UEFA Warns Clubs Could Face Exclusion From Champions League if Seasons are Abandoned

​UEFA have suggested that clubs might not be accepted into next season’s Champions League if they haven’t qualified in traditional fashion, reaffirming their desire to see the 2019/20 football season completed.

Football authorities in England and Europe initially hoped to have seasons concluded by the end of June, but the continued effects of the coronavirus pandemic has further cast doubt over whether or not football can resume as soon as initially expected.

Premier League Match Ball

In a letter sent on Thursday evening to Europe’s national FA’s, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, along with officials Andrea Agnelli and Lars-Christer Olsson wrote,​ as quoted by the Guardian“We are confident that football can restart in the months to come – with conditions that will be dictated by public authorities – and believe that any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.

“Since participation in UEFA club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfilment of such condition. 

“UEFA reserves the right to assess the entitlement of clubs to be admitted to the 2020-21 UEFA club competitions, in accordance with the relevant applicable competition regulations.”

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The letter recognised the health risk posed by the coronavirus, but further explained that UEFA have a group working on a proposal that would see leagues completed in summer months, now that​ Euro 2020 has been postponed for a year: “Closely following the development of the current situation, the calendar working group will indicate as soon as possible, and ideally by mid-May, which of the plans can be enacted for the completion of the season without leaving anyone behind. 

“Stopping competitions should really be the last resort after acknowledging that no calendar alternative would allow to conclude the season.”

The letter comes after Belgian officials made the decision to ​cancel the rest of the Jupiler Pro League for the 2019/20 season and use the current standings as final, becoming the first top-flight European league to take such measures.

SOCCER JPL D20 KAA GENT VS CLUB BRUGGE

Consequently, Club Brugge have been crowned champions, while second place Gent are also set to qualify for the Champions League. 

However, with UEFA committed to wanting league and European competitions finished in full, both of their places in the competition for next season could be in doubt.

Let’

Jonathan David: 7 Things to Know About Gent’s Canadian Wonderkid Linked With Arsenal

​Gent’s Jonathan David is quickly becoming one of European football’s most in-demand strikers ahead of the summer transfer window.

The 20-year-old is the top goalscorer in Belgium’s top flight this season, and he’s already established himself at international level with Canada.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Inter are among a group of teams across the continent who have been tracking David’s progress this season, with the youngster expected to be on the move once the transfer window re-opens.

So before he makes that move, here’s seven things you’ll want to know about the Canada international…


New York, Haiti & Canada

SOCCER JPL PO1 D8 STANDARD VS KAA GENT

David might play his international football for Canada, but the 20-year-old was actually born in Brooklyn, New York. That’s in America, in case you weren’t sure. The United States of them. 

At three months only, David moved to Haiti – both his parents are from the Caribbean island, which borders the Dominican Republic – but aged six his family left Port-au-Prince and emigrated to Canada.

Attending a French-speaking school, David actually says his time at the Louis-Riel. public school has had a huge part to play in his success. Interestingly, David never watched Canadian football – or even Major League Soccer – as he was so focused on pursuing a career in Europe.


He Only Moved to Europe in 2018

Friendly"PAOK Saloniki v KAA Gent"

Starting to play football aged 10, David spent eight years playing in Canada – his three clubs in North America were all based in Ottowa – before joining Gent on a free transfer.

Arriving in Belgium in January 2018, the 20-year-old has already made 92 senior appearances for club and country during his short career.


International Records

Jonathan David

David made his international debut for Canada in August 2018, but in his first full calendar year for his country, the then-teenager scored a record number of goals.

He scored against French Guiana and Cuba in the CONCACAF Nations League, but it was David’s six goals at the Gold Cup last year – he finished as the competition’s top goalscorer – which helped him set a new record for international goals scored by a Canadian in one year. 


Canada’s 4th Top Goalscorer Ever

Jonathan David

Despite only making 12 international appearances in his career, David is already Canada’s fourth-highest goalscorer of all time.

With 11 international goals to his name already, David is only behind Ali Gerba (15), Tosaint Ricketts (17) and Dwayne de Rosario (19). Whaaaaaaaaaat?


He’ll Set a New Belgian Transfer Record

Jonathan David

With David tipped to leave Gent in the near future, the Canada international is expected to be sold for a fee in the region of €25m – matching Belgium’s top flight transfer record.

But Gent’s manager Miche Lowagie told Nieuwsblad: “We don’t need the money. If you want to win titles you can’t sell your best players all the time. We will not let David leave for €20m or even €25m.”

The club’s director of football Michel Louwagie has also confirmed that Gent rejected league-record offers for David during the January transfer window.


He Could Become Gent’s All-Time Top Goalscorer

SOCCER JPL D26 KAS EUPEN VS KAA GENT

With just two years under his belt at Gent, the 20-year-old could become the club’s all-time top goalscorer this season.

With 37 goals to his name already, he’s still some way behind teammate Laurent Depoitre (46) – remember him from Huddersfield? – but David still has three more games this season before the Pro League breaks for the playoffs.

Gent could also continue their run in this season’s Europa League, although they’ll need to overturn a one-goal deficit when they host AS Roma.


He Might Not Join a ‘Big Club’

Jonathan David

David has already been linked with a high-profile move to one of European football’s biggest clubs, but speaking about Arsenal’s interest specifically, his agent Nick Mavromaras says moving to north London could be ‘a step too big’ for him at this stage of his career.

Mavromaras said: “The Belgian league is fantastic for young players, but the moment for the next step arrives and this will come in the summer. His final target is to play for one of the five best clubs in the world. But for now, we have to stay humble. The next step in his career can’t be too big.

For example, Arsenal. There we speak about the top five in the Premier League. The next step has to be an intelligent one. There, this would possibly be a step too big at the moment.”


For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!

Let’

Toby Cudworth’s Draft XI: Total Football Purists & One Bad Bastard in Midfield

Last week at 90min towers, thanks to our two good friends the internet and webcam, seven highly esteemed football writers, journalists and all around swell guys took part in an American-style draft.

Some of us had a plan, some of us had no idea what we were doing and some of us were intent on simply winning the millennial public vote (ahem, ​Scott Saunders).

So in a throwback to my Year 10 days at secondary school, where I spent most of my time imagining dream teams and drooling over how good Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro were, I assembled what can only be described as the greatest team of all time.

We have pace, power, flair, versatility and, most importantly, a bruising leader of men ready to kick six bells of sherry trifle out of the opposition. Shame I didn’t get Nesta or Cannavaro, mind.

Still, want to see who I did get? Of course you do, so here you go!


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer (GK): – You’ll get the idea very early on here that my main aim was to play the most beautiful football imaginable.

Intricate passing of the ball, slick movement between the lines and not surrendering possession for a single minute of the game. To do that, I needed a keeper who is good with the ball at his feet – so why not pick the man who revolutionised the sweeper keeper role that we now all use on Football Manager?

