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» Bernd Leno sends message to Bukayo Saka over his Arsenal future
Youngster Bukayo Saka starred as Arsenal secured a 1-0 win at Olympiakos in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 clash
» Jurgen Klopp responds to 10-year-old Man Utd fan who asked him to make Liverpool lose
Daragh Curley of Donegal tried to convince the Liverpool boss to not win the league by writing to the Reds boss as part of a school assignment
» Lionel Messi make fresh Barcelona transfer declaration in latest interview
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has reaffirmed his commitment to the Catalans despite upheaval off the pitch at the Nou Camp
» Former Liverpool star Ryan Babel mimics opponent limping and crying after foul
Babel was unhappy with how Allan Nyom reacted to a challenge during Ajax's 2-0 defeat to La Liga club Getafe in the Europa League on Thursday
» Danny Rose looking for fresh start with Newcastle after frustrating spell with Tottenham
The Newcastle left-back is hoping to "create something special" with Steve Bruce's side after falling out of favour under Jose Mourinho at Spurs
» Bukayo Saka compared to Ryan Giggs, Dennis Bergkamp and Paul Scholes after Arsenal display
Saka has produced a number of impressive displays this season and set up Alexandre Lacazette's winner as the Gunners beat Olympiakos in the first leg of their round-of-32 tie
» Robin van Persie praises 'unbelievable' Bruno Fernandes after Man Utd cameo
Former Red Devils striker Van Persie was impressed with the Portugal international's performance against Club Brugge, despite only being introduced in the 81st minute
» Refereeing legend Pierluigi Collina backs Arsene Wenger's controversial offside proposal
Former Arsenal manager Wenger, now FIFA’s chief of global football development, wants to improve the laws to stop “armpit offsides” which have become a regular thing with VAR
» Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta frustrated by missed opportunities despite Olympiakos win
Alexandre Lacazette netted in the 81st minute to give the Gunners a 1-0 victory over the Greek side in the first leg of the Europa League last-32 clash
» Mikel Arteta has got Arsenal fans excited as Gunners remain unbeaten in 2020 with Olympiakos win
Arsenal have one foot in the last 16 of the Europa League after Alexandre Lacazette ended a frustrating night by tucking home a late winner at Olympiakos
» Mikel Arteta makes Bukayo Saka admission after strong Arsenal display
The Arsenal teenager assisted Alexandre Lacazette to score the only goal of the game in the first leg of the Gunners' Europa League last-32 win over Olympiakos
» Lucas Moura insists Tottenham will score goals to stay on track despite injury woes
Tottenham are without Harry Kane and Son Heung-min through injury but Lucas Moura insists they will score the goals required to keep their season on track
» FA chiefs to request Marcus Rashford medical records amid Euro 2020 injury fears
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has emerged as a serious doubt for England at Euro 2020 - and the FA want to view his medical records
» Wolves 4-0 Espanyol: Diogo Jota hat-trick and Ruben Neves stunner give Nuno's men huge win
Wolves ran riot at Molineux against Espanyol in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie as a hat-trick from Diogo Jota and a Ruben Neves stunner helped them to a 4-0 win
» Olympiakos 0-1 Arsenal: 5 talking points as Alexandre Lacazette seals Europa League win
Arsenal secured a hard-fought victory over Olympiakos as Alexandre Lacazette slotted in from close range after Bukayo Saka delivered a fine assist
» Olympiakos 0-1 Arsenal player ratings as Alexandre Lacazette finds form in snorefest
Arsenal and Olympiakos cancelled each other out at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Thursday night, setting up a tie-deciding contest when the two sides meet in London
» Ole Gunnar Solskjaer blames the ball as Man Utd salvage draw at Club Brugge
Anthony Martial equalised for Manchester United to rescue a draw for the Red Devils in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against Club Brugge
» Mikel Arteta 'sending scouts' to watch Arsenal transfer target play this weekend
Mikel Arteta brought in two players in January, but the Arsenal manager is looking to strengthen in other areas when the window re-opens at the end of the season
» Club Brugge 1-1 Man Utd: 5 talking points as Anthony Martial earns Red Devils draw
Manchester United drew 1-1 with Club Brugge in the first leg of their last-32 Europa League tie thanks to Anthony Martial's leveller after Emmanuel Dennis opened the scoring
» Club Brugge 1-1 Man Utd player ratings as five stars score four in poor display
Club Brugge were much the better side in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash with Premier League giants Manchester United in Belgium on Thursday night
» Dele Alli's £5m Tottenham transfer in 2015 raises eyebrows as battle for credit ensues
JOHN CROSS COLUMN: Former Tottenham head of recruitment Paul Mitchell is happy to take credit for signing Dele Alli - but a Spurs legend actually persuaded the club to push the button
» Patrice Evra opens up on the level of influence he has on Man Utd team selection
Brandon Williams has made 21 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United this season, and Patrice Evra claims he told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to play the left-back
» Robin van Persie names Gabriel Martinelli as Arsenal youngster he is most excited about
The young Brazilian has had a sensational breakthrough season in north London and van Persie has clearly been impressed with the forward
» Robin van Persie cracks Mikel Arteta joke as he opens up on Arsenal relationship
Robin van Persie played alongside current Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta for a single season in north London, and the pair forged a successful partnership in this time
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» Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend

Olivier Giroud could return to haunt José Mourinho, Norwich need Emi Buendia to shine and Newcastle face a crucial clash

“It’s like going to a fight with a gun without bullets.” A manager’s post-match interview is a decent advertisement for the health of his team and the problem for José Mourinho is that his lament after Spurs’ toothless defeat to RB Leipzig will, most likely, apply to the rest of their fixtures this season. Saturday brings something of a level playing field, though, given Chelsea are hardly laden with attacking depth. Tammy Abraham is struggling to be fit and Frank Lampard may have to go again with Michy Batshuayi or, given his good display off the bench against Manchester United, Olivier Giroud. In a parallel universe, Chelsea signed the forwards they wanted in January and allowed Giroud to fill a gaping hole at Tottenham. Instead, nobody feels satisfied and both sides find themselves feeling the heat of rivals making ground beneath them in the race for Champions League places. What price Giroud popping up with the winner – just as he did in a north London derby in 2013 – and forcing Mourinho to bemoan his threadbare set of options again? NA

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» Lacazette silences Olympiakos and snatches victory for Arsenal

In Greece’s port city, Mikel Arteta could be forgiven for thinking his ship had come in. He had asked his young Arsenal players to block out the heat generated by the raucous, relentless atmosphere that makes this one of Europe’s most difficult venues for the uninitiated and their response, after an unnerving start, formed the latest step in the increasingly convincing revolution that is breathing life into a troubled campaign.

Olympiakos had begun as if determined to blow their opponents away and, in doing so, stop Arsenal’s hopes of Champions League qualification in their tracks. Winning this competition seems, by some way, their best chance of returning to the top table but for 15 minutes they were rabbits in the headlights and the priority at that point was simply to stay in the tie. They did that with steadily increasing levels of assurance and then, nine minutes from time, scored a goal that may look especially significant by the end of May.

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» Anthony Martial puts Manchester United in driving seat against Brugge

Manchester United stuttered throughout this tepid affair yet still remain favourites to reach the last 16 at the expense of Club Brugge in next week’s return leg.

Towards the end here snow fell, replacing the rain, on a night when each side was frozen in a deep below-par state. While Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side have the away goal, whether United possess the talent and skill to win this competition for a second time in four seasons is doubtful.

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» Manchester City offer an olive branch now Uefa holds all the power | David Conn

Now the City case has gone to Cas, Uefa has the chance to weigh in on the CFCB’s decision. Ferran Soriano’s change of tone gives it something to ponder

Manchester City’s chief executive, Ferran Soriano, mostly repeated the club’s previous forthright statements when he gave his interview to the club’s TV platform on Wednesday, but the content was different in one particular area. As expected, he denied as “simply not true” the finding that the club seriously breached financial fair play rules by overstating its Abu Dhabi sponsorships between 2012 and 2016, for which City have been handed a two-year Champions League ban and €30m (£25m) fine. But suddenly there were complimentary and diplomatic words for Uefa, contradicting City’s consistently ferocious anti-Uefa approach, and that provided a pointer to where the case is heading.

In a very significant detail, as City appeal to the court of arbitration for sport (Cas), the process changes now. For all City’s previous rhetoric against Uefa, the guilty finding and sanction were not in fact reached by Uefa itself, but by its club financial control body (CFCB), which administers FFP compliance.

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» 'Hungry as ever': Glasgow City ready for challenge from rebooted Old Firm

Celtic and Rangers have invested more than ever in their women’s teams but club with past 13 titles are up for the fight

If Scott Booth is consumed by fear regarding what an apparently bright new era in Scottish women’s football means for Glasgow City, he masks it well.

Rangers and Celtic moving towards professional setups for their women’s teams, amid a raft of publicity and investment, in theory represents bad news for Glasgow City, who have been champions 14 times including the last 13 seasons in succession. Such a scenario would of course be sad given Glasgow City have been trailblazers for the women’s game in Scotland – essentially while receiving no external support – and retain an academy which houses 200 girls.

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» Rangers' Ianis Hagi completes thrilling Europa League comeback against Braga

Steven Gerrard praised Ianis Hagi, son of the Romania great Gheorghe, after watching him live up to the family name with a Europa League magic act, scoring two goals as Rangers came back from behind to win the first leg of their last-32 tie.

The father of the on-loan Genk attacker was present to see his son shine for Gerrard for the first time.

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» Wolves' Diogo Jota hits Europa League hat-trick to leave Espanyol flailing

Diogo Jota scored his second successive Europa League hat-trick as Wolves took a large stride towards the last 16 with this convincing first-leg victory. The Portugal forward became the first player since Klass-Jan Huntelaar for Schalke in 2012 to score consecutive trebles in this competition but this game was also adorned with a memorable volley from Rúben Neves that deflated a depleted Espanyol who were threatening to make a game of it.

