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Nominees for Ballon d’Or released

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The nominees for the Ballon d’Or have been announced in a staggered format and 11 of the 30 players shortlisted play in the Premier League.

[ MORE: 3 things on Liverpool-Man City ]

Mohamed Salah, Sergio Aguero, Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard all have a chance of winning the most prestigious individual award in the game.

Lionel Messi, Neymar, Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez. Luka Modric, Jan Oblak, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Edinson Cavani, Diego Godin, Kylian Mbappe, Thibaut Courtois, Mario Mandzukic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Antoine Griezmann have also been shortlisted, with the full list of 30 announced throughout Monday (in batches of five) by France Football.

Current Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo is aiming to win the award for a sixth time, while Messi (another five-time winner) will no doubt also be among the contenders but the likes of Griezmann, Mbappe and Modric will be the favorites.

With regards to the confirmed contenders for the award this year, over the past 12 months Aguero has become Man City’s all-time leading goalscorer and has also moved into the top 10 of the PL’s all-time goalscorers. His City teammate, De Bruyne, was pipped by Mohamed Salah to all of the top individual awards last season despite leading City to their record-breaking title.

Liverpool’s Firmino gets the nod after his 27-goal season for the Reds which saw him become a regular with the Brazilian national team, while his teammate for club and country, Alisson, is also honored for his fine displays for AS Roma at at the World Cup. Mane is also included in the shortlist, while Chelsea stars Hazard and Kante are in and Tottenham’s main man Kane is up for the award after his heroics for Spurs and England, along with Lloris.

Real Madrid had an incredible eight players shortlisted, with Ramos, Marcelo, Isco, Varane, Benzema, Modric and Bale winning the UEFA Champions League for a third-straight season, with the latter scoring twice in the final including an amazing overhead kick. Modric is among the favorites after his heroics leading Croatia to the World Cup final and already winning FIFA’s The Best award as the top player on the planet.

Barcelona had three players included, with Messi joined by Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic.

PSG’s Neymar got the nod despite his injury hit season, while Cavani’s goals led PSG to another Ligue 1 title and he also starred for Uruguay in the World Cup before getting injured. Godin was at the heart of a fine campaign for Atletico Madrid and Uruguay and his Atleti teammates Oblak and Griezmann were also included, as the latter needs no introduction after he helped France to World Cup glory. Thibaut Courtois also had a fine World Cup with the Belgium star named the best goalkeeper on the planet as sealed a move from Chelsea to Real Madrid.

Below is a list of the top 30 players on the planet.


Nominees for Ballon d’Or

Sergio Aguero (ARG / Manchester City)
Alisson (BRA / Liverpool)
Gareth Bale (WAL / Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (FRA / Real Madrid)
Edinson Cavani (URU / PSG)
Thibaut Courtois (BEL / Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR / Juventus)
Kevin De Bruyne (BEL / Manchester City)
Roberto Firmino (BRA / Liverpool)
Diego Godin (URU / Atletico Madrid)
Antoine Griezmann (FRA / Atletico Madrid)
Eden Hazard (BEL / Chelsea)
Isco (ESP / Real Madrid)
Harry Kane (ENG / Tottenham)
N’Golo Kante (FRA / Chelsea)
Marcelo (BRA / Real Madrid)
Kylian Mbappe (FRA / PSG)
Hugo Lloris (FRA / Tottenham)
Mario Mandzukic (CRO / Juventus)
Sadio Mane (SEN / Liverpool)
Paul Pogba (FRA / Manchester United)
Neymar (BRA / PSG)
Lionel Messi (ARG / Barcelona)
Luka Modric (CRO / Real Madrid)
Jan Oblak (SVK / Atletico Madrid)
Sergio Ramos (SPA / Real Madrid)
Ivan Rakitic (CROA / Barcelona)
Mohamed Salah (EGY / Liverpool)
Raphael Varane (FRA / Real Madrid)
Luis Suarez (URU / Barcelona)

Copa America: Watch Newcastle’s Almiron sets up Paraguay opener with 60-yard sprint (video)

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For the second time in as many games, Argentina has allowed it’s opponent to score the first goal. This time, it has Miguel Almiron to thank.

Starting with a dummy that lead to a more than 60-yard sprint to the end-line, Almiron showcased his top-line speed, strength, and dribbling ability as he lead Paraguay down the field in transition, eventually crossing into the middle. It was there that Olimpia’s Richard Sanchez met the cross and sliced it home to put Paraguay up 1-0 in the first half.

[READ: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Atlanta United fans saw plenty of that blazing speed during Almiron’s two years in the U.S. If Newcastle fans get to witness this in person more this coming season, Almiron will be a fan-favorite.

 

 

Transfer Roundup: Neymar to cost $337 million? Could Jorginho follow Sarri to Juve?

