Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman says he wants to stay at the Nou Camp next season, but will need assurances from president Joan Laporta when they meet later this month.
Koeman, who has another year left on his Barca contract, has guided Barcelona to the Copa del Rey already this season, but last week’s 3-3 draw at Levante has left his side with little chance of winning La Liga.
They have to beat Celta Vigo in their final home game on Sunday but even if they do, their hopes will be ended if league leaders Atletico Madrid beat Osasuna.
“We have agreed to talk at the end of the season,” Koeman told a news conference on Saturday.
“It’s very important for a coach to work in a club where he has absolute confidence. If that’s the case, I can and I’d like to stay.”
Koeman also said he has been unhappy with his treatment in the media this season.
“We won the Copa del Rey, we cut the gap with Atletico down by 12 points to fight for the title, but then if you look at the press coverage in the last few days, it seems as if I’ve done a bad job,” Koeman added.
“It’s not fair that one day everything seemed perfect and two weeks later, everything is horrible.”
Former Barca defender Koeman succeeded Quique Setien as coach last August, when Laporta’s predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu was at the helm of the club.
His side took only 14 points from their opening 10 games but staged an impressive turnaround to haul themselves back into the title race.
They won the Copa del Rey in April with an emphatic 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, but their season unravelled after they lost 2-1 at home to Granada, blowing their chance to unseat leaders Atletico.
Barca have also had a disappointing season in the Champions League, losing 5-2 to Paris St Germain on aggregate in the last-16.
“I’m very happy with what we’ve done if you consider all the difficulties we’ve had, although we’re still disappointed to not have taken the chances we had to become league leaders,” Koeman added.
The 2020/21 club season is approaching an end, so what is the current situation around Europe?
It is all to play for in Spain with two rounds remaining as Atletico Madrid lead the way, but Real Madrid and Barcelona remain in pursuit while the battle to qualify for the Champions League in Italy and Germany is intensifying.
Sky Sports takes a deep dive into the race for supremacy on the continent, and looks at what still needs to be decided in Europe’s other top leagues…
La Liga: Advantage Atletico in title race
Atletico Madrid will be crowned La Liga champions this weekend if they beat mid-table Osasuna and local rivals Real Madrid drop points at Granada on Thursday or Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
Diego Simeone’s side, who suffered a mid-season blip having had a 10-point cushion over their rivals in February, have managed to stay top throughout largely thanks to chasers Real and Barcelona failing to capitalise on their slip-ups.
With Barca, who have drawn their last two games, four points back with only two matches left, Real, who are five off Atleti’s 80 with a game in hand, are realistically the only team who can stop the Rojiblancos from lifting a first title since 2014.
Diego Simone will be without midfielder Thomas Lemar but otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from. Real will be aiming to ensure the title race goes down to the final day when they visit Athletic on Sunday.
Coach Zinedine Zidane will be without five first team players in Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Lucas Vazquez and Ferland Mendy for the trip to the Basque Country.
Barca, who need Atleti to lose their remaining two games to stand a chance of winning the league, host Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Real Sociedad and Real Betis, in fifth and sixth respectively, are both set to qualify for the Europa League group stage. Seventh-placed Villarreal currently occupy the Europa Conference League play-off spot.
Meanwhile, six teams are battling to avoid relegation, with six points separating 15th-placed Alaves on 35 from bottom side Eibar, who have a game in hand and have won their last two. Getafe, Huesca, Real Valladolid and Elche are also in the mix.
Serie A: Juventus face missing out on CL
Inter Milan have clinched their first Serie A title in 11 years but Antonio Conte’s side still have something to play for this season – stopping Juventus reaching the Champions League.
Inter travel to Turin on Saturday knowing a victory over the Old Lady could result in what would have been unthinkable for nine-time reigning champions Juve at the start of the campaign – finishing outside the Champions League qualification places.
Knocked out of Europe’s elite competition in the last-16 for the second season in a row, Juventus have not fared much better domestically having failed to challenge for the title and now needing help from others to finish in the top four.
