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Football News

» Man City transfer round-up: Club 'leading race' for Erling Haaland as scouts watch target
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side appear set to move for a top-class centre forward in the new year, with Erling Haaland reportedly top of their list of targets
» Arsenal identify Alexandre Lacazette replacement as 'extraordinary' goal decision praised
The Gunners fell to a disappointing loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Thursday night despite taking the lead in controversial fashion through Emile Smith Rowe
» Ralf Rangnick's Man Utd changes with six stars to go as new boss 'in charge' of Arsenal game
Manchester United beat rivals Arsenal 3-2 in their Premier League encounter on Thursday night with new boss Ralf Rangnick watching on from the stands at Old Trafford
» "Angry" Mohamed Salah breaks Premier League record as Liverpool plan January without him
The Reds romped home to a very impressive 4-1 win over arch-rivals Everton in the Merseyside derby on Wednesday night, with Mohamed Salah once again leading the way
» Bruno Fernandes' touching gesture to Michael Carrick moments before Man Utd exit
Caretaker boss Michael Carrick signed off his brief reign with a 3-2 win over Arsenal on Thursday night, and Bruno Fernandes waved him off with a touching gesture
» Cristiano Ronaldo's Man Utd message after scoring 800th goal in front of Ralf Rangnick
Cristiano Ronaldo etched his name in the record books once again as he became the first-ever player to reach 800 goals in his career during Manchester United's win over Arsenal
» Man Utd and Arsenal deliver throwback to glory days with five-goal thriller
Man Utd and Arsenal are no longer battling for the Premier League title but their five-goal thriller at Old Trafford was a throwback to the days when their rivalry was an unmissable fixture
» Patrice Evra jumps at opportunity to take dig at Jamie Carragher
Manchester United hero Patrice Evra went after Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher after Cristiano Ronaldo scored a double in a Premier League victory over Arsenal
» Man Utd's "emotional" dressing room reaction to Michael Carrick exit
Manchester United's caretaker manager Michael Carrick announced his departure from Old Trafford after 15 years following their win over Arsenal as Ralf Rangnick takes over as interim boss
» 'Cristiano Ronaldo will hate Ralf Rangnick's pressing style - but he'll win him games'
ANDY DUNN: Two more goals, one a winning penalty dispatched in flamboyant style, and Old Trafford was more interested in Cristiano Ronaldo than new boss Ralf Rangnick
» Bruno Fernandes sends message to Cristiano Ronaldo after passing 800 career goals
Cristiano Ronaldo moved onto 801 career goals as his double against Arsenal gave Man Utd a 3-2 win at Old Trafford - and the achievement was hailed by team-mate Bruno Fernandes
» Son Heung-min on target as Tottenham finally announce themselves under Antonio Conte
TOTTENHAM 2-0 BRENTFORD: Son was on target in what was ultimately a comfortable victory but the first time that Spurs have won by more than a one goal margin in the Premier League this season
» Arsenal ready to target Dominic Calvert-Lewin as a replacement for Alexander Lacazette
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is under contract at Everton until 2025, and Rafa Benitez has already suggested he will fight tooth and nail to keep his important players at the club
» Michael Carrick announces he's leaving Man Utd as Ralf Rangnick comes in
The former Manchester United coach under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was named temporary boss for three matches but has decided to leave Old Trafford following Ralf Rangnick's appointment
» Things you missed at Man Utd including Cristiano Ronaldo's response to Ralf Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick won't be in the Manchester United dugout until the weekend against Crystal Palace, but Cristiano Ronaldo certainly gave him some food for thought ahead of his first game in charge
» Man Utd winners and losers after Arsenal win as Ralf Rangnick set to make changes
Manchester United secured a 3-2 win over Arsenal on Thursday night to get themselves back on track, and impending new boss Ralf Rangnick was in attendance at Old Trafford
» Man Utd 3-2 Arsenal: 5 talking points as Cristiano Ronaldo reaches 801 in Old Trafford thriller
Manchester United and Arsenal played out a Premier League classic at Old Trafford that had just about everything a spectator could hope for with controversy and goals galore
» David de Gea slammed for staying down before controversial Arsenal goal vs Man Utd
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea was culpable for Arsenal's opening goal as he allowed Emile Smith Rowe to score into an open net early in the Premier League clash
» Picture explains exactly what happened in build-up to controversial Arsenal goal
Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe fired past Manchester United's David de Gea from just outside the area following a Gunners corner in the first half at Old Trafford
» Cristiano Ronaldo becomes first player in history to reach 800 career goals
The Portuguese footballing icon ensured yet another record was broken by him as Ronaldo continues his pursuit to be widely recognised as the greatest player of all time
» Referee explains why controversial Arsenal goal "had to be given" vs Man Utd
Arsenal took an early lead during their Premier League encounter with Manchester United under peculiar circumstances as Emile Smith Rowe scored into an unguarded net
» Bruno Fernandes admits his worries as Ralf Rangnick takes the reins at Man Utd
Concerns have been raised that Manchester United star pair Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes will not be suited to Ralf Rangnick's high-pressing playing style of football
» Ralf Rangnick's reaction spotted as Man Utd players rage at controversial Arsenal goal
Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe fired past David de Gea from just outside the area following a corner kick, but the Spanish goalkeeper was on the ground when the ball was struck
» World Cup icon Nobby Stiles' son kicked out by ­Doncaster Rovers over dementia leaflets
John Stiles produced a pamphlet highlighting research into how years of heading footballs could damage the brain and visited his former club Doncaster Rovers to hand out the leaflets
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Other sport news:

» Cristiano Ronaldo seals Manchester United’s fightback victory over Arsenal

Welcome to the mad house, Ralf. If Manchester United’s incoming interim manager was not fully aware of the size of the challenge that faced him, or how erratic his new team have come to look, it was highlighted before him during a performance that batted between the ridiculous and the sublime.

