Messi, Mahrez shortlisted for Ballon d’O award

The Barcelona star was included in the fourth set of players named on the 30-man shortlist for this year’s prize, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic among the candidate.

Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez are among the latest nominees for the Ballon d’Or. Naija and Bet

Messi, who won the prize last year, is looking to win the award for the sixth time in his career, and will come up against long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mahrez, meanwhile, was voted the PFA Player of the Season for 2015-16 as the Foxes won the Premier League title for the first time.

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Iheanacho urges City fans to be patience

The forward has urged the Citizen’s supporters to exercise patience with the club following their five games win-less run.

Kelechi Iheanacho has urged Manchester City fans to be patient with the club following their five-game winless run.

The Super Eagles youngster came from the bench to rescue a point for the Pep Guardiola’s men against Southampton on Sunday, and the 20-year old forward the team needs to focus on their coming games.

“There is no problem – we need to get our heads straight and focus on the next games, Iheanacho  said Naija and Bet

“The fans need to know that we are football players, but we are human beings as well. We didn’t come from a different planet – we are of this world.

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Win brings out the ‘real’ Leicester – Ranieri

Leicester City’s emphatic 3-1 victory against Crystal Palace on Saturday was reminiscent of the performances that propelled them to the title in May, manager Claudio Ranieri has said.

Champions Leicester’s faltering domestic form this season finally found some spark as Ahmed Musa scored his first goal for the club and Shinji Okazaki and Christian Fuchs struck after the break to stretch the Foxes’ unbeaten home run to 20 games.

“Everyone played well, everyone understood the movement and helped each other,” Ranieri said.

“There was this type of performance last season. (Against Palace) we saw the real Leicester.

“For me, the more important thing is to see my Leicester. When we fight, the result is another thing. Naija and Bet

“Realistically we have to be safe this season, because everyone now is thinking we are the champions, but the last campaign we have to forget. It was not real, it was magic.”

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Arsenal can pay big stars wages’ – Gazidis

The Gunners chief executive was positive about the club’s chances of keeping their star players when questioned at their AGM, despite recent reports

Ivan Gazidis says Arsenal can now compete with most of their rivals when it comes to player wages as contract negotiations with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez continue.

The former Real Madrid and Barcelona stars are both out of contract in 2018, with Gazidis acknowledging they are “renowned players” the club want to keep.

However, Arsenal risk losing the Germany international if Arsene Wenger decides not to renew his contract, which expires at the end of the season, and other players could follow to the exit.

Arsenal have been locked in lengthy negotiations with Ozil and Alexis which are yet to reach a conclusion, but the chief executive insists they are no longer reliant on selling star names and make the retention of their current squad a priority.

“We have a good track record in recent seasons of retaining our key players, developing young players and attracting new players,” Gazidis said at the club’s AGM.

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Fifa needs to speed up World Cup reforms – Ali Bin Al Hussein

Former Fifa presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan is concerned about the pace of reform in world soccer’s governing body and says new president Gianni Infantino has “no time to lose” in bringing transparency to the organisation.

Infantino was elected in February with the task of leading Fifa into calmer waters after a series of corruption scandals plunged the governing body into its worst crisis.

Prince Ali told Reuters in an interview that Infantino should focus on implementing reforms rather than issues such as proposals to expand the World Cup. Naija and Bet

“I can only speculate as a new president he first has to look at his own administration and see what’s going on in there,” he told Reuters in Jordan, which is currently hosting the Women’s Under-17 World Cup.

The tournament is the first Fifa organised female World Cup in the Middle East and is considered a significant milestone for women in the region, long constrained by cultural and religious conservatism.

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Sanches won the European Golden Boy award

Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches has won the European Golden Boy award, beating Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford.

The 19-year-old follows Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in winning the award for Europe’s best player aged under 21.

Rashford and Sanches’ club team-mate Kingsley Coman also made the podium.

Portugal international Sanches will receive the award at a ceremony in Monte Carlo on Monday. Naija and Bet

The prize, voted for by journalists across Europe, was established by Italian in 2003, who revealed this year’s winner on their front page.

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Ibrahimovic plays like an old man against Chelsea – McQueen

The former Red Devils player did not hold back in his analysis of Sunday’s 4-0 defeat to Chelsea, highlighting their striker and back line as the weaker areas

Manchester United are “a million miles away from being good” and are hindered by a Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who “plays like an old man”, according to former defender Gordon McQueen.

The Red Devils were trounced 4-0 by Chelsea on Sunday, as manager Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge for the first time since he was sacked during last season.

