International Veterans: 9 of the Most Capped Players Currently Playing in Europe’s Top Leagues

As the international break comes to a close, why not take a look at some of the players currently plying their trade in Europe’s top divisions who have been capped a monumental amount of times by their nation. 

Most of the players below are still active internationally, meaning they could further enhance their appearance record for their countries and cement their status as a national hero. 

9. Lionel Messi – FC Barcelona & Argentina

Caps: 122

The four time Ballon d’Or winner has amassed 122 caps for La Albiceleste since making his debut way back in 2005, and is also his country’s record scorer in that time with 61 goals.

He failed to score against Peru last Friday, but single handedly took his country to the World Cup with a scintillating hat-trick against Ecuador on Tuesday night. 

It speaks volumes of Messi’s importance to the national team that the Barcelona maestro is the only player to score a competitive goal for Argentina in the last 11 months, and the population of the south American nation will hope he can carry them just as effectively in Russia next summer. 

8. Andres Iniesta – FC Barcelona & Spain

Caps:121

The 33-year-old playmaker has been an exceptional servant for club and country since coming through La Masia, debuting for the club at just 18 and making his international debut aged 22.

Iniesta has earned 121 caps for La Furia Roja, famously scoring the World Cup winning goal against the Netherlands after extra time in 2010, but has been unable to add to his extraordinary cap tally this international break as he has been suffering with injury.  

7. Petr Cech – Arsenal & Czech Republic

Caps: 124

The Arsenal stopper is the most capped player in his country’s history with 124 appearances for the Czech Republic national team, although he announced his retirement from international football back in 2016. 

The 35-year-old has won the Czech Football of the Year award nine times and is arguably the most famous player to ever come out of his nation, whilst also winning numerous titles whilst at Chelsea and Arsenal. 

6. Wesley Sneijder – OG Nice & Holland

Caps: 132

Sneijder is one of the most famous players to ever play for the Netherlands, and currently sits on 132 caps for the senior team, scoring 31 goals for his country. 

The 33-year-old is still internationally active, and is perhaps the player with the most experience and pedigree in a youthful Dutch side having been shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award in 2010, although he failed to inspire his country to World Cup qualification. 

He is currently the record cap holder for the Netherlands, surpassing Edwin van der Sar’s record that stood for 4,002 days. 

5. Javier Mascherano – FC Barcelona & Argentina

Caps: 139 

The 33-year-old has made 139 appearances for Argentina since debuting back in 2001, scoring a grand total of three goals as his versatility saw him operate at centre back and defensive midfield for his country. 

Mascherano started last Friday night’s game against Peru, adding further to his many caps for La Albiceleste, and played a key role as Argentina beat Ecuador 3-1 to secure their place in Russia, although he surprisingly failed to add to his vast goals… 

4. Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid & Spain

Caps: 147

The Sevilla academy graduate has become one of the best defenders in history for both club and country since debuting for the Spanish side in 2004. 

Ramos has already amassed a staggering 147 caps for La Furia Roja since debuting at just 18-years-old, and at just 31 years of age he is certain to further extend that tally. 

His impressive goalscoring exploits have seen him score 11 goals for his country, whilst notching a further 72 in his club career.  

3. Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid & Portugal

Caps: 147

The 32-year-old has become his country’s all time top scorer with 79 goals, and in the process overcoming Pele to become the joint fifth top international scorer in history. 

Ronaldo led his country to EURO 2016 glory to secure his first international success, and will surely extend his record to unreachable numbers during the remainder of his career.  

2. Iker Casillas – FC Porto & Spain

Caps: 167

Spain’s all time record cap holder was a key figure in arguably his country’s golden period, holding down the number one spot over the course of La Furia Roja’s EURO 2008, World Cup 2010 and EURO 2012 successes. 

Casillas won the Golden Glove for his efforts in the 2010 World Cup tournament, and one of his saves against South Korea during the 2002 World Cup was voted in the top ten saves of all time by FIFA. 

1. Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus & Italy

Caps: 173

The Italy and Juventus legend is still active both internationally and at club level at the age of 39, and will undoubtedly make his cap record for the Italian national team unreachable when he eventually retires. 