Ralf Rangnick had buckled up before kick-off in the directors’ box, his work permit having come through earlier in the day – although too late for him to have any involvement in the match – and he could be delighted at how United found a way to win.

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» Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Ralf Rangnick makes United bow, Nathan Aké needs to take his chance and Leeds wait on Patrick Bamford

Chelsea were far from their best in victory against Watford in midweek and Thomas Tuchel admitted his side were lucky to take all three points. The German was forced to rotate his squad heavily for the trip to Vicarage Road and will reshuffle his deck again before his team’s lunchtime appointment at West Ham after Trevoh Chalobah succumbed to a hamstring injury. The young central defender joins the key players Reece James, Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kanté and Ben Chilwell in the treatment room. In better news for Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku got 21 minutes under his belt on Wednesday while Jorginho should replace Saúl Ñiguez, who, not for the first time this season, was hooked at half-time and looks to have played his last game on loan at the club. BG

West Ham v Chelsea, Saturday 12.30pm (all times shown GMT)

Newcastle v Burnley, Saturday 3pm

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» Son Heung-min steals in to secure Tottenham victory over Brentford

What is this Tottenham side’s natural resting place? A comfortable defeat of Brentford offered no definitive clues but, given their claim to a top-four position has grown appreciably over the past fortnight, Antonio Conte’s concerns about their standard may yet be allayed. A propensity to drop their tempo for extended periods will not be lost on the head coach but there was plenty for him to enjoy here too, particularly an exhilarating second goal that speaks promisingly of their ability to scent blood.

Brentford were a pale shadow of their freewheeling early season selves, only posing a genuine threat when their cause was beyond redemption. But they had begun to prompt nervous murmurs around the stands with a spell of pressure either side of the hour mark and the fear was that Spurs had not extended the lead a vigorous start to the game had brought.

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» Working class hero Jude Bellingham gets real love from Dortmund | Jonathan Liew

The 18-year-old Englishman has taken the Bundesliga by storm and may already be the most complete midfielder in the world

The slogan of Borussia Dortmund is “Echte Liebe”, which means “real love”. These days, however, it conjures up mixed emotions among Dortmund fans. For many it is a nostalgic throwback to the club’s heyday under Jürgen Klopp, when the phrase first became popularised. For others it is little more than an empty marketing jingle, a hashtag, a symbol of how a club built on working-class passion has begun to take on an increasingly corporate character.

At the human heart of this divide lies the club’s approach to young players. Over the last decade, Dortmund have made little secret of their business model: sign the world’s most promising teenagers, offer them meaningful game time in an elite environment, then look to move them on at a profit. For supporters, this poses an insoluble dilemma: under this policy, Dortmund have fielded some of the most thrilling attacking sides in Europe, playing rapid football with young hungry players. But by the same token, is it entirely possible to attach real love to someone who may well leave in a couple of years?

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» Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert: ‘I had to get up at five and be out of the house at six’

Forward on her route to the top from a ‘rough area of Scotland’, last season’s struggles and taking revenge on a junior coach

Erin Cuthbert’s dad, Steve, won’t let her win. Not kicking balls against a wall as a kid, nor playing golf now. “He always wants absolutely to beat me,” the Chelsea forward says with a laugh. “He said: ‘There’s going to be a day where you beat me and it’s going to be on merit.’ It’s the same with golf now. I’m working on my golf game. I’m going to try and beat him. Maybe next year.”

The 23-year-old pauses when asked whether that, and battling in boys’ teams, is where the terrier-like work rate and drive that have helped make her a fan favourite come from, or whether it has always been part of her.

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» Kyogo Furuhashi’s controversial strike gives Celtic narrow win over Hearts

A controversial goal from Kyogo Furuhashi was enough to give Celtic victory over Hearts in a close Scottish Premiership encounter at Parkhead. The Japan forward looked like he might be marginally offside as he converted Anthony Ralston’s cross in the 33rd minute but Bobby Madden and his officials gave the goal.

Celtic had other chances but Hearts came back strongly after the break with Barrie McKay causing a number of problems before missing an excellent late chance in an exciting finale.

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» Omicron leads European clubs to raise Africa Cup of Nations safety concerns
  • Covid-19 variant leads to ‘deep concerns’ from clubs
  • European Club Association seeks urgent talks with Fifa

Europe’s clubs are seeking urgent talks with Fifa after raising concerns over player safety at next month’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The emergence of the omicron variant of Covid-19 has led to countries around the world reintroducing restrictions and travel bans, and may lead to a fresh dispute over player release for international duty next month.

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» Wigan’s Charlie Wyke thanks manager for helping to save his life after collapse
  • CPR from Leam Richardson and club doctor kept striker alive
  • Wyke out of hospital after procedure following cardiac arrest

Wigan’s Charlie Wyke has thanked his manager, Leam Richardson, and the club doctor Jonathan Tobin for saving his life after a cardiac arrest.

The striker collapsed in training on 22 November and Richardson and Tobin, who used to work at Bolton and was among four men who helped save Fabrice Muamba when the midfielder had a cardiac arrest at Tottenham in March 2012, stabilised his condition.

