The Decline of Holland's Football Team: Doomed by Total Obsession with Past

 The Holland players react to the disappointment of failing to qualify for their second major football tournament in a row. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
The Holland players react to the disappointment of failing to qualify for their second major football tournament in a row. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
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The Decline of Holland's Football Team: Doomed by Total Obsession with Past

 The Holland players react to the disappointment of failing to qualify for their second major football tournament in a row. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
The Holland players react to the disappointment of failing to qualify for their second major football tournament in a row. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

In Graham Swift’s novel Waterland his narrator, a history teacher going through a mid-life crisis, says: “And where history does not undermine and set traps for itself in such an openly perverse way, it creates this insidious longing to revert. It begets this bastard but pampered child, Nostalgia. How we yearn to return to that time before history claimed us, before things went wrong.”

At some point analysis of decline becomes an ordeal, particularly when the causative factors seem numerous and varied and not independent of one another. Nostalgia lends itself to convenient explanations of why things are not as good as they were, which may overshadow the fact it is perhaps more important that one looks back to move forward and not vice versa. Dutch football has seen four talented generations of players, right from Cruyff and Van Hanegem’s cohort in the 70s, Gullit, Rijkaard, Van Basten and Koeman in the 80s, Bergkamp’s batch in the 90s and the 1983-84-born class of the 00s led by Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.

In the wake of failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia Dutch footballers are now criticised for a lack of “winning mentality”. Marcel Brands of PSV, in a discussion in 2014 with his fellow technical directors of the so-called big three, Marc Overmars of Ajax and Feyenoord’s Martin van Geel, remarked: “We develop many intelligent, tactically strong players. We just need to improve substantially in the winning factor. I went to Portugal recently: Sporting, Benfica and Porto. There it is completely different. There it is all about winning. With us, it’s the exact opposite: ‘80% possession, played well, yes but we lose 1-0.’

“That’s not how it should be. If you look at Germany, they have taken a step. There was always physical football, a lot of running. Now, there is a lot more [technical] football than 10 years ago. They also observed us [the Dutch] a lot.”

Tellingly, nearly all of the successful recent exports from the Eredivisie have been players who were scouted between the ages of 16 and 19 – Uruguay’s Luis Suárez, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen and Belgium’s Toby Alderweireld found the Netherlands a prime location to hone their talent, having developed initially elsewhere. But even if the current Holland side lacked extraordinary talents, there was sufficient quality for them at least to make the qualification play-offs. That suggests there are deeper structural problems with the national team. It is clearly more complicated than just Memphis Depay’s preference for wearing hats.

In 2014 all the big three’s technical directors agreed that the KNVB, the Dutch FA, needed a strong technical director. Jelle Goes had functioned as “technical manager” since 2013 and played a big role in drafting the Winnaars van Morgen, “Winners of Tomorrow”, plan for reviving Dutch football; and, when Hans van Breukelen was made technical director in 2016, Goes’ focus shifted to youth.

However, this summer both Goes and Van Breukelen left their roles, with the latter resigning, having made a mess of the national coach situation after Danny Blind’s departure and saying he had not been able to make “his – and the KNVB’s — ambitions come true”.

The KNVB’s lack of a clear long-term vision seemed evident as they let Hakim Ziyech slip through their fingers. The 24-year-old, who played for Dutch youth teams up to the under-21s and was the outstanding Dutch midfielder of his generation, was injured on his first call-up in May 2015 and could not play, but then seemed to be overlooked. He then elected to represent Morocco, making his debut in October 2015.

In March 2016 Blind was asked why there had not been more of an effort to tie down Ziyech. The then Holland manager responded with the specious excuse that Ziyech was not playing as a “true No10” at Twente at the time but as more of a second striker. Immediately his then-assistant coach, Marco van Basten, sitting at the back of the room, turned to the reporter who had suggested the KNVB had failed in this regard and said: “Why? He has gone with the choice with his heart? Then, in my opinion, you should ask him.”