A first season out of the Champions League for Juve since 2012-13 could be confirmed this weekend should Atalanta, AC Milan and Napoli all win and champions Inter hammer the final nail into the Turin side’s coffin at the Juventus Stadium.
Conte won three Serie A titles as the Turin side’s coach between 2011 and 2014 and captained the club as a player, but the fiery Italian is not one to offer favours and will relish causing his former side more problems.
There is certainly no love lost between Conte and Juve. After an Italian Cup match in February, he was forced to apologise after making a middle finger gesture in the direction of Juventus president Andrea Agnelli.
There has been no letting up from Inter since they clinched the title two weeks ago, with Conte’s side scoring eight goals in their two subsequent wins.
Along with having to face a side unbeaten in their last 20 league matches, Juve’s other problem is that their top-four rivals have found form at the right time.
Second-placed Atalanta, on 75 points, are three clear of Juve with two games to go and are unbeaten in their last 10 league matches ahead of Saturday’s trip to Genoa.
Milan, level on points with Atalanta, have won their last three in a row, including a 3-0 success at Juventus last weekend, and host lowly Cagliari on Sunday.
Napoli, who are fourth and a point ahead of Juventus, have enjoyed a fantastic end to the season too, easing the pressure on coach Gennaro Gattuso, but face a tricky trip to Fiorentina on Sunday.
Juventus and Lazio, in sixth, are currently heading for the Europa League group stage. Roma sit in seventh spot, which would qualify them for the Europa Conference League, but Sassuolo are still in with a chance of catching them, two points further back in eighth.
At the bottom, Crotone and Parma have been relegated, and will be joined by Benevento if they fail to beat Crotone at home this weekend.
Bundesliga: Battle for CL places hots up
The Bundesliga’s penultimate matchday will offer plenty of drama as two of the four Champions League spots are still up for grabs while Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski will attempt to break a record that has stood for almost half a century.
With Bayern already crowned champions last week, attention has shifted to the teams battling for a spot in Europe’s premier club competition next season.
The top four earn an automatic spot in the lucrative Champions League group stage, with Bayern joined by second-placed RB Leipzig, who secured their spot last week after Eintracht Frankfurt drew.
Leipzig, who lost to Borussia Dortmund last week and face them again later on Thursday in the German Cup final, are on 64 points and host third-placed VfL Wolfsburg, four points further back, on Sunday.
The Wolves have been solid throughout the season under coach Oliver Glasner but have fourth-placed Dortmund breathing down their neck on 58 points and Eintracht Frankfurt just a point further back in fifth.
Dortmund have a difficult task ahead when they travel to Mainz 05, who are unbeaten in their last nine league matches – the longest current streak in the Bundesliga.
Frankfurt are still in the running for a top-four spot despite managing just one win in their last four league matches and having been overtaken by Dortmund just last week. They take on already-relegated Schalke 04.
As it stands, Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen will qualify for the Europa League group stage in fifth and sixth respectively, while Borussia Monchengladbach sit in seventh, and would qualify for the Europa Conference League play-offs if they remain in that position.
Cologne are battling to stave off relegation, and are two points off Werder Bremen in 15th place, the position of safety. Arminia Bielefeld are one place above Cologne but currently occupy the relegation play-off spot on goal difference.
Ligue 1: Lille close in on title
It is tight at the top in France, where four teams can still mathematically win the league heading into the final two rounds.
Paris Saint-Germain edged into the Coupe de France final this week by beating Montpellier on penalties – but they are playing catch-up in Ligue 1.
Lille are closing in on their first domestic title in 10 years, with head coach Christophe Galtier’s side three points clear of the Parisians at the summit.
Les Dogues have been top after 18 rounds this season, so to relinquish first place in the final fortnight would come as a major disappointment in what has been a fairy-tale campaign spearheaded by veteran striker Burak Yilmaz.
