Building a Balanced ‘Home Nations United’ XI to Dominate World Football

​Have you ever wondered what the strongest combined XI of players from our home nations would look like? Of course you have, because domestic football has been replaced by international duties, and we’re all at a bit of a loose end. 

Anyway, the combined XI would normally be filled with overrated English players, or be disrespectfully light on recruits from the smaller nations. 

But, what if we limited ourselves to a maximum of only three players from each nation? Now, that’s when things start to heat up a wee bit. The conundrums arrive when trying to squeeze in your best players, but sacrifices must be made to ensure each nation is accounted for. 

Jadon Sancho

There will be squabbles, outcries and maybe even revolts against certain decisions, but 90min has created a combined XI of the home nation sides – or as we like to call them – Home Nations United. 

Let the games begin. 


Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Goalkeeper) 

Right, we’re going for playground rules here – stick the least-talented (fat kid) in goal, and the rest of the team will make sure he is seldom called upon. 

None of the four home nations are blessed with a stand-out goalkeeper – sorry Jordan Pickford – so we’re gonna stick the Peacock in net and hope that his strong defence gives him little to do. 

Bailey Peacock-Farrell

Despite being a backup option at new club Burnley, the Northern Ireland international is his nation’s number one between the sticks, and he’s the last line of defence for Home Nations United too. 


Trent Alexander-Arnold (Right-Back)

No, this team isn’t going to be double-barrelled names only, but when you own possibly the world’s best player in his position, you must deploy him. ​Trent Alexander-Arnold is an unbelievable right-back and he is quickly growing into a superb defender for club and country.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

The ​Liverpool star is an assist master and his delivery is one of the best in the business, making him one of the first names on the teamsheet for Home Nations United, even if Gareth Southgate didn’t start the 21-year-old against Czech Republic on Saturday evening…no wonder England lost. 


Jonny Evans (Centre-Back) 

Our second Northern Ireland international ​Jonny Evans beats off competition from every other home nation to grab a starting spot in our back four. 

The 31-year-old is one of the most underrated centre-backs in the Premier League, and ​Manchester United fans must wince when they see Phil Jones gurning on their bench, whilst ex-Red Devil Evans thrives in an exciting ​Leicester City side. 

UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier group C"The Netherlands v Northern Ireland"

A Premier League stalwart over the past decade, Evans takes pride of place in the heart of our defence – and well-deserved too. 


Kieran Tierney (Centre-Back) 

Thank God for versatility. Kieran Tierney made his name as an adventurous left-back with Celtic, and the Scotland international has a wand of a left foot. Unfortunately for him, his preferred position is already taken (we’ll come to that later). 

Kieran Tierney

Tierney can also successfully ply his trade as a centre-back and although only standing at five foot eight inches tall, the 22-year-old can hold his own against the best strikers in Europe. The recently injured ​Arsenal man limps with ease into our hypothetical starting XI. 

Welcome aboard Kieran! 


Andy Robertson (Left-Back)

Not for the first time during this lineup, the home nations – and Liverpool – hold arguably the world’s best in his field, and Andy Robertson is an absolute banker for Home Nations United. 

Steve Clarke,Andy Robertson

The Scotsman possesses bags of pace and strength, and can also whip a wicked cross into the penalty area when required. The Scotland captain helped the Reds to European glory last season, and he’ll be desperate to reach Euro 2020 with his nation this summer. 

If anyone deserves it, it’s you, Andy. 


Aaron Ramsey (Central Midfield) 

A stop-start career of ‘what-ifs’ for our first midfielder. ​Aaron Ramsey is still one of the most talented footballers in Europe when fit and firing, and the ​Juventus star has made a solid start to life in Turin. 

Wales v Denmark - UEFA Nations League B

Although injury has plagued the Welshman throughout his entire career, the 28-year-old has established himself as a dynamic figure in the centre of the pitch, who is able to put his foot in when necessary. 

A wonderful player. 


John McGinn (Central Midfield) 

This boy has magic in his boots. What a start Aston Villa star John McGinn has made to his first season in top-flight English football. The Scotland international has helped the Villans to find their feet back in the Premier League, and has impressed pundits up and down the country with his dynamic displays. 

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McGinn is attracting the attention of English giants Manchester United, and his fantastic performances at the start of this season have earned the 24-year-old a call-up to 90min’s combined XI. 

Super John McGinn. 


Raheem Sterling (Right Wing) 

​You just can’t leave Raheem Sterling out of this side. Even ​Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has spared the England star from his ruthless rotation policy in recent weeks, as the pacy winger continues to go from strength to strength. 

