On Monday, Serie A giants Juventus registered a brilliant 4-0 win against Cagliari to draw level with leaders Inter Milan in terms of points on the Serie A 2019-20 table. Cristiano Ronaldo was the star of the night as he bagged his first-ever Serie A hat-trick, thereby extending his lead over arch-rival Lionel Messi in terms of career hat-tricks.
Watch Ronaldo’s goals against Cagliari on Saturday in the video shared right below (via Serie A on YouTube):
Speaking about the game, sixth-place Cagliari pegged back Maurizio Sarri’s men in the first half, as the score at half-time read 0-0. Ronaldo then opened the scoring just four minutes into the second half, as he beat Sebastian Walukiewicz to Ragnar Klavan’s loose pass at the Cagliari box before rounding goalkeeper Robin Olsen to finish at the bottom corner.
He then added a second from the penalty spot in the 67th minute, before completing his hat-trick fifteen minutes later.
“The year has started very well. The most important thing despite the hat-trick is that the team wins,” the 34-year-old told Sky Sport Italia after the game.
“We played well and created a lot of chances. I am pleased with the hat-trick, but the most important thing was to win and put pressure on Inter [Milan]. The team is getting better, not just in defence but in all areas. We must improve in all aspects, not just one. We are a complete squad and have to work together in every move,” he added further.
Ronaldo now has 56 career hat-tricks, as opposed to Messi who has recorded 53 career hat-tricks till date.
On Monday, EA Sports officially announced the FIFA 20 Team of the Year. While heavyweights like Lionel Messi, Sadio Mane, Kylian Mbappe and so on made the cut, Piemonte Calcio* superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was shockingly omitted from the final XI.
Full-backs: Andrew Robertson (Scotland, Liverpool), Trent Alexander-Arnold (England, Liverpool).
Centre-backs: Virgil van Dijk (The Netherlands, Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (The Netherlands, Piemonte Calcio*).
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (The Netherlands, Barcelona), N’Golo Kante (France, Chelsea), Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium, Manchester City).
Wingers: Sadio Mane (Senegal, Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona).
Centre-forward: Kylian Mbappe (France, Paris Saint Germain).
As you can see, five Liverpool stars and two Barcelona stars have been included in the final XI. Other teams, namely Chelsea, Manchester City, Piemonte Calcio* and Paris Saint Germain have one player each in the FIFA 20 Team of the Year.
Among national teams, it is the Netherlands who have the most representation in the XI, with three players. The team also consists of two stars from France, while other teams, namely Brazil, Scotland, England, Belgium, Senegal and Argentina have one player each.
Cristiano Ronaldo is not the only noted absentee from the team – as the likes of Eden Hazard and Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and Mohamed Salah from Liverpool have also failed to make the cut. In fact, the FIFA 20 Team of the Year does not consist of a single Real Madrid player, as you can see above.
*Piemonte Calcio is the rebranded version of Serie A side Juventus – EA Sports does not have the official licence to use the club’s original name in FIFA 20.
According to the latest reports, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is considering the signing of a new defender in the ongoing January window, with Inter Milan’s €100million Milan Skriniar being regarded as one of his favourite options.
It is David Ornstein – a football reporter for The Athletic – who reports that Skriniar, along with Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykola Matviyenko has been considered as potential signings by Guardiola and Manchester City.
Needless to say, the Sky Blues have suffered heavy blows in defence so far this season, with Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nicholas Otamendi having been sidelined due to injuries. Quite often, it was Fernandinho and Rodri – who are actually midfielders by trade – who occupied City’s backline in the absence of their main defenders.
And hence they are expected to make a move for a new defender during this January, as per the English news agency.
Manchester City have entered the transfer market for Skriniar previously as well – as they considered signing him as Vincent Kompany’s potential replacement in the summer transfer window ahead of the 2019-20 season.
But Inter Milan values their star player at over €100million, and the high asking price has prevented Guardiola and co from making an official move so far to sign him.
The latest word around the rumour mill is that La Liga giants Real Madrid are all set to part ways with James Rodriguez, who will join Premier League side Everton currently managed by Carlo Ancelotti.
