Ceferin: Hard to understand Real, Barca, Juve approach to ESL

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has refuted suggestions the ongoing power struggle with the three remaining Super League clubs could paralyse European football and instead claims Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid are doing that to themselves.

Nine of the 12 clubs who signed up to the European Super League withdrew following huge external pressure, including six Premier League teams.

But Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid have so far refused to do so and last week they released a joint statement accusing UEFA of a ‘flagrant breach of the decision of the courts of justice’ and stating ‘we either reform football or we will have to watch its inevitable downfall’.

“They paralysed themselves with the approach they took,” Ceferin told Sky Italy.

“It’s strange to read press releases that the three clubs out of thousands of clubs think their idea will save football and nobody else likes it.”

Ceferin was unable to give an update on disciplinary proceedings against the three clubs and what sanctions they could be hit with if they persist with their ESL plans.

“Our disciplinary committee is independent so the moment they start to work on a case, I don’t have a reach or information there,” said Ceferin. “I don’t know when, if or how the sanctions would be.

“For me what is strange is that you publish you are still part of the Super League and then you send a letter applying to play in the Champions League. So you are in Super League but play Champions League. It’s quite hard to understand what they mean.

“They should call us, send us a letter, ask for a meeting. They just sent some press releases saying they want to have a dialogue. It’s quite a strange approach.”



UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin speaks during the 45th UEFA Congress in Montreux (AP)








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Ceferin says he ‘can’t imagine having a more difficult year’ but is optimistic the Euros will now go ahead as planned this summer

He continued: “It’s really hard to understand what they want. If they say Super League exists – and nobody prevents them from playing Super League, the three of you can play your Super League. But they say they want to play Champions League as well at the same time.

“We are not afraid of those things. If the courts decide one way or another we have to be honest and work for football, which those clubs are not.”

Ceferin said the first 48 hours were difficult after the Super League proposals were announced but was blown away by the continent’s unified approach.

“We didn’t know if it is coming,” he said. “When it came it was tough for two days but all of the European community stood together, not just the football community but everyone.”



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Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says relations between the six European Super League ‘breakaway’ clubs and the rest of the division are strained and will take time to be restored

EU Court of Justice confirms ESL claim

Meanwhile, the European Union Court of Justice (EUCJ) has confirmed it has received a claim from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus that FIFA and UEFA are in violation of EU competition laws.

The trio maintain FIFA and UEFA are breaking EU rules by operating a cartel and abusing their dominant position with the claim based on EU Antitrust Policy.

EU Antitrust policy is developed from Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Article 101 prohibits anti-competitive agreements between two or more independent market operators while Article 102 prohibits abusive behaviour by companies holding a dominant position on any given market.

In response, UEFA says it is confident in its position and will defend itself robustly.

A statement read: “UEFA takes note of the announcement by the European Court of Justice of the referral from a Madrid court on the so-called European Super League, notwithstanding the withdrawal of nine of its founding member clubs. UEFA is confident in its position and will defend it robustly.”

Scrapping away goals ‘might be a good solution’



The Champions League final was last staged at Wembley back in 2013








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Ceferin says the away goal in European competitions could be scrapped to improve the spectacle of games for fans

Ceferin believes scrapping the away goals rule in the Champions and Europa Leagues will lead to more “interesting” matches.

The rule has been in place since 1965 but moved a step closer to being scrapped after UEFA’s club competitions committee decided to abolish it.

The final decision will be taken to UEFA’s executive committee for approval.

“It might be a good solution because, all in all, football fans watch football to see goals and attractive matches,” said Ceferin.

“If for example, you draw 2-2 away, you are almost safe to qualify by this away goal rule.

“In the case that this would be changed, and it’s not sure yet that it will be, I think we might have more interesting matches.

“Maybe more extra-times as well but that’s also fine.”

Ceferin ‘optimistic’ about Euro 2020

It is hoped a capacity crowd will watch the Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium
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Wembley will stage three group matches, a round of 16 game plus the semi-finals and final

Ceferin admits Euro 2020 has been a logistical challenge during the pandemic but remains confident it will go ahead as planned.