Raheem Sterling

​Sterling has arguably grown into England’s most valuable asset, and his direct running and new-found killer instinct in front of goal makes him a force to be reckoned with. 

The 24-year-old’s incredible rise to the top of world football has propelled him into 90min’s Home Nations United, and a thoroughly deserved first cap is on the horizon. 


Daniel James (Left Wing)

What a 12 months Daniel James has experienced. After breaking into ​Swansea’s senior side, the explosive winger impressed Man Utd so much that they forked out around £15m for his services, and the forward has made a sensational start to life in the Premier League. 

Daniel James

Ryan Giggs has put his faith in the 21-year-old to be a key component in Wales’ young side, and James has repaid his manager with some wonderful performances at international level. With pace being vital in any forward line, James gets the nod from our selection committee. ​


Gareth Bale (Second Striker)

Get ready for some serious attacking firepower. Wales talisman ​Gareth Bale was always going to be a starter in this lineup, and although the striker’s powers are waning somewhat, he still has enough credit in the bank to make our combined XI. 

Slovakia v Wales - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier

The ​Real Madrid forward has had a tough time of late, suffering a number of injuries and being deemed surplus to requirements by manager Zinedine Zidane. You can’t keep a good dog down however, and Bale worked his way back into los Merengues’ plans, and into Home Nations United’s XI. 

One of the very best. 


Harry Kane (Striker) 

Yeah, no shocks here. ​Harry Kane is the embodiment of brilliance: determination, ability, and possessing the stones to take vital penalties at crucial moments. The ​Tottenham Hotspur striker is one of the deadliest finishers in world football, and he’s working his way towards Wayne Rooney’s England all-time goalscoring record.

Harry Kane

When you’re in desperate need of a late goal to level or clinch a match, there’s only one man you’d want on the end of a cross or a loose ball in the penalty area. That man is our very own Kane, and he completes our Home Nations United lineup. 


Michael O’Neill (Manager)

‘There were only two Northern Ireland players in the lineup!’ I hear you yell in disgust. Well, that’s because the brains behind our organisation is their very own boss, Michael O’Neill. 

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O’Neill has worked wonders with such a tiny pool of players, and for a small nation like Northern Ireland, the 50-year-old boss has delivered some memorable moments. Reaching any tournament is a great achievement, and after travelling to France for Euro 2016, O’Neill has earned the right to lead our troops into battle. 

Goarn Home Nations United! 

Let’

Barcelona and Real Madrid Set to Do Battle Over €40m-Rated Teen Sensation Eduardo Camavinga

Fierce rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid are set to battle it out for 16-year-old​ wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga, who is valued at an extraordinary €40m. 

The midfielder has already become a key member of the Stade Rennais first team, making 12 appearances in all competitions for the French club, which included a brilliant man of the match display against PSG, where he also bagged himself an assist.

SS Lazio v Stade Rennes: Group E - UEFA Europa League

According to ​Mundo Deportivo, Barca director of football Eric Abidal is a massive fan of the player after scouting him on multiple occasions, and believes he is as good as the club’s stand-out youngster Ansu Fati.

With Sergio Busquets now 31 years old and approaching the end of his career, the signing of Camavinga would make sense as a long term replacement for the Spaniard.

However, they will face stiff competition from rivals ​Real Madrid, with manager Zinedine Zidane extremely keen on bringing the youngster into the squad.

Zinedine Zidane

Both clubs have been told that they will have to dish out a whopping €40m for the Congolese, which is a massive price tag for a 16-year-old who came into the picture just this season.

If Camavinga continues to perform well for the rest of 2019/20 campaign, then it is likely that his price will inflate even more, and he could become one of the most sought after players in the world during next summer’s transfer window.

Let’

Santiago Arias Spoke to Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez About a Move to Atletico

Atletico Madrid defender Santiago Arias has revealed he was in contact with James Rodriguez this summer about the midfielder possibly moving from Real Madrid to city rivals Atletico.

Rodriguez, who returned to Real Madrid in the summer having spent the last two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich, was heavily linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu, but eventually ended up staying.

The playmaker featured 43 times over two seasons in the Bundesliga with Bayern, racking up 14 goals and 14 assists in this time before returning to Madrid in July. Arias, who is a teammate of Rodriguez’s in the Colombian national side, said he did speak to the 28-year-old about a move to Atletico.

James Rodriguez

As quoted by ​Marca, Arias stated: “We talked about ​Atleti, I asked him if the rumours were true and I explained how things were here, but not much else.

“There were options, but we didn’t speak about it much more because it was down to the clubs.”

In the end James stayed with ​​Real Madrid and has featured six times this season in La Liga, including a cameo appearance from the bench in September against Atletico in a 0-0 draw.

