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MIT ranks most popular people in 20th century. 1,064 soccer players qualify vs. 1 football player (It’s O.J.)

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Alternate headline: “Clint Dempsey’s more famous than Maya Angelou.”

Fame feels like a pretty arbitrary term, but MIT is trying to make it a bit more concrete. Using an elaborate system, the elite American school has put together a list of the most famous people in the entire world.

Not that it’s foolproof, but it is MIT. And it includes two American soccer players.

MIT ranks nearly everything in a project called Pantheon, and the New York Times can help you place the study in context before we get to the soccer player part.

“It has collected and analyzed data on cultural production from 4,000 B.C. to 2010. With a few clicks on its website, which just went live, you can swing through time and geography, making plain the output of, say, Brazil (largely soccer players) or Belarus (politicians). It also ranks professions from chemists to jurists to porn stars.”

Take your own trip through Pantheon here. Now, on to soccer:

The headline above is a little sensationalized. As far as my limited mind can gather from the article, Pantheon takes history into account and one of its qualifiers is someone’s Wikipedia page is translated into 25 languages or more. In other words, the NFL’s popularity bloomed a tad bit later than soccer, and it’s doubtful that “Bruce Smith” has qualified for a Tamil Wikipedia translation. But here’s the list of the most popular soccer players in the world:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

2. Pelé

3. Lionel Messi

4. Ronaldo

5. Ronaldinho

6. Diego Maradona

7. Zinedine Zidane

8. David Beckham

Number of Soccer Players on the List: 1,064

Number of American-Football Players: 1 (O.J. Simpson)

Surely there are rational reasons for C-Ron being ahead of Pele aside from the hits generated by “Teen Beat: Portugal,” but it’s still odd to consider. How do those rankings play out in your mind? If sexuality or attractiveness was such a big factor, why wouldn’t Becks be higher on the list?

Doing just a cursory look over the site does find some American players qualify, which means Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey rank while Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are nowhere to be found? For people living in America, this is mystifying. It’s not that anyone thinks American football is anywhere near soccer’s level, but 1,064 to 1 (who’s likely on there for a combo of football, movies and crime)? Wild stuff. Like “Marta is more worldwide famous than Joe Montana” level wild.

And get these totals: 71 basketball players, five baseball players and two hockey players.

The details on the Yank soccer players:

Dempsey: 858th ranked soccer player, 78th ranked 1983 birth, 2,028 ranked American birth (ranked between Betty Ford and Maya Angelou).

Donovan: 660th ranked soccer player, 73rd ranked 1982 birth, 1,816 ranked American birth (ranked between Henry Harrison and Hank Aaron).

For those keeping score of player vs. coach, Jurgen Klinsmann is the 101st most famous soccer player, the 17th most famous 1964 birth and 298th ranked German birth (got some work to do to catch Martin Niemoller).

Southampton: Van Dijk won’t leave, selling days likely done

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 29:  Ralph Krueger the Southampton Chairman looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium on March 29, 2014 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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Ralph Krueger doesn’t plan on selling any more big Southampton stars, and there’s none brighter than Virgil Van Dijk.

The Dutchman is perhaps the best center back in the Premier League, regularly linked with transfers to anywhere from Manchester City to Liverpool.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

But Krueger says Saints have had enough of selling big assets. Southampton has sold Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane, and Nathaniel Clyne in the past three seasons, and those are just the names to go to Liverpool. Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama have also moved on from St. Mary’s.

From Sky Sports:

“We would like to move away from that and we feel confident this summer will be a lot quieter in Southampton and we can keep the core of this team moving forward for a few years.

“That is going to be important when you see how excellent the group is right now and how exciting the football is. The game we are playing is a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to be part of.”

Saints were the more effective side in a 3-2 EFL Cup Final loss to Manchester United this weekend, but are well off the pace in the race to make back-to-back trips into Europe.

It will be hard to hold onto Van Dijk and even new bright light Manolo Gabbiadini without Europe, but Krueger is a strong leader with the ability to convince almost anyone to buy into a plan.

Real Salt Lake signs Plata to multi-year DP deal

Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata (8) gestures while walking during an MLS soccer game against New York City FC Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Sandy, Utah. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; MAGS OUT
Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
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SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.

The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.

Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.

Gotze out indefinitely with metabolism disorder

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 06:  Mario Goetze (R) and Ann-Kathrin Broemmel attend the MTV Europe Music Awards 2016 on November 6, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for MTV)
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Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.

Gotze, 24, scored the 113th minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]

With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:

“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.

“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.

Liverpool hires EA Sports executive as new CEO

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Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.

Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.

[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]

A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.

The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:

The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.