Kylian Mbappe has been tipped to join fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.

Madrid head coach Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for Mbappe.

However, Liverpool are reportedly launching an audacious bid for the Paris Saint-Germain forward.



Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has spoken to Kylian Mbappe's father about bringing the Paris Saint-Germain star to Anfield, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Real Madrid in 2021 as PSG struggle to agree a new contract with the France forward.

Despite strong links to the Santiago Bernabeu, Champions League holders Liverpool are still chasing the 21-year-old.



Cristiano Ronaldo does not want to leave Juventus, says Tuttosport. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to PSG, as well as former clubs Madrid and Manchester United.

Paulo Dybala to Inter? The Argentina star was linked to the Nerazzurri at the start of the season but remained at Juventus, where he has starred. However, Calciomercato says Inter are still interested in Dybala.

- The Mirror claims Borussia Dortmund have set their sights on Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old has also been linked to Liverpool and United.

Barcelona and Manchester City are eyeing Benfica defender Ruben Dias, reports Record. The 22-year-old has been offered to Barca as a possible long-term replacement for Samuel Umtiti, the report adds.

- Mundo Deportivo says Juve are pressing to sign in-demand Barca midfielder Arthur, who has been the subject of interest from Inter and Tottenham.

Arsenal have given up on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang re-signing with the Premier League club, according to the Daily Express. Inter are said to be the favourites to sign the Gabon forward.

- Real Madrid's Luka Jovic has emerged as an option for Milan amid doubts over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future, says Calciomercato.

Saturday should have seen Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and pit Antoine Griezmann against his old club once more.

Griezmann left Atleti for Camp Nou in the second most expensive transfer of the previous close season, his €120million move eclipsed only by Joao Felix, the man bought to replace him.

Neither player has exactly enjoyed a resoundingly triumphant season, which is an affliction to hit many of the top 10 most expensive transfers of 2019.

We look at each of those players and whether their signings have, until now, been a hit or a miss...


JOAO FELIX: Benfica to Atletico Madrid (€126m)

Benfica and Portugal's golden boy scored in pre-season victories over Juventus and Real Madrid to give Atleti fans reason to believe the post-Griezmann future was bright.

However, just six goals in 28 competitive appearances later, doubts have been growing as to whether the 20-year-old forward will ever truly suit Diego Simeone's system.


ANTOINE GRIEZMANN: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (€120m)

Griezmann vowed to stay at Atletico in 2018 only to change his mind a year later, and his performances for Barca are in keeping with a man not quite at ease in his surroundings.

Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez better his goal involvements for the Blaugrana in LaLiga this term (eight goals and four assists), while he is second only to Messi for chances created (26), but fans were entitled to expect more from the club's latest mega-money forward.


EDEN HAZARD: Chelsea to Real Madrid (€100m)

Chelsea fans feared the worst when their star man was lost during a transfer embargo, but things have hardly gone swimmingly for Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Injury problems have restricted him to just nine starts and a solitary goal and assist in LaLiga. He has also only created 14 chances, as many as James Rodriguez (who has started just four league games) and Lucas Vazquez (who has started six).


HARRY MAGUIRE: Leicester City to Manchester United (€87m)

The world's most expensive central defender might not be thought of as the world's best, but that should not detract from his impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

He leads the way for duels won, aerial duels won, blocks and interceptions among United defenders in the Premier League this season, helping them to eight clean sheets. Oh, and he's already been made club captain.


MATTHIJS DE LIGT: Ajax to Juventus (€85m)

The most coveted centre-back of the window after Ajax's remarkable Champions League run, De Ligt delivered a dreadful performance on his Juventus debut in a 4-3 win over Napoli.

He has won the most aerial duels and has the pass success rate of any Juve defender to feature more than five times in Serie A this term, but there are already doubts about his long-term suitability to Maurizio Sarri's side.


LUCAS HERNANDEZ: Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich (€80m)

Bayern smashed their transfer record to sign defender Hernandez, but injuries have made it difficult to assess whether the money will prove to be well-spent.

A knee problem in September was followed by a serious ankle injury that kept him out for nearly four months, meaning he has started only nine games in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions.


NICOLAS PEPE: Lille to Arsenal (€80m)

Pepe was something of a symbol of Unai Emery's problematic final few weeks in charge as he struggled badly to find form for the Gunners.

He has certainly shown signs of improvement in 2020 – only Mesut Ozil (38) has created more chances in the league than Pepe (34) for Arsenal – but fans will have hoped for more from their record signing.


FRENKIE DE JONG: Ajax to Barcelona (€75m)

Another Ajax star who became coveted by clubs across Europe last year, De Jong opted for Barca and immediately became a regular in midfield.

He has not quite adapted to life in LaLiga - Ernesto Valverde's exit and Quique Setien's arrival as coach did not help - but, in turbulent times for the club, he looks to be a safe bet as the beating heart of Barca for years to come: he had created more chances (24) than any other Barca midfielder this term and only Sergio Busquets has more recoveries and interceptions.


