Football Players in Saudi

Top Footballers who will be playing in Saudi Arabia

With a view to hosting the 2030 FIFA World Cup, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is leaving no stone unturned. The Public Investment Funds are continuing to make waves in world football. Firstly, the PIF consortium took over an ailing Newcastle United to give them a surge back to Champions League football within two years. Now, they are taking the football world by storm with many of the Saudi clubs snapping up superstars and making the Saudi Pro League lucrative and amongst the most-talked-about football leagues in recent months.

Saudi Pro League is making waves in the world of international football. After snapping one of the greatest footballers of all time Cristiano Ronaldo, the Saudi clubs are looking to bring in more superstars and make their league one of the most watched in the football world.

In this article, we will be looking at the top footballers who will be plying their trade in Saudi Arabian clubs this season.

Who is joining the Saudi football league?

8. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea to Al Ahli)

Report: Chelsea now looking to sign 25-year-old goalkeeper to replace Edouard Mendy

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Chelsea’s 2021-22 saviour Edouard Mendy is set to depart from the club. After spending over 2 years at The Blues, Mendy wants a new challenge. Also, it is reported that Chelsea has finally agreed to a £16m deal with Al Ahli for the Senegal international.

Mendy, who arrived at Chelsea in September 2020 quickly became their number-one shot-stopper with the Senegal international helping The Blues to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy. At Chelsea, Mendy played a key role in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League win, which saw him crowned The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper in Europe that year.

With Mendy not getting enough playtime, it was widely expected the Senegalese international is looking for a club which gets him regular playing time.

7. Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wolves to Al Hilal)

GW24 Differentials: Ruben Neves

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This was a shocking move. Ruben Neves, one of the best midfielders in world football currently has announced that he will be playing for Al Hilal this season.

The Wolves captain leaves the club after six seasons for a “record fee” reported to be around £55m. Surely, this is the most expensive signing made by any of the Saudi clubs. The Portuguese midfielder is set to pocket almost €18.36 million per year, a significant rise from his €57,632 per week salary at Molineux.

Neves was the backbone of the Wolves’ midfield as the Portuguese appeared for 219 games and scored 27 goals. His magic in the midfield will be of prime importance at Al Hilal.

6. Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea to Al Nassr)

Championship midfielder now claims he is better technically than Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech

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Ziyech wants out of Chelsea. It is a well-known fact. Well, Chelsea’s negotiation saga with Paris St. Germain last season was quite infamous. Now, as the Saudi Pro League is bringing a lot of superstars, it is widely reported that Hakim Ziyech is also en route to Saudi Arabia.

Ziyech, who was quite magical during his time at Ajax, didn’t quite live up to his expectations at Chelsea. The winger played a total of 60 games in three seasons at The Blues. If everything goes well, Ziyech will be teaming up with his Chelsea teammate Kalidou Koulibaly and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

5. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea to Al Ittihad)

Chelsea star N'Golo Kante on his way to Saudi outfit Al-Ittihad

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Another Chelsea player bites the dust. Chelsea’s defensive wall N’Golo Kante has decided to part ways with The Blues. The 32-year-old is out of contract this summer and is being reported to have extensive talks with the Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad.

Regarded as one of the finest central midfielders of the modern era, Kante played a significant role in helping Leicester City achieve the impossible in 2015/16, when they won the Premier League title, before replicating that success at Chelsea 12 months later.

Kante also played significant roles in Chelsea’s Europa League and Champions League successes in 2018/19 and 2020/21, while he has appeared in nine other cup finals for the club.

4. Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea to Al Hilal)

Report: Club are now hoping Chelsea could try and sign their 'world class' player after selling

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Seems like Chelsea is off-lading players in bulk. After heavy spending last season, the club is looking to balance their tally sheets by letting go of some players who don’t fit their future plans.

Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly, who joined Chelsea from Napoli just last year has announced of leaving the club. The centre-back has announced a move to the Saudi club Al Hilal.

Koulibaly, widely regarded as one of the most talented centre-backs was a flop at Chelsea. During his time at Chelsea, he was plagued with injuries and couldn’t quite gather enough game time to have momentum on his side.

Kalidou Koulibaly will be joined by a list of footballers including Marco Verratti, Demarai Gray and Ruben Neves.

3. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool to Al Ahli)

Al Ahli in talks with Liverpool forward Firmino over Saudi move - Football Today

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Liverpool’s out-of-favour attacking man Roberto Firmino aka Bobby Firmino is widely tipped to join Saudi club Al Ahli. Firmino, who spent eight seasons at Anfield, saw his form fluctuating quite often during his time at the club.

The forward signed from 1899 Hoffenheim arrived at Anfield with quite a fanfare. However, he couldn’t repeat his heroics at Hoffenheim. In a total of 256 games, the forward cum attacking midfielder scored 82 goals.

Now with Liverpool looking for better-attacking options in the market seems like Firmino’s time at Liverpool is over.

Saudi Pro League is bringing big superstars to their league, ensuring it gets as many eyeballs as possible. And it’s not just the players they are targeting. The Saudi clubs are also targeting the biggest managers from the world of football. As per a report, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has received an offer to take charge of either Al Nassr or Al Hilal. Similarly, an offer has been made to Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui and Fulham boss Marco Silva.

2. Neymar Jr. ( PSG to Al Hilal)

Neymar apologizes to girlfriend Bruna Biancardi on Instagram

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Paris St. Germain is rubbing their star players the wrong way. After Lionel Messi departed for Major League Soccer club Inter Miami, it is expected that Neymar Jr., their star signing from 2018 is set to leave the French club.

The 31-year-old superstar has been injured for most of the season, and reports say that Brazil international could be on a move away from Paris this summer, with Saudi’s Al Hilal one of the sides interested in securing the sensation.

Overall, Neymar has played 112 games for Paris St. Germain amassing 82 goals in those matches. He has been a vital cog in PSG’s attack for the last five seasons.

1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid to Al Ittihad)

Karim Benzema is the most important Real Madrid icon since Raul

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The current Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema has successfully completed his move from Real Madrid to Saudi Pro League champions Al Ittihad. The French striker signed a three-year deal worth $107 million a year.

Benzema has been iconic for Real Madrid. After living in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadows for the majority of his professional career, Benzema came into his own after Ronaldo departed for Juventus. He reached his peak during the 2021-22 season, being adjudged as the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award for that campaign and also won the 2022 Ballon d’Or. He is also second in Real Madrid’s all-time scoring list with 350 goals.

Overall, Benzema won four La Liga titles with Real Madrid, along with five UEFA Champions League titles. During the 2021-22 UCL season, he was talismanic for his side as they claimed the trophy in a dramatic manner. He also won three Copa del Reys, three Supercopa de Espana titles, four UEFA Super Cup trophies and five FIFA Club World Cups.

Footballers available on a free transfer

These are the footballers who are available on a free transfer

There are now just weeks to go until all players with expiring contracts in Europe become free agents. The players will become free agents once their current contracts expire on June 30—the official conclusion of the 2022–23 football season.

This can happen if a football player negotiates an early termination or If both sides decide not to renew the contract. Players look for free agency for a variety of reasons. To demonstrate their abilities and advance their objectives, some people opt for fresh challenges and a change of scenery.

Financial factors like better contracts or higher pay can also come into play. Players may look into free agency for greater career chances as a result of disagreements with club management, a lack of playing time, or lacklustre advancement.

Let’s look at the top 9 free agents in football who are available for grabs this summer.

Eden Hazard | FW | Real Madrid

B.V. Eden Hazard

Real Madrid: The saddest part about Eden Hazard’s current situation Creator: Soccrates Images | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2020 Soccrates Images

Eden Hazard agreed to have his contract terminated a year early, and Real Madrid made the announcement that he will depart the team at the end of the current campaign. When the former Chelsea player joined Real Madrid in 2019, he cost close to €140 million (£123.3m/$149.4m), making him the most expensive acquisition in the club’s history. After a dismal performance with Belgium at the 2022 World Cup, when they were eliminated in the group stage, Hazard recently announced his retirement from international football. Since that time, he has battled with his form and health.