In May 2016 Van Basten called Ziyech and the St-Etienne winger Oussama Tannane “stupid boys” for not having the patience to wait for their chance: “How stupid can you be to choose Morocco if you are in contention for the Dutch national team?”

This, beyond the disrespect, suggests some delusions of grandeur and superiority persist despite Holland’s shortcomings on the pitch. Nearly two years later another young talent – Sofyan Amrabat –is set to follow Ziyech. He still has a chance of playing at the World Cup finals with Morocco, while the Dutch must watch a second consecutive international tournament on their TV screens, still lacking direction in their long-term planning as well as a player worthy of building a new side around.

The way in which Van Basten expressed his view is indicative of the way dynamics can shift when there are many big personalities vying for influence. For the Dutch this is not a new phenomenon. In 1981, as Ajax trailed Twente 2-3 at De Meer, Johan Cruyff, then in a vague directorial role, made his way from the stands to the bench and propped himself beside the coach, Leo Beenhakker, shouting instructions and making tactical changes. In 2004, when Ronald Koeman was manager of Ajax, Louis van Gaal, then technical director, used to sit on the sidelines and commentate on training sessions.

Recently Ruud Gullit, assistant coach to Dick Advocaat, recorded a video for his Twitter feed in the Holland dressing room. Advocaat was unaware of and unhappy with the breach of protocol, yet Gullit was excused. Less than a month later Advocaat suggested Gullit would be his ideal successor because of the way the France players seemed to approach him in reverence at full-time, after they had easily defeated Holland 4-0 in September. “The Netherlands really forgets what a great Gullit is,” said Advocaat. There is bias in choosing to remember the great player – but not the fairly mediocre manager.

Robert Maaskant, who has managed NAC Breda and Willem II, pertinently told De Volkskrant in August: “When I started as a trainer, I thought: ‘I did not have a great career as a player, so I need to get into [management] early. Because between the ages of 42 and 50, all those former internationals [Frank de Boer, Phillip Cocu, Giovanni van Bronckhorst] will start to get involved, and they will get the best jobs first.’ But the lead I had, ultimately led to nothing more. Because experience is no longer as important.

“It started with Marco van Basten’s appointment as Holland coach, without any experience. Since then you do not ‘build’ a career in Dutch football any more: it will ‘happen’ to you.”

Peter Bosz, now at Borussia Dortmund, is a Dutch rarity in breaking that ceiling in recent years but seemed to be swiftly pushed out by the powers that be at Ajax. So a picture emerges of an insular, constricted group of coaches who are granted opportunities with little or no coaching experience. Most share a common idea of possession-based 4‑3‑3 football, which makes Dutch teams predictable while other nations have either bettered 4-3-3 or moved on.

The most successful exponents of the “Dutch” style are no longer Dutch, and given there is little to lose now, perhaps a step in the right direction would be to experiment with appointing a foreign coach. The last one – the Austrian Ernst Happel – did not fare too badly.

Dutch football has always been a battleground of “philosophy” and winning football matches in the somewhat arbitrary “right” way over just winning. That there was still pride in losing the 1974 World Cup final to West Germany – when Cruyff’s talented side squandered a one-goal lead to their greatest rivals in Munich – seemed to set forth the belief that results were, to an extent, expendable in the pursuit of the ideal of total football.

Now, in the friction between the nostalgia for their great footballing innovations of the past and the reality of being surpassed in tactical relevance today, the Dutch seem to have lost their standing and ended up compromising on both the style for which they were renowned and the results they fail to achieve.

In retrospect their shock 5-1 drubbing of Spain at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil signified a strange fork-in-the-road of a game, in which the defending champions had fallen into a predictable rhythm and the team who had lost the 2010 final seemed to be one step ahead. But Spain have recovered while the Dutch have regressed because that is where the insidiousness of nostalgia can lead – to regression, in the assumption that to achieve glory in the future we need to “go back” and recreate a past that has long been lost. Clearly Holland and Dutch football must now look to the future instead.

