Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Bale Stars in Convincing Los Blancos Win

​Real Madrid began their 2019/20 La Liga campaign with an impressive 3-1 win away to Celta Vigo, with goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez earning them the points.

The game started scrappy, and it took Sergio Ramos just a matter of minutes to commit his first foul of the new season. However, Real Madrid made their early dominance count in the 11th minute – a tap-in from Karim Benzema. Gareth Bale was the man to create the goal, with a stunning weaving run ending in him picking out his teammate in the six yard box. 

Celta came close to the equaliser on the half hour mark, but Raphael Varane made a crucial last ditch interception. On the stroke of half time, Celta had a goal controversially ruled out by VAR, as Iago Aspas was marginally offside – much to the relief of Alvaro Odriozola, who dwelled on the ball and had it taken off him. 


Los Blancos started the second 45 slowly, and matters got a whole lot worse when Luka Modric was shown a red card ten minutes in for a late challenge. Zidane’s men quickly put this behind them however, as Kroos unleashed a rocket that flew in, clipping the underside of the crossbar on its way.  

Vazquez put the icing on the cake late on, finishing off a nice move involving Marcelo and Benzema. Thibaut Courtois was unable to keep a clean sheet though, as Iker Losada drilled home in added time. 


CELTA VIGO

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Rubén (6); Kevin (5), Costas (5), Araujo (5), Olaza (4); Beltrán (5), Lobotka (5), Brais Méndez (4), Denis Suárez (6); Iago Aspas (7), Fernandez (5)

Substitutes: Sisto (5), Cheikh (N/A), Losada (7)


REAL MADRID

Key Talking Point

Following a disappointing pre-season, ​Real Madrid fans were hoping their big-money signing Eden Hazard could give them reason to be optimistic against Celta. However, this was not to be the case as he was unable to play due to injury. Enter ​Gareth Bale.

Not so long ago, Zinedine Zidane had made it abundantly clear that the Welshman’s services were no longer required. Yet somehow, he miraculously made it into the starting XI. And he wasted no time in getting into his stride, assisting the opening goal. His link up play with the rest of the attacking line will be very pleasing for Real Madrid fans. 

Elsewhere, a key decision for the manager to make was whether to opt for the 3-5-2 formation which has been used on occasion in pre-season, or to return to a four man defence. In the end, Zidane opted for the latter, and there were definite frailties. The hosts were unlucky to have the goal at the end of the first half ruled out, but it all stemmed from a defensive mistake. 

Denis Suarez,Alvaro Odriozola

The defence was continuously carved open with just one pass. Early in the second half, Casemiro cleared the ball off the line, as Celta swept forward and got in behind. The hosts continued to create, but were unable to take their chances until the final minute. 

Zidane will now be without Modric following his dismissal. But, it does give an opportunity to either Isco or James to step in and take their chance. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Courtois (6); Odriozola (4), Varane (6), Ramos (6), Marcelo (7); Casemiro (6), Kroos (7), Modric (4); Vinicius Jr (6), Benzema (7), Bale (8*)

Substitutes: Lucas V. (7)., Isco (6), Jovic (N/A)


STAR MAN – Gareth Bale

FBL-ESP-LIGA-CELTA VIGO-REAL MADRID

Zidane made the tactical decision to leave Isco, Lucas Vazquez, Luka Jovic and James Rodriguez on the bench. Instead, he went for Bale, who spent the summer in a war of words with his manager. The Frenchman made it perfectly clear that he would no longer require his services. But, as Real commenced their 2019/20 La Liga campaign, Bale was in the starting lineup. 

The Welshman was outstanding, making direct runs and was an all-round threat. In the 11th minute, he weaved through Celta’s defence, before cooly picking out Karim Benzema in the middle to slot home. At one point in the summer, there were rumours that he wasn’t even training. But, he was fit and sharp throughout the game. 

Towards the end of the first half, he made an intelligent diagonal run and was fed through, but his shot was well kept out. Los Blancos had to soak up pressure in the second half, meaning opportunities were limited. However, it was a show of faith from Zidane to substitute Vinicius Jr. before Bale eventually came off in the 75th minute. 





Looking Ahead

Celta play host to Valencia next on Saturday, before travelling to face Sevilla in a tough run of fixtures. 