The tournament begins in Rome on June 11 when Italy face Turkey, with Wembley due to host the semi-finals and final in July.

“It’s very hard to organise anyway and now in Covid times it’s double,” said Ceferin.

“I can’t imagine having a more difficult year in my life than this year.

“I hope everything goes fine but this pandemic situation is changing every day. But more and more people are vaccinated, the health protocol is strict so we are still optimistic things will go well.”

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Koeman’s reps hit out at Barca amid hospital visit

Ronald Koeman’s representatives have hit out at Barcelona and president Joan Laporta’s apparent unwillingness to commit to the Dutchman, in a riddled social media post.

Rob Jansen, via his own Twitter account and that of the Netherlands branch of agency group Wasserman, criticised their approach following a meeting over the former Everton and Southampton boss’s future.

“Imagine: I want to marry you, but I have doubts,” he posted. “Give me two weeks to find a better partner. If I can’t find the right person, we will get married anyway!”

Koeman still has a year left on his contract at the Nou Camp and Laporta confirmed publicly they are “evaluating” the head coach, while Sky Sports News understands they are also assessing other options.

The ex-Holland boss was recently admitted to hospital following a panic attack and his representatives also move to allay fears over his health after Laporta commented in a press conference on Friday.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Imagine: I want to marry you, but I have doubts. <br><br>Give me two weeks to find a better partner…<br><br>If I can’t find the right person, we will get married anyway!</p>&mdash; Rob Jansen (@RobJansenWass) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RobJansenWass/status/1398293876155244546?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 28, 2021</a></blockquote>

The company said: “The words of FC Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta during a press conference today about Ronald Koeman’s anxiety attack are overdone.

“Ronald has been to the hospital for blood pressure checks, a routine check for people with his medical history.

“We regret the way it got into the media. Ronald is fine, there is nothing to worry about.”

Discussing a range of issues ongoing at Barca, including Messi’s new contract, their financial problems, and signing new players, Laporta said: “We arrived halfway through the season and said we would give our evaluation of the coach at the end of the season.



Ronald Koeman, Barcelona








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Barcelona president Joan Laporta says head coach Ronald Koeman, who had a heart attack last year, gave him a scare when he was taken to hospital on Thursday.

“We always worked with maximum respect towards Ronald Koeman, a player that won us that mythical European Cup at Wembley.

“He still has a contract in place and we said we do not believe in transitional seasons. We have spoken to him and will continue to talk to him to make further decisions.”

Sky Sports News has reached out to Barcelona for comment.

Laporta ‘moderately optimistic’ of new Messi contract

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is “moderately optimistic” Lionel Messi will sign a new contract with the club.

Messi’s current deal is due to expire at the end of next month, with the 33-year-old having remained at Barcelona for the 2020-21 season despite seeking a summer exit last year.

Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Messi he would only be allowed to leave if his €700m release clause was paid in full following a dispute over a clause in his contract.

Messi, who had been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, said back in December he would not make a decision about his future until the end of the season, and now with just weeks left on his contract, Laporta is hopeful of convincing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay.

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Barca confident on Aguero, Wijnaldum deals

Barcelona are confident of completing the signings of Sergio Aguero and Georginio Wijnaldum on free transfers within the next week.

Representatives of both players have been at the Nou Camp in the last few days for advanced discussions on proposed contracts.

Finalising a deal for Aguero is expected to develop more rapidly after his final game with Manchester City in the Champions League final against Chelsea this weekend.

Georginio Wijnaldum joined Liverpool from Newcastle in July 2016
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Georginio Wijnaldum joined Liverpool from Newcastle in July 2016

Wijnaldum, whom Barca have been chasing for more than a year, said his goodbyes to Liverpool after the final Premier League game of the season last weekend.

Barca have taken a severe financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic, with debts reaching more than £1bn, so have been targeting players at the end of their contracts.

Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay are further signings they want to make when their respective deals at City and Lyon expire on June 30.



