Matthijs de Ligt

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Chiellini tears ACL, de Ligt next man up

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Juventus confirmed on Friday that captain and veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini has suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will undergo surgery, leaving his status for the rest of the season in serious doubt.

The injury took place in training earlier in the day, and the club did not give any official timeline for the 35-year-old’s recovery. ACL tears usually take 6-8 months for a full recovery to match fitness, although his advanced age could contribute to a potentially longer recovery time.

Chiellini’s injury is a stunning one, given that the stalwort defender has not missed significant time in his entire 12-year Juventus career. He joined in 2005 from Fiorentina, appearing in 17 games his first season in Turin has he broke into the squad, and he has not looked back, registering at least 21 league appearances in every single season since, although he has tapered off a bit, failing to reach 30 league appearances in any of the last five campaigns.

The 35-year-old started and played the full 90 minutes in Juve’s Serie A season opener last weekend against Parma, starting at center-back alongside fellow veteran Leonardo Bonucci. 20-year-old Matthijs de Ligt, whom Juventus signed this summer for a whopping $97 million, was on the bench and is likely the next man up to take Chiellini’s place, meaning he will play a significant role in his first season with the Italian giants.

While serious injuries such as ACL tears do strike any and all demographic of athlete, Juventus was smart to bring in de Ligt as long-term cover for Chiellini as they rely on both he and the 32-year-old Bonucci in the starting lineup, with older players more at risk for injury. Behind de Ligt, the cover at center-back is extremely thin at Juventus. 21-year-old Merih Demiral made the matchday squad and rode the bench alongside de Ligt for Juve’s season opener, while 25-year-old Daniele Rugani is rumored to be headed out of the club after making just 15 appearances last season, although that could now change after Chiellini’s serious injury.

There could be some growing pains for de Ligt as he is thrust into the spotlight, but the Dutch kid is as experienced as they come for someone so young, having captained Ajax to the Champions League semifinals last season and seeing time with the senior international squad as well, already the owner of 15 international caps.

Shortlist for FIFA’s Best Player of the Year announced

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The 10-man shortlist for FIFA’s Best Player of the Year award has been announced, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Neymar and Luis Suarez missing out.

[ MORE: Coach of Year shortlist ]

Four current Premier League stars feature in the top 10, with Eden Hazard who moved from Chelsea to Real Madrid over the summer also named among the nominees.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane is joined by Liverpool trio Virgil Van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane with VVD the favorite to be crowned the top player on the planet as his dominant displays led Liverpool to UEFA Champions League glory and within one point of Manchester City in the Premier League. Van Dijk also captained the Netherlands to reach the UEFA Nations League final and led their resrurgence from central defense.

Dutch duo Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, who have both left Ajax this summer for Barcelona and Juventus respectively, are included after their breakout years for club and country, while superstars Kylian Mbappe, Cristiano Ronaldo (who has won the award twice in the past three seasons) and Lionel Messi make up the top 10 based on performances for club and country from 16 July 2018 to 19 July 2019.

Who is the favorite to win this award?

Van Dijk is up there, while Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo will be among the leading contenders once again. The winner from last year, Luka Modric, isn’t included in the nominees this year and the absence of any players from Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid (not counting Hazard) proves just how difficult it is to narrow this list down to 10 players.

Below is the list in full, as the winner will be announced on Sept. 23 at FIFA’s ceremony in Milan.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea (now Real Madrid) and Belgium
Harry Kane – Tottenham and England
Frenkie de Jong – Ajax (now Barcelona) and Holland
Matthijs de Ligt – Ajax (now Juventus) and Holland
Sadio Mane – Liverpool and Senegal
Kylian Mbappe – PSG and France
Lionel Messi – Barcelona and Argentina
Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus and Portugal
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool and Egypt
Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool and Holland

Kane scores from midfield to beat Juve

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Harry Kane lobbed Wojciech Szczesny from nearly 50 yards to send Tottenham Hotspur past Juventus early Sunday morning.