Real Madrid next host Real Valladolid on Saturday – their first home game of the 2019/20 La Liga season. Los Blancos will then travel to face Villarreal. 

Let’

La Liga: 5 of the Best Opening Day Games in History

The La Liga season is set to return this weekend, with reigning champions Barcelona taking on Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames.

However, rivals​ Real Madrid and ​Atletico Madrid will be looking to pip Barca to the title this year and in order to do that, they will need to get off to a flying start against Celta Vigo and Getafe respectively.

Football fans everywhere will be hoping for a couple of opening gameweek crackers, but what are some of the best La Liga games to be played on the opening weekend in the 21st century? Let’s have a look below.


Celta Vigo 2-3 Barcelona – 2006/07

Eidur Gudjohnsen,Santiago Ezquerro

Opening day fixtures don’t get much harder than ​Barcelona, but Celta Vigo came agonisingly close to a result against the then European champions.

Celta led in the first half, but were pegged back with a quick Eto’o and ​Messi double. However, they fired straight back and looked on course to take a point to open up their campaign.

Enter Eidur Gudjohnsen. The Icelandic scored with two minutes of normal time to play to steal the win and give Barca a thrilling opening day victory.


Valencia 4-3 Racing Santander – 2011/12

Papakouly Diop,Sergio Canales

Roberto Soldado stole the show on an absolutely jaw-dropping fixture to start the La Liga season. The Spanish marksman scored inside the opening minute, but Racing replied with two goals in the next 13 minutes – including an own goal from Soldado, would you believe it.

Racing scored again in the 54th minute to take a 3-1 lead, but an instant reply from Adil Rami a minute later made it 3-2.

With two minutes left on the clock, Racing were seemingly confident of picking up at least one point, but Soldado had other ideas. Two quick fire goals from the striker in the 88th and 90th minute broke Racing hearts, and capped off an unbelievable game and performance from Roberto Soldado.


Athletic Bilbao 3-5 Real Betis – 2012/13

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BETIS-MALAGA

Real Betis came out on top in a scintillating game which saw them squander a three goal lead but still, somehow, collect all three points. 

Betis started the game like a house on fire and led at half time by three goals to nil, with Benat scoring the pick of the goals – a long range screamer. However, Athletic Bilbao came out all guns blazing in the second half to claw the game back to 3-3 with 15 minutes left.

Bilbao’s hard work was all for nothing though, and they couldn’t cope with some slick football from Betis, resulting in goals from Pozuelo and a second for Molina.


Barcelona 7-0 Levante – 2013/14

Lionel Messi

Barcelona got the 2013/14 season off to a spectacular start, with a truly thumping display against Levante.

The reigning champions were magnificent, putting down a marker that has rarely been seen on an opening weekend in any league ever since. Barca were six goals up at half time after goals were scored by Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, Dani Alves, Pedro and Xavi. 

It looked like it could have been double figures by the end of the match, but they took their foot off the gas for the remaining 45 minutes. That wasn’t to stop Pedro doubling his goal tally for the day however, as he rounded off the scoring with a seventh. 


Sevilla 6-4 Espanyol – 2016/17

Hiroshi Kiyotake

Not just one of the best opening matches seen in La Liga, Sevilla vs Espanyol in 2016 had arguably the most exciting half of football in La Liga history.

The score was 3-3 at half time, with goals rattling in without a chance to blink. However, in the second half, Sevilla put their foot down on the contest.

Three goals in 20 minutes from Franco Vazquez, Wissam Ben Yedder and Hirochi Kiyotake took the game away from Espanyol. 6-4 the game finished – a match that La Liga will never forget.


Let’

Zinedine Zidane Reluctant to Discuss Paul Pogba and Neymar Links Ahead of Season Opener

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has conceded that his side will just have to ‘respect’ that Paul Pogba is still a Manchester United player.

Madrid are set to play away at Celta Vigo on Saturday in their opening fixture of the 2019/20 La Liga season, and speaking to the press ahead of the clash, as quoted by journalist Dermot Corrigan on Twitter, Zidane was forced to contend with various ongoing transfer sagas surrounding the club.

When asked about an update on the one involving Pogba, Zidane declared: “Paul is a Manchester player and we must respect that. We are here thinking of tomorrow’s game.”

And, later, when probed in a similar vein regarding the Neymar situation, the French boss again refused to be drawn in, explaining: “Neymar is not a Real Madrid player. The important thing is the players who are here.”

