Barcelona keen to reunite Spain star Williams with Yamal

Barcelona are keen to reunite Nico Williams with Lamine Yamal at the Nou Camp next season following their impressive performances as Spain won Euro 2024.

The pair were two of Spain’s standout players during their triumphant campaign in Germany; Williams ended the tournament with two goals and one assist, while Yamal – who only turned 17 a day before the final – contributed one goal and four assists.

Athletic Bilbao are determined to keep hold of the 22-year-old amid Barca’s interest and that of other top clubs in Europe.

Nico Williams has been among Euro 2024's standouts
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Williams, 22, scored two goals and assisted another in Germany

However, his fee may be an issue for the Catalan club, as he has a buyout clause that is thought to be £53m (€63m).

Bilbao have also proven they can compete with the top clubs in Spain in terms of wages, having recently tied-down other Spain internationals to new contracts, such as goalkeeper Unai Simon.

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Former Barcelona Academy coaches Oscar Lopez and Albert Capellas tell Sky Sports why Lamine Yamal is so special ahead of Spain’s Euro 2024 semi-final against France

Sky Sports News reported earlier in the summer that Chelsea are among Williams admirers but are unlikely to pursue a move, due to his high fee in the main.

Williams repeatedly told reporters during the Euros that he did not want to talk about his future and the questions are said to have annoyed bosses at Athletic Bilbao.

Those questions were inevitable, though, given Williams’ explosion onto the European stage in Luis de la Fuente’s young team.

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Meet photographer Joan Monfort who is behind the viral Lionel Messi and Lamine Yamal photos for a UNICEF calendar campaign back in 2007

‘Maradona, Messi, now Yamal’: The story of Spain’s sensation

In the latest instalment of the Next Up series, Sky Sports takes an in depth look at Barcelona and Spain star Lamine Yamal with the help of his coaches.

Lamine Yamal Next Up

When does the summer transfer window open and close?

The 2024 summer transfer window in the Premier League and Scottish Premiership is officially open.

The window will close on August 30 at 11pm UK time in England and at 11.30pm in Scotland.

The Premier League and Scottish Premiership brought forward Deadline Day to link up with the other major leagues in Europe. The closing dates were set following discussions with the leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

‘Logic-defying’ Yamal: The story of Spain’s Euro 2024 sensation

Yamal’s ‘gigantic step’ at La Masia

Before he was fast-tracked into Barcelona’s first team and the Spanish national side, Yamal had to conquer the jump from cadete to juvenil in the club’s La Masia academy.

“A gigantic step,” is how Oscar Lopez, a former Barcelona player himself who has spent the last three years as coach of Barcelona’s Juvenil A side, or U19s, puts it to Sky Sports.

Yamal, a Barcelona player since he was seven, had already been identified as a rising star. But at 15, and already playing up an age group, much would depend on how he handled his promotion from the U16s to the U19s at the start of the 2022/23 season.

Lamine Yamal with Oscar Lopez while they worked together at Barcelona

Lamine Yamal with Oscar Lopez while they worked together at Barcelona

“That year was a very good process that I had to take him through in terms of acclimatisation to the age group, to the level, to the demands,” says Lopez.

“Because it’s not the same playing as a cadete for the U16s, even if you are playing up a year, as he was, to being 15 years old and playing against boys of 20 in the UEFA Youth League.

“So, we had to do a process of adaptation with him in which he saw that everything is progressive and has its evolution, and that he needed time to acclimatise, even though he had that innate talent that he is demonstrating right now at the Euros.”

Yamal had breezed through every age group to that point in La Masia.

This time, it was different.

“The process covered many different aspects, mentally, emotionally and physically,” adds Lopez. “He was a 15-year-old boy playing against boys five years older.

“On an emotional level, all of that could have broken him.”

It didn’t, of course. In fact, it made him stronger. But Yamal received no special treatment from Lopez, who was tasked with ensuring he produced application to match his talent.

“On the pitch, he progressively got more minutes, but that was a result of having to work hard, not because he was 15 and everyone was saying he was a very good player,” explains Lopez. “He had to earn those minutes.

“So, for a couple of months, he was coming in, he was working, he was training, he was getting his minutes. But he was also seeing that he was just another player in a squad where there were kids who were three or four years older than him.

“He was seeing that he had to wake up, liven himself up and make a real effort to earning a starting spot. He was showing his talent but, little by little, he was also gaining that ability to overcome, to grow, and to improve the innate ability that he had.”

CONTENTS PAGE HERE

Papers: Barca to challenge Man Utd for Everton’s Onana

The top stories and transfer rumours from Saturday’s newspapers…

DAILY MAIL

Barcelona are reportedly set to lock horns with Manchester United in the race for Amadou Onana’s signature.