Buffon is the second most appeared captain for Italy with 77 caps since earning the armband in 2008, and was instrumental in his country’s 2006 World Cup victory beating France in the final, setting a World Cup record in the process by keeping five clean sheet and conceding just two goals in seven games. 

Let’

5 Players Who Moved to Rival Teams as Mesut Ozil Is Linked With Manchester United Switch

Mesut Özil’s time at Arsenal looks likely to come to a turbulent end, as the German is no nearer to signing a new contract at the Emirates. And something that will make his departure even more bitter to Gunners fans is that a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United could be on the cards. 

Özil played under Mourinho at Real Madrid, where the Portuguese manager compared him with Zinedine Zidane because of his creative abilities. The German is also apparently interested in a move back to Madrid, or to their fierce rivals Barcelona, as he looks to leave the Gunners in search for silverware. 

And with the 28-year-old interested in a switch to Old Trafford, here’s a look at the top five players to transfer to rival clubs.

1. Sol Campbell

Sol Campbell’s decision to move from Tottenham to Arsenal wasn’t exactly met with cheers from those at White Hart Lane. The former England centre-half was adored by the Tottenham faithful, but he was searching for a new challenge and the chance of competing in the Champions League, which most Spurs fans could understand. But for the defender to move to bitter rivals Arsenal, and for free, was unforgivable. 

Campbell unsurprisingly received a horrendous reception and developed a new nickname at White Hart Lane – Judas. 

Campbell won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and appeared in a Champions League final, justifying his decision to stay in North London. Clinching the Premier League title in 2004 at Spurs didn’t exactly silence the boo boys, however. 

2. Luis Figo

Arguably one of the greatest of all-time, Luis Figo also has another nickname by many in Catalonia – traitor. His transfer to Real Madrid was made even worse by the fact he was beloved by all at Barcelona, winning two La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey’s during his time at the Nou Camp. 

Figo went on to enjoy similar success at the Bernabeu, including earning a Champions League medal in 2002. However, when Figo returned to the Nou Camp, he was subject to all kinds of abuse – including having a pig’s head thrown at him. 

3. Ashley Cole

‘Cashley’ Cole – Arsenal’s former left back. 

Cole performed many u-turns during a series of tapping-up meetings and big money offers to eventually end up at Chelsea – a move that turned out to be the best for him in terms of silverware. The full-back signed a contract extension at Highbury before switching to Chelsea soon after, claiming he was insulted by the low amount Arsenal had offered him. 

And despite Cole having the cheek to claim he had forgiven Arsenal for “hanging him out to dry”, Gunners fans are far from forgiving. 

4. Carlos Tevez

Carlos Tevez has dragged drama with him wherever he’s been, so there’s no surprise he decided to switch from Old Trafford to the Etihad. The Argentine was adored at United for his hard-working experience and contribution, helping his side win two Premier League titles and one Champions League during his two years at Old Trafford. 

However, a switch to City was controversial from the start, with the club erecting a blue ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard with Tevez the main feature, causing a stir amongst the rivals. In hindsight, the Red Devils will be glad he was no longer on their books, as Tevez created unrest within the City dressing room, refusing to come on as a substitute in their away tie against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. 

5. Emmanuel Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor will be remembered for a wonder-strike against Spurs during a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane and, rather less favourably for Arsenal fans, his pitch-long sprint to celebrate in front of the Gunners while at Man City. The Togo international made his switch to City, where he enjoyed a fine two-years at the Etihad. 

However, if he wasn’t already dead to Arsenal fans, his switch to Spurs to 2011 would be the final nail in the coffin. He went on to make 92 appearances in four years at White Hart Lane, although he failed to win any honours with either London side. 

Let’

Portugal and Real Madrid Legend Luis Figo Handed Job as UEFA Football Adviser

Former Portugal captain Luis Figo has been given a job as football adviser and ambassador with UEFA.

Figo, now 44, had previously put himself forward to become the new president of UEFA in 2015, but withdrew his application,claiming the process was ‘anything ​but an election’ in a time when football’s governing body was embroiled in a corruption scandal.

DW.com report that in his new role, Figo will work under current UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin in the ‘football division’ and will be looking at the technical aspects, the laws of the games and the sport’s overall appeal.