The loss follows uninspiring draws with Liverpool and Stoke City in the league, leaving United seventh in the table and six points behind leaders Manchester City. Naija and Bet

McQueen, who spent seven years at Old Trafford and won the FA Cup with United, is ashamed by the current side’s performances and feels their top scorer is culpable despite his six goals in all competitions.

“Ibrahimovic has done nothing so far and looks very poor. He looks like an old man playing football,” he said.

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Bale and Ronaldo shortlist for Ballon d’Or

Real Madrid team-mates Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have been confirmed on the 30-man shortlist for the 2016 Ballon d’Or.

France Football have announced the first 10 players in contention for the prize, awarded last year to Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.

Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, and Juventus trio Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Gianluigi Buffon also join Bale and Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann complete the shortlist as it stands, with the remaining 20 names revealed later on Monday. Naija and Bet

Bale and Ronaldo starred for Wales and Portugal respectively at Euro 2016, and helped Real Madrid win their second Champions League in three years in May.

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Misery for Manchester Club

Manchester’s two Premier League clubs managed just a point between them on Sunday as Manchester United suffered a chastening 4-0 defeat by Chelsea on manager Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge and leaders Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Southampton.

Chelsea’s Pedro Rodriguez opened the scoring after just 30 seconds and the Blues were on their way, with Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante adding to the agony for Mourinho, who won seven major titles in two spell as the London club’s manager.

Victory saw Antonio Conte’s side move up into fourth place, just a point behind the top three of City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

By contrast, defeat left United seventh and five points adrift of the top four finish they need to qualify for the Champions League after missing out on European club football’s elite competition this season – a failure that led the Old Trafford club to replace former manager Louis van Gaal with Mourinho.

“You come with a strategy. You cannot concede a goal in the way we did,” Mourinho told. “We made incredible defensive mistakes, individual mistakes, and you pay for that.”

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Morata scores to help Real top La liga

Real Madrid took advantage of Atletico Madrid’s first defeat of the season at Sevilla to move to the top of La Liga as Alvaro Morata struck a late winner to secure a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Steven N’Zonzi struck Sevilla’s winner 17 minutes from time to seal a 1-0 win at a soggy Sanchez Pizjuan.

Real lead Sevilla by a point and Barcelona and Villarreal by two at the top of the table. Naija and Bet

Atletico, who started the weekend top, slip to fifth, three points back on their city rivals.

Iheanacho saves City the blushes

Super Eagles striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, saved Pep Guardiola’s blushes as he came off the bench to score for Manchester City in their 1-1 draw with Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The goal was Iheanacho’s third for the season though it was not enough to earn his side the full points against Southampton. Naija and Bet

After Wednesday’s 0-4 loss to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League, Guardiola recalled the Nigerian but he only had a place on the bench.

A John Stones error allowed Nathan Redmond to steal in and give Southampton the lead in the first half as it looked like City were headed for another loss.

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Klopp ready to get Gerrard back to Anfield

Jurgen Klopp will hold talks with former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard after the 36-year-old midfielder appeared to announce his departure from the LA Galaxy at the end of the current Major League Soccer season.

Gerrard’s comments are bound to fuel speculation that the highly popular Liverpudlian could return to play for the club he first represented 18 years ago and for whom he made over 500 appearances.

Klopp has previously indicated that such a possibility would not be realistic for the veteran, although, following Saturday’s 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion, the Liverpool manager declined to explain exactly what role could await a player who also made 114 England appearances in one of the most successful careers of the modern football era.

“Stevie Gerrard is always so welcome at Liverpool FC, you can’t imagine how welcome,” said Klopp after his team’s win at Anfield.

“So there is absolutely no problem. But anything we have, or will, speak about, stays (between us). That’s how I know Stevie, that’s how I am.

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Match Preview : Chelsea vs Manchester United

Chelsea have won both of their last two matches since changing to a back three and that looks to have given the team a new lease of life.

They have also kept a clean sheet in both of those matches but Sunday’s clash with Manchester United will serve their new formation its first real test.

Jose Mourinho will be desperate to get one over on his former club after being sacked by Chelsea in December. He returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time since his dismissal and only the second time ever as the opposition manager.

He took his Inter side there in March 2010 and recorded a 1-0 win en route to winning the Champions League with the Serie A giants.

United are unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions but haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since October 2012. The away side cannot afford to drop many more points if they want to challenge for the title this season, which means a win is almost mandatory here. Naija and Bet

Mourinho and Conte’s paths have only crossed on one occasion (Atalanta vs Inter in December 2009) in which the match finished as a draw. That looks like the most likely outcome here, but you wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘Special One’ enjoy a special return to Chelsea.