Sergio Aguero pictured holding the Premier League trophy








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Former Manchester City striker Paul Dickov says Sergio Aguero is one of the best strikers ever to play in the Premier League

Laporta ‘moderately optimistic’ of new Messi contract

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is “moderately optimistic” Lionel Messi will sign a new contract with the club.

Messi’s current deal is due to expire at the end of next month, with the 33-year-old having remained at Barcelona for the 2020-21 season despite seeking a summer exit last year.

Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Messi he would only be allowed to leave if his €700m release clause was paid in full following a dispute over a clause in his contract.

Messi, who had been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, said back in December he would not make a decision about his future until the end of the season, and now with just weeks left on his contract, Laporta is hopeful of convincing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay.

Lionel Messi (AP)
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Barcelona president Joan Laporta is ‘moderately optimistic’ Lionel Messi will sign a new contract

“We can make an offer within our possibilities,” Laporta said at a news conference on Friday.

“Leo deserves much more, and could earn more elsewhere. I’m convinced he values the effort we’re making and would like to stay. Leo is not about money, but a team which can win everything. I am moderately optimistic.

“There is a lot of expectation surrounding his continuation. The new contract is going well but it is not done yet. The executives we have involved here are working hard to give him a good proposal, but one that is in our financial means.

“We hope this will be accepted by the player. He loves Barca and of course, we all want him to continue. We hope that he will.”

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Laporta ‘moderately optimistic’ of new Messi contract

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is “moderately optimistic” Lionel Messi will sign a new contract with the club.

Messi’s current deal is due to expire at the end of next month, with the 33-year-old having remained at Barcelona for the 2020-21 season despite seeking a summer exit last year.

Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Messi he would only be allowed to leave if his €700m release clause was paid in full following a dispute over a clause in his contract.

Messi, who had been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, said back in December he would not make a decision about his future until the end of the season, and now with just weeks left on his contract, Laporta is hopeful of convincing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay.



Lionel Messi (AP)








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Ronald Koeman hopes Lionel Messi can have ‘many more years’ at Barcelona as speculation mounts over whether he will stay at the Nou Camp beyond the end of the season

“We can make an offer within our possibilities,” Laporta said at a news conference on Friday.

“Leo deserves much more, and could earn more elsewhere. I’m convinced he values the effort we’re making and would like to stay. Leo is not about money, but a team which can win everything. I am moderately optimistic.”

“There is a lot of expectation surrounding his continuation. The new contract is going well but it is not done yet. The executives we have involved here are working hard to give him a good proposal, but one that is in our financial means.

“We hope this will be accepted by the player. He loves Barca and of course, we all want him to continue. We hope that he will.”

Messi has scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barcelona – both are all-time records for the club.

Lionel Messi collects the Copa del Rey after Barcelona&#39;s 4-0 win
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Lionel Messi collects the Copa del Rey after Barcelona’s 4-0 win

Laporta: Koeman talks ongoing

Barcelona won the Copa del Rey in Ronald Koeman’s first season in charge but fell short in La Liga when finishing third in the table, seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid.

There was further disappointment in the Champions League with a last-16 defeat to PSG, their earliest exit since 2007, and Koeman has since held talks with Laporta over his future at Nou Camp.

Laporta said: “We arrived halfway through the season and said we would give our evaluation of the coach at the end of the season. We always worked with maximum respect towards Ronald Koeman, a player that won us that mythical European Cup at Wembley.

Ronald Koeman and Lionel Messi
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Ronald Koeman’s talks with Laporta are ongoing after Barcelona ended the season third in La Liga

“He still has a contract in place and we said we do not believe in transitional seasons. We have spoken to him and will continue to talk to him to make further decisions.”

Earlier this month, Koeman – who signed a two-year contract last June – acknowledged the talks would take place and said he was hopeful of remaining in charge if he had the backing of Laporta.

Koeman said: “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.”

The former Everton manager 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.”

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Football facing ‘downfall’, say ESL trio Real, Barca and Juve

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus released a joint statement on Wednesday saying they would not bow down to pressure from European soccer governing body UEFA to put an end to their attempts to launch a breakaway Super League.

