Pavard: I have come out of nowhere

Benjamin Pavard admits he 'shed a few tears' in the final minutes of France's World Cup victory over Croatia as he realised how far he had come in a very short space of time.

Les Bleus were crowned World Champions with a 4-2 win over Vatreni in an astonishing final that included an own-goal, a VAR penalty and the first goal in the final by a teenager - Kylian Mbappe - since Pele scored in 1970.

Pavard, meanwhile, was a surprise star for Didier Deschamps' side as he played six out of seven games and netted a contender for goal of the tournament in the 4-3 win over Argentina.

The VfB Stuttgart right-back, who joined the club from French side Lille in 2016, explained that he was still coming to terms with everything that has happened to him over the past few years.

Speaking to French TV, the 22-year-old said: "Two years ago I was in the fan zone in Lille with my friends. A year ago, I was playing in the German second division.

"I have come out of nowhere, as the song about me says. I still haven't fully realised what we have done. It's great. During the game, when there were two or three minutes left, I shed a few tears."

Rode delighted to be back for Dortmund

Sebastian Rode is 'tremendously happy' to have finally returned to action with Borussia Dortmund in a 1-0 friendly win.

The 27-year-old former Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Munich midfielder had been sidelined with a groin injury and spent nearly a year in recovery.

But speaking after the 1-0 victory against Austria Vienna, Rode said he couldn't be happier.

Speaking to the club's official website, he said: "I'm tremendously happy to have finally got some minutes under my belt again after almost a year out injured.

"It was a tough test at the end of a strenuous week: Austria Vienna are further into their pre-season than us and were livelier. But I think we did well; it was a good test for us – and for me too.

"The groin is holding up. That makes me unbelievably happy!"

Head coach Lucien Favre added: "It was okay. It was a friendly with two different teams and with lots of young players.

"There's obviously a lot we still need to do – and it's still way too early to draw conclusions about the team.

"We had lots of clear goalscoring chances, especially in the opening half. Ahead of our trip to the USA we have another training session tomorrow, which will be followed by four sessions in Dortmund on Monday and Tuesday."

Durm excited for Terriers challenge

Erik Durm says he is delighted to have joined Premier League side Huddersfield Town after making the switch from Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

The 26-year-old is a former Mainz 05 defender who is comfortable on both flanks, and used to be a striker.

He joins the Terriers on a one-year contract after six years in Dortmund where he spent time under Huddersfield boss David Wagner.

Speaking to the Huddersfield website, the former German international, who has a 2014 World Cup winners medal, expressed his delight at the move.

He explained: "I’m very happy to join a club where I know the coach very well. The relationship between us was very good every time, so I’m very happy to be back.

"I’m very excited, I hear a lot about the Premier League and see a lot of games. Every game there is a lot of one-vs-one's against some of the best players in the world, I’m very happy to be a part of it now and I’m looking forward to the first game.

"I hear a lot about the fans, they create an atmosphere. Every player has a song – I hear from (Michael) Hefele – so I’m very excited to hear what they sing about me. I’m looking forward and really happy to play in front of these fans.”

Durm made 64 Bundesliga appearances in his time with BVB, and the club thanked the player following his departure.

Sporting Director Michael Zorc said: "We'd like to thank Erik Durm for his commitment to BVB and we wish him all the best for his fresh sporting start in the United Kingdom."

Huddersfield boss David Wagner, meanwhile, commented on his new acquisition.

He said: "It is not every day that you can bring a player of the quality of Erik to your Club. He is a World Cup winner and has played at the very highest level, so this is a fantastic day for Huddersfield Town.

“Obviously I know Erik well from our time together at Dortmund and he has all the qualities to be a great success in our ‘Terriers Identity’. He is a smart, determined character too. He's desperate to play and that is always a good thing for any Head Coach!"

Robben: Bayern want to achieve the maximum

Bayern Munich's veteran winger Arjen Robben says the club are putting every effort into pre-season training as they want to enjoy big success in the 2018/19 campaign.

Robben, who is entering his 10th season with the Bundesliga champions, believes the players in the side are never happy with their achievements and always want further silverware.

In 2017/18 the 34-year-old helped the Bavarians claim another league title with ease although they did miss out in the UEFA Champions League, losing out in the semi-finals to eventual winners Real Madrid.

As such, the former Netherlands international says the players are putting in the work to ensure they can compete strongly in all competitions in the upcoming season.

