RelatedPostsNo Content Available Virgil Van Dijk threatens to eclipse fellow European stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to lift FIFA’s The Best Player award on Monday, to set himself up as favourite for this year’s Ballon d’Or.Van Dijk, Ronaldo and Messi are the three men’s finalists for The Best Player award, with the winner to be announced on Monday in a star-studded ceremony in Milan’s famous opera house La Scala.The towering Dutch defender helped Liverpool to the Champions League trophy last season and is well-positioned having already won the UEFA player of the year award.Since The Best award was created in 2016, the winner has gone on to also lift the coveted Ballon d’Or, which will be unveiled on December 2.Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won both awards last year to end Ronaldo and Messi’s ten-year domination.In the past three years the podiums for both awards have been almost identical apart from Egyptian Mohamed Salah’s third place in The Best in 2018, a spot occupied by France’s Antoine Griezmann in the Ballon d’Or.Based on Liverpool’s success last season it could be Van Dijk’s turn to become the first defender since Italy’s former World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.The 28-year-old proved himself among the best defenders in the world for Liverpool and the Dutch national side who reached the Nations League final.Liverpool also missed out on the Premier League title by just one point behind Manchester City.Both Messi and Ronaldo have won FIFA’s award in different guises five times each.Former Real Madrid star Ronaldo’s six-year reign as the Champions League top scorer ended last season.The 34-year-old scored six goals in Juventus’s European campaign, including an incredible treble against Atletico Madrid, before they were eliminated in the quarter-finals.Ronaldo also won the Nations League with Portugal and his first Serie A title with Juventus.Messi was top scorer in the Champions League last season with 12 goals before Barcelona were eliminated by Liverpool in the semi-finals.The Argentine was also the top European scorer with 36 goals and won La Liga title with Barcelona. Tags: Cristiano RonalldoLa Scala
RelatedPosts Lampard: I still have confidence in Tomori Rennes want Fikayo Tomori, £25m for Mendy Lampard: Tomori won’t leave Chelsea Chelsea boys Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori have linked up with the England squad at St. George’s Park ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Abraham is in the squad for a second time, while 21-year-old defender Tomori is set to make his debut after a strong start to the Premier League season under Frank Lampard.Blues midfielders Mason Mount and Ross Barkley are also in Gareth Southgate’s 24-man squad. The call-up is reward for a fine start to the season for both Abraham and Tomori, with the previous leading the Premier League goal scoring charts with eight, alongside Sergio Aguero. Tomori has also impressed with several astute defensive displays and he himself got among the goals, firing in a fine long range effort against Wolves, a game in which Abraham bagged three. Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash with Southampton, Lampard revealed that the pair had “big smiles on their faces” at training after their call ups were announced. But the Chelsea boss warned them: “It is great news for them, but as I keep saying that it is just the start. The minute any standards drop or complacency kicks in then they will all suffer. “I am pleased they smile, they need to take this now, something to add to their armoury and say: ‘Okay I am an England player, I am in the England squad. I need to show even more, game in and game out for us.’”England are aiming to maintain their perfect qualifying record so far this campaign. Tags: Fikayo Tomori
RelatedPosts UEFA Nations League: Barella sinks Holland as Italy get back on winning trail Man U complete £40m Van de Beek deal We understand decision not to award league title to us — Ajax Amsterdam Tragic Ajax star Abdelhak ‘Appie’ Nouri has stunned doctors by miraculously waking up after spending two years and nine months in a coma. The midfielder sadly suffered severe and permanent brain damage when he collapsed on the pitch during a cardiac arrhythmia attack in the summer of 2017. But Dutch website AD say Nouri is now awake and that he “sleeps, eats, frowns and burps but is very dependent.” “Good,” said his brother when asked about the Ajax ace’s condition. “He has not been home very long, we take care of him there now. I must say that since he is at home it is going much better than before in the hospital. “He is aware of where he is, he is back in a familiar environment with his family. He’s no longer in a coma. He’s just awake. He sleeps, he sneezes, he eats, he burps, but it’s not like he gets out of bed. “He’s very bedridden and still very dependent on us. On his good days there is a form of communication, for example, confirmation with his eyebrows or a smile. But you notice that he can’t last that very long. “We talk to him like he’s not sick. We take him into our conversations and we watch football with him in the living room, for example. Then he watches. You notice that he likes that very much. “He often shows emotions. Sometimes he is emotional, but often there is also a smile. That does us good. That makes you really appreciate a smile.” Former Ajax teammate Frenkie De Jong recently revealed that Nouri helped him decide which club he should join on leaving the Amsterdam outfit. The playmaker eventually made a £68 million move to La Liga champions Barcelona but not before he had received Nouri’s blessing on the transfer. Then when De Jong was choosing between PSG and Barcelona in the summer, he visited Nouri at his home: “I started to have doubts. Then Appie’s mother came in and asked him: ‘Where should Frenkie go?’ “She named the clubs and said: ‘Should he go to Barcelona?’ Then Appie signalled with his eyebrows to agree. That was a very nice moment for me and the family.”Tags: Abdelhak NouriAjax AmsterdamCardiac ArrhythmiaHolland
