Kovacic ready to leave Real

Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic has confirmed that he will seek a move away from Real Madrid this summer in search of more regular first-team action.

The 24-year-old, who has featured as a substitute for the Vatreni in both of their opening two games at World Cup 2018, has been at the Bernabeu since the summer of 2015, but has made just 37 league starts in three seasons.

And the former Inter Milan schemer is keen to try his luck elsewhere and prove that he is worth a more regal starting role.

He told Marca: "I understand the situation, but because of that I believe the best thing for me would be to go to another club where I'd have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter.

"I think I can have this opportunity and it's one I want right now. Of course I am not happy when I don't play.

"I have really enjoyed these three years in Madrid, alongside some incredible team-mates and winning trophies, but I haven't been completely happy because my contribution to all of this hasn't been complete and this is something I want to change."

Real Madrid won a third straight Champions League title last season, but could only finish in third place in La Liga, ending some 17 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

Real can be backed at 6/1 to win the Champions League again next season, with Barca available at 6/1 and Bayern Munich 7/1.

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Griezmann future still undecided

Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann says now is not the right time to speak about his future at club level, as he gets ready to try and help France win the World Cup 2018.

The 27-year-old frontman has been heavily linked with a big-money move to Barcelona, with Griezmann himself suggesting that an announcement could be made before the action in Russia gets under way.

However, that prospect now appears a little more distant, after told reporters at France's World Cup 2018 base: "I apologise. I am very sorry, but I will not be revealing my decision now.

"I know that many of you were waiting for that. However, today is not the day for that."

Griezmann is available at 12/1 to be the top goalscorer at the World Cup 2018 finals, with Argentina and Barca superstar Lionel Messi 11/1 and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku 16/1.

Meanwhile, former Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane says he is in no rush to make a decision about his next move, having opted to leave the Santiago Bernabeu following a third successive Champions League triumph.

He told Diario AS: "Right now, I am taking a break.

"I do not know what I will do after this, because at the moment the most important thing was the decision that I took. The future? We will see."

As well as their Champions League victories, Zidane led Real to the La Liga title in 2016/17, as well as UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup successes in both 2016 and 2017.

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Umtiti eyes up further success

Barcelona central defender Samuel Umtiti is happy to have sorted his long-term future and is eager to help the club challenge for further honours next season.

The 24-year-old, who moved to the Camp Nou from Lyon in the summer of 2016, has signed a new five-year contract with Barca, having helped the Catalans to a domestic double in the season just ended.

And Umtiti, who is preparing to feature for France at the World Cup finals in Russia, says he never had any doubts about where his future lay beyond the summer.

He told reporters: "I'm very happy and proud to be able to renew with Barcelona, my dream was to be with the best. Since the first day, I've felt at home at the club and I want to stay here.

"My priority was always to renew with Barca. I never saw myself in another team. This club has been in my heart since I was a kid, and it is a dream to play here with players like (Lionel) Messi.

"I'm staying at Barcelona because this is the best team in the world. I'm not here because of money. That's important, but I'm here to win titles, which is the most important thing.

"Next season I hope we're going to fight for all the titles. That's why I've signed."

Barcelona are available at 4/5 to win La Liga again next season, with Real Madrid priced at 5/4 and Atletico Madrid 14/1.

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Zidane makes shock Real call

Zinedine Zidane has announced his shock decision to step down as Real Madrid boss, less than a week after leading the club to a third straight Champions League title.

The Frenchman was appointed as Rafael Benitez's successor in early 2016 and guided the club to European glory in each of his three attempts, as well as the 2016-17 La Liga title.

Despite his continental success, Zidane had been criticised for Los Blancos' inconsistent form in defending their league crown, as they eventually finished third in this season's standings, 17 points behind Barcelona.

The 45-year-old only signed a new contract until 2020 in January and president Florentino Perez has described the news as "totally unexpected" after a meeting with the manager on Wednesday.

Despite Saturday's 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kiev, Real have been the centre of specualtion over the futures of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Zidane, who also played for the club between 2001 and 2006, was applauded out of his final press conference.

The former France captain says the time has come for fresh input at the Bernabeu, insisting the call is the right one for the club.

