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CRISTIANO RONALDO wants to return his Ballon d’Or award as he feels Lionel Messi deserves the accolade more.

The Real Madrid superstar picked up his fifth Ballon d’Or award earlier this month to move level with the Barcelona forward on the amount of times to have won the prestigious trophy.

Cristiano Ronaldo is not known for his humility and Mundo Deportivo have decided to mock the 32-year-old with their story based on this month’s earlier events.

Ronaldo won five titles with Los Blancos in 2017, including last season’s Champions League and La Liga.

But this season he has struggled to find form and after last week’s humiliating 3-0 defeat to Barca in El Clasico, Ronaldo told his team-mates he wanted to return the award.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Would Cristiano Ronaldo ever consider giving up his Ballon d’Or trophy to Lionel Messi.

In what could only be imagined, Ronaldo took a stand in the dressing room after the match to declare his admiration for arch rival Lionel Messi.

The completely made-up quote claimed Ronaldo said: “I rushed saying that I am the best in history, the whole planet has witnessed once again that the best is Messi.

“The most just thing is that I return the ball, I do not deserve it,”

His family, friends and team-mates all urged Ronaldo to reconsider but Ronaldo felt the right thing was to return the award to the director of France Football.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s 15 goals in La Liga this season sees Barcelona 14 points clear of Real Madrid

While Ronaldo rightly won the Ballon d’Or award for 2017, the former Manchester United star won’t be a leading contender for next year’s award if he takes his recent form into 2018.

Ronaldo has netted just four La Liga goals this season compared to Messi’s 15.Madrid sit fourth in the table and trail leaders Barca by 14 points.

A want-away star, a massive fee, and a January move. This time around, Liverpool stand to benefit.

 

Liverpool are determined to push forward Naby Keïta’s arrival at the club, to bring the 22-year-old Guinean star to Anfield six months ahead of schedule. They will have to pay a premium to get it done, though, with Red Bull Leipzig demanding at least £13M to let the midfielder leave this month.

It could be even more than that, with some reports setting Leipzig’s January price for Keïta at closer to £17M in addition to the roughly £54M they are already guaranteed. However, it might not be quite as steep a price as it looks at first glance, as Liverpool always expected to pay more than £54M.

That was the base fee, meeting Keïta’s £48M release clause plus paying a £6M premium to secure the deal a summer early and stop any other clubs moving for him, but it escalated by another £6M if Leipzig made the Europa League and another £6M beyond that if they made the Champions League.

Leipzig are currently in the midst of a frantic top four race in the Bundesliga, one of seven teams within four points of each other all battling it out for one of the three places behind runaway league leaders Bayern Munich. And so Leipzig, fairly understandably, want that top-line fee guaranteed.

They also want a little extra for their trouble. Which also isn’t a surprise. If the deal goes through, at the high end it would see Liverpool pay around £70M for Keïta according to the Guardian—just £4M more than if they waited until the summer and Leipzig made the Champions League.

At the low end, it would see Liverpool pay just around the £66M Leipzig would have been due at the end of the season if they made the Champions League. It isn’t, when you come right down to it, an unreasonable stance for the selling club to take, especially when they know Liverpool are flush with cash.

Meanwhile, Bild in Germany are reporting that Keïta is now agitating for a move and seeming to hold himself back in training. They also claim that Keïta stopped taking German lessons in the autumn and has instead been learning English. That, in short, his head is already out of Leipzig and in Liverpool.

It all sounds rather like what Liverpool were forced to deal with in the case of Philippe Coutinho, if perhaps a touch less antagonism—so far, at least. And, of course, this time Liverpool look set to gain by it. As long as they’re willing to give Leipzig the fee they’re looking for

Joe Gomez made a wave by describing his teammate as a “shark” in the way he presses.

 

It is easy to forget how instrumental Adam Lallana was last season. His lengthy injury spell, paired with some fantastic stuff by the already defunct “fab four,” somewhat diminished Lallana’s role in the squad, at least in the minds of many supporters.

This is a mistake. Lallana was rightfully one of the first names on the team sheet last year, and instrumental in setting Jurgen Klopp’s famous gegenpressing style of heavy metal football. We might have scored (and conceded) loads, same as last season, but our press has suffered without the former Southampton man. No, not that former Southampton man, the other one.

His teammates, however, have not forgotten.

