Liverpool’s injury crisis has deepened further with the news that goalkeeper Alisson Becker is out with a hamstring problem.
The Brazilian was omitted from the Reds’ squad for the crucial Champions League group stage encounter with Ajax on Tuesday night, with the club citing ‘a tight leg muscle’.
However, Jürgen Klopp has since revealed that the stopper has injured his hamstring and will likely miss the Premier League clash with Wolves on Sunday too, spending around a week on the treatment table in total.
Speaking to BT Sport ahead of Tuesday night’s game, the German boss said: “So it’s not COVID, I think it’s something we have to mention when it’s not the case – and it’s not the case.
“He told us after the game that he felt in the 60, 70th minute of the last game his hamstring. [We] did a scan, it’s a little one but enough for today and probably for another week.
“We don’t know exactly, we have to wait and I’ve never heard about a hamstring is only four or five days, so 10 to 14 days I think.”
Irishman Caoimhin Kelleher has stepped in to replace Alisson in the Liverpool starting lineup in a surprise move considering normal back-up option Adrian is available for selection.
Explaining his decision, Klopp added: “Then we had to make the decision: Queev or Adrian. And Queev, I know him pretty much five years, four years for sure – I’m not sure when he came to the first team, training with us and stuff like this.
“He’s just improving and improving and improving and he’s a football-playing goalie, good shot-stopper, which is obviously the most important thing. My job is to make decisions and I did that.”
Alisson’s injury is the latest in a string of setbacks for Liverpool this season, with Thiago Alcantara, James Milner, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk all out for varying lengths of time.
When Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award was already a decade and a half old.
The prestigious annual accolade is decided by a public vote, handed out to the sportsperson, who is either British or operates mostly in Britain, to have ‘most captured the UK public’s imagination’ that year.
However, as recent high-profile events have shown, there can be dangerous consequences when the British public are tasked with voting, and footballers have been oddly overlooked for this award for decades. In the 66-year history of the award, only five professionals at the peak of the nation’s – and the world’s – favourite sport have ever claimed the trophy.
So, here are a selection of the fine footballers throughout Britain’s long history in the sport who should have a four-turret lens camera trophy sitting proudly on their mantlepiece.
One of eight people to have twice finished second in the voting for Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) but never claimed top spot, there aren’t many trophies worth having Sir Bobby Charlton can’t lay claim to.
The World Cup winner was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 but we all know that is very much not the same thing.
Manchester United and England’s all-time top goalscorer. Not much more to be said really. Other than it is a mystery as to how Wayne Rooney has never even finished in the top three for SPOTY votes.
Incredibly, there have only ever been 13 female winners of BBC’s SPOTY and not a single women’s footballer has ever featured in the top three.
Admittedly, Ben Stokes did his darnedest to claim the 2019 prize. However, Lucy Bronze has been the best female footballer in England for some time and if you listen to Phil Neville (sometimes) the buccaneering right-back is the best player in the world in her pomp.
In 2019 she scooped all four trophies on offer with Lyon, helped England win the SheBelieves Cup and then steered her nation to the World Cup semi-finals.
Gary Lineker has been part of the presenting team for the SPOTY awards night since 1999 yet can perhaps feel aggrieved never to have won the top prize himself.
Back in the halcyon days of 1986, Lineker was unquestionably in the form of his career. Having finished the 1985/86 season as top scorer in the First Division, Lineker became the first Englishman to win the World Cup golden boot that summer before moving for a hefty fee to Barcelona.
A rare footballer to trouble the top three SPOTY votes was Sir Kenny Dalglish, who came third behind Nigel Mansell and Fatima Whitbread in Lineker’s year of 1986.
In a playing career with Celtic and Liverpool which spanned four separate decades, Dalglish’s generational talent helped him amass a trophy haul so large there would hardly be space for the iconic SPOTY award had he deservedly won it.
In his debut season for Liverpool, John Barnes ensured the Kop didn’t mourn the departure of their goalscoring icon, Ian Rush, for too long.
Throughout a career littered with a myriad of peaks, Barnes was practically unplayable in 1987/88, as Liverpool sauntered to the league title and their bewitching wide man picked up the PFA and FWA Player of the Year award.
However, Steve Davis claimed that year’s SPOTY ahead of England’s greatest ever left-footer.
Kelly Smith was Arsenal’s talismanic striker during the single greatest season any English women’s club has ever enjoyed.
In 2006/07 Arsenal won all six trophies they competed for, including the English top flight (winning all 22 games) and the UEFA Women’s Cup, later named the Women’s Champions League.
Smith scored 30 goals in 34 games across all competitions and was voted FA Women’s Players’ Player of the year.
England’s all-time leading scorer may have been suspended for the final after flashing the v-sign to a jeering crowd following some rough treatment on the pitch, but one action doesn’t wash away a sensational season, and isn’t it fitting that the winner of Sports Personality of the Year actually has a personality?
While memories of ill-timed rants, calamitous defensive displays and unsuccessful bike races tend to linger, it can go forgotten that Kevin Keegan enjoyed a sensational playing career.
