Zlatan, Hazard, Kante & Kane Join Ronaldo & Messi on 24-Man Shortlist for Best FIFA Men’s Player

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Harry Kane ​are among those who join usual suspects Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on the 24-man shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s Player ahead of the world football governing body’s annual gala that will be held in London on 23rd October.

Ronaldo took home the last prize after his 2015/16 season for club and country and remains the favourite once more after La Liga and Champions League honours in 2016/17.

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Messi ended last season by winning the European Golden Shoe for a record equalling fourth time after his 40 league goals were a continental high.

Both Hazard and Kante inspired Chelsea to Premier League glory in 2016/17, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in all competitions for Manchester United and Harry Kane captured a second successive Premier League Golden Boot.

Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus - Pre-Season Friendly

Real Madrid players, including Keylor Navas, unsurprisingly dominate the list of nominees.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB – Borussia Dortmund)

Leonardo Bonucci (ITA – Juventus/AC Milan)

Gianluigi Buffon (ITA – Juventus)
​Daniel Carvajal (ESP – Real Madrid)

Cristiano Ronaldo (POR – Real Madrid)

Paulo Dybala (ARG – Juventus)

Antoine Griezmann (FRA – Atletico Madrid)

Eden Hazard (BEL – Chelsea)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE – Manchester United)

Andres Iniesta (ESP – Barcelona)

Harry Kane (ENG – Tottenham Hotspur)

N’Golo Kante (FRA – Chelsea)

Toni Kroos (GER – Real Madrid)

Robert Lewandowski (POL – Bayern Munich)

Marcelo (BRA – Real Madrid)
​Lionel Messi (ARG – Barcelona)

Luka Modric (CRO – Real Madrid)

Keylor Navas (COS – Real Madrid)

Manuel Neuer (GER – Bayern Munich)

Neymar (BRA – Barcelona/PSG)

Sergio Ramos (ESP – Real Madrid)

Alexis Sanchez (CHI – Arsenal)

Luis Suarez (URU – Barcelona)

Arturo Vidal (CHI – Bayern Munich)

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The shortlist for Best FIFA Women’s Player has also been revealed, featuring England pair Lucy Bronze and Jodie Taylor, award holder Carli Lloyd and Euro 2017 winning pair Lieke Martens and Vivianne Miedema:

Lucy Bronze (ENG – Manchester City Women) pictured

Deyna Castellanos (VEN – Santa Clarita Blue Heat)

Pernille Harder (DEN – Linkopings / VfL Wolfsburg (Women)

Sam Kerr (AUS – Perth Glory / Sky Blue FC)

Carli Lloyd (USA – Houston Dash / Manchester City Women)

Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER – Olympique Lyonnais Feminin)

Lieke Martens (NED – FC Barcelona Femeni)

Vivianne Miedema (NED – FC Bayern Munich Frauen)

Wendie Renard (FRA – Olympique Lyonnais Feminin)

Jodie Taylor (ENG – Arsenal Women)

England v Scotland - UEFA Women's Euro 2017: Group D

The October ceremony will also see awards handed out for the premier Best FIFA Women’s Player and Best FIFA Men’s Player, as well as the FIFA Fair Play Award, the FIFA Puskás Award, the FIFA Fan Award, the FIFA FIFPro World11 and the new FIFA Goalkeeper Award.


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Why Marco Asensio’s Ascension at Real Madrid Is Inevitable as the World’s Best Young Player

​In a team full of superstars, it’s often hard for young talents to get a look-in – just ask any of Chelsea’s legion of youngsters currently farmed out on loan around the continent. 

Sometimes though, that talent is undeniable. In special, special cases, a new star can emerge from the reserves and the loan spells early, and make their impact on the biggest stages. Marco Asensio, as it happens, is a very special player indeed. 

The 21-year-old has been all over the back pages this week for a pair of shit-hot long-range turbobangers against Barcelona, one in either leg of the Spanish Super Cup, and was compared favourably to Michael Laudrup and Isco while he was learning his trade at Mallorca. 

The headline stat around the 21-year-old is his record in debuts; scoring in his first Real Madrid appearance in La Liga, the Champions League, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup, but the 12 months since that first Real goal in the Super Cup have seen him become so much more than a novelty statistic. 

