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» UEFA admit uncertainty over Euro 2020 due to coronavirus fears
European football's governing body UEFA have admitted they are in a state of limbo over Euro 2020 due to the alarming spread of coronavirus across the continent
» Jack Grealish outlines future Aston Villa plans amid Man Utd transfer interest
Aston Villa's talismanic leader Jack Grealish will have the honour of leading his side out at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City
» Bruno Fernandes has sent Man Utd a message about Paul Pogba, explains Paul Scholes
January singing Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring for Manchester United from the penalty spot in Thursday night's 5-0 demolition of Club Brugge in the Europa League
» Sadio Mane expects Jurgen Klopp statue at Anfield as he explains boss's secret to success
After a slow start to his tenure, Klopp guided the club to a stunning Champions League triumph last season and is this year on the brink of winning the league title
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Man Utd worries over Inter Milan draw amid coronavirus fears
Manchester United and Inter Milan are both in the last-16 draw of the Europa League and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted fears over coronavirus
» Liverpool assistant boss Pepijn Lijnders makes insightful Champions League admission
Pepijn Lijnders works behind the scenes at Liverpool to help implement Jurgen Klopp's unique style of play. Here he has provided insight on the process at Anfield
» Man Utd missed out on £200k Jack Grealish transfer despite Rio Ferdinand meeting
EXCLUSIVE: Alex McLeish admits United tried to poach Grealish in 2012 when the teenager and his family even dined at Rio Ferdinand's table at his Manchester restaurant Rosso
» Steve Bruce bans Newcastle squad from shaking hands over coronavirus fears
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has banned his players from shaking hands over coronavirus fears following advice from club doctor Paul Catterson
» Europa League draw LIVE: Man Utd, Wolves and Rangers discover last 16 opponents
The Europa League round of 16 draw takes place on Friday with Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Rangers still flying the flag for the British teams
» Lee Dixon tells Shkodran Mustafi to "pipe down" in blast at resurgent Arsenal defender
Arsenal legend Lee Dixon has taken aim at Shkodran Mustafi despite the defender's resurgence in form at the Emirates under Mikel Arteta
» Martin Keown makes Arsenal Champions League prediction after shock Europa League exit
The Gunners were sensationally dumped out of the Europa League by Olympiakos on Thursday, losing on away goals as Youssef El Arabi scored in the final minute of extra-time
» Mikel Arteta's Gabriel Martinelli decision slammed as Arsenal lose in Europa League
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal drew 2-2 with Olympiakos over the two legs of their Europa League tie, seeing last year's finalists go out of the competition in the last-32 stage
» Paul Scholes questions Man Utd transfer policy after Bruno Fernandes impact
The Portuguese midfield maestro has enjoyed a superb start to his Old Trafford after arriving from Sporting Lisbon in a £68million move last month
» Sean Longstaff gives Newcastle contract update as time ticks down on brother Matty
Midfielder Sean Longstaff and brother Matty could be lost to Newcastle unless they both get new deals. Sean talks of his difficult season, trying his best and why Paul Dummett has provided guidance
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer assesses Odion Ighalo's first start for Man Utd
January signing Ighalo proved on his full debut that he can 'sniff out' a goal, and Manchester United boss says he's 'very happy' with striker
» Every word Mikel Arteta said after Arsenal's disastrous Europa League defeat
Gunners boss has had his say after Arsenal were eliminated on away goals following a 2-1 defeat on the night to Olympiacos at the Emirates
» Mikel Arteta blasts 'unacceptable' winner after Bernd Leno mistake in Arsenal loss
Arteta admits keeper could have done better after conceding a needless corner, as Gunners boss slams Arsenal's set-piece defending following late Emirates winner for Olympiacos
» 'No excuse' for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang miss in Arsenal Europa League exit
Striker admitted he was hurting after squandering late chance to win it at the Emirates as Gunners were beaten on away goals by Olympiacos
» Mikel Arteta responds after Arsenal crash out of Europa League to Olympiacos
Gunners boss insists players were not complacent and vows to lift them after late set-piece winner saw them knocked out on away goals in 2-2 aggregate draw
» Martin Keown launches scathing attack on Arsenal after Olympiacos defeat
Former Gunners stars point to huge rebuilding job for Mikel Arteta after Europa League exit, saying Arsenal were punished for lack of commitment and weakness at set pieces
» Harry Kane and Steph Houghton pen open letters to launch new FA grassroots campaign
The England captains have launched the FA's 'Pledge for Positivity' and have penned a joint letter as the FA seeks to improve
» Mikel Arteta reminded of sizeable Arsenal task after shambolic Europa League exit
The Gunners were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday night and embarrassed at the Emirates
» Odion Ighalo lifts lid on Man Utd pressure after scoring first goal
Ighalo scored United's second goal of the game as the Red Devils eased to a comfortable 5-0 win over Club Brugge in the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie
» Liverpool to make Virgil van Dijk the world's best paid defender after record revenues
Liverpool are breaking records both on and off the pitch and after tying down their star names to new deals in 2019, it's Dutch colossus Van Dijk who's next

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» Europa League last-16 draw, Premier League team news and more – live!

Brighton news: Speaking ahead of his team’s lunchtime game against Crystal Palace tomorrow, Brighton manager Graham Potter insists Neal Maupay and Glenn Murray provide ample options in the club’s fight for Premier League survival. Potter has been alternating the two strikers in recent weeks, with summer signing Maupay getting the nod last week and scoring in the draw at Sheffield United.