Lille face St-Etienne this weekend before travelling to take on Angers on the final day while second-placed PSG take on Reims and Brest respectively, with the Coupe de France final sandwiched in between.
Monaco are third, five points behind Lille, while Lyon are one place and a point further back in fourth.
The top two positions qualify automatically for the Champions League while third will enter the competition’s third qualifying round. Lyon in fourth are currently heading for the Europa League group stage, so there’s plenty still at stake.
Further down the league in fifth are Marseille on 56 points, the same number as Lens in sixth, who have an inferior goal difference. Rennes sit seventh on 55 points with the three teams battling it out to snatch fifth place and the Europa Conference League qualifying spot.
At the bottom, Dijon have already been relegated to Ligue 2, where they could be joined this weekend by Nimes should results go against them. Nantes currently sit in 18th place, a point below both Lorient and Strasbourg, as they look to escape the relegation play-offs with a side from Ligue 2.
Who are the winners of Europe’s other leagues?
Dutch Eredivisie: Ajax
Portuguese Primeira Liga: Sporting Lisbon
Russian Premier League: Zenit Saint Petersburg
What is the Europa Conference League?
Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, Arsenal and several other clubs may find themselves in UEFA’s new Conference League competition next season. But just what is it?
The UEFA Europa Conference League will be the third UEFA club competition and run alongside both the Champions League and Europa League.
The idea behind the Europa Conference League is to give more clubs a taste of European football, particularly sides from countries that struggle to qualify for the other two UEFA competitions. But there’s a spot up for grabs for English clubs, too.
Read in full here
Who will play in Europe next season?
The European Super League has been quashed but the race is very much on to qualify for the Champions League, Europa League, or the new Europa Conference League.
Here’s how qualification works – and why the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup winners make a difference to those chasing qualification through the Premier League.
It gets a little complicated but keep in mind, the maximum number of English teams in UEFA competitions is seven…
Read the permutations in the Premier League in full
Barcelona’s title hopes were dealt a massive blow after they twice blew the lead to draw 3-3 at Levante.
A late goal from Sergio Leon meant Barca could only climb above Real Madrid into second, a point behind leaders Atletico Madrid, with two matches left to play. Both Madrid sides will play their game in hand over the next couple of days.
Lionel Messi had earlier struck his 29th goal of the season to keep him at the top of the league goalscoring chart. The Argentinian superstar opened the scoring with a fine volley after 25 minutes.
Jordi Alba sent in a dangerous cross from the left but Levante defender Jorge Miramon managed to get a touch. However, Messi adjusted his body and executed a perfect left-footed volley to settle the visitors’ nerves.
Alba almost added a second moments later when he latched onto Messi’s ball over the top but he snatched at his volley and it flew wide.
But Barca doubled their lead in the 34th minute after Ousmane Dembele raced to the byline and pulled the ball back for Pedri to slide into an empty net.
The visitors almost had a third before half-time when Messi crossed for Sergio Busquets, whose header was narrowly wide. Instead, Barcelona were stunned when Levante scored twice in three minutes to haul themselves level.
First Miramon stood up a cross and Gonzalo Melero got in front of Sergi Roberto to head home at the far post.
Moments later Messi gave the ball away and Jose Morales played a one-two with Roger Marti before crashing the ball into the top corner.
Dembele struck with a fierce drive in the 64th minute to put Barca back in front, but Leon left Barca on their knees when he turned in a cross from Tono with seven minutes remaining.
Atletico host Real Sociedad on Wednesday and Real travel to Granada 24 hours later.
5 – Barcelona have lost more points from winning positions than any other team in LaLiga since MD 32 (three vs Granada and two against Levante). Tired. pic.twitter.com/N7AJbpPLEk
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 11, 2021
La Liga: Wins for Osasuna, Alaves
Ante Budimir scored twice as Osasuna beat Cadiz 3-2.
Budimir headed in a cross from Manu Sanchez seven minutes before half-time to give Osasuna the lead.
Ivan Saponjic brought Cadiz level when he converted a penalty early in the second half after David Garcia brought down Jon Ander Garrido.