The clubs are the only three of the original 12 to have not distanced themselves from the project following fierce criticism from fans, soccer governing bodies and even governments.

UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the three clubs on Tuesday but the teams said they rejected the “insistent coercion” the body has maintained while the matter is still in court.

A Madrid court has asked the European Court of Justice to establish if FIFA and UEFA are breaching EU competition law by preventing clubs from creating a breakaway European Super League.

A statement issued on Barcelona’s website read: “This alarming attitude constitutes a flagrant breach of the decision of the courts of justice, which have already made a clear statement warning UEFA to refrain from taking any action that could penalise the founding clubs of the Super League while the legal proceedings are ongoing.

AC Milan are the latest club to leave the proposed European Super League
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Real, Barca and Juve are the only clubs from the original 12 involved in the breakaway ESL plans who have not formally withdrawn

“Therefore, the opening of disciplinary proceedings by UEFA is incomprehensible and is a direct attack against the rule of law… while constituting a lack of respect toward the authority of the courts of justice themselves.

“Instead of exploring ways of modernizing football through open dialogue, UEFA expects us to withdraw the ongoing court proceedings that question their monopoly over European football.”

The Super League was launched with 12 clubs as founding members but Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid have since backed out and reached a deal with UEFA.

The statement added: “Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, all of them more than a century old, will not accept any form of coercion or intolerable pressure, while they remain strong in their willingness to debate, respectfully and through dialogue, the urgent solutions that football currently needs.

“Either we reform football or we will have to watch its inevitable downfall.”

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PL clubs forced to wait before any Coutinho moves

Premier League clubs will have to wait until July before making a move for Barcelona and Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

Barca are understood to be willing to let the former Liverpool star leave the Nou Camp this summer, with Arsenal and Everton both reportedly interested.

However, the 28-year old will miss this summer’s Copa America tournament after undergoing arthroscopic surgery last month, his third knee surgery since January, and it is unlikely his future will be decided for at least another eight weeks as his rehabilitation continues.

Coutinho is under contract at the Nou Camp until June 2023 and made 14 appearances for Ronald Koeman’s team since his return from a season-long loan at Bayern Munich.

He suffered lateral meniscus damage in Barca’s 1-1 draw with Eibar on December 29.

Coutinho arrived at Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018 and has scored 23 goals in 90 appearances for the club in all competitions, helping the club to four major trophies.

He spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Bayern and won the Champions League, the Bundesliga, and the DFB-Pokal under Hansi Flick.

Meanwhile, both Barcelona and Bayern remain interested in Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum who appears set to depart Anfield as a free agent this summer and bid an emotional farewell to the club after their final game of the season against Crystal Palace.

Atletico Madrid pipped both Barcelona and Real Madrid to the La Liga title this season as Diego Simeone’s side won the division by a two-point margin.

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UEFA begins proceedings against Barca, Real and Juve over ESL

UEFA has opened proceedings against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus for their role in the plans for a European Super League.

The three clubs are the only ones from the original 12 involved in the breakaway plans who have not formally withdrawn.

The nine clubs who pulled out of the European Super League – including Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – signed a Club Commitment Declaration with UEFA earlier this month.

In a statement, the European governing body said: “Following an investigation conducted by UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspectors in connection with the so-called ‘Super League’ project, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Juventus FC for a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework.”

UEFA had previously opened a disciplinary investigation with regard to a potential violation of the governing body’s legal framework by the three clubs concerned.



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Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says relations between the six European Super League ‘breakaway’ clubs and the rest of the division are strained and will take time to be restored

The nine other clubs committed to the existing national and international competitions, with the threat of heavy fines and expulsion were they to renew their interest in the breakaway project.

But Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus not only failed to follow their lead, but issued a joint statement standing by the prospective competition and its legal standing.

UEFA’s move raises the prospect of the three clubs being sanctioned, with some reports suggesting they face expulsion from UEFA competitions such as the Champions League for a period of two years.

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Pep: Aguero close to agreeing Barca move

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said striker Sergio Aguero is close to agreeing a deal to join Barcelona.

Aguero is set to leave at the end of the season as a free agent after City’s Champions League final against Chelsea on Saturday.

