Tag Archives: lionel

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Cristiano Ronaldo meets Diego Maradona after Real Madrid v Barcelona

Watch out United! Madrid star Ronaldo picks up some tips from Maradona ahead of Champions League clash

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

13:28 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:14 GMT, 3 March 2013


Big guns: Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona

Big guns: Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona

Two of the world's finest players met as Real Madrid beat Barcelona in Saturday's Clasico.

Cristiano Ronaldo was one, of course, but his rival Lionel Messi was not the other. No, it was a different Argentina legend – Diego Maradona.

Perhaps Maradona was giving Ronaldo some advice ahead of Madrid's Champions League clash against Manchester United on Tuesday.

He might need it, after Gary Pallister claimed Ronaldo could choke on his return to Old Trafford.

The Portuguese forward left Manchester United for Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, becoming the most expensive player in football history at 80million.

The teams go in to the second leg of their Champions League last 16 clash poised at 1-1.

Ronaldo, who posted the picture of
himself with Maradona on Twitter, scored a brilliant header for
Jose Mourinho's side in the first leg.

He came on as a second-half substitute for Kaka in the Clasico as Mourinho opted to give him a rest.

‘It will be interesting to see how
Cristiano handles it because it’s always a bit weird going back to an
old club,' Pallister told The Daily Star Sunday.

‘I remember when I went back to Middlesbrough for the first time in a United shirt, just how weird it all felt.

‘The occasion could get to Ronaldo. Let’s hope it does.’

Watching on: Maradona at the Bernabeu with girlfriend Rocio Geraldine Oliva

Watching on: Maradona at the Bernabeu with girlfriend Rocio Geraldine Oliva

Watching on: Maradona at the Bernabeu with girlfriend Rocio Geraldine Oliva

Hope: Gary Pallister (left) says Ronaldo could choke

Hope: Gary Pallister (left) says Ronaldo could choke

After beating Barcelona for the second
time in a week courtesy of their 2-1 on Saturday, Real will fly to England and prepare for the
game at the home of United's rivals, Manchester City.

Mourinho opted for the Etihad Stadium ahead of Old Trafford, perhaps out of fear of being spied on.

He also does not want to use the Old Trafford pitch because it is in bad shape and he does not want to make it worse for the game against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

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Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and Mario Balotelli targeted by fans with laser pens

Old rivals lock horns in El Clasico and Milan derby, but fans target stars with laser pens

By
Lee Bryan

PUBLISHED:

13:23 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:23 GMT, 3 March 2013

El Clasico and the Milan derby are two of the most eagerly-awaited matches in world football.

The world watched as Real Madrid and Barcelona locked horns twice in a week while Internazionale hosted their arch-rivals AC Milan last Sunday in a Serie A clash.

Sadly, both matches saw fans target opposing players with laser pens.

Mario Balotelli

Heated: Balotelli was allegedly targeted by racists in the crowd

Enemy: Mario Balotelli was targeted by laser pens and he allegedly suffered racist abuse in the Milan derby

Heated: Balotelli was allegedly targeted by racists in the crowd

Heated: Balotelli was allegedly targeted by racists in the crowd

In the Milan derby, Mario Balotelli was also subjected to racial abuse by the Inter fans in a fiery 1-1 draw.

That was followed on Tuesday night by Barcelona fans targeting Real Madrid duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho with lasers during their Copa del Rey semi-final.

Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo

Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo

Boss: Real manager Jose Mourinho

Boss: Real manager Jose Mourinho

Target: Ronaldo had just scored the first goal in a 3-1 win at the Nou Camp

Target: Ronaldo had just scored the first goal in a 3-1 win at the Nou Camp

Ronaldo was targeted while celebrating the first goal at the Nou Camp as Real ran out 3-1 winners to book their place in the final against city rivals Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid’s fans got their ‘revenge’ on Saturday, though, as they shined their lasers at Lionel Messi at the Bernabeu.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Illuminated: Lionel Messi has a laser shined in his eyes at the Bernabeu

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AC Milan 2 Barcelona 0: Kevin Prince Boateng scores the winner

AC Milan 2 Barcelona 0: Forza Pompey! Former Premier League stars Boateng and Muntari strike with Messi off the pace

PUBLISHED:

21:36 GMT, 20 February 2013

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UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 20 February 2013

AC Milan took a surprise first-leg lead in their Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona.

While Barca top the Primera Division by 12 points, Milan lie third in Serie A – but Kevin-Prince Boateng's controversial opening goal set the Italians on their way at the San Siro.

And Sulley Muntari's superb second put Massimiliano Allegri's side firmly in the driving seat ahead of March 12's return leg at the Nou Camp.

Here we go: Kevin-Prince Boateng, (left) celebrates after opening the scoring

Here we go: Kevin-Prince Boateng, (left) celebrates after opening the scoring

Double trouble: Sulley Muntari celebrates after firing home the second goal

Double trouble: Sulley Muntari celebrates after firing home the second goal

Muntari flashed an early shot over the bar from long range for Milan.

