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    J1894S
    League sponsors, television deals, football kits and managers. All these have changed over the last nine years in the Premier League with one constant remaining: David Silva being the best Spanish import English football has ever seen.
    In the following paragraphs, I am going to give my opinion on why Silva is worthy of this title.
    Signing from Valencia in July 2010 for £26 million, the attacking midfielder known as ‘El Mago’ joined Manchester City stating that he wanted to bring success and trophies to the Cityzens. Mirroring his playing style, Silva managed to assist City in bringing trophies to the Etihad Stadium, winning the club’s first league title since 1968 in the 2011/2012 season thanks to the world famous Aguero goal in the dying seconds of the last game of the season. Going on to lift the league title again in 2014 and 2018 David Silva was instrumental in another moment in Manchester City’s history adding more silverware to his collection. Only winning player of the month once so far in September 2011, this also represents how underrated the World Cup winner is. 
    Being compared to fine wine by fellow Spanish national and current City manager Pep Guardiola, the attacking playmaker is getting better as the years roll one. Relating his performances in the Premier League to his statistics, Silva boasts 54 goals and 81 assists to date after appearing 275 times in the division. In total, he has contributed to 135 goals since arriving in England, which is an impressive feat from a midfielder, who has to track back and defend more in Pep’s playing style since arriving in 2016.
    Being the best Spanish player in Premier League history is not easy task for City’s magician with 133 Spanish players gracing the league since it formed. The best being considered alongside Silva are the likes of: Fernando Torres firing for Liverpool and Chelsea in his peak, Xabi Alonso being irreplaceable in 2005 when Liverpool won the Champions League, and Cesc Fàbregas’ involvement in a winning Arsenal and Chelsea side not going unnoticed.
    Contribution to goals is vital for developing and playing in a team that desires and craves a winning mentality and philosophy. Standing at 135 goals and assists so far with two more years on his contract will allow Silva to strive for a round 200 which would establish him as the best Spanish player in Premier League history as well as one of the best creative midfielders the league has ever seen in my opinion.

    Fernando Torres ended his Premier League career on 85 goals and 29 assists after playing for Liverpool and Chelsea, winning the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League all with the latter club. With a total of 114 goals contributed to, Torres was once considered the best Forward in the Premier League during 2011. Tailing off towards the end of his Chelsea career, as a striker I believe Torres although having a clear eye for goal, does not come close to knocking Silva of the top spot due to Silva contributing more to the game from a position further down the pitch.
    Xabi Alonso made 143 appearances in the league, scoring 14 goals and assisting 17 during this time. Like Torres, Alonso never lifted the league trophy, an achievement he has often said he had achieved during his career at Liverpool. Alonso’s creativity from box-to-box allowed beautiful spraying passing to open up opposition defences and to control the midfield, but what tips Silva over the mark for me is the recognition of lifting the League trophy not once but three times in his career so far in England while being a prominent name in the City line-up.
    Following the trend of Spanish maestro’s in England, Cesc Fàbregas became a fan favourite during his time at Arsenal with his array of passing and sensational goals. Second of the all-time list for league assists behind Ryan Giggs’ record of 162, Cesc Fàbregas tallied 111 during his time at two London based clubs, captaining Arsenal and Chelsea retrospectively. With 50 goals also attached to Fàbregas’ record in the league, an impact of 161 goal contributions puts him second on the list in my opinion.
    So why does Silva tip Fàbregas to the best Spanish player in the history of the Premier League?
     
    David Silva is 26 contributed goals of being the best performing Spaniard in the league’s history, and with two years left on his current contract, he is sure to break this record. His incredible feat of numbers is unmatchable when compared to his appearance rate of 275 games played in the league, 69 appearances fewer than Cesc Fàbregas. The impact he creates at City to help win games and trophies while improving his scoring rate each year while aged 33 is testament to how vital he is to the Manchester City team and their quest to continue winning titles and helping to improve the players around him is why I believe David Silva is the best Spanish player in Premier League history.
