Cruyff calls Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ballon D’Or awards “absurd” with rationale that betrays his own 1974 win

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In case you’ve forgotten that Dutch soccer legend Johan Cruyff is also Barcelona soccer legend Johan Cruyff, the midfield maestro’s latest comments regarding a certain Real Madrid superstar are here to remind you.

Cruyff called Cristiano Ronaldo’s back-to-back Ballon D’Or awards “absurd”, noting that Toni Kroos or another German or Bayern Munich player should’ve won it on account of trophies (which kinda waylays one of Cruyff’s Ballons D’Or but we’ll get to that later).

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You know, trophies, like the UEFA Champions League title Ronaldo won this past season.

From Goal.com:

“It’s absurd that for the second year in a row a player has been given the award who did not both play excellent and win the most trophies.

“Back in 2013, Bayern Munich won every single trophy out there, yet Cristiano Ronaldo still won the award instead of a player like Toni Kroos or someone else from Bayern.

“In 2014, Kroos was a key player again for the team that won the World Cup, yet he was not even among the final three nominees. Ronaldo was completely anonymous at the World Cup…

“Let this be clear, I cannot take this Fifa award seriously anymore.”

Clearly Cruyff will be giving back his 1974 Ballon D’Or award since he only won La Liga and didn’t capture the World Cup or Champions League in that season, while 1974 runner-up Franz Beckenbauer won the Bundesliga, Champions League and the World Cup. Hand it over, Johan. Any minute now.

I’m a longtime admirer of Cruyff, but this batch of quotes is about as ridiculous as it gets. Ronaldo scored 51 goals in 47 matches for Real Madrid last season, adding another five for Portugal. No, an injured Ronaldo and A Seleccao didn’t escape the Group of Death with Germany, the US and Ghana, but that was far from his fault.

Arsenal moves past Bournemouth to reach FA Cup fifth round

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Bukayo Saka had a goal and an assist as Arsenal beat Bournemouth 2-1 in FA Cup fourth round action on Monday.

The result seals another trip to the South Coast, as the Gunners will visit Portsmouth in the fifth round.

Saka and Eddie Nketiah were the goal scorers as Arsenal did the job without Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and David Luiz in the Starting XI.

Sam Surrridge scored for Bournemouth in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time. That gave a tension to the other four minutes of stoppage which did not exist in the rest of the match.

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Saka drifted into the 18 to wallop a Gabriel Martinelli layoff into the upper reaches of the goal, the ball zipping from post-to-post with fury.

The 18-year-old Saka picked up an assist on Arsenal’s second goal, his cross seeing its way to Nketiah for a straight-forward finish in the heart of the 18.

Saka now has three goals and six assists in 23 appearances for Arsenal this season.

It wasn’t strictly positives for the Gunners, as Shkrodan Mustafi was stretchered off with an injury in the 62nd minute.

Bournemouth got one back when Simon Francis‘ cross was dummied by Dan Gosling, Surridge using a clever touch to set up his shot past Emiliano Martinez.

It’s Surridge’s first senior goal for Bournemouth, though the 21-year-old has managed 29 goals between Yeovil Town, Swansea City, and Oldham Athletic.

Ten possible transfers to monitor this week

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It’s been an active-enough transfer window from a wide perspective. Manchester United, Chelsea, and fans of other contenders may still be waiting for their breakthrough, but there’s been a lot to see world wide.

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Erling Haaland has a new home, and his housewarming party has been spectacular. Javier Hernandez headed from Sevilla to Major League Soccer.

Takumi Minamino joined Liverpool from Salzburg, and Gedson Fernandes found a home at Tottenham.

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So what’s still (possibly) to come before the transfer window slams shut at 6 p.m. ET Friday?

Aaron Long from New York Red Bulls to West HamA loan-to-buy bid’s been rejected, but could David Moyes skip the trial period. USMNT center back Long wants to go the Premier League, and RBNY are not in the CONCACAF Champions League so there’s time to replace him.

Antonee Robinson from Wigan Athletic to AC Milan — Speaking of USMNT-related transfers, could-be left back of the future has become a fixture at the DW Stadium but reports of his replacing Ricardo Rodriguez at Milan are many.

Paco Alcacer from Borussia Dortmund to Newcastle — The Magpies need another striker with Joelinton struggling to find form, and the BVB man is open to leaving on account of Haaland’s arrival.

Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United — A difference of $12 million seems likely to be made up by Friday.

Moussa Dembele from Lyon to Chelsea — He’s thrived at Fulham in the Championship, Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, and Lyon in Ligue 1, so the Premier League may finally get to see a mature Dembele. He made two appearances for Fulham in 2013/14.

Mykola Matviyenko from Shakhtar Donetsk to Arsenal — Twenty-two years old with 26 caps for Ukraine, reports of a try-it-before-you-buy-it with the Gunners seem very friendly to Arsenal.

Boubakary Soumare from Lille to Chelsea or Manchester United — Sixty-six senior appearances for a Ligue 1 side at age 20 is an eye-popper, and Soumare’s ceiling as a defensive midfielder is high.

Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Gerrmain to Atletico Madrid or Chelsea — The reports have all said Atleti is the front-runner, but the longer is takes the more you wonder…

Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli to Manchester United — Not in January with Napoli a month away from Barcelona in the UCL, right? Right?

Gareth Bale,  Krzysztof Piatek, Willian Jose, Mario Gotze, Steven Bergwijn, Alcacer, pretty much forward to Spurs — Self-explanatory. Spurs are transfer rumor bait as much as anyone not called Manchester United thanks to the injury to Harry Kane and the clear need for refreshment.

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

FA Cup fifth round draw

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The draw for the FA Cup fifth round has been made and a potential clash between Chelsea and Liverpool has been set up.

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If Liverpool’s youngsters (sans Jurgen Klopp and their first team) get past third-tier Shrewsbury Town in their fourth round replay they will travel to Chelsea, while holders Man City will travel to second tier Sheffield Wednesday.

Man United will travel to either Northampton Town or Derby County as they could face former United legend Wayne Rooney, while Portsmouth (the lowest ranked team left in the competition) will host either Bournemouth or Arsenal.

Southampton or Tottenham will host Norwich City in the only guaranteed all-Premier League last 16 clash.

To help ease fixture congestion for Premier League clubs and due to their week off for a mid-season player break (even if if didn’t work out like that for Liverpool, Tottenham, Southampton and Newcastle United due to fourth round replays) the fifth round will be played across three midweek evenings on Mar. 3-5.

There will also be no replays from the fifth round onwards in the FA Cup, as the games will go to extra time and penalty kicks, if needed, if the scores are level.

Below is the draw in full for the fifth round.


Sheffield Wednesday v. Manchester City
Reading or Cardiff City v. Sheffield United
Chelsea v. Shrewsbury Town or Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion v. Newcastle United or Oxford United
Leicester City v. Coventry City or Birmingham City
Northampton Town or Derby County v. Manchester United
Southampton or Tottenham Hotspur v. Norwich City
Portsmouth v. Bournemouth or Arsenal

LIVE, FA Cup: Bournemouth v. Arsenal

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Bournemouth host Arsenal in the FA Cup fourth round on Monday (kick off, 3 p.m. ET) as the Cherries and Gunners will both fancy their chances of a lengthy cup run.

[ LIVE: Follow Bournemouth-Arsenal ]

In all honesty, both Eddie Howe and Mikel Arteta could do without this game as they aim to improve their position in the Premier League table.

Bournemouth picked up a vital win against Brighton last time out to push themselves out of the bottom three, while Arsenal picked up a morale-boosting draw at Chelsea after playing for over an hour with 10 men.

Howe and Arteta will acknowledge that their main aim is to stay in the Premier League and finish in the top four respectively but both will be extremely tough in the final months of the season.

It is always tough to strike the balance about how serious to take the FA Cup for teams in tough situations in the PL but more often than not the competition is a bit of a distraction for players as league form goes out of the window.

Arteta’s first game in charge of Arsenal was a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth in December and this will be a tight, tough game down in the wind and rain on the England’s south coast.

Success in cup competitions will likely save Arsenal’s dismal season as Arteta’s banged up side have shown plenty of hunger in recent weeks and an FA Cup and Europa League double would certainly salvage plenty of pride from the 2019-20 campaign.

That said, there is still a long, long way to go for Arsenal.

Click on the link above to follow the action as it happens, while we have you covered right here on Pro Soccer Talk with the reaction and analysis on the final game of the fourth round.