Wolves fans are still getting used to the structures of European football. “You’re going down with the Villa,” they chanted at their opponents as La Liga’s bottom side were dispatched with some ease.

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» Messi: Barcelona not in shape to win Champions League but I want to stay
  • Messi says team must ‘not make so many stupid mistakes’
  • Forward felt ‘attacked’ and ‘hurt’ by Eric Abidal

Lionel Messi says he has no intention of leaving Barcelona but has warned that they need to act after a month in which there has been “one problem after another”, and admitted that right now they are not good enough to win the Champions League.

The Argentinian also said that he felt “attacked” by the technical director, Eric Abidal, and described allegations that the club had employed an agency to create online accounts to defend the president Josep Maria Bartomeu and criticise players as “strange”.

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» Atlético v Liverpool, City v Uefa and Deschamps v Cantona – Football Weekly Extra

Faye Carruthers, Barry Glendenning, Philippe Auclair and Jonathan Liew discuss the value of an atmosphere, metaphorical guns, Norwegian teenagers, a self-defence low blow and Barça stealing candy from a baby

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

We start by discussing Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat in Madrid at a raucous Wanda Metropolitano, which Jürgen Klopp claims influenced the referee into giving Atlético preferential treatment – you can be sure of a noisy Anfield in three weeks’ time.

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» Fraser Forster rescues Celtic with penalty save against Copenhagen

Celtic were thankful for Fraser Forster saving a late penalty from Jens Stage to secure a draw in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

Neil Lennon was full of praise for the Southampton loanee. “He’s brilliant. He’s made a magnificent save. I felt it would’ve been really harsh on us to have lost with the amount of chances we had and particularly the first-half performance.”

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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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» Swiss prosecutors charge PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi in Fifa bribery case
  • Khelaifi charged but no longer faces an accusation of bribery
  • Former Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke also charged

The Paris Saint-Germain president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, was charged on Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Khelaifi with inciting former Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement. The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery.

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» Amazon Prime Video outpaces Netflix growth after Premier League debut

Subscriber numbers up 35% in fourth quarter, giving Amazon its best year since launch

Amazon has overtaken Netflix to become the fastest-growing video-on-demand service in the UK, as tactics including live-streaming Premier League matches helped it record its best year for adding new subscribers since it launched six years ago.

Amazon Prime Video subscriber numbers jumped by 35% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, to 7.14m homes, coinciding with its debut broadcast of 20 Premier League matches.

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» Pep Guardiola vows to stay at City and back their fight against Uefa ban
  • Unless they sack me, which can happen, I will not leave, he says
  • Soriano claims City have ‘irrefutable evidence’ charges are false

Pep Guardiola, in his first press conference since being confronted with the possibility of a two-year Champions League ban for Manchester City over alleged breaches of Uefa’s financial fair play regulations, said he was confident in his club’s ability to defend its position and that he hoped they would be playing in Europe next year.

Related: Manchester City coast to comfortable victory against West Ham

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» José Mourinho says shorthanded Spurs improved after Alli went off
  • Spurs lose 1-0 at home in Champions League last-16 first leg
  • Mourinho says Tottenham are still capable of winning tie

José Mourinho refused to write off Tottenham’s hope of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals after their defeat by RB Leipzig, insisting that his team’s spirit will give them a chance of overcoming their selection crisis in attack.

Spurs could be without Son Heung-min and Harry Kane for the rest of the season, leaving them desperately short of options, and they played without any strikers against Leipzig. The German team dominated throughout and won the first leg thanks to a second-half penalty from Timo Werner.

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» Atalanta produce a night to remember with decisive defeat of Valencia

Hans Hateboer scored twice as Atalanta beat Valencia 4-1 in the first leg of the Champions League’s round of 16, putting the Italian team on the verge of extending their first season in the competition.

Related: Spurs fall to Leipzig's Timo Werner but are grateful for Hugo Lloris heroics

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» West Ham fan has ban for 'provocative' anti-board T-shirt lifted
  • Supporter wore T-shirt as pitchside flag-waver
  • Message called for co-owners and Karren Brady to go

A West Ham supporter who who wore an anti-board T-shirt while volunteering as a pitchside flag-waver before last month’s home defeat by Liverpool has had his punishment decreased by the club.

Cameron Robson was banned from attending West Ham’s games for the rest of the season after staging a protest against the club’s beleaguered board when he volunteered to wave a giant club flag before Liverpool’s 2-0 win at the London Stadium. Robson, a season-ticket holder, unzipped his jacket to reveal a T-shirt with the message “GSB OUT” – a reference to the club’s co-owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, and the vice-chair, Karren Brady.

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» Why Jude Bellingham is already on the radar of football's powerhouses

Birmingham’s 16-year-old midfielder earns £145 a week but is showing a value that is no surprise to those who know him

Not too many 16-year‑olds are the subject of dizzying YouTube compilations but, then again, few teenagers make the kind of splash Jude Bellingham has at Birmingham. Since making his senior debut at Fratton Park in August, breaking Trevor Francis’s record as the club’s youngest player, the midfielder has captained England Under-17s and belied his years to blossom into a first-team regular in the Championship, cementing his place as one of the country’s most exciting prospects.