Philippe Mexes made a vital cleaance
at the other end to prevent Jordi Alba's cross reaching Pedro Rodriguez
and though the same defender then handled Dani Alves' delivery, Pedro
had already been flagged offside.

Stephane El Shaarawy's poor touch saw a
good chance slip away but resulted in a corner, taken by the prolific
young striker, from which Boateng shot just wide.

Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati
held Xavi's well-struck 30-yard drive and El Shaarawy tracked superbly
to the left-back position to break up another Barca attack.

Appeal: Barcelona wanted a free-kick for handball in the build up but Boateng did not care

Appeal: Barcelona wanted a free-kick for handball in the build up but Boateng did not care

Takeaway: Muntari's goal means Milan have a 2-0 lead to bring to the Nou Camp

Takeaway: Muntari's goal means Milan have a 2-0 lead to bring to the Nou Camp

Mexes collected the first yellow card
for tripping Lionel Messi and as Barca pressed, Riccardo Montolivo
prevented Pedro's backheel reaching Cesc Fabregas.

Boateng's cross eluded a sliding El Shaarawy before a goalless half petered out somewhat.

Sergio Busquets was booked early in
the second period after fouling Giampaolo Pazzini, moments before the
controversial opening goal.

Montolivo's shot took two deflections,
the second off the raised arm of Cristian Zapata, before Boateng fired
low past Victor Valdes. Gerard Pique was booked for protesting to
Scottish referee Craig Thomson.

Off the pace: Lionel Messi struggled to make any impact

Off the pace: Lionel Messi struggled to make any impact

Patched up: Carles Puyol was erratic as Barcelona struggled

Patched up: Carles Puyol was erratic as Barcelona struggled

Messi blazed an uncharacteristically
wayward free-kick high into the stand before Andres Iniesta almost
charged down Abbiati's clearance in the six-yard box.

Valdes saved Pazzini's acrobatic
volley but at the other end, Iniesta fizzed a drive a foot or so wide
and Xavi curled a free-kick just over.

Head to head: Cesc Fabregas, is fouled by Boateng

Head to head: Cesc Fabregas, is fouled by Boateng

Ecstasy: Boateng celebrates after firing past Victor Valdes and in to the corner

Ecstasy: Boateng celebrates after firing past Victor Valdes and in to the corner

Rolling around: Messi (left) and Daniel Alves (right) lie on the pitch

Rolling around: Messi (left) and Daniel Alves (right) lie on the pitch

But it was Milan who found a second
goal with nine minutes remaining as substitute M'Baye Niang and El
Shaarawy combined to set up Muntari, who gave their beautiful approach
play the classy finish it deserved.

Carles Puyol, sporting a huge sticking
plaster on his forehead after a clash with Pazzini, headed Xavi's
corner wide as Barca sought an important away goal.

But it was in vain, with Milan in fact
having the best chance during five minutes of stoppage time as late
substitute Bakaye Traore wasted a three-on-two break.

Rough and tumble: The best player in the world could not help his side as they stumbled to a 2-0 defeat

Rough and tumble: The best player in the world could not help his side as they stumbled to a 2-0 defeat

That'll do: AC Milan's coach Massimiliano Allegri looks on as his team put on a show

That'll do: AC Milan's coach Massimiliano Allegri looks on as his team put on a show

Fun night: Mario Balotelli smiles, next to his girlfriend, model Fanny Robert Neguesha

Fun night: Mario Balotelli smiles, next to his girlfriend, model Fanny Robert Neguesha

Balotelli with his model girlfriend

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Cristiano Ronaldo has massive birthday cake

Still a cut above: Ronaldo handed massive cake to celebrate his 28th birthday with Portugal pals

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

20:21 GMT, 6 February 2013

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UPDATED:

07:53 GMT, 7 February 2013

If Cristiano Ronaldo wants to overtake Lionel Messi as the world's best player, he better not eat all of this cake.

Ronaldo turned 28 on Tuesday and was given a huge treat to enjoy ahead of Portugal's clash with Ecuador.

With everyone in the room looking at Ronaldo and the cake, he'd have needed to be a brave man to refuse to share it with his compatriots.

Birthday boy: Ronaldo with his cake, decked out in Portugal colours

Birthday boy: Ronaldo with his cake, decked out in Portugal colours

Om nom nom: Ronaldo

Om nom nom: Ronaldo

Cut the cake: Ronaldo starts slicing the magnificent creation before him

Pretty good, but not quite the finest…

Ronaldo may be a global megastar and nobody outside of England may have heard of Southampton midfielder Richard Chaplow,

But Chaplow, who also turned 28 last week, had an even more delicious looking birthday cake.
Best not tell Ronny!

Richard Chaplow's delicious looking cake

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Barcelona lose to Real Sociedad after Gerard Pique red card

Barcelona stunned as Liga leaders unbeaten record unravels in Sociedad after Pique sees red

By
William Griffiths

PUBLISHED:

23:50 GMT, 19 January 2013

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UPDATED:

01:17 GMT, 20 January 2013

Real Sociedad hit back from two goals down to end Barcelona's unbeaten Primera Division record in stunning fashion at the Anoeta this evening.