Sporting his trusty perm, Keegan became just the second player – after Johan Cruyff (not bad company) – to win back-to-back Ballon d’Ors in 1978 and 1979 while at Hamburg, but couldn’t add BBC’s SPOTY to that individual haul.
The inaugural winner of the Ballon d’Or was 39 when the Sports Personality of the Year award was first handed out, yet would still be a professional a decade later. He may be the only footballer to have been knighted while still playing but Matthews can’t count the SPOTY among his personal accolades.
Perhaps the ultimate personality in the history of British football, George Best at his blistering peak was a force of nature whose talents have only been heightened in the fog of time.
It’s perhaps the most difficult position on the pitch. Especially nowadays.
The modern number one not only has to pull off amazing saves, but command the box, be dominant in the air, organise the defence, be quick off the line and (of course) be faultless with the ball at feet.
Not much to ask at all, really? Even after throwing in that one small mistake will potentially break a reputation and be magnified like nothing else.
But there are a number of truly brilliant stoppers out there, and over the next few weeks, 90min will be running a series to find the five world class players in every position in the game today – with goalkeepers first up. The series is based on a scoring metric which you can read all about by clicking this link.
What you’ll see below though is a shortlist of 10 of the world’s best, and why they’ve been included in the running to be told the words ‘Welcome to World Class’.
Club: Liverpool Country: Brazil
From the moment Alisson Becker was made first-choice goalkeeper at AS Roma, it was clear to everyone in Italy that this boy was a star in the making. Although his talents weren’t recognised to their maximum by those outside of the Italian capital, regular viewers knew that Stadio Olimpico was only a stop-gap on his rise to greatness.
Liverpool had seen enough over the 12 months to fork out €70m for his services, and the Brazilian finally began to earn the praise he deserved. Commanding and dominant between the sticks, there is no other goalkeeper whose mere presence is enough to leave a striker quaking in his boots.
Since his arrival in 2018, it has been a non-stop party for Jurgen Klopp and co. One Champions League and Premier League title later, Alisson has written his name into Merseyside folklore.
Club: Real Madrid Country: Belgium
Thibaut Courtois is only 28 years old, but he has been one of the elite goalkeepers in Europe for the better part of a decade now. The Belgian starlet spent three brilliant years at Atletico Madrid at the start of his journey to the top, then returning to parent club Chelsea – where he continued this sensational form.
The gigantic keeper excelled on British shores, but two Premier League titles and four years later, he was heading back to Spain, this time to Atleti’s bitter rivals Real Madrid. Courtois got off to a rocky start at Santiago Bernabeu, but he was a star performer in last season’s title success, ending Barcelona’s reign as champions.
Club: Manchester United Country: Spain
Time to put some credit back behind the name David de Gea. Sure, his form has dipped considerably in the past couple of campaigns, but it was always going to be impossible to maintain the ridiculous standards he had set over the five years prior to that slip.
It speaks volumes of the man that he was voted Manchester United’s Player of the Season from 2014-18 without exception, carrying a bang-average Red Devils side to heights they wouldn’t have threatened without his influence.
There’s now signs he’s getting back to his best, and plenty of time for him to recapture the form which made him a contender as the very best on the planet.
Club: Milan Country: Italy
What were you doing when you were 16? Sneaking into nightclubs? Having film nights and pizza with your mates? Or making your debut for Italian giants Milan and starting your journey as one of the most promising goalkeepers of your generation? Probably not the last one, right?
Gianluigi Donnarumma was thrust into the limelight as a tender teenager, with the expectations of half a city – a big one, granted – on his shoulders. It’s not been all sunshine and lollipops for the now 21-year-old, but his meteoric rise to fame has seen him transform into one of the most reliable and commanding goalkeepers in Italy.
Now carrying the torch left by Gianluigi Buffon, Donnarumma is expected to occupy the sticks for the Italian national team for the next decade at least. No pressure, Gigi.
Club: Manchester City Country: Brazil
Insanely efficient at the basics, partial to the odd moment of supernatural heroics and impeccable when distributing the ball, Pep Guardiola couldn’t have built a more suitable goalkeeper for his demanding and high-risk style of play if he’d been handed the keys to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Ederson may not be enjoying his most fruitful period in a team that seems to have hit its ceiling and is drifting towards the end of a cycle, but he is impressive enough to be involved in the next generation of Guardiola’s Man City side.
Club: Tottenham Hotspur Country: France
A man who leads by example and with his own authority on the pitch, Hugo Lloris is a captain, a leader, and a mighty fine goalkeeper. Since becoming Tottenham Hotspur’s number one shot-stopper back in 2012, few doubts have been raised over his abilities, and his position in the side has rarely come under threat.
Although he has won very few trophies at domestic level, the Frenchman has lifted the most prestigious award of them all on the international stage, captaining his nation to World Cup glory in 2018.
With Jose Mourinho leading his own revolution at Spurs, Lloris may be dreaming of adding a Premier League winners medal to his list of accolades.