“Both can play together or on their own, we’re lucky to have both of them and they’re different types of players in their own right,” Potter told the club’s official website.

'It hurts, big time': Mikel Arteta on Arsenal's dramatic Europa League exit to Olympiakos

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» Newcastle ban handshakes at training ground over coronavirus fears
  • Players and staff usually shake hands in morning ritual
  • ‘We’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor,’ says Steve Bruce

The threat of catching coronavirus has persuaded Newcastle United to abandon a cherished morning ritual. Steve Bruce’s players have become accustomed to shaking hands with every teammate and member of the backroom staff each day as they assemble for training but the practice has been temporarily halted on medical advice.

“There’s a ritual here that everybody shakes hands with everybody as soon as we see each other every morning,” said Bruce as he prepared for Saturday’s game against Burnley at St James’ Park. “But we’ve stopped that on the advice of our club doctor. Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do. We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”

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

Villa try to break Manchester City’s League Cup stranglehold, Vardy needs a goal and Moyes must rouse Hammers

Since he scored 14 goals in 12 league games between late September and 21 December, in which he failed to find the net in only two matches (one of them against Norwich), someone has turned off Jamie Vardy’s scoring tap. In that free-scoring period there seemed to be no stopping him: he may not have been on the scoresheet against the Canaries, for example, but he played excellently and threatened constantly, and it was his (off-target) header from James Maddison’s corner that Tim Krul flapped into his own net for the equaliser in a 1-1 draw. But since Christmas he has not scored at all, and in six league games this calendar year he has had only eight shots – 50% of them against Manchester City last weekend – and only four on target, the most recent against Chelsea on 1 February, 235 pitch minutes ago. Brendan Rodgers’ priority must be to turn that tap back on. SB

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» Solskjær sure Manchester United will not 'give up' at Everton like last season
  • Manager’s lowest point was 4-0 ‘capitulation’ at Everton
  • Victory over Brugge was ‘United as the fans want to see’

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is confident Manchester United will not repeat last season’s 4-0 surrender at Everton on Sunday, with the manager admitting the team he selected that day “capitulated”.

United are in confident mood after Thursday’s 5-0 victory over Club Brugge took them into Friday’s Europa League last-16 draw 6-1 on aggregate. This was a seventh consecutive match unbeaten, including six clean sheets.

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» David Beckham's MLS team finally kicks off, but will Miami care?

After six years of delays, Inter Miami will play their first-ever league game this weekend. There are still obstacles to overcome though

Two-thousand, two-hundred and sixteen days after David Beckham arrived in Miami promising to establish a Major League Soccer team, there will finally be football.

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami – or Inter Miami – will play their first competitive game on Sunday, following six years of excruciating (and ongoing) wrangling over stadium sites, investment capital, and pleas to MLS bosses not to pull the plug on the entire project.

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» 'It hurts': Arteta admits pain of Arsenal's Europa League exit against Olympiakos
  • Manager saw side eliminated by late goal in extra-time
  • ‘It’s a difficult one to digest as a team and as a club’

Mikel Arteta could not hide the pain of Arsenal’s agonising Europa League defeat to Olympiakos, which removes their most likely to route to Champions League football and stalls the momentum that had been built up by a 10-match unbeaten run.

Youssef El Arabi’s goal, a minute from the end of extra time, put the Greek Super League leaders through and it came just moments after Arsenal thought they had won the game themselves. Arteta and his staff had celebrated wildly when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put them ahead in the tie with an overhead kick but the subsequent sting in the tail was visibly devastating.

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» Copenhagen deliver late Europa League knockout blows to sorry Celtic

It was not meant to play out this way. A day after Rangers had secured progress to the last 16 of the Europa League Celtic were supposed to follow their oldest foes into the draw. The fact the Old Firm could face each other in the next round added to a sense of excitement; and formality. A year and a day since Neil Lennon returned for a second tenure he was expected to endorse his expertise in European competition.

Copenhagen – a wonderfully disciplined Copenhagen – had other ideas. They ultimately cruised past Celtic after Odsonne Édouard had restored parity with a VAR-awarded penalty. Celtic’s hopes of turning this tie back in their favour were over within two minutes of Édouard’s 83rd-minute spot kick. Pep Biel and Dame N’Doye sealed Copenhagen’s victory and Celtic’s first defeat of 2020.

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» Football transfer rumours: Jan Oblak and Houssem Aouar to Chelsea?

Today’s tell-all brings you up to do like your daddy done

Chelsea dominate Friday’s transfer tittle-tattle, what with the dust still settling on their Champions League humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich. The Sun opt for a slightly melodramatic “Hateful Eight” headline as they reveal that Frank Lampard is ready to offload no fewer than – you’ve guessed it – eight “flops” in a summer clear-out, with goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, midfielders Jorginho, Willian, Pedro and Ross Barkley, and defenders Marcos Alonso, Kurt Zouma and Emerson all facing a brutal summer cull.

Related: City slickers and Gnabry's love of London – Football Weekly Extra

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» Real Madrid's reputation for dramatic comebacks is more myth than reality

The remontada has long been part of Real’s identity but recent second-leg Champions League trips suggest it is mere folklore

“If there is a team anywhere that can turn this around, it’s them,” Pep Guardiola said. And so, it seemed, did almost everyone else. Down on the touchline at full time Casemiro said it. Up in the commentary box the former Real Madrid player and manager Jorge Valdano said it, too. He knows: Valdano was a member of the team who constructed an identity around the remontada, making dramatic comebacks part of Real’s mythology. It was a belief system, an act of faith.