Chelsea have discussed a potential deal involving striker Armando Broja in their offer for Leicester City midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

Everton and West Ham have also been among the clubs to ask about Hull centre-back Jacob Greaves along with Ipswich Town.

Jake Wightman faces missing out on Olympic selection in the 1,500m after he withdrew from this weekend’s British trials with a calf injury.

Joselu will not be returning to Real Madrid next season with the striker having agreed a two-year deal to move to Qatar with Al-Gharafa.

Carl Lewis is backing Britain’s Louie Hinchliffe to become one of the country’s greatest-ever sprinters after answering the 21-year-old’s call to help train him.

THE SUN

Neymar has gone on record listing the four Premier League clubs he’d play for after being backed to join Arsenal.

Manchester City are closing in on making Oliver Reiss their new U18s manager.

Derby County are expected to beat off competition from Championship rivals Blackburn, QPR and Stoke to sign Swansea’s Jerry Yates on loan.

The Spanish FA will not consider Valencia’s unfinished Nou Mestalla, which has laid abandoned since the club hit financial problems 15 years ago, as a potential 2030 World Cup venue.

DAILY MIRROR

Napoli star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia says he will decide on his future after Euro 2024 because he is fully focused on Georgia’s knockout game against Spain.

Emile Smith Rowe is set to tell Arsenal he wants to leave the club.

Emile Smith Rowe rues a missed chance against Nottingham Forest

Arsenal’s initial approach for Jules Kounde has been shut down by Barcelona.

Arsenal will receive a boost to their summer transfer funds once Ipswich complete a deal to sign former scholar Omari Hutchinson from Chelsea thanks to a valuable sell-on clause.

THE GUARDIAN

Wolves are refusing to budge on their £45m valuation of Max Kilman, forcing West Ham to start thinking about moving on to other defensive targets.

Reading have requested to withdraw from the Women’s Championship, after an 11th-hour bid to take over the women’s arm of the club fell through, and the entire women’s and girls’ programme could soon be closed down.

Wimbledon is facing calls to drop Barclays as a sponsor over the bank’s ties to fossil fuels and defence companies supplying Israel.

The river Seine is still failing water quality tests one month before the Paris Olympics when it is scheduled to host the open-water swimming competition and the swimming leg of the triathlon, results revealed on Friday.

Kevin Sinfield has been granted compassionate leave from England’s tour of New Zealand to fly home and attend his friend Rob Burrow’s funeral next weekend.

West Ham could turn to Manchester United defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka if they are unable to secure deals for either Max Kilman or Kyle Walker-Peters.

British Grand Prix managing director Stuart Pringle has hit back at Lewis Hamilton’s criticism of Silverstone ticket prices and emphasised that all income is ploughed back into the circuit and British motorsport.

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Emma Raducanu is eyeing up a future as a University of Oxford student, according to her friend and fellow tennis professional Fran Jones, who recently spent a day touring Oxford’s colleges with her.

Emma Raducanu (PA Images)

Max Verstappen’s father Jos has reignited his feud with Christian Horner by accusing the Red Bull team principal of forcing him out of a legends parade at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Cole Palmer has thanked former Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino for believing in him during his time at Stamford Bridge and doesn’t believe he would be in England’s Euro 2024 squad without his backing.

Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic was involved in a “bar fight” in Munich before his country’s elimination from Euro 2024 according to reports in his homeland.

THE I

Brighton are set to advance their interest in Newcastle United winger Yankuba Minteh with the Magpies forced to broker sales before the so-called Profitability and Sustainability Regulations (PSR) deadline at the end of the month.

THE ATHLETIC

Manchester United are seriously considering a move to sign Matthijs de Ligt from Bayern Munich.

Mattijs De Ligt

DAILY EXPRESS

Georgia’s players have been offered millions of pounds by the country’s former Prime Minister – billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili – if they are able to continue their Euro 2024 dream by beating Spain on Sunday.

DAILY RECORD

Celtic target Dominik Livakovic won’t be leaving Fenerbahce this summer after a representative of the Croatian stopper came out to deny any talk of a departure.

Rising Hacken star Pontus Dahbo is reportedly on Celtic’s wanted list with the 18-year-old being watched by a clutch of European big-hitters.

SCOTTISH SUN

Gio Van Bronckhorst is reportedly set to do business with Rangers this summer and reunite with one of his former players at Besiktas.

Rangers boss Philippe Clement’s summer recruitment drive has extended into his dugout by appointing Andries Ulderlink to his backroom team.

Former Hearts boss Ian Cathro is set to be appointed as the new manager of Portuguese outfit Estoril.

When does the summer transfer window open and close?

The 2024 summer transfer window in the Premier League and Scottish Premiership is officially open.

The window will close on August 30 at 11pm UK time in England and at 11.30pm in Scotland.