“Real Madrid Football Club and Eden Hazard have reached an agreement whereby the player will leave the club as of 30 June 2023. Eden Hazard has been part of our club for four seasons, during which time he has won 8 titles: 1 European Cup, 1 Club World Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 2 La Liga titles, 1 Copa del Rey and 2 Spanish Super Cups. Real Madrid would like to express our affection to Eden Hazard and we wish him and his family the best of luck for the next stage of his career,” read a statement from the club.

The Belgian International will now need to find a new challenge after having a dreadful experience at the Santiago Bernabeu after joining there from Chelsea in 2019.

The Belgian was mulling retiring after finishing up his contract with Real Madrid next summer, but his exact future move is yet unknown.

N’Golo Kante | MF | Chelsea

N'Golo Kante

N’Golo Kante’s 2020/21 heroics will be rewarded greatly by Chelsea Creator: Quality Sport Images | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2021 Quality Sport Images

In the summer of 2023, N’Golo Kante’s current agreement with Chelsea will come to an end and is a free agent in football who is available for grabs. The French international midfielder first joined Chelsea from Leicester City in 2016, and in 2018, he signed a new five-year deal that will expire at the end of the current campaign.

According to recent reports, the midfielder may be poised to do a U-turn and quit Stamford Bridge, contrary to previous reports that he will sign a new deal to prolong his time there.

Ilkay Gundogan | MF | Manchester City

Ilkay Gundogan

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Ilkay Gundogan, who transferred from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City in 2016, has had a standout Premier League career thus far. Although his current contract is scheduled to expire in the summer, City is eager to keep him at the Etihad Stadium and has extended an offer to him.

Should the German international leave City in the upcoming weeks, teams like Barcelona and Arsenal are interested in grabbing him.

Karim Benzema | FW | Real Madrid

Karim Benzema

UEFA Champions League 2022/23 Group Stage Draw
ISTANBUL, TURKIYE- AUGUST 25: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF poses for a photograph with the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award after the UEFA Champions League 2022/23 Group Stage Draw at Halic Congress Centre on August 25, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkiye. (Photo by Lukas Schulze – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Karim Benzema was prepared to extend his Real Madrid contract by one year, but current rumours in Spain suggest that he may go for Saudi Arabia when it expires in the summer.

A Saudi Pro League team, most likely Al-Ittihad, is said to have offered the striker up to €100 million a season, plus incentives, and the Frenchman may go to Asia as a result.

Sergio Busquets | MF | Barcelona

 Sergio Busquets

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After 15 years at Barcelona, Sergio Busquets’ contract is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2022–23 season.

Busquets is also a target for Saudi Arabian teams, and MLS may now show interest in him this summer.

Luka Modric | MF | Real Madrid

Luka Modric

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Luka Modric’s Real Madrid contract was set to expire in 2022 but the Croatian midfielder signed a one-year contract extension in June. Reports suggest he is set to do the same thing again this summer, keeping him in the Spanish capital until 2024.

Naby Keita | MF | Liverpool

Footballer Naby Keita

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Naby Keita will leave Anfield this summer and has been connected to a free-agency transfer to Crystal Palace. Galatasaray and Inter Milan are both keeping an eye on the midfielder.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic | FW | AC Milan

Footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic

I need to realise I’m not Superman’ – How 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic is inspiring Milan’s title charge | Sporting News Canada Creator: ISABELLA BONOTTO | Credit: AFP via Getty Images

There were suggestions that Zlatan Ibrahimovic might leave Milan before the start of the 2022–23 season, but those reports were dispelled when the Swedish forward agreed to a new contract that would keep him at Milan until the present season. Zlatan didn’t play as per the massive expectations from him. He was injured for most of the season. 

The veteran player has announced his retirement from football. 

Marcus Thuram | FW | Borussia Monchengladbach

Footballer Marcus Thuram

Why Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram deserves to be called up by France | Bundesliga Creator: Lars Baron | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2020 Getty Images

Marcus Thuram, a standout for Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, will not extend his contract when it expires in the summer. Along with Serie A powerhouses Juventus and Inter, he is being watched by a number of major teams, including Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea.

Which players from this lot should your favourite football club buy? Let us know in the comments section.

These 5 footballers played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona

These 5 footballers played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona

Several of the world’s greatest soccer players have played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, making the Clasico one of the most historic rivalries in the sport. These players include some of the biggest names in the game, having crossed the divide between the two clubs to appear on both sides. 

Representing both sides of the Clasico is rare and certainly frowned upon – but that hasn’t stopped a few of the all-time greats from taking the risk and making the jump from one club to the other. It’s a testament to how intense the rivalry is that such an action has become taboo, yet many players have still found success in doing so. 

Despite the intense rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona, many players have embraced the challenge of crossing the divide and turned out for both teams. It takes a brave spirit to make such a move, but their stories make for some of the most compelling narratives in the world of football. El Clasico is one of the fiercest rivalries in sports, and its intensity stems from the two teams being from the two largest cities in Spain that had completely different political views. The clubs are also some of the wealthiest in the world, which has led to a rivalry so intense that few others can compare. This match has been described as a ‘Clasico’ due to the unique circumstances of this unique rivalry. 

Iker Bravo’s move from Barcelona to Real Madrid is a rare example of a player crossing the road between the two Spanish giants. After initially training in Barcelona’s renowned La Masia academy and signing a contract extension with the club, circumstances led to him ending up on loan at Real Madrid via Bayer Leverkusen. It’s certainly a unique story and one that will surely be closely followed. 

Crossing the divide between Barcelona and Real Madrid is not for the faint of heart. Over 30 players have had the honor, or the tenacity, to take on this challenge and play for both clubs in their careers. Some players have taken the leap years apart, while others have gone directly from one to the other. The move has often been met with disdain from the fans of the player’s first club. 

5 footballers who played for Real Madrid and Barcelona 

Luis Figo 

Appearances/Goals for Barcelona: 249/45 

Appearances/Goals for Real Madrid: 239/57 

The Figo Affair': Netflix Set Doc On Luís Figo's Move To Real Madrid – Deadline

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Undoubtedly the most notorious player on this list is Luis Figo. His move from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 drew the ire of Barca fans, as they felt betrayed by their former star player. It was a controversial move that firmly entrenched him on the side of Madrid in the ongoing Clasico rivalry. 

When Luis Figo made a move from Barcelona to Real Madrid, he was widely regarded as the best player in the world. His signing was a major coup for Real Madrid and helped Florentino Perez win the presidency of the club. Soon after joining Madrid, Figo was awarded the Ballon d’Or, largely for his performances at Barcelona. It was a fitting honor for one of the greatest players ever to represent both sides of the Clasico divide. 

Whenever Luis Figo returned to play at Camp Nou, he was met with intense vitriol from Barcelona fans. Despite his stature in the sport, his move to Real Madrid made him public enemy number one in the eyes of many Barca supporters.

After he was pelted with missiles taking corners during a game in 2002, team-mate Michel Salgado said: “By the second or third corner, I turned to Luis and said: ‘Forget it, mate. You’re on your own.”I used to offer Luis the chance to take the short corner, drawing up close to him near the touchline, but not this time. Missiles were raining down from the stands: coins, a knife, a glass whiskey bottle.” 

During his time with both teams, Luis Figo made over 200 appearances for each club and won two league titles with Barcelona and two with Real Madrid. He also helped Madrid win in the 2002 Champions League, cementing his place as a player who has succeeded on both sides of the Clasico divide. 

Ronaldo Nazario

Appearances/Goals for Barcelona: 49/47 

Appearances/Goals for Real Madrid: 177/104 

Ronaldo explains why AC Milan will compete with Inter and Juventus for the Scudetto

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Unlike Luis Figo, Brazilian Ronaldo is fondly remembered by both Barcelona and Real Madrid fans. This is likely due to his sheer brilliance on the pitch – his quality was undeniable, and he was beloved by supporters of both clubs. Ronaldo only spent one season at Barcelona, but it was one of the most remarkable campaigns any player had ever produced in Spain. He quickly became a fan favorite, and his performance earned him deserved praise. 

