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Lionel Messi was on Monday night named the recipient of the 2021 Ballon d’Or as the Argentine forward claimed the award for a record-extending seventh time.

The Paris Saint-Germain star, who joined the French club from Barcelona in the summer, was voted ahead of Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski and Italian Chelsea midfielder Jorginho.

Messi has won the Ballon d’Or in successive editions for the first time since winning the award four years in a row between 2009 and 2012. Last year’s ceremony was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The 34-year-old forward may have endured a frustrating year with former club Barcelona and is yet to hit his immeasurable heights for PSG, but he still scored 40 goals for club and country – 28 for Barcelona, four for PSG and eight for Argentina. Messi was also named player of the tournament at the Copa America, where he led his national team to the title – his first major international trophy.

Lewandowski finished runner-up after another exemplary year for Bayern, scoring 53 goals in all competitions, and was named Striker of the Year – a new award announced just hours before the ceremony.

Jorginho, meanwhile, took third spot after winning the two biggest prizes on offer for a European player, helping Chelsea claim the Champions League title, before playing a pivotal role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.

The Ballon d’Or is voted for by 180 selected journalists from around the world. Check out the full rankings of the 2021 edition by clicking through the photo gallery above.

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Football great and Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo reacted to Pascal Ferre, editor-in-chief of the French magazine “France Football”, the founder of the Ballon d’Or, for calling him a “liar” after declaring last week that Ronaldo’s ambition is to win more golden balls than his historical rival Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo wrote on his Instagram account, “I would like to talk about the statements of Pascal Ferre, in which he said that my only ambition is to end my football career with more Golden Balls than Lionel Messi, and that’s a lie.”

Ronaldo continued, “Pascal Ferre has used my name to promote himself and the position in which he works. It is unacceptable that the person entrusted with awarding such a prestigious award should fall into absolute contempt for someone who has always respected French football and the Ballon d’Or. And he still lied today to justify my absence at the ceremony.”

Ronaldo said, “I congratulate those who win, support sport and the fair play that were the face of my career from the start, and I do it because I never oppose anyone, I always win for myself and for the clubs I represent, I win for myself and for those who want me big, I never win against anyone.”

Ronaldo also said, “The biggest ambition in my career, it is to win local and international titles for clubs that I represent as well as for my country.

“The biggest ambition of my career is to be a role model for anyone who wants to become professional players…

“The biggest ambition in my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.”

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Manchester United have confirmed the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as their new interim manager.

In an official statement on Monday, the club said: “Manchester United is delighted to announce the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as Interim Manager until the end of the season, subject to work visa requirements.

“Following this period, Ralf and the club have agreed that he will continue in a consultancy role for a further two years.”

John Murtough, Manchester United Football Director, said:“Ralf is one of the most respected coaches and innovators in European football. He was our number one candidate for Interim Manager, reflecting the invaluable leadership and technical skills he will bring from almost four decades of experience in management and coaching. Everyone at the club is looking forward to working with him during the season ahead, and then for a further two years in his advisory role.”

Ralf Rangnick said: “I am excited to be joining Manchester United and focused on making this a successful season for the club. The squad is full of talent and has a great balance of youth and experience. All my efforts for the next six months will be on helping these players fulfil their potential, both individually and, most importantly, as a team. Beyond that I look forward to supporting the club’s longer-term goals on a consultancy basis.”

Michael Carrick will remain in charge of the first team until Ralf’s work visa is finalised.

The club said it wishes to place on record its thanks to Lokomotiv Moscow for their co-operation in the process of bringing Ralf to Manchester United.

It seems likely that Carrick will be in charge of the team for Thursday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal at Old Trafford, meaning Rangnick could be in the dugout for the following game.

That match comes at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday and is a 2pm kick-off. The game won’t be shown live on TV in the UK.

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Lionel Messi inspired Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-1 comeback victory at Saint-Etienne with a hat-trick of assists as Sergio Ramos made his long-awaited debut for the club.

Ramos was making his first appearance for PSG since joining them on a free transfer from Real Madrid this summer.

However, it was Messi who stole the show with three assists as PSG extended their lead at the top of the table to 12 points.

There was a big concern for PSG late on as Neymar had to be stretchered off the pitch with an ankle injury.

Saint-Etienne went ahead after 23 minutes with a Denis Bouanga strike but were controversially reduced to 10 men after Timothee Kolodziejczak brought down Kylian Mbappe when he was through on goal.

Messi took the resulting free kick and set up Marquinhos to equalise with a well-placed header just before the break.