Arias however did not face his Colombian teammate Rodriguez that day as he has found himself below new signing ​Kieran Trippier in the pecking order at right-back. However, despite the competition between the pair for selection, Arias insisted he has a good relationship with the England international.

Santiago Arias

“I have a good relationship with Trippier, it’s healthy competition,” he said. “You have to respect this, you can never wish anything bad on anyone.

“On a personal level, we speak in English, I learned [to speak] it in Holland. The important thing is having a good team, that the best players play. He has good strengths; you can learn from everyone.”

Both Arias and Rodriguez have stayed in Madrid during the international break with neither called up to the Colombia national squad. 

Let’

Real Madrid Turn Attention to Erling Håland as They Continue Youth Recruitment Policy

​Real Madrid are said to be considering a move for Red Bull Salzburg striker Erling Håland, as the 19-year-old continues to impress mightily in the Austrian Bundesliga and the Champions League. 

Having scored a dramatic equaliser against Liverpool in his side’s 4-3 defeat at Anfield, he’s scored four goals in two ​Champions League appearances and sits on a science-defying 18 in 11 in all competitions. 

Such form is likely to attract interest from the top clubs across Europe, and Napoli were ​recently linked with a move for Håland and teammate Dominik Szoboszlai in a double deal. 

RB Salzburg v KRC Genk: Group E - UEFA Champions League

The game may have just changed, however, as reports from Spain indicate that ​Real Madrid have entered the hunt and are keeping a close eye on the Norwegian international. 

This one comes from ​AS, who are sparse in detailing the interest, but do suggest it hasn’t gone far beyond courting the player as a long-term target just yet. 

If they are serious about their interest, however, the report does note that it would perhaps be in their best interest to act sooner rather than later. Håland’s value is expected to rocket to stratospheric heights if he continues on his current trajectory, and the days of being able to secure him for a reasonable price are looking increasingly numbered.

RB Salzburg v KRC Genk: Group E - UEFA Champions League

The report also notes a lack of urgency for a striker, with Karim Benzema and Luka Jovic currently in the ranks, but they are prepared to make exceptions for players who ‘fit their criteria’ – in other words, exceptionally talented young players.

They moved for both Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Jr. despite an apparent wealth of options in the wide positions at the point of acquisition, so the precedent is there if the player merits being treated as a special case.

And with the numbers Håland is hitting at present, it certainly seems he is of the standard required. 

Let’

90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings – Week 7: Succession Special

​Following a week during which: 

– Juventus put Inter in their place AGAIN.

– Chelsea’s young guns shot the lights out AGAIN.

– Liverpool won AGAIN.

– Manchester City dropped points AGAIN.

We, using quotes from Succession season two, and while listening to Pusha T’s remix of the Nicholas Britell penned Succession soundtrack (​yes, this is a real thing), rank the 15 best teams in Europe.


15) Nantes (New Entry) 

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-NANTES-NICE

If I was to give Tom a letter grade, I’d give him a B+ for Bad plus Terrible.”

If I was to give Nantes a letter grade, I’d give them an A+ for Amazing plus Incredible. 

La Maison Jaune have won three on the bounce in Ligue 1 and now sit second in the table, just two points adrift of Paris Saint-Germain.

If that’s not Amazing plus Incredible then I don’t know what is. 


14) Inter (Down 5) 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

Worried that I agreed to be CEO of a dumpster fire pirate death ship.”

In previous iterations of 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings, the following was written about ​Inter: 

We’re 95% sure Antonio Conte’s Inter are a great team. 95% sure. However, due to how disastrously pathetic Inter have been for the majority of the past decade, there’s 5% of doubt still lingering.”

BUT hold your horses, and maybe quell the “OMG Inter are going to win the league” chatter. Because we’ve seen this story play out so many times over the past few years: hope of a new dawn, painful setbacks, then embarrassing defeats, then the kicker, a fifth place finish. This season may very well be different…but…you know…it might not be…”

So after last weekend’s humbling at the hand of Juventus, we’re not going to say ‘we told you so’ but…yeah, actually, we are: 

We told you so. 


13) Red Bull Salzburg (Re-Entry) 

FC Red Bull Salzburg v Cashpoint SCR Altach - tipico Bundesliga

“I’m golden, baby.”

Played: 10

Won: 9

Drawn: 1

Lost: 0

Goals Scored: 46 (yes, 46) 

Goals Conceded: 9

Goal Difference: +37 (yes, +37)

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Red Bull Salzburg are golden, baby. 


12) Atalanta (Re-Entry) 

Duvan Zapata

“It looks like there might be a slight uptick in ticket sales.”

