Messi is the best player of last decade – Pele

The three-time World Cup winner placed the Barcelona star over his Brazilian team-mate and great rival at Real Madrid, while ruling himself out of contention for Fifa president

Brazilian football legend Pele has named Lionel Messi as the greatest footballer of the last decade, as he also paid tribute to Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

The Argentine and Portuguese stars have dominated the Fifa Ballon d’Or award given to the sport’s most accomplished performer over the past 10 years. 

And Neymar, Messi’s team-mate at Barcelona and the Brazil captain, is also tipped by many to win the prestigious prize.

For Pele, however, the Argentine is the pick of the bunch. 

“It’s very difficult to make a comparison of players of different generations. But in last 10 years Messi was the best. Ronaldo plays forward and tries to score, while Messi plays with a different style,” the ex-Santos and New York Cosmos idol told a press conference while on a trip to India. 

“In my team I would love to have both… We have Neymar who also has a good future.”

Despite the great changes in football since Pele’s heyday, the 74-year-old argued that he still could have been a successful player in the modern era. 

“No doubt football today is tougher than before but when God gifts you to play football it’s the same in any generation. Football is all about skill. I’m sure Beto would have been equally successful had he played in this era,” he considered. 

And the Brazilian also ruled himself out of the reckoning to succeed Sepp Blatter as the next Fifa president, stating he “had no intention” of running for the post.  


10 2015
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Evra: With Benzema, France can win Euro 2016

The Juventus defender has praised the Real Madrid striker as well as Anthony Martial, while he said he would like to see Franck Ribery back with the national team, too

Patrice Evra believes that if France are to win Euro 2016, they will need Karim Benzema to be at his peak.

The Real Madrid striker scored in both matches as Les Bleus defeated Armenia and Denmark in back-to-back internationals this week, having come in for criticism previously due to his comparatively poor scoring rate for the national team.

Far from being a hindrance, Evra believes the ex-Lyon attacker has the potential to lead France to European Championship glory next summer.

“For me, Karim’s a great striker,” he told RMC. “I’m not the coach, but I think in Didier Deschamps’ eyes he’s the No.1. 

“He must assume his status. He was whistled in Nice against Armenia but scored two goals in the end. He has to ignore the critics – he can’t make everyone happy. 

“I’ve told him to keep working. He knows that we will do all we can to make him shine.”

Indeed, Evra believes that even without a “technical leader” like Zinedine Zidane, who helped the national side to success in World Cup 1998 on home soil and Euro 2000, they can still be a success next summer.

“I don’t think one is essential,” he said. “We could even discover someone at the competition. But I think players like Benzema have a big responsibility. With him we can win the competition.”

The ex-Manchester United defender was also impressed with Anthony Martial’s contribution against Denmark on his first start for France.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen him in a match,” he confessed. “He was impressive. I told him at the end of the game: ‘I hope that you hydrate well and stretch well. Keep accelerating like that.’

“Every time he touched the ball, he drove and he created something.”

Despite the emergence of the youngster, Evra admitted he continues to miss Franck Ribery in the national side, with the Bayern Munich man having quit the scene.

“Of course I’d recall him,” he said. “We exchange text messages. He’s a player I miss on a daily basis. If Franck wants to come back, personally I’d welcome him back with open arms. But I’m not the coach.

“I want to see everyone trying their hardest, and to play with a spirit that will help us win.”

Meanwhile, Evra is not concerned about his status as press scapegoat.

“It doesn’t bother me. I prefer to take the bullets for everyone,” he said.

“Critics won’t me stop my career. That’s what I said after the World Cup: ‘All of you go on holiday, I’ll be the only one who takes the guillotine.’

“No worries. I’m healthy and my family is doing well. There are no problem.”


10 2015
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Real Madrid are not making Bale demands, insists Coleman

The Wales manager says he’s under no orders from Los Blancos not to play the 26-year-old against Andorra and revealed a friendly against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal is a possib…

Wales are free to use Gareth Bale as much as they want in their final Euro 2016 qualifier against Andorra on Tuesday, Chris Coleman has insisted.

Despite losing 2-0 away to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday, Wales sealed qualification to the tournament in France next year thanks to Israel’s surprise home defeat to Cyprus.

Bale’s club Real Madrid have already seen Karim Benzema and Luka Modric suffer injuries during the international break, but the Wales manager denied reports the Santiago Bernabeu side were angry at the prospect of the forward’s inclusion for the final match at home to Andorra in Cardiff.

“There has been no demand from Read Madrid on if he starts or how long he will play,” Coleman said. “Real Madrid have always been first class.”

Coleman, reflecting on his side’s achievement in reaching their first major tournament since 1958, said he would be happy to face Bale’s club team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in a pre-tournament friendly as they bid to fill a vacant spot in their calendar for November.

“I am the proudest I have ever been in my life,” he said. “It is my biggest achievement in football

“We need to keep pushing forward. We can always get better and need to keep pushing.

“Portugal would be a good one, but they could be part of a mini-tournament in Miami. If not, we would be interested [in playing them].

“We would want it in Cardiff and it is possibly a good time to go to the Millennium Stadium and play in front of a big crowd.”


10 2015
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Ferguson: Neuer and De Gea as good as Messi and Ronaldo

The former Manchester United boss has given his take on the best goalkeepers in the world, overlooking the likes of Thibaut Courtois and Gianluigi Buffon

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manuel Neuer and David de Gea are the best goalkeepers in the world, suggesting they are as good in their position as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in theirs.

Neuer was voted the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) World’s Best Goalkeeper in 2013 and 2014, while De Gea was named the Premier League’s top shot-stopper in both 2012-13 and 2014-15.

“Neuer and De Gea are the best goalkeepers in the world,” Ferguson was quoted as saying by Kicker. “And by quite some distance as well.

“You have Messi and Ronaldo as outfield players and then Neuer and De Gea as the goalkeepers’ equivalent.”

The former Manchester United manager signed De Gea from Atletico Madrid in 2011 when he was still in charge at Old Trafford and the Spain international has since made over 180 appearances in all competitions for United.

He was dropped in favour of Sergio Romero earlier this campaign as a proposed transfer to Real Madrid fell through, but was reinstated as United’s No.1 after signing a contract renewal until 2019.

Neuer has been with Bayern since joining them from Schalke in 2011 and has since guided them to three Bundesliga titles, two DFB Pokals, the Champions League and the Club World Cup.


10 2015
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PSG better than Bayern – Zidane

The former Santiago Bernabeu player believes the French champions are Europe’s elite, alongside his former club and rivals Barcelona

Zinedine Zidane believes Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are the two favourites to win the Champions League this season and feels the Ligue 1 outfit are a better team than Bayern Munich.

PSG have suffered three consecutive quarter-final eliminations since returning to the Champions League in 2012.

The French champions have beaten Malmo and Shakhtar Donetsk in their opening two Group A fixtures of this season’s competition but face a double-header against Madrid next.

“For me, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are the two best clubs around in Europe at the moment,” Zidane told Canal+.

“Paris know the French league inside out, they are on another level to their rivals.

“They are the best two teams for me, perhaps alongside Barcelona. Bayern are slightly behind those teams.”


10 2015
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