But faith is blind and the reality is different. Real may indeed turn their Champions League last-16 tie around after the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Bernabéu on Wednesday. They have the players to do so even if they don’t have that player any more. Cristiano Ronaldo is gone but no one would be daft enough to say it’s done. No one from City did so, that’s for sure.

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» Magda Eriksson eyes Continental Cup to complete her Chelsea trophy haul

Chelsea have never won the League Cup and they have the chance to break their duck against Arsenal this weekend

The Continental Cup is the only domestic title missing from the trophy cabinet of the Chelsea captain, Magda Eriksson, after two seasons in England but, more surprisingly, it is also missing from her club’s.

“It’s been like our mantra the whole year, the Continental Cup: ‘We’ve never won this, we’ve never won this,’” Eriksson says, before Saturday’s final against Arsenal in Nottingham. “It has been the fuel in every game we’ve played in the tournament. I think we are all, honest to God, a bit tired of Emma [Hayes, the manager] saying it, so we said: ‘OK, now we’re going to win this so she can’t say it any more.’”

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» From Chicharito to Rodolfo Pizarro: MLS's best new players in 2020

The new season kicks off this weekend, and there is a host of talent arriving in North America. We run through the most exciting arrivals

After years of rumors, Chicharito has finally made his way to MLS. While the striker has become a bit of a journeyman during the 10 years he’s spent in Europe, he’s had flashes of success and played for some of the biggest teams in the world, including Manchester United and Real Madrid.

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» Wolves progress in Europa League despite Espanyol loss and Neto howler

Espanyol landed the first punch and the last but Wolves knocked them out, as everyone knew they would. The decisive blows had been delivered at Molineux last week when Nuno Espírito Santo’s team took a four-goal lead; now they had to just finish the Spaniards off and they did so swiftly, but that tells only a part of the story. In a game that did not change the final outcome and was never likely to, Espanyol led three times, Wolves eventually losing 3-2 but progressing 6-3 on aggregate.

Matt Doherty got the visitors’ second equaliser late on, only for Jonathan Calleri to head in an even later winner. And yet it was Wolves’ first goal from Adama Traoré that effectively ended the tie, if not the match, after 22 minutes.

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» Italy will host Euro 2020 opener as planned despite coronavirus, says Uefa
  • 2020 tournament due to kick off in Rome in June
  • World Rugby to decide rescheduling of Six Nations

The European Football Championship will kick off in Rome as planned, Uefa has insisted, despite the growing number of coronavirus cases in Italy.

In new developments an unnamed professional footballer in the Italian third tier has tested positive for Covid-19 while the European forum of the International Boxing Association, which was due to be held in Assisi this weekend, has been cancelled. It has also been announced that an emergency meeting will be held in Paris next week to discuss the postponed Six Nations fixture between Ireland and Italy.

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» Bruno Fernandes inspires Manchester United romp against 10-man Brugge

Another scintillating Bruno Fernandes display swept Manchester United into the last 16 and on this showing they are serious contenders for a second Europa League crown in three years.

Fernandes’s vision gives United a new dimension and elevates his teammates. The playmaker scored a second penalty in two games and though naysayers may claim this was “only” Club Brugge, United have struggled against similar opponents under Ole Gunnar Solskjær. This was a performance that crushed the visitors and took United to seven matches unbeaten, a run that includes six clean sheets.

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» Arsenal sent crashing out of Europa League by late Olympiakos winner

This was a lesson Arsenal had to learn eventually but it could not have come at a more costly moment. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has spent two years bailing out sluggish performances and embodying a model of consistency in a team that has shown none. He seemed to have done it yet again, with the stakes perhaps higher than ever, when he arched his back and cracked in a breathtaking overhead volley seven minutes from the end of extra time, restoring their aggregate lead with his first significant involvement of the game. But then came two stark, devastating reminders that Mikel Arteta’s rebuilding job has barely scratched the surface.

Related: 'It hurts': Arteta admits pain of Arsenal's Europa League exit against Olympiakos

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» Finnish FA drops 'women's' prefix for league in push for equality
  • Top league to be called National League, not Women’s League
  • Finland introduced equal pay for national teams in 2019

The top division of women’s football in Finland has announced that it will change its name from Women’s League to National League (Kansallinen Liiga) in the latest move to implement “full equality” in running the country’s football.

The Finnish FA last year become one of only a few organisations in world football who have equal pay for their men’s and women’s national teams, and on Thursday it revealed the latest step in its three-year plan.

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» Liverpool announce £42m pre-tax profit despite record £223m spend on players
  • Club’s turnover reaches £533m for financial year 2018-19
  • Investment in players includes signings and new contracts

Liverpool made a pre-tax profit of £42m and increased turnover to £533m in 2018-19 as the club’s rise to European champions under Jürgen Klopp was reflected on the balance sheet.

The latest accounts, for the year ending 31 May 2019, show turnover rose by £78m thanks to increased media, commercial and matchday revenue. The turnover of £533m enabled Liverpool to invest a record £223m on players, notably the signings of Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keïta and Xherdan Shaqiri. There were also new contracts for 11 players including lucrative deals for Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

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» Continental Cup final gives an unloved competition a fascinating climax | Eni Aluko

Arsenal face Chelsea on Saturday with both sides desperate to get their hands on silverware amid a pile of intriguing subplots

Arsenal face Chelsea in the Continental Cup final on Saturday evening in what should be a fascinating conclusion to a sometimes maligned competition. Earlier this season Emma Hayes, the Chelsea manager, said she wanted to get rid of it completely and this week she said it was the trophy her team most want to win. I expect she’ll be delighted if her side take the title for the first time.