"I love this club," Zidane said. "What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology. And that's why I took this decision.

"It's a strange moment to do so, I know, but an important one to. I had to do this for everyone."

Real are 6/1 to retain their Champions League title, while they can be backed at 5/4 to win next season's La Liga.

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Duo to decide on Real futures

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are both set to hold talks with Real Madrid about their respective futures at the club beyond this summer.

Ronaldo became the first player to win five Champions League titles since the competition changed format in 1992 after Los Blancos defeated Liverpool 3-1 in Saturday's final in Kiev.

The 33-year-old didn't score in the final but he finished the European campaign as the top scorer with 15 goals to take his tally in the tournament to 120, which is more than any other player.

Despite being delighted with the club's third successive Champions League title and being contracted to the Spanish giants until 2021, Ronaldo hinted that he could move on to pastures new this summer by speaking about Real Madrid in the past tense.

"In the next few days I'll give an answer to the fans," Ronaldo said.

"It was beautiful to be at Real Madrid. The future of any Madrid player is not important; we have just made history."

He added: "I have to rest now, go and meet up with the Portugal team [before the World Cup] and in the next few weeks [I'll make an announcement]."

Meanwhile, Bale, who stepped off the bench to seal the win with a brace of goals inside the final 30 minutes, including a stunning overhead volley, suggested that he could leave the Santiago Bernabeu in search of regular first-team football.

The 28-year-old, who is under contract in Spain until 2022, told BT Sport: "I need to be playing week in, week out, and that's not happened this season."

Bale, who has been linked with a return to former club Tottenham, Manchester United and German champions Bayern Munich, added: "I had an injury five, six weeks into the season but I've been fit ever since.

"I have to sit down with my agent in the summer and discuss it.

"Obviously I was very disappointed not to start the game, I have deserved it but the manager makes the decisions."

Real Madrid are 5/4 to win the Spanish La Liga title next season, while they are available at 6/1 to win a fourth successive Champions League.

Calleja earns new contract

Villarreal have decided to hand head coach Javi Calleja a one-year contract extension after he guided them to fifth place in La Liga.

The 40-year-old, who starred for the Yellow Submarine, Malaga and Osasuna during his playing career, succeeded the axed Fran Escriba as Villarreal boss eight months ago when he was promoted from his role with the B team.

Villarreal came from two goals down to draw their last match of the season 2-2 with Real Madrid and will be playing in the Europa League again next term.

This season they reached the round of 32 before being knocked out by Lyon.

Villarreal were 14th in La Liga when Calleja took over.

An official club statement read: "Villarreal and Javi Calleja have reached a renewal agreement for the coach from Madrid to lead the Yellow Submarine during the 2018/19 season.

"A news conference will be held on Monday … in which a member of the Villarreal board and Javi Calleja himself will detail the agreement and discuss the news.

"The coach will continue to count on the support of his current staff."

Meanwhile, Real Madrid are 4/6 to win next Saturday's Champions League final against Liverpool. Real are 3/1 to keep a clean sheet in the final and 20/1 to beat Jurgen Klopp's team 3-0.

Zidane welcomes selection headache

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane says Gareth Bale's performance in Saturday's 6-0 win over Celta Vigo has given him a tough decision to make when it comes to the Champions League final.

The Wales international has found himself in and out of Zidane's starting line-up this season due to a combination of injuries and a lack of form, playing a bit part role in Real’s run to the final.

However, the former Tottenham forward looked back to his best in Real's penultimate La Liga game of the season, scoring a brilliant brace as Los Blancos ran riot against Celta.

Having also taken his goal in last week's El Clasico nicely, Zidane admits it is great to see Bale find some form ahead of the Champions League final at the end of the month.

"He is very good, he has shown that. He was good at everything tonight," said Zidane. "I am happy for him. But the important thing is that we all arrive in optimal form."

Toni Kroos, Isco and Achraf Hakimi were also on target for Real in their final game of the season at the Bernabeu, while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos missed the clash but will expect to return for the final.

Zidane says the performance of his team has left him with some tough calls to make for the showpiece clash against Liverpool in Kiev.

"I don't know my team yet [for the final] but it's better to have everyone plugged in," added the Frenchman.

"Then, of course, it will be a headache to select the team for the final.