The visitors went ahead with 11 minutes remaining when Messi put Angel Di Maria through on goal and he produced a clinical finish.

Messi grabbed his third assist of the afternoon in stoppage time to set up Marquinhos for another header to seal the three points for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

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A second half penalty saved Chelsea’s blushes and they drew 1-1 with Manchester United on Sunday in what could be Michael Carrick’s final game in charge before Ralf Rangnick takes over.

Jorginho made up for an earlier howler which allowed Jadon Sancho to score for United by slotting home a penalty 20 minutes from the end of the match.

“On the pitch, in the goal, I was feeling danger for nearly the whole game. We defended well, they missed big chances and the one they give us a chance we score. It is not enough to draw but at the moment it is a big point,” United goalkeeper David de Gea said after the match.

“The last games before we were conceding three or four goals. We are improving. This is just two games. At least now we are defending well. We are fighting for every ball. We are a team.”

Sancho was able to give United the lead on 50 minutes when a Reece James free-kick was half cleared. Jorginho miscontrolled the ball which allowed Sancho, with Marcus Rashford alongside him, to run at the goal and slot the ball home.

The mistake was less costly than it could have been, however, when Aaron Wan-Bissaka brought Thiago Silva down in the box. Jorginho stepped up and scored the penalty, sending De Gea the wrong way.

The result lessens Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to one point while United climb to eighth.

“We cannot be surprised [that the title race is so close,” Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said after the game.

“Things like this happen. We played such good games against Burnley and Manchester Untied and feel disappointed as we think by far we did enough. Over a long season you drop points and you dig in and try to steal them back if someone steals them from you.

“We are in the middle of the race and this is where we want to be.”

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Liverpool turned up the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea as they coasted to a second successive 4-0 victory at Anfield with Southampton the powerless victims on this occasion.

Saints were dispatched as comfortably as Arsenal were a week ago as Jurgen Klopp’s side moved within a point of the top, in the process becoming the first top-flight team to score two or more goals for 17 matches in a row since Sunderland in 1927.

Second-placed Liverpool have now netted 39 times in 13 matches and no player has more Premier League goals individually this season than any of the starting front three of Mohamed Salah (11), Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota (both seven).

Jota added a couple to his tally from a combined distance of seven yards, midfielder Thiago Alcantara made it two in two games shortly before half-time and Virgil Van Dijk killed off any fanciful hopes of a Southampton comeback just after the break.

It was the perfect preperation heading into a midweek Merseyside derby at Goodison Park and a reunion with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez.

The trend for Southampton, however, remains a downward one after last week’s defeat at Norwich.

Only three league wins all season – only one of those away from home – leaves them just five points above the bottom three with the four teams immediately below them all with a match in hand.

They had not won on this ground since 2013 and not scored on their last five visits so the omens were not good, but conceding the fastest goal of the Premier League season after just 97 seconds was the worst possible start.

The returning Andy Robertson – one of six changes from the midweek Champions League win over Porto – resumed his marauding left-back role after not starting the last two matches because of injury and made an immediate impact.

He combined with Mane down the left to get to the byline and pull back a cross for Jota – who seconds earlier had squandered a chance on the breakaway by delaying too long – to score from close range.

Mane’s header from Robertson’s free-kick was ruled out for offside while Salah curled a shot wide of the far post after robbing Mohammed Salisu on the edge of the area.

After Jordan Henderson ballooned over a good chance, Jota doubled his tally in the 32nd minute with the 700th goal of Klopp’s tenure after Southampton were cut open down their right side this time.

Thiago’s ambitious crossfield pass was recovered by Trent Alexander-Arnold, feeding Salah to then collect a clever return pass from Henderson and slide a low cross which Jota who could not miss from a couple of yards out.

The Portugal international was denied a first-half hat-trick by a block from Lyanco but the Southampton defender could only deflect the ball into the net when Thiago blasted a shot from just inside the area moments later after a delicious drop of the shoulder opened up the space

But, for all their superiority in the final third, Klopp’s side were still leaving the back door open and had the visitors been sharper they would have had something to show for their first-half efforts.

Armando Broja was denied by Alisson Becker after nipping in front of, and outpacing, Ibrahima Konate while Liverpool’s goalkeeper saved well down to his right to deny the unmarked Adam Armstrong, who looked certain to score.

Mane’s visible annoyance when Salah failed to find neither him nor Jota in a three-on-two break indicated there would be no letting up, and shortly after half-time the fourth goal duly arrived courtesy of a low Van Dijk volley from Alexander-Arnold’s corner.