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    Bainbridge NCFC
    Over the years, Football fans have been divided in opinion whether it be the teams they choose to support or the English midfielder debate of Lampard v Gerrard. Players have often been compared to others that have never played at the same time together and often compared in both prime times. But one rivalry that has got fans debating for the past 10+ years has been that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It has been an age old battle between 2 of European Footballs greatest ever players. The real question though shouldn't be who's better but should we appreciate these 2 great footballers rather than compare them? As we may never witness another battle quite like this ever again. 
    Some fans will argue the case that Ronaldo has been there and done that in conquering the Premier League and then moving to Spain to conquer more records ,and most recently ventured off to Italy for another challenge, where as Messi has only ever played for Barcelona, a team that has had bags of talent over the years with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. pulling the strings. There is also the argument that Ronaldo has something Messi has failed to achieve in his career, an International Trophy, with Portugal winning Euro 2016. Despite the efforts of Messi finishing runners up on 4 occassions with Argentina. 
    On the flip side, many people argue the fact that Messi is more of a team player than Ronaldo and will pass up oppurtunities to benefit his team rather than have personal glory. Despite having the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. Is Messi the real reason for Barcelona's dominance since the young Argentinian prodigy arrived on the scene in 2004? His own personal records speak volumes as to say that he could light up any team no matter the players that he is surrounded by and if he was to have joined the same clubs as Ronaldo has been to, might of replicated or beaten his rivals records.
    Since Ronaldo's arrival at Real Madrid in 2009, there have been 38 El Classico's with Messi's Barcelona coming out the better with 17 wins compared with 10 wins for Ronaldo's Real Madrid and playing out 11 Draws in the timespace from Ronaldo joining and leaving Real Madrid in 2018. It can also be added that during this time, they have a combined 640 La Liga goals in 601 games. Messi 329 goals in 309 games and Ronaldo 311 goals in 292 games. Both goal ratio's are unbelievable, which seems unlikely to be replicated anywhere else in the footballing world.
    Records and Achievements speak for themselves and these 2 goaliths are not shy when it comes to awards and trophies. Combining the records achieved by both these exceptional players are stats that seems too good to be true.
    1,177 goals in 1,464 games at club level - 
    Ronaldo (592 goals, 793 games) 4 different clubs
    Messi (585 goals, 671 games) 1 club
    Record goalscorers both Club & International Level - 
    Ronaldo (85 goals, 154 Caps Portugal) (450 goals, 438 games Real Madrid)
    Messi (65 goals, 128 games Argentina) (585 goals, 671 games Barcelona)
    Combined personal Awards - 268
    Ronaldo - 135
    Messi - 133
    Both winning the Ballon D'or a record 5 times.
    Combined Trophies at club level - 58
    Messi - 32
    Ronaldo - 26
    Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 - 40
    Messi - 25
    Ronaldo - 15
    Combined Champions League Goals - 228 in 293 games
    Ronaldo - 122 in 163 games
    Messi - 106 in 130 games
    Ronaldo's notable achievements - 
    - Only player to score 50 or more goals in 6 consecutive seasons
    - Only player to score 60+ goals in a calendar year for 4 consecutive years.
    Messi's notable achievements - 
    - World record 91 goals for both club and country in a single calendar year in 2012
    - Only player to win more than 1 Club World Cup golden boot
    Considering all these records, these 2 players will forever go down as Legends. We may never see a battle quite like this ever again and we may never see players destroy records like both Ronaldo and Messi have done over the years. Stats will forever remain and this will forever go down as one of the greatest battles between players in footballing history. There is no comparing these players in their prime, as we are living in the moment of 2 of footballs greatest ever players. But as always, fans will forever be divided as to who is the better player. Should we just appreciate the players while they are still playing? Should we argue as to who was better when both these players retire? 
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    Bainbridge NCFC
    Here at Football Manics, in our own opinions we are analysing the Top 5 Players from the Premier League.
    Here is a list, in no particular order, of the players I personally believe to be the best in each league with explanations of why I have chosen these players to be included in the list. There will also be an additional list of players who may have gone under the radar and deserve notable mentions.
    The Premier League, arguably the best league in the world.
    Top 5
    Eden Hazard - Footwork that could mesmorise and terrorise any defence. The only way that defenders manage to stop him in his tracks is usually to bring him down. Though many believe him to blow hot and cold, when he is on his game, Chelsea usually benefit from him being in the squad. There is no surprise that Real Madrid wanted to recruit him as a replacement for a certain CR7.