One of the biggest benefactors of Zinedine Zidane’s deep squad rotation plans, especially towards the end of the Primera Division season, Asensio has gone from young backup option to pushing for a place in Real’s first starting XI of the league season on Sunday.

While Zidane rested a handful of his leading men – particularly Cristiano Ronaldo – in away league games for the last two months of the season, Asensio took up a starting position in role across a front three. Alternating between the right and left wings, with an occasional appearance in the centre of midfield, impressed his manager enough to feature in every one of Real’s Champions League games from the quarter-finals onwards. 

What separates Asensio from the other players in similar situations to him – Munir and Paco Alcacer at Barcelona, Borja Mayoral and, to an extent, Mateo Kovacic at Real – is how match-ready he is right now. 

It’s hard to call last season a true breakout one for him, starting just 12 games across the Champions League and La Liga, but the departures of Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez have freed up a lot of opportunities for the coming campaign. 

The accepted thinking earlier in the summer was that most of the 27 league starts the pair combined for last season would go to Kylian Mbappe when he arrived from Monaco, but excessive wage demands look to have scuppered that move – leaving game time there for the taking. 

Now, some of that will go to Isco – although his introduction tends to necessitate a shift from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, with Bale or Benzema dropping either to the bench or a left midfield spot – but Asensio could easily start more than half of Real’s games this season in all competitions. And when he does, he will shine. 

His pace and vision already make him one of the most dangerous players in world football on the counter-attack alongside Neymar and Eden Hazard, and the long-range thunderbastards he’s rolled out in the Super Cup mean that defenders can no longer afford to stand off him when he’s on the break. That, in turn, will create gaps in ragged defensive lines for him to either beat his man or play through a Ronaldo or Bale figure. 

Missing out on Mbappe may be, inadvertently, Real’s best move this summer. In Asensio they have a young, attacking player who has a more complete all-round game, is the better player now and has a higher potential ceiling. He’s played at the very highest level for a season, is being mentored as part of the best club squad assembled in a generation, and could even replace Bale on the left-hand side of Zidane’s attack by the end of the campaign. 

The Welshman’s injuries last season made it very clear that Real could win things without him. And more to the point, they could win everything without him. In Zidane’s systems, be it 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, Asensio provides a better stylistic counterbalance to his attacking partners than Bale; and is fast becoming a fan favourite. The Asensio Ascension, as it absolutely will not be called, is well underway. 

P.s., he signed for Real for about €3.5m. After a number of Premier League clubs turned him down. Just something to think about.

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Barca Fans Upset at Club for Congratulatory Tweet Sent to Real Madrid Following Super Cup Loss

​The folks at Barcelona couldn’t have been in the best of moods after losing to Real Madrid in this year’s Spanish Super Cup, yet their social media personnel were still polite enough to congratulate Zinedine Zidane’s side.

A tweet on their Twitter account read: “Real Madrid receive the trophy as Spanish Super Cup champions. Congratulations.”

​​Needless to say, the gesture was not met with good cheer – from Barca fans that is, some of which were still upset with the club over their kind words for Real after they won the La Liga title last season.

Maybe they’ve gotten the message by now…

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Real Madrid 2-0 Barcelona (Agg 5-1): Los Blancos Cruise Past Blaugrana in Dominant Super Cup Win

​Real Madrid comfortably secured victory in the Super Cup second leg with a win over Barcelona at the Bernabeu.

An early goal from the superbly talented Marco Asensio put the home side in a controlling position following their first leg win.

That was added to by Karim Benzema shortly before half-time, before a second half in which both sides played out the inevitable result.

With the hosts 3-1 in front, they began with the confidence to match their comfortable lead. The scorer of the brilliant third goal last weekend extended his side’s advantage further, Asensio striking past a hapless Marc-Andre ter Stegen from the edge of the box with just four minutes played.

Barcelona, having changed to a three at the back system following defeat at the Nou Camp, began the game on the back foot and seemingly taken aback by their opposition’s intensity, but grew slightly in confidence and composure as the half progressed.