RODRI: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City (€70m)

Manchester City's record signing has proved a smart bit of a business given midfield-anchor supreme Fernandinho has spent much of this season in defence.

Rodri has attempted more passes (1,996), recorded a better passing accuracy (92 per cent) and more recoveries (181) than any other City midfielder in 2019-20. He looks very much at home in Pep Guardiola's system.


ROMELU LUKAKU: Manchester United to Inter (€65m)

Lukaku's move to Inter seems to have been that rarity in modern-day transfers: a deal that has worked out well for everyone concerned.

United's attack is taking the more fluid shape Solskjaer wants, Antonio Conte at last got the forward he tried to bring to Juventus and Chelsea, and Lukaku has looked in the form of his career, with 17 goals and two assists in Serie A as part of a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez.


Raheem Sterling admits he wants to get his hands on one of Lionel Messi's shirts, even if he might not rush to put it on his wall.

Manchester City forward Sterling is building up a collection after swapping kit with star opponents following big games, but he keeps them locked away.

The 25-year-old England international says he is waiting until the end of his career before bringing together his silverware and framing his shirt collection.

Sterling intends to make sure "a couple" of City team-mate David Silva's shirts adorn the walls of his house in Jamaica.

"I am a shirt collector but I don't put any shirts on my wall as of yet," Sterling told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I don't like people coming into my house and knowing I am a football player. I like to keep my house family orientated.

"But for sure when I do finish football and settle somewhere I'll have all the shirts - hopefully many shirts to choose from - and pick my favourites that I played against and do a room of trophies and football shirts.

"There's only one I really want and that's a Messi shirt - when we played Barcelona I got a Neymar shirt, I think that's the first shirt I ever asked for."

Sterling also explained why Silva means so much to him.

He said that Silva, who is set to leave City at the end of the currently paused 2019-20 season, has helped him "be humble" as a player.

Paying tribute to the experienced Spanish playmaker, Sterling said learning from Silva has encouraged him to "keep that humility about yourself and carry yourself in a decent way".

Raheem Sterling believes he is 15 goals short of where he could be this season as he warned Manchester City have "another level to go".

It remains to be seen whether English football can resume amid the coronavirus crisis, or whether it will go the same way as the Netherlands, where the 2019-20 season has been abandoned.

Sterling's 20 goals in all competitions for City this term have maintained his consistent high level of contribution to Pep Guardiola's team, even though they have been left standing by runaway leaders Liverpool in the Premier League.

And the speedy forward is determined to step up whenever football returns, hungry for more success with last season's domestic treble winners.

Asked about where his game is, Sterling told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I'd day probably about 15 goals off where I want to be, so those are the targets: to try to create good numbers, but not just numbers to have numbers.

"At the end of the day you want to have trophies to back up that season because 10 years from now, you can score a lot of goals, but if I can't look back at those goals being important for my team and having a great value then those goals were pointless."

City have banked the EFL Cup this season and were in the hunt for the FA Cup before the season was paused in March.

Sterling has come to appreciate the value of silverware as more than a pleasing accompaniment to his personal success.

"It's one of those - [you want] to try to contribute as much as I can but at the end of the season have medals to show for it," he said.

The England star said City are a team where egos are not rampant, adding: "We've still got another level to go.

"In my time at City, the most important thing I've learned is the value of winning. Before, if I won a game it was good, but if I lost a game you're disappointed but it doesn't burn you as much.

"But if we lose one game in 15 at Manchester City you wouldn't like to be in the dressing room - it's like the worst thing in the world's happened.

"That's the biggest thing I've learned since I've been there and it's something that I definitely carry with me, not just in football but in anything I do - that winning mentality."

The 25-year-old joined City from Liverpool five years ago and says the improved mental side of the game comes from working with former Barcelona head coach Guardiola.

"That's the number one thing I've taken from him," Sterling said.

Roy Keane sees cause for optimism in Manchester United's progress over recent months but still believes they have "a long way back" before challenging Liverpool or Manchester City.

United have endured an inconsistent season under Keane's former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, yet the 20-time English champions headed into the coronavirus-enforced break in form.

The Old Trafford outfit are unbeaten in 11 and up to fifth in the Premier League, inspired by the January arrival of midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

Ex-captain Keane is looking for United to have a strong finish to the season, but he recognises there remains a sizeable gap to rivals Liverpool and City, the runaway league leaders and defending champions respectively.

"I think there's certainly a feel-good factor back at United over the past number of games," Keane told Sky Sports.

"Also, in the back of your mind, you're thinking if [Paul] Pogba can get back, people like [Marcus] Rashford can get fit towards the end of the season, that would be a big boost for them.

"So there's definitely a feel-good factor, but there's still a long way back for United yet. I still think they're a long way behind City and, obviously, Liverpool.

"The signs are a lot better than six months ago, 12 months ago. The signings have all settled in very, very well and will only get better with time.

"If they can have a good finish to the season - if we get back to playing games - and if they can get one or two very good players again in the summer, then that's another big step.