Chelsea certainly go into the final with the upper hand. Arsenal have lost only four league games since the start of 2019 and three were to Chelsea. In October 2018 Arsenal went to Kingsmeadow, where Chelsea play their home games, won 5-0 and looked in a different class. Last month Chelsea went to Arsenal, won 4-1 and were unbelievable. Their recent performances against the Gunners mean they will have more confidence and they have added motivation, with this being the only domestic title they have not won. Because they’re not in the Champions League I think they would have targeted this trophy from the start and now they are 90 minutes away.

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» Gabriel Jesus: relentless, tenacious, and now ahead of Sergio Agüero? | Barney Ronay

Part of the thinking behind the signing of Brazilian in 2017 was that he would in time become Manchester City’s most effective striker. Perhaps this has now happened

Glory, glory Hallelujah, é Gabriel Jesus. The busker outside the Maracanã knew his audience. For a while the walkway to the stadium was closed before Brazil’s Olympic final, the crowd backing up down the stairs as fans in yellow shirts sang along to the in-vogue dirge of the Rio Games, a chant set to the tune of the American civil war song about John Brown’s body mouldering in his grave and adapted here to take in the feats of a slightly built 19-year-old utility attacker from the slums of São Paulo.

Six months on Gabriel Jesus would find himself looking a little cold and sad on breaks from hotel life in wintry Lancashire, a latecomer to the first raft of players to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. Fast forward another three years, 38 goals, four trophies and two semi-serious injuries, and City’s roving centre-forward produced his best moment to date for the club at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

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» Moyes plays percentages game but West Ham need inspiration soon

Successive defeats at the Etihad and Anfield were not without encouragement, but beating Southampton on Saturday now looks non-negotiable

It was hard not to feel just a little bit sorry for David Moyes when his West Ham team briefly led at Liverpool on Monday. There was a certain inevitability about the home side recovering and securing all three points, but at least West Ham had put themselves in a position to win, less than a week after their impersonation of a doormat against Manchester City at the Etihad.

Moyes has famously never won at Anfield; in fact his lamentable record against what might loosely be described as top-six sides in England is one of the biggest flaws in his managerial CV. Even at Everton, where he was unquestionably a success on balance over 11 years, his innate caution was getting on supporters’ nerves by the end. West Ham did not exactly throw caution to the wind at Anfield – that would have been very anti-Moyes and far too risky a strategy against a team drilled to capitalise on every turnover of possession – but at least they put out a side that seemed to believe it could achieve a result. That approach made far more sense than going to Manchester City and hoping Kevin De Bruyne and Co would not manage to score, and if they are going to climb away from the bottom three West Ham are going to need much more of it.

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» Guardiola dips into his bible to find tactical blueprint for win in Madrid | Jonathan Wilson

Manchester City manager reverted to principles he wrote on his whiteboard in 2015 to beat a deeply ordinary Real Madrid

Revel in the irony: of course it would be just as the great rupture comes that Manchester City at last produce a great European performance.

Enlightenment is achieved through the abandonment of desire. And yet even within that irony there are deeper ironies, the suspicion that a great European performance may not actually have been necessary, the suggestion that Pep Guardiola’s true opponent was less the 11 men in different coloured shirts than himself, and the realisation that good as City were, this Real Madrid are deeply ordinary, little more than the memory of a team despite their branding.

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» MLS 2020 predictions: a title for LA and a playing return for David Beckham

The new season kicks off this weekend. Our panel of writers deliver their verdicts on the MVP, the champions and the new teams

Maybe not, but the dramatic inflation in franchise fees over the past few years attracts only the most ambitious of prospective owners. It’s no coincidence that more recent expansion franchises have raised the bar for the league. GR

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» 'It hurts, big time': Arteta on Arsenal's Europa League agony – video

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta admitted that his side's dramatic Europa League defeat to Olympiakos 'hurts big time' after a late goal from the Greek side took them through on away goals. Olympiakos won on the night 2-1 after extra-time, but Arsenal could still have progressed had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang not missed a simple chance in front of goal. Aubameyang's earlier goal had drawn Arsenal level at 1-1 in extra-time but after a mistake from goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who needlessly gave away a corner, Youssef El Arabi scored the winner for Olympiakos.

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» Pep Guardiola: Real Madrid tie is not over yet – video

Pep Guardiola praised the character of his players after Manchester City's 2-1 win against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu, but warned the second leg would be closer. Guardiola's tactical gambles – resting Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Agüero and starting Kevin De Bruyne as a central attacker – paid off handsomely as City came from behind to secure one of their finest European victories

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» 'A harsh lesson': Frank Lampard reacts to Chelsea's Bayern Munich defeat – video

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard admitted his team are a long way from challenging the Champions League elite after brutal 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.

The Bundesliga champions took Chelsea apart in the first leg of their last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge with two goals from Serge Gnabry and one from Robert Lewandowski. Lampard accepted that his inexperienced side are unlikely to be playing for anything but pride when they travel to the Allianz Arena for the second leg on 18 March.

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» Football pitch inundated as River Severn floods parts of Worcestershire – video

Drone footage shows the devastating impact of flooding in Worcestershire, with Stourport Swifts' pitch completely submerged by flood water. Householders and businesspeople were forced to flee as flood defences were breached along the banks of the River Severn. Stourport Swifts have started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for repairs

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» Player throws spare ball to 'tackle' opponent in North Macedonia – video

A match between Makedonija Gjorce Petrov and Akademija Pandev descends into farce after a quick throw-in when one player chases another carrying a spare football. As the attacker surges down the wing the defender throws the spare ball at his feet, knocking the match away and causing the game to be stopped. Unfortunately for him his foul play results in a red card, despite his teammates protestations.