It is Marca who reports that Ancelotti has expressed interest in signing Rodriguez from Real Madrid. The former Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli manager is already known to be a huge fan of the Columbia international, having first signed him during his time in Spain post the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Later in 2017, he signed him on loan at Bayern Munich, and had also expressed keenness in signing him on a permanent deal at Napoli earlier this season, while he was the boss of the Serie A side.
And now, it looks like the 60-year-old has not given up on his chase, as he expects Everton to sign Rodriguez during the ongoing January transfer window.
Meanwhile, the 28-year-old is said to have fully recovered from his left knee injury, but was still left out of Zinedine Zidane’s squad list for Real Madrid’s 3-0 win against Getafe on Saturday.
As he is reportedly out-of-favour at the Santiago Bernabeu despite recovering from the injury, Ancelotti believes he can sign the player on at least a loan deal, as per Marca.
On Sunday, Premier League leaders Liverpool overcame arch-rivals Everton in the third round of the FA Cup, thanks to a brilliant goal by Curtis Jones who was playing just his sixth match for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
It was in the 71st minute that Jones beat Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, with an outstanding curled effort from just outside the penalty box.
While much has already been spoken about the 18-year-old’s effort, it is Sadio Mane’s reaction to the goal that really shows us how brilliant the goal was.
Mane, who was an unused substitute in the game, broke into a victory run as soon as the ball fell into the net. Watch the videos shared right below:
Jones also earned special praise from his boss Jurgen Klopp after the final whistle, and Mane’s priceless reaction to the goal showed just what it meant to the Liverpool squad.
It goes without saying that the Reds are bursting with confidence at the moment, after having won the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup since the start of the 2019-20 season following their Champions League win at the end of the last season.
Liverpool are also the leaders on the Premier League points table as mentioned earlier, and they are yet to be defeated even after 20 matches.
In recent years, most sports – including football – have kept track not only of the goal-scorers but also of their team-mates who provided them with chances to score. Understandably, scoring goals is great, but assisting others is just as important – and today, FOX Sports Asia takes you through the top-five list of assist providers from the past decade (2010-2019).
5. Mesut Ozil (Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal)
Mesut Ozil is the fifth in the list, having recorded 168 assists in 427 matches this decade. Having started his senior career at Bundesliga club Schalke, Ozil moved to Werder Bremen in 2008 – and remained there until August 2010 when he signed for Real Madrid. He played 159 matches for Los Blancos and recorded 80 assists for them, before moving to Arsenal in 2013.
To this date, he remains at the Emirates and has already played 245 matches for them, providing 76 assists so far.
4. Luis Suarez (Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona)
Luis Suarez is the only centre-forward in this list, and much to everyone’s surprise, he is at the fourth place – even above Ozil! Between 2010 and 2019, the Uruguayan recorded a total of 171 assists from 445 club appearances.
After excelling for the Uruguayan side Nacional and the Dutch club Groningen, Suarez earned a move to Ajax in 2007 and that is where his career started to take shape. On the last day of the winter transfer window in 2011, he completed his move to Liverpool and nearly three years later, he joined Barcelona.
The 31-year-old provided 47 assists in Liverpool colours and at Barcelona, he has already crossed the 100 assists-mark. His combined goals+assists tally for the past decade (270+ goals, 171 assists) make him one of the best footballers of the past decade.
3. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
Thomas Muller has never played for any club other than Bayern Munich. The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner has already crossed the 500 appearances-mark for the Bavarians, providing 180 assists so far.
Out of these 180 assists, 172 came in the decade between 2010 and 2019, making him finish at the third place in this list. He has also scored 190 goals for Bayern Munich so far, thereby proving that he is one of the best attackers in modern-day football.
2. Angel di Maria (Benfica, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint Germain)
Argentina star Angel di Maria played in four different clubs between 2010 and 2019 – but his form has remained consistent throughout the decade, proved by the 188 assists he provided during this time.
Di Maria played for Benfica between 2007 and 2010, after which he moved to Real Madrid. Four years later, he moved to Manchester United and a year later, Paris Saint Germain signed him. The 31-year-old has recorded 85, 81 and 12 assists respectively for Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain and Manchester United respectively so far.