The Guardian Sport



Klopp Declares Himself ‘Super Happy’ with His Liverpool Legacy

Liverpool's German manager Juergen Klopp celebrates after his team victory at the end of the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 20, 2023. (AFP)
Liverpool's German manager Juergen Klopp celebrates after his team victory at the end of the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 20, 2023. (AFP)
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Klopp Declares Himself ‘Super Happy’ with His Liverpool Legacy

Liverpool's German manager Juergen Klopp celebrates after his team victory at the end of the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 20, 2023. (AFP)
Liverpool's German manager Juergen Klopp celebrates after his team victory at the end of the English League Cup quarter-final football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 20, 2023. (AFP)

Outgoing manager Juergen Klopp's nine-year spell at Liverpool may have included some big near-misses, but the German manager said he has no regrets for the ones that got away.

Under Klopp, Liverpool lost the Premier League by a single point in 2018-19 - but they roared back to win it the following season.

They also lost the Champions League final in 2017-18 only to clinch that title the next year.

The initial setbacks did nothing to weaken his resolve, Klopp told "The Times."

"If my career didn’t teach me how to deal with setbacks, then there is no career for that," Klopp told the paper ahead of his last game as Liverpool manager on Sunday, at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

"Millimeters, inches decided things for us. I know for people it makes a massive difference if I won more. If I win three, I am definitely a successful manager. If I win one in nine years, people can argue it. But I couldn't care less.

"From time to time you get it and from time to time they get it. I'm at peace with it."

Klopp said he felt responsible for the process of change Liverpool would have to go through following his departure but added that he knew this was unavoidable.

"There's a lot of uncertainty for the people, and I didn't want that for them. But I knew if I did it in another year or another two years, it would be exactly the same for these people," he said.

"That cannot be the reason for not doing it. I had to overcome that. I had to think of myself first, which doesn't happen a lot, actually."

During his tenure Liverpool also won a Club World Cup title, an FA Cup and two League Cups, and the 56-year-old said that overall he was happy with the memories he has made at Liverpool.

"Could it have been more successful? Yes. With me? I don't know. We did absolutely everything. I am very self-critical but I do not reflect on this in a critical way. I am super happy with my time here... I look back with a smile," he said.


Bayer Leverkusen Completes Unprecedented Unbeaten Bundesliga Season, Cologne Relegated

Bayer Leverkusen's Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso celebrates with the Bundesliga trophy after the German first division Bundesliga football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Augsburg in Leverkusen, western Germany on May 18, 2024. (AFP)
Bayer Leverkusen's Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso celebrates with the Bundesliga trophy after the German first division Bundesliga football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Augsburg in Leverkusen, western Germany on May 18, 2024. (AFP)
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Bayer Leverkusen Completes Unprecedented Unbeaten Bundesliga Season, Cologne Relegated

Bayer Leverkusen's Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso celebrates with the Bundesliga trophy after the German first division Bundesliga football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Augsburg in Leverkusen, western Germany on May 18, 2024. (AFP)
Bayer Leverkusen's Spanish head coach Xabi Alonso celebrates with the Bundesliga trophy after the German first division Bundesliga football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Augsburg in Leverkusen, western Germany on May 18, 2024. (AFP)

League champion Bayer Leverkusen became the first team to complete a Bundesliga season undefeated on Saturday.

Early goals from Victor Boniface and Robert Andrich gave Leverkusen a 2-1 win over Augsburg in their last game of the season.

The win was their 28th in 34 Bundesliga games.

Leverkusen, which won the title in April to end Bayern Munich’s 11-year run, is the first team to complete an unbeaten season in any of Europe’s top five leagues since Juventus in the Italian Serie A in 2011-12.

Leverkusen hasn’t lost a game in any competition all season, a 51-game unbeaten run.

It had a firm grip on Augsburg but Mert Kömür pulled one back in the 62nd minute, prompting Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso to send on Florian Wirtz and Granit Xhaka, the star players he’d been trying to rest before the Europa League and German Cup finals next week.

Local rival Cologne was relegated. Cologne's hopes of avoiding the drop evaporated in a 4-1 loss at Heidenheim.