Figo was cleared honoured with his new job, saying on his Twitter account: “Football is constantly evolving. I am privileged to be involved with UEFA and I would like to thank Aleksander Ceferin for giving me this opportunity.”

During his playing career, Figo played for Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter, winning 15 major trophies with those four clubs and reached the Euro 2004 final with Portugal on home soil, but they famously lost 1-0 in the final to Greece.

He made 127 caps for his country, a record only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo. Figo hung up his boots in 2009 and has since been seen playing a lot of golf. He is the becomes one of many high-profile players working with UEFA, following in the footsteps of ex-Inter teammate Dejan Stankovic and former Germany women’s goalkeeper Nadine Kessler.


” data-viewability-attr=”//www.riddle.com/a/128541″>

Let’

Ex-Spurs Midfielder Claims it Would Be ‘Difficult’ for Harry Kane to Reject Real Madrid

Darren Anderton believes that Tottenham need to match Harry Kane’s ambitions at the club if they want to stand a chance of fighting off interest from Real Madrid.

The 45-year-old, who spent 12 years on the books with Spurs, believes that an offer of £150m could be enough to convince the club to sell and that if they are not showing signs of a genuine Premier League title fight, Kane could follow in the footsteps of ex-Tottenham stars Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić in swapping London for Madrid.

You hope he’s Tottenham through and through,” Anderton told Press Association Sport (via the Evening Standard). 

The way he plays and the way he acts, it certainly looks like he’s happy where he is and hopefully he doesn’t forget that.

“I think he’ll want to complete his journey at Tottenham. He’ll want to play in that new stadium and he’ll want to be part of the Tottenham team that wins the league.

Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League

“But the club have got to go with him on that. If the offer comes in from say Real Madrid, it will be up to Spurs to turn it down.

“If you look at his age, his talent, the way he is, he’s got to be worth around £150million, even £200million now,” Anderton added. 

If they say yes, Harry will get the chance to speak to them and I’m sure if he walks into the Bernabeu with an opportunity to sign, he’d find it very difficult not to. And would you blame him? You couldn’t, absolutely not.”


” data-viewability-attr=”//www.riddle.com/a/128541″>

​​

Let’

Keylor Navas Is a Doubt for Spurs Clash After Real Madrid Confirm Groin Injury

Real Madrid have confirmed reports that first choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas has been hit with a groin injury that will likely keep him out of the weekend clash with Getafe.

The player was injured whilst out on international duty with Costa Rica, and t​he country’s medical team reported that he will be sidelined for at least four days. Navas is also questionable for Madrid’s Champions League match against Tottenham Hotspur next week.

On Wednesday, Madrid put out a statement on their official website, which reads: “​After the tests carried out this afternoon on our player, Keylor Navas, at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital, he has been diagnosed with a swollen adductor muscle in his right groin. His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

Reserve keeper Kiko Casilla is now in line to start for Madrid, having performed well previously when given a chance. However, due to his lack of game time, fans will be concerned given the importance of the upcoming Champions League clash with Spurs.


” data-viewability-attr=”//www.riddle.com/a/128541″>

​​

Let’

VIDEO: CR7 Botches One-on-One Chance as Portugal Seal WC Qualification Against Switzerland

​Portugal may have qualified for next summer’s World Cup in Russia after the 2-0 victory against Switzerland, but their captain Cristiano Ronaldo had a moment to forget during the game. 

In this tense group deciding game between Portugal and Switzerland, the hosts struck the first blow in the 41st minute when the ball deflected off Swiss defender Johan Djourou into his own net to give the hosts the lead. 

Andre Silva then sealed it for Portugal when he struck home from a couple of yards out in the 57th minute. After winning Euro 2016 last summer, they’ve now qualified for another major tournament next summer. 

But one player who may not be happy with his performance during the game is Cristiano Ronaldo. Compared to his usual high standards, the Real Madrid star put in an average performance, and it was summed up in the chance he missed in the 79th minute. 

[embedded content]

​​The 33-year-old was put through on goal by teammate Joao Mario and as he approached the Switzerland goalkeeper in a one-on-one chance, he never looked like he made his mind on what he wanted to do.