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Yet another space for Lionel Messi to write his name on the top – that is all what this list actually is. With 205 assists from 521 appearances this decade, the Argentine G.O.A.T and six-time Ballon d’Or winner is also the only footballer to record 200 or more assists between 2010 and 2019.
Having started his senior footballing career at Barcelona, the 32-year-old was already one of the world’s best footballers of his time. The ten years between 2010 and 2019 further cemented his place among the all-time greats of the game, as he also finished as the leading goal-scorer of the decade above arch-rivals like Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Novak Djokovic won against South African Kevin Anderson in the ATP Cup 2020 opener held on Saturday, but the match made more headlines for the Serbian legend’s on-field interactions with the umpire and the crowd which, one must admit, left fans with a bad taste.
After Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic gave his team a 1-0 lead, Djokovic had to fight hard to defeat Anderson 7-6(5), 7-6(6) to extend Serbia’s lead. It was also Anderson’s first match since July 2019 as since then, he had remained sidelined due to recurring injuries.
Despite so, the South African displayed enormous confidence as he fought to keep up with Djokovic. And at one point in time, the reigning Wimbledon champion lost his cool and got into a lengthy argument with chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani after he was denied an opportunity to challenge.
Later, on the next point, the Serb also admonished the crowd furiously, as he shouted at them for causing a disturbance during a rally.
Djokovic did manage to return his usual self after the match got over, and he also spoke to reporters following his win.
“What a way to start the year,” he said, before adding:
“I started off extremely well, was 4-1 up and had some breakpoints but then Kevin [Anderson] upped his game.”
“He was on fire tonight – I think the quality of tennis was quite high. I was very pleased with the way I kind of weathered the storm,” he then concluded.
The latest word around the rumour mill is that Premier League giants Manchester United will offer £45million along with out-of-favour star Jesse Lingard as a makeweight, in a player-plus-cash deal for Leicester City’s James Maddison.
This is according to Mirror, who reports that Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is “desperate” to lure Maddison to Old Trafford as the Red Devils look to begin the next stage of their rebuilding project.
The Leicester and England midfielder has been in fine form since the start of 2019-20, and has scored nine goals and recorded three assists in 23 appearances so far this season.
Meanwhile, 27-year-old Lingard, who was previously regarded as one of the most exciting future prospects in football, has failed to perform at Manchester United for more than a year now.
In the whole of 2019, the attacking midfielder could not produce a single goal or assist, and his poor form had also seen him snubbed by England head coach Gareth Southgate, while picking his squad for the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers.
And now, Manchester United is also close to parting ways with him, as they look to complete a deal for Maddison at least in the summer, if not during the ongoing January transfer window.
Ahead of the upcoming Australian Open 2020, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has hinted that he may be holding an advantage over Swiss legend Roger Federer.
Djokovic is already in Australia to take part in the inaugural ATP Cup with Serbia this week – however, Federer pulled out from the competition after his Switzerland teammate Stanislas Wawrinka also withdrew. It was later revealed that Federer withdrew his name from the ATP Cup as he wanted to spend time with his family before leaving for Australia for the first Grand Slam of the season.
As the 24-nation tournament will be played out in Australia later in January, Djokovic seemed to suggest that he can use the competition to get used to the Aussie conditions before Federer and co arrive for the Australian Open.
“It’s exciting representing your country again only six weeks after the Davis Cup,” he said on Tennis Channel.
“Some would say it’s a bit too early but we don’t get to have too many opportunities throughout the year to play for our country.”
“The Davis Cup was the only official competition and now we have the ATP Cup.”
“Obviously coming closer to Australian Open you want to have as many competitive matches in Australia, get early here acclimatised and to play your best,” he explained further.
“It’s been a bit of a short offseason because of the Davis Cup. Most of the guys who played in the Davis Cup finished their season kind of last week of November.”
“We’re used to it. I’ve had quite a few years similar to the last one,” Djokovic concluded.
English Premier League outfit Manchester United, just like any other club, will prepare themselves for busy few weeks with the start of January transfer window.
The Red Devils had a rather subdued summer transfer window which is why there is more pressure on the likes of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to invest in the squad which clearly look out of depth on more than one positions.
Therefore, we have identified five candidates which United can sign in order to strengthen their squad which will definitely increase their chances of a top-four finish in the ongoing campaign.
Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic is having a below-par season with the Spanish giants after moving in the summer move from German club Eintracht Frankfurt for a reported transfer fee of €60 million. The Serbia international has only managed to score a single goal in 14 appearances for the Los Blancos and there have been reports that the Madrid-based club’s hierarchy are considering the possibility of letting Jovic leave on loan in January. Considering United have already missed out on their two prime targets for attacking reinforcement—Mario Mandzukic and Erling Braut Haaland—in the January transfer window, the 22-year-old might prove to be a good edition in the squad where there are limited attacking options available currently.
Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is one of the most talented player currently playing in England’s top-division and has impressed everyone with his game awareness and ability to produce a pass which can unlock any defensive unit. By the look of it, the 24-year-old is an ideal fit for United but with Villa involved in a relegation battle, it is pretty hard to see how they will let their prized asset leave the club in the middle of the season.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen can prove to be one of the bargains of the January transfer window. The Denmark international is currently in the final year of his contract with the North London-based outfit and is reportedly eager to leave Spurs in the mid-season transfer window. Therefore, it is believed that last season’s UEFA Champions League runners-up are open to letting the 27-year-old leave for a fee of as low as €40 million in January. United have been linked with Eriksen in the past as well and they will be eager to persuade the creative midfielder for a move to Old Trafford in the coming weeks.
Boubakary Soumare (LOSC Lille)
French Ligue 1 outfit LOSC Lille’s Boubakary Soumare is one of the most highly-rated young midfielder in Europe. The 20-year-old has been attracting interest from number of clubs across the continent including the likes of Napoli from Italy, Real Madrid and Valencia from Spain, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur from England in the recent past. However, despite having skills to become one of the very best in his position in the coming years, Soumare’s age along with Lille’s valuation of €50 million for their prized asset might put United to search for alternatives in the transfer market.
Bruno Fernandes (Sporting Lisbon)
Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes is being highly-rated in the football community and has the ability to turn the game upside down in the matter of minutes. The Portuguese international has been linked with United in the summer transfer window as well but the deal did not materialise for number of reasons. Fernandes has the leadership skills which is something clearly missing from the current lot of players at United which is why it will make a lot of sense if the Red Devils once again consider making a move for the 25-year-old in the January transfer window.
English Premier League outfit Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri is looking set for a move back to Serie A amidst concrete interest from two of the biggest clubs in Italy, as per the Independent.
Inter Milan and Juventus have been in the market to sign a player who can bolster their respective full-back departments for the rest of the campaign as they are involved in a feisty league battle on the domestic front.
However, as per the latest report, Inter are now leading the race to sign Emerson as they are ready to offer Chelsea fee in the region of £25million in order to bring the player to the San Siro in the near future.
It is believed that the Milan-based club see Emerson as a perfect candidate for the role as he has the experience of playing in Italy with AS Roma and Palermo in the past.
Juventus are also believed to be interested, and the Italian international already has played under Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, making it not so surprising if he actually signs him for the Bianconeri.
Emerson has been at Chelsea since the summer of 2018 when he moved from Roma for a reported transfer fee of €20million.
Since then, the Italy international has represented the London-based club in 49 matches in all competitions where he has managed to score a solitary goal along with providing five assists.
English Premier League giants Chelsea are interested in signing French Ligue 1 outfit Lyon’s star striker Moussa Dembele in the January transfer window, as per Sky Sports.
The London-based club have been in the market to sign players in order to bolster their squad after their transfer ban for signing minors from abroad was reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
As per the latest report, the Blues’ hierarchy are considering making a move for Lyon’s Dembele as a replacement for veteran striker Olivier Giroud who is set to leave the club in the mid-season transfer window.
The 23-year-old is highly-rated in the football community and has been linked with Premier League giants Manchester United in the past.
However, it will be interesting to see if Lyon will let the former Fulham striker leave in January considering the fact that they will not have the services of star striker Memphis Depay for a major part of the rest of their campaign.
Dembele has been at Lyon since the summer of 2018 when he moved from the Scottish club Celtic for a reported transfer fee of €22million.
