Jozef Vukusic vacates Polokwane City coaching post

In a shock move, head coach Jozef Vukusic has has parted company with Polokwane City despite guiding the club to their highest ever finish in the Absa Premiership.

Rise and Shine were the surprise package this term and ended the league season fifth in the standings after amassing 44 points.

But the Slovakian mentor has now left the club, only saying it was due to personal reasons.

Vukusichas explained in quotes published on Kickoff: "The situation with my family is so that I can't continue with Polokwane City for next season.

"It’s very fresh and for now I only speak to the manager of the club [Bernard] Molekwa and in the next [few] days I will find a way to finalise things with the club, but the decision is final.

"I spoke to my family and saw the situation with my daughter, so I can't continue there.

"It was not possible to continue in Polokwane City because in that one year I had some moments I was thinking if it's right [to be there].

"But I wanted to finish minimum first and be professional. Now it was the right time to come home and I came to final decision that it's not possible."

Vukusichas would also not be drawn on whether he would be returning to the PSL to coach in the future.

He continued: "To be honest at the moment I don't think about that and I don't deal with my future because I must finalise things with Polokwane City correctly.

"At the moment I am even ready to stay home for a certain time and we will what happens."

Mosimane dedicates award to players and technical staff

Mamelodi Sundowns mentor Pitso Mosimane has dedicated his Coach of the Season award to his players and the technical staff that he works with.

Mosimane scooped the big prize at the PSL awards ceremony held in Durban after guiding Masandawana to a second consecutive league title.

The former Supersport United coach now joins Gavin Hunt, Gordon Igesund and Ted Dumitru as the only men to have won four league trophies as head coaches in the PSL.

Mosimane told reporters: "The players are the ones who make us shine as coaches, so I'm thanking them for this award.

"I also need to thank the 14 people (technical team) around me. They also helped me to win this award.

"I am just a recipient to be honest and I'm humbled."

Mosimane then went on to praise his colleagues who have done well in local football, especially the South African-born coaches, who he says are always under pressure to perform.

The Sundowns mentor added: "What do we want if local is not lekker?. But local is not lekker because it is lekker, you have to work hard for it, you've got to fight.

"Our jobs are always on the line. We're competing with people who come from the school of football, which is Europe.

"It's like our children who come from Bantu Education to compete with people who did private school and all that. It’s always difficult but it's possible."

Aurier: 'I do not desire to leave Tottenham'

Tottenham defender Serge Aurier insists he has no desire to part ways with the London club despite seeing his first-team opportunities limited this season.

Aurier made just 17 appearances for Spurs in all competitions this season and that has led to speculation that he may move on.

The Ivory Coast international has been at Spurs since 2017 and he is currently competing with England international Kieran Trippier.

Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino could still include him in his squad for the Champions League final and Aurier claims he will be staying put this summer if he gets his way.

He told Canal Football: "In football things can happen very quickly.

"For the moment I do not desire to leave Tottenham. For the moment, I am very happy. This season I have been interrupted by injury more than anything else, but life is like that.

"I will have to see what will happen. We have done a good season and we are in the Champions League final, we are going to enjoy that, see how it goes.

"My season is not finished, I still have an Africa Cup of Nations too."

Report - United's Sanchez to prove fitness

Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez will reportedly return to the club in the off-season as he looks to prove his fitness ahead of potential move away.

The 30-year-old's 18-month Old Trafford stint has been disastrous, with injuries and a dip in form seeing the former Barcelona man score just five goals from 45 appearances in all competitions since his move from Arsenal.

The Chile international's attitude has also come under scrutiny and rumours are growing that he will be heading for the exit door during the off-season.

Astronomical wages were thought to be the biggest stumbling block to his departure but it has been suggested that Italian sides Juventus and Inter Milan are keen to acquire the South American's services before the start of next season.

With that in mind, Sanchez is set to return before his United colleagues to work hard and put himself in the shop window for a move away.

Red Devils chief Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to clear the decks this summer to kick-start a recovery at the Theatre of Dreams, and Sanchez is seen as one player that they could jettison.