In the end he tried to go past the keeper, but ended up getting too close and the chance was gone when Switzerland’s Sommer wrestled the ball from Ronaldo’s feet. 

But at least Ronaldo was happy to be heading for Russia as he posted this photo on Instagram of his team celebrating. The caption said: “Great team effort! Thank you all for your support. Russia, here we come!!.”


” data-viewability-attr=”//www.riddle.com/a/128541″>

Let’

Real Madrid President Preparing Bids for Chelsea and Spurs Stars After Difficult Start to Season

​Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is reportedly preparing to splash the cash next summer, in a bid to avoid a repeat of this season’s poor La Liga start.

Madrid are currently sat fifth in the league – seven points adrift of table toppers Barcelona – having only won four of their opening seven games in the top flight this term. Despite an upturn in form in the last few weeks, Perez is said to be determined to spend big in next summer’s transfer window.

According to Spanish outlet Diario Gol, Perez is eyeing a host of big names, headlined by the likes of Tottenham duo Dele Alli and Harry Kane, as well as Chelsea’s main man Eden Hazard.

FBL-WC-2018-QUALIFYING-ENG-LTU

Los Blancos were linked with moves for all three of these players in the previous window, though nothing ever materialised. Any plans that Hazard had of leaving Stamford Bridge were put on hold following an ankle injury, while Alli and Kane never looked like leaving Spurs regardless of any interest received.

Alongside the Premier League names linked with the Santiago Bernabeu ahead of next summer sit Bayern Munich’s versatile defender David Alaba, as well as highly rated Juventus number 10 Paulo Dybala.

[embedded content]

Dybala, who spent much of the latter stages of summer being linked with a move to Barcelona (alongside Philippe Coutinho), eventually remained with the Bianconeri – the Catalan outfit opting for Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele instead.

The Argentine is making quite a name for himself throughout the footballing world, and having signed a new contract at the Juventus Stadium at the end of last season, the Serie A champions can drive any price for him as high as they desire right now.


” data-viewability-attr=”//www.riddle.com/a/128541″ style=””>

​​

Let’

5 Stars Who Aren’t Necessarily Deserving of Their Spots on This Year’s Ballon d’Or Shortlist

The Ballon d’Or list; a compilation of the very best names in world football taking into account the one-year period that preceeds the ceremony.

One of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi has won every year since 2007, with the former the favourite to secure the fifth gong of his career and second in a row.

The list this year has once again thrown up some top stars who have brilliant past years including Neymar, Eden Hazard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and half of Real Madrid’s team, basically.

But which of the bunch have luckily managed to worm their way onto the list?

5. Karim Benzema – Real Madrid

It might seem harsh to place any Real Madrid player on this list of underserving players.

The Frenchman is underrated and under-appreciated at the Bernabeu, but the Ballon d’Or is about recognising standout individuals, and unfortunately he cannot shine with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale either side of him. Even though the latter did miss a lot of game time last season through injury, Isco came in to take a lot of the plaudits.

He only managed 11 La Liga goals in 29 matches last season, and you might have expected a better return from him knowing the team scored 106 in total in the league in 2016/17. For some context Alvaro Morata, the team’s second striker, managed 15 in 26.

He is an important player for Real, but probably not deserving of a place on the Ballon d’or shortlist.

4. Paulo Dybala – Juventus

Paulo Dybala may have flown out of the traps this season with 10 goals in his first seven matches but his past year probably isn’t enought to warrant a spot on the shortlist of the Ballon d’Or.

There is no doubt that the Argentine ace will be making shortlists for years to come such is his ability, but he is still relatively raw at the age of 23 and his past 12 months were not stellar.

Juventus stormed to another Serie A title in 2016/17 and Dybala showed flashes of brilliance on the way to scoring 11 league goals but their main men were at the other end of the pitch as Gianluigi Buffon and co stood solid in defence. Giorgio Chiellini or Dani Alves might have been more deserving of Dybala’s spot.

3. Sadio Mane – Liverpool

Sadio Mane was electric in his first season with Liverpool and was by far and away their best player as the club successfully qualified for this season’s Champions League.

Unfortunately though, he missed too many games and didn’t come close enough to winning anything to warrant inclusion on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.