“He always gets it right. That doesn’t just mean running, it’s timing,” Joe Gomez explained in an interview with the club’s official website, sounding a great deal like his German boss. “He senses it; like a shark when they see blood, they attack.

“He sees when there’s an iffy pass or the weight of pass is off or someone has a dodgy touch, he is going to punish you quickly.

“Even if he doesn’t win the ball, he is creating the possibility for someone else to just from his press. That’s massive with the style of play the manager wants. He is so important.”

“It’s because he’s so good at it. It’s not just pressing and you can shift it and go – because he will trap you. It’s frustrating because you’re always wary, he’s going to come.

“Everyone knows how infectious [his pressing] is. That’s something we have missed.

“He is massive for the team. What he did last season was phenomenal. We have been unlucky not to have him so far this season but everyone is buzzing that he is back.”

We have yet to see a fully fit Lallana since his return from the injury he sustained in preseason. However, if the 29-year-old can return to last season’s form, a season in which he scored 8 goals and added 7 assists, it will go a long way toward becoming Liverpool’s Ringo, to Philippe Coutinho’s Pete Best.

While Liverpool has not necessarily missed Lallana’s impressive offensive contributions from last campaign, they have missed his pressing. Hopefully a solid run of games and a clean bill of health will show us what we’ve been missing.

The expectation is that this is Can’s final Liverpool season, but the player insists his focus is on the present.

 

Whatever happens beyond this season for Emre Can, the midfielder insists that in the present he’s only focused on one thing: winning silverware with Liverpool this season. Though he’s not willing to give any hints when it comes to what his future might hold beyond the current campaign, for now that’s his sole concern.

“There are still many games with Liverpool to concentrate on,” he told The Liverpool Echotoday when asked what it is that the future holds for the German midfielder who is in his fourth season on Merseyside and turns 24 on Friday. “I hope to be able to stay healthy and go to the World Cup in the summer.

“We have been in a good way and we want to try to continue winning as many games as possible and hopefully that can mean having a good run in the FA Cup as well as the Premier League and the Champions League. We want to win a trophy. We are full of belief that winning a title is something this squad is capable of.”

Speculation has been high that his future is already all but decided and that he will sign a pre-contract agreement with Juventus before the end of the month, and while Can may be moving on, he’s committed to Liverpool for the current season—something Jürgen Klopp asks of all his players at the start of each season.

He also wants to develop further as a player before he goes—if he goes—noting that while he’s learned a lot so far in his time at the club, he knows there’s still room for him to grow and improve and that that is a must if he’s to develop into the kind of dynamic, physical presence in midfield that he has the talent to become.

“Not too many people play that many games for a club like Liverpool by the age of 23 and you can’t do that if you are not a good player,” he added. “I’m very thankful to all the trainers, the manager and all the staff here for the part they have played in helping me to achieve—without them it wouldn’t have been possible.

“I am always my own biggest critic and although I am pleased with my development in these three-and-a-half seasons but I know there are a lot of areas that I can still improve.

Thomas Lemar is all but officially up for sale today after Monaco’s manager admitted that with the amount of money in the market they would simply be unable to hold on to the talented 22-year-old French international if push came to shove and a significant bid—with €70M the rumoured asking price—came in.

“You know how crazy the market is,” manager Leonardo Jardim said today. “Things happen that even a club like Monaco cannot say no to. It happened to Liverpool. Things are as they are. The numbers today are incredibly big. Everything can change. The things I can say today are not true tomorrow.”

Earlier in the week, Jardim had come out strongly against the idea of selling Lemar. Each day since has seen his stance soften slightly until now when he’s admitted there is a price at which, even mid-season, Monaco would sell the creative young attacker who likes to take up space between wing and attacking midfield.

“In the last two transfer windows, last summer and this winter, the numbers have gone up enormously,” Jardim continued. “I still want to keep Lemar. If I stay here for 10 years I want Lemar to stay with me for 10 years—he is young, he can still play for 10 years, and he has a lot of qualities. I like him a lot.”

In the summer, Lemar blocked a last-minute Arsenal move because the player preferred Liverpool—and with Liverpool unwilling to meet Arsenal’s €90M bid, the window closed with the player still at Monaco. Now, the Gunners appear to have moved on to Malcom, admitting they can’t win the race to sign Lemar.