And, speaking on those players, he said: “I am happy with my players, thinking just of tomorrow’s game. The players the same. We are ready to play a good game, we want to compete. I have the best players here, no doubt, I always say that.

“I conform to what I have. I have spoken with the person who has to do things. And we have the players we have here, those we want. We cannot talk or opine on the rest, you can, but we are here with the players we have.”

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-CHELSEA

One of those players is of course Gareth Bale, with whom Zidane has shared barbs with throughout the summer ahead of an expected departure. However, a move to the Chinese Super League was called off, and the Welshman remains in the Spanish capital. 

Asked to speak on the winger, Zidane said: “It seemed that he was going to leave, and he is here with us now. Things can change, and now I will count on him, like the others. He has a contract, is an important player, and I hope that all the players want to make things difficult for me to pick the team.”

Let’

Cristiano Ronaldo Stars in Nightmareish Advert for Asian Shopping Site and No-One Can Explain Why

​CONTENT WARNING: The content you are about to see may cause serious emotional distress and as such, should be approached with caution. Not for the faint-hearted or those who ever want to look at Cristiano Ronaldo with any amount of respect ever again. 

Right, now that’s out of the way, whoever’s having me on just own up. Just admit that you’ve somehow superimposed Cristiano Ronaldo into some bizarre kids’ TV show and sent it to me specifically, and we can all move on with our lives.

No? No takers? Fine, then we’ll try and explain this with logic and reason. If you can bear it, take 30 seconds out of your life to have a look at the following advert for south-east Asian shopping website Shopee, and tell me how you feel. 


Yes, I’m struggling with it. I really am. It’s like one of those illusion videos that show a prism imperceptibly changing into a square depending on what angle you look at it from. It just doesn’t compute. 

For those of you who sensibly heeded the warning and didn’t watch it, it starts in fairly normal fashion, with Ronaldo, sporting the number seven on a generic white and black football strip, rattling a free kick into the top left hand corner, before pulling out his signature celebration in front of a packed-out and definitely-not-green-screened stadium.

But then the acid kicks in, apparently, because all-of-a-sudden, children’s voices from around the stadium begin to ring out. They’re saying one thing, and that one thing will forever be burned into the memory of every fool who observed this accursed video: Shopee.


Then everyone’s top turns orange? Then Ronaldo scratches his head, and is handed a booking, before chillingly putting on a demented smile and uttering the phrase himself. Even Ronny has been possessed by the spirit of Shopee, whatever Shopee actually is. The advert doesn’t even explain that much. 

But that’s not even it. His shirt then magically turns Shopee orange, and to the tune of Baby bloody Shark (except the lyrics seem to just be Shopee-pee-pee-pee-pee-pee-peepee, naturally) starts dancing along with his team-mates while rhythmically tapping his phone. 

It ends with him striking a pose and holding up the Shopee logo for all to see, as the jaunty dystopian tune reaches its crescendo (su-per-sho-pping-DAAAAAY). And then we crash-land back into reality, trying and failing to comprehend what on earth we’ve just watched.

How has this happened. What series of events has led to Cristiano Ronaldo, the millionaire megastar and perhaps the most recognisable athlete in Europe, starring in some fever dream straight out of the mind of Charlie Brooker? 

I need explanations, but first I need a lie down after watching this video ten times over. It may have brainwashed me. 

Download Shopee on all your mobile devices, or Shopee will get you too.

Let’

James Rodriguez Set to Stay at Real Madrid as Zinedine Zidane Takes Midfielder Off Transfer List

James Rodriguez is now set to stay at Real Madrid in a dramatic U-turn, with Zinedine Zidane taking him off the transfer market. 

Rodriguez, who joined ​Madrid back in 2014 for €75m but failed to truly settle, was on loan at Bayern Munich for the last two years but the Bavarians were not interested in taking up their option to buy. 

He has since been embroiled in a summer-long transfer saga, with Napoli, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United all linked at various times.


Carlo Ancelotti’s side had been the most vocal about their interest, with president Aurelio de Laurentiis admitting earlier this summer: “James Rodriguez is Ancelotti’s wish. I don’t know if we need him 100 percent, but his talent isn’t in doubt. 

