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USWNT’s Rapinoe wins 2019 Women’s Ballon d’Or

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Megan Rapinoe topped off an iconic calendar year with France Football’s biggest prize, the Women’s Ballon d’Or award.

Rapinoe scored six goals to go with three assists as she led the U.S. Women’s National Team to another FIFA Women’s World Cup title. She scored the decisive goals against France in the quarterfinals and the Netherlands in the final, but it was her place as the heart and soul of the USWNT that led her and the national team to win. The 34-year-old absorbed all the pressure on her and her team and still produced on both sides of the ball.

Rapinoe had nine goals and seven assists across the calendar year for the USWNT. In addition to winning the World Cup, she won the Golden Ball and the FIFA award for the best women’s soccer player of the year. She’s also in the running and is now surely the front runner for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

England right back Lucy Bronze and Rapinoe’s USWNT teammate Alex Morgan finished in second and third place, respectively.

Ballon d’Or shortlisters revealed: Alexis, Pogba, Bale left off

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France Football has released the names on its 30-man shortlist for the 2017 Ballon D’Or.

[ MORE: Yedlin fills USMNT void ]

The list includes seven Premier League players, one each from Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Liverpool.

Before we get to who is on the list, how about who isn’t? Gareth Bale of Real Madrid and Wales is absent, as is Bayern Munich backstop Manuel Neuer and Premier League stars Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, and Hugo Lloris.

Remember: the list takes into account play with both club and country.

Here’s the entire list. Who is the most notable omission?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund/Gabon)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/France)
Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan/Italy)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus/Italy)
Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain/Uruguay)
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool/Brazil)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/Belgium)
David De Gea (Manchester United/Spain)
Paulo Dybala (Juventus/Argentina)
Edin Dzeko (Roma/Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Radamel Falcao (Monaco/Colombia)
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/France)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Belgium)
Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich/Germany)
Isco (Real Madrid/Spain)
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur/England)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea/France)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid/Germany)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)
Sadio Mane (Liverpool/Senegal)
Marcelo (Real Madrid/Brazil)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain/France)
Dries Mertens (Napoli/Belgium)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil)
Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid/Slovenia)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid/Spain)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Portugal)
Luis Suarez (Barcelona/Uruguay)

1st female president for French football league

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PARIS (AP) Nathalie Boy de la Tour has become the first female president of the French football league.

The LFP general assembly elected her on Friday and also chose a new administrative council on a four-year mandate.

The 48-year-old Frenchwoman has been a member of that council since July 2013 – the first woman to hold that role.

[ MORE: USMNT-Mexico preview ]

Boy de la Tour says her first task is to bring “trust and cohesion” back to the French leagues, after disputes between presidents of clubs in the first and second divisions.

She says “we will all work together toward this.”

Former France coach Raymond Domenech – who guided France to the 2006 World Cup final – had his bid put forward by the administrative council but was rejected by the general assembly.

Loic Remy wants Champions League club, says rape allegations kept him from bigger club than Newcastle

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Newcastle United striker Loic Remy has had a pretty strong season at Newcastle United, where he’s scored 13 times in 24 appearances on loan from Queens Park Rangers.

Remy spurned NUFC for QPR last season, but is grateful to have the opportunity to play at St. James Park this year. He spoke to France Football in a wide-ranging interview that dealt with his ambitions for the future as well as the rape charges he was cleared of in February.

The 27-year-old player believes the allegations cost him the chance to go on to a bigger club.

“That case cooled down a lot of clubs and I was lucky to come to Newcastle, a very great club that I thank.

“They supported me a lot in that case. Two days after the final decision coach Alan Pardew told me: ‘You have made a very good start to the season, but now I can feel you flying!'”

Remy’s future with the Magpies has been speculated at-length thanks to a reported $12 million release clause in his contract and the departure of Yohan Cabaye to PSG. The loss of both over the course of six months would be a massive blow to an already-staggered Newcastle squad that has begun to rediscover its way.

He spoke of his ambition to play for France in the World Cup this summer, and also to be a part of a big club. The timetable was vague, but it may be imperative for Newcastle to make a late-season run if they hope to secure his signature at all (Remy’s been rumored to be heading to Arsenal amongst other places).

“One day I will be part of a European top-five club or a very big club. I know what I can do,” he said.

“I can still be much better, I have a huge margin to go on improving.”

Meanwhile, Northeast England paper The Chronicle has pointed comments from Remy toward his accuser.

Remy said he was terrified to be awakened one morning to police coming to arrest him after a woman claimed he and two friends lured her to an apartment and gang assaulted her.

Thiago Silva reiterates his commitment to Paris Saint-Germain

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It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about Thiago Silva’s Barcelona fixation and the problems that presented for Paris Saint-Germain. The subtext of those thoughts: If you have a player that doesn’t want to be there any more, you’re probably best to move him on, especially when you have somebody like Mamadou Sahko in reserve. Those thoughts, however, spoke from the hypothetical fantasy world embrace when analyzing the implications of transfer rumors.

We can speak in the real world when we have something more tangible: an actual move; a confirmation; or a denial. And today, through a statement released by his representatives, Silva rebutted the notion that he’s entertaining a move to Spain. Via France Football, who picked up Silva’s comments from GloboEsporte in Brazil, Silva said reports he would soon meet with PSG’s president and head coach to discuss a transfer were false, claiming he intended to honor a contract that runs through 2017.

The degree to which Silva means what he says can always been questioned, but at a minimum, this should put a stop to most of the transfer talk. Is he a future Barcelona player, possibly as early as next summer? Who knows. This is soccer, after all. But if Silva did want to force a move to Barcelona this summer, there’s little to be gained by publicly declaring his allegiance to PSG.

The bigger implication from Silva’s comments concerns Barcelona, who are still looking for depth in central defense. Silva was reportedly number one on their list, and assuming they’ll need to move on, Roma’s young Brazilian Marquinhos now seems like their number one target.

With the transfer market starting to light up and almost every club having begun their preseason festivities, it’s becoming time to act. Not only are we seeing foot-dragging cost teams their targets, but we’re seeing others (like Silva) take themselves off the market entirely. The longer this goes, the more scarce the top talents become, and the more likely teams are to miss out on players they want.

If you’re a team that’s willing to pay ridiculously over retail (Torres to Chelsea) or want to look for value in the margin bin (Arteta to Arsenal), go ahead and wait until the deadline. But if you want to both control your own destiny and not spend more money than necessary, stop procrastinating.