Monaco, too, appear to have since lowered their asking price to around what Liverpool were willing to pay on deadline day since, unlike at the end of August, if they sold Lemar now they would at least have time to reinvest the money. If Liverpool still want him, all signs point to a deal being possible this month.

It’s not confirmed they do still want him, of course, but given how serious their interest was in the summer—the club had a medical team on standby to fly to Paris for Lemar on deadline day—and The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce has suggested they might at least return for him in the summer, it seems likely.

Given Lemar is cup tied—as is Naby Keïta and Liverpool’s other rumoured big January target, Roma goalkeeper Alisson—it’s conceivable the club is intent on using January to lock down second in the league this season and then roll into a title challenge in 2017-18 with minimal summer turnover.

Carlos Carvalhal is determined to hold onto star defender Alfie Mawson, suggesting Swansea would only consider selling the England Under-21 defender if they received an offer in the region of £50 million.

Mawson has been heavily linked with Watford and West Ham in the January transfer window, while Celtic and Everton are also reportedly interested in the 23-year-old Londoner.

Swansea signed Mawson from Barnsley for £5m in August 2016 and he has two-and-a-half-years left on his contract at the Liberty Stadium.

But Carvalhal insists buying rather than selling is on the agenda of the Premier League’s bottom club this month, with the Portuguese saying that chairman Huw Jenkins has given him assurances that Mawson will not be leaving the club.

“When I signed [as manager last month] it was very clear we would try and bring in players to improve the team,” he said.

“We will not sell the best players in January, the message is clear.

“I have had guarantees from the chairman, but it depends if someone comes in and gives £50m, £100m, £250m.

“Of course, then it is completely different — to me, [Philippe] Coutinho or Neymar.

“You can never say that it will not happen, but the fundamental idea is not to sell players and try to improve the team.”

Carvalhal used a fishing analogy last week when he suggested Swansea would have to buy “sardines and not lobster” in January.

If that was a sign that Swansea will not be spending millions in their attempt to escape relegation, Carvalhal said the club have been busy in their pursuit of targets.

Keeping the fishing talk going, he said: “The boat is on the sea — but the fish didn’t bite the hook.

“There is nothing so far, but you never know when the boat is on the sea.

“It depends if you have a storm or whether the fish are sleeping or not if they come to the boat or not.

“I won’t talk about numbers but I want quality players. If we bring some quality players in, it will be on our budget.”

Swansea travel to Newcastle on Saturday with doubts over Renato Sanches and Tammy Abraham.

However, South Korea midfielder Ki Sung-yueng could return after a month out with a calf injury.

“The team against Watford, Tottenham and Wolves played like I want at that moment,” Carvalhal said about his first three games in charge.

“Let’s see game by game. It is not just the philosophy, it is trying to achieve points.

“It will not happen in two days or two weeks.

“It might not be possible for the team to play as I want after just a month, what is important is that we fight to win games.”

West Ham United are open to offers for striker Javier Hernandez during this month’s transfer window, sources close to the club have confirmed to ESPN FC.

Hernandez only joined West Ham last summer in a £16 million deal from German side Bayer Leverkusen but has struggl…..ed to make the desired impact, scoring just four goals in 21 appearances.

Sources added that West Ham feel the Mexico international, who has started five of the last six Premier League games on the bench, does not fit their style of play and a departure may be best for all parties.

The Evening Standard, which first reported West Ham’s willingness to sell, linked Hernandez with a move to Major League Soccer’s LAFC, but sources in the U.S. said the expansion club are happy with their current options in attack.

LAFC have already used two of their three designated player slots — reserved for high salaries — on forwards in Mexico’s Carlos Vela and Uruguayan teenager Diego Rossi. They join Costa Rica striker Marco Urena ahead of the club’s inaugural MLS season.

And Portuguese news outlet Record reported that LAFC were in talks with Benfica to sign 21-year-old midfielder Andre Horta, who’s currently on loan at Braga, in a €6 million deal.

However, in an interview last week with SPORTDOMINION, LAFC manager Bob Bradley joked that he wouldn’t turn down a talent like Hernandez.

“That one is left with the ownership,” Bradley said with a smile. “From the standpoint of the manager, Chicharito is a big player, big personality, great goal scorer.

“So if Will Ferrell, the rest of the ownership can bring that commitment, I can figure out a way to get him on the field and help him score goals.”