    Sergio Aguero - That moment against QPR to win the title for Manchester City in the 2011/12 season is enough to make him a legend. A prolific goal scorer who can score goals whether it be a simple tap in or an outrageous strike outside the box. He has written himself in both Manchester City and Premier League history books by being Manchester City's all time top goalscorer and only the sixth player to score or assist 200 goals for one club in the Premier League.
    Virgil Van Dijk - The Liverpool defender has become a firm favourite with his club since his £75million move from Southampton. A solid no nonsense defender who has shown his class in defence which he has shown on multiple occassions which has lead to Liverpool becoming title contenders this season most notably due to a great defensive record which has also been helped by the recent addition of Alisson in goal who has formed a great partnership with his centre back.
    Christian Eriksen - On his day the Spurs playmaker can change the whole complexion of the game with excellent passing ability and great striking qualities. Whether it be a long range pass or simple keep ball passing he finds himself time and again opening up defences and setting away Spurs front players. If he's not assisting he's more than likely taking a pop at goal and usually finding the net or at least troubling goalkeepers.
    Kevin De Bruyne - The goal against Brazil and the counter attack he lead against Japan to seal a win for Belgium in the World Cup is just one of the many qualities in which De Bruyne possesses. He was pivotal in Manchester City's record breaking title winning season last season. His distribution to perfectly land the ball at the attackers feet, given that you have the likes of Aguero, Jesus and Sterling up top, it's no surprise that he usually has an assist to his name in most games.
    Notable Mentions
    Gabriel Jesus - Coming into the Manchester City will be hard for any striker considering that they are challenging Sergio Aguero for a starting position but Jesus has shown game after game that he is capable of competing with Aguero to become City's main striker. At one point, with Pep Guardiola's squad rotation system, Jesus was often picked ahead of Aguero and kept him out of the team for a few games. Deadly in front of goal with him netting in virtually every game he plays.
    Gylfi Sigurdsson - Possibly Everton's best player in recent seasons. He is a very similar player to the likes of Christian Eriksen in terms of playmaking abilities and passing ability. Sigurdsson is virtually involved in every goal in which Everton score, whether it be scoring a free kick, assisting an attacker with a delicate through ball or even in the build up play, he will be there heavily involved.
    Bernardo Silva - Has become a firm favourite with the Blues of Manchester. He shows the abilities of what a great midfielder should possess to become a decent player. His passing is next to none, which you'd expect from a Pep Guardiola team, but also he manages to find himself in pockets of space even when there are players around him watching him every step.
    David Silva - An ever present for Manchester City, works hard for the team and his passing has been shown to be excellent for years gone by. He finds the space to pop up inside the box to find a way to either square the ball or find the space to take a pop at goal which usually has one outcome which is to hit the back of the net.
    Andrew Robertson - One of the major factors in Liverpool's push for the title. An excellent left back with the ability to drive forward with the ball and go from defence to attack in a matter of moments. Liverpool have been looking for a left back to fill a void which has been left for years since the days of John Arne Riise but Robertson might just be the answer to there problems.
    However, the battle for the Premier League's top goalkeeper is still there for the taking. Hugo Lloris, Alisson and David De Gea are all the main contenders. De Gea has stuttered during last years World Cup and at the beginning of the season for his Club but has since shown why he was once regarded as a World Class goalkeeper. Hugo Lloris has been Spurs undoubted number 1 for years and Pochettino has been sure of that having not bought in a serious contender for his number 1 spot showing him the support which any player would love to have and he has certainly repaid his managers faith by making outstanding saves and being a huge part in Tottenham's rise to be a top 4 team in recent years. Alisson may have been an expensive purchase for Liverpool in the summer but he has certainly shown why Liverpool paid all that money for him with his solid performances in goal which has lead to Liverpool being one of the toughest teams to score against this season. Although, early in the season he was almost caught out multiple times with him keeping the ball a little too long trying to play out from the back.
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    Bainbridge NCFC
    On the 12th of February 2019, the footballing world was shocked and devastated to hear about the passing of England's World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks. Here at Football Manics, we would like to take a moment and pay tribute to a legendary goalkeeper.
