, ahead of featuring for Spain at the Qatar 2022 World Cup later this year.

Striker Darwin Nunez has reportedly chosen the Premier League as his preferred destination in the upcoming transfer window as he prepares to leave Benfica after a breakout season.

Nunez, who turns 23 in June, burst onto the European stage with an incredible Champions League campaign, netting six goals in 10 matches – a Benfica record – including scoring in both legs against Liverpool in the knockout stages.

He was just as impressive domestically, scoring 26 goals in 28 Primeira Liga games, and now looks to be on the move.

TOP STORY – DARWIN'S THEORIES LEAD HIM TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Football Transfers reports that both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid had weighed up offers for Nunez, but he has his heart set on the Premier League.

Liverpool and Manchester United are reportedly in the strongest position, while Newcastle United and Tottenham are also interested and are said to have met with his representatives.

Nunez is being represented by Eugenio Lopez, who had previously represented fellow Benfica team-mate Nicolas Otamendi in his move from Valencia to Manchester City.

ROUND-UP

United have engaged in talks with Ajax over 20-year-old Netherlands centre-back Jurrien Timber, with the price tag said to be in the range of £43million, according to the Guardian.

– According to Sky Sports, Sadio Mane has not told Liverpool he wants to leave the club as rumours swirl about a potential move to Bayern Munich.

– The Telegraph is reporting City will look to sign Brighton and Hove Albion full-back Marc Cucurella and Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, while according to the Daily Mail, they also have strong interest in Leicester City youngster Ben Nelson.

Paris Saint-Germain have exercised their buy option on loanee Nuno Mendes, securing his services going forward for a €40m fee, per Fabrizio Romano.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal are all interested in making a move for Everton striker Richarlison if he decides to leave Goodison Park.

Erik ten Hag will have an early chance to test his Manchester United team against European heavyweights after a clash with Atletico Madrid was revealed.

On the weekend before the Premier League season begins, Ten Hag's United will tackle Atletico at Oslo's Ullevaal Stadium.

The July 30 fixture sees United take on the team that knocked them out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage this season.

Ralf Rangnick oversaw a 1-1 draw in Madrid followed by a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, but the interim boss has stepped aside after former Ajax head coach Ten Hag was named manager on a three-year contract.

United football director John Murtough, who alongside Ten Hag is set to lead an overhaul of the club's playing staff during the close season, said the Atletico game would be a significant fixture.

"Pre-season is such an important part of the squad's preparations for the season ahead," Murtough said.

"Our players and coaching staff will be relishing the opportunity to play against such a high-calibre opponent in Atletico Madrid, as well as the chance to perform in front of a full stadium of passionate Norwegian fans."

United trailed home a dismal sixth in the 2021-22 Premier League, losing their last six away games, finishing with their fewest points since 1989-90, and ending the campaign with a goal difference of zero.

Atletico, a year on from winning the LaLiga title, finished third in the Spanish top flight as Real Madrid took top spot and Barcelona edged into second position.

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is satisfied but expects more after his side's season ended with a 2-1 win away to Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Having already confirmed Champions League football next season, Atleti secured third spot over Sevilla with the win through second-half goals from Argentine duo Rodrigo de Paul and Angel Correa.

After holding out against Real Madrid to win the LaLiga title last season, Simeone's side were considered favourites to repeat after strengthening the squad with De Paul, Matheus Cunha and Antoine Griezmann's arrivals, but finished 15 points adrift of their title-winning city rivals.

Securing Champions League qualification is satisfactory according to Simeone, but this season has been a reality check for Atleti.

"As we were champions last year, this always seems little," he said post-match. "In the end we ended up rounding off an important season, a good one, and one that leaves us in a privileged place," he said post-game.

"I'm not going to lie, because I always expected more and I always want to be the champion. It's not easy because we live in a league with Barcelona and Real Madrid and it's difficult for both of them to fail, but on two occasions since I've been coach of Atletico we've achieved it.

"This season has given us a wake-up call."

Four consecutive LaLiga losses in December put the Rojiblancos in a difficult position, 14 points off Real Madrid by Christmas and out of the Champions League places with a resurgent Barcelona gaining ground under Xavi.

They were eventually able to turn around a nine-point deficit to Sevilla, while pushing Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League, in what was a positive second half to the season.

Following a solid performance to end the season, Atleti's strong run home gives Simeone confidence going into the next campaign, despite the Spanish league's natural order.

"It's not a problem of improving positions, although it's clear how we can strengthen ourselves, but the team is already there and it has very good players who have won 10 in the last 14 games, which are numbers of a champion," he said.