But Bellingham is more than a potion of potential because he is performing now; he has scored four goals in 32 appearances and started six of Birmingham’s past eight league matches. Technically, he is a first-year scholar earning £145 a week, unable to sign a professional contract until he turns 17 in June. Those who work with Bellingham highlight his bite, work ethic and notably the physical strides he has made over the past months – his manager, Pep Clotet, revealed Bellingham had grown 2.4cm since the start of the season – and there is a sense he will end up as a No 8, though he has thrived on both flanks.

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» Lack of history no hindrance to RB Leipzig's dominance of Spurs | Jonathan Liew

Leipzig are a young club with a young manager, Julian Nagelsmann, who has drilled his team to a very high standard

It was the fans that were the most puzzling part. Thousands of them, packed into the north-east corner of the ground, all immaculately bedecked in Leipzig white and red, all loud and fierce and partisan, all of them singing about a club that barely even existed a decade ago. What had so hastily stoked their passion? At what point in their effortless rise through the divisions had these previously unattached men and women decided to commit to this strange new project, essentially hitching their identity to a can of energy drink?

Related: Spurs fall to Leipzig's Timo Werner but are grateful for Hugo Lloris heroics

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» Wenger's offside plans offer sense but not the whole VAR solution

Goals should not be ruled out because an armpit was ahead of the last defender but issues with remote refereeing run deeper

Thank goodness for Arsène Wenger. It is about time someone with a genuine appreciation of the game stepped in to prevent VAR’s remote officials tying themselves in unnecessary knots over something as straightforward as the offside rule.

What Wenger is suggesting, in his capacity as Fifa’s head of global development, is a slight variation on the concept of daylight between an attacking player and the last defender. The former Arsenal manager believes that if any part of a player’s body that can score a goal is level or onside – ie anything except hand or arm – he should not be ruled offside and we can stop chalking off perfectly good goals because an armpit or a big toe was millimetres ahead of the last defender.

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» Message of defiance dominates as City fans chant for Guardiola and Mansour

There was something of a siege mentality against Uefa during the win over West Ham but many chants remained upbeat

There was probably more menace in the message from the chief executive than the chorus from the stands, even if Ferran Soriano’s language contained fewer expletives. But the shared message was one of defiance.

Sandwiched by two examples of Gabriel Jesus’s curious reluctance to shoot when he had only the goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski to beat came a new addition to the City songbook. “Fuck you Uefa, we’ll see you in court,” were the lyrics and who, a few years ago, thought they would be singing about the court of arbitration for sport rather than Sergio Agüero or Kevin De Bruyne, that they would be watching one of the most successful sides in English history and chanting about the connotations of allegedly inflated commercial revenues?

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» Ramage's 'young black lads' mindset reflects football's inaction on racism | Marina Hyde

The now-former BBC pundit’s comments highlight the burden placed on players to somehow tackle the racism they suffer

It’s worth reading the comments made by local BBC pundit – now former BBC pundit – Craig Ramage in the wake of Derby’s 1-1 draw with Huddersfield on Saturday. “When I look at certain players,” Ramage judged, “their body language, their stance, the way they act, you just feel, hold on a minute, he needs pulling down a peg or two. So I’d probably say that about all the young black lads … that, you know, it’s about, when you are struggling for form, you are going through a sticky patch, it’s about going back to basics, working hard, and doing the right things.”

Well there you go. Ramage has now been relieved of his duties by the BBC, though it was notably left to a 22-year-old Derby player to publicly challenge the comments. On Sunday, defender Max Lowe spoke out on Instagram “on behalf of black footballers at Derby Country … Racial ignorance, stereotyping and intolerance negatively affects the image of impressionable young footballers and creates an unnecessary divide in society. I am also disappointed that a public service broadcaster did not step in to ask the analyst to explain his reasoning or to distance themselves from these archaic thoughts.” Quite. And we’ll come shortly to the depressing regularity with which pushback against racism ends up having to be player-led.

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» 'The result is open': Mourinho on RB Leipzig tie and angry Dele Alli – video

José Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur find themselves with a tough task ahead after suffering a 1-0 defeat at home to RB Leipzig. Mourinho, however, thinks Spurs are capable of producing a comeback when they visit Julian Nagelsmann’s side on 10 March. '1-0 is 1-0,' the Spurs manager said. 'It is not 10-0. The result is open. It is as simple as that. We wouldn’t be first team to lose 1-0 at home and to win the tie away. Why shouldn’t we do it?' Mourinho played down Dele Alli angrily throwing a water bottle and one of his boots to the turf after being taken off midway through the second half. 'I think he was angry with his performance, not with me,' he said. 'I took him off and the team improved'

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» 'Fans were not here for sensational football': Klopp critical of Atlético tactics – video