    Gordon Banks is proclaimed as England's greatest ever goalkeeper, not only because he is the only goalkeeper in England's history to win a World Cup, but because he was an outstanding goalkeeper in every aspect.
    Who could ever forget that save against Pele during the 1970 World Cup. The ability and athleticism to get down low and tip the ball round the post and over the bar from a perfect downwards header from Pele himself. The commentary in itself suggests how good that save was on its own "what a save". Not only is this save made famous because it was England v Brazil or whether it was because it was Pele in his prime but the way Banks saved the ball which was certainly destined for goal is absolutely astonishing.
    During his time at Leicester City, Banks had a huge impact on what was to be his successor at both club and international level, Peter Shilton. There is no doubt that Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks are regarded as England's best ever goalkeepers but having been the understudy to Banks for years, it is with no surprise that Shilton was as good as he was.
    In 1972, Gordon Banks lost sight in his right eye following a car accident which ended his career at both International and Top-Flight level.
    Not only is the achievement of winning the World Cup with his country and being the only goalkeeper thus far to win the World Cup with England impressive enough, he also has a few other honourable mentions to his name.
    In May 2006, Banks was inducted as the first legend to be inducted into a new Walk of Fame, where you will see a plaque outside Sheffield Town Hall. In July 2008, outside Stoke City's Stadium there was an unveiling of Banks holding the world cup 4 years before making that incredible save against Pele. Banks was also inducted into the City of Stoke Hall of Fame in March 2011.
    In 1965, during a game between Leicester City and Manchester United at the old Filbert Street, a stray dog entered the pitch. Who else but Gordon Banks to dive down and get to grips with the dog. The picture of him with that stray dog is absolutely legendary and will never be forgotten. Not only was he a master at saving a football, he shown us that his goalkeeping ability goes far beyond that.
    Gordon Banks will always be remembered, not only by football fans but by many people across the World. An inspiration to many, a hero to most and a legend to everyone.
    Rest in Peace Gordon Banks. Thank you for the wonderful memories you have provided over the years.
    FM-News
    Pep Guardiola has claimed that Manchester City will be judged "failures" if they do not win the Champions League.
    A point away at Lyon on Tuesday night will guarantee qualification for the knockout stages while victory will ensure they progress as Group F winners.
    Guardiola's side have won both their away fixtures in the competition so far, but he believes it is not enough to satisfy their critics.
    "For the people who don't love us too much, who use money as an argument, then we have failed if we don't win the Champions League," he said.
    "For the other people, especially our fans, the people who say, 'OK, we enjoy watching our games, we are happy with what the guys are doing', I am pretty sure they don't have regrets about what these guys are doing for the last 12, 14, 15 months every three days.
    "That is the best compliment, the best success a team can have.
    "But we want to qualify [for the last 16], continue that level in the Premier League, being solid away and at home, and arrive in the best condition possible [at that stage] with everyone fit and [ready to] compete.
    "Then - OK, try it again, why not? And if we go to the quarter-finals and maybe you are lucky to go forward. After that, the competition it speaks for itself. A lot of desires, a lot of wishes we can have at the end.
    "The competition is so tough, so clinical, to say if you are better you are going to win, if you don't, you are going home."
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    FM-News
    Mick McCarthy has been confirmed as Republic of Ireland manager.
    The Football Association of Ireland [FAI] turned to McCarthy after Martin O'Neill stepped down last week following a run of one win in 11 games.
    He will be assisted by former Wolves boss Terry Connor and Ireland's record goalscorer Robbie Keane, who made his debut under McCarthy during the 59-year-old's first spell in charge.
    A former Ireland captain who won 57 caps and played at Euro 1988 and the 1990 World Cup, McCarthy succeeded Jack Charlton as Irish manager in 1996.
    After missing out on qualification for two major tournaments following play-off defeats to Belgium and Turkey, McCarthy led Ireland to the 2002 World Cup.
    He has signed a two-year contract and will be succeeded by Stephen Kenny after the Euro 2020 finals - Kenny has left his post with Dundalk and take charge of the Ireland U21s.
    "I'm honoured and excited to be back with the Republic of Ireland. I am delighted that the FAI board and CEO have given me this opportunity to lead the team to Euro 2020," said McCarthy.