Sanchez will want to move to a team playing in the Champions League and Inter need to beat Empoli in their final match on Sunday to secure their spot in Europe's elite club competition.

Baroka not yet sure of offering Bibo a contract

Baroka FC chairman Khurishi Mphahlele is still not sure if they are going to offer a permanent contract to Thandani Ntshumayelo for next season.

Ntshumayelo signed a short-term deal with Bakgaga close to the end the end of the campaign as he was available on a free transfer.

The former Orlando Pirates midfielder only made one appearance though as the Limpopo side as the Telkom Knockout winners avoided relegation on the last day of the season.

When asked if 'Bibo' will be offered a new deal, Mphahlele told Kickoff: "Hey, we will see.

"We will see, I can't say yes or no now. He never plays, he never plays. I cannot say yes or no.

"We are still going to assess the team. His contract was short-term."

Baroka drew 1-1 with Maritzburg United on the final day of the season to maintain their Absa Premiership status.

Leverkusen confirm Brandt decision is imminent

Bayer Leverkusen's sporting director, Rudi Voller, has revealed a decision will be made on the future of forward Julian Brandt in the next week.

The 23-year-old is in hot demand as there is a release clause of just £22million in his current contract and Leverkusen have admitted defeat in their attempts to keep him.

Liverpool, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are all interested in the midfielder and Leverkusen's sporting director, Rudi Voller, says they are well aware of who wants to sign him.

Dortmund are keen to get the situation resolved for everyone's sake.

"We know exactly which clubs have knocked," Voller revealed. "Brandt has some requests and in the next five, six or seven days there will be a decision."

Despite interest from the Premier League it is thought that Brandt would prefer to stay in Germany and will opt for a move to Dortmund if a deal can be agreed between the two clubs.

Castro's future at Kaizer Chiefs in doubt

Leonardo Castro's future at Kaizer Chiefs could be in doubt after the striker was again only a late substitute in the embarrassing loss against NFD side TS Galaxy in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday.

The Colombian has managed just two starts in the Amakhosi's last eight matches this campaign and came on in injury time on Saturday but Chiefs went down 1-0 to lower-tier opposition in front of their legions of disappointed fans.

Middendorp was asked about Castro's omission from the starting XI: "We made the decision to start without him for a certain reason [based on] what we had seen lately, and the better solution was the starting eleven plus Zuma

"It is definitely something that we're on the verge of talking about the performance of a player and so on, but I will not do it."

A mass clear out could be on the cards for the Soweto giants as they have endured one of the worst seasons ever in their recent history.

The Amakhosi finished ninth place in the PSL and also never won any trophy.

Barca boss Valverde sweating over injured stars

Barcelona could without the services of a number of first-team stars for Saturday's Copa del Rey final against Valencia, according to manager Ernesto Valverde.

The Barca boss already had problems before Sunday's final day 2-2 draw against at Eibar with Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho amongst those absent from the squad.

Nelson Semedo required hospital treatment after suffering a knock during the game, while Valverde has doubts over Arthur and Ousmane Dembele.

Looking ahead to the Valencia game, which Barca will be hoping to win to complete the domestic double, Valverde is keeping his fingers crossed that some of those in the treatment room will recover.

He said:"Semedo was take to hospital during the game, but we are hopeful it is only a minor problem and he can return tomorrow.

"We think that Ter Stegen will be fit for the final, after the initial diagnosis was reassessed.

"With Coutinho, I do not know yet, but we allowed him an additional rest today.

"Dembele and Arthur are more difficult to make a decision on right now, particularly as Arthur has been carrying an injury for months."

Suarez is definitely out after undergoing knee surgery, while the potential absence of Dembele and Coutinho would leave just Malcom and youth player Abel Ruiz available to link up with Lionel Messi.

Galaxy won't stand in Malesela's way if PSL comes calling

TS Galaxy chairman Tim Sukazi says he will not stand coach Dan Malesela's way if PSL clubs show interest in him.