But Budimir struck again and Roberto Torres added a third from the spot before Alberto Perea Correoso pulled one back in stoppage time.
Goals either side of half-time from Joselu and Luis Rioja deepened Elche’s relegation worries as they went down 2-0 at home to Alaves.
Serie A: Napoli thrash Udinese
In Serie A, Piotr Zielinski, Fabian Ruiz, Hirving Lozano, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Lorenzo Insigne were on target as Napoli boosted their European hopes with a 5-1 win over Udinese, Stefano Okaka pulling one back for the visitors.
Conor McGregor was the world’s highest-paid athlete over the last year ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the annual Forbes list.
During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021, Irish MMA fighter McGregor earned $180m (£128m), a figure which Forbes said includes $158m (£112m) from endorsements and the recent sale of the majority stake of his whiskey brand.
He made just $22m (£15m) inside the Octagon – McGregor lost his rematch against Dustin Poirier in January this year in Abu Dhabi.
It is the 32-year-old’s first time at No 1 and his second appearance in the top 10 – McGregor was named at No 4 with $99m (£70m) in 2018 after the fight against Floyd Mayweather.
McGregor recently claimed he had held talks about buying a stake in Celtic from their principal shareholder Dermot Desmond, adding that he could do “big things for a club” and also said that he likes Manchester United.
Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was second on the list and set a record as the highest-earning footballer after bringing home $130m (£92m), while Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo earned $120m (£85m) to sit third among the top 10 highest-paid athletes.
NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 m/£76m) of the Dallas Cowboys and four-times NBA champion LeBron James ($96.5 million) rounded off the top five.
Just outside the top five were PSG and Brazil forward Neymar at sixth ($95m/£67.5m), 20-time tennis Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at seventh ($90m/£64m), and seven-time F1 championship winner Lewis Hamilton ($82m/£58m) finished eighth in the list.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady with $76m (£54m) and Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant $75m (£53m) made up the rest of the top 10.
Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-the-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.
In April, Barcelona topped the Forbes list for the 20 most valuable football clubs at £3.46bn ($4.76bn), narrowly ahead of their La Liga rivals Real Madrid’s valuation of £3.45bn ($4.75bn).
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus face a two-season Champions League ban unless they withdraw from the European Super League and sign a settlement agreement with UEFA.
A disciplinary investigation has been opened by UEFA against the three clubs in connection to their involvement with the European Super League project.
The trio are the only clubs from the original 12 involved in the breakaway plans yet to formally withdraw.
The nine clubs who pulled out of the European Super League – including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – signed the Club Commitment Declaration with UEFA on Friday.
UEFA is confident the three rebel clubs, who have won 20 European Cups between them, will be forced to sign up soon.
The prospect of disciplinary action appeared inevitable last Friday when a statement confirming the peace accord with nine of the clubs ended: “UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called ‘Super League’.
“The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies.”
The breakaway league was abandoned within 72 hours of its announcement last month amid considerable fan protests, Government pressure, and player and manager rejection.
On Saturday, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus hit out at “intolerable” pressure and threats to abandon the European Super League project, and vowed to “persevere” with the idea despite its considerable rejection.
Their statement read: “The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.
“This is intolerable under the rule of law and tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending.”
Juventus, who are in danger of missing out on the Champions League next season, have been warned by the Italian football federation they will be expelled from Serie A unless they withdraw from the proposed breakaway league.
What punishment do the nine Super League rebels face?
In announcing their recommitment to UEFA on Friday, the nine clubs will make a combined goodwill contribution of just over £13m to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe. They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season and this money will be redistributed.
They also face fines of almost £87m each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that amount if they breach any other terms of the declaration. They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.
A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed the Glazer family would personally cover their club’s share of the goodwill money requested and the withheld funds. It is expected that the amount the Glazers would be liable for is between five and 10 million euros.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.
“In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit. The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.
“These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called ‘Super League’ and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently.”