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» Ralf Rangnick’s 24-match task: to go fourth with Manchester United | Jamie Jackson

The interim manager needs to take advantage of a favourable run of fixtures to secure a Champions League place

The Amazon Prime access-all-areas documentary of Ralf Rangnick’s 24-match Premier League tenure as Manchester United interim manager might be entitled “Finish Fourth”. Or, alternatively “The Gamble”.

Because, make no mistake: if the German, who watched this harum-scarum United victory over Arsenal on a picnic blanket to keep warm in the posh seats, has not lifted them into a Champions League place when match-day No 38 is over he will have failed. And, despite the billing of Rangnick and his career achievements, being parachuted in for a six-month Red Adair act is the latest dice-throw from United in the eight years and now six managers since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.

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» Ally McCoist’s joy and Roy Keane’s rage: how pundits can eclipse the action | Max Rushden

The widely loved Scot and the apoplectic Irishman dominated fans’ discussions this week, ahead of the games they covered

It’s approaching half-time at Elland Road on Tuesday night and Leeds United have a free-kick deep in the Crystal Palace half, about halfway between the corner flag and the penalty area. It could only be described as “in a dangerous position”. Raphinha stands over it.

“This is going to get whipped in with unbelievable pace, that’s my prediction,” says a supremely confident Ally McCoist. The Brazilian raises his right hand and proceeds to smash the ball about 30 yards over everyone and out for a goal-kick.

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» Gianluca Scamacca shaping up to realise his Italy World Cup vision | Nicky Bandini

The Sassuolo striker’s brilliant goals against Milan and Napoli this week have bolstered his case to be the national team’s No 9

Gianluca Scamacca had a vision for how he wanted this season to play out. Asked in August whether he could earn a role for Italy at next year’s World Cup, the Sassuolo striker demurred, reminding the interviewer from Gazzetta dello Sport that he was still in the under-21s.

“One step at a time,” said Scamacca. “But if I manage to play out the season that I have in my mind, the opportunity will arrive.”

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» ‘Rafa needs time’: Benítez gets backing from Everton’s owner Moshiri
  • Moshiri also promises funds to ‘add depth to the squad’
  • Owner expects results to improve after defeat by Liverpool

Farhad Moshiri has claimed Rafael Benítez will be given time and financial support to revive Everton despite fans turning on the club’s hierarchy after the Merseyside derby humbling by Liverpool.

Moshiri was in the United States as Everton succumbed to a sixth defeat in eight winless matches on Wednesday, and was therefore spared the direct criticism aimed at the chairman, Bill Kenwright, and director of football, Marcel Brands, after the 4-1 reverse. Chants of “sack the board” emanated from the home fans who remained inside Goodison Park at the final whistle as those responsible for woeful recruitment over several years, and not simply the former Liverpool manager, were identified as the cause of the club’s continued decline.

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» Christian Eriksen returns to former club to begin training after cardiac arrest
  • Midfielder, who has not played since Euro 2020, trains at Odense
  • Dane cannot play for Inter with cardioverter defibrillator fitted

Christian Eriksen has begun working out at the training ground of his youth-level club in Denmark following his rehabilitation after suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, a spokesperson for the club said on Thursday.

The Internazionale midfielder, 29, has not played since suffering the cardiac arrest while running near the left touchline during Denmark’s opening game of the tournament against Finland in June and received life-saving treatment on the pitch.

“Eriksen reached out to us, and he is now training by himself,” a spokesperson for Odense Boldklub (OB) said. “It’s natural for him since he played here in his youth and lives around the corner. We are very happy to be able to provide training facilities for him.”

Eriksen played for OB before joining Ajax in 2008, where he became an international. He moved to Tottenham in 2013, playing in the 2019 Champions League final, and then signed for Inter last year.

The Italian medical authority has suspended Eriksen from playing in Serie A, due to a rule prohibiting the use of a cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) device that he has had implanted, Inter said in October.

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» Ligue 1 is more competitive and unpredictable than you think

PSG will win the league but they are only able to pull clear because the other teams all take points from each other

By Adam White for Get French Football News

PSG dominate French football and, as a result, Ligue 1 is uncompetitive. At least, that’s the narrative driven by social media. It’s true that PSG have won seven of the last nine titles and, although they are not reigning champions, they have no real contenders this season. However, Ligue 1 is a league like no other. Its weakest teams are its strongest asset, as we are seeing again this season.

There is an obvious resource gap between the top and bottom clubs – PSG’s budget of €500m for this season dwarfs the €20m newly promoted Clermont can spend – yet Ligue 1’s supposed lack of competition can be partly explained by competitiveness further down the division. Of the 20-team major European top flights last season, the gap between the bottom three and the top four was narrowest in France at 36 points. That competitiveness across the league, which saw relegation-threatened Metz beat Champions League favourites Nice this weekend, often allows PSG to get away at the top. PSG can push ahead as the clubs below them take points off each other.