Malesela made history on Saturday when led the National First Division (NFD) outfit to the Nedbank Cup title with a 1-0 victory over Kaizer Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

It was the first time a lower-tier side has ever won a major trophy in South Africa football and has put the head coach's name on the radar of plenty of clubs.

Galaxy finished eighth in the NFD this season and Sukazi is hoping Malesela can build on the cup success and push for promotion next season but also knows it might have to be with a different coach at the helm.

Sukazi told Kickoff: "If we have things our way, we'd definitely keep coach Dan for as long as he likes.

"But we are realistic to say he is a very talented coach who does not belong in the NFD.

"He has done good work for us and he has attracted a lot of attention and there would be suitors interested in him, who we would not be able to compete with.

"If they are really are there, as I feel there should be, and it makes sense to Dan and us, certainly we would not stand in his way.

"But I think he is very serious about being here and he wants success a lot for this club and he knows that this club is not ending in the NFD and he is wise enough to know that he is better here and he can turn this outfit into a PSL club."

Allegri: 'It is the right moment to leave the club'

Massimiliano Allegri has admitted the time is right for him to part ways with Juventus, following a five-year stint at the helm of the Serie A giants.

The Italian champions have announced they will part company with Allegri, the man who has brought them so much domestic success, and it was a decision that was not taken lightly.

"This has been a decision of a lot of focus and emotions," Juve president Andrea Agnelli said. "At the end of several reflections and analysis, we identified that this was the best decision to make."

Under Allegri Juve reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in the past two years, but the desire to win it is clearly why the decision has been taken.

"We are all useful but no-one is dispensable, starting from me," Agnelli said. "It is the history of the club that it is bigger than any single individual."

Allegri added: "We evaluated the future of Juventus and obviously the club decided to take a direction next year without me, but that doesn't change anything. We have grown together and it is the right moment to leave the club in the best possible way."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino are both said to be high on the Old Lady's wanted list.

Lorch the big winner at PSL awards

Orlando Pirates attacker Thembinkosi Lorch was the big winner at the Premier Soccer League (PSL) awards as he scooped the two big prizes, including being named South African Footballer of the Season.

The 25-year-old Lorch beat out two players from Absa Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns, Hlompho Kekana and Themba Zwane, in a vote among the 16 PSL coaches.

Lorch, who also crowned the Players' Player of the Season, walked away with R450 000 as reward for his individual trophies.

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane won the Coach of the Season award after guiding his team to their second successive league title while Superport United's Teboho Mokoena picked up the Young player of the Season gong.

All the winners at the PSL awards ceremony:

Footballer of the Season: Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates)

Absa Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)

Absa Premiership Defender of the Season: Ricardo Nacimento (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Absa Premiership Midfielder of the Season: Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Absa Premiership Young player of the Season: Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United)

Absa Premiership Players' Player of the Season: Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates)

Absa Premiership Coach of the Season: Pitso Mosimane (Mamelodi Sundowns)

MTN8 Last man standing: Peter Leeuwenburgh (Cape Town City)

Telkom Knockout Player of the Tournament: Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka FC)

Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament: Zakhele Lepasa (TS Galaxy)

Nedbank Most promising player: Terrence Mashego (TS Galaxy)

Multichoice Diski Challenge Player of the Tournament: Sipho Chaine (Bloemfontein Celtic)

Diski Shield Player of the Tournament: Siboniso Conco (Golden Arrows)

Absa Premiership Goal of the Season: Vincent Pule (Orlando Pirates) vs Polokwane City

Referee of the Season: Abongile Tom

Assistant Referee of the Season: Emmanuel de Sani

Liverpool join race to sign Ajax's De Ligt

Liverpool have joined Europe's top clubs in the race to secure the services of highly-rated Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt, according to Spanish journalist Guillem Balague.

The Reds are focused on the Champions League final against Tottenham, but that is not stopping them from working on deals for next season and in-demand De Ligt is now a top target.

They will have to move quickly to secure a deal though, such is the interest in the player, and the often reliable sports journalist Balague claims the Reds have already started talks.

