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Toby Alderweireld signs new Tottenham contract

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Ah, the old Jose Mourinho factor has come into play here.

After months, no, years, of stalling, Toby Alderweireld has finally signed a new contract at Tottenham Hotspur.

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The Belgian center back, 30, has agreed a new three-year extension to his current deal, which was due to expire in the summer, and it is believed he is now being paid over $130,000 per week. Per reports, Mourinho played a big factor in convincing Chairman Daniel Levy to offer the deal to the experienced Belgium international.

Aldwereireld had a year left on his previous deal after a clause was triggered which extended his stay at Spurs but also meant he would be available for a knockdown $35 million in the summer window.

In the end nobody bought Alderweireld and he remained at Spurs, and now he will remain a little longer.

This is a huge relief for Tottenham, as Alderweireld has consistently been their best central defender since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2015.

His former teammate at Germania Beerschot and Ajax, Jan Vertonghen, is set to see his contract expire in the summer but seeing Toby re-sign may now give him a nudge in the same direction.

The only other ‘contract rebel’ left at Spurs would then be Christian Eriksen, who has struggled badly for form this season and out of the three players who’s contracts were running out he always seemed the most likely to leave.

Alderweireld is steady and underrated but Mourinho has obviously already seen just how important he is to this Spurs team.

USMNT finishes 2019 as FIFA’s 22nd ranked team

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Belgium finishes the year in the No. 1 slot on FIFA’s rankings, something the Red Devils will hope is a harbinger of what’s to come at EURO 2020.

France, Brazil, England, and Uruguay finish second through fifth.

The United States men’s national team finishes the year at No. 22, up three spots from 2018. It’s their highest year-end finish since 2013 (14th) and one spot ahead of their all-time average spot.

The Yanks are ranked 39th by EloRatings, generally considered to be a fairer approximation of strength.

[ RELATED: Grading the USMNT’s 2019 ]

FIFA’s December release sees very few changes, and minimal ones at that. South Korea moves up a spot to 40th, South Africa up one to 71st, and Bolivia nudges its way into the Top 75.

China sinks to 76th, while only one nations moves more than a single spot. Hong Kong dips two to No. 141,

The new rankings again show which CONCACAF nations are on track to participate in the Hex.

El Salvador pulls into sixth place amongst CONCACAF teams with only six months to go until the rankings decide which six teams qualify for the Hex.

Mexico holds tight at 11, while the USMNT sits 22nd. Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Honduras would join El Salvador to round out the Hex if it started today. That would leave Canada, Curacao, Panama, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago playing in the second group of World Cup qualifying.

The winner of that group would play in the playoff against the fourth-place team from the Hex, with the winner of that match playing an interconfederation playoffs for a spot in Qatar 2022.

Early Euro qualifiers: Belgium, Netherlands, Russia all win

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In the early slate of Sunday’s Euro 2020 qualifiers, there were little surprises as Belgium, Russia, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Scotland all found the winner’s column.

Liverpool midfielder Giorginio Wijnaldum bagged a first-half brace, including an absolute rocket, as the Netherlands held on for a 2-1 win over Belarus. BATE Borisov midfielder Stanislav Dragun grabbed one back for Belarus soon after halftime, but the visitors held on in Minsk.

[ WATCH: Wijnaldum scores ripper for Netherlands ]

Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt partnered in defense yet again, as they have for 17 of the last 19 Netherlands games, conceding just 17 goals in those 17 matches. Thanks in part to that stellar partnership, Jasper Cillessen had little to do, with Dragun’s headed goal the only shot on target for Belarus in the match, while the Netherlands put seven of their 21 shots on frame.

Michy Batshuayi and Thomas Meunier both found the back of the net as Belgium topped Kazakhstan 2-0 in Astana to remain perfect in qualifying action and keep pace with Russia in Group I. Batshuayi was filling in for an injured Romelu Lukaku, and he latched onto a low back-post cross from Dennis Praet for the opener 21 minutes in. Meunier’s 53rd minute poke came off an absolutely stunning long delivery from Eden Hazard to the far post placed perfectly over the head of the defender. Belgium held 66% possession throughout the match, and while they were only able to put three shots on target, they scored on two of them and held the hosts to just one. Belgium has now scored 30 goals in Euro qualification while conceding just one.

Russia also continued to surge ahead in Group I play one game back of Belgium with a 5-0 demolition of Cyprus in Nicosia. Denis Cheryshev struck nine minutes in to put Russia ahead as he pilfered the ball off the Cyprus back line. The hosts lost Standard Liege defender Konstantinos Laifis to a straight red card, and the rest was elementary. Magomed Ozdoev, Artem Dzyuba, and Aleksandr Golovin all found the back of the net before Cheryshev finished it off with his second of the game in stoppage time. Russia and Belgium have both qualified for the finals, with Russia sitting in second three points behind the perfect group leaders.