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» David Squires on … a bubblewrapped Daniel Sturridge and Perth’s lengthy road trip

Our cartoonist looks at the difficulties facing the Western Australian club, who now count Melbourne as their home

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» Fallon Sherrock genius, Libertadores fun and Man Utd v Arsenal ruckus | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also features Miedema magic, the 1991 Rugby World Cup and AB De Villiers’s music

1) The final of the Copa Libertadores was exactly the quiet night in at the library that we thought it would be. First in the fifth minute of extra-time, poor old Andreas Pereira – on loan to Flamengo from Manchester United – dropped a rick for the ages, fed by David Luiz and dallying on the ball, allowing Deyverson to rob him and score what turned out to be the winner for Palmeiras. To restore the cosmic balance of things, here’s a brilliant goal Pereira scored last month. Anyway, as the clock ran down, Deyverson felt a hand on his back…

2)Arsenal visit Manchester United on Thursday in a fixture that used to be the most important in English football. Here are the key moments from the game in September 2003, a gentle little 0-0 draw, and here are its key flashpoints: Patrick Vieira’s red card, Ruud van Nistelrooy’s missed penalty and Martin Keown’s subsequent joy. And here are highlights of the next Old Trafford game between the sides, in October 2004 – featuring some tasty little challenges – in which Arsenal hoped to make it 50 league games unbeaten and did not; here’s Sky’s Fanzone commentary of the game (how did that not end in violence?); here’s the full-time rejoicing; here’s Cesc Fábregas finally admitting he threw the pizza, here he is giving a more detailed account, here’s Gary Neville talking about Pizzagate and the general animosity between the teams, and finally Rio Ferdinand’s post-match interview.

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» ‘The last resort’: jailed former Qatar World Cup official on his hunger strike
  • Abdullah Ibhais says he will continue until ‘proven innocent’
  • ‘It is very hard and it is weakening,’ he adds in recording

The detained former Qatar World Cup official Abdullah Ibhais has repeated his claims of innocence as he enters the 17th day of a hunger strike in prison. Ibhais was seized by Qatari authorities last month and returned to jail while he awaits the outcome of an appeal against charges of bribery and a prison sentence of five years.

The former deputy communications director in Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee has been denied communications since his arrest, according to his family. On Thursday, however, a voice note apparently recorded in his cell was published by the Dutch newspaper NRC with an audibly weakened Ibhais discussing his resolve to pursue his hunger strike “until I am proven innocent”.

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» Benítez and Rondón are symptoms, not cause, of Everton’s deep malaise | Jonathan Wilson

Derby defeat was chastening in almost every aspect and Everton must hope Dominic Calvert-Lewin regains fitness soon

Derbies, if received wisdom is to be believed, can be very handy for arresting a slump. They can jolt players out of a rut, or the heightened passions can occlude differences in class. Not at Goodison on Wednesday night, though: not only did the form book not go out of the window, not only did it stay resolutely in the room, but it made itself a feature and across its pages in enormous letters was written the simple message: Everton are in trouble.

Perhaps that’s unfair on Liverpool. They tore into faltering opponents from the off. They racked up a greater xG in the first 10 minutes than Everton have managed in total in four of their matches this season. They played with great zest and verve and all four goals were the result of excellent finishes. They ruthlessly capitalised on Everton’s flaws. But still, it helped that there were so many flaws and that they run so deep.

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» Lethal, humble, wise: the making of England record-breaker Ellen White | Suzanne Wrack

Striker has become England Women’s all-time leading scorer after adjusting her game and learning to be one step ahead

“I’d have said: ‘You’re having a laugh,’” said Ellen White, when asked whether she could have imagined, as a schoolgirl, becoming England’s record women’s goalscorer.

Speaking after her hat-trick in England’s 20-0 drubbing of Latvia had taken her two clear of the record 46 goals by the legendary former Arsenal striker Kelly Smith, White was relieved. “We move on and don’t mention it again,” she said with a laugh, desperate for the spotlight to be diverted away from her.

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» Ten signings Premier League clubs should target in January | Ben McAleer

Aston Villa, Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal may be dipping into the market in the new year

By Ben McAleer for WhoScored

Another game, another goal for Dusan Vlahovic. The Serb scored his 12th of the season in Fiorentina’s 3-1 win over Sampdoria on Tuesday night to open up a two-goal lead between himself and Ciro Immobile in the race for the Capocannoniere. Whether Vlahovic will still be in Italy when the award is given out is another matter. He is a wanted man in England and for good reason. Arsenal and Tottenham are apparently interested in the 21-year-old, with Spurs reportedly making him their top January target as the long-term successor for Harry Kane. Vlahovic will not come cheap but, with just 18 months to run on his contract and a reluctance to put pen to paper on a new deal, Fiorentina’s stance on their prized asset may soften in the new year, particularly if they can sign a replacement early in the window.

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» Newcastle feel hand of Eddie Howe before the spending starts | Barney Ronay

New manager is making his presence felt but has to take points while he can with difficult fixtures looming

Welcome to Newcastle. Twenty-two days into his bespoke survive-and-build mission, Eddie Howe finally got to sit in the home dugout at St James’ Park, for the first leg of a run of games that will define the immediate trajectory of this strangest of seasons.

The hand of Howe had already been felt in this Newcastle squad. Even before the visit of Norwich City, a clash of the bottom two, there was talk of extra sessions, new tech, touchscreen to-do lists at training, a general stirring of the blood.

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» Three forgotten men and the birth of Iraq’s national football team | Hassanin Mubarak

Tale of how sons of a former British army officer and Orthodox priest helped to shape the side is told in this book extract

In 2001, exactly 50 years after the Iraqi national team was formed, I made a discovery. I was reading a comment on the old sports forum about a player named Saeed Easho. It was the start to unearthing the story of Iraq’s first national team.

Many years later I contacted the ex-footballer, and through him it seemed as if everything fell into place. He had spent the best part of 60 years living outside Iraq so no one knew what had happened to the centre-half of Iraq’s first national side.

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» Ray Kennedy: a life in pictures

The former Arsenal, Liverpool and England player Ray Kennedy has died aged 70. He won every domestic honour in the English game and was a key member of Bob Paisley’s all-conquering Liverpool side of the late 1970s. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984

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» Benítez says 'everybody has to be disappointed' after Everton loss – video

Everton endured their heaviest derby home defeat for 39 years and have now gone eight matches without a win. Some of the club's fans reacted by chanting “Sack the board” and criticised Bill Kenwright, the chairman, and Marcel Brands, the director of football, as they left their seats at full-time.