– Champions League football? Check.

– A top three side in Serie A? Check. 

– Exciting style of play? Check.

– World class goalscorer? Check.

– World class trequartista? Check. 

– World class, newly refurbished stadium? Check. 

It looks like there’s going to yet another uptick in ticket sales for Atalanta games in the coming months. 


11) Famalicão (-) 

Diogo Goncalves

Good story.”

New DEPR favourites Famalicão didn’t actually play this past week, but neither did any other team in the Primeira Liga, so guess what:

Famalicão are still top of the league!

So rejoice at the feel-good story of the year for one more week (at least). 


10) Manchester City (Down 7) 

Sergio Aguero

I think this might be the end of the company. We might get sucked into a black hole of embarrassment that we never get out of.”

It’s become abundantly clear in recent weeks that Aymeric Laporte’s injury might be the end of ​Manchester City’s title challenge. 

They been sucked into a black hole of playing the embarrassingly awful John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, and until Laporte is back, they will not get out of it. 


9) Ajax (-) 

Dutch Eredivisie"ADO Den Haag v Ajax Amsterdam"

Yeah. So, I think I just, uh, turned down a quarter of a billion dollars.”

Ajax made about a quarter of a billion dollars during the 2019 summer transfer window, but they also turned down about a quarter of a billion dollars too.

And thank God they did. 

If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have the likes of Hakim Ziyech and David Neres keeping them relevant in the Netherlands and on the continent. 


8) Real Madrid (Re-Entry) 

James,Zinedine Zidane

“So I hereby convene the meeting of the newly formed ‘what the f*ck are we gonna do’ committee.”

There were, approximately 23,458 ‘what the f*ck are we gonna do’ committee meetings over the past 12 months at ​Real Madrid, as the club’s hierarchy tried – mostly in vein – to turn their faltering football team around. 

Now, it looks like they might have just worked it out. They finally found that the answer to many of their problems was right in front of them all along. 

It’s James Rodriguez…of all people. 


7) Bayern Munich (Down 6) 

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN-MUNICH-HOFFENHEIM

The weakest strong man at the circus.”

Lads, what happened? 

How did you lose to Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena? 

How does that happen? 

It was all going so well Bayern, you looked like the strongest strong man in all of Europe; now you’re the weakest strong man in the Bundesliga. 

Shambles. 


6) Chelsea (Up 4) 

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-CHELSEA

“Let’s move ahead with that process shall we?”

Even the most optimistic of ​Chelsea fans didn’t see this one coming. 

The Blues, armed with a myriad of young go-getters, are – out of nowhere – the second best team in the Premier League.*

They’re better than Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United (everyone is), and maybe even the Laporte-less Manchester City. Nice one. 


5) Paris Saint-Germain (-)

Pablo Sarabia

This is all normal.”

Oh, would you look at that…Paris Saint-Germain won a Ligue 1 game. 

Whoop-de-doo. 


4) Borussia Monchengladbach (New Entry) 

Denis Zakaria,Breel Embolo

The world’s tallest dwarf.”

Hallelujah! The world’s tallest dwarf (Borussia Monchengladbach) has bested the weakest strong man in the circus (Bayern Munich) and is now top of the Bundesliga. 

It’s the first time a rather tall dwarf (any German team other than Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich) has sat atop of the BuLi table in five years, and it was run of strong man dominance that Gladbach broke in style as – thanks to a Patrick Herrmann (the German) masterclass – they thumped Augsburg 5-1. 


3) Barcelona (Up 3) 

Lionel Messi

“One hundred percent based on truth.”

​Barcelona beat Sevilla 40-0 despite having nine of their ten outfield players sent off this past weekend in La Liga. 

That sentence is 100% based on truth.*

*The truth is, Barca beat Sevilla 4-0 despite having two of their ten outfield players sent off…which is still impressive…but I like my version better; it’s more dramatic. 


2) Liverpool (-) 

Jurgen Klopp

“Hey, this is where the party is at. Look at us, all the cool and beautiful people in one spot.”

​Liverpool fans, it’s time to party. 

For the first time in what feels like 3,000 years (since 1990, to be exact), your football time has won the English top flight; and deservedly so. 

What. A. Team. 


1) Juventus (Up 3) 

Maurizio Sarri

“Bill. The best boss that ever lived. It’s like Mandela f*cked Santa and gave birth to Bill.”

Maurizio. The best boss that ever lived. It’s like Arrigo Sacchi f*cked Marcello Lippi and gave birth to Maurizio. 

For he has worked wonders at ​Juventus. 