Janik Haberer scored in stoppage time for Union Berlin to clinch survival with a 2-1 win over Freiburg. Union’s win meant Bochum dropped into the relegation playoff place after losing at Werder Bremen 4-1.

Stuttgart finished second at Bayern Munich’s expense with a 4-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Bayern slumped to a 4-2 loss at Hoffenheim in Thomas Tuchel’s last game as coach.

Mainz ensured its survival with a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg.


Zverev to Face Jarry in the Italian Open Final after a Comeback Win over Tabilo

Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)
Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)
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Zverev to Face Jarry in the Italian Open Final after a Comeback Win over Tabilo

Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)
Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)

For about an hour, Alexander Zverev had no answer to the rocket-like forehands and perfectly placed drop shots that Alejandro Tabilo kept producing on Rome’s red clay.

The fifth-ranked Zverev kept patient, though, and took his chance when it came as he rallied to beat his unheralded Chilean opponent 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Friday for a spot in the Italian Open final.

“I was just hanging on the second set. I brought my energy up,” Zverev said. “He hit me off the court in the first set and I didn’t play well at all, but he was a big reason why. He gave me no rhythm.”

In Sunday’s final, Zverev will face another Chilean, Nicolas Jarry, who beat Tommy Paul 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3 on the American’s 27th birthday.

The 24th-ranked Jarry came back from a set down to eliminate Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals and will be playing his first Masters Series final.

It was an appealing contrast in styles between the big-serving 6-foot-7 (2.01 meter) Jarry, who goes for a lot of his shots, and the more defensive-minded Paul, who grinds it out and likes to make his opponents play longer points.

Jarry required five match points to finish off Paul and ended up with 33 winners to his Paul’s 20, but also many more unforced errors — 49 to 15 — in a match that lasted nearly three hours.

“I go for it. And, if everything goes in, amazing,” Jarry said. “But it’s difficult to maintain.”

Zverev, the 2017 Rome champion, had the pinkie on his left hand bandaged following a fall in his previous match, after which he said his finger was “crooked.” The German plays right-handed but uses a two-handed backhand.

He said his pinkie was swollen and he was using painkillers.

“I tore a capsule. ... But I didn’t break any bones,” Zverev said. “The finger is still very, very big. It was manageable.”

It’s Zverev’s third final in Rome. He won in 2017 by beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets for his first Masters Series title. He lost to Rafael Nadal in the title match a year later.

“I’ve been here before,” Zverev said. “I know what it takes and hopefully I can use that.”

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek will play No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the women’s final on Saturday.

Rome is the last big wamup before the French Open starts on May 26.

Zverev, who has disputed a penalty order from a German court over allegations that he caused bodily harm to a woman, faces a trial starting during Roland Garros. He said recently that he won’t attend the start of the trial.

Zverev leads 4-2 in his career meetings with Jarry but the series is tied 2-2 on clay.

“Nicolas is one of the most aggressive players we have on the tour,” Zverev said. “Obviously huge serve, huge forehand. Tries to hit big from both sides of the court.”

The 32nd-ranked Tabilo eliminated top-ranked Djokovic in the third round on Sunday and hadn’t dropped a set in the tournament until errors helped Zverev win the second-set tiebreaker. Zverev then took control early in the third.

Tabilo, who is a lefty, saved a break point midway through the first set with a slicing serve out wide to the ad court then produced three drop shots to serve out the set.

Zverev and Tabilo were born in the same year and played often as juniors, when Tabilo represented Canada, where he was born.


Egypt’s Elneny to Leave Arsenal after Eight Years

Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)
Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)
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Egypt’s Elneny to Leave Arsenal after Eight Years

Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)
Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)

Midfielder Mohamed Elneny will leave Arsenal at the end of the season after eight years at the Premier League club, the Egypt international said on Friday.

Elneny joined Arsenal from Swiss side FC Basel in 2016 for 5 million pounds ($6 million) and has made 161 appearances for the London club.