"I always think in terms of their recovery, there's still a bit to go yet."

United have been linked with Jadon Sancho ahead of the coming transfer window, yet Keane believes their shortcomings are in defence.

"Whenever we talk about the big clubs, everyone always talks about attacking players," he said. "I still think they need one or two defenders.

"I'm still not convinced with the centre-halves, I'm certainly not convinced with [left-back Luke] Shaw. I think [Brandon] Williams has done well as a young kid, even though he's right-footed playing on that side."

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s. 


While their white jersey with the red sash may be iconic in world football, Peru certainly isn't considered by the layman as a hotbed of talent.

Peru's Primera Division is seen as something of a retirement home for its former national team players who have been in second-tier leagues, like Mexico's Liga MX or MLS, while exports aren't exactly aplenty.

Peruvian newspaper El Comercio counts just 47 Peru natives playing abroad, while they also believe these players highlight the main issue for the country in terms of development; very few are defenders.

And that, for some, is what makes Manchester City's purchase of Kluiverth Aguilar, a 16-year-old right-back from Alianza Lima, all the more encouraging.

Causing a stir

Aguilar's rise to prominence has been swift, as Peruvian journalist Diego Montalvan explains to Stats Perform: "The first time I became aware of Aguilar was after all the talk about a Peruvian kid that had been the best full-back in the South American Under-17 Championship last year."

However, Aguilar had already been causing a stir in youth football before that tournament, which took place across March and April. He played that competition – hosted in Peru – having sparked a little controversy in joining Alianza Lima a month prior.

Sporting Cristal were under the impression he was their player, having impressed with his local side Regatas, but Alianza exploited the lack of a formal agreement to make Aguilar theirs, and that resulted in accusations of disloyalty. It soon became clearer why Sporting were so angry.

Despite being only 15 at the time, making him among the youngest players at the tournament, Aguilar was a standout performer for a Peru side that made it to the second group stage, only to narrowly miss out on a place at the Under-17 World Cup.

Tall, quick, tenacious and technically sound, Aguilar's performances went down particularly well at Alianza.

The team swiftly moved him up to their reserve team and that was quickly followed by promotion to the senior selection, even being named in the squad for two Copa Libertadores games.

"He's adapted very well since his debut with Alianza, being thrown into the semi-final and final of the 2019 season, he played as if he had been a regular starter all season," Diego adds of the teenager.

Out of the blue?

While the signing may have raised some eyebrows in England, Diego is adamant Alianza weren't surprised by such a deal so soon. "I don't think it's a surprise to Alianza at all that he's moving to a big club," he said.

"Peruvian media have always talked about his potential in a positive light because, so far, the positives seem to outweigh the negatives. Negatives being that he's young and still needs to perfect his craft, his defensive positioning also needs to be worked on.

"He's an offensive minded right-back that combines speed and stamina to overlap and cross, or use his speed to open up space, dribble, create chances and even cut inside to shoot. The way he plays reminds me of Dani Alves, although he still has a lot to learn and master to get to his level."

As it turns out, the transfer to City had been over a year in the making. The Premier League champions had – according to Alianza's head of youth recruitment, Jaime Duarte – been in Peru for the youth tournament and decided as long ago as that to sign Aguilar.

"It was impressive because there was a sea of scouts from all over the world," Duarte told Libero. "Man City has a headquarters in Brazil and there is a manager [Carlos Santoro] who covers all of South America. He had come to Lima and he tells one of their chiefs [Gary Worthington, head of player recruitment], I think Pep Guardiola's right-hand man, to take a plane to Peru to see a 15-year-old.

"Scouts always look at the Brazilian, Argentinian and Uruguayan full-backs, but Kluiverth was rated the best South American full-back, and then came the approach with his manager. From there he was already [gone]."

According to the Peruvian media, Worthington only needed to watch for "a few minutes" before approving a move.

The long road

Aguilar's very being is clearly heavily influenced by football - the names of he and his brothers, Diego Armando and Rijkaard, all carry obvious inspiration rooted in their father's love for the game.

That has certainly rubbed off on Aguilar, who is clearly a fine talent for his age. But however talented he may be, the route to the City first-team will likely be long and arduous, assuming he is a success – and that's no guarantee for a 16-year-old.

Aguilar will join up with City next May when he turns 18. From there, his future becomes a little cloudier as one considers his next steps. Will he be expected to develop in the reserves? Can he force his way into first-team reckoning ahead of the 2021-22 season? Or will he just become engulfed by the City Football Group machine and be bandied around between clubs?

It seems the best indicator as to City's plan for Aguilar - or 'Cyborg', as he's known to some team-mates - is to consider Yangel Herrera, the Venezuelan talent the club plucked from relative obscurity in 2017.

Since then, the defensive midfielder has spent two seasons on loan with sister club New York City, half a year in LaLiga with Huesca before returning to Spain's top-flight this term with Granada, where he has impressed.