The 32-year-old signed off from the Premier League in perfect style on Sunday, scoring twice as the champions finished with a 5-0 win over Everton.

Speaking afterwards, former Barcelona manager Guardiola revealed City’s record goalscorer is on the verge of joining Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi in Spain.










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Aguero thanks his team-mates and says it’s an honour to have been a Manchester City player for the last decade

“Maybe I reveal a secret. Maybe he is close to agreeing a deal for the club of my heart – for Barcelona,” Guardiola told Match of the Day.

“He is going to be playing alongside the best player of all time, Messi.”

Barcelona, who won three La Liga and two Champions League titles under Guardiola, came third in La Liga this season, finishing seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid and five behind Real Madrid.

Ronald Koeman’s side were also knocked out at the last-16 stage of the Champions League when losing to Paris Saint-Germain.

“I’m pretty sure he is going to enjoy,” Guardiola added. “And maybe Barcelona are stronger and stronger with him on the pitch.”



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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win over Everton in the Premier League

‘Being at City an honour’

Aguero, who has won five Premier League titles, told Sky Sports after the win over Everton: “Before the game, I felt so strange, the sensation is not good. I prefer to think about the good moments.

“I’m a striker, my target is to score goals, so I’m so happy because it’s my last game and to score two goals is fantastic for me.

“When I came here the first title for me was the most important, for the club and for me. Then Man City started to win more titles so I’m so happy because it’s not easy to be 10 years at one club, for me, it’s an honour.”










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The Manchester City supporters expressed their gratitude to Aguero as the striker made his final appearance for the club

Emotional Pep pays tribute to Aguero

Guardiola also paid an emotional tribute to the Argentinian, whose goals completed a rout after earlier strikes from Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden.

He said: “We love him so much – he is a special person for all of us. We can not replace him. He showed his quality in those 30 minutes.

“It was a perfect end, a fairytale moment. It was so good.

“He made an incredible two goals to finish the game in a good mood and now we have five days to prepare for the final.”



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An emotional Guardiola paid tribute to the departing Aguero as the Argentine scored twice in his final appearance at the Etihad Stadium

What’s next? Euros, transfer window, 2021/22 key dates

Euro 2020 kicks off on Friday June 11 – just 19 days after the conclusion of the 2020/21 Premier League season – and runs until Sunday July 11.

The 2021/22 Premier League campaign will start on the weekend of Saturday August 14 – 34 days after that Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

Clubs will be able to start planning for the new term when the top-flight fixtures are released at 9am on Wednesday, June 16 but transfer business can start in earnest before then, with the summer transfer window opening on Wednesday June 9.

The 2021/22 Championship season begins a week before the top-flight one on the weekend of Saturday August 7. All Sky Bet EFL fixtures will be announced at 9am on Thursday June 24.

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Suarez to stay on at Atleti | ‘I was looked down on before move’

Luis Suarez said he will remain at Atletico Madrid next season after the Uruguay forward helped them to their first league title in seven years.

Atletico piped city rivals Real Madrid to the title on Saturday after Suarez fired them to a 2-1 comeback win at Real Valladolid.

The 34-year-old, who joined Diego Simeone’s side on a two-year contract in September after leaving Barcelona, ended the season as Atletico’s top scorer with 21 goals.

ESPN has reported his deal included a clause that would have allowed him to leave on a free transfer in the summer.

“Yes, I’m sure (I’ll stay),” Suarez told Spanish network Movistar Plus on Sunday during Atletico’s title presentation at their Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

“Atletico welcomed me from the minute I arrived. I asked the club if there was room for me on the museum wall to make history at Atletico.”

Luis Suarez believes he was underestimated by Barcelona after being allowed to leave the Nou Camp last summer on the back of six prolific seasons, and was in tears at full-time on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s tough. The situation I had to live through, the way I was looked down on, but Atletico opened the door for me,” he said, according to Marca.

“A lot of people have suffered with me – my wife, my children.

“Day by day, they are the ones who have suffered the most from my many years in football.

“We’ve had a great year. Despite the difficulties, we were the most consistent team and we’re the champions.