    "I have been involved in club football for the last 15 years, so this will be a new challenge but one that I know well. I'm delighted to have Terry Connor, a trusted colleague and excellent coach, and Robbie Keane, one of the finest players who I had the pleasure of managing, helping me as assistant coaches.
    "I am looking forward to getting started and embracing this challenge to qualify for Euro 2020, where it would be fantastic to play in front of the Ireland supporters in Aviva Stadium."
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    FM-News
    Maurizio Sarri has admitted that he doubts Chelsea would keep him as head coach if he went four years without winning a trophy at Stamford Bridge.
    Sarri's Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino has managed precisely that feat, with the two coming up against each other for the first time in the Premier League on Saturday.
    They both share the unwanted distinction of not having won any silverware in their managerial careers, but Sarri admits that his drought probably needs to end if he is to remain in his post.
    Asked if he would be afforded four years at Chelsea without a trophy, Sarri told Sky Sports: "I don't think so, but I don't know.
    "It's up to the club - if it's more important to win, or more important to improve the players.
    "I want to win something, just to avoid this question. Sometimes there are the conditions for winning. Sometimes not.
    "It's clear he (Pochettino) is a very important coach, with a trophy or without a trophy."
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    FM-News
    Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has categorically ruled out making any signings during the January transfer window.
    The Spaniard confirmed on Friday that Benjamin Mendy will miss the next 10-12 weeks following surgery.
    Asked if that might prompt him to look at reinforcing his squad in January, Guardiola said he would not be making any further additions to his squad.
    "In January, no window. No, no," Guardiola told Sky Sports.
    "We're not going to spend anything. I am so happy with the squad and the people that are coming back. No, no.
    "When we created the squad at the beginning of the season it was [so that we] don't go to January [and make transfers] except if you have problems. but I have enough in the squad. I trust all of them.
    "We are not going to go the market in January, no way."
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    FM-News
    Paco Alcacer has signed a permanent contract with Borussia Dortmund after impressing on loan from Barcelona.
    The 25-year-old moved to BVB on a season-long loan in the summer but has now signed a contract until 2023.
    Alcacer has been instrumental in the Bundesliga outfit's impressive start to the season, scoring nine goals in all competitions so far.
    "I'm very happy in Dortmund, at BVB and in this wonderful team," Alcacer told the club's website.
    "Borussia Dortmund was and is exactly the right decision for me. I'll do everything I can to say thank you for your trust!"
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    FM-News
    Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante has signed a new contract which will take him to 2023.
    The France international has put pen to paper on a new five-year deal, the club confirmed on Friday.
    Kante signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2016, following a debut season in the Premier League which ended with a title medal with Leicester City.
    "I'm happy to extend my time with Chelsea, it has been two beautiful years and I wish for more to come," Kante told Chelsea's official webiste.
    "Since I came, I completely improved as a player, challenged myself and got some awards I never thought about. I like the city, I like the club and I am happy to be here for more time."
    Kante won another Premier League title in his debut season with the Blues, before going on to lift the World Cup with France in Russia this summer.
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    FM-News
    Brighton & Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton has stated that he is not interested in taking over as Republic of Ireland manager.
    Martin O'Neill left his role as ROI manager on Wednesday after a disappointing Nations League campaign.
    Hughton, who played 53 times for Ireland between 1979 and 1991, has been in charge at Brighton since 2014 and has guided them to 12th in the Premier League so far this season.
    The 59-year-old also worked as Ireland's assistant manager for two and a half years under Brian Kerr.
    When asked if he was interested in the Ireland manager's job, Hughton said: "No. What I am very interested in is the job that I am doing here.
    "I have got a group of players that have worked very hard to get into this division and that is where all my thoughts and concentrations are."
    Under O'Neill, Ireland managed just one win in 11 games since last November and were relegated from Nations League group B without winning a single match.
    Speaking about Ireland's current poor form, Hughton added: "I think it is probably the normal challenges that come with international football.
    "You are always going to get periods of time when the squad is particularly strong but over the last few years there have been changing dynamics of the squad.
    "At international level it is always about qualifying for major championships and that will be the job for the next manager."
