Neymar snubbed from world’s 20 best players

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar has failed to even make the top 20 of this year’s Goal 50

The Brazil international became the most expensive player in football history when he joined the Ligue 1 outfit from Barcelona during the 2017 summer transfer window for a staggering €222 million. 

Neymar made an encouraging start to his career in France, netting 28 times in his first 30 appearances for his new club in all competitions, an impressive run of form that included six goals in the group stage of the Champions League alone. 

However, the forward broke a bone in his foot during a Ligue 1 game against Marseille at the end of February, thus bringing a premature end to his first season at the Parc des Princes. 

Neymar returned in time to represent Brazil at the World Cup but despite scoring twice in Russia, he performed poorly, while he was also castigated for his perceived play-acting by fans and media alike. 

So, while we can confirm that the attacker has made the Goal 50 for the eighth year in a row, the man coming off two consecutive sixth-placed finishes does not feature among the top 20.

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Where exactly has Neymar ranked, though? And who has finished top of the pile in 2018? Has Ronaldo held on to his title?

Find out on Tuesday, November 13 when the Goal 50 will be published in full at 12:00am GMT/7:00am ET. 

The Goal 50 is an annual award that both recognises and ranks the world’s 50 best footballers of the preceding 12 months. Chief editors and correspondents from Goal’s 42 editions around the world all cast their votes, with candidates judged on their level of consistency over the previous year of action, their big-game performances, footballing legacy and the success of their teams at both club and international level.

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Lacazette withdraws from France squad two hours after call-up

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette has pulled out of the France squad for their upcoming internationals – just hours after being enlisted as cover by the World Cup winners.

The 27-year-old was left-out of Didier Deschamps’ plans when the 23-man party to face Netherland and Uruguay was unveiled last Thursday.

But the withdrawal of Manchester United pair Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial saw Lacazette called-up alongside Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko.

Just two hours later, though, France have confirmed that the Gunners marksman will not answer the call of his country following discussions between his country and club’s medical officials.

“This decision was taken after an exchange between Dr. Franck Le Gall and his counterparts at Arsenal,” a statement on Twitter read on Monday.

Alassane Plea, the Borussia Monchengladbach forward who has scored eight goals in 11 Bundesliga appearances this season including a hat-trick during the weekend win over Werder Bremen, has been selected for his maiden international call-up as a result.

Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy has joined Lacazette in pulling out of France’s concluding games of the year, with Lyon full-back Ferland Mendy recruited for his first senior international call-up.

However, the withdrawal of Lacazette extends his wait for an international return, with his last outing for his country coming in a friendly against Germany last November.

Lacazette has enjoyed a decent start to his second season at Arsenal scoring five goals in nine Premier League starts for Uni Emery’s side.

Upon being left out of France’s last squad for October’s international fixtures, Deschamps said Lacazette remained down the pecking order.

“It is true that he is having a good early season where he is efficient and effective,” said the Les Bleus boss.

“There is competition in this position and for the moment the players I selected for the World Cup, I continue to rely on them.

“It is not a question of profile, but I am not going to pick multiple players in the same position. 

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“It is also necessary to have a balanced squad and he is a central attacker.

“This does not take away the credit for what he does. He must continue.”

Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann are the central strikers selected to face Netherlands in Rotterdam in the UEFA Nations League on Friday and Uruguay in a friendly in Paris next Tuesday.

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Allegri targets long Juventus stay after being named Italian Manager of the Year

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri has revealed that he wants to stay at the club “for a long time” after winning his second consecutive Italian manager of the year award.

The 51-year-old, who guided Juve to a seventh straight Serie A title and 13th Coppa Italia triumph last season, beat off competition from Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri and Lazio’s Simone Inzaghi for the Panchina d’Oro.

Allegri has picked up where he left off so far this campaign with a 2-0 win over Milan on Sunday maintaining their six-point lead at the Serie A summit.

They are well placed to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, despite last week’s 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United, and Allegri admits he is targeting European success in what he hopes is a prolonged spell in Turin.