All looked to be going to plan for Tito Vilanova's visitors when Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez put them 2-0 up within 25 minutes.

Not used to this: Barcelona kick-off during their 3-2 defeat to Real Sociedad

Not used to this: Barcelona kick-off during their 3-2 defeat to Real Sociedad

No you don't: Sociedad's goalkeeper takes the ball away from Lionel Messi

No you don't: Sociedad's goalkeeper takes the ball away from Lionel Messi

Get off the pitch: Gerard Pique (background) was dismissed by the referee

Get off the pitch: Gerard Pique (background) was dismissed by the referee

But Gonzalo Castro's brilliant strike gave Sociedad hope before half-time and then, after Barca had lost centre-back Gerard Pique to a red card, Castro's curling effort was deflected into his own net by Barca substitute Javier Mascherano.

That sent the home fans wild, but it got even better in stoppage time when Imanol Agirretxe poked Carlos Martinez's cross from the right past Victor Valdes to clinch a dramatic 3-2 win.

Best in the world Sociedad didn't care about Messi's reputation as they turned over the favourites

Best in the world Sociedad didn't care about Messi's reputation as they turned over the favourites

It started off so well: Barcelona went 2-0 up with goals from Messi and Pedro

It started off so well: Barcelona went 2-0 up with goals from Messi and Pedro

Barca had headed to San Sebastian having dropped only two points in La Liga this season – in October's 2-2 Clasico draw with Real Madrid at the Nou Camp.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid could move within eight points of the leaders if they beat Levante on Sunday, while third-spotted champions Real Madrid can get within 15 points if they overcome Valencia at the Mestalla.

Eyes on the ball: Tito Vilanova could do nothing as his side lost their unbeaten record

Eyes on the ball: Tito Vilanova could do nothing as his side lost their unbeaten record

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Sandro Rosell slams Manchester City for trying to lure Barcelona staff

Barca warning for Man City over luring stars: They want to fish here but there are no fish left!

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

11:42 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

11:47 GMT, 15 January 2013

Offended: Sandro Rosell slammed Manchester City

Offended: Sandro Rosell slammed Manchester City

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has claimed Manchester City have tried to lure a number of people to the Etihad Stadium from the Nou Camp.

Rosell says the Barclays Premier League champions have not only tried to sign players from all levels of the club's structure, but also other employees of the Catalan giants.

Former Barcelona directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain are now at City as chief executive and director of football respectively.

Rosell, speaking to RAC1 and quoted
in Marca, said: 'There have been some offensive approaches from City, at
all levels of the structure of the club, but no one wants to go.

'They wanted to fish here, but there
were no fish left. We're talking about people at all levels of the Barca
structure, not just players. Their attempts have been unsuccessful,
though, as our employees are happy here.

Star of the show: Lionel Messi is Barca's prized asset

Star of the show: Lionel Messi is Barca's prized asset

City slickers: Txiki Begiristain (left) and Ferran Soriano left Barca for the Etihad

City slickers: Txiki Begiristain (left) and Ferran Soriano left Barca for the Etihad

'There have been contacts, but we have a fantastic group of people and nobody wants to go.'

He added: 'I had hoped that he (Begiristain) would not use the information he gathered about Barcelona during his time here to help another club become bigger, but he seems to disagree with me.

'I would like it if the relationship between both clubs was a bit better and more transparent.'

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Joe Hart – The Footballers" Football Column: I"d have Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in my all-Premier League team

JOE HART: We go into every game thinking a draw is not a good enough result for us… And I'd have both RVP and Rooney up front in my all-Premier League team

PUBLISHED:

10:54 GMT, 14 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:06 GMT, 14 January 2013

Joe Hart

The latest columnist in MailOnline's exclusive Footballers' Football Column series is Joe Hart, arguably the finest goalkeeper in the Barclays Premier League, England's No 1 and a champion last season with Manchester City. Fresh from yesterday's 2-0 triumph at the Emirates – City's first league win at Arsenal for 37 years – Hart lifts the lid on life on the Carrington training ground, his goalkeeping rivals and Lionel Messi's dress sense.

Hart, an ambassador for head&shoulders, at 25 has made almost 250 senior appearances, 146 of them at City. Watch the video, then enjoy his column…

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With Roberto Mancini we all know where we stand and that's how we work. He sets the team and it's up to us. He's played me so I can't ask for anything more from a manager so I try to repay that faith by playing as well as possible and training hard.

He's got his methods and we do our best to adapt to them but it's up to us, basically, when we go on the field.

It's different for me in training because I disappear and for 80 per cent of the training I'm nowhere near him. But he's got his ways, we try to adapt to them and hopefully that works.