Fortunately, Aguilar appears switched-on and humble, acknowledging spells away from City are likely, telling Alianza's club channels: "At the moment I think first of being a champion with Alianza and if later City want to train me in other clubs, I will do so to be able to reach the first team."

The value of the transfer is shrouded in uncertainty, with Alianza insisting they received significantly less than the $2.8million fee being reported, but with an apparent 30 per cent sell-on, there's every chance this deal will eventually go down as the biggest in domestic Peruvian football history.

Regardless of how Aguilar's career progresses in England, one thing is clear; his move is a major boost for Peru, an undertapped source in football.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan believes the enforced break in the Premier League could be beneficial for Leroy Sane.

Sane damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last August and was nearing a first-team return before the Premier League season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gundogan said he was sometimes training with Sane, 24, remotely and feels the attacker – who has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich – could be helped by the hiatus.

"We have the same fitness coach in Germany. Some days we do our exercises via FaceTime. It's worked out well so far and we're on it and trying to be very focused," he said, via the club's website.

"For everyone the situation has its good and bad sides. On one hand, Leroy had already trained with the team and he had his comeback in sight, even though he still had a few minor things.

"But he was almost back at playing again. Especially for your psyche, it's important to be able to play again after such a long time.

"On the other hand, he now has a bit more time to figure out those minor problems he still had. The fact that others can't play either is not so bad for him."

Gundogan, whose side were 25 points adrift of leaders Liverpool when play was halted, admitted it was at times tough to get motivated when training alone.

"I have a few things to do and then I'm ready to go," the Germany international said.

"To be honest, it's not so easy to motivate yourself these days every day when you are training. You know, like people who are working from home, you can maybe compare it to that.

"For those people it's also not the same as driving to work every day and then doing their jobs.

"You have to motivate yourself to do things and to do your work. Some days it's harder than others."

After months and months of speculation, Jadon Sancho's future could be resolved.

The 20-year-old attacker has been tipped to return to England, having left Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

And City's neighbours are reportedly set to snap up the in-demand sensation.



Borussia Dortmund's Sancho to Manchester United is a done deal, according to The Sun.

England star Sancho has been heavily linked to United, as well as Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid following his exploits for Dortmund.

However, United believe they have won the race for Sancho after months of secret talks, with just an agreement of a fee with Dortmund remaining.


- Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain are ready to offer Neymar a salary worth €38million if he stays at the Ligue 1 champions amid links to former club Barcelona.

Sandro Tonali is a real target for Milan, claims Calciomercato. The Brescia star has attracted interest from Serie A champions Juventus, Inter, PSG, Manchester City and others. But Tonali is Milan's big transfer goal as the Rossoneri board tries to rebuild around the 19-year-old.

Mauro Icardi to Napoli and Arkadiusz Milik to Juve? says Napoli are back in the hunt to sign Icardi, who is on loan at PSG from Inter. The Argentina forward has been heavily linked to Juve but he could join Napoli if Milik moves to Turin. The front page of Tuttosport also claims Federico Bernardeschi leaving Juve for Napoli could be the key in Milik's future.

Inter are interested in signing RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner if Lautaro Martinez swaps the Nerazzurri for Barca, reports Calciomercato. Liverpool and Bayern Munich have also been linked to Werner.

- AS Diario says Real Madrid are ready to sell Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez. Colombian midfielder James has been linked to United and Juve. Madrid are also prepared to part with Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz, Alvaro Odriozola and Nacho Fernandez.

Arsenal and United have set their sights on Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Sport. Dembele has struggled for form and fitness at Camp Nou and the Frenchman has reportedly asked Anthony Martial about playing for United.

Manchester City have agreed a deal to sign 16-year-old right-back Kluiverth Aguilar from Alianza Lima, the Peruvian club announced on Saturday.

Aguilar, who has previously stated he hopes to model his game on Dani Alves, will make the switch to City when he turns 18 on May 5, 2021.

The teenage defender made his debut while still at school last November and featured in both legs of the Primera Division final defeat against Deportivo Binacional. He has featured in nine first-team games in his fledgling career.

"Going to City is something big in my career. I'm happy they have signed me," said Aguilar.

"It is a club with players, a coach and fans that are all extraordinary. My goal is to become an outstanding player in the first team.

"I am glad that the possibility of moving to Europe presented itself to me while I am an Alianza player."

A statement from Alianza, who will receive a percentage of any future sale, said: "Within its policy of signing players with great potential, Manchester City saw in Kluiverth Aguilar a talent capable of playing at the highest level.

"Alianza Lima is proud that a footballer from its team can link his future to that of one of the most prestigious clubs in the world."

Aguilar could well follow in the footsteps of Yangel Herrera, who joined the Premier League champions from Atletico Venezuela in 2017 and was sent on loan to New York City FC. After a spell at Huesca, Herrera is now at Granada.

New York City are part of the City Football Group, which also owns or has a stake in Melbourne City, Montevideo City Torque, Girona, Yokohama F. Marinos, Sichuan Jiuniu and Mumbai City.

Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter at the end of the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-20 season.