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» Arsenal's Gabriel fights off masked robbers in baseball bat attack – video

CCTV footage of Arsenal defender Gabriel fighting off thieves trying to steal his car from his garage has been released by the Metropolitan Police.

The incident happened in August when Gabriel, who was with a friend, was followed home. Last month, Abderaham Muse was jailed for five years after police were able to identify him as one of the attackers using DNA recovered from the scene.

The footage shows Muse lunging at Gabriel with a baseball bat and Gabriel hitting back and pulling off an item of Muse's clothing before the attacker and another accomplice ran away.

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta said: 'Obviously, it's not a nice thing to go through when you have family involved and they're trying to access your own house. Gaby showed a lot of character, you see the reaction that he had straight away.'

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» Klopp, Guardiola and other top managers react to Ballon d'Or results – video

Europe's top managers have reacted to the Ballon d'Or results and Lionel Messi's seventh trophy.

The Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp, said that Messi is always a worthy winner, but he also hinted that Bayern's Robert Lewandowski should have won the award. Manchester City's Pep Guardiola was similarly diplomatic, praising both Messi and Lewandowski, who finished in second place. 

PSG's Mauricio Pochettino praised Messi and urged the 34-year-old to go on working towards an eighth Ballon d'Or. 

Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti said he would always vote for his own players if he could and therefore felt Karim Benzema should have been crowned world football's best player this year. 


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» 'Hopefully we can bring him close': Arteta keen for Wenger return at Arsenal – video

Mikel Arteta would like Arsène Wenger to return to Arsenal in some capacity, saying he is keen for the former manager to become 'much closer' and that the club would benefit from his presence.

'There has been communication, and I saw him and talked to him when we went to see the film,' Arteta said. 'It was incredibly pleasant to see him and chat to him. Hopefully we can bring him close, because I think he will have a great time just seeing the environment he can create around him and around this place.'

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» 'No need to speak about rumours': Pochettino dismisses Manchester United links after defeat – video

Mauricio Pochettino refused to blame speculation about his future for Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 Champions League defeat at Manchester City. Pochettino is wanted by Manchester United as the successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

'The players know very well our situation,' Pochettino said, when asked whether he had needed to reassure them over his commitment to PSG. 'We know their situation. We are living in a business that rumours are there, sometimes negative, sometimes positive. That is not a thing to talk about – the rumours.'

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» Carrick delighted at Manchester United victory after 'emotional few days' – video

Manchester United’s interim manager Michael Carrick oversaw a 2-0 Champions League win at Villarreal on Tuesday, after what he described as 'an emotional few days' since Ole Gunnar Solskjær's dismissal. He said: 'Tonight was not important for me personally but for the team … I am delighted'. Carrick also revealed he called Solskjær before taking over because he felt it was 'the right thing to do'

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» Köln’s derby win sparks delirium and cements Baumgart’s hero status | Andy Brassell

Mark Uth was the homegrown star on the pitch in the rout of Gladbach but the fans are eating out of the manager’s hands

An outpouring of emotion at FC Köln is always taken with a pinch of salt by the rest of German football. It’s boom or bust, on top of the world or on hands and knees on the floor. This was the former, with local boy and goalscorer Mark Uth telling Sky at full time he’d be lobbying Steffen Baumgart for “two days off and a beer,” a request that was swiftly validated. “If he’s asking for it,” said Baumgart, “he’ll definitely get it.” Yet even in the glow of derby day victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach this felt like something a little different.

Seeing the coach be so accommodating wasn’t the greatest surprise. Normally stoic on the touchline in his trademark flat cap – even when top scorer Anthony Modeste whips it from his head and attempts to instigate a samba with him – Baumgart had willingly approached the Südkurve and (literally) tipped his hat to the supporters. The occasion called for it and since arriving in the Cathedral City, Baumgart has very rarely misjudged the temperature.

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» PSG should use Neymar’s latest injury as a chance to build without him | Eric Devin

If Mauricio Pochettino wants to win the Champions League, he needs to find his best team quickly – with or without Neymar

By Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Despite a frustrating loss to Manchester City in the week, there was an air of celebration about PSG’s trip to Saint-Étienne on Sunday. The hosts, hamstrung by injuries and a lack of impactful signings this summer, had been largely uninspired under Claude Puel, even if they had experienced a slight upturn in form of late. Sergio Ramos made his long-awaited first start for the league leaders and it looked as if, even with Marco Verratti still absent, PSG could begin to have some sense of rhythm about their play.

Not topping their Champions League group is a disappointment, but the squad is now largely fit and starting to fire – as shown by Lionel Messi’s hat-trick of assists in the 3-1 win over Saint-Étienne, no mean feat even against 10 men. Perhaps progress could be made by using the league and cup matches between now and mid-March as a sort of tactical sandbox for Mauricio Pochettino. Indeed, there was already eager mention in L’Équipe of the potential to play with three at the back, with the more mobile Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe flanking Ramos.

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» Daniel Sturridge in for wild ride in face of logistical challenges facing Perth Glory | Joey Lynch

The club’s four-state, eight-match road trip is under way and not without drama around the former Liverpool striker

Roll up, roll up ladies and gentlemen, for the greatest travelling roadshow the A-League Men has to offer. Touring until 15 January, your favourite team from Western Australia, Perth Glory, will be bringing their purple-powered wares to a ground near you. Don’t miss out on a chance to see Bruno Fornaroli, Brandon O’Neill and special marquee attraction Daniel Sturridge across nine different dates.