Thanks for coming: Joe Hart (centre) joins team-mates Matija Nastasic (left) and Joleon Lescott applauding City fans, who paid 62 each, for travelling down from Manchester

Thanks for coming: Joe Hart (centre) joins team-mates Matija Nastasic (left) and Joleon Lescott applauding City fans, who paid 62 each, for travelling to London yesterday

Training aid: Hart uses a crash mat to cushion his dives last week. As a goalkeeper he trains away from the rest of the squad for 80 per cent of the time

Training aid: Hart uses a crash mat to cushion his dives last week. As a goalkeeper he trains away from the rest of the squad for 80 per cent of the time

We know where we stand with Roberto: Man City boss Mancini gives James Milner and Co specific instructions during training last Friday

We know where we stand with Roberto: Man City boss Mancini gives James Milner and Co specific instructions during training last Friday

We go into every game thinking that a draw is not a good result for us. That's our mindset, that's how we feel and that's how we line up, player to player.

We don't go into any match fearing anyone. I can't see us losing to anyone but we will lose and we will draw, that's football but our attitude is not like that.

Roberto has brought in players with that mindset already instilled into them and I think every single player has got that attitude in our place – that it's win or die. It's the only way you're going to win things.

Manchester United have that refusal to accept to defeat and have been great about it over the years and it's certainly something everybody wants. But I feel we have that at our place, we feel strong and I do feel like we're not going to lose. Sometimes you do, of course, but we come back late sometimes and sometimes we wrap it up early.

The Champions League has been tough for us but we're playing against champions. We've just not been great. It sounds horrible to say it and some of the games we've done all right but our below par performances have unfortunately been in the Champions League.

Against some teams in the domestic league you might get away with it but in that competition you don't.

The first result is key for us. We had a bad one in Madrid and drew 1-1 the year before at home but it depends how your group goes. You could qualify with seven points or you might not and it's difficult.

Top of the stops: Real Madrid's goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas in action against Celta Vigo last week

Top of the stops: Real Madrid's goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas in action against Celta Vigo last week

Joe Hart

Joe Hart is an ambassador for head&shoulders

Well, the World XI It is what it is. I
think everyone's got their opinion and if the captains all voted for
those players then it's probably deserved. I didn't look at the team too
closely but most of the names on there speak for themselves. I never
thought I'd be involved in something like that but to come close to
getting in there is great for myself. But I think Iker
Casillas deserves it. He's been amazing for so many years so there are no
questions about that one.

But there are a lot of players I'd like
to see on there. Some that I'm friends with, some that I see a lot and
some that I play with, but it's only opinions so as long as you're
playing well for your team then you're happy.

For my Premier League XI, I purposely won't pick any City players
because it's not fair to pick them because their my team-mates. Keeper
wise, on this year alone, it would be either Petr Cech, Simon Mignolet
or Asmir Begovic.

Wayne Rooney of Manchester United

Robin van Persie of Manchester United

Prize picks: Hart, who excluded all City players from his thinking, would have United duo Wayne Rooney (in training last week, left) and Robin van Persie in his Premier League All-stars team

Simon Mignolet

Asmir Begovic

No 1s: Sunderland's Simon Mignolet (left) and Stoke's Asmir Begovic (right) are both highly rated by Hart

HART'S PREMIER LEAGUE XI

(4-4-2)* Cech, Mignolet or Begovic; Johnson, Jagielka, Shawcross, Cole; Lennon, Cazorla, Mata, Bale; Rooney, Van Persie.

* Hart excluded his Man City team-mates from his considerations due to fairness

In defence I'd have Phil Jagielka and
Ryan Shawcross in the middle and Ashley Cole at left back with Leighton
Baines a very close second. And at right back I'd have Glen Johnson.

In the middle I'd have Santi Cazorla
and, I know he doesn't really play there, but I'd have Juan Mata. On the
wings I think Aaron Lennon has done really well this year and then
obviously Gareth Bale would be on the other side.

Up front it'd have to be Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Save of the century: Sportsmail's simulation shows Hart keeping out a penalty from Lionel Messi

Save of the century: Sportsmail's simulation shows Hart keeping out a penalty from Lionel Messi

I said your Football Manager simulation would throw up a 5-0 win for the Premier League XI,
so it's sad to see us lose 2-0. But if I saved a penalty against Messi
then it must be real! But if I did have to face him for a penalty, I'd
definitely dive the way the ball went.

I missed the Ballon d'Or awards but because it doesn't have much to do with the Premier League it's hard to take an interest.
I just waited to see the news. I did hear about Messi's jacket but he
can do whatever he wants and nobody could say anything to him. He could
turn up naked if he wanted.

I've had a few fashion faux pas though. We
had a fancy dress do for our Christmas party and I was quite dotty. I
think I had an orange outfit with blue dots all over it, it was a good
look.

Silver fox: City boss Mancini (in the hat) says goodbye after enjoying lunch with his friend Robbie Savage (right) in Alderley Edge, Cheshire earlier this month

Silver fox: City boss Mancini (in the hat) says goodbye after enjoying lunch with his friend Robbie Savage (right) in Alderley Edge, Cheshire earlier this month. The pair became close when playing at Leicester City together

 Lionel Messi

MANCHESTER CITY FOOTBALLER JOE HART IN FANCY DRESS

Spot of bother: Hart reckons that if anyone can pull off the polka-dot look, it's the world's finest footballer Lionel Messi (left), but Joe's own dotty effort left a little more to be desired

In our changing room Pablo Zabaleta
is a pretty bad dresser, mainly because everything he has is free. He
will turn up in anything that anyone will give him. Anything with two
arms and two legs will do him.

