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Messi, Ronaldo, Van Dijk, others battle for 2019 Ballon d’Or award



Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk have been named in a 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

The trio were among the nominees revealed by France Football on Monday evening.

Also in the list are premier League stars Sergio Aguero, Sadio Mane and Hugo Lloris.

They were joined by Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong and Ajax’s former Southampton schemer Dusan Tadic.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold have also been included in the 30-strong list, as have Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre terStegen and Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek.

There is a place too for Paris St Germain’s World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe.

Also included are Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva, Spurs striker Son Heung-min and Bayern Munich’s Poland international frontman Robert Lewandowski.

Five-times winner Cristiano Ronaldo is also included on the list, as is his former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema and current club colleague Matthijs de Ligt.

Liverpool pair Alisson Becker and Georginio Wijnaldum join fellow Champions League winner Mane among the candidates.


Full list

Sadio Mane, Sergio Aguero, Frenkie de Jong, Hugo Lloris, Dusan Tadic, Kylian Mbappe, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Donny van de Beek, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alisson Becker, Matthijs de Ligt, Karim Benzema, Georginio Wijnaldum, Virgil van Dijk, Bernardo Silva, Heung-min Son, Robert Lewandowski, Roberto Firmino, Lionel Messi, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Kalidou Koulibaly, Antoine Griezmann, Mohamed Salah, Eden Hazard, Marquinhos, Raheem Sterling, Joao Felix.

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Coronavirus: UEFA postpones Champions, Europa leagues till July, August



Coronavirus: UEFA postpones Champions, Europa Leagues till July, August

UEFA has postponed its club competitions until July/August due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Football across Europe remains suspended as countries battle the Covid-19 pandemic across the continent.

In England, 381 people died from Covid-19 in the UK on Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,789, while thousands more are currently battling the virus.

A conference between Europe’s 55 national football associations along with UEFA took place on Wednesday, and it is believed that the governing body has moved the restart date for the Champions League and Europa League to July/August.

All international matches in June will also be suspended and will probably not be played until the autumn, according to ZDF Sport.

Reports yesterday claimed several senior football executives were talking about June being an optimistic time to restart the season, but it now appears that move has been pushed back even further.

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Manchester United set to sign Ighalo in £15m permanent deal



Manchester United set to sign Ighalo in £15m permanent deal

Manchester United now plan on signing Odion Ighalo on a permanent basis as they’re unsure if the striker would be able to play for the club again under the current circumstances of his loan deal due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports

The former Watford striker was a shock signing on deadline day in January and he was only intended to be a stop-gap before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was handed significant funds to sign a striker in the summer.

However, the 30-year-old was in a rich vein of form before the Premier League season was postponed, scoring four goals in his first eight appearances for the club.

The season has been postponed until April 29th but it’s extremely likely that there will be further delays as the UK is believed to be some way off the ‘peak’ of the covid-19 pandemic.

Ighalo’s loan deal runs until May 31 and cannot be extended, meaning United face the prospect of the Nigerian leaving before playing for the club again.

That’s not something that Solskjaer wants to risk and the Daily Mail claim United are going to sign Ighalo for £15 million.

Shanghai Shenhua are open to selling the Nigerian, who is on £300,000-a-week at the club.
Speaking last month, Solskjaer hinted at a permanent deal.

“He will improve and get better,’ said the United boss.

“He has the qualities we saw in him that we needed. And we will still need those qualities next season — so let’s see what we will do.”

Sources close to the player have indicated that the Nigerian would be open to making his loan deal permanent, should the club want to keep him, but the Covid-19 situation has complicated matters.

The contract, which was agreed with the player and his parent club Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, was enough to see Ighalo stay until the end of the season and past a potential Europa League final.

However, it is now likely United would have to ask for special permission for an extension to his deal with the 2019-20 campaign, if it resumes, likely to run past the end of May.

“We might get to the summer and think we want to extend this, who knows? He’s come in like a breath of fresh air as well,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“He had chances in his five minutes against Chelsea, he scored against Bruges, he had chances against Watford, he had a very good save [from a shot] against Everton – there have been good saves, he doesn’t miss the target very often.

“Even for Anthony (Martial), Mason (Greenwood) and Marcus to learn that it is where the sharks are swimming. It’s comfortable outside the box and you can have a few shots.

“It’s in there where it might be a bit tougher and you might get hurt – that’s where you get goals.”

The 30-year-old refused to be drawn on his future last week when he was asked by The Sun about potentially staying at Old Trafford.

He said: “Talking about other things now will not only be selfish but terribly insensitive. I don’t even think about it. The challenge before us now is not a football one, but a global one.”

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Covid-19: Nigerian govt shuts down all national stadia



COVID-19: 11 million Nigerians to benefit from palliatives - FG

The Federal Government has ordered the complete shutdown of the four National Stadia across the country in a bid to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Director of Press, Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, Mrs Blessing Lere-Adams and made available to THE WITNESS.

They are MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja; Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, Liberty Stadium, Ibadan and National Statdium, Surulere-Lagos.

“The general public by this information and directive are advised that these facilities will not be available till further notice.

“The Federal Government through the Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and other stakeholders are putting necessary measures in place to curb and eliminate the Pandemic in Nigeria,” the statement said.

It will be recalled that on Tuesday March 17, the federal government through the ministry of youth and sports development announced the indefinite suspension of the 2020 National Sports Festival which was due to hold in Benin City, Edo State from March 22 to April 1.

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