The deficit, however, was beginning to look unassailable against an accomplished and savvy Real Madrid side. Los Blancos possessed the biggest threat on the counter attack, the effervescent Asensio and Raphael Varane coming close to adding a second, before Lucas Vazquez struck the post.

Approaching half-time, the hosts found themselves in complete control, almost toying with their rivals. And Benzema was quick to add to Barcelona’s growing misery, controlling a Marcelo cross into the box before drilling a left-footed finish into the bottom corner.

With the tie effectively over by the break, Barcelona’s aim for the second half was simply to avoid clasico humiliation. Lionel Messi, subdued for much of the game, almost pulled a goal back, beating Keylor Navas having burst into the box but striking the underside of the bar.

But for the occasional moment, though, this was a game that highlighted the disparity in confidence between the two teams, Real Madrid dominant and assured, Barcelona fragile and disorganised.

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The inevitability of the result meant that the pace of the game lessened significantly as the tie approached its conclusion, but there was still time for Luis Suarez to uncharacteristically miss an open goal, heading a rebounded Sergi Roberto shot against the post.

Real Madrid were content to see out the impressive victory without inflicting further damage on the visitors, who were allowed to dominate possession, albeit with little penetration, in the latter stages.

The final chance of the game fell to Marcelo, who leaned back when attempting to convert a Vazquez cross and inconsequentially sliced his effort over and wide.

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Twitter Goes Bananas After Real Starlet Marcos Asensio’s Stupendous Golazo in Barcelona Rout

​Real Madrid sensation Marcos Asensio found himself 40 yards out, with little or no inclination to commence another round of attack against an underwhelming Barcelona side. He took one look at the Barca goal and unleashed a shot that will live long in the memory of football fans, let alone that of Los Blancos supporters. 

The ball whirled through the air, nestling emphatically into the top corner, with Barca stopper Ter Stegen shellshocked by what he’d just witnessed. Perhaps it marked a new era of La Liga dominance, Real are no longer just a bunch of European champions and glorified runners up specialists – they own La Liga and all within it too.    

Whatever your persuasion or interpretation you can’t deny the glory of Asensio’s goal, and naturally the Twitter-sphere was only too obliging to share in the euphoria of such a goal:

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Real Madrid Fail in Their Attempt to Have Ronaldo’s Ban Overturned

​Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo will serve out his five-match suspension, starting with the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup match against Barcelona on Wednesday, with the club having lost out in their appeal.

The forward was sent off in the first leg after receiving a second yellow for pushing the referee.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Supercopa de Espana: 1st Leg

Madrid were hoping to have the ban overturned, and lodged an appeal as a result, but according to ​Marca, the Spanish FA’s Competition Committee have decided to uphold the sanction.

Ronaldo is now set to miss Wednesday’s match, as well as the first four matches of Los Blancos La Liga campaign.

Manager Zinedine Zidane could also find himself in a bit of hot water, following comments he made regarding the suspension.

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“I am annoyed,” the Frenchman said. “Well, pissed off really. I’m not going to get involved with the referees, but when you look at everything that happened and you think that we’re going to be missing Cristiano for five games, there’s something going on there. I’m angry about that.

“I just hope that they look at it thoroughly. After that we’ll see what we’re going to do.

“This annoys us a lot. I do not get into it with referees. But when you watch it back, and think that in the end Cristiano will miss five games with us… I know referees have a hard job, and anybody can make a mistake. But in the end five games for what happened is a lot. It is normal for us to be annoyed.”


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PHOTO: Angel Di Maria Jokes on Instagram About ‘Lucky’ Legends He Has Played Alongside

​There’s no doubting Angel Di Maria has had a pretty illustrious career to date.

Starting out at Rosario Central, his form earned him a move to Benfica before Real Madrid came calling, while he now plays for French giants Paris Saint-Germain after a brief spell at Manchester United.

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Also an Argentina international, the 29-year-old has played alongside some legendary players, and took to Instagram to joke about how lucky some of his current and former teammates have been to play with him.

Di Maria posted picture of himself with various legends of the modern game, captioning the photo: “How lucky were these guys”.

