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European Leagues

Bayern hail Kane after prolific start: ‘He can do anything’



Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane arrived in Germany on a record-breaking transfer and his sensational goal-scoring run this season has already exceeded expectations and turned him into an instant fan favourite.

Kane joined Bayern from Tottenham in August for a Bundesliga-record €100 million ($106m) fee, with the German champions desperate to bring in a tested scorer to fill the goal-scoring gap created by last year’s departure of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona.

Kane, the England men’s all-time top scorer and the Premier League’s second all-time scorer, hit the ground running and has already bagged 21 goals in 15 matches in the Bundesliga and Champions League for Bayern.

“It is impressive,” beamed Bayern sports director Christoph Freund after Saturday’s double in their 4-2 victory over Heidenheim.

“He is playing away from the U.K. for the first time and then he scores like that. The team also plays him into position. He is a phenomenon.”

Kane’s two goals on Saturday took his league tally to 17 from 11 games, setting a league record for most goals at this stage, beating Lewandowski’s previous mark of 16.

Kane already has more goals after 11 Bundesliga matches than last season’s top scorers had in the entire campaign.

“I cannot tell you anything different,” Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said of Kane’s scoring run on Saturday. “The performances are telling a story. There is no need for any words.”

Kane has also scored four times in four Champions League group matches, with Bayern having already secured a spot in the knockout stage with two games to spare.

Among the highlights this season is his 60-metre looping shot from Bayern’s own half in their 8-0 demolition of Darmstadt 98, undoubtedly a candidate for goal of the season.

He also scored a hat trick in last week’s 4-0 victory at title rivals Borussia Dortmund, the first player to do so in their Klassiker debut.

“I believe he can do anything,” said Bayern teammate Thomas Müller. “We only need to bring him into position. If he gets to shoot anywhere near or inside the box then chances are the ball will go in.”

Club bosses are equally delighted with Kane’s goal bonanza, saying the move was the right one for both Bayern and the title-starved Kane.

“Absolutely fantastic,” Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said. “Obviously one is happy when things are working so well, having also been partly responsible for this transfer. I hope it continues like that.”

Kane’s scoring exploits have also forced some critics of the transfer to make a sharp U-turn. Among them is former Germany international Didi Hamann who had initially expressed doubts about how effective Kane would be in the Bundesliga.

“I never thought that he would score like that,” Hamann told Bild newspaper. “I mean he did not sign for three months but for four years and he gets great balls from team mates.”

“But still it is impressive because he is one of a few strikers who don’t have so much speed. But it shows you how clever he is as a player. Bayern did everything right. He is a phenomenon.”


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European Leagues

Euro 2024: Rashford, Henderson left out of England squad



Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson have been left out of Gareth Southgate's provisional 33-man England squad for Euro 2024.

Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson have been left out of Gareth Southgate’s provisional 33-man England squad for Euro 2024.

Manchester United forward Rashford, 26, has struggled for form this season, scoring seven goals and managing two assists in 33 league appearances.

He played in seven England games this season before being left out against Belgium in March.

Rashford shared a screenshot of the training squad on social media, with a message “wishing Gareth and the boys all the best” for the tournament.

Henderson joined Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia from Liverpool last summer but left them to join a struggling Ajax side in January.

Southgate continued to pick him following his move to the Saudi Pro League, though he was booed by some England fans on his first game back in the country, against Australia at Wembley in October, which the England manager said at the time “defies logic”.

Henderson was in the squad for March friendlies against Brazil and Belgium but did not play.

Southgate will have to cut at least seven players when he confirms his final squad of up to 26 players for the tournament in Germany, with a deadline of midnight on 7 June.

England provisional squad
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), James Trafford (Burnley).

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Jarell Quansah (Liverpool), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Curtis Jones (Liverpool), Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace).

Forwards: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).



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European Leagues

Europa League final: Leverkusen 2 games from unbeaten season



Bayer Leverkusen are two games away from achieving an unprecadented full season unbeaten. Leverkusen completed a full Bundesliga

Bayer Leverkusen are two games away from achieving an unprecadented full season unbeaten.

Leverkusen completed a full Bundesliga season with losing on Saturday — extending their run to 51 games — having clinched the title last month. Xabi Alonso’s side now face two cup finals in four days to achieve a previously unthinkable unbeaten season in domestic and continental competition.