His exploits in Italy have reportedly alerted Barcelona, who are determined to sign a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

And Martinez is apparently ready to swap the San Siro for Camp Nou.



Inter star Lautaro Martinez has chosen to join Barcelona and will press for a move if necessary, according to Marca.

While Barcelona remain interested in re-signing Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar, Martinez is the club's primary transfer objective.

Real Madrid and Manchester City have also been linked to Martinez, but the former have turned their attention to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, while the latter are reportedly happy with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.



- Could another star leave Inter? Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool want to sign Marcelo Brozovic, claims Calciomercato. The Nerazzurri could be tempted by a €60million (£52m) offer.

- Calciomercarto reports Juventus and PSG are in discussions over Mauro Icardi. The Argentina forward is on loan at PSG from Inter, with the Ligue 1 champions having the option to sign Icardi permanently. Icardi has been tipped to return to Serie A and the story claims PSG could sign the Argentinian from Inter before selling him straight to Juve. A possible deal could involve the likes of Mattia De Sciglio, Miralem Pjanic, Douglas Costa and Alex Sandro.

- The Telegraph says Ajax have placed a €40m (£35m) price tag on goalkeeper Andre Onana, who has been linked to Chelsea, PSG and Barca.

Jadon Sancho will only move to Old Trafford if Manchester United secure Champions League football, says the Athletic. The Dortmund sensation has also been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, former club City and Madrid.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter have a list of potential replacements for Barca target Martinez. RB Leipzig's Timo Werner is the first name on the list, which also includes Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, United forward Anthony Martial, Madrid striker Luka Jovic and Victor Osimhen of Lille.

April 17 is a date that will live long in the memory of Tottenham fans after their team held out to claim a Champions League triumph for the ages last year.

Five years ago, James Anderson became England's all-time leading wicket-taker in Test matches – and he certainly was not done there.

And, with the NFL Draft looming, we are able to look back to 1999 and the New Orleans Saints' great Ricky Williams gamble.

Here, we focus on those memorable sporting moments to have occurred on this day.


2019 – VAR heartbreak for Sterling and Guardiola

If the first leg of the all-Premier League quarter-final between Tottenham and Manchester City amounted to a cagey offering in north London, the return in Manchester eight days later was anything but.

Raheem Sterling cancelled out City's 1-0 first-leg deficit in four minutes but Son Heung-min, who scored in the initial encounter, struck a quick-fire double to leave the hosts needing to score three unanswered goals. Bernardo Silva and Sterling had accounted for two of those by the midway point of a crazy first half.

Sergio Aguero put Pep Guardiola's men 4-2 ahead on the night and in front for the first time in the tie before the hour, only for substitute Fernando Llorente to bundle home decisively and survive a VAR review for handball.

The video official was not so helpful to City when Sterling thought he had completed a hat-trick in stoppage time, briefly sparking scenes of delirium. Aguero had a heel offside in the build-up and Spurs went through on away goals, with the aggregate score locked at 4-4.

Tottenham overcame Ajax in the semi-finals in similarly dramatic circumstances before losing 2-0 in the final against Liverpoool – Jurgen Klopp's team having been pipped to Premier League glory by domestic treble winners City.

2015 – Peerless Anderson passes Botham

Anderson marked his 100th Test match in style when he persuaded Denesh Ramdin to edge to first slip on the final day of England's first Test against West Indies in Antigua.

It moved the Lancashire paceman on to 384 scalps in cricket's longest format, surpassing the great Ian Botham as England's most prolific bowler in the process.

West Indies were able to hold out for a draw, but Anderson has continued to rack up the numbers in a stunning career.

Now with 151 Test caps, the 37-year-old has 584 wickets – more than any seamer in history.

Anderson's wickets have cost an average of 26.83, and he claimed his 28th five-wicket haul in Tests in his most recent outing, against South Africa in January.

1999 – The Ricky Williams trade

Ricky Williams entered the 1999 NFL Draft after setting an NCAA record for rushing yards with the Texas Longhorns – efforts that saw him scoop the Heisman Trophy.

New Orleans coach Mike Ditka was determined to get his man and went to extraordinary lengths to secure Williams as the fifth overall selection, trading every pick he had to the Washington Redskins.

Williams and Ditka were then famously pictured together as a bride and groom on the front cover of ESPN Magazine, accompanied by the headline "For Better or Worse".

In the end, the gamble backfired as the Saints struggled to a 3-13 season and Ditka was fired.

The Cleveland Browns made Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch the number one pick. Couch was one of five signal callers selected in the first round along with Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown.

Of that mixed bag, McNabb went on to enjoy the most successful career – the six-time Pro Bowl pick reaching the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004.

Manchester City's 6-1 thumping of Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in October 2011 sent shockwaves throughout the football world.

Roberto Mancini's team's evisceration of their illustrious rivals at Old Trafford served booming notice of Premier League title ambitions that would be dramatically realised the following May.

Since that day, City have claimed four top-flight crowns to the one that marked Ferguson's 2012-13 United swansong.