Yes, coach Richard Garcia’s Glory will assume the role of ALM travelling circus in the week’s ahead; WA’s stringent border restrictions sending them out onto the road early in the season in the fleeting hope that, come the back end of the campaign, conditions will have changed enough to allow them to stage a series of home games.

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» Aaron Hickey: ‘You go to bed thinking about playing at San Siro – that’s a wow moment’

The young Scot is thriving in Serie A after his bold move from Hearts to Bologna paid off: ‘I didn’t expect to play so regularly’

They used to say at Hearts that you would barely know when Aaron Hickey was in the room. The crucial anomaly was that a shy, understated off-field presence was tenacious and composed after crossing the white line. Hickey was always destined for great things.

Fourteen months on from departing Tynecastle, Hickey is flourishing in Serie A with Bologna. Milan have been credited with an interest. There is definite attention from the Premier League – partly linked to the added value of Scottish players in a post-Brexit world – in a 19-year-old who has continued on a steep upward curve under Sinisa Mihajlovic.

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» Neymar’s once joyful talent risks being mangled by the PSG project | Barney Ronay

Brazilian is the world’s longest-serving next-best footballer but his moments of genius are increasingly rare

Who weeps for Neymar? Not many people. Except perhaps Neymar himself, who cries a lot and not always out of sadness. A quick internet search of “Neymar tears” reveals 4.73 million hits, from Brazil tears to Barça tears, to brave tears, sad tears, tears as Neymar greets [insert celebrity friend], to full, cinematic hot salty snot-washing tears. So, so many tears.

The good news is you can also get a more cheering 18 million hits for “Neymar happy”: cue for a series of wonderful beaming grins and winks and million-dollar smiles. Some people have that glow about them. I once saw a woman faint in an airport departure hall after coming unexpectedly face to face with Bill Clinton – please, no comments – who has the same sense of human event glamour. Clinton just kind of giggled, a laugh of recognition – yes siree, ma’am, that’s what I do – as his victim was led away.

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» Dames becomes fifth male NWSL coach to resign in 12 months amid abuse claims
  • Red Stars coach quit shortly after team played for title
  • Dames alleged to have been verbally abusive to players
  • Team did not mention abuse claims in statement

The Chicago Red Stars’ head coach has resigned amid multiple allegations of abuse, shortly after the team played in the National Women’s Soccer League championship game.

Allegations around Rory Dames came to light after an investigation by the Washington Post was published on Monday. Dames resigned from the Red Stars late on Sunday night, in advance of the newspaper’s report.

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» Great expectations, no guarantees as USWNT expose Matildas frailties

A record crowd pointed to a bright future, but the same old problems remain for the Matildas

Almost as soon as it was locked in, Saturday afternoon’s meeting between Australia and the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) was positioned as a celebration of the present and future of Australian women’s football. But in downing the Matildas 3-0 the United States provided another potent reminder to Australian football that, despite the great expectations it holds with a home World Cup on the horizon, the future is never guaranteed.

As 36,109 fans watched on - the highest ever crowd for a women’s football match in Australia - the United States proved quite happy to spoil their hosts’ party, proving to be simply the better team in the moments when it counted; taking advantage of some calamitous errors and naivety in approach to claim a clinical win behind goals from Ashley Hatch, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan (who made good on her goal of “shutting up” a hostile home crowd).

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» Carnival photos add to woe of coach accused of faking Covid pass

Markus Anfang resigned as Werder Bremen coach after doubts voiced about authenticity of Covid certificate

A German football coach who resigned over allegations that he forged his vaccine certificate has drawn condemnation and derision after it emerged that he attended a carnival party this month that was exclusive to people who had received the jab or recovered from the virus.

Markus Anfang announced his resignation as the head coach of German second division club Werder Bremen on Saturday morning after the state prosecutor in the northern city revealed there were doubts about the authenticity of the document supposedly proving the 47-year-old had received two doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.

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» Another Ligue 1 game is ruined by fan violence while authorities shift blame

Clubs and authorities need to stop blaming each other and start working together if they are going to end crowd trouble

By Raphaël Jucobin for Get French Football News

Another weekend, another crowd trouble fiasco in Ligue 1. After an idyllic two weeks with Les Bleus, French football was quickly brought back down to earth on Sunday night as the headline fixture of the weekend was once again called off due to fan misbehaviour.

Marseille’s trip to Lyon should have been a crucial match in the race for a spot in Europe. Jorge Sampaoli’s men had the chance to draw level on points with second-place Nice, while the hosts were in desperate need of a response after a heavy defeat to Rennes before the international break. The visitors were welcomed to a tense and hostile atmosphere, with their own away support absent due to a ban until the end of the calendar year.

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» How to fix Manchester United? It depends which direction they want to go in | Karen Carney

There has been a lack of identity and structure throughout the club so the right manager has to come in as soon as possible

Manchester United have all the components required to challenge for trophies – they just need to step things up on and off the pitch.

It cannot be forgotten that they finished second in the Premier League last season, but in the search to go one better they have moved away from what made them successful. I think there has been a lack of identity and structure throughout the club which has seeped into the squad. This season under Ole Gunnar Solskjær the players did not know whether they were a pressing team or a defensive side that counterattack.