He’s revitalised Paulo Dybala, rejuvenated Gonzalo Higuain, and reinvigorated Leonardo Bonucci to make Juventus play the best football in all Europe. Impressive. 


For more from Jack Gallagher, follow him on Twitter! 

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Neymar & the 6 Other Players to Win 100 or More Caps for Brazil

​The nation of Brazil is synonymous with football.

They live and breathe the beautiful game, from kids bundled-up socks on the street to superstars donning the famous yellow and blue of the Seleção. To represent the side on over 100 occasions is the stuff every man, woman and child dreams of.

However, only a select few are fortunate enough to receive a century of caps for Brazil. Their 1-1 draw with Senegal at the Singapore National Stadium on Thursday saw another player added to the list that list, with ​Neymar reaching the landmark at just 27-years-of-age.

Here, 90min briefly recaps the international career of the Paris Saint-Germain forward, as well as six others to amass 100 appearances for the South Americans.


Neymar

FBL-WC-2018-MATCH53-BRA-MEX

Caps: 100

When he was still just a fresh-faced teenager, Neymar earned his first Brazil call-up, kick-starting a rollercoaster ride with the Seleção. 

A mixture of agony and ecstasy colour the striker’s international history. His tournament debut came in the 2011 Copa America, where his strong showings failed to save his country from a quarter-final exit at the hands of Paraguay.

Then came what promised to be the defining moment of the poster boy’s career – a home World Cup. You probably don’t need reminding that Neymar and his teammates fell in the semis, an entire nation weeping in anguish as Germany romped to a 7-1 triumph.

Redemption followed that nightmare, with the trickster’s blast from the spot sealing a penalty-shootout win in the final of the Rio Olympics. 

He’s now third in the all-time scoring charts, Neymar’s tally of 61 goals leaving him only one behind the legendary Ronaldo. Pele is the next one in his sights.


Robinho

Brazil's striker Robinho celebrates afte

Caps: 100

Despite hitting the 100-cap mark, Robinho’s time in yellow and blue was somewhat underwhelming, the winger’s performances rarely matching his potential.

Nevertheless, he can call himself a continental conqueror, having won the Copa America in 2007, as well as a pair of FIFA Confederations Cup trophies.

That elusive World Cup triumph will haunt Robinho, however. He was scapegoated for much of Brazil’s ineptitude in South Africa nearly a decade ago, yet the forward continued to represent his nation until 2017, when he was sentenced after being found guilty of rape.


Claudio Taffarel

SOCCER-WORLD CUP-1994-BRA-ITA

Caps: 104

Claudio Taffarel’s superb abilities between the sticks helped him become goalkeeping coach for both Brazil and Galatasaray once he decided to hang up his gloves.

When fans the world over marvelled at the silky skills of the Samba Boys in the late 20th century, the Santa Rosa native was the often-unheralded last line of defence.

His steady hands ensured Taffarel became the proud owner of a World Cup winner’s medal, plus two for the Copa America. 

The ‘keeper conceded just three goals at USA ’94, his intimidating presence contributing to Roberto Baggio’s infamous miss during the penalty-shootout in the final. 


Lucio

Lucio,Ri Jun-Il

Caps: 105

What a horrifyingly-good centre-back Lucio was. Back in his heyday, rampaging runs up-field were commonplace for the colossus.

With a towering, rock-solid defender like him in the heart of their backline, it’s no surprise the South Americans were crowned champions of the world in 2002.

A player like Lucio only comes once every generation – if you were fortunate to watch him at the peak of his powers, you’ll know just how influential the big man was.


Dani Alves

Dani Alves

Caps: 107

No player in the history of the game has been as successful as Dani Alves. 40 different trophies have been collected across a stupendous 17-year career that refuses to end.

The epitome of an attacking full-back, Alves’ turbo-charged feet and bottomless engine saw him dominate, wherever he lay his hat.

But, yet again, there is a glaring omission from the defender’s trophy cabinet. He – like countless compatriots – blossomed too late to play a part in the days when Brazil were at the top of the sport.


Roberto Carlos

Frank Ribery,Roberto Carlos

Caps: 125

Have you ever heard someone described as ‘the Serbian Roberto Carlos’? Or ‘the Welsh Roberto Carlos’? Or any other version of Roberto Carlos, for that matter? How about the Roberto Carlos?

There’s a reason why the ​Real Madrid icon has such a magnificent legacy and reputation among supporters and players, alike. Carlos reinvented what it meant to be a full-back, scoring screamers at will as he bombed forward for club and country.

With quads of the gods, the centurion was capable of ripping the net in half, yet he was about so much more than raw power. Delicious ball-control, pin-point crossing and positional awareness made him an unstoppable force of nature.