Yes, everyone else groaned and said ‘ooooh he has a mistake in him’, which may ring true – but ​Neuer’s also a bloody exceptional shot-stopper and has a wing span that I’m reliably told is equivalent to an Airbus A-380.

Who knew!

Philipp Lahm (RB): To make any system work effectively, you need efficiency, reliability and more than one German.

So, it seemed obvious to me that Lahm was the natural fit at right back – as he can slot into midfield when we’re stroking the ball around, can charge up and down like a mad man (if he wants) and he’ll win it back if by some miracle, possession is surrendered.

Gaetano Scirea (RCB): Granted, Scirea is not your typical centre back. He can tackle, yes, but it’s his distribution and ability to step into midfield with the ball that I wanted. Not only was he a phenomemal libero, he was as cool as a cucumber – a perfect recipe for this side.

Some will say that his gentle nature and clean disciplinary record counts against him, but I’d argue that it just made him a bloody good bloke.

Marcel Desailly

Marcel Desailly (LCB): My confidence in this defence owes to the fact that if you skip past Scirea, there’s no chance in hell that you’re getting past Marcel Desailly.

Strong in the tackle, ridiculously quick and a real powerhouse of a man, the Frenchman adds the steel and determination needed to hold this backline together. The most beautiful thing about this partnership is that Desailly is not just a leader and a great defender, he’s also an exceptional passer of the ball.

Just what Dr. Cudworth ordered.

Ruud Krol (LB): It’s a funny thing to say, but when you look back over the course of time, there haven’t actually been that many great left backs.

We’ve seen plenty of very, very good ones but not many can stick their head over the parapet and say ‘I was great!’.

One who can, though, is Netherlands legend Ruud Krol. As this team evolves, you’ll know exactly why I picked Krol to patrol the left hand side, but I’ll run through some other reasons nonetheless.

A) Very versatile and can cover lots of different positions.

B) Was a part of the Dutch ‘total football’ revolution in the 1970s.

C) Could do basically everything you’d want him to do – run quickly, tackle, pass and shoot.

D) His name is Ruud.


Midfielders

Roy Keane (CM): I’ve already explained why we’re not going to lose the ball.

But if we do, here’s the man that will get it back. If he doesn’t, he’ll chop you down and give you a tongue lashing while you’re on the deck. My kind of guy and my kind of captain.

 - Barcelona

Johan Neeskens (CM): Every team worth its salt needs a good box-to-box midfielder.

One who can be filled up with 125 litres of petrol, toddle around for the entirety of the game, be impossible to pick up and also close down the opposition at every opportunity.

Next to Keane, it’s a dream partnership – and one that will scare any opposition.

Ruud Gullit (AM): Did I already mention the versatility of this team and the fact that everybody can basically play anywhere?

Good, because when it comes to Gullit, he really can play everywhere. Intelligent, fast, with a tremendous eye for a pass, there’s really not a lot that the Dutchman couldn’t do.

He’s also a 100% bonafide total football believer and a serial winner.

Roberto Baggio (AM): When I was growing up, the first thing that I could really remember about Baggio was that he missed a very important World Cup final penalty.

So that immediately makes you think, bad.

But actually, Baggio was good. He was ​very, very, very good – and in 1993, he was confirmed as the very best – after nabbing the Ballon d’Or.

Probably the greatest player ever produced by Italy, his creativity, passing range and habit of scoring corking goals made him standout head and shoulders above his peers. In this side, he’s another wonderful cog in a wonderfully well-oiled machine. 

Johan Cruyff (AM): I know, I know, how on earth did I manage to get all of these players?

I couldn’t quite believe it myself, but I knew that my second round pick of Cruyff – a three-time Ballon d’Or winner and pioneer of the most beautiful football ever seen – was one that would make this team incredible, no matter who else I laid my hands on.

I could try and think of a million ways to describe Cruyff, but whatever I come up with will instantly do him a disservice. Instead, remember that this man changed the footballing landscape during the 1970s, paving the way for some of the incredible football we see on display these days.


Forward

Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer Player

Ronaldo (ST): There was only man I wanted leading this team up front, and it’s the most wonderful out-and-out striker to ever grace this earth.

If you had the pleasure – like I did – of watching most of Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima’s career, you’ll know that he was in a different league to anybody else. There wasn’t a single thing that the Brazilian couldn’t do, and not only that, everything he did do was of the highest possible standard.

A true nightmare for defenders, Ronaldo was borderline unplayable during his peak – and, of course, for the purposes of this draft, it’s his best ever version that will be tearing my six other chums to shreds.

It’s also why he was my number one pick.


For more from Toby Cudworth, follow him on Twitter!

Let’

The Current 30 Best Strikers in the World – Ranked

Here at 90min, we love the gas.

We talk football, we throw opinions out there and we love to generate debate.

Some people agree with what’s said, some people hate what they hear and read, some people find it funny and some people go out of their minds with incandescent rage.

But that’s all part and parcel of being a football fan – we’re a community brought together by the love of this great game, and the special thing is that we all want to have our say. 

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Now we’ve sold the concept of talking football to you, let’s get another hot topic on the go shall we?

Having already dissected the 25 best goalkeepers, full-backs, central defenders and defensive midfielders in the world, we can’t wait any longer to get to the strikers. For this, we’re upping the ante to 30 – basically because there’s so many top dogs knocking around.

For clarity, the players included on this list play the majority of their games from a central striking role. Hence, no Messi or Griezmann, no Salah or Mane, and no Allan Saint-Maximin, before you throw any nearby toys out of the pram.

So strap in – I know I have – and feast your eyes on the current 30 best strikers in the world…


Honourable Mentions

We kick things off with a nod to some players who are still good, but not top 30 material right now. 

These include Edinson Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the exceptionally well known pile, through to Erin Zahavi (check out his goal record in China by the way), Arkadiusz Milik, Odsonne Eduoard and Iago Aspas – all of whom score goals and contribute good things on a pretty regular basis.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

There’s also the likes of Memphis Depay, Donyell Malen and Tammy Abraham to consider, but there time hasn’t come just yet.


30. Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette

Lacazette’s goal return for Arsenal has actually been pretty ordinary of late, with his place in Mikel Arteta’s side far from assured.

But the Frenchman offers so much outside of goalscoring, dropping deep to link up play with midfield, as well as foraging down the channels to put pressure on opposition backlines. He also has a tremendous understanding with Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang, though it’s often the Gabon international’s goal tally that reaps the rewards.


29. Dusan Tadic

Dusan Tadic

Back in the summer of 2018, Tadic departed Premier League mid-table lovers Southampton to experience a new challenge with Ajax.

What few of us would have expected was Tadic’s remarkable transformation into one of the most prolific goalscorers in Europe. Granted, the Eredivisie standard perhaps leaves a little to be desired, but netting 38 goals in his debut season – in all competitions – was a bolt out of the blue.

No longer isolated out on the wing and out of possession, Tadic is showing what he can really do in a false nine position, showing pinpoint accuracy with his finishing to couple up with some intricate link-up play.


28. Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela

Another player whose career has reignited after moving onto pastures new is Mexico forward Vela.

Once a failed Arsenal academy graduate, he then spent five years at Real Sociedad confirming that he was actually talented before a return to the Americas beckoned.

There, a change of role has propelled Vela into MLS limelight and he’s now a prolific goalscorer. His wand of a left foot helped him score at a better than a goal per game during 2019, and he’s now regarded as one of the biggest stars across the Atlantic.


27. Gabriel Jesus

UEFA Champions League"Real Madrid v Manchester City FC"

Playing second fiddle is never an easy job, but that’s what Gabriel Jesus has done for much of his career at Manchester City.

The Brazilian is undoubtedly a talent, evidenced by the faith placed him at such a young age by Pep Guardiola. Has his best years ahead of him, which should allow him to break out of Sergio Aguero’s shadow at some point – as well as helping him become Brazil’s leading light for many tournaments to come.


26. Dries Mertens

Dries Mertens

If you’re not familiar with S.S.C. Napoli, may I please point you in the direction of the 2019 Diego Maradona documentary film.

Once you’ve sampled some of that, you’ll realise what it means to play for Gli Azzurri and what it means to become a legend of such a passionate, well-supported club.

One such legend is Mertens, who during the 2019/20 season became the club’s all-time record goalscorer, surpassing another supremely popular figure, Marek Hamsik. The Belgian hasn’t been overly prolific of late, but is still a wonderful all-round player.


25. Duvan Zapata

Duvan Zapata

Scoring goals was something of a pastime for Zapata, rather than a regular hobby before he joined Atalanta in 2018.

But since then, the Colombian has been transformed under the tutelage of Gian Piero Gasperini and is now what some would call ‘a goal machine’. 28 goals in his first full season at the club – aided by his electrifying pace and understanding of the Nerazzurri’s system – looks to be just the starting point of a wonderful few years ahead.


24. Gabigol

Gabriel Barbosa

One man born to score goals was Gabigol – look no further than his nickname if you don’t believe me. Also, look no further than his goalscoring record in South America, which makes for pretty sensational reading.

Admittedly, he wasn’t been able to reproduce his form on the European stage, but his spell at Flamengo has shown many around the world that he’s got that little bit of x-factor about him.


23. Moussa Dembele

FBL-FRA-CUP-LYON-PSG

Some really, really special players have kickstarted their careers with Scottish Premiership heavyweights Celtic, and Dembele looks to be no different.

We all saw how good Henrik Larsson was in the past, we’re all seeing how good Virgil van Dijk is right now, so if Dembele can be anywhere near as good as they are, he’s going to be a pretty special player in the future. 

A hive of Premier League interest is already swarming around a player who has scored well over 100 career goals in just over five seasons as a professional.


22. Wissam Ben Yedder

Wissam Ben Yedder

Breaking into France’s national team setup – particularly up front – is a pretty tricky thing to have ticked off the career accomplishments list, but that’s exactly what Ben Yedder did in 2018 after years of consistently scoring goals.

Standing just 5ft 7in tall, Ben Yedder’s main strengths lie in his ability to wriggle away from defenders and he loves taking people on before firing home. Has registered double digit goal seasons seven times in his career, flourishing in both La Liga and at home in Ligue 1.


21. Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial

​Manchester United are fast-tracking their way back to the promised land babies (note, this is wild speculation and pure conjecture) and all eyes are on Anth…..Bruno Fernandes.

In all seriousness, the Red Devils have been notably better since Fernandes arrived but you have to give some credit to Martial too. He’s operated both on the left wing and up front – not easy when you’re trying to find consistency – and continues to operate, on the whole, very well.

Though he’s yet to enter the prolific goalscorer category, he’s a hard grafter and looks to be taking his game in the right direction.


20. Raul Jimenez

Raul Jimenez

Speaking of going in the right direction, that brings us nicely on to Wolves – and Mexican striker Raul Jimenez, who has brought his game on leaps and bounds since an ill-fated spell with Atletico Madrid.

Now, he’s one of the most reliable forwards in Europe, with his workload – and the pressure that goes with it – unparalleled across the ‘top five’ leagues. All areas of his game are strong, particularly his work rate and ability in the air, but they’ll be some who say his finishing must improve.

And they’re right – he’s not as consistent in front of goal as he could be.


19. Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino

Liverpool, Liverpool, Liverpool – what a rollercoaster ride it’s been on Merseyside since Jurgen Klopp assumed the reins from Brendan Rodgers (remember he was there folks).

Initially there was some bad times, but my goodness me have there been some good ones – both domestically and in Europe. While the Reds’ team is equipped with superb players all over the shop, few have an effect on the side quite like Roberto Firmino.

The Brazilian is the glue that holds things together – no, he doesn’t score goals for fun like others, but he gets the best out of each and everyone of his teammates. An invaluable trait to have.


18. Paulo Dybala

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-JUVENTUS-INTER

Let’s rewind to a time when I was playing FIFA 13 career mode and Palermo was the team of choice.

Not only did I have Afriyie Acquah patrolling midfield – trust me, he was incredible – there were also two incredible talents getting better and better with each passing game – one was Josep Ilicic, and the other was Paulo Dybala.

Turns out, FIFA knew what they were doing – as the Argentine is now one of the most talked about footballers in the world, as well as being one of the most gifted. Courted throughout the majority of 2019, Dybala’s signature is one that everybody would want if given the chance – owing to his fast feet, creativity, dribbling skills and swashbuckling finishing ability.

He doesn’t score bucket loads but, boy, is he good.


17. Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez

When Barcelona are sniffing around a player’s coat tails aged just 22, you know that player is probably a bit special.

And that’s exactly what Martinez is – an exciting talent all set to blossom into one of the best strikers in the world. A lethal and powerful finisher with both feet, the Argentine is also tremendous in the air, where his exploits have helped revive Inter’s slowing Serie A pulse.

Great things are expected of a player wanted by some of the games very best – and richest – clubs.


16. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford

When a fresh faced 18-year-old Rashford burst onto the scene with four goals in his first two Manchester United games, the Red Devils took a deep breath.

Was a new local talent ready to take on the mantle of the ageing Wayne Rooney, leading United back to the very top of English football? Well, not quite yet, but Rashford is certainly looking the part and hasn’t really looked back since that whirlwind first week.

Playing as either a left winger or central striker, he’s elevated his game year on year and is now a fearsome Premier League goal threat.


15. Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi

Few players in the world of football have captured the media’s attention like Mauro Icardi has. Though, unfortunately for him, it’s his wife – and agent – Wanda Nara who steals the limelight most of the time.

But despite kerfuffle and controversy that seems to follow Icardi around, there’s one side to his actual game that is very clean – his finishing. Clinical, deadly and unerringly accurate, the Argentine was born to score goals, evidenced by his 100+ strikes in the colours of Inter.


14. Josep Ilicic

FBL-EUR-C1-VALENCIA-ATALANTA

Remember that FIFA story I was telling you about? Time for part two!

