Humble Ronaldo hails team-mates following UEFA award

25 August 2016 21:45

Cristiano Ronaldo was quick to praise his team-mates at club and international level for their part in him being named Best Player in Europe by UEFA on Thursday, and tipped Antoine Griezmann as a future winner. 

Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo pipped club colleague Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann in the voting, putting the seal on a 2015-16 season that saw him score the winning penalty in the Champions League final and help Portugal to Euro 2016 glory. 

While Ronaldo is often portrayed as egotistical, he wasted little time in sharing the plaudits when he picked up his latest piece of silverware in Monaco.   

Reflecting on winning the gong for a second time, Ronaldo said: “It’s amazing. 

“I wished to win tonight and I’m so proud. I have to say thank you to my team mates – Real Madrid and national – because they helped me a lot to win these trophies.”

Ronaldo now wants to take the Ballon d’Or crown away from Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, as he said: “I hope so, but let me enjoy first this trophy.”

Asked whether last season was the best of his trophy-laden career, Ronaldo replied: “In terms of collective, probably yes. 

“We won two amazing trophies. I can say yes. In terms of the collective, yes.”

As Ronaldo basked in his glory, Griezmann was left to reflect on another near miss, having also been on the losing side against the Portugal star in both the Champions League and Euros finals. 

However, Ronaldo is confident Griezmann’s time in the spotlight will come. 

He said: “As I said on the stage, he deserved to win this trophy. He lost two finals, so it was unlucky for him but I think he’s a fantastic player. 

“He’s a good boy, he’s my neighbour – he lives next to me – and he deserved it. But he will win for sure one day – I hope so.”

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No Barcelona bid for Mariano, insist Sevilla

25 August 2016 15:57

Sevilla chairman Jose Castro says Barcelona have not made an offer for defender Mariano but confirmed the club will consider selling Yevhen Konoplyanka for the right price.

Barcelona saw Dani Alves leave for Juventus on a free transfer in the off-season, prompting suggestions they might seek to recruit another Brazilian right-back from Sevilla in the form of Mariano.

But the 30-year-old, who only moved to LaLiga from Bordeaux in July 2015, has not been the subject of a bid from the reigning champions.

“We don’t have any offer from Barcelona to sign Mariano,” Castro told a news conference.

Castro also claimed clubs are yet to make a bid for Ukraine international Konoplyanka, but acknowledged a suitor has made their interest known in rumoured Sunderland target Vicente Iborra.

“There aren’t offers for Konoplyanka,” he said.

“Our policy is [to] study all the offers that arrive to our office, we accept some of them and reject others. 

“We always sell if we receive an offer out of scale. We sold [Grzegorz] Krychowiak and [Kevin] Gameiro because we received disproportionate offers. We will value an offer for Konoplyanka, if we receive it.

“We have an important offer for Iborra. In this moment it isn’t clear if we will accept it and we will wait to see what happen in next days.”

As for their own activity in the transfer market, Castro claimed Sevilla are hopeful of bringing in Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu from Paris Saint-Germain.

He added: “We’re searching for players that can help to our project. Sirigu is one of our options and we’re working on his signing.”

Sevilla, who began their league season under new head coach Jorge Sampaoli with a thrilling 6-4 victory at home to Espanyol, are away to Villarreal on Sunday.

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Solo ´saddened´ by United States axing

25 August 2016 09:59

Hope Solo has expressed her sadness after the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) terminated the star goalkeeper’s contract.

Solo has been suspended for six months and had her national team contract ripped up after making controversial comments about Sweden’s players at the Rio Olympics.

The 35-year-old labelled her opponents “a bunch of cowards” after they defeated the USA on penalties following what she perceived to be a defensive performance in the quarter-finals of the women’s football tournament in Brazil.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) deemed Solo’s remarks “unacceptable” and claimed it took into account her past conduct in determining the punishment – the 202-cap veteran was also suspended for 30 days in 2015 for misconduct.

In a statement posted via her official Twitter account, the goalkeeper responded to her ban. 

“For 17 years, I dedicated my life to the U.S. Women’s National Team and did the job of a pro athlete the only way I knew how – with passion, tenacity, an unrelenting commitment to be the best goalkeeper in the world, not just for my country, but to elevate the sport for the next generation of female athletes.

“In those commitments, I have never wavered. And with so much more to give, I am saddened by the Federation’s decision to terminate my contract.

“I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things. 

“My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game and I will continue to pursue these causes with the same unrelenting passion with which I play the game.”

Solo, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and women’s World Cup-winner, will not be eligible for selection until February 2017.

The USSF’s decision not only to suspend her but to terminate her contract has been interpreted by some observers as an indication she may not be recalled to the national team.

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