Cafu

WC2002-BRA-TUR-CAFU CELEBRATES

Caps: 142

Cafu’s defensive skills were freakish. The right-back’s consistency was stunning. His leadership qualities could motivate any man.

19 fabulous years as a professional footballer yielded numerous honours for the skipper, who was arguably the greatest ever player in his position.

Of course, a man like Cafu was more than capable of performing other roles, occasionally appearing as a winger or central-defender. There truly was nothing that the double World Cup champion couldn’t do.


For more from Ed Alexander, follow him on Twitter!

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Sergio Ramos Eyeing Opportunity to Represent Spain at Euro 2020 and Olympics in Same Summer

​Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is considering the possibility of representing Spain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but he could see his wishes clash with those of the Spanish Football Federation. 

Ramos has won nearly everything both club and international football has to offer, but he is yet to feature for his country at an Olympic Games. 

He was part of the team that won the World Cup in 2010, while he has also helped his country to further success, winning the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

Spanish defender Sergio Ramos kisses the

And with Euro 2020 not far away, the Real Madrid defender will be hoping he can guide La Roja to the top once again. However, it has now been reported that Ramos is intending to feature at the Euros, as well as the Olympic Games this summer. 

According to Spanish outlet El Mundo (​via Marca), the centre-back sees the opportunity as a dream and a chance that is “tremendously exciting for him.”

It would be a tiring summer for ​Ramos, with the Euro 2020 final – should they get there – set to take place on July 12 and the Olympic Games football tournament due to commence only ten days later. Nonetheless, it appears to be something he is very keen on. 

Sergio Ramos

Spain don’t typically send older or experienced players to the Games, and it appears as though ​Ram​os’ aims will clash with those of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). 

​Marca have reported that the RFEF plan to keep the side who won last summer’s European Under-21 Championships together for the upcoming tournament in Japan. Olympic regulations dictates that there are only three places available for players born before January 1 1997, leaving as many as nine stars from the recent Under-21 tournament needing to fight it out over the remaining slots. 

It appears Ramos is keen to participate in Tokyo 2020, but it remains to be seen whether the Spanish Football Federation will allow him to fulfil his dream as he reaches the twilight years of his career. 

Let’

Lyon President Claims Jose Mourinho Has Already Chosen Next Job After Rejecting Vacancy Talks

​Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas has revealed that Jose Mourinho turned down a proposal to discuss joining as manager as he has already chosen another club. 

Mourinho was sacked by Manchester United in December 2018 and has since taken up a role as a pundit for Sky Sports. The former Chelsea coach has been linked with a whole host of top European clubs, but nothing has yet materialised. 

Lyon, who are without a manager after they parted ways with Sylvinho, were considering Mourinho as a potential candidate to fill the position. However, the club’s president has now confirmed that the 56-year-old will not be entering into any discussions, as he has already chosen his next destination.

José Mourinho

Speaking as part of a telephone press conference, as ​quoted by Get French Football News, Aulas said: “We had some fairly flattering exchanges over SMS. It was nice for everyone. He did not accept our proposal to meet because he has already chosen another club.”

This news comes following ​recent reports that have claimed that Mourinho has his eye on a number of clubs, including ​Tottenham and ​Real Madrid. Spurs have endured a difficult start to the new campaign, with the team most recently being defeated 3-0 by ​Brighton before the international break.

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As a result, manager Mauricio Pochettino’s future has been called into question, with he himself growing increasingly frustrated. ​Real Madrid, meanwhile, currently top the table in ​La Liga, but they too have struggled at points this season – notably losing 3-0 in their first group match in the ​Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.

Aulas has appeared to confirm that Mourinho does indeed have plans to return to management, but it is not yet known where or when this will be.

Lyon have also been linked with Arsene Wenger recently, though it’s unclear whether he will take the job either after reportedly rejecting their offer in the summer.

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Luka Modric: The Only Other Ballon d’Or Winner of the Decade

Luka Modric is number 3 in 90min’s Top 20 Greatest Footballers of the Decade series. Follow the rest of the series over the course of the next week.


One second.

100 milliseconds.

The blink of an eye.

These are the temporal metrics within which the greatest football players of all time become, well, the greatest football players of all time.

The time within which headlines are written, trophies are won, and legends are born.

As in just one second, a player can shimmy the ball onto his left foot and curl it into the top corner of the net. In just 100 milliseconds, a player can rise highest from a corner kick to head the ball past a hapless goalkeeper. And in the blink of an eye, a player can rifle a free kick from the edge of the box, over a wall, and into the top corner. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

So, in other simpler words, in just one second, 100 milliseconds, the blink of an eye (whichever metric you prefer), a goal can be scored. And goals are important, because, you know, goals win games and winning games means you win trophies…and you know all of this already so I’ll just move on.