Speaking to the club's official website, he said: "When I train, I'm only training for myself. Not for the coach or for whoever. You have to be fit. You can only achieve a lot if you're fit, so you have to put all your energy into it.

"If you want to achieve something in life and in football, you have to work very hard and not get comfortable too soon. It's important that you build up a bit at the start. You need a good foundation, a good basis.

"At the moment it's working very well. We're working hard but I think that's exactly what we need in order to be properly fit for the season. That's why pre-season is so important. You have to work hard.

"The expectation is clear, not just for me but all of us, we want to achieve the maximum, we want to win trophies. We want to win at least one more trophy than last season.

"The pattern of the day is just eat, train, eat, sleep, train, sleep, train, eat, drink. Nothing else."

Vidal boost for Bayern

Arturo Vidal has returned to Bayern Munich training following successful knee surgery.

The 31-year-old Chile international was injured early on in 2018, suffering the blow in the first leg of Bayern's Champions League quarter-final win over Sevilla, and underwent an operation in April.

Vidal was able to perform some light training with his Bundesliga teammates at an open session at the club's training ground headed by assistant coach Robert Kovac as head coach Niko Kovac suffered a 'slight stomach upset'.

A brief statement from the German club read: "Arturo Vidal turned in a few laps on the grass for the first time after his knee surgery in April.

"His team-mate Rafinha performed a running session and a few fitness exercises after the demanding programme over the last few days.

"David Alaba underwent the obligatory fitness checks in the performance centre while his colleagues worked up a sweat."

Caligiuri: Champions League will challenge Schalke

Schalke midfielder Daniel Caligiuri admits the team will need to have an effective pre-season in order to prepare for the UEFA Champions League.

The Royal Blues are back in Europe's elite club competition for the first time since 2014/15, when they were knocked out by Real Madrid in the last 16, after finishing their 2017/18 Bundesliga campaign as runners-up behind Bayern Munich.

Caligiuri, who made 33 league appearances for Domenico Tedesco's side last season, says they are well aware of the extra challenge European football will add to their campaign.

"It was a very successful season for both me and the team. No one expected us to do as well as we did," he told the club's official website.

"When you get to the off-season you obviously have a bit of time to think about what challenges are to come - especially the Champions League.

"We have a lot of hard work left to do. As they say: 'It's easy to get to the top, but it's hard to stay there.' And we want to prove that we can do exactly that."

Asked about pre-season preparations, Caligiuri added: "We had the first two or three weeks off, which meant we could take a bit of time to recover and recuperate from a hard season.

"In the days after that, more and more physical activity was on the agenda. Everything is going according to plan for me so far."

BVB begin pre-season matches with Austria Vienna tie

Borussia Dortmund will play their opening match of pre-season preparations when they face Austria Vienna in a friendly at the Generali Arena on Friday evening.

The game signals the beginning of a sequence of seven friendly matches as Lucien Favre's men get ready for the 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign.

After the clash with Die Veilchen, Die Schwarzgelben then take on English champions Manchester City in the International Champions Cup on 21 July. They then meet Liverpool a day later before matching up against Benfica on 26 July in the same competition.

The pre-season games conclude with a friendly against France's Rennes before playing against the Serie A's Napoli and Lazio.

BVB's official website explained the first encounter against Vienna is one steeped in history, saying: "The two clubs have a long-lasting tradition of playing friendly matches.

"The first of their previous five encounters, which include two competitive matches in the UEFA Cup, took place in Dortmund in 1949, with the following four meetings (1960, 1968, 1979 and 2008) all taking place in the Austrian capital."

In team news ahead of the contest, Marco Reus, Roman Burki, Thomas Delaney, Raphael Guerreiro, Manuel Akanji, Shinji Kagawa, Lukasz Piszczek miss out due to having been on international duty at the 2018 World Cup with their respective nations. Meanwhile, Julian Weigl is ruled out with a groin problem.

Naldo looking forward to the Champions League

Schalke defender Naldo has no intention to hang up his boots and says he could play for "two or even three years in the Bundesliga".

The 35-year-old Brazilian was excellent as Schalke ended up as runners-up to league champions Bayern Munich last season - playing every single minute of the 2017/18 campaign.

It was the experienced former Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg player's 12th season in the German top-flight, and he is not thinking of retiring just yet.

Naldo was instrumental as The Royal Blues ended the season with the third-best defence, while also netting an impressive seven goals.