“I must help my coach. He wants James and I won’t bat an eyelid, even if he’s very expensive.” 

However, according to a report from Spanish radio station COPE, Rodriguez’s situation has now changed, with the player now set to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu after Zidane revised his opinion on the playmaker. 

James Rodriguez

In a tweet summarising the information, COPE explained: “James Rodríguez’s situation at ​Real Madrid has changed. Zidane has him and right now he is not in the market.” 

The Colombian midfielder, who is now 28, notched seven goals and six assists last season in 28 appearances across competitions, though his game time was affected by the rupturing of his cruciate ligament as well as a calf injury at the end of the season.

Let’

6 of the Longest Contracts Ever Signed in Football History

​Having been linked with a deadline day move to Manchester United this summer, Athletic Club attacker Inaki Williams is the latest player to have committed his long-term future to his current club. His long, long-term future – the next nine years, to be precise. 

But where does his new deal rank among the longest contracts in footballing history? Take a look at the list of the lengthiest six below to find out.


Alan Pardew: Eight Years

Alan Pardew

Upon replacing Chris Hughton as Newcastle United manager in 2010, Alan Pardew was initially signed to a five-and-a-half-year contract – lengthy in itself.

When you consider where the Magpies are now, ​predicted to be battling to avoid relegation back down to the Championship, a fifth place finish and European qualification sound like lofty goals.

Pardew managed both of those in 2012 though, and was handed a mega eight-year contract as his reward, tying him to the club until 2020.

As we approach what would have been the end of that deal, it’s clear the owners may have been somewhat premature in placing so much faith in their former boss, who opted to replace Neil Warnock at Crystal Palace in 2014.


Lionel Messi: Nine Years

Lionel Messi

​Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest player to ever grace the beautiful game and it’s evident Barcelona would do anything to keep him on their books.

When he relocated to Spain from Argentina, the Catalan giants funded treatment for his growth deficiency when he was just 13 years of age, clearly aware of the unworldly talent he had the potential of becoming.

By 2004, the little magician was nearing his debut for the senior team and signed three different contracts in the space of just over a year.

The longest of those was signed in September 2005, tying him to Camp Nou until 2014. He’s since signed other long deals with ​Barca, where he’s likely to play out his entire professional career.


Saul Niguez: Nine Years

Saul Niguez

The Atletico Madrid midfielder established himself as one of the most promising young talents in world football early, ​becoming an essential part of manager Diego Simeone’s plans.

In 2017, Saul’s impressive performances helped Los Colchoneros to a place in the Champions League semi-final, as well as receiving the Under-21 European Championships Golden Boot for his five goals in as many appearances in Spain’s run to the final.

Unsurprisingly, ​Atleti were keen to deter any interest in their emerging talent by their European competitors, consequently choosing to offer the then 22-year-old a nine-year contract which would keep him at the club until 2026.


Inaki Williams: Nine Years

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BETIS-ATHLETIC

​The most recent inclusion in this list, Iñaki Williams committed his future to Athletic Club just a matter days ago.

It looked unclear whether he would be remaining with the Spanish side after he was loosely linked with a move to Premier League giants ​Manchester United on deadline day and, while he stayed put, the Basque side tied him down almost immediately to a long-term deal with an increased release clause. 

Still just 25 years old, Williams could remain at San Mames until he is approaching the end of his playing career at 34.


Denilson: 10 Years

Former Brazilian international Denilson

​Fresh off starting one game at the 1998 World Cup, a 20-year-old Denilson was signed by Real Betis president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera for a world record fee on the basis – largely – of his fancy footwork and propensity for stepovers. Foolproof planning. 

He didn’t just become a more expensive player than Ronaldo (!!!!) though; the young Brazilian was signed to a ten-year contract in Seville worth…well, a lot. A heck of a lot. 

By the time that decade-long deal ended, he was back in Brazil playing for Palmeiras – having spent spells at FC Dallas, Al Nassr and Bordeaux, plus a loan to Flamengo. He did win silverware in Seville when Betis won the Copa del Rey in 2005…but he stayed on the bench throughout the final. Jaded and unwanted, he left that summer. 


Andres Iniesta, Raul and Iker Casillas: Life

Real Madrid's captain Raul Gonzalez (L)

This seems to be a particularly Spanish thing – although Real did it first of the big boys. Both Raul and Casillas spent 16 years with ​Los Blancos, and both signed life-long contracts in 2008.