The players who excel in these seconds, milliseconds, blinks of eyes are, therefore, the most valuable in world football. They populate every ‘greatest footballers of the [insert timeframe here]’ list written by every sad sod that’s sad enough to write one of those types of articles (e.g. me). They are the most fondly remembered footballers of all time.

But, perhaps rather than being the ‘most fondly remembered footballers of all time’, they are just the easiest to remember…? 

For the players that have historically excelled in the aforementioned seconds, milliseconds and blinks of the eye are the players with their names strewn across every football related Wikipedia page – having broken a million and one goalscoring records by scoring (roughly) a million and one goals. 

They are the players with their best bits collated for YouTube compilations, with the ‘drops’ in David Guetta’s ‘songs’ accentuating every ball being cannoned into the net. 

Lionel Messi

They are the players who have a new stat tweeted by OptaJoe every time they score a goal. 

‘Enumerate’ (‘f*** off’). 

They’re pretty much inescapable. 

On every Twitter feed. On every Facebook homepage (if anyone still uses that?). In every football boot advertisement that Nike and adidas have ever made. 

For this reason, Luka Modric is somewhat of an anomaly in any list of the greatest footballers of the year, or decade, ever. 

Luka Modric

As, unlike Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, ​Luis Suarez or even ​Sergio Ramos – a player whose defining career moment is scoring a last minute equaliser in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final – Modric hasn’t made a career out of popping up at the most opportune moment to score the most important goal.

The Croatian midfielder isn’t one of the ‘easiest’ footballers to remember; for he does all of his best work in the more forgettable passages of games. 

Rather than being the protagonist in the only fleeting unforgettable moment of a game, Modric is usually the protagonist of the other, forgettable, 92 minutes and 59 seconds. 

At Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and Croatia, the diminutive midfielder left the headline grabbing moments for the Gareth Bale’s, Cristiano Ronaldo’s and even Mario Mandzukic’s of the world, instead doing everything in his power to ensure that moment – that one game-defining moment – falls to his team, and not the opposition. 

Koke,David Villa,Luka Modric

It was exactly what he did in the 2014 Champions League final, in which Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale scored the decisive goals, and Modric did literally everything else. 

Out-muscling, out-working, out-maneuvering a four-man Atletico Madrid midfield basically on his own (he played alongside Angel Di Maria – a winger – and a not-fully fit Sami Khedira on that day), the Croatian laid the foundations upon which Real Madrid mounted the attacks which would subsequently lead to the four goals which would win La Decima (and breathe). 

He did the same, albeit with a lot more help, in the 2016, 2017, 2018 Champions League finals. All finals after which Ronaldo and Bale were lauded for their goals, while Modric’s vital contributions somewhat faded into the background – vaguely mentioned in a sidebar column in a national newspaper once the Bale and Ronaldo well had dried up. 

Indeed for most of the decade, that’s what Modric did. 

He faded into the background, forever in the shadow of the supposedly superior talents that scored more goals than he ever could. 

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia"France v Croatia"

It would take a quite astonishing turn at the 2018 FIFA World Cup for Luka Modric to finally be receive the plaudits he had long deserved.

In June and July of 2018, Modric would drag an unfancied Croatia side to the final of the tournament, putting in man of the match performance after man of the match performance along the way – even scoring the odd goal too. 

While the Croatian captain would still shy away from the limelight slightly, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the famous winner in the semi final, and Ivan Rakitic scoring the decisive penalties in the previous two rounds, it would be Modric who would finally get the credit. 

Perhaps due to the fact that football was not hidden behind a paywall for two months (has been back behind the paywall since) and people were able to watch full games as opposed to illegal YouTube highlight reels, the world was finally able to sit up and take notice of Modric’s talents. 

Millions around the world were finally able to see, not just the second, 100 milliseconds or blink of the eye moments in which CR7 and Messi shine in, but the other 92 minutes and 59 seconds in which Modric shines. 

And as such, Modric was finally – rightfully – heralded as the best in the world. 

The long overdue accolades would follow. 

Luka Modric

The former Tottenham man would win the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and become the only player other than Messi and Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or this decade. 

Indeed, Modric was more than deserving of these awards. As after a decade in the shadow of goalscorers, the little Croatian midfielder had finally stolen the limelight, and proved that he is one of the very best of all time. 


For more from Jack Gallagher, follow him on Twitter! 