Leverkesen will play in the Europa League final against Atalanta on Wednesday before facing second-tier side Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on Saturday — a game in which they are heavily favoured.

Alonso’s side have produced a number of stunning comebacks this season, both domestically and in Europe, and the Europa League has provided some of the biggest tests of their streak.

Three times in six games in the knockout rounds, they were 2-0 down deep into the second half: In both round of 16 games against Qarabag and in the semifinals return leg against Roma.

In another streak-saving Europa game, at West Ham in the quarterfinals, Leverkusen were set to advance on aggregate score yet needed an 89th-minute goal by right-back Jeremie Frimpong to draw 1-1 and stay unbeaten.

How is Bayer Leverkusen’s 51-game unbeaten streak even possible? Crunching the numbers
2dRyan O’Hanlon

“We don’t want to wait until the last seconds of the game,” said Patrick Schick, whose three stoppage-time goals against Qarabag in March were key to advancing 5-4 on aggregate. “We would like to make it clear, really, earlier.”

Winning their final two games would complete a remarkable season for Leverkusen, coming in Alonso’s first full season as a head coaching.

“For me it’s very special,” Alonso said last week. “My first title as a coach was the Bundesliga. It was super, it was very special. But a title in Europe would be wonderful and hopefully we will be able to say that.”



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European Leagues

Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos to retire after Euro 2024



Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos will retire from football after playing for Germany at this summer's European Championship,

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos will retire from football after playing for Germany at this summer’s European Championship, the player announced on Tuesday.

Kroos, 34, has won 22 trophies with Madrid since joining in 2014, including four Champions Leagues — plus another with Bayern Munich — and four LaLiga titles.

The midfielder first raised the prospect of retiring in 2022 before deciding to play on for another season, but has now chosen to end his career this summer.

“After 10 years, at the end of the season this chapter comes to an end,” Kroos posted on Instagram.

“I would particularly like to thank everyone that welcomed me with an open heart and trusted me. But especially I would like to thank you, dear Madridistas, for your affection and your love from the first day until the last one.

“At the same time this decision means that my career as an active footballer will end this summer after the European Championship. As I have always said: Real Madrid is and will be my last club. I am happy and proud, that in my mind I found the right timing for my decision and that I could choose it by my own. My ambition was always to finish my career at the peak of my performance level.”

Kroos announced his return to international football with Germany in February ahead of the Euros, having previously retired from international duty in 2021.

“We suspected that some people knew [his decision] but it’s still taken us by surprise,” a source close to the dressing room told ESPN. “The truth is, he’s irreplaceable.”

Real Madrid won LaLiga this season and will face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final at Wembley on June 1.

“We thought he’d stay, but we’re forever grateful,” a club source told ESPN. “It was a possibility.”

“I’m convinced this is the right decision,” Kroos said in a special episode of his podcast, “Einfach mal Luppen,” released on Tuesday.

“I’ve been thinking about it for months, and with its pros and cons, it’s what I want… I want you to remember that I went out at my best. I promised that when I left Madrid, I’d leave football.”

“Toni Kroos has decided to end his career as a professional footballer after the 2024 European Championships,” Madrid said in statement on Tuesday.

“Real Madrid wants to express its gratitude and affection to Toni Kroos, a player who is already part of Real Madrid’s history and who is one of the great legends of our club and world football.

“Toni Kroos arrived at our club in 2014, and has been a fundamental player in one of the most successful periods in Real Madrid’s 122-year history. During the ten seasons in which he has defended our shirt and our badge, he has won 22 titles in 463 games to date: four European Cups, five Club World Cups, four European Super Cups, four Leagues, one Copa del Rey and four Spanish Supercopas.

“Toni Kroos will forever remain in the hearts of all Real Madrid fans for his footballing excellence, and for being a player who has given everything for this shirt.”

Kroos played for Bayern Munich at youth level and made his first-team debut in September 2007. He was a part of the Bayern squad that won the Champions League in 2013, before joining Madrid the next summer.

Since that time, he has been a key figure in Madrid’s midfield, forming an iconic trio alongside Luka Modric and Casemiro.

“I’ve always said that I won’t go anywhere else,” he said in November 2022. “I won’t change clubs. I’ll retire here. The only thing I don’t know is when.”



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