Speaking to Kicker, Naldo said: "My goal was to qualify for the Champions League, we did that, and I would be crazy if I missed it.

"I felt very well, but I’m at an age now where one has to pay close attention to his body both mentally, but especially physically.

“I believe I can play for two or even three years in the Bundesliga, if I continue to take good care of my body.”

Naldo admits that it was only his age that kept him from joining his compatriots at the World Cup in Russia this year.

He added: "When I consider how the second half of the Bundesliga, one of the strongest leagues in the world, went personally for me, I come to the conclusion that maybe my age was decisive in missing a call-up.

"I would have been very happy to be nominated, but also from afar, I kept my fingers crossed without resentment for my countrymen."

Looking ahead to the news season, Naldo concluded: "The league is looking at us more and more. The pressure is high, but we can’t consider it a burden under any circumstances. We have a strong team spirit and we have strengthened ourselves very well, our squad has improved."

Yarmolenko completes move to West Ham

West Ham have confirmed the signing of Andriy Yarmolenko to continue their signing spree since the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as the club's new manager.

Yarmolenko has joined the Hammers on a four-year contract from Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

The 28-year attacking midfielder becomes Pellegrini's fifth signing ahead of the new season and has already linked up with his new teammates in a training camp in Switzerland.

The club on Monday announced the signing of Jack Wilshere from Arsenal to join the likes Ryan Fredericks, Lukasz Fabianski and Issa Diop among the new faces at the club.

Yarmolenko told his new club's website: "West Ham is a big club with good fans and I am happy to come to play in the Premier League.

"The Premier League is the best league in the world and I know that an interesting project is being built here at West Ham. The team wants to achieve high things and I am excited for this challenge."

Leipzig looking to land Lookman

RB Leipzig are hoping to re-sign talented Everton attacker Ademola Lookman.

The 20-year-old former Charlton Athletic frontman spent the second half the 2017/18 season on loan with the Bundesliga side after struggling to impose himself with the Toffees.

But his five goals in 11 appearances for Leipzig in the German top-flight endeared him to club fans and management alike.

Everton have reportedly already turned down a £12million bid for the player, but sporting director Ralf Rangnick, who was named new first-team manager on Monday, is keen to complete a deal.

He told a press conference: "Bringing in three more players would be realistic.

"We're still in talks over Ademola Lookman – we want him back and he wants to come.”

Rangnick to keep seat warm for Nagelsmann

RB Leipzig have announced that Ralf Rangnick will return to the helm for the new season following the departure of Ralph Hasenhuttl in May.

Hasenhuttl parted ways with the Bulls despite having a year left on his contract, and they pulled off a coup a month later by announcing that Julian Nagelsmann would take over the reins at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

However, that left the Saxony outfit without a head coach for the upcoming season, although Jesse Marsch was expected to fill the post after he quit New York Red Bulls last week.

But Marsch has instead been confirmed as Rangnick's assistant and will remain a part of the coaching staff when Nagelsmann takes charge.

Rangnick will combine his role as sporting director with the first-team duties once more, as he did in 2015/16 when Leipzig won promotion to the Bundesliga.

Halilovic swaps Hamburg for Milan

Croatian prospect Alen Halilovic has brought an unhappy spell at Hamburg to an end by moving to Italy on a three-year contract with Milan.

The 22-year-old midfielder spent the last 18 months on loan at Las Palmas after playing just seven times for HSV in his first six months in Germany.

Halilovic enjoyed his return to Spain, where he scored two goals in 39 appearances across all competitions for the team from the Canary Islands.

The Croatia international left his homeland in 2014 to sign for Barcelona, but after making his debut in the Copa del Rey the following year, he moved to Hamburg in 2016 without getting another chance in the Blaugrana's first team.

Halilovic was not included in Zlatko Dalic's squad for the 2018 World Cup, but his country's youngest-ever capped player will be hoping to get his career back on track at the San Siro.

He joins fellow new arrivals Pepe Reina and Ivan Strinic in Gennaro Gattuso's squad for the 2018/19 season.

Gouweleeuw happy with Augsburg's new signings

Augsburg centre-back Jeffrey Gouweleeuw says he is pleased with the new additions to Fuggerstadter's squad for 2018/19, and is happy to remain at the club.