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Will he stay or will he go?

That’s the main question surrounding Neymar this summer. If reports out of France – and there are many – are to be believed, Neymar will have to stay.

[READ: Landon Donovan to lead USL franchise]

Le Parisien reported on Wednesday that if Neymar was to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer, it would cost an insane $337 million (€300 million) in transfer fees. With that price, and UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, it pretty much rules out any club from Europe from signing the Brazilian star. Neymar has recently been linked with a move back to Barcelona, with $112 million and other players reportedly included in a deal from Barcelona to PSG.

There’s so many moving pieces involved in any case. Antoine Griezmann is expected to leave Atletico Madrid, with Barcelona the rumored destination. But if Neymar goes to Barcelona, could Griezmann head to PSG? Meanwhile PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi pretty much called out Neymar for some of his off the field – and on the pitch – antics, likely hurting their relationship.

So while it seems like Neymar – and PSG – may want the relationship to end, PSG won’t miss out on getting its money back.

Here’s more transfer stories from around Europe:


Jorginho to Juventus? 

Jorginho is to Maurizio Sarri like red wine is to a medium-rare steak. They just go great together.

With Sarri moving to Juventus, that raises the question that Jorginho, who moved with Sarri to Chelsea, could move back to Italy this summer. There’s plenty of reasons why it could make sense. Despite playing 56 times for the Blues, including helping lead them to the UEFA Europa League title, he took plenty of criticism from the media and fans for his lack of defensive ability. Fans were also upset with Sarri’s insistence of playing Jorginho at the 6, and not at the 6 or as part of a double pivot with N’Golo Kante. In Premier League games that Chelsea was undone, it was because Jorginho was overrun in midfield.

Jorginho meanwhile could go back to Italy, where he has citizenship, plays for the national team and enjoyed so much success with Napoli.

According to reports out of Italy, Jorginho’s agent said that the player is happy in London, but they would wait and see what happens next from Juventus.

“Chelsea have a four-year contract with the man,” Joao Santos said, via Football Italia. “We’ll wait a few days to figure out whether there is any truth in this interest mentioned in the papers. His past at Napoli won’t be an issue, because Jorginho is a professional. Right now, Jorginho is happy at Chelsea. He found a great atmosphere and we can’t really say that he’d like to go elsewhere, but anything can happen on the transfer market. We’ll wait and see…”

Follow Live: Mexico faces Canada in Gold Cup doubleheader nightcap

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From Mile High USA, Denver, Colo., the 2019 Gold Cup continues with a highly-anticipated matchup between Mexico and Canada.

El Tri is coming off a 6-0 rout of Cuba in the opener at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last week, while Canada thrashed Martinique, 4-0 in its opener. All of which leads to Wednesday, when an up-start Canada faces a young and firing Mexico in the 10 p.m. ET nightcap.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

The LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna, a late addition to the squad, scored a hat-trick against Cuba and is one of the many young players getting their first chance to impress new Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino. Meanwhile, Canada is having a recent resurgence, with young stars Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye all making an early impact.

Meanwhile, Cuba and Martinique now battle it out in the first match of the night from Denver at 8 p.m., with both sides hoping for three points and a chance to emerge from the group in third place. Cuba has already lost one player to asylum in the U.S., but it’s unclear what kind of impact that will have on the team.

Follow along with us on the link above and in the comments below.

Anderlecht introduces new mayonnaise in team colors

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Fans support their favorite soccer teams with shirts, scarves, and more apparel and merchandise.

Now, Belgium side Anderlecht is taking fandom to a new level: Food.

In an interesting marketing move, Anderlecht announced that it’s come out with its own version of mayonnaise that’s been dyed purple, the main color of the club (The team is called “The Purple and White” in French and Dutch). One of the most popular gameday snacks in Belgium are fries and mayonaise, according to an informal UEFA poll, and now, fans of Anderlecht can dip their fries into purple mayo!

Mayo is apparently so popular in Belgium that there are literally laws on the books governing its ingredients. The move to create a purple sauce comes from a continued business partnership with Brussels Ketjup, a national Belgian ketchup that has sponsored the team.

The purple mayo will be sold in stores around Brussels (where Anderlecht is located) and Belgium, and proceeds from the sales will go towards Child Focus, a pan-European foundation that helps missing and exploited children.

Could we see this come to the Premier League and the U.S.? Imagine red pies at Arsenal, Liverpool or Manchester United, or a bright green pie in Norwich.

What about green ketchup in Seattle for the Sounders, or orange fries at Houston Dynamo games.

It’s unlikely to happen – different colored ketchup from Heinz was a marketing failure – but it could be fun if it was ever tried again on a small scale, tied to a sporting event or team.

Perhaps we’ll be seeing Vincent Kompany downing some fries and purple mayo this fall.