"We were very close to not making it [Champions League]," Simeone said. " This season leaves us with a lot of things, it was hard. We need to rest, since it started it wasn't easy. It cost a lot. It would be great to be able to generate hope, reverse how the end of the season was done. The rebelliousness of the players give us hope."

Rodrigo de Paul and Angel Correa struck as Atletico Madrid secured third in LaLiga with a 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Diego Simeone's side qualified for the Champions League before the final matchday, but were fortunate to not fall behind in the first half at Reale Arena as Rafinha spurned multiple chances.

Atletico punished La Real for not making their dominance pay when De Paul thumped a wonderful strike home after 50 minutes, before Correa sealed victory.

The hosts pulled a goal back in the 93rd minute through substitute Jon Guridi, but it proved too late to mount a comeback; defeat leaving La Real sixth, having already sealed Europa League qualification.

Mikel Merino headed narrowly wide in the opening exchanges, before Rafinha inexplicably hit the post from point-blank range after Jan Oblak's parry from a low Alexander Sorloth drive.

Rafinha wasted another great opportunity as he curled wide when one-on-one with Oblak following Sortloth's offload, before the midfielder arrowed just off target on the stroke of half-time.

Alex Remiro thwarted a swerving De Paul effort from the edge of the area after the interval, while Matheus Cunha cannoned a deflected strike against the crossbar.

But De Paul broke the deadlock soon after when he drilled a fizzing right-footed attempt into the top-left corner.

Remiro rushed out to ensure Antoine Griezmann's goal drought continued, before Correa doubled Atletico's advantage with a curling finish in the 68th minute.

Guridi headed home from close range after Oblak parried Adnan Januzaj's free-kick, but Atleti held on for victory.

What does it mean? Atleti's sizeable task to compete at the top

Atletico's chances of defending their title ended months ago as runaways leaders Real Madrid coasted towards their 35th LaLiga crown, finishing 15 points clear of their neighbours.

While Simeone's side made it six games unbeaten in LaLiga against La Real, their timid first-half outing only served to display the difference in quality between Atleti and the champions. With Barcelona somewhat reviving under Xavi as well, Simeone will need to address these issues in the close season to compete next campaign.

 

Griezmann selfless but cannot get a goal

Griezmann may not have scored for 15 LaLiga games, his longest run without a goal in the competition, but the forward's unselfish link-up play should be credited.

The France international opted to play back to De Paul for the opener, registering his fourth top-flight assist this term, but will hope to rediscover his scoring prowess for the next campaign.

Rubbish Rafinha finishing

Rafinha could have had La Real three goals to the good before half-time, but failed to find the target with any of the presentable openings.

The Paris Saint-Germain loanee accounted for 0.72 of La Real's 1.01 expected goals total in the opening 45 minutes, highlighting the quality of the chances he spurned with his profligacy.

Diego Simeone is targeting some new signings to reinvigorate an Atletico Madrid squad that "needs new energy". 

Atletico were disappointing in the defence of their LaLiga title and have lost nine games and conceded 42 goals – both their worst totals since the 2011-12 campaign, when they appointed Simeone midway through the season. 

A strong finish to this term, in which they went on a run of nine wins in 12 outings, enabled them to secure a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League. 

Simeone still has faith in the ability of his squad but feels it would be wise for Atleti to try to conduct some galvanising transfers. 

"We have a strong squad. In almost all areas, we have players who can give us what we want. We don't need many players, but we do need some to reinforce a team that needs new energy," said Simeone. 

The Atleti boss took responsibility for the team's shortcomings because he felt he did not do enough to solve the issues they faced. 

"I'm not happy with this season at all. After winning LaLiga, I always had the hope of being closer to defending it. It's a good lesson in life to keep learning," said Simeone. 

"The 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 that we were using – that also made me feel a bit dizzy. There is not much difference between the two but I could have done more than I did. 

"We have to refine things. We suffered with the absence of [Kieran] Trippier and were not able to solve it as I would have liked. [Marcos] Llorente played a whole year in a position where he couldn't show what he showed last season. 

"We suffered a lot with the central defenders – [Stefan] Savic and [Jose] Gimenez have had injuries and setbacks. They seem like excuses, but they are realities. I couldn't solve it in the best way. 

"There's always a lot of self-criticism and it's harsher than what the media says. We want to win. The club's goal is to get in the Champions League, but ours is to win. 

"It was an unusual season. We're not used to conceding so many goals and we lost many games. But with all the difficulties we qualified for the Champions League with two games to spare." 

Atleti will hope to finish the season by defeating Real Sociedad on Sunday and claiming back-to-back away LaLiga wins for the first time since June 2022. 

Los Colchoneros have won six of their 10 away games against Sociedad under Simeone, having won only six of the previous 28 such encounters.

Title races are the best, aren't they?

Months of games, so many ups and downs, goals scored and conceded, and yet it can all still come down to the finest margins in the closing minutes of the last day.

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, the winner is showered with praise; the loser is taunted and booed until my throat is sore.

With one matchday left, the title races in both Serie A and the Premier League are going to the final 90 minutes. Milan and Manchester City have their destinies in their own hands, but Inter and Liverpool are looking to respectively pounce on any stumble.

There is the potential for exceptional drama in Italy and England, but can the Nerazzurri and the Reds have much hope of pulling off the improbable and wrestling the respective title from their rivals?

Stats Perform has taken a look at some of the more dramatic title races from recent history that show anything is possible.

Every goal matters

The Eredivisie provided about as tense a finish as you could imagine in 2006-07, with PSV Eindhoven and Ajax unsurprisingly the main characters.

A strong title defence from Ronald Koeman's PSV began with 18 wins from 21 games, and just one defeat.

However, losing four and drawing four of their next 12 games coupled with Ajax winning five of six leading into the final day meant they were neck and neck on points heading into the last game.

Despite being behind on goal difference, a tremendous effort from PSV saw them pip their rivals after an emphatic 5-1 win over Vitesse, while Ajax could only muster a 2-0 victory over Willem II, losing the title by a single goal.

When goals made no difference in LaLiga

In the same season, Real Madrid made a disappointing start in LaLiga, drawing their first game 0-0 with Villarreal at home before going on to lose seven of their first 21 league matches.

After drawing four games in a row between mid-February and mid-March, title hopes seemed to be over for Fabio Capello's men, only for nine wins in 11 games to send them into the final day level on points with Barcelona.

Barca thrashed Gimnastic 5-1 away from home to do their bit, but Madrid eased to a 3-1 win against Real Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Blaugrana had a significantly better goal difference of +45 compared to Madrid's +26, but that mattered not as the tie-breaker came down to head-to-head record, which was in Los Blancos' favour having beaten Barca 2-0 at home and drawn 3-3 at Camp Nou.

"Agueroooooo!"

Following Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, the club had grown year-on-year and by the 2011-12 season, felt they were ready to mount a challenge at the top of the Premier League.

Roberto Mancini's side started well enough, winning 11 of their first 12 games, but three defeats across December and January dented hopes, while two losses and two draws in a five-game period in March and April all but killed them.

That was until five wins in a row coincided with Manchester United losing to Wigan Athletic and dramatically drawing 4-4 with Everton at Old Trafford.

City beating United on matchday 36 swung things in the Sky Blues' favour, and they went into the last day needing only a win against lowly QPR to seal it.

In typical fashion, they made it hard work for themselves, finding themselves 2-1 down heading towards the 90th minute. United had won 1-0 at Sunderland, which meant City needed two goals or they would have lost the title in agonising fashion.

An Edin Dzeko header made it 2-2, before Mario Balotelli slid in Sergio Aguero for one of the most famous goals in English football history, giving City their first top-flight title since 1969.

 

The ultimate last day head-to-head

It was like something out of a Hollywood film. All the previous nine LaLiga titles had been won by Clasico giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, but in 2013-14, Atletico Madrid believed they could spoil the party.

Barca were the pacesetters, winning 13 of their first 14 games, while Real Madrid were struggling after losing to both Atletico and Barca.

Diego Simeone led his team to an incredible 16 wins from their first 18 games, but a 0-0 draw with Barca made it look like it would be the tightest of run-ins.

Indeed it was, with Real coming back to the party after an 18-match unbeaten run, though back-to-back defeats to Barca and Sevilla stopped them in their tracks.

Gerardo Martino's Barca were wobbling too, losing three out of seven games between February and March, and then drawing with Getafe and Elche to give Atletico their chance on the final day.

As if it could not have been more dramatic, Atletico went into the last game three points clear, but needing a point to clinch the title, away at Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring for the Blaugrana, but Diego Godin's header handed the crown to Atletico.

When six were not on the beach

You may not be as familiar with this final day, but it stands as one of the most remarkable in the history of the game.

Never mind two or three, there were six clubs that could still claim the Ligue 2 title going into the final round of matches in 2016-17.

Strasbourg, Amiens, Troyes, Lens, Brest and Nimes all in with a shout with one game remaining, all separated by three points at most.

Technically, the drama was not really with the winner of the title, but the other automatic promotion spot that was up for grabs, with Strasbourg able to hold on to top spot following a nervy 2-1 win against Bourg-Peronnas, but it was a 96th-minute strike from Emmanuel Bourgaud sealing a 2-1 win at Stade Reims for Amiens that provided unbelievable drama, taking the aptly named Unicorns from sixth to second.

I did not think I would be advising Inter and Liverpool to go into their games with an "Amiens mindset", but there we are.

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Antoine Griezmann is among the top three or four players in Europe and will remain with the Spanish club beyond this season.

Griezmann sealed a return to Atletico from Barcelona last August on an initial loan with an option to buy after spending just two years at Camp Nou.

He has struggled to recapture his best form with Atleti, however, having scored just eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.

Indeed, the France international is on a 14-game run without finding the net in LaLiga, which is one short of his longest goal drought in the competition.

Griezmann's 13 direct goal involvements in 2021-22 is the fourth most among Atletico players, meanwhile, behind Luis Suarez, Joao Felix (both 15) and Angel Correa (18).

But contrary to suggestions in the Spanish press that Atleti are reluctant to purchase the 31-year-old outright, Cerezo has made clear a deal is being worked on.

"Griezmann is our player. He has a contract with Atletico Madrid and will stay here at Atletico Madrid," he said at an event on Friday, as reported by AS.

"In my opinion, Antoine is among three or four best players in Europe."

 

Atletico last week announced that Suarez will depart Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the campaign.

They still have Alvaro Morata on their books, though, with the Spain international's two-year loan at Juventus coming to an end after Saturday's Serie A clash with Fiorentina.

Unlike with Griezmann, Cerezo was less assertive when it came to discussing Morata's future in the Spanish capital.

"The truth is that I don't know what will happen to him," he said. "He's our player, but I don't know what will happen. I don't know if Juve will keep him or not. We don't know."

Atleti have conceded 42 goals in 37 LaLiga games this term, which is their worst record in a single campaign since 2011-12 when Diego Simeone took over midway through.

Jan Oblak in particular has endured a difficult campaign, though Cerezo rejected suggestions that the goalkeeper could move on in the upcoming transfer window.

"There are always rumours about everything," he said. "Jan is a goalkeeper for Atletico de Madrid, and he has a contract. He may yet renew for another 10 years."

Luis Suarez was hailed as an "extraordinary footballer" by Diego Simeone as the Uruguayan received a rapturous send-off at his final home game for Atletico Madrid.

The 35-year-old Uruguayan, formerly of Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona, is being released by Atletico at the end of his two-year contract.

His second season has not delivered to the same level as his first, where his 21 league goals drove Atletico to the LaLiga title, and the club see this as an appropriate time to part ways.

Suarez started Sunday's home game against Sevilla, which ended in a 1-1 draw after the visitors snatched a late equaliser.

He could not grab a goal to mark the occasion, after Atletico confirmed prior to kick-off it would be his last game for the club, and Suarez was clearly emotional when substituted midway through the second half.

Head coach Simeone paid tribute, and there was a guard of honour for Suarez and midfielder Hector Herrera after the final whistle, as Atletico's players marked the exits of both players.

Simeone said his chief thought regarding Suarez was "gratitude", after the player who remains the third-highest scorer in Barcelona's history signed off from his stint at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"He came to try to remain at the top, to show how competitive he is," Simeone said. "He helped us, and we helped him to win LaLiga where he was decisive due to his forcefulness. This season, despite not playing the games he would have wanted, he is still the team's top scorer.

"I wish him the best, with absolute gratitude to an extraordinary footballer and to a person who goes beyond a footballer."

Jose Gimenez headed Atletico ahead after 30 minutes against Sevilla, with an 85th-minute leveller from Youssef En-Nesyri enough to secure Champions League football for Sevilla next season, with Atletico having already made sure.

Simeone's third-placed team have been left behind by Real Madrid and Barcelona this season, and he said his players "need to improve, talk and believe in what we believe in to compete well".

He warned that although Atletico have shown they can be competitive against the big two in Spain, the likes of Sevilla, Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao are also in pursuit of the Rojiblancos.

Looking at what comes next, Simeone said it was important to move on from this season and begin afresh.

"Calm down and, as always," he said, "we will be here."

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