In the 1996-97 season, Ronaldo hit an incredible 47 goals in 49 games in all competitions. However, a contract dispute at the end of the season saw him leave Barcelona for Inter Milan, setting a new world transfer record that he had just broken by joining Barca from PSV. Ronaldo also won the Ballon d’Or that year – a fitting honor for such an incredible season. 

In 2002, Ronaldo returned to Spain when he joined Real Madrid as part of the ‘Galactico’ generation. He went on to win his second Ballon d’Or and the La Liga top scorer, cementing his legacy as one of the all-time greats at Barcelona and Real Madrid. Despite his brilliance at Real Madrid, Ronaldo’s time at the Santiago Bernabeu only yielded one league title and no Champions League titles. Unfortunately, a series of injuries and weight issues marked the beginning of a long decline for the legendary Brazilian player. 

Ronaldo has spoken fondly of his time with both Barcelona and Real Madrid. He previously stated that playing for two of the world’s most successful clubs was an honor and that he respected them both despite the rivalry. He has also credited the experience of playing in El Clasico as helping make him the player he is today. 

Michael Laudrup 

Appearances/Goals for Barcelona: 217/55 

Appearances/Goals for Real Madrid: 76/15 

Mediano Special - Michael Laudrup i Italien — Mediano

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Michael Laudrup, the Danish footballer widely recognized as the best player to come from Scandinavia, was an essential member of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” that won four consecutive La Liga championships in the early 1990s. With his exceptional vision and creative playmaking, Laudrup was widely considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. Frank Beckenbauer, an iconic football manager, praised Laudrup, saying, “Pele was the best of the 1960s, Johan Cruyff conquered the 1970s, Diego Maradona blew away the 1980s, and Michael Laudrup was the star of the 1990s.” 

After five outstanding seasons with Barcelona, Laudrup had a disagreement with Cruyff and made an immediate move to Real Madrid in 1994. His first season with the Madrid team was triumphant, as they won their first La Liga title in five years. Laudrup went on to play for Madrid for two more seasons, winning two more La Liga titles in the process. He was a crucial part of the Madrid side that won their first Champions League in 32 years, and his impressive performance earned him a nomination for the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award. 

Memorably, Laudrup was on the winning side for two 5-0 Clasico wins, one in his last season with Barcelona and one in his first season with Madrid. These victories highlighted Laudrup’s ability to excel regardless of which team he was playing for. After two successful seasons with Madrid, Laudrup moved to Vissel Kobe in Japan. Later in 2002, a Marca poll declared him the 12th greatest player ever to have played for the Madrid club. 

Notoriously, Laudrup won two 5-0 El Clasico victories, one with Barcelona and another with Real Madrid. His remarkable ability to remain successful regardless of which team he was playing for proved to be an inspiration to football fans all over the world. 

Luis Enrique 

Appearances/Goals for Barcelona: 300/109 

Appearances/Goals for Real Madrid: 213/18 

The reasons for Luis Enrique's change to De la Fuente as Spain coach | Atalayar - Las claves del mundo en tus manos

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Luis Enrique, a versatile and skillful midfielder, had the remarkable achievement of playing over 200 times for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and accumulating more than 50 international caps for Spain. He was a highly admired player in Spanish football during the late 90s and early 2000s. 

Despite winning three trophies during his five-year stint at Madrid, Luis Enrique felt unappreciated there and left for Barcelona on a free transfer in 1996. With his signing, Barcelona was optimistic about having acquired the services of such a great player. Luis Enrique had to work hard to win over the Barcelona fans, but eventually, he became a beloved captain and scored many winning goals in Clasico matches against his former team. His impressive performances in both Barcelona and Madrid made him one of the most iconic footballers in Spanish football. 

Following a successful playing career, Luis Enrique was appointed manager of Barcelona and went on to win two more La Liga titles and the prestigious 2015 Champions League trophy. His successful management over the years has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players and coaches of all time. Luis Enrique has spoken fondly about his time in Madrid, crediting them for giving him the opportunity to play in a world-class team. Although his time at Real Madrid was relatively short, he said it was still an unforgettable experience that he cherishes to this day. 

Samuel Eto’o 

Appearances/Goals for Barcelona: 199/130 

Appearances/Goals for Real Madrid: 7/0 

Monsieur le Président? Samuel Eto'o's second act - The Mail & Guardian

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After being discovered at the Kadji Sports Academy in Cameroon, Samuel Eto’o joined Real Madrid as a young player but was unable to make an impact with the team. During his time in Madrid, he was loaned out multiple times and only made a few appearances for the club in La Liga. 

After being unable to make his mark in Madrid, Samuel Eto’o left for Mallorca and scored 54 goals in four and a half seasons. In 2004, he joined Barcelona, seizing the opportunity to demonstrate his talents which Madrid had overlooked. Over the course of two successful seasons at Barcelona, Eto’o scored an impressive total of 130 goals in all competitions.

During his time in Barcelona, Eto’o won three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies, making it a highly successful spell. In 2009, the Cameroonian moved to Inter Milan and won the treble alongside manager Jose Mourinho. Samuel Eto’o’s successful career highlights his exceptional talent and undeniable abilities.

12 football transfers that were a flop

12 football transfers that were a disastrous flop

Football’s transfer window is an exciting time of the season. Players frequently switch teams and sometimes even join their club’s rivals, which gives the game greater variety. While some clubs lavishly spend money to chase success during the season, others flex their muscles in the transfer market to show off their wealth. In terms of money, records are broken in the transfer window very frequently. 

Some players go on to become enormous successes, while others vanish into obscurity. Some individuals come in search of large sums of money but fall short of expectations. In light of that, let’s have a look at some of the worst transfers in the history of football.

12 football transfers that were a major flop 

Philippe Coutinho: Liverpool – Barcelona (2018) 

The worst transfer in Barcelona’s history but one of the most significant in Liverpool’s. Barcelona agreed to spend €120m (£100m/$130m) for a player that they genuinely didn’t need, plus €40m (£34m/$43m) in potential bonuses. Was he an offensive or defensive midfielder, or was he both? Even though Josep Maria Bartomeu had no idea, he made a special effort to sign the Brazilian. 

La Liga 2016/17: Xavi indirectly suggests that Coutinho has Barca DNA

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His two goals against the Catalans in 2020 while on loan to Bayern Munich were his most noteworthy accomplishment throughout his four years at Barca. As they frantically tried to regain some financial stability at Camp Nou after very nearly going bankrupt under Bartomeu, they allowed Coutinho to join Aston Villa for just €20 million (£17 million/$21.5 million) in 2022. This was after years of unsuccessfully trying to sell Coutinho. 

Eden Hazard: Chelsea – Real Madrid (2019) 

Eden Hazard’s transfer to Real Madrid, which had been in the works for ten years, looked hopeless the moment the winger showed up overweight for preseason practice. To be fair to Hazard, he was incredibly unlucky with injuries, given that he was virtually injury-free throughout his tenure at Chelsea. But even when he’s been able to string together a few matches in Spain, he’s come off as a pretty shoddy replica of the guy who shone in the Premier League for several years. 

Chelsea report: Real Madrid flop Eden Hazard to decide future next month | FourFourTwo

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Although Hazard has won numerous prestigious awards, including the Champions League, he contributed about as little to Real Madrid’s 2021–22 victory as Gareth Bale. Eden Hazard admitted that he expected more from his time at Real Madrid and regretted not being able to make an immediate impact. He also claimed that the transition from the Premier League to La Liga was more difficult than he anticipated. 