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» José Mourinho breaks into laughing fit over Tottenham injury crisis – video

José Mourinho says it would be an 'incredible achievement' if Spurs finish in the top four of the Premier League without the injured Harry Kane or Son Heung-min. Kane is expected to be out until March with a hamstring tear, while Son could miss the rest of the season with an arm fracture, leaving Spurs without a recognised striker

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» David Squires on ... when football meets tokenised ecosystems

Our cartoonist looks at the London Football Exchange’s failed bid to take over Perth Glory

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» Foreign stars, $325m fees and an eye on Mexico: MLS approaches Season 25

Many wondered if the league could survive in the crowded North American sports market. Instead it has grown, and closer ties with Mexico could be next

This is a story about MLS that begins not at the stadium where the Houston Dynamo will host the Los Angeles Galaxy as the league’s 25th season kicks off on Saturday, but in a converted warehouse across the street.

Here, in a low-slung brick building, former USA and Dynamo striker Brian Ching opened a bar in 2018 that features industrial-chic exposed ductwork, and, more surprisingly, an indoor football pitch.

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» Where did it all go wrong for Deportivo La Coruña?

Twenty years after winning La Liga, the club are battling to avoid relegation to the third tier. How did it come to this?

By Euan McTear for Copa90

“It’s like we’re a meme,” said one frustrated Deportivo La Coruña fan on TV after their 3-1 defeat at home to Real Zaragoza in December – a result that left Depor bottom of the second division with just 12 points from their first 19 games. He simply could not take it anymore. “Each week it’s getting worse and worse.” Twenty years after Depor fulfilled a dream by winning La Liga, they were 41 positions lower in the Spanish footballing pyramid and drifting towards disaster.

The story of Deportivo La Coruña’s recent history begins with a moment of ultimate joy and becomes gradually more dispiriting. The peak was on 19 May 2000. The club from Galicia in the north-west of Spain were top of the table going into the final day of the season. They were three points clear of Barcelona and only needed to draw at home to Espanyol – whose fans would happily welcome a title slipping through Barça’s grasp – to win their first ever league championship.

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» A year after 10 Flamengo players died in a fire, their families still seek justice

Ten teenagers died at Flamengo’s training ground last year. The club has still not agreed compensation with all of their families

By Joshua Law for Yellow & Green Football

Simone Souza stood outside Flamengo’s training ground, hoping to be let in. She just wanted to go into the car park, light a candle and say a prayer. A year before, on the night of 8 February 2019, her 15-year-old nephew Jorge Eduardo and nine of his friends were burned to death in that very spot when a fire engulfed the makeshift dormitories the club had used to house their youth team.

On the day of the anniversary, the Flamengo players and coaching staff paid their own tribute to the boys at the training ground. Simone merely wished to do the same. But her request was denied. Security barred her and the relatives of another victim, forcing them to kneel in prayer at the side of the road. This stunningly insensitive decision – “humiliating” was the word Souza used – has been met with widespread criticism in Brazil. It has also provided a crystal-clear summary of how Flamengo has handled the fallout from this most terrible of tragedies.

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» How Real Sociedad thrashed a third-division team 8-0 but won their hearts | Sid Lowe

A December Copa del Rey thrashing for Club Deportivo Becerril ended with an open invite for their fans to visit the Reale Arena. At the weekend, two-thirds of a small town took them up on it

At the end of training on Friday night, the players from Club Deportivo Becerril packed everything away and headed straight home. It was quarter past 10 and they had to be up early the next morning. Not long after 7.30am they were back, boarding the bus heading north, a four-hour journey ahead. One of the buses, that is. They had a game, but this time it wasn’t theirs. Instead, they were going to San Sebastián, singing songs all the way there, and the whole town was going with them. For once that’s not much of an exaggeration, either: there are 754 people in Becerril de Campos, a tiny, previously unremarkable town in the province of Palencia; on Saturday, 502 of them set off and didn’t come back until after dark, happy as they had ever been.

Related: European football roundup: Neymar sent off in PSG win; Lazio hold off Genoa

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» Loïc Rémy has found his voice – and his scoring boots – at Lille

Lille coasted to second in Ligue 1 last year. Things are not going as well this time around but Rémy continues to be influential

By Adam White and Eric Devin for Get French Football News

Much of Lille’s recent success under Christophe Galtier has been down to their unfettered, young and previously unheralded attacking players. There is plenty to be said about the improvements made by goalkeeper Mike Maignan and the steadying influence José Fonte has on the back four, but what has consistently caught the eye is their ability to play on the front foot, utilising the pace of Jonathan Bamba, Jonathan Ikoné, and, of course, Nicolas Pépé – their breakout star before he signed for Arsenal last summer.

Victor Osimhen has been their star attraction this season. The 21-year-old Nigeria forward – who was born a week after Kylian Mbappé – is jousting with Mbappé, Wissam Ben Yedder, Moussa Dembélé and Neymar for the Ligue 1 golden boot, having scored 13 goals so far. Osimhen joined Lille last summer after a solid but not superb season in Belgium with Charleroi, having previously failed to make a huge impression for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

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» Fixtures pile up and Inter fall behind as Serie A wrestles with coronavirus | Nicky Bandini

Four matches were postponed in response to the crisis and games may take place behind closed doors as teams catch up

Most players were already tucked up in bed by the time the decisions were taken. It was the early hours of Sunday morning but in Milan, Turin, Bergamo and Verona the directors of Serie A teams were still awake, working the phones, trying to find out whether that day’s matches would go ahead.

