Kyle Bonn

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Giuseppe Rossi signs with Genoa

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Giuseppe Rossi tore an ACL for the fourth time this past April, and is nearing a return from his injury.

The New Jersey-born midfielder has signed with Genoa, the club announced. He had been released from his Fiorentina contract in July after suffering the injury while on loan with La Liga side Celta Vigo in a 2-0 loss to Eibar.

It is the first ACL tear in his left knee after suffering three serious injuries in his right knee.

His injury came just as the 30-year-old was finally starting to reach a return to form. He had scored a hat-trick against Las Palmas the previous match and started in three of the team’s previous five matches.

Genoa will present Rossi to the public at a news conference on Tuesday. Genoa sits in 17th in Serie A, even on points with 18th placed SPAL, sitting above the relegation zone on goal differential alone. However, they are coming off a win at Crotone followed by a hard-fought draw with Roma where they played the final 21 minutes down a man. They are currently in play against Hellas Verona.

After Argentina miracle, Messi leads Barcelona at Atletico

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi has willed Argentina into the World Cup.

Now he can exhale and get back to what he does best: Keeping Barcelona atop the Spanish league.

Just when the stakes couldn’t have been higher, Messi struck three goals to bring Argentina back for a 3-1 win at Ecuador on Tuesday and seize a last-minute ticket to Russia.

The star forward will have little chance to rest, however, with Barcelona counting on him to lead the team in its visit to Atletico Madrid on Saturday in the Spanish capital.

THE SAVIOR

Messi has won a combined 17 trophies for Barcelona in the Champions League, Spanish league and Copa del Rey.

But his success with Barcelona has only increased the pressure on him to deliver silverware for Argentina. So far, he has lifted Argentina to only finals in the World Cup and Copa America.

Argentina struggled to produce goals throughout South American qualifying for the World Cup heading into the must-win match in Quito. And its chances looked grim when Ecuador scored in the first minute.

“It would’ve been crazy if Argentina didn’t play the World Cup,” Messi said after his hat trick.

FORGET NEYMAR

When Neymar bolted for Paris Saint-Germain in August, Barcelona entered into panic mode and scrambled to buy players to fill the gap left by the Brazil striker.

It had to break a club record for spending on a transfer to pry Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund, only for the France forward to tear a tendon in his left leg in just his third appearance.

But throughout the turmoil and turnover, Messi has responded by playing one of his best periods of football.

The 30-year-old Messi has 11 goals in seven league matches, including one four-goal outing and a treble. That has helped Barcelona outscore opponents 23-2 in the league.

He has also netted twice in the Champions League in wins over Juventus and Sporting Lisbon.

NEXT UP

Atletico is the most serious test yet for Barcelona in the league.

Yet, despite its reputation as one of the toughest defensive sides in Spain, Atletico is one of Messi’s favorite victims.

Messi has scored against Atletico 27 times in 34 matches across all competitions, including 12 at its former stadium.

Atletico hosts Barcelona for the first time at its new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Atletico is unbeaten in the league, although it lost to Chelsea 2-1 at home in the Champions League.

Barcelona leads second-place Sevilla by five points. Atletico is fourth and trails the pacesetter by six points.

Real Madrid is seven points adrift before visiting Getafe on Saturday.

RB Leipzig claims they nearly had Mbappe signed at 16

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Kylian Mbappe spent his youth in the AS Monaco developmental system, and as a result, he became one of the most expensive players ever sold, moving to Paris Saint-Germain last summer.

But what if things had gone differently? According to a Bundesliga executive, they almost did. Very, very different.

[ MORE: World Cup power rankings – 9 months B.W.C. ]

RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Ragnick told German publication Bild, “We had Kylian Mbappe all but signed.” At the time of his upbringing through the ranks at Monaco, Leipzig was in the 2.Bundesliga, having been brought up two leagues by manager Alexander Zorniger, but he stepped down in February 2015, with Mbappe potentially looking to leave Monaco.

“The problem was we had just parted ways with Alexander Zorniger. We didn’t know at the time who would be our coach and how it would continue.” 16-year-old Mbappe had an idea…Ragnick himself.

If Ragnick could ensure “that I would be coach, he would entrust me with the boy immediately. But I couldn’t give him that promise already in February.”

Achim Beierlorzer took over on an interim basis, and Mbappe would stay with Monaco. Ragnick became manager in the summer, spending a year in charge and earning them promotion to the Bundesliga, but it was too late, and the rest for Mbappe is history. Ragnick would step down a year later, but stayed on as sporting director there.

Top Premier League storylines – Week 8

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The international break is over, and while some hearts are broken and others are lifted with euphoria, all players must get back to work regardless of if they will be headed to Russia next summer.

From a club perspective, international breaks bring a chance for players to improve their form with a slight change of scenery, or the possible occurrence of a slight drop in momentum. But most of all, they just want their players to stay healthy.