Paul Pogba: Juventus – Manchester United (2016) 

Paul Pogba was a pointless departure from Manchester United in 2012. In 2016, United re-signed Pogba from Juventus for a record-breaking £89.5 million. However, ten years later, it occurred once more. Most fans were overjoyed to see the departure of a player that they had lost hope in and believed was never going to consistently show his world-class quality.

What will it take for Man United to unlock the international Paul Pogba?

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Several incensed fans on the Stretford End yelled, “F*ck off, Pogba!” in addition to booing the France midfielder during the Premier League match against Norwich in April 2022. Still, it was painful to lose such a valuable asset for free. Pogba eventually made his way back from where he came after six seasons, one Europa League victory, one Carabao Cup triumph, a series of dreadful performances, and repellent come-and-get-me appeals to rival teams. 

Romelu Lukaku: Inter Milan – Chelsea (2021) 

Given that he had only managed to score once during his prior stay at Stamford Bridge, Lukaku said that his decision to return to Chelsea was motivated by “unfinished business.” Although the striker ended the 2021–22 season as the club’s top scorer, his second stint was significantly worse than his first. Considering the club-record investment of £97.5m ($119m) in his services, 15 goals from 44 appearances was a pitiful return. 

Stop Romelu Lukaku and stop Chelsea? Unfortunately for their rivals it is far more difficult than that

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Midway through the season, Lukaku gave an unapproved interview to Sky Sport Italia in which he expressed his undying love for his old team Inter and, even more incredibly, questioned Thomas Tuchel’s tactics. This was solely Lukaku’s fault. He never really recovered from betraying his manager and Chelsea’s fans, which made his loan back to San Siro inevitable. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter Milan – Barcelona (2009) 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an absolute legend of the game, as he would be the first to tell you. But his transfer to Barcelona is one of the worst business decisions ever. Remember that in addition to paying Inter €69.5 million (£59 million/$75 million) for Ibrahimovic, Barcelona also gave up 2009 Champions League champion Samuel Eto’o, who later went on to help Inter Milan in winning the treble after knocking out Barca in the semifinals. 

Barcelona coach Xavi uses Zlatan Ibrahimovic as example in his press conference

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By that time, Pep Guardiola, the then-manager of Barcelona, and Zlatan had completely fallen out, with Ibrahimovic accusing the Catalan of having “no balls” and “sh*tting himself” in front of his old boss Jose Mourinho. The late Mino Raiola, the striker’s agent, called Guardiola a “coward” and even attacked him before the 2012 Champions League final. However, it’s crucial to remember that Ibrahimovic had a goal total of 21 throughout all competitions, but this is possibly the greatest personality clash in football history. 

Antoine Griezmann: Atletico Madrid – Barcelona (2019) 

In 2018, Antoine Griezmann sparked anger among Barcelona fans after teasing them with the possibility of a €100m transfer to Camp Nou, only to publicly reject it in a video documentary produced by Blaugrana defender Gerard Pique. The fans were indignant. They were through with the Atletico Madrid star. 

Details of Griezmann Barcelona contract out after Atletico Madrid switch

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However, Bartomeu strangely pursued Griezmann again the following year, willing to pay the Frenchman’s contract buy-out clause of €120 million (£100 million/$130 million), as if trying to make a point. In 2021, Antoine Griezmann returned to Madrid and rejoined Atletico on loan before making a permanent move back to Diego Simeone’s side. Despite being a talented attacker, his tenure at Camp Nou was brief and largely unsuccessful. 

Joao Felix: Benfica – Atletico Madrid (2019) 

Joao Felix said he had many offers during the summer of 2019, but he thought a move to Atletico Madrid would be beneficial for his future. He couldn’t have been more mistaken, as the forward utterly failed to earn back his €126 million (£113 million/$135 million) transfer cost. It’s still puzzling why Felix chose to play for Diego Simeone, who makes his attackers work just as hard as his midfielders and defenders, given that he said he merely wanted to “enjoy” football at the time. 

Atlético Madrid's João Félix And The Two Faces Of Football

Creator: AITOR ALCALDE | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: AITOR ALCALDE

This deal didn’t seem to fit from the beginning, and it turned out to be the case when Atletico agreed to let Felix join Chelsea on loan for the rest of the 2022–23 campaign. Joao Felix scored just 25 goals in 96 Liga games. He did, however, extend his contract with the Rojiblancos during the process, although it is clear that this was only done to try to reclaim part of the money they spent on their record signing after what they think will be a fruitful tenure at Chelsea. 

Ousmane Dembele: Dortmund – Barcelona (2017) 

Barcelona was in a bind after Neymar’s shocking transfer to Paris Saint-Germain back in the summer of 2017. Even though PSG paid a record-breaking sum for the Brazilian, every club in the world was aware of Barcelona’s financial bonanza and their pressing need for a replacement. 

Barcelona to keep Ousmane Dembele after recent great performances

Creator: Quality Sport Images | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2019 Quality Sport Images

Barcelona made the ultimate panic purchase by paying an initial €105 million (£90 million/$112 million) for a player with just one successful Bundesliga season under his belt. Dortmund sensed Barca coming from a mile away and pressed hard on Ousmane Dembele until the Catalans buckled. 

The quality of the France international is undeniable. He’s having a decent run of form right now. However, let’s face it: Dembele has utterly failed to live up to his price tag, spending the majority of his time at Camp Nou hampered by injury. 

Harry Maguire: Leicester City – Man Utd (2019) 

Harry Maguire displayed the potential to excel as a Premier League defender. At Leicester, he gave such proof. Even Pep Guardiola wished to sign the English defender in 2019. However, Maguire claimed he chose United instead, but the truth is that Manchester City resisted the offer because of the cost. City simply didn’t think Maguire was worth a defender’s world-record transfer cost, and their judgment was sound. 

Manchester United legend: Harry Maguire lacks character | Manchester united legends, Manchester united, Premier league

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According to Maguire, some of the vitriol he has endured from Manchester United supporters over the past three years has crossed “the line.” There is no disputing, though, that his trophy-less tenure at Old Trafford has been a painful letdown, and the choice to name him the club captain has long since come off as absolutely absurd.

In case you forgot, United spent £80 million ($100 million) on Maguire; the price they would receive today is hardly half that much. Although the England international is undoubtedly a tremendous financial waste, he may not be “sh*t,” as Rafael van der Vaar once claimed. 

James Rodriguez: Monaco – Real Madrid (2014) 

During Colombia’s 2014 World Cup run to the quarterfinals, Florentino Perez, the president of Real Madrid, fell in love with the young, skillful James Rodriguez, just like everyone else in the football world. James became Perez’s newest Galactico as the offensive midfielder with a knack for stunning goals had long fantasized about playing for Real Madrid. 

Real Madrid in 'advanced talks' to sell James Rodriguez to Everton

Creator: Quality Sport Images | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2020 Quality Sport Images

He showed glimpses of a Galactico during his debut season in Spain, finishing the season with 17 goals across all competitions. Although the 2016 appointment of Zinedine Zidane as manager was a significant turning moment in Madrid’s contemporary history, it also effectively signaled the end of James’ Real Madrid tenure. 

Under the Frenchman, who once asserted that James had requested to be benched from a match against Athletic Club, the Colombian saw little action on the field. The €80 million (£68 million/$86 million) signing ultimately left for nothing after spending two years on loan at Bayern Munich and having a terrible final season in which he only made eight appearances. This is the ideal example of how much his stock had dropped since winning the Golden Boot in Brazil. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga: Athletico Madrid – Chelsea (2018) 

The priciest goalie in the world but not even close to the greatest. Although the £72 million price tag may have finally helped him recapture his starting position from Edouard Mendy, it would not be unexpected to see Chelsea want to offload the Spaniard at the end of the year, especially following his most recent error. 

Kepa Arrizabalaga Errors Will Continue to Hurt Chelsea

Creator: Pool | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2020 Pool

Of course, there might not be many takers. Kepa is unquestionably not a top goalie. He will undoubtedly always be linked to the Carabao Cup. First and foremost, for ignominiously refusing to be replaced in the 2019 championship game, and secondly, for failing to make a single save and then missing the go-ahead penalty kick after being substituted just for the shootout against Liverpool in the 2022 tournament decider. 