Mancini's got quite a bit of style about him too for the older guy I suppose. He likes to think he's a bit of a silver fox.

With Casillas at Real Madrid, I don't know what's going on and I wouldn't even want to get involved. It seems like it's got a few twists and turns that I wouldn't have a clue about. But he's an amazing keeper and I've played against him a few times now and of course I look up to him. There's a few keepers I look up to and he's definitely one of them.

In the Premier League, too, we've got a lot of brilliant goalkeepers. There's not a team in the league where I think they've got a weak point in goalkeeping.

There's so many good young goalkeepers and I think some of them get overlooked because of the ones that stand out, your Buffons, your Casillases, your Neuers. They deserve the praise they get and I think they're awesome goalkeepers. I've played against each of them and they seem like really good people as well, which is even more interesting for me personally because you always want to meet your heroes.

There's the likes of Mignolet coming through and Asmir Begovic is the same age as me so I hope he's still classed as a young talent. There's Tim Krul, there's the Chelsea keeper Thibaud Courtois on loan at Atletico Madrid, there's Fraser Forster, there's Jack Butland, John Ruddy, I could go on and on.

Hart stopper: the Manchester City and England No 1 at a dark Etihad Stadium

Hart stopper: the Manchester City and England No 1 at a dark Etihad Stadium

More from The Footballers' Column…

The Footballers' Football Column – Kevin Nolan: Sometimes I wish I was Ryan Giggs… But if I scored with my elbow to knock United out of the cup, there's no way I'd tell the referee
11/01/13

FRANK McPARLAND: What does it take to be a Liverpool player Personality… We had one German lad who said: 'I've had a look at my wage slip and I want to opt out of this tax thing!'
08/01/13

CAROLYN RADFORD: Suarez a cheat I'd like to think one of my players would own up but football's not like that… And the secret to a swinging Mansfield party: Elvis and Bob Marley (of course)
07/01/13

THE FOOTBALLERS' FOOTBALL COLUMN – KEVIN BETSY: Why my boss Hill is the non-league Harry Redknapp… And these lads are hot – the best lower league talent available this transfer window
04/01/13

THE FOOTBALLERS' FOOTBALL COLUMN – MARTIN ALLEN: I can't believe people pay 70 for Premier League football, it's like watching chess… Diving I did it all the time, 'course I did
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THE FOOTBALLERS' FOOTBALL COLUMN – EDGAR DAVIDS: Players are predators that's why Benitez may struggle at Chelsea… And sometimes the best players are not the most talented – just look at Roy Keane
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Going out on loan really helped me develop as a player but I wouldn't like to tell people what to do because you look at people like Steven Gerrard who have spent their life at one club.

It works for some people and it's what i needed to do because i wasn't going to play where I was so I had to go on loan otherwise I would have just been sat around so it was good for me.

I think there's still plenty of life left in the cups. The League Cup has really kicked on another level and I think it's really good. It's a good way to get some silverware for your club and teams have started to play stronger sides more and more – it's really good to watch.

I missed Luis Suarez's handball last week. We've had a couple of days off and I've been away from everything so I haven't seen it but i heard about it, though it didn't sound too great. But the refs are there to do a job. It's their job to see things like that so you play to the whistle, you're always told that.

You go to any Sunday league side and at the age of eight they're told to play to the whistle and I don't think that changes in the Premier League.

Crazy stuff happens in football. You look at when Paolo Di Canio caught the ball but I don't think anyone would have gone mad if he'd smashed it in the goal because at the end of the day it's a business and you need to win.

I'm not into any of the social network sites. I've got a phone and that's it. It's a big part of the world at the minute and it's interesting to read about but some of the stuff is pathetic and ridiculous.

I think everyone appreciates that. It makes the news and everyone reads it but nobody actually really cares. There's obviously some more serious issues but if it's officially you on one of those sites then you've got to be responsible for your actions.

Joe Hart head&shoulders

Joe Hart is the
ambassador for new head&shoulders Itchy Scalp Care shampoo, giving you an
instant save from an itchy scalp and leaving your leave hair 100% flake free

Image article-2260190-16D6A00C000005DC-371_634x404.jpg

Michu bargain of the century? Football"s best ever buys

Is Michu the bargain of the century Sportsmail gives its verdict on the players to rival him for the title

PUBLISHED:

14:57 GMT, 10 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 10 January 2013

His manager Michael Laudrup called him the ‘bargain of the season’ but Gary Lineker has hailed Swansea star Michu as the ‘bargain of the century’.

The Spaniard has been the surprise star of the Premier League since his 2.2million move from Rayo Vallecano.