“In the first half of the season, we had an efficiency that wasn’t normal.”

Luis Suarez on his phone after winning the La Liga title with Atletico Madrid
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Suarez on his phone after winning the La Liga title

Second-half goals from Angel Correa and Suarez overturned Oscar Plano’s opener to claim an 11th La Liga title for Atletico.

Victory for Simeone’s men relegated Valladolid and proved crucial as defending champions Real – who needed to beat Villarreal to stand any chance of snatching the silverware – also overturned a deficit to win 2-1, courtesy of late goals from Karim Benzema and Luka Modric.

The Rojiblancos finished two points clear of Zinedine Zidane’s side, while Suarez’s former club Barcelona were a further five points back in third position.

Manager Simeone was at the helm when Atletico last won the title – in 2014 – and was left with different emotions this time around.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Barcelona
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Suarez scored 195 goals in six seasons with Barcelona

“They’re different, with different feelings. The world is experiencing a very bad situation and I hope that we have given a lot of people some joy,” he said.

“Spending 32 weeks on top is huge. I’m grateful, especially to those who played less than others. We remained a team with a goal and we were that at every minute.”

Simeone has been in charge of Atletico for the past decade and, while he acknowledges people may grow weary of his methods, believes the club can continue to develop.

“I’ve no doubts that people can get tired,” said the 51-year-old.

“But I’m very hard-headed. I knew and know that this club can keep growing and I hope it will continue like this.

“The club keeps growing. All of the unseen people have given the club stability beyond results. They’ve always wanted this. They’re not here celebrating, but soon we’ll all embrace.”

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Suarez after title win: I was looked down on before Atleti move

Luis Suarez believes he was underestimated by Barcelona after firing Atletico Madrid to their first La Liga title in seven years.

The Uruguay international’s 21st goal of the campaign secured a 2-1 comeback success at Real Valladolid as Atletico were crowned champions ahead of city rivals Real Madrid.

Suarez hit 195 goals in six prolific seasons with Barca but was allowed to leave the Nou Camp last summer to move to the Spanish capital.

The 34-year-old emphatically proved his doubters wrong this term and was in tears at full-time on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s tough. The situation I had to live through, the way I was looked down on, but Atletico opened the door for me,” he said, according to Marca.

“A lot of people have suffered with me – my wife, my children.

“Day by day, they are the ones who have suffered the most from my many years in football.

“We’ve had a great year. Despite the difficulties, we were the most consistent team and we’re the champions.

“In the first half of the season we had an efficiency that wasn’t normal.”

Luis Suarez on his phone after winning the La Liga title with Atletico Madrid
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Suarez on his phone after winning the La Liga title

Second-half goals from Angel Correa and Suarez overturned Oscar Plano’s opener to claim an 11th La Liga title for Atletico.

Victory for Diego Simeone’s men relegated Valladolid and proved crucial as defending champions Real – who needed to beat Villarreal to stand any chance of snatching the silverware – also overturned a deficit to win 2-1, courtesy of late goals from Karim Benzema and Luka Modric.

The Rojiblancos finished two points clear of Zinedine Zidane’s side, while Suarez’s former club Barcelona were a further five points back in third position.

Manager Simeone was at the helm when Atletico last won the title – in 2014 – and was left with different emotions this time around.

Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Barcelona
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Suarez scored 195 goals in six seasons with Barcelona

“They’re different, with different feelings. The world is experiencing a very bad situation and I hope that we have given a lot of people some joy,” he said.

“Spending 32 weeks on top is huge. I’m grateful, especially to those who played less than others. We remained a team with a goal and we were that at every minute.”

Simeone has been in charge of Atletico for the past decade and, while he acknowledges people may grow weary of his methods, believes the club can continue to develop.

“I’ve no doubts that people can get tired,” said the 51-year-old.

“But I’m very hard-headed. I knew and know that this club can keep growing and I hope it will continue like this.

“The club keeps growing. All of the unseen people have given the club stability beyond results. They’ve always wanted this. They’re not here celebrating, but soon we’ll all embrace.”

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