Alvaro Morata: Real Madrid – Chelsea (2017) 

Many experts believe that Alvaro Morata’s agency is the greatest in the industry. What other explanation is there for a striker who has constantly had trouble finding the back of the net earning lucrative transfers to Europe’s top clubs? Morata did score 15 goals in La Liga in 2016–17, which persuaded Chelsea to pay £60 million ($75 million) to acquire him from Real Madrid. 

Alvaro Morata opens up about difficult 12 months at Chelsea - The Chelsea Chronicle

Creator: MB Media | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2018 MB Media

The Spain international’s unpleasant 18-month spell at Stamford Bridge was cut short in January 2019 when he was sent to join Atletico Madrid on loan with an eye toward a permanent transfer. He scored just 16 Premier League goals throughout that time. While in England, Morata believed that the media was too quick to blame him, but given the enormity of the outlay, it is tough to view his goal return as anything other than a disappointment.

Football players

Top 15 Unusual Superstitions of football players

Superstitions and bizarre rituals have a very narrow border between them, but some people are able to cross it a little bit more than others. Superstition in football is surprisingly common. Players, managers, and team presidents all have their own rituals and lucky items, such as a favorite t-shirt or pair of underwear that they wear for good luck. They even have superstitions about what order to put on their boots. It is not surprising that team members of all levels, from players to managers to team presidents, also have their own superstitions before, during, and after games. 

More specifically, football superstitions often revolve around rituals that are done before and during the game, such as crossing oneself or finding a specific seat to sit in. Some players even have lucky charms that they carry with them. There have been reports of teams having specific colors for playing gear or pregame meals to bring about good luck. 

Football players also have superstitions about their equipment, such as the order in which they put on their boots or gloves. There have been reported cases of players wearing certain pieces of clothing throughout the season, believing it will bring them luck. Additionally, some players have rituals they perform before each game, such as spinning around a certain number of times or having a specific way of entering the field. Let’s have a look at some of the most unusual superstitions of football players. 

Top 15 Unusual superstitions of football players 

Cristiano Ronaldo 

Arguably, the greatest footballer on earth, Cristiano Ronaldo, also carries a set of superstitions with him. The former Real Madrid superstar has a set of things he practices daily before every game. Cristiano Ronaldo is known for his superstitious behavior. He has been observed to wear the same pair of socks during a streak of games, cross himself before a match, and enter the field with his right foot first. 

Real Madrid make Cristiano Ronaldo transfer decision

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The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also carries a lucky charm with him- an old Portuguese coin that was given to him by his grandfather. Ronaldo has several superstitious habits, such as being the first to disembark while traveling to a game by plane and standing in the same way during free-kicks. He also has other unique superstitions, such as eating a certain meal before a game or listening to a specific song.

Pele 

Pele, one of the most successful league goal scorers and greatest players of all time, was not exempt from superstition. During a difficult period in his career, he thought the cause might be tied to a jersey he had given away to a fan after a match. He sent a friend on a mission to retrieve the jersey to remedy the situation. 

Fortunately, the friend was able to locate the shirt and give it back to Pele. Shortly after, Pele’s goal-scoring form was restored. However, Pele’s friend didn’t really find his jersey but gave the three-time World Cup champion the jersey he had worn in the previous game. Nevertheless, his trick worked, and Pele got back into his old form.

Lionel Messi 

Lionel Messi has an interesting superstitious ritual that he follows before taking a free kick – he will place the ball down with both hands, step back the same amount of steps each time, spread his legs, and take a deep breath. This technique has definitely paid off, with Messi often scoring goals from the resulting set piece! 

Gareth Bale 

Gareth Bale had a few superstitious rituals to help him avoid injuries. One of those was cutting holes in his socks before stepping onto the pitch, believing it helped to prevent compression on his calf muscles. He also used to drive his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster to games but stopped because he thought the seating put too much pressure on that area of his legs. His superstitions seem to have worked, as he left the game as one of the best to be out there. 

John Terry 

John Terry was well-known at Chelsea for having around 50 superstitions, such as sitting in the same place on the team bus and always listening to the same Usher album. He also had his own lucky pair of shin pads, which he wore for ten seasons. John Terry would definitely be a grandmaster if awards were given out for superstition. 

Danielle De Rossi 

The famous player from Rome was also known for his superstitious behavior. During the 2012 World Cup, Danielle De Rossi sported one long sleeve on his left arm, and a short sleeve on his right, which some say was an homage to the gladiators of the Colosseum. Others believe he may have been trying to hide a tattoo on his left arm. 

Johan Cruyff 

Johan Cruyff made an indelible mark on the history of football. His playing for Ajax and Barcelona helped to popularize the “total football” style, which led the Netherlands to a World Cup final. His iconic Cruyff turn is still one of the toughest skills to master for any footballer today. Despite his incredible football aptitude, Cruyff was famous for his pre-match rituals, which were very difficult to understand. Shortly before kick-off, he was known to slap goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach and then walk to the opposite half of the field to spit out his chewing gum toward the opposition goal. 

Johan Cruyff's all-time XI typically contained a lot of attacking options

Creator: R. Powell | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2016 Getty Images

“It’s odd I know, but it seems to work for me. Once I’ve gone through with my little system before the game, my mind is fully focused on what we have to do to be successful on the pitch,” said Cruyff. 

Cruyff’s usual pre-match rituals were put to the test at the 1969 European Cup final when he forgot to chew gum. Cruyff slapped goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach as usual and walked to the opposite half of the field to try and realized he wasn’t chewing any gum. Unfortunately for Ajax, they ended up losing the match 4-1. 

Phil Jones 

Manchester United’s defender Phil Jones has an interesting superstition – he will determine whether to put on his left or right sock first depending on if the Red Devils are playing at home or away. This certainly makes for an intriguing pre-match ritual. 

Jones explained: “The fixtures list United on the left side when we’re at home and on the right when we’re away. So this weekend, I’ll put my right sock on first because it will be Swansea v United.” “Next week, if I play against Benfica at Old Trafford, I’ll put my left sock on.” 

He added: “I also don’t like stepping on white lines on the pitch. When I cross a white line, I’ll take the first step with the foot that corresponds to whether we’re home or away.” 

Jamie Vardy 

Jamie Vardy’s superstitious ritual prior to every Leicester City Premier League game during their successful 2015-2016 season was quite unique – he would drink half a bottle of port and then gulp three cans of Red Bull in one go the day before a match. It looks like this truly gave him the wings he needed to soar to success! 

Cesc Fabregas 

Cesc Fabregas had a curious pre-game ritual involving his wife, Daniella Semaan. He would kiss a ring she gave him four times (his lucky number) before putting it in the locker and stepping out on the pitch. It seems that this little superstition helped him perform on the pitch as he was a key player for Chelsea 

Mesut Ozil 

Former Fenerbahce star Mesut Ozil had some unusual pre-game rituals, such as tying several knots in his boots and always making sure to put the right boot on first. We’re sure his kit man had a tough time dealing with this superstitious behavior! 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

I need to realise I'm not Superman' - How 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic is inspiring Milan's title charge | Sporting News Canada

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pre-game ritual involves a sex ban for his wife, Helena Seger, as he believes it affects his performance on the pitch. He admitted to having a particularly bad game after an evening of fun, so this superstition is definitely something he sticks to. 

Thibaut Courtois 

Thibaut Courtois is known to have a superstitious ritual that he follows during Belgium’s national anthem – he touches his chin for good luck. Observant fans have spotted this many times during games, and it looks like this ritual has been successful in keeping him at the top of his game! 

David Beckham 

Before leaving for a game, David Beckham (who admits he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder) was known to have a superstitious ritual of making sure all the condiments in his fridge were arranged perfectly. He had to make sure nothing was out of place before he left his house. 

