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Lionel Messi is the favorite to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or, according to Ronald Koeman. The Argentine has won the award six times in his career and has now done so again this year. Barcelona boss Koeman also believes Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay are among the frontrunners for the award. WHAT’S BEEN SAID? Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman says Lionel Messi is the “prime candidate” for the Ballon d’Or. Argentina forward is on the verge of signing a new long-term contract with the Spanish club. Barca is currently in the Copa América final, where they beat Real Madrid 2-0 to win the trophy. MESSI’S NUMBERS 2020-21 NUMBERS Messi scored 38 goals in all competitions for Barca last season, including 30 in La Liga. He also won the Pichichi award for La Liga’s top scorer for the eighth consecutive season. KOEMAN ON AGUERO AND DEPAY Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has revealed…

Virgil van Dijk has denied leading the Netherlands squad in a revolt against Louis van Gaal’s return as national team coach. The Liverpool defender has taken exception to a newspaper report singling him out as the aggressor in a campaign to prevent the appointment. The Netherlands is currently on the lookout for a new head coach following the resignation of Frank de Boer, who took full responsibility for their disappointing Euro 2020 exit at the hands of the Czech Republic. WHAT’S BEEN SAID? Dutchman Virgil van Dijk has rubbished a report claiming he wanted Louis van Gaal to take over as manager of Holland. Van Dijk says the story is “completely false” and “shame on you Mr. Mullock” Dutch FA (KNVB) are planning to lure Van Gaal out of retirement just weeks before his 70th birthday. WILL VAN GAAL BE THE NETHERLANDS’ NEXT COACH? Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal…

Rafael says his former Manchester United teammate Anderson could have been the world’s best player if he didn’t eat so much and love McDonald’s. The Brazilian believes that his fellow countryman’s struggles to stick to a healthy diet prevented him from fulfilling his potential. Rafael was part of one of the most successful United squads in the club’s history. WHAT’S BEEN SAID? Rafael and his brother Fabio have written a joint autobiography – The Sunshine Kids. Rafael says Anderson could have been the best player in the world if he had been a professional footballer. He adds that Anderson’s problems with eating started to affect him when he couldn’t eat as much McDonald’s. Rafael, who was injured during their time at Manchester United, has also spoken of his love of football. “In some ways that were quality. It was what made him so popular and one of the most popular…

Bayern Munich would like to sign Federico Chiesa from Juventus this summer. The Bavarians’ new coach, Julian Nagelsmann, has already expressed his admiration of the Italy winger. The Bianconeri would have reluctantly allowed the prolific Portuguese to leave this summer but the Euro 2020 hero is considered priceless. Bayern Munich manager Martin Nagelsmann says he would like to sign Juventus defender Andrea Chiesa this summer. Reports of an £85m (£85m) bid from Chelsea for the Italy international have been unfounded. Sources close to the Bundesliga club say they have never been linked with a move for the midfielder. Bayern’s priority upfront is to sign a new striker, so money could be going to that end. The Italian club would not even entertain a bid of €100m from Barcelona for the Italian international. He was named the “Lion of Wembley” by Gazzetta Dello Sport after impressing at Euro 2020. Chiesa had…

With the summer transfer window now open across Europe, attention has now been turned on how clubs will strengthen and fortify ahead of the start of the domestic club season. This year, the summer transfer window runs from Wednesday, June 9, 2021, for Premier League clubs until 11 pm BST (6 pm ET) on Tuesday, August 31. 1. Arsenal2. Aston Villa3. Brentford4. Brighton5. Burnley6. Chelsea7. Crystal Palace8. Everton9. Leeds10. Leicester City11. Liverpool12. Man City13. Manchester United14. Newcastle United15. Norwich16. Southampton17. Tottenham18. Watford19. West Ham20. Wolves ARSENAL Arsenal summer signings: Nuno Tavares (Benfica) Arsenal summer departures: Matt Smith (Doncaster, loan)Daniel Ballard (Millwall, loan)Ben Sheaf (Coventry) Arsenal contracts expiring: Alexandre LacazetteSead KolasinacMohamed ElnenyDejan IlievCalum ChambersEddie Nketiah ASTON VILLA Aston Villa summer signings: Aston Villa summer departures: Tom Heaton (Manchester United) Aston Villa contracts expiring: Ashley YoungConor HourihaneKortney Hause BRENTFORD Brentford summer signings: Brentford summer departures: Emiliano Marcondes (Bournemouth, released)Aaron Pressley (AFC Wimbledon, loan)…