A knee injury restricted the 31-year-old to eight outings during the 2022-23 season. He has made six appearances in all competitions in Arsenal's current campaign.

"Gooners, I'm here today to send you a message, to say goodbye and thank you for everything you've done for me," Elneny said in a video posted on X on Friday.

"The love, the support and the kindness. I'm really going to miss you so much and you'll be in my heart forever."

Elneny did not say where he would go after leaving Arsenal.

He said he would bid farewell to fans at the Emirates on Sunday as Arsenal host Everton in their final league match, hoping for a Manchester City slip-up against West Ham United to secure their first title in 20 years.


Arsenal Must Not Get 'Too Emotional' on Final Day, Says Odegaard

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine
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Arsenal Must Not Get 'Too Emotional' on Final Day, Says Odegaard

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine

Arsenal players must not let their emotions get the better of them as they chase the Premier League title into the final day of the season, captain Martin Odegaard said ahead of their match against Everton.
Arsenal are two points behind leaders Manchester City going into Sunday's final round of fixtures. The Gunners must win to stay in contention, while City could lift their fourth title in a row if they beat West Ham United, Reuters said.
Arsenal's hopes of ending their 20-year wait for the league title dwindled after City's 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday put the Manchester side at an advantage.
"We spoke about it the day after (City went ahead)," Odegaard told TNT Sports. "We have to focus on ourselves, we can't get too emotional about it.
"We have one more game, at home, it's the last game of the season and our goal and our task is clear, we have to win that.
"We'll see what happens. That's our mindset now, win that last game, give the fans a good last game and we'll see. It's out of our control, we just focus on our game."
The Norwegian midfielder said his side have been amazing this season. "We've taken good steps and I feel like we're a much better team compared to last season," he added.

"We´ve had some really good games, some good results, and we are now there until the last day, to push for it."
Arsenal finished second in the 2022-23 season, five points behind City. They last won the league title under manager Arsene Wenger in their 2003-04 "Invincibles" season when they went the entire campaign unbeaten.


Klopp Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane as He Prepares for Emotional Final Match as Liverpool Manager

 Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)
Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)
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Klopp Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane as He Prepares for Emotional Final Match as Liverpool Manager

 Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)
Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)

As part of a club documentary offering an inside view of his final days at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp was asked by the filmmakers to stand alone on The Kop one afternoon and gaze out around Anfield.

He did it and didn’t particularly like it.

“I love Anfield to bits,” Klopp said Friday, “but I love it when it’s full.”

On Sunday, there won’t be a spare seat inside the storied stadium when Klopp takes charge of his final game as Liverpool manager after nearly nine years at the club.

There might not be many dry eyes among the home fans, either.

Klopp was the man who made Liverpool dream again.

The man who led the team to seven major trophies — including a sixth Champions League title (“Let’s talk about six, baby,” he memorably sang) and a first English league championship in 30 years.

The man who forged such a connection with the port city that he has been compared to Bill Shankly, the club's most legendary manager.

The man who felt equally at home motivating his players to go above and beyond with his heavy-metal style of football as he was talking compassionately with families of the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game against Wolverhampton, Klopp stopped many times while answering questions — sometimes because he was getting emotional and sometimes because he wanted to find exactly the right words about all aspects of a club that has become so close to his heart.

“I would not be happy if I’d have thought I could have done more,” the 56-year-old German said. “I couldn’t. I couldn’t have done more.”

It’s why there wasn’t such a sense of sadness as he said individual goodbyes to his players on Thursday and had a barbeque with the squad.

He visited workers in the club’s store in Liverpool city center one final time. He forgets how many Liverpool jerseys he has signed over the past few days.

Klopp said it has been “the most intense week of my life.”

“Saying goodbye I don’t think is ever nice,” he said, “but saying goodbye without feeling sad or feeling hurt, that would just mean the time you spent together wasn’t right or great. And I had a great time.”

There was a sense of joy as he went through his greatest hits as Liverpool manager.

His best game? Maybe, surprisingly, the 1-1 draw with Manchester City at Anfield this season, when Liverpool delivered a dominant second-half display against the team Klopp feels is the best in the world.