RelatedPosts Lampard: I still have confidence in Tomori Napoli Coach: Osimhen young lad with old brain Mane double eases Liverpool to win over 10-man Chelsea Lille boss Christophe Galtier has revealed that Victor Osimhen will be sold during the next transfer window.Having scored 18 goals during his first campaign at Stade Pierre Mauroy, the 21-year-old has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool. While he did not name clubs who held an interest in the Nigerian, Galtier acknowledged that the striker, as well as Gabriel Magalhaes, would move on in the coming months.Speaking at a press conference, Galtier said: “Regarding Victor and Gabriel, yes, I’ve known for a long time that they’re leaving.“They’re working hard with us in the meantime. We’re working on the players who are currently here and those likely to replace them. Of course, the club is working to replace [Osimhen].”Napoli, who have also been credited as admirers of Osimhen, are said to have agreed a deal for Gabriel.Tags: Ligue 1LiverpoolLOSC LilleMachester UnitedStade Pierre MauroyVictor Osimhen
ALEX MCLEISH admits he is facing his “biggest test in football” to bring success to Aston Villa but insists he has no intention of quitting despite continued opposition from fans. He continued: “Rangers was a very tough challenge as well because they expect to win every single week, every single game. It was a different kind of challenge there, if you like. “There was a spell at Rangers when we weren’t winning and again it was difficult with the finances at times. “We offloaded a lot of quality players one summer and we didn’t really do the right thing replacing all of them but then, the next season, we did and it was all rosy in the garden again. “I knew when I came to Villa that there were going to be some demanding times ahead and that changing the squad around would take time. But I took the challenge up and I’m certainly not going to quit it now. “I want a bit of respite and I know how hard I work here. I’ve not got a magic wand and I don’t think there are a lot of managers who could do a lot better than the job I am doing just now.” In terms of coping with the pressure and the negative reaction of fans, McLeish said: “I know you wouldn’t like it! Until you have walked in another man’s shoes you don’t know what it feels like. “By the same token I don’t know what pressure you (the media) are under so I have to respect what you guys are doing. I am used to this business and while no manager will say it (having the fans against you) is not a problem, of course it is. But my goal is to make the Villa fans happy.” Press Association McLeish has experienced the high pressure of managing Rangers and Scotland in addition to Birmingham, but regards changing the current situation at Villa as his stiffest challenge. McLeish, who replaced Gerrard Houllier last summer, said: “Is this my biggest test in football? Yes, it probably would be.”
Just The Judge, narrowly denied by Sky Lantern in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, is among 18 remaining entries for the Etihad Airways-sponsored Irish version at the Curragh on Sunday. Trained by Charlie Hills, the filly lost her unbeaten record at Newmarket and connections are keen to stick to a mile. Big Break missed Newmarket on account of the fast ground, with trainer Dermot Weld hoping there is rain in the build-up to the Irish Classic. Aidan O’Brien’s Moth, who caught the eye when running on into third at Newmarket and has been strongly fancied for the Oaks at Epsom, is still in the shake-up for the Guineas. O’Brien’s Snow Queen stayed on pleasingly into fifth and may also run, along with stablemates Just Pretending and Hanky Panky. Richard Hannon’s Maureen was just behind Snow Queen in sixth, while the Eddie Lynam-trained Viztoria is also in the frame but has never competed over a mile. Newmarket Guineas eighth Masarah remains in the hunt for the Clive Brittain team, with the Elaine Burke-trained Exactement still entered. John Oxx has left in What Style and Harasiya, with Andy Oliver having supplemented Dubaya, who could join stablemate Uleavemebreathless. Jim Bolger also has a couple in contention in Rehn’s Nest and Bunairgead. Mizzava and Harpist complete the list ahead of Friday’s declaration stage. Press Association
“For the last two months of the season my groin has felt quite tight, but I wanted to play through the pain and finish the season,” said Britton. “I missed parts of training in that time but it was necessary to ensure I was available for the games, although I did struggle a little bit in the last four to six weeks. “I’ve had one hernia since December, and a scan around four weeks or so ago showed I had another one. “So I will be flying out to Germany with Kate on June 2 and I’ll have the operation two days later before flying back on the sixth. “I’ve had a hernia operation before, around 2005, so I know the procedure. “It means I will come in during the summer to do some rehab which will make sure I’m ready for pre-season training. “Next season will be huge for us as we will be involved in four competitions, so I want to make sure I’m fit and ready when we report back for pre-season.” Swansea midfielder Leon Britton is to travel to Germany next month to undergo a double hernia operation. It is hoped the procedure will ensure the 30-year-old is fit in time to return for the start of pre-season training in July, ahead of a campaign which will see the Swans compete in the Europa League after their Capital One Cup triumph. Britton will head to Munich with Swansea head physiotherapist Kate Rees for the surgery, having played through the pain barrier during the latter part of the season. Press Association