Wayne Rooney 

Wayne Rooney’s pre-game snack of choice is no surprise – he loved to drink a bowl of Coco Pops cereal! This makes sense, as the cereal is known for its chocolatey taste, and it likely gives him a boost before taking the pitch. 

“I tend to have just a bowl of coco pops,” he once admitted. “The normal ones, not the moons and the stars.”

Gareth Bale announces retirement

Wales star Gareth Bale announces retirement from football

Former Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspurs great Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from football. Bale confirmed his decision in a statement on Instagram on Monday, saying he has taken an “opportunity for a new adventure.”

 

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The Wales superstar posted on Instagram: “After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from the club and international football.” He further added, “I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love. It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of highs over 17 seasons that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”

Bale began his career at Southampton before moving to Tottenham, where he spent six seasons and won two PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards. His exploits with Spurs earned him a blockbuster move to Madrid in 2013 for a reported fee of £ 77 million (€91m).

The Wales great further said, “To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC. All of my previous managers and coaches, back room staff, team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable.

Gareth Bale has been part of Southampton, Tottenham Hotspurs, Real Madrid and Los Angeles FC. The superstar has won three La Liga titles, the Champions League five times and the Club World Cup on three occasions during his time at Real Madrid.

Bale’s last appearance on the pitch was during their 3-0 defeat to England as Wales was knocked out of the World Cup group stage in Qatar. Bale had an impactful role in Wales. He led the team to an unimaginable run to the semi-finals at the 2016 Euro. He also played a vital role in the team qualifying for its first-ever FIFA World Cup.

Footballers who surprised everyone at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

The biggest sporting event in the world had everything to offer its fans. From controversies to legendary goals, football was the ultimate winner in the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup. One of the greatest players of all time, Lionel Messi, finally won the World Cup and completed football. The finals were set up between France and Argentina as both parties left their everything on the pitch to clinch the auspicious trophy. Kylian Mbappe bagged an iconic hat trick to take the game to the penalties, but Emi Martinez rose up to the occasion to win it for the Argentines. 

While the world celebrated Messi’s glory, some fans also felt bad for Kylian Mbappe. The PSG youngster was arguably the best player on the pitch that night, as he seemed to be unstoppable. However, Argentina proved to be a better side throughout the exciting finale as the South Americans didn’t allow France to take the lead even once in the game. The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Luka Modric, and Robert Lewandowski, alongside Lionel Messi, featured in their last World Cup. 

One of the most taking points of the World Cup will be the rise of the underdogs in the tournament. Qatar World Cup 2022 has already handed us plenty of new names who have the potential to become big names in the coming future. Apart from the usual big names, many players played exceptionally well in the tournament. Players like Yassine Bounou and Josko Gvardiol made a name for themselves with back-to-back world-class performances. Let’s have a look at the players who surprised everyone in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

5 Players who surprised everyone in the 2022 FIFA World Cup 

1) Yassine Bounou: Goalkeeper (Morocco) 

Yassine Bounou cible de Manchester United

Creator: Alex Pantling | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2022 Getty Images

Sevilla’s goalkeeper was one of the biggest surprise packages of this year’s World Cup. Yassine Bounou, also known as ‘Bono’, emerged as the leader from the back for the Moroccans in the Qatar World Cup 2022. Apart from his back-to-back solid performances, Bono was also a motivating factor for his team. Bono carried his side to the round of 16 after a heroic performance against Spain in the penalty shoot-out. Bono was also one of the best players for Morocco during their iconic win against Portugal in the quarter-finals. 

2) Josko Gvardiol: Centre-back (Croatia) 

Josko Gvardiol hands transfer boost to Real Madrid

Creator: Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2022 Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto

Croatia has created history in their two consecutive World Cup campaigns. The 2018 World Cup finalists managed to beat Brazil in the quarter-finals of this year’s tournament. Josko Gvardiol was Croatia’s wall in the back. The masked knight made sure that his goal was safe in his watch. Josko Gvardiol also scored a goal against Morocco to win it for Croatia in their fight for 3rd place in the Qatar 2022 World Cup. 

3) Sofyan Amrabat: Central midfield (Morocco) 

Surprise source now claims Sofyan Amrabat to Liverpool is a done deal

Creator: Francois Nel | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: 2022 Getty Images

Sofyan Amrabat took the World Cup 2022 by storm. He was arguably one of the best midfielders in the high-end competition. He single-handedly dominated the Spanish trio of

Gavi, Pedri, and Busquets in the Round of 16 clash. Amrabat is now being tipped to be joining a big club in the coming summer window. He was surely a surprise package of the 2022 World Cup. 

4) Cody Gakpo: Winger (Netherlands) 

Liverpool confirm signing of World Cup star Cody Gakpo | Arab News

Creator: ALBERT GEA | Credit: REUTERS

Cody Gakpo has made all the headlines recently as he joined the English giants Liverpool for a transfer fee of around £37 million. Liverpool didn’t waste any time signing the Dutch sensation after his spectacular stint in the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Gakpo created history after becoming the first Dutch player to score in all three of the group stage matches at a World Cup. The 23-year-old also became only the fourth Dutch player to score in three consecutive World Cup games — joining the likes of Johan Neeskens, Dennis Bergkamp, and Wesley Sneijder. 

5) Emi Martinez: Goalkeeper (Argentina) 

Emiliano Martinez:मार्टिनेज को 11 साल तक नहीं मिला मौका, 2021 में किया डेब्यू, दो साल में बदली मेसी की तकदीर - Who Is Emiliano Martinez Know About Argentina's Goal Keeper Life Story,

Creator: Buda Mendes | Credit: Getty Images Copyright: Buda Mendes

Emi Martinez has been in top form for a couple of years now, but he outdid himself in the 2022 World Cup. The Argentine was ruthless while defending his goal. He saved his country in back-to-back penalty shootouts against Netherlands and France in the semi-finals and the finals of the 2022 World Cup, respectively. He also won the Golden Gloves for his outstanding performance in the tournament.

What do you think about this list? Do you think any other football player deserved a mention? Comment your answers.

When football fans wreaked havoc in stadiums

5 times football fans wreaked havoc in the stadium

Football is nothing without its fans. It is safe to say that footballing enthusiasts are one of the most passionate devotees in the world. They support their respective clubs and countries with every inch of their soul. A loyal fan will never leave his side, even during its worst. A football fan will religiously enjoy a 0-0 draw while watching the match wholeheartedly. That’s what makes this beautiful game more special. 

Having said that, the same passion turns out to be dangerous once in a while. The love for the team makes the fans go wild and violent. We have seen the fans storming the field when their team goes a goal down. There have been many incidents where the match had to be stopped due to such behaviour. The fights between two rival clubs have accounted for countless injuries and hundreds of deaths on many occasions. Let’s have a look at some of the worst scenarios caused by the fans in football. 

5 times football fans wreaked havoc in the stadium 

1) Arema FC vs Persebaya Surabaya: 126 dead, 300 hospitalized 

Arema FC fans went berserk when their side lost their first home game in 23 years. Arema FC lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, and the loss was too much for the home supporters to take. Arema FC fans stormed into the Kanjuruhan Stadium, intending to injure the match officials and the players. Arema FC fans started throwing bottles and other objects at the referees and the players. The riot caused by the fans spread out of the stadium, with Arema FC fans setting more than 5 police vehicles on fire. 

When fans wreaked havoc in stadiums

Image Courtesy: Outlook India

The police were forced to use firing tear gas, which is banned by FIFA, to get the crowd under control. However, it only got worse as it led to a stampede as the fans were trying to exit the stadium. Some fans got injured due to the suffocation, and others were found dead in the stampede. Many people were reported dead in the panic caused, including two police officers and many children. The Indonesian police reported a total of 125 deaths, and more than 300 people were admitted to the hospital, many of whom died before reaching the hospital and also during the treatment. It is undoubtedly one of the worst moments in the history of any sport. 