No, don’t worry, I won’t really get into that – but what I will get into is Ilicic’s astonishing improvement over the past few years, especially since he joined Atalanta. 

With an absolute cannon of a left foot, a penchant for finding space and a goal record that most out-and-out strikers would kill for, Ilicic is hot property when deployed in the false nine role.


13. Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

Back in February 2019, ​a piece was penned (by yours truly, shameless plug) about Romelu Lukaku still having a bright future at Manchester United.

While my sentiments of his impending improvement were right, what I didn’t know at the time is that the best thing for Lukaku to do was to get out of England – and the scrutiny and ridiculous over-analysis of his game – to find his confidence again.

At Inter, he’s just done that – and is pounding goals in for fun again in Serie A. Lukaku looks happy, fit and ready to conquer, with plenty of years at the top ahead of him yet.


12. Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy

The rise and rise and rise of Jamie Vardy – from non-league football to ​Premier League winner and golden boot contender – really is one of football’s feel good stories.

Furthermore, the fact that Vardy has achieved so much at Leicester, who are a good side but can hardly compare with big clubs financially, is testament to just how hard he has worked over the years.

Pace, a never-say-die attitude and a willingness to give 100% each and every time he steps on to the pitch are some of his best qualities; as his crisp finishing ability.


11. Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

Pushing the top 10 ten boundary – but missing out by the length of an incisor – is Uruguayan gnasher Luis Suarez.

He may be entering the latter stages of his career, but Barcelona’s lead marksman still has one of the sharpest tool kits in the trade. At his peak, Suarez was among the very best in the world, and perhaps was even the best striker for a time.

He’s still very good now, scoring goals at a decent lick in Catalonia – it’s just a shame he’s been laid low by injury problems.


10. Timo Werner

UEFA Champions League"Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur FC"

Paul Pogba, Gareth Bale and Timo Werner – what do they all have in common? Yep, they’re the three most talked about transfer targets in recent memory.

In Werner’s case, it’s still very much a case of is he really worth it? Playing up front for RB Leipzig, the German’s not really had the chance to show that he can deliver – regularly at least – at the absolute highest level. But in the glimpses we have seen, he’s shown he’s more than up to the task, scoring goals and leading the line with aplomb.

Die Roten Bullen are a genuine threat in Germany because of how good Werner is, and it may not be too long before he’s adorning Liverpool red.


9. Harry Kane

Harry Kane

There have been few England strikers – ever I’d imagine – who made as much of a splash as Harry Kane did when he broke onto the scene.

It was all a bit weird to be honest, because before he went goal crazy, Kane had endured some pretty ordinary loan spells away from Tottenham. Now, though, he’s one of the most clinical finishers around, with two feet capable of firing home from all angles.

Not only that, Kane is a penalty specialist and also loves a long shot or ten. The cherry on the top of his icing is his link up play – which club and international supporters of him will tell you is really rather good.


8. Karim Benzema

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BETIS-REAL MADRID

Underappreciated, undervalued and the equivalent of a footballing Formula 1 car – three very appropriate ways that you could describe Benzema.

That last reference, of course, follows his spat with international teammate Olivier Giroud, but that’s a story for another time. Instead, we’re here to talk about his Real Madrid greatness and the fact that he’s scored – and continues to score – bucket loads of goals for the club.

There’s very few flaws to report in the Frenchman’s game, so long as you don’t scour Twitter for a video showing some absolutely abysmal misses during his career to date.


7. Erling Braut Haaland

Erling Haaland

Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Samassi Abou* – three generational talents who, in their respective times, took each and every collective breath away.

Now, that feeling is likely to happen again as we watch on with admiration at the emerging talents of Haaland. A youngster who can, quite literally, do it all, it’s frightening to think that the Norwegian has a good 15 years of kicking ass ahead of him.

Sit up and take notice, this boy is the future.

*worth Googling


6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Haaland may be the future of the game, but he’s also Borussia Dortmund’s future – unlike Aubameyang, who left the German giants in his rear view mirror back in 2018.

When he did so, he set ​Arsenal back a cool £56m – a fee that he’s, probably, repaid already. Scoring goals is what Aubameyang does and terrorising defenders with his blistering pace is what he’ll continue to do for years to come.

With a terrific goal record safely tucked under his belt, there’s no disputing that he’s one of the very best – but his toes will be twitching to show that on the biggest stages going.


5. Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero

Manchester City’s rise to the top of the English game has relied on heavy investment, we all know that.

But to win things, consistently, you need to buy exceptional players who are willing to stick around and lay the ground work for something special in the future. You also need players who will put their hand up in the big moments, shouldering the burden of expectation and leading their team to victory.

For City, Aguero has done that for almost a decade – and is rightly regarded as the club’s best ever up top. Not only that, he’s one of Europe’s – and the world’s – finest, still scoring goals for fun on a regular basis.


4. Ciro Immobile

Ciro Immobile

When Immobile’s venture to the Bundesliga in 2014 went south pretty rapidly, you would have been forgiven for thinking that he wouldn’t make it at the top level.

After all, he’d only had one exceptional season of scoring at Torino before Borussia Dortmund took a punt on him.

What we now know is that Immobile is one of the most natural finishers of the modern era, capable of carrying a side on his back. Two great feet, a superb leap in the air and the versatility to play anywhere across the front three makes him a real handful for any defence in the world.


3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Christiano Ronaldo

For almost a decade and a half, we’ve all wagged our chins at our respective office desks and asked which of Messi or ​Ronaldo is really the greatest of all time?

That question will never be answered, but what can be answered is that the Portuguese phenom – sorry The Undertaker – is the third best front man going right now.

Yes, Ronaldo is still scoring a pile load of goals and yes, he contributes most for current club Juventus – but sometimes you have to recognise greatness, move with the times and hand the mantle over to youth.


2. Kylian Mbappé

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And the youth in this case is Kylian Mbappé, whom we all expect to dominate the footballing landscape for many, many years to come.

He may barely be out of nappies, but Mbappé is already at the very top of the game, striking fear into anybody who comes up against him.

Good points: Two footed, powerful shot, direct runner, unbelievably quick, agile, well balanced, intelligent, creative, unselfishness, willing to learn, goal machine.

Bad points: N/A.

Say no more.


​1. Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski

So how on earth is Mbappé not the best striker in the world? Well, that would be because of the existence of Robert Lewandowski.

A complete forward, who epitomises everything and anything you’d want from a striker in your side, the Pole is insanely consistent. He bags goals, goals and more goals, goes on crushing scoring rampages and also acts as the perfect foil to bring his teammates into play.

Furthermore, his abilities have seen Bayern become serial winners during his tenure in Munich – and the unnerving thing is that he still has many years left at the top.


For more from Toby Cudworth, follow him on Twitter!

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Belgium Cancels Rest of 2019/20 League Season – What it Could Mean for Rest of Europe

Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League has taken the decision to cancel the remainder of the 2019/20 season as a result of coronavirus, making it the first top-flight European league to do so.