Liverpool tasted a rare defeat after they suffered a 1-0 loss against Atlético Madrid as Diego Simeone's side edged it in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie. Speaking after the match, Jürgen Klopp was critical of Atleti's tactics during the game, which he saw as them acting theatrically to tackles as well as trying to get Sadio Mané sent off. 'The stadium was not here for seeing sensational football. They wanted a result and they got the result,' said the Liverpool manager

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» Manchester City CEO: ban is less about justice, more about politics – video

Ferran Soriano has claimed Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban is 'less about justice and more about politics'. The chief executive is the first club figure to speak publicly since City were found to have seriously misled Uefa and broken financial fair play rules. The Premier League champions, who were also fined €30m (£25m), say they are innocent and are to appeal to the court of arbitration for sport

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» 'Universally wrong decision': Frank Lampard on Maguire's red-card escape – video

'Maguire should get a red and then he scores the second goal.' Frank Lampard spoke of his frustration after his Chelsea side were defeated 2-0 by Manchester United after VAR once again took centre stage. Television replays showed the United central defender appearing to catch Michy Batshuayi with his boot as the pair tangled off the field in the first half. The incident was reviewed and no card was given. To make matters worse for Lampard's side, they also suffered two disallowed goals, both ruled out by VAR

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» Seats thrown at Porto's Moussa Marega after player suffers apparent racist abuse – video

Porto striker Moussa Marega walked off the pitch midway through his side's 2-1 win over Vitoria de Guimarães after apparently being racially abused by fans. Vitoria fans threw seats from the stand after Marega celebrated his goal by pointing to his skin. Players from both teams attempted to convince him to stay on the pitch but were unsuccessful

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» Harry Gregg, Manchester United and Munich hero, dies aged 87 – video report

Manchester United and Northern Ireland great, Harry Gregg, has died aged 87. The goalkeeper was a hero of the Munich air disaster, in which 23 people died and 16 survived. 

Gregg returned twice to the burning aircraft, rescuing United colleagues Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet. In 1957, Gregg became the world’s most expensive keeper at £23,000 when signing with United and Sir Matt Busby. He made 247 appearances for United, including a 3-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday played just 13 days after the Munich tragedy

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» The USMNT coach almost earned World Cup winner Jill Ellis's annual salary in a month. Why?

US Soccer’s tax filings reveal the pay gap is narrowing but still significant. Does the federation need to do more to address the disparity?

Accusations of a pay gap at US Soccer have dogged the federation for years. The players on the US women’s national team have accused US Soccer of wage discrimination in a high-profile lawsuit, and last year the federation caught heat for paying USWNT coach Jill Ellis a much smaller salary than her less successful male counterparts.

Although the new guard at the federation has promised reform, the pay gap at US Soccer still exists, according to public tax documents released on Wednesday. The difference is certainly less striking than in years past, but it also doesn’t appear parity will be achieved soon.

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» Barcelona's Braithwaite move shows up inequality of a broken system

Smaller Spanish clubs can be broken up by another club’s bad luck and bad management, and without the chance to seek a fix

Barcelona’s Great Big Striker Chase was so entertaining that they were given a second series. On Monday the club were handed the chance to do it all over again, only this time not everyone is laughing. Leganés definitely are not: for the team from the south of Madrid, in their fourth season in the top flight, this is not remotely funny. It is frightening. But then, it is only Leganés and who cares about them?

Throughout January Barcelona chased about as if stuck on fast forward and accompanied by a silly soundtrack, up to the moment they finally called off the search, leaving Cédric Bakambu stuck in Hong Kong. When he boarded a plane in South Korea, the Congolese forward was told he was going to the Camp Nou; when he disembarked to catch a connecting flight, he was told he wasn’t. And nor was anyone else. At least not yet.

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» Lazio cannot hide their title ambition after fighting back past Inter | Nicky Bandini

When the final whistle went, allowing Simone Inzaghi to charge the field at last, it felt as though we had entered a new chapter

Simone Inzaghi finished Sunday night with a torn pair of trousers. The Lazio manager had been in perpetual motion through the final minutes of Lazio’s game against Inter, running the touchline with such bellicose vigour that you half expected him to leap into a sliding challenge at any moment. When a ball came out to Milan Skriniar on the near side of the pitch, Inzaghi was quicker to him than any defender.

Lazio were on the cusp of another landmark victory in a season that has known a few. Inzaghi’s team beat Juventus 3-1 twice in the space of 15 days at the end of 2019, the second of those landing them the Supercoppa. They won 11 consecutive league games from October into January, shattering the club record of nine.

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» Ange Postecoglou showed us the chasm – but soon we could miss out in Asia entirely | Richard Parkin

Yokohama Marinos gave Sydney FC a footballing lesson, but losing 2022 ACL places could hurt more

It was billed as Australia’s most anticipated AFC Champions League match since Western Sydney Wanderers faced Al-Hilal in the 2014 final. Ange Postecoglou v Sydney FC. Australia’s best domestically-produced coach v the A-League’s first serial win machine.

But over 90-plus minutes of exhilarating football, the four-time NSL and A-League championship winner laid bare to Australian football supporters the gaping chasm between where the domestic game is, and where it could be.