Barcelona would appear to be favourites to land the 19-year-old, who has stood out in an Ajax side that has won a domestic double and made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League before losing to Tottenham.

Liverpool would have to pay upwards of £50million to have a chance of doing a deal, but will also face competition from Juventus, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.

De Ligt is seen as the perfect player to play alongside fellow Dutchman Virgil van Dijk in the heart of the Reds defence and would no doubt be tempted by such a move.

United keeping tabs on Lyon midfielder Ndombele

Manchester United are reportedly weighing up a move Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele as they begin to line up potential replacements for Real Madrid target Paul Pogba.

Reports are growing by the day that Pogba could be allowed to leave United at the right price this summer, with the Frenchman said to be high on Real Madrid's wanted list.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane is a big fan and wants his fellow countryman on board as he looks to rebuild his squad at the Bernabeu, and United are keeping an eye on possible replacements.

One of which is said to be Ndombele, who has caught the eye of Europe's top clubs this season following some dazzling displays for the Ligue 1 side.

It is claimed that United have yet to make a formal approach to Lyon over a move for the player, but everything is in place to do so depending on what happens with Pogba.

United would be wise not to leave it too long though as Manchester City, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be showing an interest with a view to making a move.

Hertha confirm deal for Celtic defender Boyata

Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin have confirmed the signing of Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata from Celtic on a long-term deal.

The 28-year-old was available on a free transfer with his contract at the Glasgow outfit expiring this summer, and rumours had been ongoing suggesting a switch to Hertha was on the cards.

All the rumours can now be put to bed after the German club's sporting director Michael Preetz confirmed a deal is in the bag.

"We've had Dedryck in our sights for some time now and are fully convinced of his qualities, and we are confident that he is a real reinforcement for our defence," he said.

Boyata moved to Celtic in 2015 from Manchester City. He was involved in a row with then Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers at the start of this season, being sent to train with the development side after he missed a Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens in Greece when he claimed to be injured.

Boyata told his new club's website: "The club is ambitious and has goals that I stand by and I was very impressed by how Michael Preetz tried to talk to me and showed me a clear plan."

Pep knows he'll be judged on Champions League success

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits his time at the Etihad will only be judged a success if he is able to add the Champions League trophy to the club's trophy cabinet.

City completed an unprecedented domestic treble on Saturday when they won the FA Cup with a 6-0 demolition of Watford at Wembley, adding to the Premier League and Carabao Cup they had already won.

Guardiola has turned City into one of the best ever English sides and they look set to dominate on home soil for some time, but their lack of success in Europe remains a black mark against them.

They were knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage by Tottenham - a team they finished 27 points ahead of in the league - and have never gone past the semi-finals.

Guardiola says this current crop has to start achieving success in Europe.

"I said before that I know we will be judged at the end on whether we win the Champions League," he accepted. "I know unless we do that it will not be enough.

"This comes with me. I know that. I arrive in Barcelona, we were lucky we won it two times in four years and the people expect I am something special that we have to win the Champions League and it's still true.

"In this club, the points record and the domestic competitions is incredible, but the Champions League we don't win quite often compared to the other ones because the teams are so good, the competition is so demanding but we want to win it."

Zidane does not have a place for Bale

Gareth Bale's future at Real Madrid has once again been called into question, with head coach Zinedine Zidane suggesting that the Welshman "doesn't fit in the team".

After a woeful season by their standards, Real look set for an overhaul under Zidane, with Eintracht Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic already set to join in the summer as part of the rebuilding process.

With Eden Hazard and possibly Paul Pogba also targets, Bale could well be the big name to leave the Santiago Bernabeu, with the 29-year-old enduring a strained relationship with both his new manager and the club's fans despite his trophy-laden spell in the Spanish capital.

Bale headed straight down the tunnel after being an unused substitute during a 2-0 defeat in Real's closing league game, and if that didn't send out a signal that he was not wanted then Zidane's post-match comments surely did.

"I don't know if it's the last game or not. I don't know what's going to happen," said Zidane. "I'm sorry he didn't get to play, but no-one knows what will happen.