Most other domestic leagues across the continent still remain committed to trying to finish the campaign in some way, whether it just be heavily delayed or with all remaining games behind closed doors, or possibly both.

UEFA is thought to be targeting August for things to be wrapped up, with suggestions the governing body is considering plans to hold ‘final four’ mini-tournaments that month in Istanbul and Gdansk to decide the Champions League and Europa League respectively.

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The Pro League’s board of directors has decided, however, that it is not desirable to continue the 2019/20 season after 30 June, having been advised that games in fan-filled stadiums cannot take place before, that players could still be at risk and that even behind closed doors there would be unnecessary additional strain on law enforcement and health services.

But rather than void the season and expunge results, the standings as they are now will be the final ones. That means Club Brugge will be crowned champions, with Gent second and therefore claiming Belgium’s other Champions League qualifying berth.

The league has set up a working group to look into sporting complaints or financial implications.

One of the reasons the cancellation and position freeze has been possible in Belgium is that the league includes round-robin playoffs to determine the champions after a ‘regular season’. And with 29 of the 30 regular season games complete, it is effectively just scrapping the playoffs.

Brugge already held a 15-point lead at the top of the standings, which would have equated to a seven-point head start in the ten-game playoffs, leaving little room for complaints.

SOCCER JPL D23 KV KORTRIJK VS CLUB BRUGGE

To cancel or not to cancel is the question that is being asked of the major European leagues. Could others follow Belgium’s example, which would have the benefit of minimal disruption on next season and a clean slate for 2020/21? Or is there too much uncertainty to declare it final?

For starters, none of the major European leagues are anything like as close to a justifiable end point like Belgium, just one game away from the end of the regular season.


Premier League

Mohamed Salah

In the Premier League, clubs have nine or 10 games left to play. Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top and few might argue if the season was called at this point, but can even such a large gap be enough when it was still mathematically short? Belgium can argue that once it was decided the playoffs were cancelled, Brugge’s 15-point lead was unassailable with only one game left.

Sides having played different numbers of games causes problems for an immediate halt as well. In the hunt for European places, the likes of Arsenal and Sheffield United are a game short of those around them. Had either played that game and won it, it could make a serious difference to their league placing and, in Sheffield United’s case, even be worth Champions League football.

At the bottom it is even tighter, with three teams in and out of the relegation zone level on points and separated by goal difference. In Belgium’s case, relegation is still to be decided.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Liverpool

*Champions League: Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United

Europa League: Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham

Relegated: Norwich, Aston Villa, Bournemouth

Cause for complaint: Sheffield United, Arsenal, Bournemouth, Aston Villa

*Manchester City excluded due to UEFA ban


La Liga

Lionel Messi,Toni Kroos

In La Liga, at least every team has played the same number of games – 27. But, again, with as many as 11 left un-played, the implications of cancelling the season are not favourable, especially when it comes to the two-point title race between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Third place to sixth – which will determine Champions League qualification – are separated by two points.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Barcelona

Champions League: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Real Sociedad

Europa League: Getafe, Atlético Madrid

Relegated: Espanyol, Leganés, Mallora

Cause for complaint: Real Madrid, Getafe, Atlético Madrid, Mallorca


Serie A

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Serie A has more of the season left to play, with 12 or 13 games remaining for clubs. The title race between Juventus and Lazio has just one point in it. At least the sides in contention for the rest of the Champions League and Europa League places are a little more spaced out, which would make finalising the current standings more justifiable from their perspective.

The relegation battle in Italy is another very tight one though, with Genoa and Lecce level on points, but one in the drop zone and one out.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Juventus

Champions League: Juventus, Lazio, Inter, Atalanta

Europa League: Roma, Napoli

Relegated: Brescia, SPAL, Lecce

Cause for complaint: Lazio, Lecce


Bundesliga

Achraf Hakimi,Robert Lewandowski

The Bundesliga has, for the most part, nine rounds of games left. On the plus side, those two who have a game in hand wouldn’t be unduly disadvantaged. Eintracht Frankfurt could rise one place in the bottom half, for example, by winning the game they haven’t played, while Werder Bremen wouldn’t be able to escape the automatic relegation zone with only one more.

At the top, Bayern Munich have a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. Bayer Leverkusen are two points shy – and therefore potentially within one win – of a Champions League place.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Bayern Munich

Champions League: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach

Europa League: Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke

Relegated: Paderborn, Werder Bremen

Cause for complaint: Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Freiburg, Hoffenheim


Ligue 1

Kylian Mbappe

Ligue 1 is a similar story, with 10 games left and Lille one point off a Champions League place. No critical places are currently decided by tie-breaker criteria, with the relegation battle at least a little spaced out and Paris Saint-Germain 12 points clear at the top.

If the season ends now:

Champions: Paris Saint-Germain

Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Rennes

Europa League: Lille

Relegated: Toulouse, Amiens, Nimes

Cause for complaint: Lille


For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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UEFA Considers Champions League Mini-Tournament in August to Conclude Season

UEFA are seeking to complete the 2019/20 Champions League, Europa League and suspended domestic leagues by August. However, there is no confirmed date for a potential restart, which would likely have to come in June to give enough time.

With Euro 2020 already moved to 2021, UEFA confirmed on Wednesday that all outstanding international football scheduled for June has been postponed. Two youth level international tournaments have been cancelled and two others postponed.

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Deadlines for admission into European competition for 2020/21 have also been postponed until further notice in light of domestic leagues across the continent being on hold.

The latest from the Daily Mirror claims that UEFA are pushing for domestic league seasons to be completed by 3 August. There is no date, but UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin told Italian newspaper La Repubblica this week that the options are mid-May, June, or the end of June.

“If we don’t succeed in restarting, the season will probably be lost,” he said.

The Mirror writes that UEFA are also considering a four-team mini tournament to conclude the Champions League and Europa League in their originally planned final host cities. That would speed up the competition by bunching together the semi-finals and final.

Once the round of 16 and quarter-finals have been completed, presumably as normal other than being behind closed doors, the four remaining Champions League teams in that scenario would then descend on Istanbul at some point in August after the domestic seasons are over.

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The Europa League would be the same, with the final four heading to Gdansk in Poland.

While Ceferin has acknowledged that the season could be lost if games cannot b restarted in a reasonable timeframe, it was reported earlier this week that voiding the season is currently ‘off the table’ as far as UEFA are concerned. The governing body is said to be ‘actively planning’ for the finals of each competition to be played behind closed doors.


For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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On This Day in Football History – April 1: Spurs Finally Win at Stamford Bridge, Figo’s Debut & More

1 April is the worst day of the year for some people. April Fools.

The whole April Fool’s Day thing hasn’t stopped the wonderful world of football producing some absolutely classic moments on this day though.

Abou Diaby,Stiliyan Petrov *** Local Caption *** Abou Diaby,Stiliyan Petrov

Over the years, the first day of the fourth month has thrown up some memorable moments, like Wycombe Wanderers and ​Hull City drawing 0-0 in 1995 and Abou Diaby scoring his first ​Arsenal goal in 2006.