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    FM-News
    Martin O'Neill has stated that he left his role as Republic of Ireland manager "with a heavy heart", having fulfilled one of his "lifetime ambitions" by taking on the role.
    His five-year tenure as Republic boss ended on Wednesday after Ireland failed to win a game as they were relegated from Nations League Group B.
    The Football Association of Ireland said O'Neill's departure, and that of Roy Keane as his assistant, was by mutual consent, adding that its board "will meet promptly to discuss the process of recruiting a new manager".
    In a statement released by the League Managers' Association, O'Neill said: "I have had the great honour of managing the Republic of Ireland national football team for the past five years and it is with a heavy heart that I leave this role.
    "It was one of my lifetime ambitions to take charge of the Irish senior squad and I would like to thank the FAI board for giving me that opportunity.
    "I will not forget the night in Lille when we beat Italy to secure the nation's best-ever achievement in the Euros competition, the terrific night we beat the world champions Germany at home in Dublin, or James McClean's goal in that euphoric win against Wales in Cardiff that put us through to the play-offs for this year's World Cup.
    "The Irish fans have been a source of motivation to myself, the team and the whole backroom staff, embodying the passionate Irish spirit, and I thank them for their fervent support of the team.
    "I am also very proud of the relationships I have built with the players, who have carried that very same spirit, imbued by the fans, on to the field of play."
    O'Neill added: "A special thanks to Roy Keane my assistant, an inspirational figure in the world of football, Seamus McDonagh, Steve Guppy and Steve Walford for their brilliant contributions and to those backroom staff at the FAI that were of enormous help to me.
    "Knowing that the past year would be a transitional phase for the squad, I have capped 12 new players in the last nine games, with the aim that they become significant international contributors in the coming campaign.
    "To the players, I reserve great praise and admiration for the phenomenal commitment they have shown whilst wearing the Irish shirt. Having had these great experiences in my spell as the Irish international manager, I am looking forward to my next adventure in football."
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    FM-News
    Wales manager Ryan Giggs has hit out at his "complacent" players after their 1-0 friendly defeat in Albania.
    Tuesday's loss in Elbasan was Giggs' fifth in nine matches in charge.
    Wales wasted several chances before conceding a second-half penalty, which Bekim Balaj converted to condemn the visitors to defeat.
    “The performance was not good enough, we deserved what we got,” said the Wales manager.
    “We totally controlled the first half and we thought it was going to be easy. It’s nothing to do with hard work or the ability of the players.
    “Quite simply, it was concentration and complacency. We just turned up thinking we would win, someone would score the goal, someone would get us out of trouble.”
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    FM-News
    The agent of Roma midfielder and reported Manchester United target Lorenzo Pellegrini says his client is not considering a move away and is "only thinking about Roma".
    The 22-year-old Italy international has a £27m release clause in his contract and has reportedly attracted interest from United boss Jose Mourinho following a fruitful start to the season.
    However, agent Giampiero Pocetta dismissed speculation that Pellegrini is set to join the Red Devils, despite reports they were ready to make a move for him as soon as January.
    "I'm sorry that rumours have spread about financial aspects relating to him and his team-mates, that for Lorenzo have never been important," Pocetta told Corriere dello Sport. "He doesn't live for meetings, especially financial ones.
    "He's getting what he deserves on the pitch, and the rumours about the transfer market have never distracted him nor disturbed him.
    "Pellegrini is only thinking about improving with, and for, Roma.
    "These issues don't count for now, it's normal that Pellegrini is liked. Lorenzo is happy though, he's already chosen Roma once.
    "Then, when it's time, we'll sit down with Monchi [Roma sporting director] again."
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    FM-News
    Andy Robertson has revealed that he came close to joining Stoke City instead of Liverpool.
    The Scotland captain joined the Reds for £8m in 2017 following Hull City's relegation and, after a slow start, has become one of Jurgen Klopp's most important players.
    Robertson, however, has revealed Stoke and their manager at the time, Mark Hughes, were keen to sign the left-back.
    "Stoke were quite interested in me," Robertson said in an interview with YouTube channel Open Goal.
    "Mark Hughes had liked me and I think there was a wee bit of chat with them.