Konate’s sliding block and recovery to deny Armstrong, together with Alisson, from a Saints counter-attack maintained a third successive clean sheet.

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has all but ruled out ever taking charge of another club in England.

The Spaniard is contracted at the Etihad Stadium until 2023 and could extend that, but expects to work elsewhere at some point in the future.

Although he has expressed an interest in international football, the 50-year-old admits he has no clear vision of where his long-term future lies.

One thing he is sure about, however, is that he cannot see himself being employed by another Premier League club and he has even hinted he would rather take on another role at City.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: “I’ve said many times when we’ve finished our part here, for the pleasure to live in a European Championship, a World Cup, I would like to live it but I know it is not easy to find it because normally there are few positions.

“I think it is difficult for it to happen. I would like it but, at the same time, if it does not happen I will train a club. That is not a problem.

“In England, being here, I think I will always be at Man City. If I had to come back I would come back to Man City, if they want me. I don’t think I am going to train another club in England. I’m a part of this club.”

Despite that desire to lead a country to a major tournament, he is adamant that Gareth Southgate’s position as England manager is not something he has his eye on.

“Gareth has done an incredible job, reaching the final of the Euros and the semi-finals of the last World Cup,” said Guardiola ahead of Sunday’s home Premier League clash with West Ham.

“This is a huge success for English football. He has extended his contract and what I want is after that (for him) to extend for more years, if he is happy to do it.

“I am not here to take anyone’s position. It is not my target. As long as it is possible to be here, as much as my energy is there and my love for what I am doing is here, (I will be). After that I don’t know what is going to happen.”

Guardiola has revealed City could travel to Abu Dhabi, home of their owner Sheikh Mansour, for a warm-weather training camp in January.

For the first time since 2017 – in Guardiola’s first season in charge – City will not be involved in the Carabao Cup semi-finals and could have a suitable gap in their schedule.

Guardiola said: “Maybe it is possible. Just being together there – getting out a bit, changing the routine, training in good weather conditions and a good environment, being close to our chairman, spending time together, good dinners together, pool, sun.

“We are not going for a holiday, but to work. Rather than stay here, do it there.”

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Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli delivered a tag-team double salvo as Arsenal dispatched Newcastle 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

England forward Saka capped a neat move to put Arsenal ahead, before his replacement Martinelli killed the Premier League contest with just his second touch.

Saka’s second Premier League goal of the season ensured Mikel Arteta’s men would hold onto fifth place in the table.

The 20-year-old hobbled off with a potentially minor knee knock, giving Martinelli the chance to round off the Gunners’ comfortable victory.

The Brazilian forward’s first Arsenal goal since May lit up a frosty north London, pairing accuracy with flair to delight the home hordes.

Newcastle’s winless league run extended to 13 games in an already desperate campaign, with not even new boss Eddie Howe’s touchline presence enough to turn the tide.

Former Bournemouth boss Howe was in the dugout having finally tested negative after previously contracting Covid-19.

Newcastle kept their shape manfully in the first half with Jonjo Shelvey even striking the woodwork from distance, but the St James’ Park men were well beaten in the end.

Callum Wilson failed to make the most of an early Newcastle break, before Saka nudged Albert Sambi Lokonga’s angled ball wide at full stretch.

Martin Odegaard saw a well-whipped free-kick smartly saved by Martin Dubravka as Arsenal started to take control.

Shelvey unleashed a piledriver strike to cut the Gunners’ one-way traffic, only to see Aaron Ramsdale tip the ball onto the bar.

Shelvey could not repeat the feat with another long-range strike moments later, but the hosts escaped danger despite Ramsdale spilling what should have proved a routine stop.

Smith Rowe and Aubameyang then conspired for the double miss of the half, spurning gilt-edged openings to put the home side ahead.

Saka’s byline cross begged to be buried but Smith Rowe nodded into the middle of the goal, allowing Dubravka to parry.

The lurking Aubameyang’s eyes widened with intent, only to see his side-footed effort graze the outside of the post from a yard off the line.

Fabian Schar’s astute intervention thwarted Saka raiding down the inside right in the Newcastle box, and then Smith Rowe saw a goalbound shot deflected wide.

Newcastle reached the half-time interval far the happier with the game goalless then, but quickly saw their outlook turn bleak after the break.

Arsenal finally exploited the space in Newcastle’s inside forward channels, and duly scored twice.

First Smith Rowe fed Nuno Tavares who in turn flicked around the corner to Saka.

The Gunners carved Newcastle open with a simple third-man running routine, and Saka slotted home with ease to swipe the lead.