As such, talk of a powershift in Manchester is often pinned on a game simple known as "the 6-1" in City circles.

However, there is an argument that a derby win 200 miles south of Manchester at Wembley Stadium six months earlier was more significant in terms of laying the foundations of what was to come.

Yaya Toure scored the only goal in that FA Cup semi-final on April 16, 2011, a day when Mancini's hastily yet carefully assembled City began to scent everything was possible.


Unlike the current incumbent of the Etihad Stadium hotseat, current Italy boss Mancini will not feature in many conversations debating the finest coaches of this generation.

An impressive CV, featuring Serie A and Premier League success, is checked in the eyes of some observers due to the respective factors of his Inter benefiting from Juventus' punishment in the Calciopoli scandal and a bulging Abu Dhabi war chest at City.

Then there are the frequent short-tempered altercations with players that result in few former charges burnishing the Mancini legend.

However, there can be little doubt that the hard-headed and tactically sharp Sampdoria great was exactly the right man at the right time for Manchester City.

As evidenced by a touchline spat the following season, Mancini relished the challenge of head-to-head combat with Ferguson – an attitude that quickly seeped through a club that had generally dreaded derby day for two decades.

A profile by The Athletic recently detailed how City's team bus went the wrong way to Wembley en route to the United match and Mancini, very much the superstitious type, made the driver repeat the convoluted route ahead of the final against Stoke City.

They were the only wrong turns he took when navigating the pursuit of his club's first silverware for 35 years, with two of his major signings coming to the party on cue.


Despite some scattergun buys, particularly after Sheikh Mansour's takeover went through in September 2008, Mark Hughes left Mancini a useful inheritance. Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Pablo Zabaleta and captain Vincent Kompany would all go on to be pivotal figures in the 2011-12 title win.

City's 2010 close-season haul of recruits was expensive but astutely put together, as David Silva, James Milner, Aleksandar Kolarov, Jerome Boateng and Mario Balotelli all arrived alongside Toure.

That £24million signing from Barcelona was derided in some quarters – Toure was an average player who neither created nor scored goals, in Paul Merson's judgement.

As hilariously as those words read now when considering one of the Premier League's great midfield players, it was easy to view the big Ivorian as possibly surplus to requirements. A holding player at Barcelona, Mancini already had Barry, Nigel de Jong and an ageing Patrick Vieira for such duties.

Of course, Toure would prove to be so much more than that, unleashed ahead of the De Jong-Barry midfield base to wreak havoc. He seized upon Michael Carrick's early second-half mistake at Wembley, smoothly accelerated beyond Nemanja Vidic and slotted past Edwin van der Sar to spark bedlam in the City end behind the goal.

Toure also scored to sink Stoke in the final and he frequently proved himself as the man for the big moments thereafter. He hit a brace at Newcastle United to bring the title within touching distance in 2012 and scored remarkable solo goals against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa to do likewise two years later.

The 2013-14 season also saw Toure spark a 3-1 comeback win over Sunderland in the EFL Cup final with an outrageous long-range finish. In 2016, he netted the decisive penalty to see off Liverpool in the same showpiece.

There were three more Manchester derby goals on the back of his Wembley heroics – two of those in resounding victories. City had found their ultimate clutch player.


Toure's winner almost instantly injected a swagger into Manchester City that was impossible to equate with the squad that seemed to stagger apologetically into the national stadium.

A 3-0 thrashing at Liverpool on the preceding Monday and a hamstring injury to attacking talisman Carlos Tevez meant furrowed brows long before the satnav went rogue en route to Wembley.

United remarkably scored three injury-time winners in four derbies the previous season – including one in the EFL Cup semi-final – and Wayne Rooney's overhead kick to settle the February encounter at Old Trafford lay fresh in the memory.

Dimitar Berbatov passed up two glorious chances in quick succession, sliding the ball over from three yards after Joe Hart saved superbly. It felt like a matter of time until a United side still chasing a treble at that stage would make their superiority count.

But then two of Mancini's headline acquisitions set about shifting the contest in City's favour. David Silva shuffled and cajoled his attack up the pitch, deftly tying United up, silken thread by silken thread.

Already a European champion and World Cup winner with Spain at this stage of his career, Silva gracing the big occasion with aplomb was no more surprising than at any other point over the past decade. The same could not be said for the inimitable Balotelli.

The madcap charm of the Italian's early days in Manchester had lost much of its shine over the previous month. In a 2-0 Europa League defeat at Dynamo Kiev, Balotelli was substituted after suffering an allergic reaction to the grass.

In the return leg, City claimed a 1-0 win – their exit relatively valiant as it came with 10 men after Balotelli plunged his studs into Goran Popov's chest in the 35th minute. He was also said to have thrown darts at youth-team players to cap his own personal take on March madness.

A stricken Tevez clearing the way for Balotelli to start against United looked a recipe for further nonsense, but the enigmatic forward harnessed and channelled his lavish gifts.