Club: Bayern Munich Country: Germany
Simply put, one of the best to stand between (and often charge miles away from) the big white posts. Manuel Neuer made his name as an offensive, brash goalkeeper during his time at Schalke, and his brilliant displays convinced bitter rivals Bayern to spend big to land their man.
What a good bit of business that was. The 34-year-old has guarded the sticks for the German giants since 2011, winning eight Bundesliga titles and two Champions League trophies. He may have had a wobble following an injury in 2017, but he looks reborn behind this Bayern backline.
Neuer revolutionised the game before our eyes, and held up the torch for the new heavyweights to follow suit.
Club: Atletico Madrid Country: Slovenia
Jan Oblak is a throwback to how goalkeepers used to keep net. The giant Slovenian is a no thrills, no spills kind of guy, who is not necessarily renowned for his excellent work with the ball at his feet, nor his ability to play out from the back.
Nah, this man just saves shots. All shots. Every shot. He is the dream goalkeeper for Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid side: nothing fancy – just stop the ball and do your job efficiently. And his aptitude at doing the basics so effectively is what makes Oblak so special.
Club: Juventus Country: Poland
Back in 2015, Arsenal flop Wojciech Szczesny had lost his way. However, the most surprising of career turnarounds unfolded over the next two years, as he recovered his form at Roma and subsequently sealed a switch to Juventus in 2017.
Now in his fourth year in Turin, Szczesny is regarded as the most consistent and talented goalkeeper in Serie A, and he’ll be hoping his exploits take him to heights that even Buffon couldn’t reach by winning that elusive Champions League trophy.
Club: Barcelona Country: Germany
The biggest compliment you can pay Marc-Andre ter Stegen is that he has gone toe-to-toe with Neuer in the race to become Germany’s number one goalkeeper, and that there are a number of people who believe he should get the nod.
The Barcelona keeper has been insanely good since taking over from Claudio Bravo, and he is without doubt the most important player in the Blaugrana’s current backline. The Catalan giants are going through a tough period in their history, and they’re going to need their German guardian at his best to navigate them through these choppy waters.
Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has said that it would be best for the Spanish national team not to play at Camp Nou, and will ask for them to play elsewhere should he be elected.
Laporta previously served as club president between 2003 and 2010, helping Barça re-establish themselves as one of Europe’s top sides. Signing Ronaldinho in the summer of 2003 and winning the Champions League in 2006, La Blaugrana then embarked on one of the greatest eras in football history under the stewardship of Pep Guardiola.
Following the departure of the unpopular Josep Maria Bartomeu in October, Laporta announced his intentions to run for president yet again in the upcoming January elections.
He has confirmed that should he be successful in his bid, La Roja will not be welcome at Camp Nou, citing the lack of support for the national side in Barcelona – where Catalonian independency is heavily supported – as one of reasons for the decision.
“Luis Rubiales, president of the RFEF [Spanish Football Federation], is an intelligent person who knows that the best thing for the national team is to play where they have more support, such as in Seville, Valencia or Madrid,” Laporta said, as reported by Marca.
“And perhaps here [in Barcelona] is not the most appropriate place. The best decision would be for Spain not to play at Camp Nou is because here the conditions are not the most positive for them to do so.”
However, Laporta did go on to stress that he would be open to hearing the opinions of his board should he be elected president in January.
“I am not willing to enter into controversy,” Laporta added. “I do not renounce what I think and feel, but Barcelona have the greatness of being able to defend the rights of Catalonia and at the same time integrate and respect everyone.
“Everyone fits within the Barcelona that I propose.”
Newcastle have confirmed that their game against Aston Villa on Friday has been postponed, following a coronavirus outbreak in the squad.
A significant number of players and staff have been forced into isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, with the Magpies’ training ground being closed earlier this week.
Newcastle confirmed the news in a statement published on their website, which reads: “Newcastle United’s Premier League fixture at Aston Villa on Friday, 4th December has been postponed following a significant increase in Covid-19 cases at the Magpies’ Training Centre.
“Several Newcastle United players and staff members are now self-isolating at home after returning positive test results in recent days and the club’s Training Centre site has been temporarily closed in order to contain the spread of the virus.
“With the Magpies’ first team currently unable to prepare for the match as a group, Newcastle United lodged a request with the Premier League to postpone the fixture at Villa Park, which has been approved by the Premier League Board.
“The match, which was set to kick off at 8pm (GMT) on Friday evening, will now be rescheduled and a new date and time will be confirmed in due course. Newcastle United would like to thank Aston Villa Football Club for its understanding.”
The club went onto state that they would not be naming which players have tested positive for the virus out of respect of their privacy.
The news is the latest blow for Magpies boss Steve Bruce who has already had to deal with a string of injuries this season. Ryan Fraser, Martin Dubravka, Allan Saint-Maximin and five others were forced to sit out of Newcastle’s trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday, making their 2-0 win even more impressive.
Bruce’s side are set to play West Brom on 12 December but whether this fixture will take place on this date remains to be seen.