Team News

Chelsea – Willian missed their win over Leicester last weekend following the death of his mother and it remains to be seen whether he is in the right frame of mind to return this weekend. Pedro is on standby to retain his place if Antonio Conte is without the Brazilian.

Bournemouth hold Spurs to draw

Tottenham Hotspur continued their best start to a season for 26 years by maintaining their unbeaten Premier League record but were made to work hard for their point by buoyant Bournemouth in a full-blooded 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Bournemouth, fresh from three successive league wins at Dean Court, took a leaf out of Spurs’ famed pressing book to give as good as they got from the title contenders and were well worth the draw.

Bournemouth’s resistance ensured they missed chance to provisionally go top of the table ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal but it could have been worse for the visitors if Hugo Lloris had not made a fine early save to thwart Charlie Daniels.

After Lloris had tipped his point-blank range shot against the bar, Spurs’ best opportunity in a game high on energy and industry but low on chances came when Erik Lamela shot against the bar in the opening half.

Match Preview : Manchester City vs Southampton

Manchester City’s 4-0 thumping at the hands of Barcelona means they have now failed to win their last four competitive outings and the title favourites need to quickly return to winning ways.

With those within touching distance playing on Saturday, City could find themselves in fourth by the time this match kicks off.

Southampton, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last four in the league and will be looking to quickly overcome a disappointing 1-0 loss in Milan to Inter on Thursday night.

However, they have struggled at City in recent seasons, losing their last five trips to face the two-time Premier League winners.

Saints won’t make things easy for City, but Pep Guardiola’s side have what it takes to return to winning ways here. Naija and Bet

Team News

Manchester City – With Bacary Sagna out and Pablo Zabaleta a doubt, Pep Guardiola could revert to a three-man defence used in the 1-1 draw with Everton last weekend.

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Mikel warn on Mourinho’s mind games

Mikel John Obi has warned his Chelsea teammates of the influence Jose Mourinho wields ahead of Sunday’s big English Premier League clash against Manchester United.

The Nigeria captain was in the Chelsea team beaten 1-0 by Mourinho’s Inter Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League six years ago when they were knocked out of the competition.

Mourinho used the build-up to that tie to make flattering comments about his former players and the club and is expected to do so again now.

The Super Eagles captain admits Mourinho’s behaviour last time affected the team and says the current generation must not make the same mistake.

“We have to put the fact we are playing against Jose to the back of our minds from the moment we are on the pitch. Naija and bet

“He is a legend of the club, had two spells in charge and won trophies. But we must ignore that.

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Ronaldo made himself by working hard – Ferguson

The former Manchester United manager says the Real Madrid star is a perfect example of a hard worker, hailing his work ethic and talent

Sir Alex Ferguson believes he can take little credit for Cristiano Ronaldo’s development into one of the finest footballers of all time.

Ferguson brought a teenage Ronaldo from Sporting to Manchester United in 2003 and oversaw his development to Ballon d’Or winner in 2008 before a then world-record move to Real Madrid a year later.

The 74-year-old Scot made his share of records tumble during a trophy laden reign at Old Trafford which lasted 27 years and he feels Ronaldo stands a cut above other stellar names he oversaw during 26-and-a-half years at the helm.

“Ronaldo is a perfect example of someone who made himself. It’s easy for me to say, ‘yeah, I made Ronaldo’,” Ferguson said when he was honoured with the Walther Bensemann prize, which is awarded for outstanding work in football.

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Match Preview : Liverpool vs West Bromwich Albion

Liverpool were disappointed to come away with just a point at home to Manchester United last time out and Jurgen Klopp will expect a response from his players at home to West Brom on Saturday. Nevertheless, the point shared means Liverpool are still unbeaten in eight matches in all competitions.

However, this isn’t the home banker many expect. Tony Pulis is actually unbeaten in his last eight matches against Liverpool, but the loss of Jonny Evans in this fixture could prove definitive in their attempts to prolong that record.

West Brom have drawn each of their last three matches 1-1 and have only lost two league matches in eight this season. Four of the last five meetings in this fixture have finished in a draw and it will require a good performance from Liverpool to ensure they end that streak.

Team News

Liverpool – Georginio Wijnaldum has returned to full training after missing the 0-0 draw against Manchester United on Monday with a hamstring injury.

Adam Lallana is also in better shape having been forced to start that match from the bench and both should come into contention to start this weekend.

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Arsenal to keep pace high in title race – Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are finally equipped to last the pace in the Premier League title race this season.

Wenger’s side have struggled to match the financial muscle and strength in depth of the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in recent years.

But the Gunners appear in much better shape to slug it out with their title rivals this season after reeling off seven successive wins in all competitions.

