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Ranking Player of the Year candidates

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In recent weeks Nick Mendola and l (Joe Prince-Wright) have put forward a shortlist of contenders to win the 2018-19 Premier League Player of the Year award.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

With the international break giving us a breather and time to focus on which star player deserves this accolade, below we dig a little deeper and rank the top six contenders.

Here it goes…


1. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)
His mix-up with Alisson against Fulham was one of the most surprising moments of the season so far. Up until that point VVD hadn’t put a foot wrong and has been a colossus and the main reason Liverpool are in this title race. The stats since he arrived at Anfield last January back up their incredible improvement in defense and the Dutchman will win this award at a canter, as long as Liverpool win the title…


2. Sergio Aguero (Man City)
The main trying his best to stop Van Dijk and Co. winning the title is Aguero. The Argentine striker is already a City legend as their all-time leading goalscorer, and he has returned to his best form in recent months. Aguero leads the PL with 18 goals this season and if he finishes as the top scorer you’d fancy City to win the title. Aside from his goalscoring, Aguero’s overall game has improved and he now presses with the intensity Pep Guardiola demands.


3. Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Taking about another play who has improved under Guardiola, Sterling has had another fine campaign for City. The English winger is showing maturity on and off the pitch this season and it is easy to forget he is still just 24 years old. Aside from his 15 goals and nine assists in the PL, Sterling has been a constant threat and unlike some of City’s other attackers he is one of the first names on the teamsheet. Mahrez, Sane and even Aguero can be rested, but Sterling must start on current form.


4. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Undoubtedly Liverpool’s main man this season, Mane has cranked through the gears in recent weeks with 11 goals in his last 11 games for the Reds. Jurgen Klopp‘s side were carried by Mohamed Salah this season, but Mane has improved his finishing and has his best-ever PL return of 17 goals with seven games to go. The searing pace of the Senegalese attacker means he is perfectly for Klopp’s system. We knew that over the past two seasons, and he is proving indispensable season.


5. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Okay, so he missed a big chunk of Spurs’ season through injury but there’s still no doubting Kane’s quality. He has stepped up time and time again as Tottenham have kept battling this season in the Champions League and PL. Kane has 17 goals, and probably would have at least 22 had he not missed almost two months through injury. Spurs’ top four hopes revolve around him, and Kane is not disappointing. Again, his all-round play is improving each season and he is now one goal away from scoring at least 25 goals in all competitions in each of his last five campaigns. Remarkable.


6. Fernandinho (Man City)
A proper unsung hero, the Brazilian is coming towards the end of his career. But that doesn’t mean he is getting any less important to City. If anything, the opposite is true. Like a fine wine, Fernandinho has got better with age as his passing range has improved and his ability to read the game and time his tackles to perfection launches so many of City’s attacks. At the age of 34, Guardiola knows he will not go on forever and the fact he has picked up plenty of injuries this season proves that. Fernandinho is always a 7/10 guy and he is a valuable, and key, cog in City’s imperious machine.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 2

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Hosts Brazil kicked off the Copa America with a 3-0 defeat of Bolivia on Friday, and now it’s Argentina’s time to leave the runway.

Lionel Messi and Argentina meet Colombia in a 6 p.m. ET blockbuster in Salvador, Bahia. The match will go a long way toward determining who wins Group B.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

That happens three hours after Salomon Rondon and Venezuela tries to ride momentum from a demolition of the USMNT into a Group A date with Peru at Porto Alegre.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group A: Venezuela v. Peru – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group B: Argentina v. Colombia – 6 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Ukraine wins U-20 World Cup behind Supriaha brace (video)

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Vladyslav Supriaha scored goals in each half as Ukraine overcame an early penalty to beat South Korea 3-1 and win the U-20 World Cup in Poland.

The Dynamo Kiev 19-year-old was kept off the scoreboard for most of the tournament, with Danylo Sikan scoring four times to pace the champions to the final. Ukraine beat the U.S. in the first match of the group stage.

Fellow Dynamo Kiev teen Heorhiy Tsitaishvili, 18, scored a magnificent solo goal to put the win on ice with two minutes to go in regulation.

It was South Korea who took the early lead on a VAR-given penalty following a foul on the very edge of the box.

But Supriaha turned and slotted a fine finish home before the break, then scored the below winner early in the second frame.

Amazingly, though, the play of the day was a save from Real Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin off a bullet header in the 70th minute. Lunin has already been capped three times by the senior team.

Report: Manchester United bids big for West Ham’s Diop

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Somewhere, Jose Mourinho just threw something through a window.

Manchester United is being linked with a swoop for West Ham United revelation Issa Diop, mere months after the former Red Devils manager credited the Irons for identifying the player in France.

[ MORE: USMNT roster shuffle ]

United is said to be willing to spend approximately $57 million and send a player to the London Stadium.

Sky says West Ham doesn’t want to sell him and has a minimum price of $75 million in mind.

Mourinho not only famously begged for center backs from chairman Ed Woodward during his last season at United, he called Diop “a monster” and congratulated the scout who found him.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright rated Diop as the 10th best center back in the Premier League season. The now 22-year-old was already Toulouse club captain when West Ham came calling last summer.

This would be a solid buy for United, though we’re not sure the Irons would be willing to sell the big man. Diop has proven himself at the Premier League level, is very young for the position, and West Ham is investing all over the pitch in a bid to become a contender.

As for the player to come back, that’s an odd nut to crack. We’re pretty sure West Ham isn’t going to want to pay huge wages for a middling talent. I’ll duck from the rotten tomatoes, but maybe West Ham is willing to make Romelu Lukaku its long-sought center forward (Marko Arnautovic is 30, and he’s also Marko Arnautovic).

USMNT’s Holmes injured, Mihailovic re-added to Gold Cup squad

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The hits just keep on coming for the United States men’s national team, as Derby County midfielder Duane Holmes has withdrawn from the Gold Cup roster.

Holmes, 24, earned his first two caps this month but “reaggravated a left quadriceps strain” which hampered the end of his season with the Rams.

[ MORE: West Ham bids for 2 La Liga stars ]

Djordje Mihailovic will take his place. The Chicago Fire midfielder was sent back to Illinois following the tune-up friendlies, but will jet back to the fold before Tuesday’s tournament opener versus Guyana.

The U.S. is painfully thin in terms of creative midfielders, with Tyler Adams (right back, we know), Sebastian Lletget, and now Holmes out of the mix.

They do have that Christian Pulisic cat, though, and we imagine he won’t be out wide much.

USMNT 23-man roster for Gold Cup

Goalkeepers: Sean Johnson, Tyler Miller, Zack Steffen

Defenders: Reggie Cannon, Omar Gonzalez, Nick Lima, Aaron Long, Daniel Lovitz, Matt Miazga, Walker Zimmerman, Tim Ream

Midfielders: Michael Bradley, Weston McKennie, Djordje Mihailovic, Christian Pulisic, Wil Trapp, Cristian Roldan

Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, Tyler Boyd, Jonathan Lewis, Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes.