Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has hailed the qualities of Lionel Messi and the Barcelona side ahead of the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. The Reds have done extremely well to progress to the final four of the competition for the second-straight year, but they need to overcome the challenge presented by the Blaugrana to reach the final in Madrid.
Speaking to reporters, Van Dijk stressed that he is not thinking about the Ballon d’Or title after recently being honoured with the PFA Player of the Year accolade. Implying to Messi, he added that there are players, who are basically out of the world and he has yet to showcase such kind of consistency.
Former Premier League full-back Danny Mills has compared Heung-min Son to the likes of Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The South Korean star has been a revelation for Tottenham Hotspur during the ongoing campaign and he is currently the second-highest scorer for the team behind Harry Kane this term.
Speaking to Stadium Astro, Mills indicated that Son has been restricted with his performances whenever Harry Kane has been on the field. He added that the former Bayer Leverkusen man can be compared to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, given his urge to have more of the ball to make an impact, he said: “Whenever you play with a superstar player, as one of the ‘lesser’ players you’re going ‘right, I need to give it to him’. And I think sometimes there is that focus – Harry Kane’s available, let’s give it to him.
Paris Saint-Germain defender Dani Alves has said that Neymar has been misunderstood at the Capital outfit, and the team need to show more trust towards the attacker just like Lionel Messi at Barcelona. The Brazil international joined Les Parisiens in a world-record deal from Barcelona in the summer of 2017 and he has since fared impressively across all competitions despite suffering a couple of metatarsal injuries.
Speaking to RMC Sport, Alves said that Neymar has yet to gain the trust from every member of the current squad and the same needs to happen sooner for the Brazilian to excel with the club, he said: “Here, everyone has not yet understood Neymar.When the ball is at the feet of this kind of player, there is like the scent of truffles. What’s going on is like with Messi. Around Messi, there are other players.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has named Sergio Aguero as the most complete striker in the Premier League despite him playing for arch-rivals Manchester City. The Argentina international has enjoyed another successful season in the English top-flight and he is currently leading the race for the Golden Boot with 18 goals in the bag.
Speaking to GQ Magazine, Rashford said that Aguero is probably the complete marksman in the Premier League, given he can find the scoresheet even on an off day. He added that Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are other big-name players, who could make the top three of the league in terms of centre-forward qualities.
Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti has acknowledged that it was a tough decision to strip Mauro Icardi from the captain’s armband. The Argentine has been the skipper of the San Siro side for the past three-and-half seasons but he has been ousted from the duties amid his poor run of form and contract dispute with the club.
Speaking to reporters, Spalletti said that it was not easy to strip Icardi from the captaincy but the club had to do so with his current situation at the club, he said: “It was a difficult and painful decision, we all know his worth. We made it together with all of the components of the club and it was done exclusively for the good of Inter and of the team. There are some things concerning the player that had to be worked out. He was disappointed, he was upset. It was difficult to tell him… These things embarrass the team, of which he was captain, and the club.”
Chelsea have reportedly reached an agreement to sign Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain on a short-term loan. The Argentine is currently on a season-long loan with AC Milan but the Rossoneri are expected to terminate the deal with the marksman seemingly keen on a reunion with manager Maurizio Sarri at the Bridge.
According to Sky Sports News, the west London giants have already agreed on a loan package for the former Napoli man and the move could go through in the next few days. It is added that the club have finalised a six-month loan for the Argentine, though they have the option to extend the deal for a further year with the choice to buy, if they wish.
Argentine Football Association Claudio Tapia is confident that Lionel Messi will return for national team duty at the turn of the year. The Barcelona superstar has not featured for the South American heavyweights since the summer World Cup where the nation were ousted by France at the round of 16 stage.
Speaking to reporters, Tapia highlighted that Messi has never put himself out of contention for national team duty and believes the attacker’s love for the shirt, should see him return for the next round of internationals in March, he said:“Lionel Messi never left the Argentina national team. I believe that the love which he has for the shirt is so great that when he will be called, he’ll be there. I have no doubt about it.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has indicated that he would welcome the prospect of managing in the Serie A in the future. The Argentine has built up his reputation since making the move to the Premier League with Southampton in January 2013 and he is presently the head coach of Spurs.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Pochettino highlighted that he would fancy a challenge in the Serie A in the future, though he currently remains content with the task of leading Spurs to a maiden Premier League crown, he said: “My contract expires in four-and-a-half years – if [Spurs chairman Daniel] Levy does not fire me first. Seriously, today I see myself here. I dream of winning a trophy with Tottenham, maybe the Premier League in our new stadium. In the future to also manage the Argentine team is my desire. The important thing is to be happy and I am right now. Me in Serie A? I have Italian origins and it would be a wonderful experience.”
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has backed Paulo Gazzaniga to have a big future ahead after impressing whenever he has been called up for first-team duty. The Argentine started the season as the third-choice shot-stopper behind Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm but he has slowly jumped ahead of the latter in the pecking order.
In an exclusive with Football.London, Pochettino said that he has been impressed with the progression of the former Southampton keeper and believes the Argentine has the potential to reach the top level, he quipped: “I think his progression was fantastic. Of course the credit is always for the players, but [we have] to give big credit to Toni Jimenez, the goalkeeping coach, who’s helping all the keepers to improve and grow. I think after one year and a half with us, I think his progression is fantastic and we were right when we signed him, because we believed and we knew him from Southampton. “He’s still young for a keeper and has the potential to be top.”
Gazzaniga found himself in the wilderness during his time at Southampton but he managed to change his fortunes after impressing for Rayo Vallecano during the 2016/17 season. As such, he was surprisingly recruited by Spurs last year and he has since make inroads with the occasional appearance for the north London club.
In the current campaign, the 26-year-old has made five appearances across all competitions and two of thosehave come in the Premier League when Hugo Lloris was on the sidelines with an injury. His showing has also caught the eye of interim Argentine boss Lionel Scaloni, who recently rewarded him with a maiden call-up to the national team.
Tottenham are currently on 27 points after the opening 12 league matches and this sees them occupying the final Champions League spot ahead of arch-rivals Arsenal. Next up, they are scheduled to host London rivals Chelsea following the international break before making the trip across the city to face the Gunners.
Boca Juniors were able to seal a semi-final place in the Copa Libertadores after a 1-1 draw with Cruzeiro in the second leg match. The first leg meeting between the two clubs finished as a 2-0 victory after goals from Mauro Zarate and Pablo Perez. The red card for Dede in the closing stages of the match was a key factor in deciding this outcome. As a result, Cruzeiro were under a lot of pressure in order to get a positive result in the second leg.
The decisive goal in the game came in the 58th
minute when Cruzeiro broke to come up with the first goal of the match and reduce the Boca Juniors advantage in terms of aggregate score. Just as they were pushing for an equaliser that would have taken the game into extra time, Boca Juniors came up with an injury time equaliser through Christian Pavon. Incredibly, Dede was sent off for a second consecutive time – this time after picking up two yellow cards. As a result, Boca Juniors have been able to progress into the semifinals where they will face Palmeiras. The six-time champions have some key injury problems that places them in a disadvantageous position.