Since then, the French U21 international has represented his current club in 71 matches in all competitions, scoring 30 goals along with providing eight assists.
English Premier League outfit Manchester United are going through a tough phase in their history as they have have not won a league title since 2012-13 season and it does not look like it is going to change in the near future as well.
Under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils are now in a transitional phase where they are fixing different areas of the squad which needs to be addressed in order to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.
One area which United’s hierarchy were eager to strengthen in January is the attacking front which became considerably weaker when Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez left the club in the summer transfer window and their replacements could not arrive in time.
Since then, the Manchester-based club have been linked with a number of targets in the recent past including young sensation Erling Braut Haaland, who became the club’s number-one target for the mid-season transfer window.
However, the Norway international eventually decided to join German Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund from Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg for a reported transfer fee of €20million.
Therefore, we have identified a list of possible candidates United can turn their attention to after missing out on their prime target to bolster their attacking unit.
1: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin is highly-rated in the football community and has now beginning to showcase his talent for his club after managing to score 10 goals in 22 matches in all competitions in the ongoing campaign, which included two in two matches under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. The Sun reported on Tuesday that United are already evaluating the possibility of making a move for the England U21 international who is being around £50 million. Considering the fact that Calvert-Lewin has a contract with his current club till the summer of 2022, it is highly unlikely that Everton will think about letting him leave in the mid-season transfer window.
2: Krzysztof Piatek (AC Milan)
AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek has had a rollercoaster of a ride in 2019 which started with him becoming the most in-form striker in Europe and ended with reports of his move away from San Siro. The Milan-based club have recently signed veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimović on a six-month deal which can be extended for another 12 months which intensified the rumours regarding Piatek’s future at the club. The Poland international is a proven goal scorer after managing to net 86 times in his short career in the club football and with so much pace available at United on the wings, he might well prove to be an ideal choice for the club in terms of long-term solution.
3: Paco Alcacer (Borussia Dortmund)
Paco Alcacer’s future at Borussia Dortmund is uncertain following the arrival of Haaland in the January transfer window. The Spain international has been in decent form for the BVB in the ongoing campaign where he has managed to score seven goals along with providing two assists in 15 matches in all competitions. For someone who is just 26-year-old and is a proven goal scorer, Alcacer might prove to be a really good fit for United, both in short and long-term future.
4: Edinson Cavani (PSG)
PSG’s Edinson Cavani can prove to be a real bargain purchase for the Manchester-based club in the January transfer window. The Uruguay international is in the final year of his contract with the Paris-based club and has been informed that he will not be rewarded with an extension after the arrival of Mauro Icardi from Inter in the summer. Some recent reports from France and Spain suggested that PSG will demand around £8.5 million for the departure of the 32-year-old in the January transfer window which can be considered as a real bargain for a player who has scored 337 first-team goals in his career in just 545 matches.
5: Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Napoli’s Dries Mertens is another player who will be available for a bargain price in the mid-season transfer window. The Belgium international is also in the final year of his contract and is now looking certain to leave the Naples-based outfit in the near future. Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that Mertens will be available for a fee in the region of just £8.5 million to clubs outside Italy in January which is a mouth-watering price for a player who has scored 118 goals along with providing 71 assists in just 304 matches for Napoli in all competitions.
Much has already been spoken on the Senegal international, who finished runner-up with his national team in the 2019 African Cup of Nations and with Liverpool in the 2018-19 Premier League. The pacy winger also lifted his first-ever Champions League and UEFA Super Cup with the Reds later in the same year, before winning the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup as well.
The 27-year-old has been one of the best performers in Jurgen Klopp’s side, since arriving from Southampton at the end of the 2016-17 season. So far, he has made 150 appearances for Liverpool across all competitions, and has also scored 73 goals and provided 33 assists.
Mane was also a part of the final top-five Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2019, where he finished fourth – behind winner Lionel Messi, second-placed Virgil van Dijk and third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo. And now, as per Le10Sport‘s report, it seems that Real Madrid wants to sign him next summer.
It is no secret that Real Madrid’s manager Zinedine Zidane is looking for alternative options to bolster his team’s attack. Zidane’s other options in the transfer market include Adama Traore, Christian Eriksen and Lautaro Martinez, as per the information from various sources.