"We had a great game and that was important. We were very professional, scoring six goals and playing a lot of football. We did very well."

Real are looking to win a third successive Champions League title against a Liverpool side contesting their first final in 11 years.

Los Blancos are 4/6 to lift the famous trophy while Liverpool are 6/5 to win a sixth European Cup.

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Barca confirmed as champions

Lionel Messi believes that Barcelona have been able to win the La Liga title because they were far superior to their rivals this season.

Barca were crowned champions for the 25th time after beating Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 on Sunday with the help of a hat-trick from Messi.

They completed an eighth domestic double, after winning the King's Cup last week, thanks in a large part to Messi, who has now scored 32 league goals this season.

Ernesto Valverde's side have not lost a league game this term and have 86 points from 34 games, 11 clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid.

Argentina international Messi said after the match: "We were very superior to the other rivals.

"We did not lose games practically, only one in the Copa [del Rey] and, unfortunately, the Champions League, which was unexpected because of how we arrived.

"The truth is it has a lot of merit. It's very difficult."

Barcelona are 7/10 to beat Real Madrid on Sunday. Meanwhile, Real are 4/6 to win the Champions League this season and Argentina are 9/1 to win the 2018 World Cup outright.

Barcelona great Iniesta to depart

Andres Iniesta has confirmed he will be bringing down the curtain on his 22-year stint at Barcelona come the end of the season.

The Spanish midfielder is a legendary figure at the Nou Camp having helped the Blaugrana win every domestic honour there is while on their books.

Since making his debut for Barca in October 2002, Iniesta has gone on to make 669 appearances, winning 31 major trophies, including eight La Liga titles, potentially claiming his ninth on Sunday if Ernesto Valverde's men can beat Deportivo La Coruna.

The 33-year-old has also won four Champions League and lifted his sixth Copa del Rey last week after a 5-0 hammering of Sevilla.

Iniesta has also won two European Championships and one World Cup with Spain while a Barcelona player.

In an emotional press conference at Barcelona’s training ground on Friday, Iniesta said: “This is my last season here. I have thought my decision through for a long time. For me, Barca is the best club in the world – this club has given me everything.

"I would like to thank my team-mates and everyone who accompanied me every day, they made me be better. It's been a dream come true, lots of titles, important moments throughout my career. I am very happy to have played for this club. I am proud."

Iniesta is expected to continue his playing career in China with Dangdai Lifan, with their president confirming he has recently spoken to the midfielder.

However, when asked about his future plans, Iniesta remained coy, saying: "There are still things to work out, different things. I said I would never play against Barca, so it's not going to be in Europe. We will know at the end of the season."

Iniesta is 13/10 to score anytime this weekend against Deportivo La Coruna as Barcelona bid to clinch the title.

The Catalan outfit are 1/5 to win the game, while Depor are 12/1 and the draw 6/1.

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Iniesta has made his mind up

Veteran Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta says he has already made a decision on whether he will remain at the Camp Nou next season.

The 33-year-old, who has made well over 650 appearances for Barca to date, has been heavily linked with a move away from the Catalan giants this summer and Iniesta has confirmed that he has already made his choice.

He told the Spanish media after the 2-1 La Liga win over Valencia on Saturday: "I've already decided what I’m going to do. When the time comes, the club will know and so will everyone else.

"I've always enjoyed the affection of the fans and I'm grateful to them. They've been there for more than 20 years and their support was crucial for this win."

Meanwhile, Barca forward Ousmane Dembele says he has no intention of moving on at the end of the campaign, having suffered a disappointing first season at the Camp Nou.

The France international told Telefoot: "I signed a five-year contract at Barcelona. I'm going to be in Barcelona a very long time. I'm not going to leave after a season.

"I'm not in my best form, but little by little it's coming back."

Dembele has missed several months of the season due to hamstring problems and has so far made just 17 appearances for Barca, with his only goal to date coming in a 3-0 Champions League victory over Chelsea.

Barcelona are back in action next Saturday when they take on Sevilla in the final of the Copa del Rey.

The Blaugrana are 2/9 to lift he trophy in the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid and are 7/1 to win the game 2-1 in 90 minutes, with both teams to score priced at 7/10.

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