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» As Klinsmann dives for cover, Hertha and Nouri are left to find feet | Andy Brassell

Interim head coach does not have any glitz but Alexander’s Nouri’s pragmatism could help Krzysztof Piatek and co settle

After a reshuffle, it can be tough to find your bearings. As Alexander Nouri, now the interim head coach of Hertha BSC, felt his way into his new role, with the club’s sporting director Michael Preetz a few seats further down the bench, he didn’t want to tear his eyes from the action in Saturday’s game at Paderborn. Unfortunately, that also meant that when he went to take a seat, which unbeknown to him had flipped up, Nouri sat on fresh air and was left to style out his stumble as best he could.

It was the only time during his debut on the touchline that Nouri really left anything to chance – and that’s just the way Hertha wanted it after a week which Preetz described with some understatement as “turbulent”. The exit of Jürgen Klinsmann after 76 days at the helm was in keeping with the rest of his time in charge in Berlin. It was haphazard, rushed and not particularly in keeping with the way the club habitually do business.

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» Celta Vigo give Real Madrid a bloody lip in their survival battle | Sid Lowe

Their 2-2 draw at the Bernabéu lifted Celta back out of the relegation zone; more importantly, it lifted them emotionally

First Joseph Aidoo took Zinedine Zidane down, then Denis Suárez and Santi Mina did the same to his defence. The first hit was harder but the second hurt more. There were 30 minutes left at the Bernabéu when everyone saw the Ghanaian tumble off the pitch and crash into the Real Madrid manager, knocking him to the floor and giving him a bloody lip; there were four minutes left when the Galician saw something none of them had, except the man born in the same province a month earlier. And before anyone knew it, so swift and smooth, via some hidden portal, the ball was in the net. Neither of them had started the game, but Suárez and Mina had ended it: 1-0 up, 2-1 down, it was now 2-2 and it was done.

High in the north-eastern corner, way, way above the pitch, 700 Celta de Vigo fans went wild. “They’ve been with us since we woke from our siesta,” said Iago Aspas. They had followed the team from the hotel to the ground. It was almost 11pm now, and they weren’t going anywhere. The players headed to the dressing room and then back out again, leaping about in front of them, singing. It was a wonder some of them could still stand; at the full-time whistle, there had been bodies lying everywhere, exhausted. It was only a draw, sure, but here, where they hadn’t won in 13 years, this was big. “One small point, one giant leap,” El Faro de Vigo called it. Enough to take them out of the relegation zone, believing they could actually survive.

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» Porto's Moussa Marega gives Vitoria fans finger after apparent racist abuse
  • Marega raised his two middle fingers to the crowd
  • Porto went on to defeat Vitoria Guimarães 2-1

Porto striker Moussa Marega had to be restrained by teammates as he tried to walk off the pitch after he was apparently racially abused during his side’s 2-1 win over Vitoria de Guimarães. Marega scored what turned out to be the winner on the hour mark but felt unable to continue, his final act was to raise his two middle fingers to the home supporters.

Related: BBC pundit's criticism of Derby's 'young black lads' sparks calls for action

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» Player drain a key issue amid concerns over W-League's structure | Ella Reilly

Given the transfer window closes a month before of the W-League’s semi-finals, top-tier player traffic is only ever going to go one way

The return of the American Lynn Williams to Western Sydney was supposed to rekindle the club’s W-League campaign and spark a triumphant run into the playoffs. Preparations could continue in earnestbefore last weekend’s derby, in which Wanderers hoped to continue in the vein of their 5-0 shellacking of Sydney FC earlier in the season, and harness the form of their star striker. But what the Wanderers got was the late news that Williams would not be rejoining the side, as well as a 3-0 defeat.

“I would like to thank the Wanderers for taking a chance on me and seeing me as a vital part of the team,” Williams said. “I would also like to thank them for understanding the unique circumstances that I am in and wishing me all the best going forward in my pursuit of being on the Olympic team.”

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» European football roundup: Juventus ease past 10-man Brescia to go top
  • Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado score for Juventus
  • Cologne 1-4 Bayern Munich

Goals from Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado earned Juventus a 2-0 win over 10-man Brescia to go top of Serie A. Brescia striker Florian Aye picked up two yellow cards in three minutes near the end of the first half and Juventus immediately capitalised as Dybala whipped in the opener from a free kick.

Related: Antoine Griezmann takes Barcelona joint top of La Liga after Getafe struggle

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» David Squires on … the 33rd anniversary of England's glorious 4-2 win in Spain

Our cartoonist on staying up for Sportsnight, some classic Gary Lineker self-deprecation and a woeful slice from Steve Hodge

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» Ramifications of City's two-year ban may be seismic – not least for Uefa

Friday’s statement could destroy the European game’s ruling body and change utterly how football is run

Perhaps all declarations of war seem slightly underwhelming in tone. Perhaps when the consequences are potentially so huge, there is no need for bombast. But, make no mistake, the drily legalistic statement Uefa released on Friday evening announcing Manchester City’s two-year ban from the Champions League for breaches of financial fair play legislation could destroy the confederation and change utterly how football is run. The crisis has been brewing for a while: it is here now.