The Premier League and Scottish Premiership brought forward Deadline Day to link up with the other major leagues in Europe. The closing dates were set following discussions with the leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

Arsenal express interest in Barcelona’s Walsh

Arsenal have expressed an interest in signing England and Barcelona midfielder Keira Walsh.

Walsh joined Barcelona from Manchester City in 2022 in a then world-record deal reported to be worth £400,000.

The 27-year-old, who won the quadruple with Barcelona this season, has a year left on her contract in Spain.

Walsh is the latest Lioness to be targeted by Arsenal after they signed Alessia Russo on a free transfer last summer following the expiry of her deal at Manchester United.

Arsenal finished five points adrift of champions Chelsea last season in the Women’s Super League, and the addition of a world-class midfielder like Walsh would boost their chances of closing the gap.

Keira Walsh celebrates at full-time
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Keira Walsh has enjoyed a trophy-laden spell at Barcelona

The Gunners already have Lia Walti in that deep-lying role that Walsh plays in for England and Barcelona, while Katie McCabe and Kyra Cooney-Cross can also fill in there.

Walsh, twice included in the FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World XI, started her career at Blackburn Rovers before signing for Man City in 2014.

She won the WSL title, three FA Cups and four Conti Cups across eight years at the club.

When does the summer transfer window open and close?

The 2024 summer transfer window is officially open.

The window will close on August 30 at 11pm UK time in England and at 11.30pm in Scotland.

The Premier League and Scottish Premiership brought forward Deadline Day to link up with the other major leagues in Europe. The closing dates were set following discussions with the leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

Barcelona appoint Flick as new head coach

Hansi Flick has been appointed the new Barcelona head coach.

The former Bayern Munich and Germany boss has signed a two-year deal at the Nou Camp.

Flick replaces Xavi, who was sacked a month after Barcelona had persuaded him to stay on as manager, after he initially planned to leave at the end of this campaign. The 44-year-old took the Catalans to the Champions League quarter-finals where they lost to Paris Saint-Germain.

“FC Barcelona and Hansi Flick have reached an agreement for the German to become men’s first-team football coach until 30 June 2026,” a club statement read.

Flick was dismissed by Germany in September following a 4-1 friendly defeat to Japan on the back of a group-stage exit at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

He served as assistant coach to Joachim Low when his country won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, before clinching back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the 2020 Champions League during a two-season stay with Bayern.

Speaking in a video posted by Barca on X, Flick said: “First of all I would like to say thank you to everyone (involved). It’s a big honour and also a dream for me to sign my contract here in Barcelona, to work for this amazing club, and I’m happy to start.

“The club is unbelievable. The hours I’m here in Barcelona, it’s amazing because everyone here in the club loves this club and tries to give their best so they have success.

“The philosophy they have is similar to mine – ball possession and really attacking football, these are the things I love.

“I won some titles with Bayern Munich and my hunger is really big for titles. I would like to stay on this path with Barcelona and I think we can achieve a lot together.”

The 59-year-old succeeds a predecessor who was appointed in November 2021 to manage the club where he won 25 major trophies as a player.

Xavi steered the team from ninth place in LaLiga to the runners-up spot following the sacking of Ronald Koeman.

Xavi’s turbulent 2024 with Barcelona

  • January 27, 2024 – Xavi announces he will walk away from Barcelona, describing the role as “cruel and unpleasant”.
  • April 24, 2024 – Barcelona announce Xavi has reversed his decision and will take the team into next season.
  • May 24, 2024 – Xavi is sacked as Barcelona manager.

Barca were crowned champions in his first full season in charge, but they subsequently failed to mount a serious challenge this time round, surrendering their title to rivals Real Madrid.

Xavi: Next Barca boss will ‘suffer’

Xavi will leave his role as Barcelona head coach at the end of the season
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Departing Barca boss Xavi had a warning for his successor

Earlier this week, Xavi warned his successor to be prepared to “suffer” in the job.

“To the new manager, I tell you: You will suffer. This is a very complicated place to be,” Xavi said after his final match in charge, a 2-1 win over Sevilla.

“This is a difficult job and you have to be patient.”

Xavi does not have another job lined up and is prepared to wait for the right offer.

He said: “Nothing is closed. I’m a professional, let’s see what happens in the future. Of course I’m open (to a new job), but I think 100 per cent I need to rest a little bit.

“It’s so difficult to coach Barcelona. It’s been tough last week, but I have my conscience very clear. I’m proud and happy.

“When we got here we knew it was a difficult time for the club and I think we can be proud of the work we have done.”

When does the summer transfer window open and close?

The 2024 summer transfer window in the Premier League officially opens on Friday June 14 – the same day that Euro 2024 starts.

The window will close on August 30 at 11pm UK time.

The Premier League has brought forward Deadline Day to link up with the other major leagues in Europe. The closing dates were set following discussions with the leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.