Something suggests we need to go a tad bigger and better here.


1976 – A Champions League Legend is Born

AC MIlan's forward Clarence Seedorf of N

The path to the player who’s won the ​Champions League at more clubs than anyone else leads to only one man ­- Clarence Seedorf – born on this day in 1976.

Seedorf’s senior career spanned a ludicrous 22 years, in which time he won four Champions League trophies. But no man has ever won the competition at as many clubs as his three; he took the trophy home as a player with Ajax, ​Real Madrid and finally (twice with) ​AC Milan.

Only seven players have ever played more times than his 125 in the competition. A big-game player.


1990 – Luís Figo Makes League Debut

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With Sporting CP by now a little way behind Benfica and eventual champions Porto in the Portuguese league season, short-lived manager Raul Águas put his faith in a young and exciting winger named Luís Figo on this day in 1990.

Sporting would win the match, hold on to Figo until 1995, and eventually sell him. Legalities meant he couldn’t sign for his intended destination of ​Manchester City, so he had to make do at ​Barcelona instead.

Luis Figo

Figo would enjoy a trophy-laden career with the Catalans, before controversially leaving for Real Madrid and then finally ​Inter. He picked up silverware, and a lot of it, wherever he went.

By the time he had retired, his career had seen him transition from a wide man with bags of potential into a world-class attacking midfielder.


1998 – First Champions League Semi-Final Hat-Trick

Alessandro Del Piero celebrates scoring a goal

In a one-sided first leg tie against Monaco, Alessandro Del Piero scored the first semi-final hat-trick of the Champions League era.

Two penalties and then a delightful curled free kick from the Italian helped ​Juventus claim an unassailable 4-1 win. The Old Lady would lose 3-2 in the second leg, but still progressed to the final on aggregate.

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A single Predrag Mijatović strike denied Juve victory, as Real Madrid took the trophy home.

Only four players have gone on to notch trebles in Champions League semis since ­— Ivica Olić, Robert Lewandowski, ​Cristiano Ronaldo and… Lucas Moura.


2000 – Manchester United Whack West Ham

Andy Cole and Steve Potts

With ​Manchester United already pretty certain of retaining the ​Premier League title, they faced ​West Ham United on this day in 2000.

Paul Scholes netted his first career hat-trick as the Red Devils hammered the Hammers 7-1.

Costa Rican legend Paulo Wanchope had put the mid-table side ahead at Old Trafford, but a flurry of unanswered goals helped United romp to victory on an easy day in the Premier League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

David Beckham crashed a mesmerising free kick in off the crossbar for the sixth, before current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær made it seventh heaven for United.

They won the league by 18 points.


2006 – Reading Break the Record​

Graeme Murty

On this day, the very day Diaby broke his duck in north London, ​Reading FC scored a fabulous five second-half goals, condemning ​Derby County to a painful defeat and sealing promotion from the ​Championship to the Premier League.

The Madejski Stadium would witness the biggest pitch invasion it has ever seen, as fans celebrated a classic day in the club’s history.

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The Royals would go on to win more points in a single Football League season than anyone ever had before or has since — 106.

Thinking about the struggles Reading have these days, that really is a proper throwback.

Shane Long scored twice. Derby were the April Fools.


2018 ­– Tottenham Finally Win at Stamford Bridge

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For the first time in the Premier League era, ​Spurs beat ​Chelsea in an away game. ​Álvaro Morata headed home the opener for the Blues following a mistake by Hugo Lloris. But Spurs were back level on half-time with a thunderous, deceiving shot from range by ​Christian Eriksen.

Two smartly taken ​Dele Alli finishes in the second half would earn the visitors a rare win against Chelsea, and spell more trouble in the league for Antonio Conte’s side.

Chelsea finished fifth and Conte was replaced by Maurizio Sarri, while Tottenham edged past ​Liverpool into third, claiming a Champions League place with it.

Antonio Conte

And what would Tottenham do with that Champions League qualification? They’d knock out Inter, ​Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Ajax on their way to the final.


2002 – Bonus Throwback

2002, Rangers tricked their fans when they announced the completely and utterly fake signing of ‘Yardis Alpolfo’. He didn’t end up being a teenage sensation from Turkey.

He ended up being an anagram of ‘April Fool’s’.

Fair play, that’s class.


Let’

Ben Haines’ Draft XI: Build From the Back, Pace in Attack, We’ve Got Maldini, You’ll Never Sing That

This week you may have seen that we at 90min were so bored in isolation without any live football to watch, that we decided to do our very own greatest footballers of all time draft. 

And if you didn’t, check out how it went down ​here. 

So who won the draft? Who built the greatest GOAT team of all? Well, that’s what, over the next few days, we’re going to find out. On ​90min’s Twitter you – yes, you, lying in your bed with bread crumbs all over his pyjama bottoms – will get have the chance to make that decision for us over the course of the next few days. 

But before that, we all need to do some canvassing. 

We all need to make sure you all fully aware of the brilliance of each of our team’s (except for Jack’s, his team is sh*t). 

So here’s the first – and the pick – of the bunch. A team made by Ben Haines with one simple thing in mind: 

‘Is it possible to start a greatest ever XI draft defence first? Yes. And it means you get Paolo Maldini.’


Goalkeeper & Defenders

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Gordon Banks (GK): ‘PELE! What a save…Gordon Banks!!’

Isn’t it telling that you only have to see those six words written down for your mind to drift and then dig into your own mental iPlayer. 

The image is grainy, the colour is green and overly saturated, but there it is – projected into your mind, rolling like a hazy personal cinema. 

The ball has bobbled up a little in front of Jairzinho on the right as he lifts a cross toward the back post to Pele, who rises resplendently and thumps a header downward. The header flies behind Gordon Banks, but somehow, he rescues the ball from nestling in the corner of a very old school looking Mexican goal frame with a black net. 

‘What a save!!!!’ 

Yes, it was a different game, a different era, but Gordon Banks and that save are rightly considered by many the greatest of all time. 

Get that blue keeper top on, and get in the sticks.

Cafu (RB): There was a time before over-lapping centre backs and pacy attack-minded RBs, when the local lad from Sao Paulo reigned supreme. When people believed everything they saw on Football Italia. This was an age when only one man occupied the right back position in Brazil’s XI. 

His name was Cafu. 

He was like a god walking among mere mortals. He had a cross so beautiful it made Brazil’s attacker purr, and he occupied the Brazil right back slot so beautifully he made others look like hoboes. 

In other words, Cafu was the balls. And this team needs the balls. 

Barcelona's captain Carles Puyol gesture

Carles Puyol (CB): It’s quite hard to sum up a man that captained one of the greatest Barcelona sides of all time. 

Scrap that: one of the greatest sides the world has ever seen. 

Actually, scrap that too. 

He captained the best side bar none

And yes, there are many reasons why that team were, well, that team. But perhaps the main one was Carles Puyol – the Copa del Rey semi final meeting with Real Madrid in 2013 is a pretty decent exemplification of why. 