During the off-season so far, the Bundesliga outfit have brought in winger Andre Hahn, forward Julian Schieber, midfielder Fredrik Jensen as well as defender Felix Gotze.

The 26-year-old expressed some frustration towards the end of last season about the side needing some reinforcements in key departments, and at the time said he was open to moving elsewhere if the situation did not change.

However, it appears the Dutch star is now satisfied with the new signings and is hopeful the club can compete in the German top-flight next season.

Speaking to Kicker, the player said: "So far, the club has done a good job and I think we are stronger than last year.

"Of course I hope all the important players stay in Augsburg, so we have a very good one. Many have the feeling that we can achieve something together.

"Last season was good, but there was more in the end, I just do not want to be content with the relegation, we showed that we are not an underdog."

With the team from Bavaria finishing in 12th place in 2017/18, Gouweleeuw says he is content to stay though a good offer would always be entertained.

He concluded: "I feel very well at FC Augsburg, I usually stay. If there is an offer which is very good for me and for the club, we have to discuss that, of course, but I am very satisfied here."

Brighton sign Bernardo from Leipzig

Brighton have announced the signing of Brazilian defender Bernardo Fernandes da Silva Junior on a four-year contract from RB Leipzig.

The full-back joins after two seasons in the Bundesliga, having joined Leipzig from Red Bull Salzburg.

Bernardo told his new club's website: "I chose the club because they showed a big interest in me and my goal has always been to play in the Premier League because it's the biggest league in the world.

"I heard about the interest and then when I saw the fans, the club and the facilities and the sea, I knew it was the right place for me.

"I saw how the club did in their first season because everyone watches the league -- and they were very impressive.

"The club came up and embraced the stage and had a wonderful year, everyone was very impressed, and I wanted to become a part of that."

Brighton manager Chris Hughton said he was delighted with the signing of the 23-year-old.

"He is a strong, committed defender who can play on the left or right, and so his versatility gives us good options at the back," added the 59-year-old.

"For a young player, he already has good experience, having played in the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the Europa League.

"He is a good character and speaks numerous languages, and I'm sure he will fit in well with the rest of the squad."

Kovac's first Bayern training session well received

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac held his first official practice session with the first team squad on Wednesday at the Sabener Strasse training ground.

Bayern began their pre-season preparations on Monday in the performance centre, however, they only ventured out for ball work and conditioning drills on the field in midweek.

Sandro Wagner, Franck Ribery, Javi Martinez, Arjen Robben, Rafinha, Juan Bernat, Kingsley Coman, Renato Sanches, Christian Fruchtl and Sven Ulreich were the senior players on display as well as some upcoming young talents.

The German champions do not yet have a full squad available due to international commitments at the World Cup, and injuries to certain stars as well. 

Nonetheless, Bayern's official website reports that a considerable media presence was in attendance for Kovac's first session in charge, and it went according to plan for all involved.

The site said: "In black boots and a white cap, the 46-year-old posed for the cameras with his brother and assistant coach Robert, before addressing his squad and sending them to warm up.

"After a few laps of the field as well as stretching and strength exercises, the balls finally came out. It soon became clear that the Munich men haven't lost their touch over the summer break.

"Kovac watched the various drills closely and spoke a lot to the players. He seemed pleased with the high tempo and application shown, ending the 90-minute session with a smile."

Klose excited about new role at Bayern Munich

Former Germany striking legend Miroslav Klose says he is looking forward to the challenge of being head coach of Bayern Munich's U17 side.

Klose was an assistant to Joachim Low with Die Mannschaft during the nation's failed bid to defend their crown at the World Cup in Russia, however, he will now step into his new role which was confirmed in May.

The retired 40-year-old forward boasts an impressive pedigree as a player as he is Germany's all-time leading scorer with 71 strikes in 137 matches.

In addition, Klose played for the Bundesliga giants from 2007 until 2011 scoring 53 times in 149 appearances.

As such, he will now no doubt hope to share his experience with the next generation of Bayern starlets coming through the development ranks.

Speaking to the club's official website, the Opole-born mentor outlined his plans for the team, saying: "It's primarily about getting to know how to deal with each individual player. At the same time, the lads have to get used to me too, of course.

"I've picked up a lot over the course of my playing career, the past two years with the DFB and the various coaching courses. I'm now trying to translate that onto the pitch and pass it on to the lads. We'll have to wait and see how quickly I can put it into practice. I do feel positive about it.