Bargain buy: Michu has had a big impact for Swansea this season following his 2.2m summer move

Bargain buy: Michu has had a big impact for Swansea this season following his 2.2m summer move

MICHU'S GOAL CELEBRATION

Michu’s goal celebration, in which he ‘turns up the volume’ next to his ear, has been the talk of Swansea since he moved to Wales in the summer. He first did the action to Granada fans to let them know he couldn’t hear them after he scored for Celta Vigo. Cheeky.

He scored 15 goals for the Spanish strugglers from midfield last season, helping them survive on the last day of the season.

This season he has already scored 13 for Swansea in the Premier League — does it make him the bargain of the century

We asked our team of writers to pick their best bargain of this century. Who is your pick Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Finding the net: Michu scored the opening goal in Swansea's Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea

Finding the net: Michu scored the opening goal in Swansea's Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea

MATT BARLOW
Robin van Persie (Feyenoord to Arsenal, 2.75m, 2004)

Arsenal got him for 2.75million. Once he got over his injuries and attitude problems he proved to be genuine world-class talent. Sold for nearly 10 times as much and still getting better.

Doing the business: Robin van Persie signed for Arsenal from Feyenoord

Doing the business: Robin van Persie signed for Arsenal from Feyenoord

ALEX KAY
Lionel Messi (Newell's Old Boys to Barcelona, Free, 2000)

The best player in the world… for almost nothing. So impressed were Barcelona with a young Lionel Messi they offered him a contract on a paper napkin and offered to pay for the boy’s medical bills if he moved from Argentina. The 11-year-old had been diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Luckily for Barca, he turned out all right.

Simply the best: Lionel Messi joined Barcelona for free as a teenager

Simply the best: Lionel Messi joined Barcelona for free as a teenager

SAMI MOKBEL
Edwin van der Sar (Fulham to Manchester United, 2m, 2005)

Sir Alex Ferguson fired plenty of blanks in his attempts to replace Peter Schmeichel. Massimo Taibi and Mark Bosnich, for instance, just could not cut the mustard. Enter Van der Sar. A colossus for United in his six years at Old Trafford.

Safe hands: Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United late in his career but had a big impact at Old Trafford

Safe hands: Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United late in his career but had a big impact at Old Trafford

JOHN EDWARDS
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 12.2m, 2003)

It’s probably fair to describe Sir Alex Ferguson’s transfer dealings that summer as varied, until he struck gold with Ronaldo. Up to then, he had recruited David Bellion, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Tim Howard and Kleberson. Howard apart, it was hardly an array of new talent destined to take the Barclays Premier League by storm. Ronaldo, on the other hand, drew comparisons with some of the all-time greats to don a United shirt and had completed a clean sweep of club and individual honours by the time he joined Real Madrid for 80million on July 1, 2009. If we are analysing value, a profit of 68m surely takes some beating.

Making his mark: Cristiano Ronaldo would become the best player in the Premier League

Making his mark: Cristiano Ronaldo would become the best player in the Premier League

SAM CUNNINGHAM
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, 12.2m, 2003)

Six seasons at the club returned three consecutive league titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups, one Community Shield, a Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. So that cost them roughly 2m per season, or 1.4m per trophy. Then they made 68m profit on him. Bargain.

LAURIE WHITWELL
Javier Hernandez (Guadalajara to Manchester United, 7m, 2010)

A relative unknown when Sir Alex Ferguson signed him before the 2010 World Cup. A handful of sparkling displays in South Africa later and 7m already looked a snip. Hernandez stormed the Premier League in his debut season, scoring 20 goals in all competitions as United won the title and made the Champions League final. His place came under threat last term but he has come again, netting 12 times this season despite the arrival of Robin van Persie meaning limited game time. A firebox character and a joy to watch. United can depend on him from the start or from the bench.

Super sub: Javier Hernandez hit the ground running following his move to Manchester United

Super sub: Javier Hernandez hit the ground running following his move to Manchester United

JAMES ANDREW
Louis Saha (Metz to Fulham, 2.1m, 2000)

When Jean Tigana arrived at Fulham in 2000 one of the first things he did was sell Geoff Horsfield to Birmingham for 2.25m and then bought Saha for 2.1m. It proved to be a masterstroke as the Frenchman went on to score 27 goals in Division One (now the Championship) and fire Fulham into the Premier League. While his years in the top flight were blighted by injury he rediscovered his goalscoring touch again in 2003-04 when he netted 15 goals in 22 games before a 12.4m move to Manchester United. A 10m profit and Premier League football is not a bad deal.

Saha so good: Louis Saha helped gain Fulham promotion to the Premier League in 2001

Saha so good: Louis Saha helped gain Fulham promotion to the Premier League in 2001

MIKE ANSTEAD

Vincent Kompany (Hamburg to Man City, 6m, 2008)

In among all Manchester City's eye-watering signings, there is Vincent Kompany. An exceptional defender, a leader on and off the pitch and an all-round good guy. Oh, and he became the first City captain to lift the league trophy in 44 years. Not bad for 6million…

Flying start: Vincent Kompany takes on the FC Copenhagen defence in a 2009 UEFA Cup tie

Flying start: Vincent Kompany takes on the FC Copenhagen defence in a 2009 UEFA Cup tie

MARK ALFORD
Gareth Bale (Southampton to Tottenham, 7m, 2007)

Shrewd business by Tottenham – no not selling Berbatov to United for 30milllion – but buying Gareth Bale for an initial 5m fee from Southampton in 2007. That figure was set to rise to 10m depending on honours and appearances but Spurs struck another shrewd deal with the Saints, agreeing an early settlement so the total bill was 7m. The Welsh wizard is coveted by the world’s finest football clubs now and it’ll take 50m to prise him away from White Hart Lane. Kerrching.