“I thank my staff, who take so much pressure off me and let me grow older more slowly,” he said upon collecting his award.

“I hope to stay here for a long time.

“Now I’m more reflective. My years of experience in Serie A have let me grow.

“The objective is to win our eighth Scudetto and then the Champions League.

“We’ll see if we have a bit of luck on our side. The level has risen, so we must have the quality to match.

“For the Scudetto, however, our attentions are on Napoli and Inter.”

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Allegri had raised some questions about his future at Juve after revealing an experience coaching abroad would be “nice” following his side’s victory over Milan.

The former Sassuolo, Cagliari and Milan boss is yet to coach outside of Italy with Juventus being the seventh side he has managed in his homeland.

However, it appears Allegri is happy in Turin as they look to win more honours under his stewardship this season.

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Premier League Betting: Fulham odds-on to go down after sixth consecutive defeat

Another weekend and another defeat has left Fulham in a precarious position in the Premier League table.

This time it was a 2-0 reverse at Anfield, albeit the Cottagers were unlucky to not find the net, which makes it six losses in a row and no league win since August for Slavisa Jokanovic’s men.

It is little surprise, then, that they are just 4/7 (1.57) with SportPesa to make an immediate return to the Championship along with 1/2 (1.50) Cardiff City.

Joe Ralls Cardiff City 2018-19 Premier League

Whilst Fulham do prop up the Premier League table, Cardiff are just three points above them after claiming their second victory of the season with a dramatic 2-1 win over Brighton on Saturday.

That makes it two wins from their last four games and whilst the Bluebirds will have their work cut out to survive, that will surely buoy them when club football returns after the Nations League interlude.

SportPesa’s 5/12 (1.42) favourites to go down, though, are Huddersfield after the West Yorkshire outfit avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and sit 19th this time around.

Salomon Rondon Newcastle 2018-19

The Terriers were perhaps unlucky to not beat West Ham on Saturday afternoon but, like Cardiff, will have their hopes up after the international break thanks a 1-0 win over Fulham on November 5 gave them a first league win in 15 games.

However, the race to avoid the drop is certainly far from over and currently just four points separate Fulham in 20th and Newcastle in 14th thanks to back-to-back wins for the Magpies.

A Salomon Rondon double gave Rafa Benitez’s struggling side a surprise win over high-flying Bournemouth just seven days after a 1-0 success against Watford, and are now out at 3/1 (4.0) to get relegated.

Burnley are 5/4 (2.25) after failing to recreate their form of last season, whilst Southampton – winless in eight with only four goals to their name in that time – could prove to be a value bet at 15/4 (4.75).

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FA asks Guardiola to explain Manchester derby referee comments

The Football Association (FA) has asked Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to explain his comments about referee Anthony Taylor prior to the derby with Manchester United.

Guardiola has until 18:00 GMT on Thursday to provide his observations to the FA.

The Catalan was asked in his pre-match news conference on Friday whether he thought the fact that Taylor is from Greater Manchester was significant in terms of how he would handle the fixture.

After being told the official supports Altrincham, Guardiola said: “So no problem. He is going to try to do the best job like we try to as managers and football players.

“Even with VAR there will be mistakes but it’ll reduce that issue. Taylor is going to try to make a good time.

“The important thing is focusing on our game and knowing which opponent we are going to face and that’s all.

“Hopefully they can make good decisions for both sides and [it will] be a good game, like all of England and parts of Europe are going to watch us and that is an important pleasure.

“The referee doesn’t want to make a mistake but knows that everybody around the world is going to watch him and he doesn’t want to make mistakes. That is pretty sure.

“But if after he’s a fan of United or City, everybody can be a fan wherever he wants, so no problem.”

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City would go on to win the derby 3-1, with goals from David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan securing all three points for Guardiola’s men.

United had pulled a goal back courtesy of Anthony Martial’s penalty, although Gundogan’s late strike ensured there was no way back for the Red Devils, who are now eighth in the table, 12 points behind leaders City.

Next up for Mourinho’s side is a home fixture against struggling Crystal Palace, while City take on West Ham at the London Stadium.

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