Robert Rock already has one undeserved “winner’s” cheque from the Irish Open – but could claim another for real at Carton House this weekend. Despite holding off Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win the Abu Dhabi Championship last year, Rock’s biggest payday remains the first prize of 500,000 euros he collected at Baltray in 2009, even though he lost out to Shane Lowry in a play-off. Lowry was unable to claim it as he was still an amateur at the time, but both players were in contention for the title four years on as the third round progressed without star names Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke. Ireland’s four major winners had all missed the halfway cut, although McIlroy and McDowell could still be seen practising at the venue, but Lowry began the day just two shots behind leaders Rock and Peter Uihlein. Uihlein, a former world number one amateur who won the Madeira Islands Open last month, made the ideal start with a birdie on the first and missed a good chance for another on the second after an excellent approach from a fairway bunker. But the 23-year-old then ran up a double-bogey five on the third, fluffing a chip from an awkward lie just outside a bunker and then missing from two feet after an excellent second attempt. Rock had been in the same fairway bunker on the second and saved par with two putts from just off the back of the green, while he also made par on the third from more sand. A birdie on the fifth then took the 36-year-old to 10 under par and a share of the lead with Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, who had birdied the second, fourth, fifth and ninth to be out in 32. France’s Raphael Jacquelin, winner of the Spanish Open after a record-equalling nine-hole play-off, and Lyoness Open winner Joost Luiten were a shot behind, with Lowry another two strokes back after a birdie on the second was cancelled out by a bogey on the sixth. Press Association
Their executive chairman Dravko Mamic has revealed in the Croatian media that Spurs are in negotiations over the two 17-year-olds. He told dalmacijanews.com: “The deal with Tottenham is still under negotiation, nothing has yet been done.” Tottenham are in talks with Dinamo Zagreb over teenage talents Alen Halilovic and Tin Jedvaj, according to the Croatian club. Press Association Mamic added: “We hope that the transfers of Halilovic and Jedvaj can be completed in the best way possible, but the transfer is not yet complete.” The reports suggests midfielder Halilovic, who has been touted as the new Luka Modric, and defender Jedvaj would cost the north London club a total of 20 million euro (£17.1million).
Press Association He told the Chronicle: “I’m not concerned about any of them slipping away. I think that we are in the market still. We will pay what we think is the right price.” Newcastle have consistently refused to budge on their valuation of a player since adopting their now tried and tested approach to transfers, and have seen a series of potential signings go elsewhere as a result. However, their offer for Gomis remains on the table after Lyon rejected their latest bid, while they have been encouraged in their quest to land Aston Villa’s Bent, although Fulham too are maintaining an interest in the England international. Remy turned down the chance to join the Magpies in January, but suffered relegation with QPR and appears to be available once again. But owner Mike Ashley continues to look for value and there is little prospect of the club paying what they consider to be over the odds for players. Pardew said: “We have done that ever since we have been here. We have always managed to get somebody over the line and I think we will this time. They are all very much on the radar. We will pursue them until we get them.” Pardew was at least able to welcome Papiss Cisse back into the fold on Tuesday night as the Senegal international returned from his exile and scored in a 2-0 friendly victory at St Mirren wearing the club’s new Wonga shirt. It was Muslim Cisse’s first outing since he agreed to end his boycott of the sponsor’s branding on religious grounds. A delighted Pardew said: “All strikers need to score goals. It gives them that added confidence. It was a fabulous goal and I was very pleased with it. He was under a lot of pressure last night. We love him and we embraced him. He worked so hard. Alan Pardew has warned that Newcastle will not be held to ransom as they continue their pursuit of their striking targets. “That was a reflection of it all last night because you don’t score a goal like that without working hard. Fair play to him because he hasn’t been around the group this pre-season.” Meanwhile, midfielder Dan Gosling is ready to fight for his future at St James’ Park after seeing a proposed move to promoted Crystal Palace fall through earlier this month. He told the club’s official website, www.nufc.co.uk: “There was obviously something last week which was meant to be happening, but it didn’t go through, so I’m still a Newcastle player and happy to be a Newcastle player. “I love being here, the fans are great with me and I just want to continue playing football. We have a very talented group of players at this club, but every time I get the opportunity to play, I will give it everything I’ve got.” The Magpies hope to hold talks with Darren Bent’s advisors this week, while their offer for Lyon’s Bafetimbi Gomis remains on the table and they continue to investigate the possibility of a loan move for QPR’s Loic Remy. Progress has been slow to date with director of football Joe Kinnear as yet unable to deliver on his bullish promise of an early breakthrough following his appointment. However, Pardew is still hopeful of getting the men he wants, but only if the deal is right.