The best goal? Goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s header from a corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time to win a game at West Bromwich Albion.

His favorite assist was Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quickly taken corner for Divock Origi’s goal in the 4-0 comeback win over Barcelona in the 2019 Champions League semifinals. And Alisson’s late stop against Napoli in that same Champions League campaign was his favorite save.

As he recounted all the memories, it made him realize just what an amazing time he’s had and the journey he has gone on since arriving as a bespectacled eccentric with slightly wonky teeth and a playing style — all passion and high-energy — that was seemingly made for Liverpool.

“I take memories, friendships and relationships with me forever,” Klopp said. "You realize the older you get, when time slips though your fingers, you look back and go, ’My God, that was really good.

“A decade in your life is massive and I will not forget a day of it.”

Klopp being Klopp, there was even time in his final pre-match news conference to delve into the footballing issues of the day by saying he would vote for the scrapping of VAR at the Premier League’s annual general meeting next month.

By then, though, he’ll be on the outside looking in. A former Liverpool manager. No longer part of English football.

Yet, he always will be. Few people have been so charismatic, so influential, so good at his job, even if — and Klopp said he accepts it — there will be many who believe one league crown was a below-par return for a club whose title duels with City raised the standard of English football to a new level.

It’s why there will be such a special atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday, away from the scrutiny of a title denouement being played out at Etihad Stadium and Emirates Stadium.

Klopp said he has refused to give the documentary-makers access to his final team meeting because he has "no idea how it will go.”

“If it could not be a goodbye atmosphere, but a football atmosphere, that would be cool,” he said.

“We will prepare as good and as normal as possible. I think I was never someone who disturbed a good game but probably, this time, I am the one and I’m sorry for that.”

Klopp, who in 2022 was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool — the highest civic honor, also had one last message for the people.

“I don’t imagine the club will need my help in the future,” he said. “But if the city needs me, I am there.”


Germany Defender Benjamin Henrichs Signs Contract Extension at Leipzig Through 2028

FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)
FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)
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Germany Defender Benjamin Henrichs Signs Contract Extension at Leipzig Through 2028

FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)
FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)

Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany's preliminary squad for the European Championship next month.

Henrichs' contract at Leipzig was due to run out in 2025 and he has now agreed a three-year extension which was announced Friday. He said he'd considered leaving for a new challenge, The AP reported.

“We’ve always had a very fair exchange of views. I’m now 27 years old and of course I have also thought about whether I’d like to try something new again," he said in a statement.

"But the club and the sporting management around (sporting director) Rouven Schröder and (coach) Marco Rose have always made it very clear to me that they’re counting on me and would like to see me continue in Leipzig."

Leipzig is already assured of finishing the Bundesliga season in fourth spot ahead of its last game at Eintracht Frankfurt Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Messi's Record $20.4 Million Salary Dwarfs Entire MLS Teams

Lionel Messi - File/AFP
Lionel Messi - File/AFP
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Messi's Record $20.4 Million Salary Dwarfs Entire MLS Teams

Lionel Messi - File/AFP
Lionel Messi - File/AFP

Lionel Messi's record $20.45 million annual salary from Inter Miami makes him by far the best paid player in Major League Soccer but also puts him ahead of the entire squads of 25 of the league's clubs, according to data released by the MLS Players Association on Thursday.

The players union regularly releases the full pay details of the entire league.

Messi has a guaranteed compensation of $20,446,667 made up of a base salary of $12 million plus various bonuses, AFP reported.

The figures from the players' union do not include the huge income the Argentine World Cup winner receives in commercial deals, endorsements and sponsorships from companies such as Adidas and Apple.

Messi signed his last contract with Spanish club Barcelona in 2017, a four-year deal that gave him the potential to earn 138 million euros per season including salary and add-ons.

Messi moved to Paris Saint-Germain in August 2021, after his contract with Barca ended and was reported to be earning between 30-35 million euros with the French club.