Olivier Giroud has completed a €2 million move to AC Milan from Chelsea. The 34-year-old will wear the No.9 shirt for the Rossoneri and is understood to have signed a two-year contract with the Serie A club. Giroud made 119 appearances in all competitions over a four-year period at Stamford Bridge. WHY HAS GIROUD LEFT CHELSEA? Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has left the club to join AC Milan on a free transfer. The World Cup winner made 119 appearances for the Blues in all competitions, scoring 39 goals. He won three trophies during his time at Stamford Bridge, including the FA Cup, Champions League, and Europa League. GIROUD SAYS GOODBYE TO CHELSEA FANS In a farewell message to Chelsea and their supporters posted on his official Twitter account, Giroud wrote: “To all the Blues, to my teammates, to all my coaches, to the whole club, a huge thank you for these…

Germany players walk off the field with five minutes left to play after alleged racist abuse directed at Jordan Torunarigha. Germany was playing Honduras in a friendly match ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. WHAT HAS HAPPENED? Germany’s Olympic football team walked off the field with five minutes left to play after Jordan Torunarigha had been racially insulted. The German team’s Twitter account claimed that the players decided to leave because of the alleged incident. They were playing in a match against Ghana, which was stopped when the score was 1-1. Honduras and Germany’s World Cup qualifier against Japan was abandoned after 87 minutes due to an alleged racist insult by German player Jurgen Kuntz. There were no spectators at the game, which was played behind closed doors in Wakayama, Japan. Honduras have released a statement via social media, insisting that the incident was a “misunderstanding” TORUNARIGHA HAS…

Arsenal is closing in on the signing of Brighton defender Ben White. The Gunners have had a £50m ($69m) bid accepted by the Seagulls for the center-back. Arsenal will finalize the signing once the England international returns from his holiday. The 23-year-old has been linked with a move away from the Championship side. WHAT’S THE LATEST? Arsenal has agreed on a deal to sign Brighton defender Kieran Gibbs White. The Gunners are now able to finalize personal terms with the player ahead of his move to north London. Arsenal had previously said they were willing to meet Brighton’s £50m valuations, but the exact structure of the deal and the various clauses and bonuses that would be included had to be agreed. WILL THE DEAL BE COMPLETED QUICKLY? Arsenal has agreed on a deal to sign England Under midfielder Danny Welbeck. The Gunners are currently in Scotland at a training camp…

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter was left impressed by several of his young players after Thursday’s 6-1 win over Martinique. The U.S.’s starting XI had an average age of 23 years old and an average total of five caps per player. Gianluca Busio, James Sands, Miles Robinson, Matthew Hoppe, and George Bello were among those who impressed. WHAT DID BERHALTER SAY? Midfielder George Bello and James Sands were among those to earn their first caps for the club. He also praised debutants Matthew Hoppe and Donovan Pines for earning their first cap. HOPPE: I WANTED TO SHOW THE WORLD I CAN DO THIS Schalke forward Christian Hoppe made his first appearance for the USMNT in their 0 wins over Ghana. The 20-year-old helped set up Dary Dike’s opening goal in the first half of the match. Hoppe is one of four European-based players missing parts of Schalke’s preseason to join up…

Ibrahima Konate has signed for Liverpool from RB Leipzig in a deal worth £36 million. The French defender is expected to slot straight into the Reds’ starting line-up after inheriting the No.5 shirt from Georginio Wijnaldum. The 22-year-old believes the Premier League will be perfect for him. Konate also revealed what his nickname will be at Anfield, and it will be ‘Konate’. WHAT HAS BEEN SAID? Liverpool defender Philippe Konate says he is not scared with the ball and can score more goals with his foot than his head. The Cameroon international says he loves the challenge of playing in the Premier League. “THIS IS DIFFICULT BUT I LOVE THE CHALLENGE.” WHAT WILL KONATE BE KNOWN AS? French center-back Konate has revealed his new nickname: ‘Ibou’ He says it is because his mother would call him that every time he was with his family. “WHEN I WAS ON THE FIRST…