No sooner had the England forward trudged off with a minor injury issue though, than his replacement doubled the home advantage.

Martinelli latched onto Takehiro Tomiyasu’s chipped pass into the inside-right channel, delivering a first-time finish of genuine quality.

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Steven Gerrard got the better of Patrick Vieira in the battle of the Premier League greats after goals from Matt Targett and John McGinn secured a 2-1 win for Aston Villa at Crystal Palace.

Two of the finest midfielders of their generation went head-to-head on the touchline for the first time in a competitive match and it was Gerrard who was able to celebrate a second consecutive victory since he left Rangers for the West Midlands club.

An early goal by Targett put Villa in the ascendency and McGinn wrapped up a deserved three points late on before Marc Guehi netted a consolation for the hosts in stoppage time.

Gerrard had to wait 84 minutes for his new team to open their account under him last weekend but they opened the scoring much earlier in south London.

It came through an unlikely source too with left-back Targett rifling home from Ashley Young’s corner to score for only the third time in the Premier League.

James Tomkins, recalled in place of the injured Joachim Andersen, had been at fault with Targett his man and he also mistimed his jump while trying to head Young’s cross away to ensure Palace conceded a 10th goal from a set-piece this season.

Aside from Wilfried Zaha’s left-footed effort dragged wide early on, it was largely Villa doing the running during the opening 45 minutes.

The two changes made by Gerrard from the win over Brighton had paid off so far with Leon Bailey and Young causing numerous problems while McGinn went close to making it 2-0 in the 27th minute, but curled wide.

Young was the next Villa player to fire off target and with Palace clearly lacking rhythm, Vieira would have welcomed the arrival of half-time.

There was an improvement from the hosts after the break and Conor Gallagher produced an excellent delivery across the face of goal but on the hour mark a change was made.

Captain Luka Milivojevic was withdrawn after a difficult afternoon and Ebere Eze, fit again after an Achilles injury, was introduced for his first appearance since May 16.

It was a bold call by Vieira given the playmaker’s long lay-off and he made another when Zaha was replaced by Odsonne Edouard soon after.

Gerrard had also turned to his bench by this point and saw substitute Douglas Luiz shown a red card with 18 minutes left at Selhurst Park only for VAR to intervene.

Referee Michael Salisbury, taking charge of his first Premier League fixture, was asked to review the incident and downgraded the tackle on Cheikhou Kouyate to a yellow.

It added to the frustration of the home supporters but Palace did finally muster a shot on target when Christian Benteke fired straight at Emi Martinez from Tomkins’ knockdown and Edouard did the same not long after.

Villa were to ensure boss Gerrard finally tasted success at Selhurst Park though when they grabbed a second with four minutes left.

Substitute Anwar El Ghazi dribbled into the area and teed up McGinn who was able to curl into the corner on this occasion for his third goal of the season.

Guehi tapped home from Kouyate’s cross to pull one back for the home side in the fifth minute of stoppage time but Gerrard, who failed to win as a player in six outings at Palace, watched his team hold on for another victory.

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Wolves were able to hold off a late Norwich challenge to secure a point in a goalless draw at Carrow Road.

Dean Smith’s tenure got off to a winning start with a 2-1 home victory against Southampton last weekend and it was followed up by a significant point against a top-half Wolves team.

The visitors went into the game having won five of their previous seven matches but struggled to find their rhythm.

Norwich had just one victory to their name when Smith replaced Daniel Farke just eight days after his own dismissal at Aston Villa and the Canaries have four points from his first two games as they pulled level on points with 18th-placed Burnley – although they have played a game more.

The Canaries looked to get on the front foot, with both Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent firing early chances over the crossbar.

Wolves striker Raul Jimenez had an early chance to score his fourth goal since returning to action following a career-threatening skull fracture, but the ball from Rayan Ait-Nouri was just too far ahead of him and goalkeeper Tim Krul was able to gather.

Just before half-time, Krul had to come off his line to prevent the ball from reaching Jimenez. It was then cleared straight to Joao Moutinho who hit a low drive but Krul was able to get up quickly and save with his feet to keep the score level.

Less than two minutes later, Wolves keeper Jose Sa was called into action to deny Max Aarons who played a one-two with Lukas Rupp before taking a shot.

The best chance of the match fell to Pukki after the break. He found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper after being picked out by Rupp, but his shot was straight at Sa.

Rupp had a chance with 10 minutes remaining when he managed to get a foot to a cutback from Milot Rashica, who had made a clever run down the left, but his effort lacked power and the Wolves keeper was able to make the save.