Di Maria spent a season playing alongside Swedish icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic at PSG, another solitary campaign with United’s leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney, having more prolonged spells with Argentina colleague Lionel Messi and ex-Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and recently welcoming Neymar to the Parc des Princes.

While Di Maria himself may not have reached the status of some his current and former teammates, he has still had a successful career, winning league titles in Portugal, Spain and France and also picking up a runners-up medal at the 2014 World Cup.


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Real Madrid Boss Zinedine Zidane Teases Possibility of New Signings

​Zinedine Zidane has declined to rule out the possibility of making some new signings before the current transfer window closes in two weeks’ time.

Real Madrid are arguably the best team in club football at the moment, having scooped the 2016/17 Spanish league title and stormed to a third Champions League trophy in four years.

UEFA Super Cup - Previews

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to reach incredible levels of performance, whilst the team’s midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Casemiro and Luka Modric have all emerged as world class talents.

They also had incredible strength in depth last season, but have since cashed in on Danilo and Alvaro Morata, meaning they are sitting on almost £100m from those sales alone and definitely have cash to burn.

Madrid-based football writer Dermot Corrigan tweeted on Tuesday: “Zidane: ‘I am very happy with the squad I have. But as I always say, until the 31st anything can happen. I don’t control this’.”

The comments will likely excite those Real fans who are hoping to see their club sign Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe, who has surprisingly stayed put so far as his teammates around him move to pastures new.

Los Blancos have only signed Theo Hernandez from neighbours Atletico Madrid and Dani Ceballos from Real Betis so far, but there is expectation that Zidane will attempt to test Monaco’s resolve over Mbappe in the next two weeks.


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Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin Reveals What Jurgen Klopp Said Before Real Madrid Move

​Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin has revealed former manager Jurgen Klopp was supportive of his move to Real Madrid.

The Turkey international joined Los Blancos in 2011 after an impressive season with Dortmund and says Klopp told him he would support any decision the midfielder made.

Sahin told the Players’ Tribune: “After we won the Bundesliga in 2011, I got a text from my agent.

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“Hey Nuri, Real Madrid wants you.

“It’s kind of funny that it just happened like that. Through a text. It wasn’t like you imagine when you’re a kid.

“I had heard my name mentioned in transfer rumours before, but never with Real Madrid. And now, here they were. The white kits, the Bernabeu, the history. And I remembered the promise that I’d made to myself all those years ago.

Olympique de Marseille v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League

“There was a part of me that wanted to say ‘no’. Dortmund had given me so much – how could I leave them? It was hard to think about. I lost sleep. I talked for hours with my wife and family.

“But I had to speak with Dortmund’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, before I could decide. I will remember our conversation forever. ‘Nuri, it is your choice,’ he told me. ‘But if you leave, you must know, I will always be on your side. You are my friend forever.’

FC Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga

‘”If I stay,’ I said, ‘I will think about life in Madrid. I will be in Dortmund physically, but mentally… I’ll be lost. I couldn’t live like that.’ And I told him that I only had one life to live – that I didn’t want to regret any part of it.

“Jurgen understood, and he told me to follow my heart. A few hours later, I announced my decision.”

Sahin made just 10 appearances for Madrid during his one season at the club, having loan spells at Liverpool and Dortmund before returning permanently to his former club in 2014, while Klopp is now managing Liverpool.


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Cristiano Ronaldo Hit With 5-Game Ban After Pushing Referee During Spanish Super Cup

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has been handed a five-game domestic ban after he was seen to have pushed referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea during Sunday night’s Spanish Super Cup first leg against Barcelona.

Ronaldo had already been given his marching orders from the game after receiving a second yellow card for an alleged dive, leading him to visibly push Bengoetxea.

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According to the Spanish federation’s regulations, Ronaldo could have been facing a much longer suspension of up to 12 games.

The Spanish federation chose to issue a four-game ban for the push in addition to the one-game suspension for the initial red card, bringing the total number of fixtures he’ll miss to five.

A five-game ban is the minimum threshold for the suspension to apply for all domestic competitions in Spain. Had the 32-year-old been given a lesser ban it would only have seen him ruled out of future Super Cup games.



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