As World Cup masterclass continues, is Lionel Messi the world’s best player again?

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“Will the real Lionel Messi please stand up? I repeat will the..” Oh, there you are, Lionel.

This summer the four-time World Player of the Year has dazzled on the biggest stage of all, finally, by scoring four times in Argentina’s three group stage games.

Before the 2014 World Cup tournament, Messi had only scored once in 10 WC games after failing to take the 2006 and 2010 tournaments by storm. Now he’s the main man for La Albiceleste as they won Group F at a canter and Messi is the joint-top scorer at the tournament.

[ WATCH: Messi scores stunning free kick vs. Nigeria ]

Many question marks surrounded the FC Barcelona star before this summer’s tournament, as his injury-hit season in La Liga saw him fall behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the pecking order as the best player in the world. After a stunning free kick vs. Nigeria, a last-gasp wondergoal which grabbed Argentina a vital 1-0 win over Iran and four goals total, Messi is rising back to the top as the star of the 2014 World Cup so far.

However purely from stats, Messi was coming into the World Cup following his worst season in front of goal for Barca in five seasons. During the 2013-14 La Liga campaign he scored 28 goals in 31 games and played in just 2503 minutes, his lowest total since 2008. It was also the first time since 2008 that Messi scored less that 30 goals in a single season. By his supremely high standards, it wasn’t the best year of his career.

Hamstring and thigh injuries limited his appearances — after missing a large chunk of the campaign, it actually seems like Messi is rejuvenated and rested — and with Ronaldo ripping it up with Real Madrid, Messi lost his FIFA Ballon d’Or crown to the Portuguese superstar. Officially, Messi was no longer the greatest player in the world.

After a blistering start to the 2014 World Cup, Messi seems to be hellbent on replacing Ronaldo at the top of the global game. In stark contrast, Ronaldo has looked unfit, struggled for form and despite the one world class ball for Portugal’s late, late equalizer vs. the USA, he has been a shadow of his usual self. That, coupled with Messi’s electric start, has seen the Argentine star rise to the top once again.

Will that last throughout the World Cup and into the next season?

Slowly but surely, it seems as though Messi is reclaiming his throne as the king of soccer.

Pulisic wins, converts penalty against Liverpool (fan video)

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USMNT star and Borussia Dortmund teenage winger Christian Pulisic won a penalty kick off James Milner, then insisted on taking the spot kick in front of his home crowd.

[ MORE: Mina to Everton? ]

Pulisic, 19, took the ball off Mario Gotze and finished his chance clinically to equalize against Liverpool, his second won penalty of the American tour.

Pulisic began the game on the bench after starting in Chicago against Manchester City, and Liverpool had gone ahead early when Virgil Van Dijk took advantage of poorly set up BVB zonal marking.

But Pulisic cut past Milner and was tripped by the veteran before clattering into Ragnar Klavan and earning the PK.

Everton target Mina wants to stay at Barca, but also to play

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Goal.com says Yerry Mina could be leaving the Camp Nou after just one season for meaningful playing time at Goodison Park.

Mina’s agent says the center back would still like to feature at Barca following his strong World Cup with Colombia, but that Everton and Zenit Saint-Petersburg are interested in the $20 million man.

[ MORE: El Tri’s Reyes to Newcastle? ]

He was WhoScored’s second-best player in the entire World Cup tournament, going 270 minutes for Los Cafeteros. Mina averaged seven clearances a match, with 1.3 tackles and an interception per contest. Here’s Mina’s agent, from The Liverpool Echo:

“Everton is a club that insists on the player, who has called us directly. There are other teams like Zenit, but we hope Barcelona will take the initiative. He wants to play and do it in Barcelona. For Yerry Mina it would be a failure not to play. He just wants to play.”

The 23-year-old played just six times for Barcelona last season, and would join Michael Keane and Mason Holgate as younger center backs in Everton’s corps (Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are well into the careers).

Rumor roundup: Interest in Martial; Mexican to Newcastle?

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Sometimes a transfer rumor report talks itself out of probability by the time it reaches completion.

Sky Sports is reporting that Manchester United attacker Anthony Martial has interest from the likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Klopp on Pulisic ]

But United doesn’t have interest in selling Martial and may pick up an option in his contract to extend him through the 2019-2020 season.

And the report says Chelsea has not made an offer — hard to believe United would sell inside the Premier League anyway — while Bayern thinks the price tag is too high. And if Bayern feels that way, than BVB is gonna pass, too.

Still, something to put on your radar.


Swansea City center back Federico Fernandez saw his side relegated last season and may not favor a campaign in the Championship.

The Chronicle says he could move to Newcastle on loan despite a transfer tag of less than $8 million.

Fernandez, however, did not name names outside of Krasnodar:

“The club (Krasnodar) are very interested in me and we will have to see what happens with the window. Of course I have a contract with Swansea and that’s why I’m here and working hard. But if they want me to come then of course I want to play at the highest level.”

The Magpies could land a defender from a World Cup participant, though, as Porto’s Diego Reyes may prefer a move to Newcastle (Turkish link) over interest from Fenerbahce and West Ham United.

The 55-times capped Mexican center back has played on the right as well, though he missed the tournament with a hamstring injury.

Report: Orlando’s Justin Meram could be traded back to Columbus

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A former Columbus Crew midfielder could be on his way back to the Eastern Conference side.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Davies on brink of Bayern move ]

Several reports have suggested that Orlando City’s Justin Meram could be on his way back to Columbus, as the Lions look to trade the midfielder back to the club that drafted the 29-year-old.

The veteran attacker joined the Lions back in January in a trade after spending seven seasons with the Crew.

Reliable Twitter account MLS Transfers first reported the story on Sunday, also naming the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati as potential landing spots for Meram.

Meram was traded to Orlando back in January after requesting a move away from Columbus due to ongoing talks of the club being relocated out of Ohio.

The Iraq international has struggled in his first season with Orlando, scoring just one goal in 17 appearances for the club — who currently sit in ninth place and six points outside of the Eastern Conference playoffs.