The 36-year-old joined Miami in July last year on a deal which runs until the end of the 2025 season but he may still be receiving payments from Barca.

Joan Laporta, the Barca president, said in January 2022 that the club were scheduled to make deferred salary payments to the player until 2025.

Toronto's Italian striker Lorenzo Insigne, who was MLS's best-ever paid player until Messi's arrival, was second on the list with a guaranteed income of $15.4 million from the Canadian club.

Messi's Spanish team-mate, Sergio Busquets, the 35-year-old former Barca midfielder, is the third top earner in the league on $8.8 million guaranteed.

Miami's former Barca duo of Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez and Spanish full-back Jordi Alba each earn $1.5 million per year.

Inter Miami's total wage bill is $41.68 million with Toronto second on $31.41 million. Current league champions, the Columbus Crew, had a total salary cost of $15.19 million, ranked 21st in the league.

Messi shares a dressing room with a number of team-mates earning just a tiny fraction of his income -- defender Noah Allen, a regular part of the matchday squad, earns a total of $91,383.

The average MLS salary is $594,390 in 2024 which is up 12.1% from last year.

Miami are able to pay Messi such a high salary because of the 'Designated Player' rule which was brought in to allow Los Angeles Galaxy to sign David Beckham in 2007 on a base salary of $6.5 million a year with his total deal earning him around $50 million in five years.

While Messi's income is huge by MLS standards it is well below the levels of top performers in other major sports in the USA.

Last year Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow signed a five-year deal worth $55 million per season, a new league record.

The NBA's top earner Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors makes $51.9 million.


Former Türkiye Coach Fatih Terim Leaves Greek Club Panathinaikos

FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)
FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)
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Former Türkiye Coach Fatih Terim Leaves Greek Club Panathinaikos

FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)
FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)

Former Türkiye coach Fatih Terim has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season.

The 70-year-old Terim said in an online post Friday that he was ending his five-month stint with the club after a meeting with the owners, The AP reported.

“Our plans for the 2024-2025 season were not aligned,” said Terim, who won eight championship titles in his homeland as manager of Galatasaray.

He thanked Panathinaikos fans and club staff, adding: “I sincerely wish Panathinaikos a successful future.”

Panathinaikos also confirmed Terim’s departure.

Under Terim, Panathinaikos remained in contention for the title before slipping to fourth place after three successive defeats, losing 4-1 to PAOK in Thessaloniki Wednesday.

League leader PAOK takes on city rival Aris in Sunday’s final round. A defeat could hand the title to second-placed AEK Athens, which hosts Lamia.


FIFA to Seek Legal Advice on Palestinian Proposal to Suspend Israel from Int’l Football 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)
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FIFA to Seek Legal Advice on Palestinian Proposal to Suspend Israel from Int’l Football 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)

FIFA will seek independent legal advice before holding an extraordinary council meeting by July 25 to make a decision on a Palestinian proposal to suspend Israel from international soccer because of the conflict with Hamas.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino outlined the plan at the FIFA congress on Friday after representatives of the Palestinian and Israel football federations had a chance to speak in front of the 211 member associations.

"FIFA will mandate as of now, independent legal expertise to analyze the three requests (from the Palestinian FA) and ensure the statutes of FIFA are applied in the right way," Infantino said. "This legal assessment will have to allow for inputs and claims of both member associations. The results and the recommendations ... will be forwarded to the FIFA council.

"Due to the urgency of the situation, an extraordinary FIFA Council will be convened and will take place before July 25 to review the results of the legal assessment and to take the decisions that are appropriate."

The Palestine Football Association proposal to 211 member federations called for "appropriate sanctions, with immediate effect, against Israeli teams," according to FIFA documents released a month before the congress and council meeting sin Bangkok.

The motion noted "international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza" and cited FIFA statutory commitments on human rights and against discrimination.

The Palestinian FA wrote that "all the football infrastructure in Gaza has been either destroyed, or seriously damaged, including the historic stadium of Al-Yarmuk" and said it had support for the motion from the federations of Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Yemen.