"The Bayern DNA has always been in me. After my time in Rome, I returned to Munich with my family. It's a fantastic city and we really feel at home here. And it's even better now I've got the chance to work as a coach at FC Bayern."

Kovac excited to be back at Bayern

New Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac has revealed his delight to have signed for the Bundesliga champions.

The 46-year-old replaces Jupp Heynckes for the new German season having previously coached Croatia U21 and Croatia.

He joins after leading Eintracht Frankfurt to DFB-Pokal glory last season as well as an eighth place league finish and a spot in the Europa League.

Kovac is a former Bayern midfielder, having played for the club from 2001 to 2003 where he won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Intercontinental Cup.

Speaking to the club's official website, the new manager said: "I've been away a while, but I'm back.

"I'm looking forward to the task ahead, and I'm glad FC Bayern have decided to appoint me as coach. I hope I can repay the club."

He added: "We have to get to the required fitness level, improve in terms of technique and tactics and perhaps bed in an additional system. There's lot of work ahead.

"I know what makes this place tick and that you have to be successful. The coaching staff and I are prepared for it. We know what we have to do. If we succeed we can perhaps clinch one or two trophies."

Gnabry proud to be at Bayern

Serge Gnabry will play for Bayern Munich next season after being unveiled by the Bundesliga champions this week.

The 22-year-old German international was signed by Bayern last season but was sent to Hoffenheim on loan.

A former Stuttgart youth player, Gnabry joined English Premier League side Arsenal in 2016, but struggled to break into the first side, and after a spell with West Bromwich Albion, he returned to Germany with Werder Bremen.

Having impressed during the 2016/17 season, Gnabry was snapped up by Bayern, and he continued his good form last term, scoring 10 times and creating seven goals in 22 Bundesliga matches, to help Hoffenheim secure Champions League football for the first time in their history.

Speaking to the club's website, Gnabry said: "It's certainly a proud moment.

"FC Bayern are a club that everyone knows about from when they're a child - a club with huge success. It's an honour for me to play for Bayern."

He added: "My targets in a nutshell: Clinch as many titles as possible"

New Bayern boss Niko Kovac said: "We played Hoffenheim twice last season, Serge scored a goal and set up another one against us. I'm glad he's on our side now."

 

Gunners announce arrival of Sokratis

New Arsenal manager Unai Emery has added more steel to his defence with the acquisition of Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund.

The Greece international heads to England after a seven-year spell in Germany, the last five of which were at Signal Iduna Park, where he featured regularly in the UEFA Champions League.

Sokratis has penned a "long-term" contract with the Gunners to become the third new arrival under Emery, who succeeded Arsene Wenger at the end of last season.

All three signings have been in defence, with right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner joining from Juventus, while goalkeeper Bernd Leno was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen.

The 30-year-old defender is reunited with former Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the Emirates Stadium, the duo having won the DFB-Pokal during their time together at BVB.

"I feel very good, it is my first day here, everything is special, it is a beautiful moment. I am very happy," Sokratis told the club's official website.

"Arsenal is one of the three biggest clubs in the Premier League, it has a lot of fans, a very big history and I am very happy and for the next year I will be here to help the team."

Bayern begin pre-season training at Sabener Strasse

Bayern Munich have confirmed that pre-season preparations are set to get underway on Monday at the club's Sabener Strasse training complex.

The resumption of training sees the Bavarians resume competitive action 44 days since their last outing in the DFB Cup final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

In addition, the first day of practice for the 2018/19 campaign will feature coach Niko Kovac take his first session in charge of the Bundesliga giants, since leaving Frankfurt at the end of the last campaign.

Meanwhile, the team's official website have said that around 12 players will be present for Kovac to work with though certain stars are out due to injury, and because of international commitments.

Bayern said: "Kovac will be able to greet around a dozen first team players for the opening session in the afternoon (on Monday), including veterans Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Rafinha, as well as the returning Renato Sanches.

"New signing Serge Gnabry, who will be officially presented in the morning alongside Kovac at the Allianz Arena, will still be taking things easy after the muscle injury he suffered at the end of last season.

"He'll be undertaking a personal fitness programme like Arturo Vidal after his knee operation in April.

"Kovac will also have to wait to work with David Alaba. The left-back has been given an extra few days off after his appearances for Austria in June and will return to action on 11 July.

"Bayern's World Cup participants will also be absent for a while and return bit-by-bit to training during pre-season."