[ MORE: JPW’s PL predictions | TV, stream schedule for the weekend ]

With the players back to their training grounds, here are the four biggest storylines for the return of Premier League action…

Liverpool tests itself against the Premier League’s best

Last season, Liverpool was terrible against the lesser teams and up for it in games against the best. This time around, Jurgen Klopp will hope for more of the same – at least, the positive part – as he hosts heated rival Manchester United at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday (Watch live, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com). The Red Devils may not be atop the Premier League table, but that’s only because Manchester City has matched them the entire way, only slightly ahead by just a single goal on differential.

Unfortunately the Reds could not complete their international break objective – Sadio Mane returns injured and will miss six weeks, a massive blow to Liverpool’s top four hopes. Nevertheless, they still have Klopp, who has matched up extremely well against Jose Mourinho, with just one loss in seven matches against this weekend’s opposing boss. Can Liverpool manage to stave off the high-flying Red Devils?


Can West Ham break down Burnley?

The Hammers have put their poor start behind them and are beginning a climb up the table. A win this weekend against Burnley at Turf Moor at 10:00 a.m. ET (Watch live on NBCSports.com) would be a signature moment in their recovery, three points against a team that has been a pleasant surprise this season. The Clarets have been ridiculously hard to break down ever since their return to the top flight, but this season they’ve also discovered a newfound cutting edge up front.

Slaven Bilic has deployed Javier Hernandez out wide in an attempt to fit both he and Andy Carroll into the lineup, and with the Hammers healthy after the break, they should have a full disposal of players to look to break down the hosts. However, with Burnley now able to possess the ball in greater spells, the weak West Ham defense could be at risk.


Can Alexis Sanchez put World Cup heartbreak behind him?

Like the United States, Chile missed out on the World Cup in heartbreaking fashion. The two-time defending Copa America champions were poor throughout qualification, and ultimately ended up just short of the finish line. Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez must put this disappointment behind him, lest it bleed into his club career.

Arsenal travels to Watford at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday (Watch live, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), and like Burnley, the Hornets have improved mightily from last season to this. Most importantly, they’ve capitalized on playing teams down on their luck such as Bournemouth, Southampton, and Swansea, and could do the same if Sanchez and Arsenal do not bring their best mentality to Vicarage Road.


Will Ronald Koeman stave off the sharks?

Everton is 16th in the table, and if this season is truly setting up to be a relegation battle, their match this weekend could be a vital one. The Toffees travel to Falmer Stadium to take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET (Watch live, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) with the Seagulls sitting just two spots above them in the table, with both sides sitting on seven points.

If Ronald Koeman is to keep Everton floating above the relegation sharks, he must win this match. Any dropped points on the road at a newly promoted team would only serve to leak even more water into an already listing ship.

2018 World Cup Power Rankings – 9 months B.W.C.

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After the opening release of our 2018 World Cup power rankings, much has changed. Countries have been eliminated in heartbreaking fashion, while other teams assert their dominance over their federations.

All the spots have been decided except for the UEFA playoffs and the inter-continential playoffs, which leave just a few spots to be determined.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2018 World Cup coverage | USMNT | Premier League ]

According to our esteemed panelists — Joe Prince-WrightNicholas MendolaKyle BonnMatt ReedDan Karell and Andy Edwards — there is a clear talent gap between the top 10 teams and the rest of the nations. Meanwhile, there is a disagreement over what country is the most powerful in the world.

Germany has garnered the top spot, but it wasn’t by a lot. Brazil is right on their heels for the favorite heading into next year’s tournament, even dethroning the reigning World Champions on some lists. Overall, Europe claims four of the top five spots, South American teams find four countries in the top 10. Italy is the most iconic team to have fallen, now uncertain to make the tournament after finding itself in the UEFA playoffs thanks to its tough group.

Three teams who did not appear in last month’s edition find themselves with places at the table in Serbia, Iceland, and Croatia, while seven teams on the list were left off at least one panelist’s list, leaving uncertainty in the lower half of the table. Where do you think these countries fall, who was slighted, who is overrated, and who should have made the list?

Team

Points

Best

Worst

1 (1)

Germany

118

1

2

2 (2)

Brazil

115

1

3

3 (3)

France

107

2

4

4 (4)

Spain

98

3

6

5 (5)

Belgium

95

3

7

6 (9)

Uruguay

84

5

9

7 (8)

Portugal

83

4

10

8 (5)

Argentina

81

5

11

9 (6)

Colombia

70

7

16

10 (12)

Mexico

59

10

12

11 (13)

England

53

7

15

12 (20)

Poland

47

11

17

13 (7)

Italy

43

9

18

14 (NR)

Serbia

37

9

NR

15 (NR)

Iceland

33

9

NR

16 (17)

Japan

28

13

NR

17 (10)

Switzerland

24

12

NR

18 (14)

Nigeria

21

16

NR

19 (16)

Costa Rica

19

14

NR

20 (NR)

Croatia

14

14

NR