2) Nice vs Cologne: 1 fan was heavily injured 

A dispute between the Nice and Cologne fans resulted in the delay in the kick-off time during their Europa Conference League match at the Allianz Riviera on September 2022. The UEFA Governing body released an official statement stating that the reason behind the delay was crowd disturbance. The footage on social media showed the Ultras throwing flares into the ground while fighting with other fans. French media publication RMC Sport later reported that one fan was heavily injured after falling from the stands. 

Cologne released an official statement quoting: ‘Unfortunately, the start of the game is delayed due to violent clashes between fans in the stadium and the stands. We are looking into the background,’ the German club quoted. Cologne captain Jonas Hector even had to come out and address the away fans through the PA system. ‘We want to play the game with you. We also want that game to take place. But we have to say that we do not like to see this,’ he said. ‘We worked damn hard last year and in the playoff. And we would very much like to do this with you and ask you to keep calm and support us as much as possible.’ 

3) Argentina fans vs Brazil Fans 

Now, this incident sums up the football fans for you. It is one of those incidents that will make you angry and surprised simultaneously. Now we have heard fans of Arsenal and Liverpool fighting with each other in India, but here we got fans of Brazil and Argentina getting into a tussle with each other. The FIFA World Cup fever got high in India, especially in the states like Kerala and Kolkata. While team India is yet to qualify for the World Cup, the footballing fans of India have already picked their favourite countries to support apart India. 

When football fans wreaked havoc in stadiums

DOHA, QATAR – DECEMBER 03: Players shake hands prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Argentina and Australia at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mike Hewitt – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar are highly influential, and they have their fans everywhere. Similarly, they have got Indian fans rooting for Portugal, Argentina, and Brazil in the absence of India in the FIFA World Cup. In the recent video, which was taken in Kollam, Kerala, we can witness Argentina and Brazil fans getting into a fight with each other during a rally passing through the Sakthikulangara area. A case was registered at the Sakthikulangara PS in Kollam for the same matter. 

4) Cruzeiro vs Atletico Mineiro: 1 shot to dead, 1 injured 

Brazilians love their football, and sometimes this passion for the game gets the better of them. A fan was killed before the match between Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro in March of 2022. The report adds that the 25-year-old man got shot in the stomach and was later announced dead in the hospital in Belo Horizonte. Another fan was shot in the shoulder during the incident. However, he survived the shot as he was declared stable. Cruzeiro and Atletico Mineiro, the defending Brazilian champions, were set to face each in a regional championship game. 

5) Gillingham FC vs Rotherham United 

Fans of Gillingham FC and Rotherham United invaded the pitch during their match in April 2022. The fan invasion later turned out to be a huge fight between the supporters of the two teams at Priestfield Stadium. The police arrested 20 or more people, and they were sentenced to unpaid work and jail time. Some of the fans were also banned from entering the stadium for at least 10 years. 

Superintendent Ray Quiller of Kent Police said: “There is no place in football or elsewhere in society for the type of violence and behaviour that occurred following this match. In the presence of genuine football supporters, including children, the actions of these individuals were unacceptable. Football Banning Orders were introduced in the late 1980s to help improve safety at matches. They remain an essential power at our disposal despite there being far fewer incidents today than there were back then. I am pleased to see them given in the circumstances of this case, and we will continue to seek these against offenders who act in this manner at football matches.”

Gillingham’s co-chairman, and chief executive, Paul Fisher, said: “The football club is pleased to see that the police have dealt with the unsavoury incident which occurred following the final whistle against Rotherham United. “Such behaviour will not be tolerated at a family club such as Gillingham.” 

Court prosecutor Pietro Matarazzo said: “It was the league one season’s last day, and Gills would go down if they lost, and Rotherham would go up if they won, and there was a large-scale pitch invasion.”

Lionel Messi In blue and white verticle line jersey

90min Football ranks Lionel Messi as the greatest footballer of all time

Lionel Messi, who recently won the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina, has been voted the greatest footballer of all time by 90min football. As per the report, Messi occupies the first spot, followed by fellow Argentine legend Diego Maradona and Brazil’s once-in-a-generation player Pele.

Lionel Messi has a lot of extraordinary achievements to his name. But the World Cup trophy eluded him. Now with the World Cup win, the forward has cemented his G.O.A.T. status. The greatest goal-scorer in Barcelona’s history has been voted UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 2011 & 2015 and won the 2014 & 2022 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball. He was also voted the 2005 Young European Footballer of the Year, among many other achievements.

The year 2012 saw Messi in his prime. At his peak, he scored 91 goals in a calendar year, won six Ballon d’Or, and a boatload of club honours; in his relative decline, he won another Ballon d’Or and guided Argentina to their third World Cup triumph by putting in one of the greatest individual tournament performances we’ve ever seen.

As per the report, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cryuff are ranked 4 and 5, respectively. The other footballers who are ranked in the top 10 comprise Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michel Platini and Roberto Baggio.

With Messi being ranked as the greatest footballer of all time, the debate about Ronaldo vs Messi should be put to an end. Do you think Messi is truly the greatest footballer? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Football managers who were once a player

7 football managers who were once a player

Footballers turning into a coach is not a rare sight in the footballing world. There are many players who have been exceptional players and later on transitioned into a manager.

Frank Lampard is one of the latest examples that comes to my mind. He is one of the greatest midfielders in the history of England and Chelsea and is now a full-time manager at Everton. The midfield maverick has successfully transitioned from being a player to a manager.

Another example can be Liverpool’s great Steven Gerrard. Gerrard is an all-time Liverpool great who played for Liverpool from 1998 to 2015, winning nine trophies, including the UEFA Champions League, two FA Cups, and three League Cups. After retirement, the central midfielder became a manager. He started his managerial career with Scottish side Rangers FC and then Aston Villa, a club in English Premier League. 

So, in this article, we take a look at the top 7 football players who transitioned into successful managers.

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane was a star player for clubs like Juventus and Real Madrid before becoming a manager and leading Real Madrid to multiple Champions League titles.

Zidane was super successful as a player, with many accolades under his name, including  FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003, and winning the 1998 Ballon d’Or. Capped 108 times by France, Zidane won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, scoring twice in the final, and was named to the All-Star team. This triumph made him a national hero in France, and he received the Legion of Honour in 1998. He won UEFA Euro 2000 and was named Player of the Tournament. He also received the Golden Ball as Player of the Tournament at the 2006 World Cup, despite his infamous sending-off in the final against Italy for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest. He retired as the fourth-most capped player in French history.

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane gesures during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Villarreal CF at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on May 22, 2021. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP) (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

After retiring as a player, Zidane began his coaching career at Real Madrid Castilla. He remained in the position for two years before taking the helm of the first team in 2016. In his initial two and a half seasons, Zidane became the first coach to win the Champions League three times in a row, won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup twice each, and a La Liga title and a Supercopa de España.

He resigned in 2018 but returned to the club in 2019 and won another La Liga and a Supercopa de España title before leaving again in 2021.

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola, who played as a midfielder for Barcelona and other teams before becoming a highly successful manager, is known for his attacking, possession-based style of play.

As a player, Guardiola was a defensive midfielder who usually played a deep-lying playmaker’s role. He spent most of his career with Barcelona, forming a part of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team, winning the club’s first European Cup in 1992 and four successive Spanish league titles from 1991 to 1994. He captained the team from 1997 until he departed from the club in 2001. Guardiola then had stints with Brescia and Roma in Italy, Al-Ahli in Qatar, and Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico. He was capped 47 times for the Spanish national team and appeared at the 1994 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000. He also played friendly matches for Catalonia.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MAY 03: Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City looks on during a press conference at Manchester City Football Academy on May 03, 2022 in Manchester, England. Manchester City will play their UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match against Real Madrid on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

He began his tenure as a manager with Barcelona B, with whom he won a Tercera División title. He took charge of the first team in 2008. In his first season, he led Barcelona to the treble of La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey, becoming the youngest manager to win the aforementioned European competition. In 2011, after leading the club to another La Liga and Champions League double, Guardiola was awarded the Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal, their highest honour. He was also named the FIFA World Coach of the Year the same year. He ended his four-year Barcelona stint in 2012 with 14 honours, a club record.