Spur of the moment: A youthful Gareth Bale scoring for Tottenham against Middlesbrough

Spur of the moment: A youthful Gareth Bale scoring for Tottenham against Middlesbrough

PHIL GRADWELL
Jay Jay Okocha (PSG to Bolton, free, 2002)

So good they named him twice – and he didn’t cost a penny. Okocha’s brilliance kept Bolton in the Premier League in 2003 and he scored a stupendous free-kick to help them to the Carling Cup final in 2004. Was made club captain by Sam Allardyce and dazzled the Reebok with his tricks, the best of which was an outrageous flick over Ray Parlour’s head.

Scorcher: Darren Anderton looks on in awe as Jay Jay Okocha unleashes a shot

Scorcher: Darren Anderton looks on in awe as Jay Jay Okocha unleashes a shot

CHRIS CUTMORE
Joe Hart (Shrewsbury to Man City, 100,000*, 2006)

Every great team needs a huge presence between the sticks – think Banks, Schmeichel or Casillas – and it cannot be questioned that Hart was a major force behind City’s Premier League title triumph last season. Roberto Mancini’s men saw off local rivals United on goal difference alone and Hart marshalled by far the stingiest defence in the league. His mistakes this season have shocked all the more because of his consistent brilliance previously. But don’t expect the dip in form to last long, or Hart’s Premier League medal to be his last.

*according to City deputy chairman John Wardle

Young at Hart: Joe joined Man City from Shrewsbury for the bargain price of 100,000 in 2006

Young at Hart: Joe joined Man City from Shrewsbury for a bargain 100,000 in 2006

LUKE BENEDICT
Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid to Liverpool, 21m, 2007)

To get 65 goals out of a player and then make a near 30million profit is pretty good business. In fact, it surely ranks as the bargain of the century. Aged 23, El Nino took a pay cut to move to Liverpool for 21m from Atletico Madrid. He scored more than 60 goals in a 102 games. Then Chelsea infamously paid 50m for him and he’s scored only 26 in his first 100 games at Stamford Bridge. That’s an awful lot of profit for a striker who can hardly score.

Hit the ground running: Fernando Torres scores one of his first goals in Liverpool colours

Hit the ground running: Fernando Torres scores one of his first goals in Liverpool colours

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Luis Suarez"s behaviour unfortunate, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Suarez's behaviour last year was 'unfortunate', says Fergie as United and Liverpool prepare for grudge match

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

16:00 GMT, 9 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 9 January 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson says the behaviour of Luis Suarez during last season’s clash with Liverpool was ‘unfortunate’ and hopes both clubs can put recent hostilities behind them for the clash at Old Trafford on Sunday.

This fixture marked marked the low point in the row that followed Luis Suarez’s racist slur of Patrice Evra at Anfield the previous October.

Having informed manager Kenny Dalglish he would shake Evra’s hand, the Uruguayan then refused, triggering a furious reaction from the Frenchman and subsequent apology from Suarez.

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Saga: Suarez and Evra's infamous spat overshadowed last seaason

Evra then shook hands with Suarez at Anfield this season, leading Ferguson to conclude the action will be confined to the actual match this weekend.

‘There will always be a certain build-up to a Manchester United-Liverpool game, simply because of the history between the two clubs, the two most successful in the country,’ he told Inside United.

‘It brings its own agenda in terms of profile and pre-match discussion.

‘Last year it was unfortunate with the Suarez behaviour. I think hopefully it is behind both clubs now and we can just look forward to the game.’

Ferguson was also full of praise for Cristiano Ronaldo, who he believes has turned into ‘the complete player’ since his departure from Manchester United in 2009.

Ronaldo has once again been overlooked for the Ballon D’Or in favour of Lionel Messi, who has now collected the prestigious award on four consecutive occasions.

Missing out: Ronaldo was pipped to the Ballon d'Or by Lionel Messi once more

Missing out: Ronaldo was pipped to the Ballon d'Or by Lionel Messi once more

However, the Portugal superstar, who won it in 2008 in recognition of his phenomenal 42-goal contribution to United’s Champions League and Premier League double, remains Messi’s closest challenger.

And, for the first time since he brought Ronaldo to Old Trafford, Ferguson will have to find a way of stopping the 27-year-old next month given Real Madrid lie in wait in the Champions League.

It will not be an easy task.

Ferguson spoke to his protege in Manchester ahead of City’s encounter with Real in November, then went to the Etihad Stadium to see the winger take the Blues apart in the opening stages of what ended up being a 1-1 draw.

