Tag Archives: champions league

Buffon joins Messi & Ronaldo on UEFA men’s player of the year shortlist

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UEFA has named Gianluigi Buffon as one of three nominees for the 2016/17 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The candidates shortlist was made by a jury of 80 coaches and 55 journalists.

Buffon, 39, was a key member of the Juventus side that reached last season’s Champions League final, but he missed out on a first winner’s medal as the Italians were beaten 4-1 by Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in Cardiff.

Ronaldo, who had won the award twice, stands alongside three of his Real teammates in the top-10 shortlist, with Luka Modric at fourth, Toni Kroos at fifth and Sergio Ramos at seventh.

The shortlist was decided by the 80 coaches of the clubs that played in the Champions League and Europa League group stages, as well as 55 journalists.

The players who make up the rest of the top 10 are:

  1. Paulo Dybala (Argentina, Juventus, sixth)
  2. Kylian Mbappe (France, Monaco, eighth)
  3. Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich, ninth)
  4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Manchester United, tenth)

Naby Keita staying put at RB Leipzig, Liverpool told

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RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl had warded off interest from Liverpool for Naby Keita by saying that the Guinea national is “”100 per cent” staying with the Bundesliga runners-up.

Keita, 22, had been impressive in Leipzig’s debuting season in the German top-flight, scoring eight goals in 31 appearances last season to help Leipzig also qualify for the Champions League for the first time.

His performance has attracted a suitor in Liverpool F.C., albeit their two bids for the player had since been rejected by the Bundesliga newcomers, with Hasenhuttl emphasizing the importance for the players to stay especially after making it into the Champions League together.

“The chance is null,” he said. “It’s 100% clear that Naby will play this year in Leipzig.”

“At the beginning of the transfer period we said we would start with the same team and of the players we had last year no one will go. That would be our answer now also. For us everyone can see how important Naby Keita is for our game. It’s 100% sure that he will be with RB Leipzig in the Champions League.”

“I said for all the players it is very important to stay together as it’s the first time we play Champions League and that is a new situation for every one of us. We have very young players and I think for them it is very important to play the first year in the Champions League as a team. We will learn this very much again this year.

“Keita is more focused on us and has more fun now than last year. He knows this season will be fantastic for us. To play Champions League for Naby Keita is a great thing.”

Hassenhuttl added that it was also “normal” for Keita to have suitors, but also told Liverpool that there could be more competitors even if the Reds choose to maintain their interest in Keita beyond next season.

“Until next summer we keep it closed and then we have a look,” he added.

Furious Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Real over tax dispute

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An outraged Cristiano Ronaldo could leave Real Madrid over what he feels is unfair treatment by tax authorities.

Ronaldo, who has helped Real win the double of La Liga and Champions League this season, is accused by Spanish authorities of evading tax to the value of 14.7m euros (£13m; $16m) between 2011 and 2014.

Real Madrid have since released a statement saying they had “full confidence” in their player, and that they were convinced he would prove his innocence.

However, a source close to the player claimed that Ronaldo “feels great indignation” with all the conjecture about his tax affairs and a sense of “injustice” at the allegations, which he contests, and has made a decision to leave Spain.

“He’s very sad and really upset,” the source reportedly told BBC. “He doesn’t want to stay in Spain. At this moment, he wants to leave.”

As Ronaldo’s future remains uncertain, he could make a return to his former club Manchester United — one of the select few clubs with the financial muscle to offer a competitive package for Ronaldo. The Red Devils had been predicting record revenues of up to £570m this year and his return would be a dream commercial move.

Nonetheless, Ronaldo has a €1bn (£880m) release clause in his current Madrid deal and United – now without having to pay Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s wages and the potentially Wayne Rooney’s soon – would be able to meet Ronaldo’s wage demands of around £400,000 a week.

Among other clubs that could match United’s offer is Paris Saint-Germain, but the Old Trafford move presents Ronaldo with a grander stage in the Premier League on which to perform compared to Ligue 1, especially with their re-entry into the Champions League after their Europa League victory.

But with the potential availability of one of the world’s most marketable players, Chinese Super League clubs will also naturally be on alert for the player.

Pepe to leave Real Madrid after 10 years

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Pepe has confirmed that he will be leaving Real Madrid, thanking teammates and fans but revealing discontent in the manner of his exit.

Pepe, 34, won three La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues and two Copas del Rey with Real since joining from Porto in 2007, and had previously hoped to stay beyond June, when his contract expires. However, he was left on the sidelines after breaking two of his ribs in the Clasico late April, and was absent when Real Madrid had successfully defended their Champions League title.

In a post on Instagram, he wrote: “The day has arrived… on July 12 2007 I arrived at Real Madrid like a boy who fulfilling a dream. Today, 10 years later, I am saying goodbye. Today I can only thank all those who have supported me — who, with me, have written such a lovely story. Thanks to my friends and teammates, who I know will stay with me wherever I go.”

In an interview with radio station COPE, Pepe added that while he understood Real’s contract extension policy to older players, he was frustrated when Real did not sought to defend him in an tax issue.

“They offered me a one-year deal,” he said. “They do not give two years to players over 33. There are ways of talking and negotiating. Real Madrid’s behaviour has not been correct.”

“The club did not defend me with the tax issue. They knew I was up to date and had no problem. That hurt me, as I always fulfilled my obligations, and they made me understand I was not valued.”

“I don’t want to blame anyone,” he said. “What he [coach Zinedine Zidane] is doing for Madrid is spectacular, but there are things I still don’t understand. I cannot explain to you why I disappeared from the team in the last games. With Zidane we did not say goodbye properly. Zidane and Madrid knew I was going before I did.”

At present, Pepe has been linked with both Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan, but said he was keeping his options open.

“I have nothing signed with another club,” he added. “I could have, but I waited as there were very important competitions to play. I am looking forward to playing for another club and giving everything. I have offers, not just PSG or Inter, also for example in England.”