It wasn’t literal, of course, but it did mean that both players could remain at the club for as long as they wanted as long as they continued being key members of the squad. Specifically, if the players made a minimum of 30 appearances during the previous season, their contracts would be extended by a further year.

Both did, eventually, leave. Casillas joined Portuguese giants Porto, while Raul had brief spells with the likes of ​Schalke 04, Al Sadd and New York Cosmos prior to his retirement.

Inesta was the first Barcelona player ever offered a lifetime contract in 2017, tying his future to the club as long as he wished. 

He left for Vissel Kobe 12 months later. 


Let’

5 Stories From the World of Football to Look Out for This Weekend

​We saw some Premier League action last weekend, the Football League started a fortnight ago and several continental competitions are starting on Friday.

Yes, after a very brief break over the summer, our favourite clubs are back challenging for titles, battling relegation, or just milling around in mid-table. With La Liga and the Bundesliga both kicking off this week, there are some pressing issues to be addressed in Europe.

FBL-LIGA-ESP-REAL MADRID-BARCELONA

There are also some interesting narratives being written on English shores, with some of the big boys facing difficult questions in the coming days.

Here’s a look at five stories to keep an eye on as the footballing party gets underway this weekend.


Mats Hummels’ Homecoming

Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels’ time at ​Bayern Munich is quite hard to characterise. He was a rock in his first two seasons following a switch from rivals ​Borussia Dortmund, and then the German’s form dropped off a metaphorical cliff.

Out of nowhere, he was an unwanted man at the Allianz Arena, whilst also being forced into international retirement by Joachim Low. The centre-back tumbled down the pecking order and, although he was able to work his way back into the Bayern first-team setup, Hummels decided to crawl back to Signal Iduna Park in July.

How he would have loved to have taken part in the Yellow and Black’s 2-0 dismissal of Die Roten in the DFL Supercup recently, but injury deprived him of the opportunity. However, he should be fit to take on Augsburg in front of the Dortmund supporters he abandoned just three years ago. Will they accept or reject him?


Griezmann and Felix With Points to Prove

Antoine Griezmann

Joao Felix may have cost​ Atletico Madrid €6m more than what they got for Antoine Griezmann, but it remains to be seen whether ​Barcelona or Los Rojiblancos have done the better business over the off-season.

The latter left Atletico Madrid for €120m and is set to play a starring role at the Nou Camp, especially in the absence of Lionel Messi, who is sidelined with a calf strain for the start of the season. Griezmann knows he will be playing second fiddle to the Argentine wonder when he returns, so the Frenchman must make his presence felt immediately.

If he fails to do so and instead endures an underwhelming debut campaign, his mega-money move will be something of embarrassment for both club and player. However, things would be even worse for him if his Atleti replacement Felix gets off to a flyer. The battle shall commence this Friday.


Solskjaer’s Credentials Put to the Test at Wolves

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

On the face of it, a 4-0 victory over one of the key top four contenders is a superb result for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his revamped ​Manchester United squad. If you saw the contest, however, you would know that they were seriously lacking in some quarters.

Chelsea weren’t dire and United weren’t fantastic; it was a strange match and the scoreline doesn’t reflect proceedings in the slightest. Realistically, nothing changes for the Red Devils off the back of the win against the Blues – they should still be targeting ​Champions League qualification and nothing else.

When Solskjaer takes his recruits on an away trip to ​Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend, he and the team will know the size of the task at hand. Lose, and they are right back to square one. Win, and the fans can begin to get a little bit excited for the year ahead. And if there’s a draw? Well, we still won’t know too much about their capabilities in 2019/20!


Are Real Madrid Ready?

Eden Hazard

It’s all well and good having a lot of money and spending it on a lot of household names. I hate to burst you’re balloon ​Real Madrid supporters, but that doesn’t guarantee on-field success.

We should never judge a side too much by their performances in pre-season, although the Los Blancos board will surely have expected more than what Zinedine Zidane served up for them.

A 7-3 hammering at the hands of Atletico, a 1-0 loss to ​Tottenham Hotspur and draws with Roma and ​Arsenal don’t look amazing when you consider that £130m world-beater Eden Hazard was involved.