    "So I was thinking they were a really good option; I think they finished top 10 that season and I was trying to get my head on a move to Stoke.
    "I was thinking they were really keen, and at that point, under Mark Hughes, they were playing good football. They had Erik Pieters; I wasn't sure if I was going in as back-up to him as he was flying that season."
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    FM-News
    Marouane Fellaini has claimed Manchester United are not far from matching Manchester City's quality.
    The Citizens beat their city rivals 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium in the final league game before the international break, leaving them eighth in the Premier League and seven points off the top four.
    However, Fellaini told Sky Sports thatJose Mourinho's side are not as far away from the Premier League leaders as the table suggests.
    When asked if the result had emphasised a significant gap between the two teams, he said: "I don't think so. I remember when I arrived in England it was a top four, now it is a top six, so every year it is more difficult.
    "Next season we will see how it changes and in two and three years I think every year it is more difficult, the intensity is higher, so that's why the Premier League is attractive.
    "Manchester City are strong, but I think they will lose. Ok, they are very good and they have good players but it's possible to beat them. We lost, but we have the second game at Old Trafford and we will see."
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    FM-News
    Corry Evans has claimed that Northern Ireland can take confidence from their Nations League campaign even if things did not go their way.
    Valentino Lazaro struck a stoppage-time winner for Austria as Norn Iron lost 2-1 on Sunday evening, making it four defeats out of four for Michael O'Neill's men who have suffered relegation to League C.
    Evans had earlier scored his first international goal in eight years to cancel out Xaver Schlager's strike, and it had looked like being enough to give Northern Ireland their first Nations League point.
    "It's always disappointing when you lose the game with the last kick of the ball," the Blackburn Rovers man told Sky Sports. "But we can take a lot of positives out of the performance.
    "The manner of the way we played; going a goal down we came back to level the game and at that stage it looked like we were the only side going to go win the game, but it wasn't to be.
    "We have to take great confidence from the way we have been playing in the campaign and take that into the Euro 2020 qualifiers."
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    FM-News
    Gareth Southgate has described Harry Kane as the "best goalscorer in the world" after the Tottenham Hotspur star's late winner sent England into the inaugural Nations League semi-finals.
    The Three Lions came from a goal down to secure a 2-1 victory over Croatia at Wembley on Sunday to pip Spain to top spot in group A4 and relegate their opponents.
    Kane's 85th-minute strike came at the perfect moment for England, and ended an eight-game goal drought with the national team for the captain.
    Southgate told Sky Sports: "He's the best goalscorer in the world. You're always loathe to take a player off of his ability.
    "He's our main penalty-taker, leader and his hold-up play is critical. We have huge belief in him and he is so hungry to lead the team further."
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    FM-News
    Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic has praised England following their UEFA Nations League defeat on Sunday by saying "it's coming home very soon".
    The Three Lions ran out 2-1 winners over the Vatreni at Wembley to secure their place in the semi-finals of the competition and relegate their opponents.
    Croatia beat England in the semi-finals of the World Cup last summer and made it clear afterwards that they were irked by talk around England of 'football coming home'.
    However, Dalic has now suggested that Gareth Southgate's team have the chance to win silverware.
    "They have a young and fast team. It's coming home, very soon," he told Sky Sports.
    "I think England showed already at the World Cup. They, I think, exceeded expectations. They have a really young and very fast team, which is very important in modern football.
    "I'd like to congratulate England on a deserved win and for qualifying for the final four of the Nations League."
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    FM-News
    Jordan Pickford has claimed that England have got better since reaching the World Cup semi-finals.
    The Three Lions play Croatia in a winner-takes-all clash in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday, with a place in the last four of the competition up for grabs.
    Croatia beat England in the semi-finals of the World Cup and the two sides drew 0-0 in a behind-closed-doors match in Rijeka last month.
    Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the game, goalkeeper Pickford said he thinks England's level has increased since the summer.
    "I think it had to. We want to progress as a group and progress for England and become better and better.
    "We couldn't just rest after getting knocked out in the semi-finals; that was the start to move forward and become as good as we can as a group.
    "We are definitely progressing and the first hurdle was we wanted to beat these top teams in the world.
    "Some people said we don't beat the top teams and we know we are capable of doing it."
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