Mane missed a crucial handful of games whilst on AFCON duty with Senegal, and then, through no fault of his own, was injured for the top four run in. Only players that were consistent regulars should be able to make their way onto the list, right?

2. Edinson Cavani – Paris Saint-Germain

You can only beat what’s put out in front of you, but that shouldn’t mean you deserve to be placed onto the Ballon d’Or shortlist.

Edinson Cavani amassed some impressive stats on the face of it last season, but his 35 league goals aren’t all that. Four came in one game against defensive disasters Caen and remember that he was also the club’s penalty-taker. 

Stat-padding in the French league is fairly cheap and to be honest, the man lives in an offside position. Also, note that one-on-one miss against Barcelona in the Champions League at the Nou Camp which would have spared PSG’s blushes…

1. Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool

Sorry Liverpool fans, but your other shortlisted star isn’t that deserving of his place either.

Philippe Coutinho started off the 2016/17 season in good form but picked up an unfortunate ankle injury against Sunderland which sidelined him for a couple of months.

He returned and spent another couple of months trying to get back to the way he was before turning on the style against for the Reds’ top four run in.

Admittedly, he was great when the club needed their top players to step up to secure Champions League football – and clearly Barcelona rate him very highly.

By his standards though it wasn’t his best season, and a certain Danish playmaker over at Tottenham can probably feel a little bit aggrieved he wasn’t recognised instead.

Let’

Arsenal Set to Finally Make a Move for Real Madrid Striker Karim Benzema

​Karim Benzema, the experienced 29-year old-striker, finally looks like he will make his long awaited move from the Spanish La Liga to the English Premier League sooner rather than later. 

During most recent transfer windows his name is regularly mentioned with a move to these shores, but now it seems that this will finally materialise as this proposed transfer gathers credibility. 

The French international has long been a top transfer target for Arsenal, however they are one of a number of major clubs interested in capturing his signature. Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has long been an admirer of his fellow countryman and is very keen to secure his services to add to his array of talented striking options.

Spanish transfer outlet Don​ Balon are reporting that ex-Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is aware of the Gunners’ continued interest and has been for while due to his strong connection with the Spanish giants. 

The Manchester United manager seems to believe that Los Blancos would be extremely interested in negotiating a transfer to acquire significant funding, which will then allow them to pursue their own top target of Harry Kane, from Arsenal’s North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, to freshen up their own attack.

[embedded content]

Karim Benzema is recognised as a possible replacement for the unsettled pair of Chilean international Alexis Sanchez and German international Mesut Ozil. 

Both players look increasingly likely to be leaving the orth Londoners over the next couple of transfer windows as they have failed to agree new contracts. 


” data-viewability-attr=”//www.riddle.com/a/128541″ style=””>

Let’

Report Claims Real Madrid Superstars Name Barcelona Goalkeeper as Perfect Summer Signing

Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo are desperate to see a new goalkeeper arrive at Real Madrid, with the former suggesting Marc-André ter Stegen as the ideal signing for club president Florentino Pérez, according to Don Balon.

The German shot-stopper is Barcelona’s top goalkeeper, establishing himself in La Liga after a €12m move from hometown club Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2014. Ter Stegen has gone on to feature in 104 games for the Catalonian giants, keeping an impressive 43 clean sheets.

Firmly established as Die Mannschaft’s second choice goalkeeper behind Manuel Neuer, and ahead of Bernd Leno and Ralf Fährmann, the Blaugrana keeper has caught the eye of Real Madrid’s key duo.

Ramos, the Spain and Los Blancos captain, has reportedly held talks with the club president in an attempt to convince Pérez of opening his chequebook to sign ter Stegen.

Ronaldo is keen on the prospect of seeing a new face between the sicks at the Santiago Bernabéu, the Portuguese star also interested in seeing ter Stegen swap Catalonia for Madrid, the Daily Star suggests. 

Borussia Moenchengladbach v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga

However, Ronaldo would also like to see the club make a move for long-term target David De Gea, as well as Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois or Madrid-based rival Jan Oblak.

Ter Stegen has a contract at the Camp Nou until 2022 and it would take a hefty fee, especially from Real Madrid, before the idea of allowing the German to leave is even considered.


” data-viewability-attr=”//www.riddle.com/a/128533″>

​​

Let’