"If I think a player doesn't fit in the team I have to do what I think works best.

"No one can change what Bale has done for the team, but as a coach I have to live in the present. I have counted on other players more in recent weeks."

Barca in no rush to secure Griezmann deal

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde says the Blaugrana won't sign Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann until after the Copa del Rey final.

France international Griezmann confirmed earlier this week that he will be ending his five-year association with Atleti and he is widely expected to join La Liga champions Barca.

Some reports had suggested that the transfer could have been concluded last weekend, but, despite confirming Barcelona's interest, Valverde insists that any deal will not be wrapped up until after the Blaugrana's Copa del Rey final against Valencia on Saturday.

"It is correct that contact has been made over this deal, and this is ongoing," Valverde told reporters.

"However, the season is not yet over for us and we still have a Copa del Rey final to play.

"We must stay focused on winning both domestic titles. After the final there will be time for these things.

"At the moment, there is no update and we do not talk about players from other teams."

Barcelona rounded off their La Liga campaign by drawing 2-2 at Eibar on Sunday, with Lionel Messi grabbing a brace to take his tally for the season across all competitions to 50.

Gunners eyeing Lorient youngster Claude-Maurice

Arsenal are reportedly eyeing a move for promising youngster Alexis Claude-Maurice, with the £9million-rated forward ready to make the step up from France's Ligue 2.

The Gunners' signing of Claude-Maurice's former teammate Matteo Guendouzi last summer proved to be a masterstroke and the purchase of Laurent Koscielny from the same club in 2010 has been money well spent.

Unai Emery is looking for back-up for main strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette next season, with Danny Welbeck set to leave the club in June at the end of his contract.

The Spaniard is also believed to be operating under a strict transfer budget this summer and that has led the club to consider the 20-year-old French forward, who is untested at top-flight level.

Claude-Maurice has scored 14 goals in 35 matches, predominantly from a wide forward position, in Ligue 2 and has represented France at U20 level.

Pep tries to justify Champions League failure

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has claimed that winning a treble of domestic trophies is more difficult than winning the Champions League.

Guardiola rates Manchester City's history-making domestic treble as a greater achievement than winning the Champions League. City battered Watford 6-0 to lift the FA Cup at Wembley, completing an trio of trophies in ruthless style.

Guardiola had targeted a quadruple, but City were dumped out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Tottenham.

But with the FA Cup in the bag alongside the Premier League and Carabao Cup, boss Guardiola believes City's consistency in winning a record 50 matches in a single season carries more weight than had they conquered Europe.

'It's one of the best seasons I have experienced as a manager,' said Guardiola. 'I wouldn't say the best but one of the best for sure.

'To be the first to win the treble means that if one team is able to do that another team will repeat it sooner or later. 'But we were the first, and that means consistency every day for 10 months. 'I love the Champions League but to do that is more difficult than to win the Champions League.'

Middendorp calls for calm

Kaizer Chiefs head coach Ernst Middendorp has warned the club against making snap decisions in the heat of the moment after their frustrating loss in the Nedbank Cup final.

Amakhosi fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to National First Division club TS Galaxy, who were only good enough to finish eighth in South Africa's second tier to round off a season most fans of the club would prefer to forget.

Having only finished ninth in the Premiership themselves and no other trophies to speak of, this is by far one of the worst seasons in the Chief's recent history.

After initially seeming to turn things around when he replaced Giovanni Solinas in December, Middendorp has failed to make any marked improvements on the club's fortunes and his future is now in doubt.

“I’m really thinking in the moment – 20 minutes after finishing [the game] – and I think in we definitely have to sit down and see in general what’s happening,” he told KickOff.

“Not only in the last [six] months but what happened with Kaizer Chiefs probably in the last [few] years, and we will definitely have a discussion and I have to make a decision.

“But 30 minutes after finishing the game, whoever is now prepared to do something it will be quite emotional, and it should not be done at this time.

“But, we definitely have to chat [with management] and look forward into what’s best.”