And the Scot has no doubt the improvement he oversaw during Ronaldo’s six-year stint at United has continued since his arrival in Spain.

‘Maturity brings many things,’ Ferguson told Inside United.

Protege: The Portuguese made his name under Ferguson

Protege: The Portuguese made his name under Ferguson

‘When I went to see them play against City, some of his decision-making in terms of passing was brilliant. One-touch passing, good crosses.

‘In the six years we had him, you just saw his game grow all the time, and he was a fantastic player.

‘Now you see the complete player.

‘His decision-making, his maturity, his experience, plus all the great skills he has got, they all make him the complete player.’

Ferguson is trying not to think about the best way to combat Ronaldo, preferring instead to concentrate on the players in his own squad and exactly who will be fit for the first leg at the Bernabeu on February 13.

‘Obviously you hope that when you draw Real Madrid it’s in the final,’ he said.

‘It will be a big, big event – we’re the two most high-profile clubs in the world and I think they will be great games.’

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Who voted for Rooney in the Ballon d"Or?

Messi can't bring himself to vote for Ronaldo in tactical Ballon d'Or picks while Rooney is popular only in Georgia and North Korea

-bycountry.pdf” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>Click here to see how the international captains, coaches and media voted

With an astonishing and record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year, it was perhaps a foregone conclusion that Lionel Messi would collect a fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or last night.

But that didn't stop international captains and coaches employing some political voting tactics to try and get their friends, compatriots or teammates further up the leaderboard – or at least block their rivals from winning.

With national team captains, coaches and a selected journalist from each FIFA nation eligible to vote, the annual award seems to have become football's answer to the Eurovision Song Contest in terms of tactical voting.

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Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Top of the world: Lionel Messi scooped a fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or trophy last night, receiving 41.6 per cent of the votes from international coaches, captain and journalists

Messi had a vote as captain of Argentina and picked Andres Iniesta as his first choice, Xavi as his second and Radamel Falcao as his third pick.

This could be interpreted as returning the favour to his two Barcelona teammates after setting up so many goals for him this year, but it's interesting that his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is left out.

Ronaldo is Portugal captain but chose to hand over responsibilities to Bruno Alves, perhaps as a way of getting round the rule that voters can't pick themselves.

Ronaldo is on record as saying that he would vote for himself if he could. 'I am what I am,' he said in the run-up to the award announcement.

But he could rely on Zenit St Petersburg defender Alves to exclude Messi from his voting and put the Real Madrid star, naturally, at the top.

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Not his night: Cristiano Ronaldo looked the part, but was a distant second behind Messi, despite delegating his voting rights to Portugal teammate Bruno Alves

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella
had no room for Ronaldo though and went for Messi and his international
teammate Sergio Aguero, with Falcao, the third choice for quite a large
number of voters, completing his selection.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal manager, was a little more sporting, giving Messi his third pick.

The international coaches are proud and parochial, with many selecting players from their own squad despite them having little chance of scooping the main prize.

Germany's Joachim Low was pretty left-field with his picks, choosing Mesut Ozil first, Manuel Neuer second and Xavi third, while Italy's Cesare Prandelli opted for Andrea Pirlo, who was admired by a number of coaches around the world.

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil

Keeping it in the country: Germany Head Coach Joachim Low (left) picked Mesut Ozil as his first choice

Spain's Vicente del Bosque can be excused for picking Iker Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta but it's a damning indictment of the state of the English team that Roy Hodgson just went for Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.

Wayne Rooney's only two votes came from Georgia and North Korea, suggesting he has quite a following in those countries, while Mario Balotelli wouldn't have been too happy to learn his only vote came from Palestine.

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

Voting pact: Wayne Rooney's (right) only votes came from Georgia and North Korea, but plenty gave Robin van Persie (left) a pick

And Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have scored one of the goals of the year, with his audacious propeller kick for Sweden against England, but just two voters – the captain of Djibouti and the Niger coach – thought him worthy of the top prize.

There are also plenty of examples of players going for teammates, former teammates or even those who play in the same position.

Hugo Lloris, of France and Tottenham, selected Casillas as his first choice and, randomly, had Didier Drogba third.

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas

Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas

Goalkeeper's Union: Hugo Lloris (left) gave his winning vote to fellow custodian Iker Casillas (right)

Dutchman Wesley Sneijder opted for free-scoring Robin van Persie for his first pick, while Gianluigi Buffon and Casillas also went for national unity with Pirlo and Sergio Ramos respectively their first choices.

Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher chose former Manchester United man Ronaldo ahead of Messi and also included Van Persie third.

Lionel Messi
Marco van Basten
Michel Platini
Johan Cruyff
Ballon d'Or
4
3
3
3
League titles
5
7
3
10
Domestic cups
7
7
2
7
European Cups
3
3
1
3
World Cups
0
0
0
0
Career Games
430
431
504
568
Career Goals
319
300
265
326
Strike rate
0.74
0.70
0.53
0.57

VIDEO: Messi's boot supplier, adidas, team up with illustrator Richard Swarbrick to celebrate the Argentina ace's latest Ballon d'Or success