On Saturday evening, the government had passed legislation placing 11 northern towns in lockdown, prohibiting travel in or out as they attempted to contain outbreaks of coronavirus in Lombardy and Veneto. The same decree granted government ministers powers to suspend public gatherings. A decision was taken to delay all sporting events, right down to the amateur level, across the affected regions.

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» José Luis Morales fires Levante to stunning victory over Real Madrid

Real Madrid fell to a 1-0 defeat at Levante on Saturday, dropping off the top of the La Liga standings, and their problems deepened as Eden Hazard limped off the pitch four days before their Champions League showdown with Manchester City.

Levante forward José Luis Morales won the game with an unstoppable strike in the 79th minute, flummoxing the Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois by blasting a first-time shot inside the near post from a tight angle.

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» Phil Moss survives the sack to burnish golden generation of Australian coaches | Jonathan Howcroft

The former Mariners boss knew he would one day get the chop, but he’s turned it into a day that could have a lasting, positive effect on football in Australia

Phil Moss was prepared for the sack before he was ever appointed a head coach. “I’ll never forget the first day of my A Licence,” he recalls. “The instructor wrote on the whiteboard: ‘There’s only one sure thing about professional coaching, and that is you will get sacked’.”

That sure thing happened to Moss in February 2015, just over a year after taking charge of Central Coast Mariners. Based purely on results – three wins in 19 games during Moss’s second season at the helm - it was an uncontroversial dismissal. “At the end of the day it’s on my head. I’m the head coach, I’m responsible for that,” he accepts. “But people need to understand there is a backstory to the performance of every team, and it’s not just the coach.”

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» Rather than ranting about VAR, why not focus on tackling game's real problems | Jonathan Liew

Imagine if pundits and fans spoke out with same self-righteous regularity against structural racism that they do against dotted lines being drawn from footballers’ armpits

Full disclosure: I don’t really have a position on VAR. If I did, I certainly wouldn’t share it in public. Occasionally I have been asked on to a podcast or television show where it is tacitly explained that some sort of opinion on VAR will be required and I have just about managed to feign the required outrage.

It’s quite easy, once you practise a bit: just tick off as many of the following words and phrases as possible – “Stockley Park”, “Mike Riley”, “not what the technology was brought in for”, “armpit”, “killing the emotion” – while gradually winding your voice into ever tighter coils of fury. Finally you let a big, exasperated sigh into the microphone and observe, with a tinge of theatrical sadness: “It’s just a mess, Geoff, it really is.”

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» David Squires on … You are the VAR

Our cartoonist channels Paul Trevillion and takes you behind the walls of Stockley Park to experience life as a video assistant referee

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» Erling Braut Haaland brings freshness to a game in thrall to pixels and profit | Jonathan Wilson

Teenager’s goal for Borussia Dortmund against PSG was a perfect reminder that football is meant to be enjoyable

It can be difficult sometimes to remember why we ever started liking football. What was it that first stirred us back in our childhood to make sure we were always by a radio or television at twenty to five? That led us to pore over the details in the Sunday papers? That made us belt a ball endlessly against the garage wall and keep detailed records of the games of Subbuteo we played against ourselves? It’s hard to remember now. Was it the legal wrangling? Was it the appeals to the court of arbitration for sport? Was it the futile pixel-by-pixel examination of offside decisions? Was it even the thrill of seeing the rich and greedy hammer much poorer opposition and then demand to be even richer? Was it human-rights-abusing states pumping money into the game to make everybody forget about their wars and torture centres? It’s so hard now to remember.


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» The Fiver | Two emphatic fingers in the direction of anyone connected with Uefa

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The Fiver has always loved post-coital awkwardness. OK, OK, The Fiver has always loved the idea of post-coital awkwardness. We never did get to experience an abhorgasm, but the idea fascinates us on both a primal and philosophical level. As such, we’ve taken great interest in Manchester City’s Big Cup campaign, which could yet end with a public display of post-coital awkwardness, not to mention an excruciating lack of eye contact, between City and Uefa in Istanbul on 30 May.

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» Using the wind, ice hockey fairytales and celebrating against former clubs | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also features a 94-foot putt to win a car, plus: an unusual method of tackling from Macedonia

1) Sport’s easier with the wind on your side. Witness Justin Gatlin mauling Usain Bolt’s 100m world record with a run of 9.45secs … albeit with a massive fan behind him for a Japanese TV show, raising the wind reading to 8.9 m/s. That’s almost four and a half times the legal limit (for comparison, Bolt’s mark of 9.58 was set with a wind of 0.9 m/s behind him). Speaking of 100m, that’s the distance Barrow’s Jamie Dallimore managed with a goalline drop-out in the Challenge Cup with assistance from Storm Dennis behind him. It left London Skolars having to drop out themselves, in the other direction (spoilers: theirs didn’t go 100m) …

Back to athletics, various competitors enjoyed a stiff breeze behind them, with triple jumpers Willie Banks (1988, 18.06m) and Jonathan Edwards (1995, 18.43m), while Carl Lewis threw in a wind-assisted 8.91m before Mike Powell replied with something longer and more legal in the greatest long jump competition of all time at the 1991 world championships. Arbroath’s Colin Hamilton used the elements to put Roberto Carlos-like whip on a corner – however the match against Ayr was abandoned at half-time with the scores at 1-1 due to the high winds. More wicked dead-ball curl too from Blyth Spartans’ Robbie Dale.

