Real Madrid Drops to 2nd Place in League after Being Held by Rayo Vallecano at Home 

 Real Madrid's French midfielder #12 Eduardo Camavinga vies with Rayo Vallecano's Spanish forward #07 Isi Palazon during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 5, 2023. (AFP)
Real Madrid's French midfielder #12 Eduardo Camavinga vies with Rayo Vallecano's Spanish forward #07 Isi Palazon during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 5, 2023. (AFP)
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Real Madrid Drops to 2nd Place in League after Being Held by Rayo Vallecano at Home 

 Real Madrid's French midfielder #12 Eduardo Camavinga vies with Rayo Vallecano's Spanish forward #07 Isi Palazon during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 5, 2023. (AFP)
Real Madrid's French midfielder #12 Eduardo Camavinga vies with Rayo Vallecano's Spanish forward #07 Isi Palazon during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 5, 2023. (AFP)

Jude Bellingham couldn't come through this time and Real Madrid was held by Rayo Vallecano in their Madrid derby on Sunday to drop to second place in the Spanish league.

The 0-0 draw ended Madrid’s perfect record at home and kept it from joining Girona at the top of the standings after 12 rounds.

Girona had moved three points clear with a 4-2 win at Osasuna on Saturday. Madrid would have taken the lead on goal difference by beating Rayo.

Madrid controlled most of the match but couldn’t capitalize on its scoring opportunities, with both Bellingham and Vinícius Júnior unable to break through the Rayo defense.

Vinícius had a goal disallowed for offside in the 66th. Bellingham had a few good chances but wasn't able to find the target.

Bellingham has participated in more than half of the goals by Madrid this season and arrived with 13 goals in his first 13 matches since joining the Spanish powerhouse from Borussia Dortmund this season. In the four games Bellingham failed to score for Madrid this season, the club won only one — against Real Sociedad in September.

“We are upset with the result, but not with how we played,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “Sometimes you win a match that you don't deserve to win and sometimes you don't win a match that you deserve to win. We are still doing well in the standings. We are still in the fight. There's no drama."

Madrid had won 11 straight against Rayo at home in the league. The Madrid clubs had not drawn in their last 21 league matches, with 19 wins for Madrid and only two for Rayo.

The result extended Rayo’s unbeaten run in the league to an unprecedented eight games, with two wins and six draws. The club from southern Madrid had no attempts on target throughout the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

It was the sixth clean sheet for Madrid in the league this season. Its only loss was at Atletico Madrid in the other city derby.

Barcelona, which won 1-0 at Real Sociedad on Saturday, remained in third place, two points behind Madrid. Rayo was ninth.

Williams brothers thrive

Brothers Iñaki and Nico Williams led Athletic Bilbao to a 3-2 win at Villarreal.

Nico set up a goal by Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta two minutes into the match and scored the second in the 22nd. His older brother Iñaki added to the team's first-half lead in the 30th which proved enough to end a two-game winless run in the league.

The Basque Country club moved to fifth place, four points behind fourth-place Atletico Madrid, which lost 2-1 at Las Palmas on Friday.

Villarreal, sitting 13th, had ended its five-game winless streak in the league with a win over Granada in the previous round. The hosts threatened to grab a point Sunday through goals from Gerard Moreno in the 86th and Alexander Sorloth in the 87th.

Valencia edges Granada

Eighth-place Valencia beat Granada 1-0 with a penalty kick converted by Pepelu seven minutes into first-half injury time at Mestalla Stadium.

Granada, which stayed in second-to-last place, loudly complained about the penalty after Valencia forward Hugo Duro was apparently touched in the face by Granada defender Raúl Torrente.

It was the third straight league loss for Granada, which hasn't won in nine consecutive league matches.

Almeria still winless

Almeria's search for its first win of the season will continue after a 1-0 loss at Alaves.

The last-place Almeria is the only team without a win after 12 matches, with three draws and nine losses.

Alaves defender Aleksander Sedlar scored Alaves' winner in the 79th, and a couple of minutes later had to leave the field on a stretcher because of an apparent knee injury.

Alaves, which is 14th, hadn't won in seven consecutive league matches.



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.