Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci has given his take on who the best defender in the world is, and the new AC Milan man didn’t pick himself, as many would have expected.
Bonucci, who had an immensely successful seven-year spell at Juventus, moved to Milan this summer.
The Italian helped Juve win six Serie A titles, and came close to winning the Champions League last season, impressively beating Barcelona to make it to the final where they were stopped by Real Madrid.
Sergio Ramos was on hand to keep things steady at the back for the La Liga giants, and his performance during the match, as well as the many others over the years, has seen him rated as the best defender in the world – by one of the best defenders in the world.
Speaking at a press conference (H/T Football Italia) ahead of Italy’s World Cup qualifying match against Spain, Bonucci said exactly what he thought of the Spanish centre-back.
“Sergio Ramos? He’s the best defender in the world,” he declared. “He got the award for the best defender in last season’s Champions League and that proves he’s the best.”
Referring to the match itself, Bonucci said: “We want to win but it won’t be easy. We’ll have to suffer against Spain, though, because they have great champions so we’ll need the best Italy.
“The motivation this game brings will allow us to overcome the precarious physical condition [caused by an early-season game].
Cristiano Ronaldo may be the most famous footballer in the world, but he proved that he still values time with his family by posting a photo on Instagram.
The Portuguese international posted a picture with his son Cristiano Jr., his two newborn twins and his pregnant girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez, alongside the caption ‘family mood’.
Ronaldo became a father for the second time earlier this year, with the two twins – Eva and Mateo – rumoured to have been born to a surrogate mother in USA. He was already a father to seven-year-old Cristiano Jr.
His family will grow further next year, as girlfriend Rodriguez announced in June that she was expecting her first child with Ronaldo.
Thanks to my teammates, coaches and staff who helped me win this trophy. I dedicate this to my family, friends and fans. This is also yours! pic.twitter.com/f9CIPyuYnX
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) August 24, 2017
The Real Madrid star has enjoyed a good week, having been named as the UEFA Player of the Year at the Champions League group stage draw on Thursday. His side were then drawn alongside Tottenham Hotspur in Group H, which will see a return to England for Ronaldo.
The 32-year-old is currently serving a five-match domestic ban in Spain – after pushing a referee in the Spanish Super Cup 1st leg against Barcelona – but will head on international duty with Portugal.
The Euro 2016 winners will face Faroe Islands and Hungary in World Cup qualifiers as they look to overcome Switzerland at the top of Group B and qualify for Russia.
Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos has claimed it wouldn’t be crazy for him to win the Ballon d’Or even though the coveted prize hasn’t been won by a defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Ramos added to his already heaving trophy cabinet last season, with a La Liga and Champions League double and has his sights set on more major honours.
The former Sevilla star also won the World Cup in 2010 as well as European titles in 2008 and 2012 with the national team, establishing himself as one of Spain’s greatest ever defenders.
However, the defender has yet to be given football’s highest individual honour despite being named in UEFA’s team of the year in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and captaining Los Meringues to three Champions League titles in four years.
Speaking to Italian magazine Undici via Marca, Ramos said; “Recently it has been a personal matter between Messi and Cristiano.”
“But Cannavaro, for example, won it and I do not see it as crazy for me to win it.
“If they give it to me, it will be a historical moment.”
Real Madrid ace Marcelo has refused to criticise the Bernabéu fans for their treatment of Gareth Bale during their disappointing 2-2 draw with Valencia on Sunday night.
The home fans whistled Bale as the game went on, as they appeared to be frustrated with the player’s inability to make an impact on the match.
Speaking to Spanish sports station El Chiringuito following the match, Marcelo was quizzed by the interviewer on the fans’ treatment of Bale. Marcelo’s response translates as:
“When the Bernabéu whistles at you it is normal, you have to work hard so that they don’t whistle you”.
The weight of expectation is so high at Real Madrid, that the players are often subject to abuse from their fans if they don’t win a home match.
Marcelo’s refusal to condemn the behaviour could potentially rile Bale, who has been rumoured with a move away from the La Liga Champions during the summer transfer window.
Manchester United are reportedly keen to bring the Welsh superstar back to the Premier League, and could make a sensational effort to add the tenacious 28-year-old to their already impressive squad.
The rapid emergence of Marco Asensio at the club has also lead to rumours of Bale making an exit, as the 21-year-old is a direct competitor for a first-team spot.
Real Madrid have established themselves as arguably the best side in the world after their performances last season – which saw the club become European Champions for the second year running and scoop their 33rd La Liga title.
Arsenal are lining up an optimistic bid for Real Madrid starlet Marco Asensio.
After signing Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon and Sead Kolasinac from Schalke, Arsenal have been quiet in recent weeks of the transfer window but could be set to make a massive signing in the form of Asensio.
Seen as one of the best young talents in Spain, Asensio has established himself as an important first-team member for Los Blancos under Zinedine Zidane and has a penchant for scoring huge goals for the club, including a strike in last season’s Champions League final.
Asensio has a £75m buyout clause in his contract and the Express believe Arsenal, whose record signing is the £45m Lacazette, could try to persuade the 21-year-old to ditch the Bernabeu for the Emirates.
With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Isco likely to command first-team spots for much of the season, Asensio could be restricted to the same substitutes role he performed so well in last season.
The Spain international ended the 2016-17 campaign with three goals and two assists in 23 La Liga appearances, while he also managed a further three strikes in the Champions League and opened his account for this season with goals in both legs of the Supercopa de Espana against Barcelona.
Asensio has already turned down a move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain and is also attracting interest from Inter Milan, who reportedly want to sign Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal have also agreed a deal to sell left-back Kieran Gibbs to Watford, with the England international due to discuss personal terms with the Hornets in the near future.
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says the club will not be making any more signings during the transfer window.
Los Blancos have signed Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos so far this season, while the squad has also been bolstered by the returns of Jesus Vallejo, Marcos Llorente and Diego Llorente, all of whom spent last season away from the Bernabeu on respective loan deals.
The club have been linked with late moves in the window, but Zidane has revealed his side will be quiet as the transfer deadline approaches.
He said, as quoted by Madrid’s website: “We have four centre-halves and we do not need more. I do not think such injuries will happen again. Both Casemiro and Marcos Llorente can play there. Tomorrow let’s see what happens.
“I don’t need more players, look at the squad we have. We are ready. I’ll be counting on Mayoral and will do throughout the year. He has to learn and be ready for when his opportunity comes up, which it will. We’ll give him a shot when the moment is right.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a move away from Madrid after allegations of tax fraud came to light earlier in the summer, but Zidane says the four-time Ballon d’Or will not be leaving this summer.
He added: “Money is not my issue, It is between the player and the club. It has nothing to do with me. Cristiano is here and going nowhere. This is his club, his team, his city and he loves his life here. I am under no illusion.”
AC Milan have completed the signing of Real Madrid youngster Sergio Sanchez Gioya, as the transfer window draws to a close.
The Italians have arguably been the most notable club for acquisitions this summer, and have completely overhauled their squad in preparation for the 2017/18 season.
They have added real quality to their ranks, including Ricardo Rodriguez, Franck Kessie, Andre Silva, Mateo Musacchio, Leonardo Bonucci and most recently Nikola Kalinic, and now the Rossoneri have signed Gioya.
The 18-year-old midfielder confirmed the move via his own Instagram page and will now link up with Milan’s youth team, which is managed by club legend Gennaro Gattuso.
The free-spenders have started off the new season just as the fans will have hoped – Vincenzo Montella’s side have recorded three consecutive wins and secured qualification for the Europa League after battering Shkendija Tetovo 7-0 on aggregate.
The club will look to return to the top of Serie A with a convincing victory over Cagliari on Sunday evening in their second league match – rivals Juventus and Inter both won their second games and sit in first and second respectively.
It will be interesting to see if Gioya can make his mark in the youth setup and will be called up into the first team, where there is certainly competition for places following a busy summer.
The highly anticipated boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor in Las Vegas at the weekend will finally see the collision of two of the biggest ego in sporting history.
Here’s a look at seven footballers who could rival either fighter with their sense of self worth…
7. Joey Barton
“Why Rangers signed him I’ll never know. After all, if he was half as good as he thinks he is the top clubs down south (England) would be after him,” were the words of one disgruntled fan to the Daily Record when Joey Barton began his short-lived spell in Scotland in June 2016.