Maybe he wanted to embarrass a former North London Derby rival, or perhaps he just wanted to avoid penalties.

The goal was made more remarkable by Kane’s blast radius including two men marking him near the Juve part of the center circle.

[ MORE: Where will Bale go? ]

It was an entertaining International Champions Cup match on Sunday morning, with goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Gianluigi Buffon plenty busy.

Tanguy Ndombele came off the bench to assist and impress for Spurs and Matthijs de Ligt making his Juve debut as a sub.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored for Juve, and the latter probably should’ve won it with a dragged shot in the 83rd minute.

Spurs goals came courtesy of Erik Lamela, who tapped in a rebound of a bullet shot from 17-year-old Ryan Parrott, and Moura.

The Brazilian was fed into the box by a sweet Ndombele pass moments after the new Spurs midfielder subbed into the match.

Here is Ronaldo’s goal.

De Ligt not fazed by price tag after move to Juventus

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If you can’t beat them, buy them. That appears to be Juventus’ philosophy as it continues its quest for the Champions League title.

[ MORE: Pochettino might have left if Spurs won Champions League ]

In 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Real Madrid against Juventus to eliminate the Serie A champion from Europe’s premier club competition. A few months later Juventus signed him.

This year Matthijs de Ligt scored the goal that eliminated Juventus from the Champions League in April as he captained Ajax to the semifinals. On Thursday, Juventus signed the Netherlands defender.

Juventus is an overwhelming favorite to win a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title but it is desperate to end its long wait for European success.

Since Juventus’ last title in 1996, it has finished runner-up five times in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Conte calls Lukaku an “important” part of his plans at Inter ]

“We want to win them all: this is the mentality of Juventus,” said De Ligt at his first news conference as a Juventus player on Friday. “I’m 19, I can still improve and I want to do that. It’s important to work hard every day and to learn, and I hope to become a better player.”

De Ligt became the most expensive defender in Serie A history when he completed an $85-million transfer from Ajax.

But the teen is not fazed at the price tag.

“Of course, when a club buys you for a big amount of money, there’s a lot of pressure, but pressure is normal in football,” De Ligt said. “I think pressure is the most important thing and if you want to be a good player, you have to deal with it.

“It’s not a big deal for me. I’ll just play my game, work hard and show it on the pitch. In the end, everyone will see how I deal with it, but it’s not going to be a problem.”

[ MORE: Report: Barcelona logs bid for Neymar ]

A photo emerged during the week of De Ligt wearing a Juventus shirt as a child and he admitted he grew up idolizing Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro, who captained Italy to World Cup success in 2006.

“The photo of me in a Juventus shirt was taken when I was about six or seven, at that time Fabio Cannavaro was a defender that I admired,” he said. “I always had a good feeling about Juventus and I’ve always been a fan.”

Another reason De Ligt chose Juventus was because of new coach Maurizio Sarri, who replaced Massimiliano Allegri at the end of the season.

“I spoke to Sarri on the phone before coming, just to get to know each other,” De Ligt said. “He was one of the reasons that I wanted to join here, I’ve heard a lot of good things about him and I like his footballing philosophy and how he prepares his defense.”

De Ligt signs on with Juventus

Matthijs de Ligt
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Matthijs de Ligt is finally, officially, irredeemably property of Juventus.

The well-tracked 19-year-old Ajax center back has signed a four-year deal with the serial Serie A champions after months of speculation.

[ MORE: Atleti signs Trippier ]

De Ligt was connected with almost all of the big boys this summer, but momentum swung in Juventus’ favor around June 22.

The 6-foot-2 Dutch center back chipped in seven goals in 55 appearances last season, scoring against both Juve and Spurs in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League.

Now in Turin, De Ligt can focus on helping Maurizio Sarri‘s men deliver a UEFA Champions League title since scudetti have become common place for the Old Lady.

Ajax reportedly pockets a cool $84 million for its academy star.

Juventus is loaded for 2019-20, and will bid to win its first UCL crown since 1996. It has lost the final five times since that triumph over Ajax.