Hungary scored 10 minutes in and hung on for a 1-0 victory at home over Azerbaijan. 30-year-old Mihaly Korhut struck a long-distance ripper from well outside the box that appeared to catch goalkeeper Emil Balayev off guard, and the Hungary defense did the rest. RB Leipzig captain Willi Orban and Sporting Kansas City defender Botond Barath held Azerbaijan to just four total shots, including two on target. Meanwhile, despite splitting the possession nearly halfway, Hungary ripped off 23 shots, putting six on target.

Scotland hammered San Marino at home 6-0 behind a first-half hat-trick from Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn. In the pouring rain in Glasgow, McGinn opened the scoring 12 minutes in for his second international goal on a simple cutback and shot from Ryan Christie which clipped McGinn on its way inside the far post. He hit for a second just before the half-hour mark as he poked home a cross by Scott McTominay that was saved into no-man’s land by a diving San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini. The third featured the highest degree of difficulty as a set-piece delivery into the box was headed by Stuart Findlay towards the far post and McGinn ripped it home on the doorstep under pressure. Lawrence Shankland, Findlay, and Stuart Armstrong finished off the scoreline in the second half, although Scotland has still long been eliminated from qualification in the top-heavy Group I.

Euro 2020 qualifying roundup: Belgium qualifies

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Belgium became the first national team to qualify for the 2020 European Championships and boy did the Red Devils do it in style.

Belgium routed lowly San Marino, 9-0 at the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels to ensure qualification. Romelu Lukaku scored a brace and assisted on another as Belgium was able to spread the goals around.

[READ: Tactical Analysis – How to Beat Man City]

Seven different players scored for Belgium, plus an own goal from San Marino’s Cristian Brolli. Even Eden Hazard, who set up a pair of goals, didn’t score himself before earning an early break in the 63rd minute.

Nacer Chadli, Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld, Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans, Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke, Yari Verschaeren, and Timothy Castagne all scored along with Lukaku.

Russia thrash Scotland

In what’s becoming the norm, Scotland again succumbed to a crushing defeat. This time it was to Russia, which beat Scotland, 4-0, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The Scotland centerback pairing of Liam Palmer and Charlie Mulgrew couldn’t deal with big Russian striker Artem Dzyuba, who finished with a brace. Magomed Ozdoev and Aleksandr Golovin both scored as well to put Scotland away.

Here’s a look at the rest of Thursday’s qualifying action.

Thursday’s EURO 2020 qualifying results

Group C

Belarus 0-0 Estonia

Netherlands 3-1 Northern Ireland

Group E

Croatia 3-0 Hungary

Slovakia 1-1 Wales

Group G

Austria 3-1 Israel

Latvia 0-3 Poland

North Macedonia 2-1 Slovenia

Group I

Kazakhstan 1-2 Cyprus

Belgium 9-0 San Marino

Russia 4-0 Scotland

De Bruyne hopes for Kompany reunion

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Kevin De Bruyne hopes to link up with Vincent Kompany once again when his days at Manchester City are up.

De Bruyne, 28, has been in sensational form for club and country early in the season and has been the standout player in the Premier League so far.

Speaking ahead of Kompany’s testimonial game at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday the Belgian wizard told the Sun that he would love to play for his former teammate, who is now the player-manager of Anderlecht.

“I hope his [Kompany’s] career will be just as amazing at Anderlecht as it was at City. I’ve told him to keep a place in his team for me in a year, or seven, when I’m finished here,” De Bruyne said. “If he does do that for me I will already have my next destination lined up; my next job. I will definitely miss him being around City.”

Kompany is a legendary figure at City and in Belgium, but his time in charge of Anderlecht in a player-manager role hasn’t started well.

The Brussels club have lost three of their opening six matches in the league, but they beat top of the table Standard Liege 1-0 before the international break. Kompany has a very young squad to work with and is trying to develop a totally new playing identity, all while he’s still playing as a center back.

Kompany’s pull is clear and Anderlecht will definitely want him around for as long as possible if the likes of De Bruyne want to join his project. Quite how they’d be able to afford KDB wages is another matter altogether, but the fact he wants to do it one day shows how much respect and love he has for Kompany.

The latter was instrumental in De Bruyne joining City, and we all know how well that has worked out for both parties over the past few seasons.

After winning back-to-back Premier League titles together at City, De Bruyne and Kompany seem destined to stay inextricably linked.