Several other lucrative new signings were also in action, including £54m hitman Luka Jovic and £40m starlet Rodrygo, yet neither were particularly impressive. Real start their league campaign at Celta Vigo; will their new generation of Galacticos gel or will it be another season from hell?


A Tired Liverpool Travel to Southampton

James Ward-Prowse,Georginio Wijnaldum

It has been well-documented that​ Liverpool can still win six trophies this year. They won’t. The travel and the fixture list combine to create one truly gruelling schedule, the likes of which no team can manage.

We will see some evidence of fatigue on Saturday when the Reds venture down to the south coast for a game with ​Southampton. Their penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday will have done morale no harm, but the legs may be in pain. It wouldn’t be too surprising if the Saints take advantage and pull off a shock.


Let’

Zinedine Zidane Insists He Has Faith in Marcelo After Difficult 2018/19 Season at Real Madrid

​Zinedine Zidane has insisted Marcelo is a player he has ‘love’ for, with the Brazilian likely to start the season for Real Madrid when they take on Celta Vigo on Saturday.

The Brazilian came under a fair amount of criticism from Real Madrid fans during the club’s torrid campaign last season, which culminated in the sacking of both Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari, prior to Zidane being reinstated at the helm.


During that time, Marcelo struggled to play regularly, failing to make four consecutive starts for the club after the fourth match of the season until the Frenchman returned to the helm. With new signing Ferland Mendy injured and yet to adapt to ​La Liga, Marcelo has featured prominently throughout pre-season, with Zidane stressing the importance of his role in the side.

“He’s played very little lately, but he’s done phenomenal things for this club,” the 47-year-old explained, via ​Marca. “We always need Marcelo to play well, and we’ll look to him more. I love him as a player.”

Due to ​Madrid’s horrific form last season, Marcelo had been linked with moves abroad. However, with those rumours seemingly fizzing out, the Brazilian is now looking forward to the new campaign with Zidane, and expressed his joy at seeing him return to the dugout.

“I was very happy with his return,” he admitted. “I’ve already said a million times that I’d do anything for him. He knows what happens in everyone’s head. If a player is wrong, he knows how to talk to them and that makes it easier for everyone.”

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-CELTA

With 486 Real Madrid appearances under his belt, the 31-year-old is closing in on the record set by his fellow countryman Roberto Carlos, who featured for Los Blancos 41 times more with an overall record of 521 outings.

A trip to the north west coast of Spain awaits Madrid on Saturday, as they take on Celta Vigo in the La Liga curtain raiser.

Let’

Neymar Cast Out From Paris Saint-Germain Training Until La Liga Transfer Rumours Resolved

​Neymar is set to train away from the rest of his Paris Saint-Germain teammates as his future continues to dominate the headlines, with stories of moves to Barcelona and Real Madrid seemingly going in circles.

Almost hourly, new reports emerge suggesting one move here or there is either edging closer or dead in the water, with many growing tired of the ongoing narrative and eager for a solution to be met – most notably the player himself.

Nevertheless, as of yet no such outcome has been forthcoming and it appears until a conclusion is met, the Brazilian will not train with the rest of the PSG squad as the saga continues to rumble on. That’s according to ​Esporte Interativo, who say until matters are settled the 26-year-old will be kept apart from the rest of the team .

One would presume the reason for that is due to the growing unrest within the camp, a feeling which was visualised when teammate Kylian Mbappe pushed the forward away from the rest of the group as they lifted the Trophée des Champions, the French equivalent of the Community Shield.

The most recent update (although subject to change within the coming hours) is that Barcelona and PSG are nearing an agreement over the transfer of ​Neymar, possibly to be consented to ‘within 48 hours’.

Reasons for this update centre around ​Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu and PSG counterpart Nasser Al Khelaifi being due to meet face to face for the upcoming European Club Association (ECA) summit in Liverpool on Thursday. It is a meeting mooted as ‘decisive’, although at this point your guess is as good as anyone’s.

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-TRAINING

Whatever transpires between now and the closure of the ​La Liga and Ligue 1 window on September 2, expect further developments to occur by the time you’ve read this piece, with Neymar probably having already resumed PSG training by the end of this sentence.

Let’

Footballers’ Nicknames: 15 of the Weirdest & Most Wonderful Monikers in the Beautiful Game

Football is famous for its nicknames. Cristiano Ronaldo is CR7, Adriano is L’imperatore, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira will forever be Ronaldinho. And even then we have some more inventive names, such as Givanildo Vieira de Souza, simply known as Hulk.

Some nicknames can be self-appointed, or the can be bestowed upon a player by their siblings, managers or supporters. A lot of footballers probably hate them. And the problem with nicknames is, that whether you like them or not, they stick. 

Here’s a look at some of the weird and wonderful nicknames from throughout football history.


Matt Doherty – Doherto Carlos

The ​Wolves full-back won the hearts of Fantasy Premier League managers up and down the country last season, with some stellar performances for the newly-promoted side. His marauding runs and attacking prowess from the full-back position have led to him earning a nickname to be proud of. 

Matt Doherty

Doherto Carlos. Following in the footsteps of Real Madrid and Brazil defender Robert Carlos, who was known for his attacking ability rather than his defensive stability. Doherty admitted in an interview that he used to practice free-kicks in the fashion for which his namesake became renowned, and now he goes into his second Premier League season carrying the same title. 

Bravo Doherto.


Fitz Hall – One Size 

One size Fitz Hall. The former Watford and Crystal Palace defender didn’t earn his nickname through his impressive defensive skills, however as far as nicknames go, it’s certainly an impressive one. 

Anthony Modeste,Fitz Hall

In the world of football, it’s probably one of the wittier nicknames, and it has written Fitz into the Hall of Fame for football’s funniest names. 


Roberto Baggio – The Divine Ponytail

The Italian’s seem to give their stars creative and majestic nicknames, when compared to ​Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney or ​Harry ‘Slabhead’ Maguire. Baggio was the jewel in the Italian side’s crown in their 1994 World Cup campaign, as Gli Azzurri lost on penalties to Brazil in the final. 

Roberto Baggio,Andoni Zubizarreta

Baggio was iconic for his playing style and also his appearance, his ponytail bouncing and dancing around bamboozled defenders. The Italian will be remembered as one of the best footballers in history, and his ponytail will go down in history bouncing behind him. 


Duncan Ferguson – Duncan Disorderly 

For those who aren’t aware, Duncan Ferguson is a very scary man. The big Scotsman terrorised Premier League defences for 12 years and planted as many black eyes as he did goals during his time in England.

Duncan Ferguson and Trond Anderson

Whilst playing in Scotland, the striker headbutted an opponent and was subsequently jailed, and his constant brushes with the law on and off the field led to his nickname ‘Duncan Disorderly’.

A solid name, for a solid bloke. 


Antonio Cassano – Peter Pan

Another of football’s more controversial characters, Antonio Cassano was as talented as he was troubled. The charismatic striker’s career was filled with off-field scandals, but he possessed a child-like zest for life which earned him the nickname Peter Pan. Well, plus and the fact that he could never accept his own retirement, and constantly attempted short-lived comebacks but without much success. 

'Partita Del Cuore' Charity Match

Although Cassano never wanted to grow up, his lavish lifestyle caught up with him, and the hot-headed Italian never lived up to the promise he had shown in his early years in Italy. 


Massimo Taibi – The Blind Venetian 

Massimo Taibi arrived at Old Trafford with great expectations, but his dream ​Manchester United debut victory over ​Liverpool was quickly forgotten, and his Premier League career soon became a nightmare. 

Massimo Taibi

After a string of errors over the coming matches, he was comically labelled ‘The Blind Venetian’ by one newspaper. Taibi completed four games for Ferguson’s side, before he returned to Italy to play out the rest of his career, away from the British press.


Andoni Goikoetxea – The Butcher of Bilbao

Andoni Goikoetxea was just about as tough as they come in football. The bruising centre-back spent the majority of his playing career at Athletic Bilbao, and he earned himself his gruesome nickname following one of the most infamous tackles in football history. 


The excruciating assault came in a league match against ​Barcelona, in which he delivered a crunching tackle from behind on footballing icon Diego Maradona, breaking the Argentine’s ankle in the process. To add insult to injury, he incited a mass brawl during the 1984 Spanish Cup final against the Blaugrana and received an initial 18 game ban for kicking Maradona in the chest. 

Do not mess with The Butcher. 


