Ballon D’Or longlist includes Messi, Ronaldo… and Luongo?!?

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Do you know who Massimo Luongo is?

The 23-year-old Australian and Asian Cup MVP is a new QPR member, but also somehow amongst the field of 59 players from which the 2015 Ballon D’Or winner will be chosen.

Surprises? Boy, are there some doozies (though less so when you consider international play). Luongo, who spent last season at Swindon Town, is joined by Christian Atsu, David Ospina and Gary Medel. Also in the mix, of course, are usual suspects Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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The 59 names, leaked to Mundo Deportivo, will be whittled down to 23 before the end of the year. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the last two awards, with Lionel Messi snaring the three previous titles. Each has finished second to the other for the last four seasons.

Barcelona and Real Madrid pace the list with 7 nominees each, while New York City FC’s Andrea Pirlo and L.A. Galaxy striker Giovani Dos Santos are surprise MLS inclusions (due largely to their time in Juventus and Villarreal, no doubt).

PSV Eindhoven and Mexico star Andres Guardado is also on the list after he led Mexico in scoring during the country’s Gold Cup title run (which of course means the USMNT’s failure to claim the tournament’s title cost tournament-leading scorer Clint Dempsey a spot).

Premier Leaguer clubs involved in the mix: Manchester City (5), Chelsea (4), Manchester United (3), Arsenal (2), Tottenham (2), Liverpool (1), Leicester City (1), Swansea City (1). Bournemouth and Everton share Christian Atsu, even though both on loan from Chelsea. Fun.

Full list
Claudio Bravo – Barcelona
Javier Mascherano – Barcelona
Andrés Iniesta – Barcelona
Lionel Messi – Barcelona
Ivan Rakitic – Barcelona
Neymar – Barcelona
Luis Suárez – Barcelona
Gareth Bale – Real Madrid
Karim Benzema – Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid
Luka Modric – Real Madrid
James Rodríguez – Real Madrid
Toni Kroos – Real Madrid
Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus
Paul Pogba – Juventus
Alvaro Morata – Juventus
Arturo Vidal – Juventus/Bayern
Andrea Pirlo – Juventus/New York City FC
Carlos Tevez – Juventus/Boca Juniors
Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
Arjen Robben – Bayern Munich
David Alaba – Bayern Munich
Thomas Müller – Bayern Munich
Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich
Wilfried Bony – Manchester City
Yaya Touré – Manchester City
Sergio Agüero – Manchester City
Nicolás Otamendi – Valencia/Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne – Wolfsburg/Manchester City
Diego Costa – Chelsea
Willian – Chelsea
Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
Edinson Cavani – PSG
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG
Javier Pastore – PSG
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United
David De Gea – Manchester United
Memphis Depay – PSV/Manchester United
David Ospina – Arsenal
Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal
Antoine Griezmann – Atlético Madrid
Jackson Martínez – Porto/Atlético Madrid
Carlos Bacca – Sevilla/Milan
Giovani dos Santos – Villarreal/LA Galaxy
Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool
Son Heung-min – Bayer Leverkusen/Tottenham
Christian Atsu – Everton/Bournemouth
Paolo Guerrero – Flamengo/Corinthians
Eduardo Vargas – QPR/Hoffenheim
Gary Medel – Internazionale
Harry Kane – Tottenham
Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon
Andrés Guardado – PSV
Carlos Sánchez – River Plate
André Ayew – Marseille/Swansea
Massimo Luongo – Swindon/QPR
Shinji Okazaki – Mainz/Leicester

Crystal Palace – Chelsea, Watford – Norwich: Stream, How to watch

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Crystal Palace – Chelsea promises to be an intriguing clash at Selhurst Park on Tuesday (start time, 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a London derby, while Watford – Norwich is a massive game in the relegation battle (start time, 1pm ET online via NBCSports.com).

Christian Pulisic continues to be the main man for Chelsea as the USMNT star put in another superb display in their 3-0 win against Watford and the Blues remain on track to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. As for Palace, they have lost their last three games on the trot without scoring and Roy Hodgson’s side look destined for a midtable finish.

CRYSTAL PALACE – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

WATFORD – NORWICH STREAM LIVE

As for Watford, they need a win to boost their survival hopes and if they get it, they will send bottom club. Norwich even closer to their relegation zone.

Below is everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace – Chelsea and Watford – Norwich.


Team news

Palace will be without James Tomkins, Jeffrey Schlupp and Martin Kelly, while Hodgson may bring back Cheikhou Kouyate and Scott Dann who were rested.

Chelsea will be without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic through injury, as Billy Gilmour starts in central midfield.

Watford bring in Masina and Welbeck after the loss at Chelsea.

Norwich bring Pukki back into the starting lineup.

Odds and ends (full matchweek odds)

Crystal Palace are huge underdogs (+650) as Chelsea (-220) are the red-hot favorites given their three wins from their first four games of the restart. The tie at +335 is where the value is at because as we saw with Chelsea’s shock defeat at West Ham last week, they can be dominated from set pieces and hit on the counter. Those two aspects are huge strengths of Palace’s game.

Watford are the favorites (-152) while Norwich (+440) are hoping for their first win, and points, since the restart. The tie at +285 seems intriguing to me.

Predictions

We are all expecting a Chelsea win here but don’t be surprised if Wilfried Zaha has a day at makes it a very tough outing for this leaky Chelsea defense. Palace have been fired up and shocked Chelsea before but I think the Blues, led by Pulisic, have too much for Palace. 3-1 to Chelsea. As for Watford against Norwich, I’m going for a 1-1 draw. Watford have been bad since the restart and Norwich have nothing to play for, really. That is dangerous.

Transfer news: Ake to Man United; Rice to Chelsea

Nathan Ake Manchester United
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In the latest transfer news Nathan Ake has been linked with a move to Manchester United, while Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea.

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Starting in Manchester, a post-game chat between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nathan Ake has turned heads following Man United’s 5-2 win against Bournemouth at the weekend.

Apparently Solskjaer told Ake: “We need a left-footed centre-back, so keep going.”

Ake, 25, has been linked with a return to Chelsea (who have a $48 million buy-back clause) and Manchester City, but it appears Nathan Ake to Manchester United has some legs. Solskjaer has been looking for a new center back with Kalidou Koulibaly, Dayot Upamecano and others linked to line up alongside Harry Maguire.

Victor Lindelof has struggled at times and is ahead of Eric Bailly in the pecking order and Man United do need to strengthen their defense slightly as they have plenty of options in midfield and attack, although a new true holding midfield could be a must in the next few windows.

If Bournemouth are relegated from the Premier League, Ake will surely leave and Man United could pick him up for a lot less than $48 million.

Declan Rice to Chelsea
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Switching to west London, Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea this summer.

A report from The Times states that Chelsea want Rice, 21, to return and become a ball-playing center back to shore up their defensive unit.

The report goes on to state that the boyhood Chelsea fan is seen as the perfect successor to John Terry at the heart of the Chelsea defense.

Rice has shone in recent weeks and is the one player in West Ham’s team who has been consistent despite their struggles at the wrong end of the Premier League table this season.

Chelsea have been searching high and low for defensive reinforcements and want more power and strength at center back. Rice can play at center back and in a three he would be prefect. His main position is in holding midfield and his flexibility to strengthen Chelsea’s shaky defense would be key. Rice is close friends with Mason Mount and after leaving Chelsea’s academy as a 14-year-old he has forged out a very good career for himself as a regular for West Ham and England.

Rice would cost a huge sum and this move to Chelsea may hinge on whether or not West Ham are relegated in the final weeks of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Mexico boss: Jimenez should move to Man United, if he leaves Wolves

Raul Jimenez Manchester United
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Mexico boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has said Raul Jimenez should move to Manchester United, if he leaves Wolves.

Jimenez, 29, has been consistently linked with a move to Manchester United, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid and other European giants and the in-form striker has scored 24 goals in all competitions for the Premier League side this season.

Now his El Tri boss has weighed in on the speculation and speaking to ESPN show Futbol Picante, Martino said he would prefer Raul Jimenez to join Manchester United over Juventus if he left Wolves.

“Looking at it from the outside today I cannot see a specialist No. 9 like Raul at United,” Martino said. “There are many forwards like [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial and the boy who now plays as right winger: [Mason] Greenwood but since Romelu Lukaku left I can’t see a pure No. 9 like Raul. At Juventus he will have more of a fight because [Cristiano] Ronaldo shares the inside of the pitch with whoever plays alongside him, with [Paulo] Dybala or with [Gonzalo] Higuain and maybe he has a tougher fight there.”

Martino went on to state that he wants Jimenez to do whatever he feels happiest doing and moving to a ‘super club’ doesn’t always work out, as he knows from his one season in charge of Barcelona. Martino also brought up the fact that Jimenez has been at Atletico Madrid and Benfica before and that didn’t really work out, so perhaps staying at Wolves is best for Mexico’s star striker.

“Maybe he wants a bigger challenge because he feels that he is in good shape and has to take advantage of it, maybe he wants to stay in this place, maybe the options you read about are not real and do not exist,” Martino said. “I think the best thing is for Raul to make the decision based on the analysis he makes and with the consensus of his family because, when it comes to enjoying, not only the player suffers and enjoy, but also the family do it.”

Jimenez will be linked with plenty of top clubs this summer and he hasn’t exactly slammed the door on links to some of Europe’s big boys in the past. His manager at Wolves, Nuno Espirito Santo, responded to Martino’s comments by saying: “It’s not the moment to think about anything else. I’m sure Raul is totally, 100% focused on what he has to do at Wolves.”

Since he arrived at Wolves in the summer of 2018 he’s scored 41 goals in 92 games in all competitions and has become one of the top central strikers in the Premier League. His hold-up and link-up play is envied across the league and Martino is right, he would fit in well at Man United as Anthony Martial could move out wide.

Manchester United probably don’t need to sign another striker, though, so Jimenez heading to Juve or one of the Spanish giants makes more sense. Watch this space.

PHOTOS: New Chelsea away kit for 2020-21 unveiled

New Chelsea away kit
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The new Chelsea away kit for 2020-21 has been unveiled and the Blues will wear it for the first time against Crystal Palace on Tuesday (start time, 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Chelsea have gone back to a sky blue away jersey and the design has a herringbone knit throughout, which is the same as their new home jersey for the 2020-21 season which debuted last week.

The west London club state that this away kit “adds an injection of millennial swagger – perfect for the confident, emerging talents lighting up Stamford Bridge under head coach Frank Lampard.”

When it comes to a a new Chelsea kit, or any new kit for that matter, there are always plenty of amateur fashion designers out there. But the response to this new away jersey has been largely positive.

They also have a new shirt sponsor in telecommunications company “Three UK” and you can’t really miss their sponsorship logo on the front of the shirt.

Check out the photos below to see what Christian Pulisic and Co. will be wearing in the Premier League next season, and Frank Lampard hopes it will be worn in the Champions League too as the Blues continue to push to seal a top four finish in his debut season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

This new Chelsea kit, like most kits, will divide opinion.