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Athletic Bilbao

Inside Spain: Xavi Hernandez gone, Toni Kroos gone, more to leave and Leverkusen duo to arrive



Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.

If Barcelona hadn’t sunk far enough in recent years, their timing with Xavi Hernandez’s sacking was far from ideal. Just over 24 hours before their Femeni side take on Lyon in the Champions League final, and a month to the day after they had confirmed he would continue next season.

Former Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick will come in for Xavi by all accounts, and it looks as if that will help in their pursuit of Joshua Kimmich. It has not helped in terms of their image though, with the club being universally panned for their treatment of Xavi, as pointed out by Sevilla manager Quique Sanchez Flores.


That isn’t the only major change in Spain this summer, with seven managerial changes already confirmed. Meanwhile perhaps the most heartfelt departure is for Toni Kroos, who after a decade at Real Madrid announced he would be leaving. The ridiculous thing is, he’s probably still their best midfielder, and may go out with the Champions League in his hands. Carlo Ancelotti said that ideally everyone would retire like this, but what Kroos is doing takes balls.

It looks now, in part due to Kroos’ decision, that Luka Modric will stay. Real Madrid do not look as if they will try to sign a replacement for Kroos, but following reports that Florian Wirtz is their top target for 2025, Xabi Alonso is also on his way next summer, according to those who were in Dublin to witness their Europa League final defeat to Atalanta.

Elsewhere, Giorgi Mamardashvili appears to be closing in on a move to Newcastle United, but the Valencia goalkeeper is also in the frame for Atletico Madrid should Jan Oblak move on. Real Betis defender Chadi Riad will move to Crystal Palace on Monday for a fee of €14m, and the good news is for Liverpool that they can outbid Real Madrid for Leny Yoro, but doing so to Paris Saint-Germain might be trickier.

In the bizarre story of the week, Athletic Club manager Ernesto Valverde revealed that Inaki Williams has been playing with a shard of glass in his foot for the past two years, which they only discovered last month, after he complained of pain in his foot.



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