After Barcelona, Guardiola shifted his base to Bayern Munich. Guardiola won the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons as Bayern manager, including two domestic doubles. He left the Bavarians for Manchester City in 2016 and guided them to a Premier League title in his second campaign in charge, breaking numerous domestic records as the team became the first to attain 100 league points. To date, he has won four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups, and the FA Cup, including a domestic treble in the 2018–19 season. He also led the club to its maiden UEFA Champions League Final in 2021.

Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone was a defender for teams like Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid before becoming the manager of Atletico and leading the team to multiple domestic and international titles.

In his club career that started in 1987, Simeone played in Argentina, Italy, and Spain for Vélez Sarsfield, Pisa, Sevilla, Atlético Madrid, Inter Milan, Lazio, and Racing Club. He won a domestic double with Atlético Madrid in 1996, the UEFA Cup with Inter in 1998, another domestic double with Lazio in 2000, the 1999 UEFA Super Cup and the 2000 Supercoppa Italiana. Simeone was capped over 100 times for the Argentina national team and represented the country at 1994, 1998, and 2002 FIFA World Cups and in four editions of the Copa América, winning the tournament in 1991 and 1993.

Atletico Madrid’s Argentinian coach Diego Simeone addresses a press conference in Madrid on February 22, 2022, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match against Manchester United. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP) (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

After retiring as a player, Simeone coached Argentine sides Racing Club, Estudiantes de La Plata, River Plate, and San Lorenzo and Italian club Catania before joining Spanish club Atlético Madrid in 2011. 

He won the Argentine Primera División both with Estudiantes and River Plate and has had his biggest managerial success with Atlético Madrid, winning La Liga twice, the Copa del Rey, two UEFA Europa Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups, as well as being runner-up of the UEFA Champions League twice. Simeone is the longest-serving manager in La Liga, having stayed over a decade at Atlético.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho played as a midfielder for various Portuguese clubs before becoming a manager and winning league titles with teams like Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester United.

As a player, Jose Mourinho was a part of a lot of Portuguese teams, including Rio Ave B, Belenenses B, Sesimbra and Comércio e Indústria. Mourinho didn’t quite have a great playing career. However, his managerial career flourished better than expected.

RAZGRAD, BULGARIA – SEPTEMBER 08: AS Roma team coach Jose Mourinho reacts ahead the UEFA Europa League group C match between PFC Ludogorets Razgrad and AS Roma at Ludogorets Arena on September 08, 2022 in Razgrad, Bulgaria. (Photo by Vasile Mihai-Antonio/Getty Images)

Mourinho started his managerial career with Benfica and later had a term with the Portuguese club União de Leiria. After impressing with brief stints at Benfica and União de Leiria, Mourinho returned to Porto as a manager in 2002, winning the Primeira Liga twice, a Taça de Portugal, the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League, Porto’s first European Cup title since 1987. 

The success made him a big name in the coaching world. After winning the Champions League with Porto, Mourinho was approached by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to manage the club in 2004. With the club, he won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups in his three seasons at the club, before he departed in 2007 amid reports of disagreements with club owner Roman Abramovich.

In 2008, Mourinho joined the Italian club Inter Milan, where he won Serie A twice, including a European treble of Serie A, the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League in 2010, a first for an Italian club. This made him one of five coaches to have won the European Cup with two clubs, and later that year, earned him the first FIFA World Coach of the Year. Mourinho then moved to Real Madrid, where he won La Liga in 2011–12 with a record points tally, becoming the fifth coach to have won league titles in four countries. He also won a Copa del Rey and a Supercopa de España.

Mourinho left Real Madrid in 2013 and rejoined Chelsea, where he won another league title and League Cup, but was dismissed in 2015 after a poor run of results. Remaining in England, he was appointed at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively, but his tenure at both clubs was relatively short-lived and ended acrimoniously. Despite this, he won the UEFA Europa League, League Cup and FA Community Shield in his first season with Manchester United and led Tottenham to the final of the League Cup. He was soon hired by Roma, leading them to win the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League — this made him the first manager to both reach and win the final of a major European competition with four different clubs, the third manager to have won all three major European club competitions and the first to achieve the UEFA treble by winning the Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League and Europa Conference League.

Once dubbed “The Special One” by the British media, Mourinho is one of the most decorated managers and is widely considered among the greatest managers of all time.

Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp was a professional player in Germany before becoming a manager and leading Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool to numerous titles.

As a player, Klopp spent most of his playing career at Mainz 05. He was initially deployed as a striker but was later moved to defence. He was part of clubs like 1. FC Pforzheim, Eintracht Frankfurt II, Viktoria Sindlingen, Rot-Weiss Frankfurt and Mainz 05.

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on November 20, 2021. – – RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. 

After retiring, Klopp started assisting Mainz 05 and secured their promotion in 2004. After suffering relegation in the 2006–07 season and being unable to achieve promotion, Klopp resigned in 2008 as the club’s longest-serving manager. He then became manager of Borussia Dortmund, guiding them to the Bundesliga title in 2010–11 before winning Dortmund’s first-ever domestic double during a record-breaking season. Klopp also guided Dortmund to a runner-up finish in the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League before leaving in 2015 as their longest-serving manager.

After managing a couple of German clubs, Klopp decided to try his luck in Britain. Klopp was appointed manager of Liverpool in 2015. He guided the club to successive UEFA Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, winning the latter to secure his first – and Liverpool’s sixth – title in the competition. Klopp’s side finished second in the 2018–19 Premier League, registering 97 points, the then third-highest total in the history of the English top division and the most by a team without winning the title. The following season, Klopp won the UEFA Super Cup and Liverpool’s first FIFA Club World Cup before delivering Liverpool’s first Premier League title, amassing a club record of 99 points and breaking a number of top-flight records. These achievements won him back-to-back FIFA Coach of the Year awards in 2019 and 2020.

Franz Beckenbauer

Franz Beckenbauer is considered one of the greatest footballers of all-time and matched that success as a manager. He is one of only three men to win the World Cup as a player and manager.

Beckenbauer had a terrific playing career. He is widely regarded to be one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. A versatile player who started out as a midfielder, Beckenbauer made his name as a central defender. He is often credited with having invented the role of the modern sweeper.

Twice named European Footballer of the Year, Beckenbauer appeared 103 times for West Germany and played in three FIFA World Cups and two European Championships. He is one of three men, along with Brazil’s Mário Zagallo and France’s Didier Deschamps, to have won the World Cup as a player and as a manager; he lifted the World Cup trophy as captain in 1974 and repeated the feat as a manager in 1990.

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte is an Italian professional football manager who currently manages the English Premier Club Tottenham Hotspur.

Playing as a midfielder, Conte began his career at local club Lecce and later became one of the most decorated and influential players in the history of Juventus, having won, among others, five Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Cup, also becoming the team’s captain from 1996 until 2001. He also played for the Italy national team and participated in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000, where Italy finished runners-up on both occasions.

2JNYEM3 London, England, 14th August 2022. Antonio Conte, Manager of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture credit should read: Paul Terry / Sportimage

His managerial career started in 2006, leading Bari to a Serie B title, and Siena to promotion from the same division two years later. He took over at Juventus in 2011 and won three consecutive Serie A titles before taking charge of the Italian national team in 2014 until UEFA Euro 2016, where he led them to the quarter-finals. He then became Chelsea manager and led them to the Premier League title in his first season in charge, then winning the FA Cup in his second season but being dismissed as they finished fifth in the league. 

Conte joined Inter Milan a year later, leading the team to the UEFA Europa League final in his first season, then winning the 2020-2021 Serie A title in his second season before stepping down in mutual consent. He is currently managing the English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

So who among the managers who were once a player is your favourite?

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