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Eden Hazard announces retirement from football at age 32

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Ex-Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has announced his retirement from football after leaving Real Madrid at the end of last season.

He won two Premier League titles during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard, 32, joined Real from Chelsea in 2019 for £89m, but played just 54 league games for the Spanish giants.

“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time,” said Hazard, who has been a free agent since his contract was terminated in June.

“After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer.”

The Belgian had already retired from international football last December after being part of the squad which was knocked out of the 2022 World Cup during the group stage.

At Real Madrid, Hazard won the Champions League, a Club World Cup, a European Super Cup, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and two Spanish Super Cups. But his time in Spain is widely considered disappointing – he scored just 7 goals in 76 appearances in all competitions.

Hazard started his career with French club Lille, scoring 50 goals in 149 appearances and helping the club to win a domestic double of Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France in 2010-11.

He moved to Chelsea in the summer of 2012, signing for a reported £32m and went on to become a club great, winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2014-15.

Hazard scored 110 goals across 352 appearances for the Blues, including the winner in the 2019 Europa League final against Arsenal in his final appearance for the club.

He is also one of only four players in Premier League history – alongside Thierry Henry, Matt Le Tissier and Eric Cantona – to score 15 or more goals and provide 15 or more assists in a single season, having netted 16 times and laid on 15 assists during the 2018-19 campaign.

“During my career I was lucky to meet great managers, coaches and teammates – thank you to everyone for these great times, I will miss you all,” Hazard added on social media.

“I also want to thank the clubs I have played for: LOSC, Chelsea and Real Madrid; and thank the RBFA for my Belgian selection.

“A special thank you to my family, my friends, my advisors and the people who have been close to me in good times and bad.

“Finally, a huge thank you to you, my fans, who have followed me for all these years and for your encouragement everywhere I have played.

“Now is the time to enjoy my loved ones and have new experiences. See you off the field soon my friends.”

After making his international debut against Luxembourg in 2008, Hazard earned 126 Belgium caps and scored 33 goals. He featured at three World Cups and two European Championships, as well as captaining the team 56 times.

He found the net three times at the 2018 World Cup when Belgium finished third, including a strike against England in the third-place play-off.

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Real Madrid open talks with PSG for Mbappe presentation

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According to a report from MARCA, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is set to meet with the leaders of Paris Saint-Germain today

According to a report from MARCA, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is set to meet with the leaders of Paris Saint-Germain today in Paris and one of the key topics likely to be discussed is the presentation of Kylian Mbappe as a Real Madrid player.

Perez travelled to Paris this Tuesday as a guest at a meeting where the French President, Emmanuel Macron, will also be present.

Macron has a personal interest in this matter, which aligns with Perez’s interests: ensuring Mbappe’s presence at the Paris Olympic Games.

It is to be noted that Macron has been pushing for Mbappe to be a prominent figure for the French national team at this summer’s Olympic Games.

He recently expressed his hope that Real Madrid will allow Mbappe to participate in the Olympics.

Interestingly, another important issue for Perez in Paris is the official presentation of Mbappe as a Real Madrid player.

During his meeting with PSG leaders, one of the possible topics of discussion will be obtaining PSG’s permission for Real Madrid to introduce Mbappe as their new player before the start of the Euro Cup in Germany.

It is said that the French players selected for the Euro Cup are scheduled to report to Clairefontaine on May 29, except for those from Real Madrid, who will join on June 3 as they are in the UEFA Champions League final.

Therefore, the timing of Mbappe’s presentation depends on two key authorisations: one from the French Football Federation and the other from PSG, who are technically Mbappe’s employer until June 30.

For what it is worth, Mbappe wants to finalise his transfer to Real Madrid before Euro 2024 begins. The club also shares this desire.

However, the French national team could create complications for everyone involved. This is why Perez’s visit to France is very important, as it will help clear up the situation.

 

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Dominican Republic 2024: Flamingos thrash Burkinabe girls 6-0 to cruise into final round

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Nigeria reached the final round of the African qualification series for this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals after a 6-0 defeat

Nigeria reached the final round of the African qualification series for this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals after a 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday evening.