Only Silva (four) created more than the two chances the ex-Inter youngster crafted for City, and Balotelli's four shots saw him threaten the United goal more frequently than any of his team-mates, all the while intelligently occupying the formidable centre-back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Vidic.

Balotelli dropping deep and fashioning space for a rasping 35-yard strike that Van der Sar had to turn over was the moment in the game City came up for air and belief seemed to flow thereafter.

Their centre-forward played like a grown-up right up until the final whistle, when he made a beeline for Ferdinand and sparked a brawl that Mancini pulled his perplexing protege away from.

"Every time something happens it seems to be Mario's fault," the City boss remarked. "If he did celebrate in front of the Manchester United supporters, I don't know, we can put him in jail if you like."


Even if a permanent change in Balotelli's output would prove beyond Mancini, he arguably propelled a shift in his club's collective mindset in that FA Cup semi-final.

"If we win the FA Cup, then next season I think we can play for the title because we improve our mentality and we can improve our team," Mancini said afterwards. City did both those things.

United's frustrations as the afternoon progressed, demonstrated by Paul Scholes' red-card lunge on Zabaleta, suggested an awareness of what their lax showing was about to unleash.

City have not entered a derby as clear underdogs since. Once a club embarrassed by a trophy drought and Old Trafford's mocking ticker banner, six of the past seven major trophies contested in English football have ended up at the Etihad Stadium.

The vast sums spent on Sheikh Mansour's Eastlands project can make that return feel inevitable, but that was not the sense at Wembley in April 2011 as Mancini's players giddily joined their supporters in the backs-turned Poznan celebration at full-time, lapping up that first dizzying encounter with possibilities.

The 6-1 might be the result City fans still crow about at every derby, while Sergio Aguero's last-ditch escapology against Queens Park Rangers claimed a slice of football history never to be forgotten.

But without Toure's Wembley winner on a day neither as bombastic or cinematic as those high-water marks, the path to glory would have at best been delayed and very different indeed.

Passing the ball can sometimes look like the easiest thing in the world to do. At least, it does when these guys do it.

Our latest dive into the data of 2019-20 sees us look at the best playmakers in Europe's top-five leagues before the season was called to a halt.

We've deliberately broadened our approach to what constitutes a playmaker here – Gerard Pique doesn't often appear as a number 10, unless Barca are in real trouble – as the idea is to offer a wider consideration of those players who generally use the ball better than most when in possession.

To that end, we've looked at 12 different metrics to come up with the top performers of the campaign, again from among those to make at least 10 league appearances.

While some stars are not exactly strange to see in the list below, there is a handful of more surprising names, too...




Most successful passes: Sven Bender (1,766)
Highest passing accuracy: Axel Witsel (94.1 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Joshua Kimmich (873)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Axel Witsel (92.2)
Most passes ending in final third: Jadon Sancho (576)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Axel Witsel (88.4 per cent)
Most chances created: Christopher Nkunku (65)
Most big chances created: Thomas Muller (24)
Most assists: Thomas Muller (16)
Most assists from open play: Thomas Muller (15)
Most crosses/corners successful: Filip Kostic (71)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Dennis Geiger (50 per cent)


Most successful passes: Gerard Pique (1,688)
Highest passing accuracy: Toni Kroos (93.6 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Sergio Busquets (957)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Toni Kroos (92.4)
Most passes ending in final third: Lionel Messi (698)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Toni Kroos (90.3)
Most chances created: Jose Campana (58)
Most big chances created: Lionel Messi (22)
Most assists: Lionel Messi (12)
Most assists from open play: Portu and Lionel Messi (8)
Most crosses/corners successful: Jesus Navas (43)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Benat (55 per cent)


Most successful passes: Marco Verratti (1,581)
Highest passing accuracy: Thiago Silva (95.5 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Marco Verratti (956)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: Thiago Silva (92.8 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Angel Di Maria (543)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Colin Dagba (86 per cent)
Most chances created: Dimitri Payet (87)
Most big chances created: Angel Di Maria (31)
Most assists: Angel Di Maria (14)
Most assists from open play: Angel Di Maria (10)
Most crosses/corners successful: Dimitri Payet (63)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Marco Verratti (54.6 per cent)



Most successful passes: Virgil van Dijk (2,209)
Highest passing accuracy: John Stones (94 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Rodri (1,069)
Highest passing accuracy, opposition half: John Stones (93.9 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Kevin De Bruyne (740)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Ibrahim Amadou (93.3 per cent)
Most chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (96)
Most big chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (23)
Most assists: Kevin De Bruyne (16)
Most assists from open play: Kevin De Bruyne (14)
Most crosses/corners successful: Kevin De Bruyne (69)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Christian Atsu (47.1 per cent)



Most successful passes: Fabian Ruiz (1,488)
Highest passing accuracy: Marlon Santos (94.1 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Fabian Ruiz (932)
Passing accuracy, opposition half: Eljif Elmas (91.5 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Luis Alberto (723)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Walace (89.7 per cent)
Most chances created: Luis Alberto (75)
Most big chances created: Luis Alberto (16)
Most assists: Luis Alberto (12)
Most assists from open play: Luis Alberto and Alejandro Gomez (9)
Most crosses/corners successful: Erick Pulgar (46)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Armando Izzo (54.6 per cent)



