Gareth Bale hits hat-trick to become Wales’ record goal scorer

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Gareth Bale has become the record goal scorer in Wales’ history after he scored his 29th international goal in a 6-0 win against China.

Bale beat Welsh legend Ian Rush’s long-standing record of 28 goals, with his first international hat-trick.

The Real Madrid forward’s every touch was cheered by the Chinese crowd, who have treated him like a god since he arrived earlier in the week.

It was the perfect start to Ryan Giggs’ reign as Wales manager, as Bale’s 3 goals, along with strikes from Sam Vokes (2) and Harry Wilson ensuring the side’s biggest win since August 1996, when Wales beat San Marino by the same scoreline.

“I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales,” Bale said. “It is a massive honour.

“I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honour and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career.

“On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic to leave Manchester United to go to LA Galaxy

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Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is to leave Manchester United after it was agreed to end his contact early, and speculation is rife that he could sign for MLS side LA Galaxy.

United manager Jose Mourinho has agreed to release Ibrahimovic early from his deal – which was set to expire in the summer – leaving him free to join another side.

Ibrahimovic joined United in 2016 and scored 29 goals in 53 appearances. However, he suffered a serious knee injury last April and has only made 7 appearances since, and none since Boxing Day.

“It is time to move on after two fantastic seasons with Manchester United,” Ibrahimovic wrote on Instagram.

“Great things also come to an end. Thank you to the club, the fans, the team, the coach, the staff and everyone who shared with me this part of my history.”

Ibrahimovic has previously been linked to a move to the MLS, and LA Galaxy have had a long standing interest in him and have previously said they would make him the highest paid player in the MLS.

There is also speculation that he might reverse his decision to retire from international football and make himself available for selection for Sweden’s World Cup squad.

Manchester United and Juventus target summer move for Arsenal star Hector Bellerin

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Manchester United and Italian giants Juventus are set to battle for the signature of Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin this summer.

Juventus have been previously linked with the 23-year-old, while Manchester United have made enquiries about his potential availability, according to The Mirror.

Bellerin has been linked with a move away from Arsenal, and boss Arsene Wenger could be tempted to sell as he would have a high transfer value – he is contracted to the club until 2023 – and with the Gunners needing funds to rebuild the squad in the summer.

Both Juventus and Manchester United are in the market for a right-back in the summer. For the Old Lady, Stephan Lichtsteiner is set to depart in the summer and they don’t have an established back-up. Similarly at United, Antonio Valencia usually fills that role, but he is aging and has come in for criticism from manager Jose Mourinho.

Bellerin, who has been a regular for Arsenal since the 2013/14 season, was linked with a move back to boyhood club Barcelona last summer, but a move failed to materialize.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah a £200 million transfer target Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris St-Germain

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Liverpool are facing a battle to hold on to leading scorer Mohamed Salah this summer as European giants are lining up to try and poach him – potentially for a world record £200 million fee.

Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain and Barcelona are all reportedly keen on signing the Egyptian, who has scored 37 goals in 43 appearances for club and country this season, according to a report in The Sun.

Salah, 25, has been compared to Argentina great Lionel Messi recently – he has also scored more goals than him this season – for his performances for Liverpool. In his most recent match, he scored 4 goals against Watford.

In the current transfer market, it is thought it may take a world record fee – the current mark was set by PSG last summer when they paid Barcelona £198 million for Neymar – to prise Salah from Liverpool. Selling him for that much would be a huge return on the £34.3 million the Reds paid Roma last summer for him.

However, every player has a price, as Liverpool proved when they accepted Barcelona’s £145 million bid in January for Brazilian forward Philippe Coutinho, having rebuffed several previous offers from the Spanish side.

Should Liverpool take the money – and it is surely speculation at the moment – they would have enormous spending power, given that they still have about £70 million left in the kitty from the Coutinho deal.

Of course, if Salah went to Real, it would mean they would drop their interest in Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Tottenham striker Harry Kane. But then that might mean one of Europe’s other giants would come in for them.

Whatever happens, it seems like this summer will be another one of frenetic transfer activity.

Gianluigi Buffon puts off Italy retirement in tribute to Davide Astori

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Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has put off his international retirement for now to play in Italy’s upcoming friendly internationals to honour the late Fiorentina captain Davide Astori.

Buffon had originally announced his international retirement – after 175 caps – last November after Italy had been knocked out of the World Cup. However, he has answered interim Azzurri boss Luigi Di Biagio’s call to play in friendlies against Argentina and England.

He also accepted the call in part because he wanted to pay tribute to Astori, who died suddenly aged 31 on March 4. “He’s a reason why I’m here,” Buffon said. “I wanted to present and respond to this feeling.”

Buffon also thought he may have let his country down had he not responded to Di Biagio’s call, adding that he always felt a sense of responsibility.

This may be a final call-up for Buffon, as the veteran stopper – now 40 – is contemplating retiring from the game completely at the end of the season.