Goal-poacher Harmony Chidi, who netted six of Nigeria’s dozen goals in the 12-0 annihilation of Central African Republic in the first round and also got the team’s goal in the 1-1 draw away in Bamako last week Saturday, came up big again with a hat-trick in front of delighted spectators in Nigeria’s administrative capital.

She put the Nigeria U17 girls in front after 11 minutes, capitalizing on a defensive blunder by the duo of Faridatou Ouedraogo and Obaidatou Nkiema to dribble past goalkeeper Agueratou Baguian. Four minutes later, Shakirat Moshood’s angled shot was foiled by the upright, and in the 27th minute, Peace Effiong’s dashing run ended with a tame shot.

Effiong made amends in the 34th minute, riding a couple of rough tackles to flash past the overworked Baguian as spectators egged the Flamingos on. She should have made it 3-0 with four minutes left in the first period, but got too much purchase on the ball from four yards.

In the second half, visiting goalkeeper Baguian drew applause with an excellent double save from Harmony Chidi in the 55th minute, but the World Cup bronze medallists reserved their greater potency for the last quarter-hour. In the 74th minute, Taiwo Afolabi’s soaring volley from 20 yards rocked the crossbar, but Chidi was on hand to coolly nod it into the net.

Substitute Ramota Kareem made it four in the 84th minute. Two minutes later, Chidi got her hat-trick with a dipping shot, and with one minute left on the clock, Effiong got her brace after a wonderful team move.

Victory earned Nigeria a 7-1 aggregate win, and a place in the final round against the winner of the Senegal/Liberia fixture. The first leg is scheduled for Saturday, 8th June.

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Xavi faces sack at Barcelona

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Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish

Barcelona are poised to sack coach Xavi Hernandez just weeks after he made a U-turn and decided to stay at the club, Spanish media has reported.

Catalan radio station RAC-1 said president Joan Laporta had decided to sack Xavi, with daily newspaper Sport confirming the news, while AS said Barcelona were already deciding who would replace the coach.

In January, Xavi said he would leave at the end of the season but, after a run of strong form, in April he and president Joan Laporta agreed the coach would stay for the next campaign, with his contract expiring in June 2025.

However, Laporta did not travel with the team for their 2-0 in at Almeria in La Liga on Thursday, with Spanish media reporting he was angry with Xavi’s pre-match comments.

The coach had highlighted Barcelona’s financial difficulties in comparison to the strength of new Spanish champions Real Madrid and other European giants.

“Barcelona fans have to understand, we’re not in the same situation (as those clubs),” said Xavi on Wednesday.

The coach stood by his words on Thursday when he was asked about Laporta not attending the Almeria match.

“They haven’t told me anything personally… We travelled with the sporting vice-president, more directors, all normally,” Xavi told reporters late Thursday. “I said what I think is real, that we will fight for all the trophies, with a lot of hope, with ambition, but that the situation is not easy.

“We are working very well, the club most of all, to change this situation.”

Barcelona won La Liga last season but were not able to defend the title. They went out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals to Paris Saint-Germain and will end the season trophy less.

Real Madrid thrashed Barca in the Spanish Super Cup final while Athletic Bilbao eliminated them in the Copa del Rey.

In April, Xavi, 44, said he was “full of hope” and that fans, players and “above all the confidence of the president and (sporting director) Deco” was what convinced him to stay.

Laporta said at the time that he was glad Xavi would remain at the helm and that it was good for the stability of the club.

“It’s great news that Xavi is staying,” the president told a news conference.

“The team we have, that is (still) consolidating, with very young players, needs that stability.

“Xavi is a reference for young players and we can see that – today I’m especially pleased, and the board have unanimously supported this decision.”

Laporta appointed Xavi, one of Barcelona’s greatest ever midfielders, to replace Ronald Koeman in November 2021.

As a player, Xavi made 767 appearances for Barcelona, winning four Champions Leagues and eight La Liga titles, as well as the World Cup with Spain.

During his time as Barcelona coach, he lifted the Spanish Super Cup last season, along with the league title.

 

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