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» Football transfer rumours: Manchester United prepare for a clear-out?

This fluff is marked as a key event

The latest stage of Manchester United’s seven-years-in-the-making post-Ferguson rebuild is upon us, and this one can be added to the clear-out category of reboot. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is going to wield his viking axe and get rid of some of his flops, to use the tabloid parlance. Perhaps more properly United, whose financial results this week suggested they were not as flush as they would like, are going to have to sell to buy.

Jesse Lingard will be taking his fashion and fragrance sidelines elsewhere, and he will be joined in the departure lounge by Andreas Pereira, who despite trying very hard, seems to be destined to be one of those Sporcle answers everyone will fail to recall when trying to recall Ole’s starting XI from the 2019-20 season. The doubtlessly vast riches that pair will command will go some way to paying for Jack Grealish, Aston Villa’s mainstay of this august column. Gent’s Jonathan David, a 20-year-old Canadian striker, is also in the sights of United’s mob-handed scouting department.

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

Everton start new era with nightmare, Liverpool’s slide shames the Premier League leaders, and Spurs happily eye next season

Manchester City and Chelsea played out a brilliant 3-3 draw, full of relentless end-to-end action, quality play, and the pendulum swinging. There were periods when you were sure Chelsea would go on and win it and 10 minutes when it seemed a City victory was inevitable – we might not have seen the best of either team, but the entertainment was top-level. The league now takes a break while England compete in the SheBelieves Cup, and speaking to the managers afterwards they both agreed that the break will be an opportunity to recharge the batteries and change things up a bit. After a few months of seeing the same faces and hearing the same voices training has maybe become a bit flat, and you could see that in some parts of the game. The City forward Lauren Hemp was the player of the match, had the better of Maren Mjelde all game and nipped in ahead of the Norway captain to score the final goal of what was a stunning game – the last time two members of the top three will meet in the league this season – and make it 3-3.

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

Burnley discover depth up front, Manchester City take care of business and Southampton unearth a potential gem

Mikel Arteta is entitled to be pleased with three wins in eight days, but must also reflect on the sloppiness which gifted Everton two goals. Though Arteta said that in the first 65 minutes they played exactly as he wants them to, the reality is that Arsenal flowed for perhaps half that time, hanging on to the points not because of any great discipline and organisation; their opponents just finished poorly and Bernd Leno had a good second half. And Leno’s response, when asked about his mistake which led to Everton’s equaliser, was telling: Richarlison, its scorer, was “lucky”; he, its unwitting victim, was “unlucky”; and it didn’t matter in the end, because Arsenal won. This is not how winners think, and this is the mentality Arteta must change, but if he is as delighted with his team’s performance as he intimated, he would do well to re-evaluate his own too. Daniel Harris

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» Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 top scorers 2019-20

Keep up with the top scorers in European football’s leading five leagues, updated throughout the season

17 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
17 Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)
15 Danny Ings (Southampton)
15 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

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» Football quiz: runaway title winners

Liverpool are 22 points clear at the top of the Premier League. What do you remember about previous strolls to silverware?

Liverpool are 22 points clear at the top of the league and look all but certain to win their 19th league title. What is the highest number of points they have won the league by?

21 points

16 points

11 points

Six points

Manchester City set a new Premier League record when they finished 19 points above second place in the 2017-18 season. Which of these landmarks did they fail to achieve that season?

One hundred points

One hundred goals

Domestic treble

Record number of consecutive wins

Which Serie A side hold the record for the biggest winning margin in a league season?





Skonto won which Baltic league by 27 points in 1997, going unbeaten and conceding just eight goals?





In Scotland, how many points did Celtic finish clear of second-placed Aberdeen in 2016-17?





Who was the PSG manager when they won Ligue 1 by 31 points in 2015-16 and set a new European record?

Unai Emery

Paul Le Guen

Carlo Ancelotti

Laurent Blanc

Reading roared to Championship glory back in 2005-06, finishing on 106 points. All the more impressive considering ...

Their record signing missed the entire season through injury

Their manager left for an international job in December

They began the season with a three-point deduction

They lost their first home game of the season

Manchester United won the title in April in the 1999-2000 season and finished 18 points clear of second place. Who were the runners-up?



Leeds United

Aston Villa

Leicester were just two points clear at Christmas in the season when they pulled off their fairytale title win. How many points clear were they at the end of the season?





And finally, Perugia shocked Serie A in 1978-79 by going the entire season unbeaten. How many points did they win the league by?



None. They won it on goal difference

They came second

1 and above.

You couldn't last the pace

2 and above.

You couldn't last the pace

3 and above.

You couldn't last the pace

5 and above.

You faltered at the finish line

6 and above.

You faltered at the finish line

8 and above.

One hand on the trophy

9 and above.

One hand on the trophy

10 and above.

Champions by Christmas

7 and above.

One hand on the trophy

0 and above.

You couldn't last the pace

4 and above.

You faltered at the finish line

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» Golden Goal: Pajtim Kasami for Fulham v Crystal Palace (2013) | Will Unwin

A Van Basten-esque chest and volley – with the midfielder’s weaker foot – was a masterclass of instinct and execution

“Wow! Bloody hell!” exclaims Pajtim Kasami as he watches back his volley for Fulham against Crystal Palace six years later. It is the goal the Switzerland international’s time in England will be remembered for.