Papa Bouba Diop – The Wardrobe 

The man-mountain was a Premier League regular for ​Fulham and Portsmouth, and it was at the Cottage that he was christened ‘The Wardrobe’. The Senegalese midfielder dominated proceedings in the middle of the park and it was his enormous physique which landed him this nickname. 

Fulham's English midfielder Danny Murphy

Diop was a solid midfielder and a dominant presence in the changing rooms, and the Wardrobe had no fears in giving his teammates a severe dressing-down. 


Chris Smalling – Mike 

Whilst Louis Van Gaal was unable to light up Old Trafford with his own sexy style of football, he did provide some great moments off the field. His press conferences were always a must-watch, and whether he was bursting into song, calling out journalists or shouting ‘Louis van Gaal’s army!’ over and over again, there was always something worth turning into a GIF waiting around the corner. 


During a pre-season tour, Van Gaal accidentally referred to Chris Smalling as Mike, and it didn’t take long for Twitter and the rest of the world to jump on this mishap. Whilst something so minor can happen daily in the real world, it rarely gets forgotten in the football bubble. Sorry Chris, but you’re going to be Mike Smalling for the rest of your life. 


German Burgos – Mono (Ape) 

Another footballer who took no prisoners was Argentine German Burgos. The goalkeeper is better known as ‘Mono’ due to his ape-like appearance.

FBL-EUR-C1-ATLETICO-TRAINING

The now-​Atletico Madrid assistant manager is a classic football hard-man, and during his time in Spain he was banned for 11 matches following an on-field assault of an opposition player. Simeone’s sidekick is as tough as the Atleti boss, currently forming the hardest managerial partnership in world football. 


Vincenzo Montella – L’Aeroplanino (The Little Aeroplane) 

Trademark celebrations are an important part of football nowadays. ​Ronaldo has his jumpy-swirly-shouty celebration, ​Bale has his love-heart gesture and we all remember Shefki Kuqi’s belly-flop which just looked painful. 


Vincenzo Montella was a diminutive Italian winger who ​nailed a celebration early in his career, out-stretching his arms and running around miming an aeroplane. It may not seem too cool, but he pulled it off pretty well and, l’Aeroplanino regularly took flight during Roma’s title-winning campaign in 2001. 


Nicolas Anelka – Le Sulk

Nicolas Anelka was one of the most talented strikers of his generation, but the fact he played for 12 different professional clubs suggests that the Frenchman came with some baggage. He suffered a difficult time at ​Arsenal, and the fans quickly turned against him as a result of a perceived lack of effort and enthusiasm for the club. 

Boro v Arsenal Nicolas Anelka

Le Sulk duly lived up to his new-found name and demanded to leave the Gunners, and bagged himself a move to ​Real Madrid, which wouldn’t last long either. A fitting nickname for a wonderful but troubled striker. 


Dion Dublin – The Shower Clearer

Dublin made a name for himself as a lethal weapon in front of goal, but it was another weapon which impressed boss Sir Alex Ferguson. The striker’s manhood was a hot topic for the Man Utd manager, and it astonished him to apparently utter the iconic words…

Dion Dublin of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the equalising goal with team-mate Olof Mellberg

“Big? It isn’t big. It’s magnificent! I’ve seen some whoppers in my time, but Dion’s is something else.”  

A honourary mention also goes to Claude Makelele, who had the nickname ‘The Tripod’, thrust upon him. 


Ferenc Puskas – The Galloping Major

Puskas was one of football’s very first icons, as he and his Hungary side wrote themselves into the sport’s history with some incredible displays, most notably a 7-1 thrashing of a talented England side in 1954. Puskas was a superb player, but he didn’t gain his nickname ‘The Galloping Major’ ​through his sporting exploits. 

Puskas’ side Kispest was taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, and all players were given military names. 


Borja Iglesias – The Panda 

New Real Betis striker Borja Iglesias is known as ‘The Panda’, but it’s not because of his ability to bamboo-zle defenders. 

Borja is a big fan of hip-hop music, and he discovered the song ‘Panda’ by Desiigner, which he fell in love with. His former Celta Vigo side became known as ‘The Panda Team’, and some of the players even decided to have pandas tattooed on themselves. 

Facundo Ferreyra,Borja Iglesias

Iglesias embodies that team spirit and he has carried the nickname ‘The Panda’ for the rest of his career. Whenever he scores goals, he creates absolute panda-monium in the stands. 

Let’