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» Mesmerising Mahrez and Silva floor PSG in style of Guardiola’s Barcelona | Barney Ronay

Champions League win was a moment of Manchester City perfection with Messi, Neymar and Mbappé left in their wake

Frankly, this could have gone on all night. Did we have to stop? Did we really need to call an end to it? On a chilly, still night at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City produced a performance that was oddly hypnotic: a brilliantly fluid, delicately stitched, oddly gentle display of how to win a game by simply picking your opponent apart.

For the opening 45 minutes they stuck those fine, sharp fingernails into the guts of PSG. It was melodic in the flesh, the ball passed with a thud and a fizz between the sky blue shirts, one of those periods where a team seems to be speaking to itself.

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» Conte and Gerrard pour fuel on ketchup wars in tasty cultural divide within football | Jonathan Liew

The sauce is a source of enduring obsession and furious debate in football – and speaks to our confusion as a nation

As with most wars, nobody can really trace the origins of English football’s enduring obsession with ketchup. Perhaps, like many things, it only really began to mean something when someone threatened to take it away. Battle lines were drawn. Sides were taken. Occasionally hostilities would subside, perhaps for years, before roaring back into life. And yet even seasoned observers of the ketchup wars can scarcely remember a week as bitterly contested as the last.

It all began with Antonio Conte’s appointment at Tottenham, when reports began to emerge that the new manager had immediately banned ketchup from the club canteen. “To be professional means you have to take care of your body,” Conte explained. “The training and the game is only the final part of your work. You have to prepare your body, your mind and also your heart.” Within a matter of days, the new Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard had followed him on to the frontline. “The players have to have the right mentality,” he said. “Go above and beyond. They need to strive to be elite.”

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» The Fiver | Penny for the thoughts of Keane and Vieira that it’s come to this

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There was a time back there when Manchester United and Arsenal were the two best teams in the Premier League, and their showdowns were the fixtures that decided the season. Now, not so much, with the quality regressing to levels similar to the era before Arsène Wenger arrived on these shores with suitcases full of his new inventions, water and broccoli, and Fergie had drastically reduced the United starting XI’s 330-pint-per-session intake. As a result, tonight’s meeting of these old foes at Old Trafford is extremely unlikely to have a bearing on the season overall. But it may have a bearing on their seasons, and for that reason alone we should probably feign interest.

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» Wild two-year twists of fate for football clubs in the third tier | The Knowledge

Plus: another brace in braces, more emergency keepers to the rescue, and booting the ball on to major A roads

“Has there ever been an instance of two teams meeting in the English third tier, with one going on to suffer successive relegations and the other going on to achieve successive promotions so that, two seasons later, one team was non-league and the others in the top flight?” asks Jake Lennon. “If not, what’s the closest we’ve had? Or has the equivalent happened overseas?”

The short answer is yes – with Mark Tollerton the first of many to nominate Norwich and Stockport. “They finished at opposite ends of the League One table in 2009-10,” he recalls. “Norwich finished second in the Championship the following season while Stockport were bottom again, of League Two, completing journeys to the Premier League and the Conference (as it was still called then). In addition, the Canaries managed to stay in the top flight for three seasons while County were relegated again to the Conference North, so in 2013-14 the two sides were competing five divisions apart.”

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» Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Ralf Rangnick has plenty to consider, Eberechi Eze needs time and Watford may have a goalscorer to give hope

The good news for Ralf Rangnick is that no manager, whoever it might be, could possibly extract less from Manchester United’s squad than has been the case over the last few months. Ole Gunnar Solskjær was rightly held responsible for this – though it is worth noting that had Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw given him performances that were as good as poor, he would still have a job. In any event, a difficult run for United ends with Arsenal on Thursday, after which they face an easier programme that should, in theory, leave them well-placed to secure a top-four finish. The decision Rangnick must make is whether to change as little as possible and simply improve what’s there – the lower-risk, lower-reward option – or introduce further complexity into an already busy period by introducing the style in which he wants United to play as soon as possible, in the knowledge that it might make things worse before they get better. Daniel Harris

Match report: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

Match report: Brentford 1-0 Everton

Match report: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle

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» David Squires on … Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United exit

Our cartoonist on the Norwegian’s inevitable sacking and some expert advice on who should replace him

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» Women’s Super League: talking points from the weekend’s action

Things looking up for Manchester City, United need signings, Reading on the rise and Carter has a big job at Birmingham

Manchester City’s dominant 5-0 defeat of Aston Villa was their third win in eight league games. After suffering a tough 4-0 loss to Chelsea at the Academy Stadium and then a League Cup defeat to Manchester United on Wednesday night, the second-half goal-fest against Villa could be the start of a turnaround in the club’s fortunes. However, the biggest wins for Gareth Taylor’s under-pressure side this weekend came elsewhere. The defeats suffered by Brighton, Tottenham and Manchester United mean last season’s runners-up sit just five points off third and only two behind their derby rivals. Suddenly Champions League football seems tantalisingly close. If City can come back from the international break fired up by having closed the gap on the teams just above them, and hang in there until even a couple of their injured stars return to action, then claiming third is a real possibility. SW

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» Golden Goal: Ronaldo for Internazionale v Lazio (1998) | Daniel Harris

The 1998 Uefa Cup final witnessed a goal that was probably the greatest moment of Ronaldo’s greatest game

Growing up as a football obsessive, by the time I was 17 I thought I’d seen pretty much everything the game had to offer me. You can probably see how I became a sportswriter.

Around then, I was also spending most weekday evenings hanging about parks, alleyways and pubs to state-alter in one way or another, often under the guise of watching a game. So in the summer of 1996, my parents – who’d spent a decade resisting my pleas to get Teletext – signed up to Sky, sagely rationalising that beaming industrial quantities of sport into our front room would inspire me to take school more seriously.