Arsenal have enjoyed similar hot streaks before fading in the past, but boss Wenger, speaking ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Middlesbrough, sees a more steely side to his squad this time.

“Before the season everybody would say that it could be a very tight, interesting championship,” said Wenger, whose side are behind leaders City on goal difference. Naija and Bet

“After the first two or three games people felt that City would run away with it, or Man United would after they won their first three games as well.

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Klopp backs Daniel Sturridge despite goal drought

“And I think it is a very useful moment in his career. A big name: [Robert] Lewandowski. There were times when he didn’t score.

“Gerd Muller. There were games he didn’t score. I still can’t believe it. You look back on his career and he scored 600 times but there were moments when he didn’t score.”

Jurgen Klopp insists Daniel Sturridge’s goal drought can be a “very useful moment” in the Liverpool forward’s career.

The England international is yet to score in the Premier League this season and cut a frustrated figure in Liverpool’s goalless draw with Manchester United at Anfield on Monday.

Sturridge touched the ball just once in the opposition box and did not have a shot at goal before being replaced on the hour mark. Naija and Bet

Reports in the national press have suggested Sturridge could be dropped for Liverpool’s home match with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, with Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum pushing for recalls.

But Klopp has given his backing to the 27-year-old, highlighting how prolific goalscorers like Robert Lewandowski and Gerd Muller also went through dry periods in front of goal.

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Guardiola won’t change despite Barca mauling

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he would rather quit his post than change his footballing philosophy.

City have gone four matches in all competitions without a win and head into Sunday’s Premier League clash at home to Southampton on the back of a 4-0 thrashing at Barcelona in the Champions League.

It was suggested to Guardiola this week that he might consider a more pragmatic approach to games in the future, given City’s recent run.

But the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss insisted he would remain true to his attacking principles and style of play that requires his goalkeeper and defenders to play the ball out from the back.

“No, no, I’m not going to change,” Guardiola said. “First, it’s going to happen that if it’s not going well in the future, next season isn’t going well in that way, I will go home. Naijabet

“I won 21 titles in seven years. So it’s three titles per year playing in that way.

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Messi returns to Argentina squad for WQ

Lionel Messi is back in the Argentina squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Brazil and Colombia after missing the last three due to injury in which his team have dropped seven points.

Messi was named on Friday in coach Edgardo Bauza’s 26-man squad and will captain Argentina away to arch-rivals Brazil in Belo Horizonte on November 10 and at home against Colombia in San Juan five days later.

Argentina have slipped down the South American group standings to fifth after a shock 1-0 home defeat by Paraguay and 2-2 draws with Peru and Venezuela, all without Messi.

They have 16 points from 10 matches, five less than leaders Brazil with Uruguay second on 20 and Ecuador and Colombia on 17. The top four go through to the 2018 finals in Russia with the fifth qualifying for an intercontinental playoff for another berth.

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Match Preview : Arsenal vs Middlesbrough

A 6-0 thumping of Ludogorets on Wednesday night means Arsenal have now won their last seven competitive outings and are unbeaten in their last 11. They will be confident of extending that run against a lacklustre Middlesbrough side this weekend.

Boro have now failed to win their last six league fixtures, losing four. They have, however, lost only one of their four away league games.

Arsenal, though, come into the tie as favourites and should land a routine win.

Team News

Arsenal – Granit Xhaka is suspended for the Gunners, with Francis Coquelin expected to start alongside Santi Cazorla. Naija and Bet

Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Chuba Akpom are all sidelined here.

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The Special ONE deserves Chelsea warm reception

Jose Mourinho should be given a warm welcome when the Manchester United manager returns to Chelsea on Sunday, said present Blues incumbent Antonio Conte.

Conte, who took over in July after Guus Hiddink had stepped in when Mourinho was fired last term, added that the Portuguese coach, who guided Chelsea to three league titles, merited his place in the club’s folklore.

“I have great respect for him,” said Conte. place your bet on

“He won three championships and I think he was an important man for the club.

“I think he deserves a good reception, because he wrote with the club, with his players, with the staff, part of the story of this club.

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Neymar signs new Barca’s deal

Brazilian superstar Neymar signed a new five-year contract with Barcelona on Friday that will keep him at the Spanish champions until 2021, saying he felt “at home” at the Camp Nou.

The deal, which was agreed in June, includes a buy-out clause of up to 250 million euros ($272 million) as Barca seek to ward off interest from potential suitors across Europe.

Manchester United were reportedly chief among a number of clubs wishing to prise the 24-year-old attacker from Barcelona, where he forms part of an acclaimed triumvirate along with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

“I’m very happy to renew with the club, I feel at home,” Neymar said.

“I thought, with my family, that it was best for me to stay here,” he added.

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