67 minutes on the clock Pique is hit by a lighter, thrown from the stands and begins to pull the sort face that suggests a pained agony as if he’d been struck by an asteroid. Pique struggling to even stand, such was the pain, using every last morsel of energy he can muster to raise the lighter toward the referee. Puyol strides in, grabs the lighter, slings it off the pitch, bollocks Pique and fronts up ready to defend a Real Madrid corner. 

Concentration, aggression, no nonsense, elite leadership and one of best to ever do it. In you go at centre back buddy.

Fernando Hierro (CB): 90s football was brilliant, mainly because it seemed to have this strange Sunday League quality about it. Players still looked a bit rough around the edges, kits were a glorious mess and the transition from cult hero professionals to the elite athlete era was in full swing. 

But Fernando Hierro was slightly different – there was nothing Sunday League about him. It seems as though he was brought back in time from the future to dominate the Real Madrid defence as if it were a postmodern art form. 

The image of him pinging a beautiful rangy pass in that silky crisp white kit is one that is synonymous with the great Madrid team of the time. Despite that fabulous range of passing, statuesque build, wonderful positioning and timing he’s somehow almost criminally underrated. 

And God only knows why. 

How many centre backs do you know that have finished their career with 134 goals? 134?! That’s right: none! 

Paolo Maldini of AC Milan

Paolo Maldini (LB): Usually if you wanted to watch a compilation of a world class player, you’d cue up some pounding euro techno and watch nine minutes of a mixture of grainy 4:3, 16:9, HD, 480p, 4k footage, some that’s been slowed down, some that’s been sped up, and you’d then try and work out what was what. 

This would usually be titled ‘Insert name* crazy goals, skills, assists *insert year*’. 

Paolo Maldini is one of the only defenders I’d stomach the techno and horrendous video quality for. 

Any year of his career, any team, international or domestic. 

Unerringly consistent, beautiful to watch, beautiful to look at, part two of three Maldini generations to play for Milan. Rarely went to ground, but when he did, perfection. Rolls Royce. Sod the nine minutes, I’ll sit and watch all day.


Midfielders

FOOT-FRA-MAKELELE

Claude Makélélé (The Claude Makélélé Role): Most positions coined over the last 30 years have some sort of fancy bollocks name. 

Regista, Trequartista, Libero, False 9, Raumdeuter. 

But when you have one player who is so phenomenally gifted in their particular position, there’s no time for the fancy bollocks names. Instead, you have to use their name to describe the role. 

Meet Claude Makélélé: the founding father of the Makelele role, and the greatest Makélélé role player there’s ever been.

Paul Gascoigne (CM): Think of a graph where you measure the perfect impact of a creative genius.

On the graph the X axis occupies sheer unfiltered, unorganised, chaotic creative energy.

On the Y axis, a balanced potion of industry, hunger, positional awareness and stamina.

1990 World Cup Paul Gascoigne sits proudly at the apex of the bell curve.

Paul Gascoigne

The tragic beauty of Paul Gascoigne as a player is two fold. 

Firstly that both his time at the top of the curve was neither long enough nor rewarded with a World Cup. 

Secondly, that managing life after the high of being on top of the world is hard to manage. Probably another conversation and countless other article’s for other days there. Best not to tug at that thread, for now, let’s stay stuck in time in Italy, in the summer of 1990. Nessun Dorma, Nessun Dorma.

Clarence Seedorf (CM): Have you seen Clarence Seedorf recently? He looks wonderful. Seriously. He looks like he’s never stopped playing football. In fact if you watch him in any legends, charity game he’s the best all round player on the pitch. 

That was pretty much always the case whenever you watched him play during his actual career. All things, everywhere, to everyone. The only man with three Champions League medals for three different teams. 


Forwards

Luis Figo

Luis Figo (RW): Ingredients for a world class galactico winger/inside forward.

– One Ballon d’Or

– One move from Barcelona to Real Madrid

– 62m transfer fee

– 106 La Liga assists

– A domestic ton of Shockwaves wet look gel.

– 1 shark tooth necklace

Serve with 1 Pigs head and a side of some serious sauce.

Jimmy Greaves (ST): Glenn Hoddle probably will say it better than anyone else will:

“He was electrifying. When Jimmy was on the ball the whole crowd came alive, they knew something was going to happen. And 9 times out of 10 if the ball was in the penalty area he’d score.

“You can never dismiss what he did. He played in an era when defenders were allowed to defend with a little more physicality than they do today, in an era when they were allowed to give their opponent a kick and referees would give them one or two warnings before anything happened. 

“That was even worse for Jimmy because he was the number one professional goal scorer in England and when he came into town, the opposition wanted to take him out by any means necessary. People wanted to make their name by stopping Jimmy Greaves.”

Thierry Henry of Arsenal

Thierry Henry (ST): 10 things Spurs fans hate about you:

They hate just how ludicrously good you were in your prime.

They hate your ability to ghost past defenders as if they didn’t exist.

They hate the way you opened your body out to feed the ball effortlessly into the far corner. 

They hate that you’ll be remembered as one of the greatest Premier League strikers ever.

They hate his Va Va Voom, they hate his unparalleled level of 2003 cool.

They hate ​this.

They hate that you made them absolutely brick it every time you played against them.

They hate that you were invincible, that your played for their arch rival, was their greatest ever player and was undeniably better than anything Spurs had at the time,

But most of all they hate that they don’t hate him, not even close, note even a little bit, not even at all.

Thankfully Spurs fans you can take comfort in the fact that he usurped all of that by playing for a better Barcelona side that won the treble alongside Lionel Messi and Sammy Eto’o.


The Team


Let’

Coronavirus Latest: Premier League ‘Fear’ Wage Cuts, Champions League Behind Closed Doors & More

As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to throttle the world, the debate in the world of football remains how and when the 2019/20 season can resume, if it is even possible.

This is a roundup of the latest regarding the Premier League, UEFA and La Liga.


Premier League Clubs Fear Player Wage Cuts

Isaac Hayden,Sean Longstaff,Lucas Moura,Heung-Min Son

Premier League clubs are yet to impose wage cuts or deferrals on players, as has been the case abroad, over a fear that it could be interpreted as a breach of contract that would allow individuals to leave as free agents.

That is according to a report from the Daily Mail, which suggests clubs are instead waiting for a collective wage deferral to come from talks between the Premier League, EFL and PFA. It is said that players themselves are open to accepting deferrals, but await PFA guidance.

A uniform approach, however, will be difficult given the vast differences in pay even within squads at the same club. Even a set percentage could affect lower earners more than high earners.

That is also presented as a reason why Tottenham have announced 20% pay cuts for non-playing staff, while protecting players wages, and Newcastle have put non-playing staff of temporary leave.


‘World Cup-Style’ Finish Premier League Season Won’t Work

Manchester United v Manchester City - Premier League

The latest mooted plan to finish the 2019/20 Premier League was a ‘World Cup-style’ calendar where games could be played in quick succession in June and July in a limited number of venues, with players all the while observing strict quarantine conditions between fixtures.