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» Football quiz: snipers, XXX and the Simpsons – the game on screen

Our friends at The Blizzard have published a new football quiz book. It’s tough. Good luck

Think you know your football? In the first weeks of lockdown The Blizzard started running online quizzes, the result is The Quizzard: The Blizzard Quiz book, which is available in print or digital form. This quiz is a selection of the sort of questions you can expect. It is deliberately hard – this is The Blizzard, after all. Guardian readers can buy a copy of The Quizzard for the reduced price of £6.99 (print version) or £5 (digital) by entering the code GQUIZ at the checkout. Good luck.

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» Birmingham’s Harriet Scott: ‘I must be a very difficult patient’

Defender is a medical student and qualified physiotherapist as well as a Republic of Ireland international

When Harriet Scott walks into the treatment room at Birmingham City the medical staff could be forgiven for feeling a certain trepidation.

It is nothing to do with the Republic of Ireland defender being an awkward patient, just that, as a qualified physiotherapist and fourth-year medical student, she knows her stuff.

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» ‘Israeli Messi’ Gai Assulin eyes next club after five-a-side in Stockport

The forward’s career stalled after his Barcelona debut but he enjoys his journeyman status and wants another challenge

When Gai Assulin’s mentor and idol reunite at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain meet in the Champions League, the man himself will be 10 miles away playing five-a-side with friends. The 30-year-old began his career under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, earning the nickname the “Israeli Messi”, but finds himself without a club.

Liverpool’s Thiago Alcântara has described Assulin as “the most talented player I’ve ever seen in La Masia”, the winger impressing in the B team as he helped Guardiola win his first title and the chance to replace Frank Rijkaard as head coach. Assulin was rewarded with a debut under Guardiola in the Copa del Rey but he did not make another first-team appearance before moving on a free transfer in 2010 to City, where he did not get a look in under Roberto Mancini, who had little interest in the club’s youngsters. The early pressure of being synonymous with Lionel Messi was not a tag Assulin particularly enjoyed as he looked to come out of the Argentinian’s shadow.

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» Ryan Babel on releasing his autobiography … as a rap album

Galatasaray forward on sharing his story via music, what he made of Benítez at Liverpool and where he wants to play next

Ryan Babel releases his autobiography on Friday. Nothing extraordinary in that, you might think; he is 34 and in the final stages of an eventful career, after all. But this autobiography is an eight-track rap album written and performed by the former Liverpool forward. “The whole point was to try to do something different, something creative and something that hasn’t been done before,” says Babel. As with the best autobiographies, it does not hold back.

“I was inspired to do it,” explains Babel, who is in Amsterdam to promote The Autobiography – Chapter 1 and an accompanying short film during time off from Galatasaray in the international break. “When I was back at Ajax a little under two years ago a journalist approached me and asked if I was willing to start the process of writing an autobiography. My feeling was it was a little too early. I wasn’t ready. But then we went into the first lockdown and had to stay at home and I got bored. And that’s where the idea came from. I thought: ‘Why don’t I take the concept of the autobiography in music format?’ So I called a few music friends here in Holland to see how busy they were and explained the concept. They were very excited to help me and that’s how the journey started.”

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» Zlatan Ibrahimovic: ‘I did a stupid thing. But I will do it again, 100%’

The Milan and Sweden player talks about barging César Azpilicueta, the Premier League and the secret of his longevity

“It’s not easy. Every day I wake up, I have pain everywhere,” Zlatan Ibrahimovic says as he resists the inevitable end on a beautiful afternoon at Milanello. The mighty Swede grimaces before fixing me with his familiar stare of cocky intensity at Milan’s famous old training ground. This is how much it takes to remain an elite footballer at the age of 40.

Ibrahimovic continues to inspire a young Milan squad and to play football at the highest level while sparking controversy and embracing the wonder of being Zlatan with amusing gusto. He knows we are all going to die, or retire, but here is the defiant Ibrahimovic mantra:

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» Qatar 2022 is a powerplay aimed at neighbours more than European critics | Barney Ronay

World Cup hosts are speaking to their Gulf rivals not us, leaving a trail of victims that reflects the company sport now keeps

One year to go, 11 in the making. Welcome to Qatar 2022, the final countdown, and a World Cup that for all the noise, the sense of fingers crossed and a gaze averted from the bloodier details, still makes no real sense at all.

It was easy to feel a bit distracted as Sepp Blatter read out the word “Qatar”, with a slight break in his voice, shortly after lunchtime on 2 December 2010. There was an edge of hysteria in the chamber at Fifa House. Ten minutes earlier Blatter had broken the red wax seal on another padded envelope, and said “Russia”, to protracted squeals of joy.

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» Next Generation 2021: 60 of the best young talents in world football

From ‘the next Alphonso Davies’ to Dortmund’s Moukoko, we pick 60 of the most talented players born in 2004. Check the progress of class of 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

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» Next Generation 2021: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

We pick the best youngsters at each club born between 1 September 2004 and 31 August 2005*, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016

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» From Jadon Sancho to Alexander Isak: what happened to Next Generation 2016?

With the Next Generation 2021 picks out this week we look at the final updates for the class of 2016. How did they fare?

There was a time when going abroad wasn’t cool. It was a time when British footballers stayed at home, worried about how they might fare in Europe and beyond.

Gary Lineker helped to break the mould with his switch – and success – at Barcelona in the 1980s but Ian Rush’s struggles at Juventus around the same time seemed to put off many players.

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