Full-back Sascha Riether was situated just inside his own half when he saw Kasami make his run. Riether chipped the ball to the edge of the box, where the midfielder controlled it with his chest before immediately volleying, while still on the move, over Julián Speroni and into the top corner from the right-hand side of the area. It was Van Basten-esque in terms of its execution – with his weaker foot – but with the added joy of intelligence to sprint into position and control it perfectly.

Related: Golden Goal: Steve McManaman for Liverpool v Celtic (1997)

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» Time passes fast in football, so will Manchester City players want to stay? | Eni Aluko

In two years reputations can be built or destroyed. Uefa’s ban will surely make several of City’s squad question their future

Manchester City have built an incredible image around the world over the past few years. The City group controls clubs in North and South America, in Asia, Australia and beyond, and Manchester has been the centre of this global empire, a kind of footballing utopia. They have the best manager in the world and they have been winning trophies every year – even their training ground is incredible. It has been an extremely attractive proposition for any footballer and now, suddenly, questions arise.

There will be some players in the squad who are not that bothered about the loss of European football, who will use Uefa’s suspension to build a siege mentality, an opportunity to show togetherness and collective spirit. But for others the Champions League dream may be over if they do not make a change.

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» From Greaves in '66 to Manchester City, many football fans live in alternative reality

I still think Jimmy Greaves should have started the World Cup final, so can understand City fans sticking to conspiracy theories

The footage of a suited Jimmy Greaves trying to celebrate with his England teammates while they dance around Wembley with the World Cup makes for painful viewing. As BT Sport’s excellent documentary explains, Spurs’ record goalscorer had just about got over a kick in a group game – his second recovery after getting over hepatitis that season. Alf Ramsey stuck with Geoff Hurst and you could argue it turned out to be a sensible decision.

The 1966 World Cup was the last without substitutes. With extra time, surely Ramsey would have given Greaves 20 minutes. When those people were on the pitch thinking it was all over, Jimmy wouldn’t have lamped it into the top left-hand corner – it wasn’t his style. He would have just passed it in.

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» Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is reluctantly making a big impression at the back
Playing in his less-favoured position of left-back the 18-year-old has adapted seamlessly and looks impossible to dislodge

When the time comes for Freddie Ljungberg to cast around for management roles, there is one piece of foresight he might want to drop into any job interviews. On a freezing December night in Liège, midway through his stint as Arsenal’s interim head coach, he opted to solve a personnel shortage by selecting Bukayo Saka, a gifted but seemingly raw wide forward, at left wing-back. Saka excelled in a dour performance that picked up when he delivered brilliantly for Alexandre Lacazette to score. Moments later the 18-year-old curled a marvellous equaliser and, at the time, such pearls of quality felt as much a rebuke to his manager as proof he had adapted seamlessly.

Related: Mustafi admits he found it difficult at Arsenal but says he never gave up

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» Is the atmosphere at football matches too angry? Tell us your experiences

Football fans are often in the news for bad behaviour, but has the atmosphere at grounds changed in recent years?

“Football is nothing without fans,” said Jock Stein. Although not every fan contributes to the spectacle of football equally. Some go to matches and act in ways that would not be deemed acceptable anywhere else.

They throw missiles, shout racist slurs, yell at referees, taunt players about their dead relatives, punch horses, throw banana skins and travel abroad to support their country and end up embarrassing their country. Spend long enough at a football match and you will see some supporters who are so pent up with anger, frustration and rage that you will be left wondering whether they enjoy the experience anymore or whether they would be better off doing something else with their Saturdays.

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» Next Generation 2019: 60 of the best young talents in world football

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s son, the new Paul Pogba and Barça’s Ansu Fati are among our 60 most talented players in the world born in 2002. Check the progress of our 2018 picks | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by DZfoot, BackpagePix, Club Atlético Belgrano, EFE, EPA, Getty Images, Uwe Gruen/Hoffenheim, AMA/Getty Images, Rex/Shutterstock, Zuma Press/PA, FIFA, Tigres, Damir Krajac/CROPIX, Alamy, Daniel Reyes/Ecuafutbol, Reuters, Atromitos, Imago/PA, fotoBERNAMA, New Straits Times, José Alonso Paredes Sánchez, Agencja Gazeta, David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty, AP, Asian Football Confederation, Danubio FC and Championat Asia

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» Next Generation 2019: 20 of the best talents at Premier League clubs

The Guardian selects the best young players at each club born between 1 September 2002 and 31 August 2003, an age band known as first-year scholars. Check the progress of class of 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Photographs by David Price/Arsenal/Getty Images, Neville Williams/Aston Villa/Getty Images, AFC Bournemouth, Paul Hazlewood/BHAFC, Paul Dennis/TGS/Shutterstock, Clive Howes/Chelsea/Getty Images, Danny Loo/PPAUK, Emma Simpson/Everton/Getty Images, Nick Taylor/Liverpool/Getty Images, Manchester City/Getty Images, Ash Donelon/Manchester United/Getty Images, Jason Dawson/Jasonpix, James Wilson/Sportimage, Simon Bellis/Sportimage, Robin Jones/Digital South/Southampton FC, Tottenham Hotspur/Getty Images, Alan Cozzi/Watford, Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United and Sam Bagnall/AMA

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» Next Generation: after five years, how has our first full class of picks fared?

From Rashford to Tielemans, we check in on how our initial Next Generation players have got on before the 2019 ones are announced this week

In 2014 we decided that it would be interesting to pick the best young players from each Premier League club – as well as 40 from around the world – and follow them for five years to see how they progressed.

The idea was to try to get a sense of how difficult it is to become a professional footballer despite being one of the best in that country at the age of 16 or 17.

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