But Christian Machowski, whose ESEM company handles travel management for top clubs, has explained why such an idea will not work in practice.

“Everybody wants the best for their team, but there’s only a small number of elite hotels that are suitable,” Machowski told the Daily Mirror.

“For example, there are two or three hotels in London where all the teams tend to stay when they play there. To find a venue where 20 teams can find facilities up to the required standard is just not workable,” he added.

“In terms of training facilities, teams would also want to be as a close as possible, so that would present problems. Then you would have to quarantine the same hotel staff for three or four weeks. And if one team picked up an infection, whether it’s a player or member of staff, that’s the end of the tournament.

“It’s not about teams staying in luxury, it’s complicated because the infrastructure is so finely tuned for clubs in terms of what they need.”


Season Unlikely to Resume Before June

Olympique Lyon v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

While June was previously suggested as a month when the 2019/20 season across Europe could be finished, albeit in a very condensed time frame, The Guardian writes that June is now more likely just the start date rather than the end.

UEFA is to hold a cross-continent video conference meeting with all 55 member associations, while England will also hold its own meetings.

Finishing the various seasons is still seen as the priority, rather than cancelling and skipping ahead to 2020/21, but The Guardian explains there is now talk of starting in June, if possible, and continuing on through to August if necessary. Even that is described as ‘optimistic’.


Champions League Final Behind Closed Doors

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According to The Independent, UEFA are committed to completing the 2019/20 Champions League and Europa League and are ‘actively planning’ for the finals to be played behind closed doors. When those games will be played isn’t clear, but voiding the season is ‘off the table’.

Despite the belief that the season must be finished, there is said to be an acceptance that the Champion League and Europa League finals will have to be played behind closed doors. Given that both competitions were only at the last 16 stage when football had to be halted, plenty of other games must also be played before clubs even reach that stage.


Deadline to Resume La Liga

Primera Division - "FC Barcelona v Levante UD"

In Spain, SPORT reports that La Liga president Javier Tebas has informed all 42 clubs in the top two divisions that the season could be cancelled if games cannot be resumed by 27 June.

If and when games do resume, they will reluctantly have to be played without fans, but that is the preferable alternative to leaving the season unfinished.

If the season does have to be cancelled, there is not yet a known plan as to how La Liga plans to handle the final standings, including the title, European places, relegation and promotion.


For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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How Inter’s Loaned Out Players Will Get on When They Return to San Siro – Ranked

2019/20 has been a season of transition for Inter. High-profile comings and goings, a new boss and in fairness, amid all the upheaval the club are enjoying their best league campaign for some time.

The Nerazzurri looked set to launch a serious title charge until they decided to bottle it prior to the postponement of the league following the coronavirus outbreak.

Nonetheless, going forward the future looks bright for ​Inter. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the high-profile stars currently out on loan and ranked whether we believe they have a genuine future at the club.


6. Mauro Icardi

Mauro Icardi

It seems a bit odd to be debating whether ​Icardi will ever make it at Inter, because the fact of the matter is – he already has.

Inter’s eighth all-time top goalscorer and top scorer in each of their last five seasons, you can probably guess that Icardi’s performances on the field aren’t the issue here.

The Argentina international has been at the centre of a whole host of off-field issues (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, go google ‘Mauro Icardi and Maxi López), and was stripped of the Inter captaincy last season before refusing to travel for the club’s ​Champions League clash with Rapid Vienna.

Last summer the Inter Ultras released a statement confirming Icardi “cannot be part” of the club due to his poor attitude and that was that. Icardi was shipped off to PSG where he’s actually performing quite well. But it’s fair to say, whether he moves to Paris permanently or not, we’ll not see him in an Inter shirt again.

Likelihood of making it at Inter/ever playing for the club again: 0/10


5. Samuele Longo

Samuele Longo

Once dubbed the future leader of the Inter frontline, things haven’t quite panned out for Longo as he’d hoped.

Despite a stellar youth career, the former Italy Under-21 forward has found himself shipped out on loan EVERY SEASON since signing his first professional deal with Inter in 2011.

The 28-year-old journeyman has already amassed a total of 12 clubs in his nine-year career. He’s bagged 33 goals in 171 appearances in that time, although has never been re-signed by a club or spent more than a year at a club. He’s made just one senior appearance for Inter, something tells me he’s probably not going to be starting alongside Romelu Lukaku next year.

Likelihood of making it at Inter: 1/10


4. Valentino Lazaro

Valentino Lazaro

The wide man is currently out on loan at ​Newcastle having failed to impress new boss Antonio Conte in a right wing-back position.

Having made his name following a stellar season at Hertha Berlin, the Austria international secured a £20m move to Inter but made just six appearances before being shipped out on loan. First team appearances having been fleeting at St. James’ Park, with Lazaro making just four appearances despite the Tynesiders having a number of injury problems.

Since Lazaro’s departure, Conte has strengthened by bringing in former Premier League boys Victor Moses and Ashley Young, meaning competition for places is hotter than ever in the wing-back role.

Lazaro’s time at the San Siro looks to be about to come to an end.

Likelihood of making it at Inter: 2/10


3. João Mário

Joao Mario

It’s been a turbulent time for Mário since joining Inter for around £35m in 2016. He started off as a regular under Frank de Boer and latterly Stefano Pioli but was soon shipped out on loan to West Ham following the arrival of Luciano Spallletti.

The Portugal international again found himself heading for the San Siro exit door upon the arrival of Conte, but a move to Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow hasn’t panned out as hoped and the 27-year-old has yet to make an appearance.

The January signing of former ​Tottenham star Christian Eriksen appears to be the final nail in the coffin for Mário and a San Siro revival looks unlikely.

Likelihood of making it at Inter: 2/10


2. Ivan Perišić

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Another regular at Inter under previous regimes who fell foul of the Conte swinging axe.

Since signing for the club in 2015 from ​Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, Perišić has established himself as a regular in the starting XI, missing just 11 league games in four seasons at the club. A healthy return of 37 league goals in that time has seen him develop a good rapport with the fans.

However, upon the appointment of Conte in May 2019, Perišić soon found himself out the door. 

Such is the embarrassment of riches at the Bundesliga champions’ disposal, Perišić has struggled to cement his place in the first team and a San Siro return is looking likely- a San Siro stay, not so much.

Likelihood of making it at Inter: 3/10


1. Radja Nainggolan

Radja Nainggolan

Finally, a player who may have a future under the cutthroat Conte regime.

The reason for Nainggolan’s loan move to Cagliari last summer isn’t entirely clear, having been an ever-present for Inter last season following his big-money move from Roma.

Nevertheless, the Belgium international is performing well at Cagliari and his versatility is something Conte will not doubt consider to be an asset when he returns in the summer. With two years remaining on his current deal, Inter will be in no hurry to move him on.

Likelihood of making it at Inter: 7/10 


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