In 2010, after England’s disappointing World Cup, Barton claimed he was “as good as anybody in this country” and accused national team management of favouring established names.
Off the field, Barton is a self proclaimed intellectual and embarked upon a philosophy degree at the University of Roehampton in 2013. Last October, a Daily Record headline kindly suggested the midfielder ought to ‘ditch the philosophy and start the football again’.
6. Mario Balotelli
Speaking to reporters in July 2014 when a Napoli approach for Mario Balotelli was rumoured, president Aurelio De Laurentiis explained that ego problems would prevent the misfit striker from joining his team, and maybe any other.
“Balotelli in blue? He would have problems in any team. He needs to resolve problems with his ego,” De Laurentiis commented.
Balotelli had been adding to a long list of questionable behaviour for years and almost seemed to think he could do whatever he pleased off the field because of his innate ability on it, ability that in reality failed to get him through because he simply refused to properly apply himself.
5. Nicklas Bendtner
It has been said in the past about former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, ‘If he was half as good as he thinks he is, he would be twice as good as he actually is’.
For years the Dane walked with the swagger of an elite level superstar, but the most prolific league season of his entire career to date came when he scored 11 goals for Birmingham in the Championship back in 2007/08. He once scored no goals in a short spell at Juventus.
There’s every chance he could beat his career high tally this season after nine goals in 19 appearances for Rosenborg in the 2017 Norwegian campaign, but it is Norway after all.
4. Lionel Messi
Don’t be fooled by his quiet, unassuming public persona, Lionel Messi has as big an ego as anyone else at the top of world football.
Although he later formed the incredible ‘MSN’ trio with Luis Suarez and Neymar, Messi’s ego and private complaints behind the scenes were apparently the reason Zlatan Ibrahimovic was forced out of position at Barcelona in 2010, and then out of the club altogether.
“Messi was the problem. If someone scored more than him or spoke more than him, they’d be in trouble. He was wary of Zlatan and was complaining all the time to Guardiola,” and un-named younger squad player told the Daily Mail.
“Zlatan was a strong character, he joked with myself and all his team-mates and was liked by the squad. Of course he has an ego but at least he is transparent with it.
“Messi is different, he has his public face, all sweetness and light, as though he never says anything. But behind the scenes, he was always pressing and making demands. In the end, Guardiola caved in and Zlatan lost out.”
Neymar took the ultimate gamble when he left traded Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain this summer in a seismic world record €222m move, so he must have one hell of an ego to back himself to justify the enormous sums of money involved.
Personally citing the need for a ‘new challenge’, one of the alleged main reasons behind the move was a desire to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi at Camp Nou, with the fear that he would never be the brightest star as long as the Argentinean legend remained.
It was also rumoured that a year before Messi agreed a bumper new Barcelona contract this summer, Neymar was informed by the club similar terms were off-limits because the budget wouldn’t afford them to give that kind of money to anyone.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is firmly of the opinion that mental belief counts for 50% when it comes to players performing at the top level, and so his belief in his own ability is, and always has been, huge as a result – as a teenager he once refused to ‘audition’ to earn a contract at Arsenal.
Another such example came when PSG were fighting for the Ligue 1 title in 2013.
“Carlo Ancelotti was a bit tense, so Ibra approached him and asked him if he believed in Jesus,” midfielder Marco Verratti revealed to FourFourTwo a couple of years later.
“Ancelotti said yes, so Ibra told him: ‘Good, so you believe in me. You can relax!’ Zlatan is like this – he has a lot of self-confidence. This helps him to be a great player.”
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Being the best in the world is what drives Cristiano Ronaldo. He wants to be heralded for his achievements and be seen to be better than anyone for all the hard work he puts in as the ultimate professional, which has swelled his ego enormously.
Once claiming himself to be his own favourite player and often mistaken for pure arrogance, it’s less showing off and more a plea for the recognition that he feels he deserves.
His biggest frustration often comes when team-mates cannot match his incredible level.
“It annoys me that they say Cristiano has dropped his level and therefore so have Madrid. If everyone was at my level, we’d be top of the league,” he remarked in February 2016.