It had seemed likely the Club World Cup would be the trigger, making clear the financial draw of the superclubs allowed them to operate without Uefa, Fifa offering the fig leaf that allowed them to accept vast sums from outside the game – just as this season’s Spanish Super Cup permitted four La Liga clubs to take large payments to help sportswash the Saudi state under the guise of spreading the game.

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» 26 teams and counting: has MLS become too big for its own good?

The league will have 30 teams by 2022, and that figure may rise even higher. But there are fears that expansion has come at the cost of quality

The number ’25’ has formed a central pillar of Major League Soccer’s promotional push ahead of the new season as the competition celebrates a quarter century of existence. Twenty-six also holds some significance, with the introduction of Inter Miami and Nashville further expanding MLS to 26 teams. By next year the league will count 28 franchises among its ranks. There will be 30 by 2022.

This represents a 300% growth since 1996, when the league’s 10 founding teams contested the inaugural MLS season. Of course, there are many yardsticks with which to measure the maturation of the league over the past 25 years, but this rapid expansion must be considered a sign of MLS’s overall success.

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» The Fiver | One of European football’s most pleasantly genteel experiences

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While contemplating the nature of the afterlife in the hit 2008 movie In Bruges, it occurred to Ray, the guilt-ridden Irish hitman, that hell might be “the entire rest of eternity” spent in the eponymous picture-perfect Flemish city in north-west Belgium. Despite his low opinion of his surroundings, the city remains such a magnet for curious, camera-toting visitors enjoying mini-breaks that the mayor felt compelled last year to crack down on tourist numbers to avoid his manor becoming “a complete Disneyland”. Now, however, the city is welcoming day-trippers of a different kind, the travelling supporters of Manchester United having converged on the city to see their team take on Club Brugge in Big Vase. On paper, it is hardly a fixture to get the heart racing, although the prospect of an afternoon spent swilling fine Belgian beers in one of the continent’s more picturesque squares should make for one of European football’s most pleasantly genteel experiences.

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» Football transfer rumours: Gabriel Jesus and Mauro Icardi to Juventus?

Today’s tittle-tattle is back in the garage

As we all wait with interest to see how Manchester City fare in their bid to get their two-year ban from European competition overturned by the court of arbitration for sport, representatives of various players may be making contingency plans in case the appeal doesn’t go as well as the club expects. Juventus are rumoured to have identified City striker Gabriel Jesus as a summer target and may also move for Argentinian forward Mauro Icardi, should PSG decide not to make his loan move from Internazionale permanent.

With the palaver surrounding the future of Paul Pogba at Manchester United showing no sign of abating, Juventus are also lining up alternative midfield signings in case they fail to re-land their man. Bayern Munich’s Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcântara has been identified as one potential signing. Brescia teenager Sandro Tonali and 21-year-old Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar are also on the shortlist.

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» Which football clubs have played home games at a rival's ground? | The Knowledge

Plus: Oscar-voters in the boardroom, multi-stadium day trips and the team shipwrecked on their way to a game

“New York City FC will host a match in the Concacaf Champions League at Red Bull Arena, the home ground of the New York Red Bulls,” writes Rashaad Jorden. “Excluding groundshares, have there been scenarios in which a club has to play home matches at the ground of an arch-rival?”

There sure have, Rashaad. Jo Bannon takes us back a century or so: “As league games were postponed during the first world war, Tottenham played some home games at Highbury from 1916-19. White Hart Lane was requisitioned by the War Office to be used for munitions work – so it could be said Spurs were at Arsenal because an arsenal was at Spurs.”

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» Chelsea v Bayern, an epic slam dunk contest and the best of padeling | Classic YouTube

This week’s roundup also features Fury v Wilder highlights, Tony Hibbert scoring and a wind-assisted long-range kick

1) Chelsea face Bayern Munich in the Champions League next week, a fixture which immediately recalls this classic final in 2012. Bayern got lukewarm revenge in the 2013 Super Cup, as Pep’s Bayern beat José’s Chelsea on penalties. Let’s not forget the brilliant quarter-final first leg in 2004-05, which ended up 4-2 to the Blues. Chelsea would go on to win the tie 6-5 on aggregate, before going out to Luis García and Liverpool’s “ghost goal” in the semis.

2) Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury meet again in Vegas this weekend: here’s a quick refresh on what happened last time out. And why not revisit Fury’s greatest hits: on opponents, and indeed on himself. Not that Wilder is without his own daunting highlights reel. The MGM Grand Garden Arena has a long and proud history of hosting for brawny showdowns … such as this WWE classic between Hulk Hogan and The Warrior in Halloween Havoc ‘98. And who could forget the UWF Blackjack Brawl, four years earlier?

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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 Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

16
Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)

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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?

Juventus

Inter

Milan

Verona

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

Lithuania

Latvia

Estonia

Finland

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

25

30

35

40

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?

Arsenal

Chelsea

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?

Two

Five

10

12

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

20

10

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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» Buy a classic sport photograph: Maradona, the 'God of Naples'

The latest in a Guardian Print Shop series featuring classic sports images. This shot of the legendary Diego Maradona was taken by Mark Leech in 1987

When Diego Armando Maradona joined Napoli in 1984, 70,000 people flocked to see him arrive at the San Paolo stadium, scarcely able to believe that one of the greatest footballers alive had chosen to join an unsuccessful side from an impoverished part of Italy. Maradona would eventually gift unprecedented riches to Napoli, leading them to a first Scuddeto in their history in 1987, among other achievements, and was dubbed the ‘God of Naples’. This beautiful picture distils the euphoria of that period and recognises Maradona as the leader of his adopted people. However, the good times didn’t last. Asif Kapadia’s riveting 2019 documentary, constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage, recounted how Maradona became conflicted by his involvement with the mafia. A 15-month punishment for using cocaine and the scandal of fathering a baby, whom he refused to acknowledge as his own, ultimately saw him exiled from Napoli in disgrace. Maradona wasn’t God after all; he was human.

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» How 'leaked' emails and invoices led to Manchester City's ban from Europe

Uefa investigation was greeted with scorn and denial by the club, but has culminated in a guilty verdict

Throughout the startling “leaks” of Manchester City’s internal emails in the German magazine Der Spiegel, and the resulting investigation by Uefa which led ultimately to Friday’s guilty finding and two-season Champions League ban and €30m (£25m) fine, City’s response has been uniform: scorn, outrage, denial.

The emails, splashed by Spiegel with evident relish across a series of exposés, punched into City’s expertly and expensively created modern image in three broad areas relating to Uefa’s financial fair play rules, which were introduced in 2011 to deter clubs from overspending.

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» Why won't clubs invest properly in their Women's Super League teams?

Poor pitches, low wages and conditions far behind the men’s teams are common problems – and that needs to change

The bubble is bursting. Professionalism has pushed the Women’s Super League to new heights, but that growth has stretched to the limit the infrastructures, personnel and, let’s face it, the commitment of those involved in the game’s development.

Although the postponement of all six games on Sunday was unavoidable, as storm Ciara battered Britain, the scattergun cancellation of eight games before that was not; because the pitches WSL teams play on are, overwhelmingly, not fit to host top-level professional teams. Birmingham’s home ground, Damson Park, the home of National League Solihull Moors, has had two games abandoned. Prenton Park, where Liverpool Women and League One Tranmere Rovers play, is a bog where two women’s games have been called off. To avoid further chaos Liverpool’s game against Arsenal on Thursday has been moved to Chester. So hard has it been to find a ground for the sister team of the likely Premier League champions that they are resorting to a pitch that straddles the Welsh border, 26 miles from Anfield.

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» Reiss Nelson: 'It was always, Reiss and Jadon Sancho, who's better?'

Arsenal winger discusses the debt he owes his brother, his worries on loan in the Bundesliga and what makes Mikel Arteta different

One of the clearest memories Reiss Nelson holds of the day he made his Arsenal debut comes from its aftermath, when the intense satisfaction had given way to a fuzzy glow. He had barely played five minutes as a substitute in the 2017 Community Shield against Chelsea but Wembley was hardly an inadequate launchpad for a 17-year-old’s career. His older brother, Ricky, knew the achievement’s scale better than anyone and, to both siblings, it felt at once like a moment of attainment and one of departure.

“He said to me: ‘Reiss, I think you’re on the way to the top now so I can kind of leave you be; you know what you want to do,’” Nelson remembers. For years Ricky had made a mission of keeping Reiss’s focus on football, which was no easy task for anyone growing up in south-east London’s Aylesbury estate. You needed talent to come this far but also the right role models at hand. “Without him,” he says, “I don’t know if I’d be here today doing the good things I’m doing for Arsenal.”

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» Cirencester Juniors to 1860 Munich: Charlie Cooper's football odyssey

The Fulham obsessive and star of This Country on away days at Millwall, ultras in Germany and playing alongside Barry Hayles

“I took my girlfriend to Luton away on Boxing Day – that was her Christmas present,” says Charlie Cooper, outlining his fondness for Fulham before conversation belatedly moves to fishing and filming the third and final series of the Bafta-winning mockumentary This Country. “You look into people’s back gardens [upon entry into Kenilworth Road]; it’s so strange but I do love it and it’s so English. The way we support, it is that island mentality. I’ve been to Ajax, games in France, Germany, and places like Dortmund are amazing, and the ultras … but it’s not the same. When Crystal Palace did that whole ultras bit, it was sort of laughable. It’s not English; it’s just not what we do.”

Cooper spent last weekend with friends in Bavaria, taking in 1860 Munich’s 1-1 draw with Waldhof Mannheim on Saturday and Bayern Munich’s stalemate with RB Leipzig the following afternoon. The leftovers of Storm Ciara hampered his journey home to the Cotswolds – the backdrop to the BBC comedy he created with his sister, Daisy May – but the good news is that Cooper made it back in time for Wednesday’s episode of Fulham’s promotion push at the Den.

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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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