Most successful passes: Virgil van Dijk (2,209)
Highest passing accuracy: Thiago Silva (95.5 per cent)
Most successful passes, opposition half: Rodri (1,069)
Passing accuracy, opposition half: John Stones (93.9 per cent)
Most passes ending in final third: Kevin De Bruyne (740)
Highest passing accuracy ending in final third: Ibrahim Amadou (93.3 per cent)
Most chances created: Kevin De Bruyne (96)
Most big chances created: Angel Di Maria (31)
Most assists: Thomas Muller and Kevin De Bruyne (16)
Most assists from open play: Thomas Muller (15)
Most crosses/corners successful: Filip Kostic (71)
Highest crosses/corners accuracy (min. 10): Benat (55 per cent)


Leroy Sane's move to Bayern Munich appears back on, while Real Madrid are chasing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Sane was linked with a switch to Bayern last close-season but ended up staying at Manchester City.

It appears that move could be back on, while Madrid are maintaining interest in Arsenal star Aubameyang.



Sane's new agent is in fresh talks with Bayern Munich, according to The Sun.

The Germany attacker was the subject of transfer speculation last before the 2019-20 campaign, but then suffered a serious knee injury in August.

Bild reported on Tuesday that Sane believes he could win the Champions League with Bayern.


- Real Madrid are interested in Arsenal's Aubameyang, according to Sport. The report says Barcelona are also keen to land the forward if they cannot sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez.

- LaLiga's 'big two' also reportedly want N'Golo Kante. However, Goal report the midfielder wants to stay at Chelsea unless he is forced out.

- With Diego Costa's future uncertain, Atletico Madrid may be looking for a forward. AS report Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette, who is contracted until 2022, is on the list of possible reinforcements for Los Colchoneros.

- Chris Smalling appears likely to return to Manchester United from his loan spell at Roma. Calciomercato believe the Serie A club are already looking at alternatives, with Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen – out of contract at season's end – being considered.

- Olivier Giroud, another player out of contract at the end of the season, seems set to leave Chelsea. La Gazzetta dello Sport claim the striker is looking for a three-year deal from Inter, who were said to be interested in January. The report suggests Inter could offer the Frenchman a two-year contract with a club option for a third.

- Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana and Borussia Dortmund attacker Mario Gotze are set to become free agents. Calciomercato report Milan are unconvinced by Lallana and unwilling to sign Gotze due to his high wages.

Tom Brady called time on a 20-season stint with the New England Patriots in March, having led the team to unprecedented success.

April 16 marks the 20th anniversary since the quarterback was drafted by the Patriots, before going on to become one of the most successful sportsmen on the planet.

The date is also the day a Sri Lankan cricket icon – offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan – was born, while tennis legend Arthur Ashe decided to call it a day on April 16, 1980.

We take a look at what has previously occurred across sport on this day.


2000 – The Brady era begins

Future superstars can somehow fall through the cracks in NFL drafts, with Brady the most significant example.

With the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, New England selected the 22-year-old quarterback from the University of Michigan.

Six Super Bowl wins, nine AFC titles and 14 Pro Bowl appearances later, Brady finally called time on his Patriots career earlier this year, joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.

1972 – A star is born

Eighteen years prior to the start of Brady's NFL career, one of cricket's greatest spinners was born.

Muralitharan, known for a controversial bowling action, made his international debut in 1992 and went on to become the leading wicket-taker in Test and ODI history, with 800 in the longest form of the game and 534 in 50-over cricket.

The Test record went back and forth between Muralitharan and Shane Warne, up until the latter's retirement in 2007. Muralitharan took his 800th and final wicket to seal a Sri Lanka victory over India in 2010.

1980 – Ashe calls time on glittering career

The first player to win the US Open as an open event, Ashe went on to claim two further grand slam titles – in Australia in 1970 and at Wimbledon five years later.

Having appeared in four other grand slam singles finals, Ashe retired on April 16, 1980, though he continued to be involved with tennis and became the captain of the US Davis Cup team.

However, three years later, Ashe underwent a heart operation in which he is believed to have been given an infected blood transfusion from which he contracted HIV.

The virus was diagnosed in 1988, but Ashe did not make it public until 1992. He passed away the following year, at the age of 49. The main court at New York's Flushing Meadows is named after him.

2011 – Derby delight ends Man City's miserable FA Cup run

Manchester City have become one of the leading teams in world football in recent seasons but, in 2011, they were still growing following the takeover by Sheikh Mansour three years previous.

But City took a huge stride towards their first FA Cup triumph in 30 years thanks to Yaya Toure's strike against rivals Manchester United in the semi-final of the 2011 FA Cup.

Roberto Mancini's side went on to defeat Stoke City in the final, before clinching their maiden Premier League title in dramatic fashion on the last day of the following season.

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