Number 20 – Arjen Robben: The Flying Dutchman Who Became a Modern Legend at Bayern Munich

Number 19 – Mohamed Salah: The Humble King Who Conquered Rome and Took Liverpool By Storm

Number 18 – Sergio Aguero: The Man Who Painted Manchester Blue With One Kick of a Football

Number 17 – Manuel Neuer: The Bayern Munich & Germany Legend Who Revolutionised Goalkeeping

Number 16 – Eden Hazard: The Brilliant Belgian Who Mesmerised Fans Across the World

Number 15 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The Man Who Needs No Introduction

Number 14 – Toni Kroos: The Underrated Jahrhunderttalent Who Was There for the Biggest Occasions

Number 13 – Giorgio Chiellini: The Juventus Legend Who Has Always Found a Way to Win

Number 12 – Marcelo: From Favela Kickabouts Under Grandad’s Watch to 4 Champions League Wins

Number 11 – Robert Lewandowski: Bayern Munich’s Best Foreign Player & Europe’s Most Underrated Star in History

Number 10 – Neymar Jr: Brazil’s Generational Talent Who Dictated the Greatest Champions League Night in History

Number 9 – Gareth Bale: The Cursed Talent Who Went on to Conquer Europe Four Times

Number 8 – Dani Alves: The Maverick Who’s Just Too Good to Be Copied

Number 7 – Franck Ribery: The Serial Entertainer Who Was Born to Win

Number 6 – Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan Heel Who Never Bit Off More Than He Could Chew

Number 5 – Andrés Iniesta: The Enigmatic Architect Behind the Best Barcelona Team in Modern History

​Number 4 – Sergio Ramos: Football’s Big Bad Who Has Dominated the Sport Like No Other


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The Best XI of Players Who Are Out of Contract in 2020

​We’ve all seen how expensive transfers can be these days. It can take ludicrous fees to sign players, but that just makes the free agency market even more exciting.

Every year, we see a whole host of players who find themselves out of contract, some of whom can be considered as some of the world’s elite. Teams get the chance to grab themselves a bargain and lure they away for free, and 2020 will likely be no exception.

Here’s a look at the best XI of players who will be out of contract next summer.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Tottenham Hotspur v Bayern Munchen: Group B - UEFA Champions League

Alexander Nübel (GK) – ​Schalke starlet Nübel has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting young goalkeepers around. However, the race for his signature might already be over as ​Bayern Munich are thought to be ​ready to swoop.

Thomas Meunier (RB) – Paris Saint-Germain man Meunier has long cut an unsettled figure in France. The Belgian hasn’t always found minutes easy to come by, so the chance to be a regular starter could be all it takes for Meunier to make a move.

Toby Alderweireld (CB) – The drama surrounding Alderweireld never ends. Tottenham triggered the automatic extension in his contract, but he seems destined to just leave next summer instead. As one of the Premier League‘s finest, surely there will be plenty of interest in Alderweireld.

Stefan Savić (CB) – Alderweireld’s teammate Jan Vertonghen is also out of contract in the summer, but ​Atlético​ Madrid man Savic just pips him to the spot in this XI. Savic is four years younger and a core part of an Atlético side which is known to be one of the strongest defensive units around.

Layvin Kurzawa (LB) – Another PSG full-back, Kurzawa is not the player he used to be but, at 27 years old, any interested side could still get plenty of solid years out of the Frenchman.


Midfielders

Luka Modric

Willian (RM) – One of the more polarising figures in this lineup, ​Willian remains a dangerous winger, despite being 31 years old. However, his inconsistency has left several ​Chelsea fans wanting more over the years, so next summer could be time to go.

Luka Modrić (CM) – The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner has endured a challenging few seasons with ​Real Madrid, but ​Modric remains one of the finest passers around. At 34, this may be the last chance he gets to earn himself a big move.

Christian Eriksen (CM) – ​Eriksen’s contract situation has dominated headlines for what feels like an eternity. It seems just a matter of time before he walks away from Spurs, so this drawn-out saga looks to be coming to an end. 

Ryan Fraser (LM) – Fraser was one the Premier League’s top performers last season as he racked up a stunning 14 assists for ​Bournemouth. If you’re looking for a creative, tricky winger, then Fraser could be the man for the job.


Forwards

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Edinson Cavani (ST) – With the arrival of ​Mauro Icardi, it seems like PSG are getting ready to say goodbye to ​Cavani. As one of the finest pure finishers around, there aren’t many teams who would say no to him.

Dries Mertens (ST) – ​Mertens’ contract situation has been a dark cloud over ​Napoli’s season. The 32-year-old is seemingly hesitant to commit his future to the club, and an intriguing offer from overseas could see Mertens leave ​Serie A next summer.

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