NBA

Dragic re-commits to Miami Heat after NBA Finals run

By Sports Desk November 20, 2020

Goran Dragic has decided to stay with NBA Finals runners-up the Miami Heat in free agency, the star guard announced.

A free agent following Miami's memorable run to the Finals at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Dragic opted to re-commit to the Heat on Friday.

Dragic's deal is reportedly for two years, with a team option in the second year.

In a Twitter post, Dragic wrote: "I'm glad that I can announce that I'm staying with my #HeatNationFamily.

"Let's finish the job we started!!! #LetsGoHeatnation #HeatNation #HeatFamily."

Dragic has called Miami home since being acquired from the Phoenix Suns in 2015.

The 34-year-old Slovenian – pick 45 in the 2008 NBA Draft – averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game last season as the fifth-seeded Heat eventually fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

Heat team-mate Meyers Leonard also reportedly decided to return to the Eastern Conference champions.

Leonard – who joined from the Portland Trail Blazers in 2019 – averaged 6.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game last season.

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  • Lyon dominate FIFA nominations after five straight Champions League triumphs Lyon dominate FIFA nominations after five straight Champions League triumphs

    Six members of Lyon's Champions League-winning team, plus their coach, have been nominated for The Best FIFA Football Awards for 2020.

    Lyon won a fifth consecutive European crown in August, beating Wolfsburg in the final, and they are unsurprisingly set to be at the forefront of FIFA's end-of-year awards ceremony.

    Of the 11 players on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Player, five played for Lyon last season.

    Lucy Bronze - third in this category last year and second in the 2019 Ballon d'Or Feminin - has since moved on to Manchester City but makes the cut alongside a host of former team-mates.

    Dzsenifer Marozsan was second in 2018, the same year she finished third for the Ballon d'Or, and will now compete against Delphine Cascarino, Saki Kumagai and Wendie Renard.

    Chelsea have three contenders in Pernille Harder (signed from Wolfsburg), Ji So-yun and Sam Kerr, while Caroline Graham Hansen and Jennifer Hermoso represent Barcelona. Viviane Miedema is in for Arsenal.

    Such is the depth of Lyon's squad that Ada Hegerberg - the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner, then third behind Marozsan in the FIFA voting - is not in the running this year having been out since January with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

    Although Lyon have continued to win regardless, their four-year, 80-game unbeaten Division 1 Feminine streak was ended by Paris Saint-Germain last week.

    Sarah Bouhaddi, who conceded the only goal in that game, is up for The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper as the sixth Lyon player honoured.

    She is up against Ann-Katrin Berger, Christiane Endler, Hedvig Lindahl, Alyssa Naeher and Ellie Roebuck.

    The French giants' Jean-Luc Vasseur is among seven nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Coach after a successful first season in charge at OL.

    Future England coach Sarina Wiegman, the 2017 award winner who finished second in the subsequent two years, is also in contention.

    Lluis Cortes, Rita Guarino, Emma Hayes, Stephan Lerch and Hege Riise are the others under consideration.

  • Lewandowski the leading contender for FIFA award but Haaland looks a future winner Lewandowski the leading contender for FIFA award but Haaland looks a future winner

    Robert Lewandowski is among the leading contenders for The Best FIFA Men's Player in 2020 after he was named among 11 nominees on Wednesday.

    The Bayern Munich superstar fired his side to the treble in 2019-20 and has continued his outstanding form at the start of the new season.

    With no Ballon d'Or this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA's award represents Lewandowski's best chance of recognition for a standout year.

    He has tough competition in the form of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and four Liverpool players, but the 32-year-old must surely be considered the frontrunner.

    Lewandowski's potential success in this category would be built on Bayern's Champions League triumph and Opta data in that competition since the start of last season helps make his case.

    LEADING THE WAY

    Virgil van Dijk ran Messi close in 2019, but this year's top honour surely belongs to an attacker - particularly with the Liverpool centre-back and Sergio Ramos playing just eight and seven games respectively over this span due to injury and suspension.

    Lewandowski is therefore the obvious choice. He has scored 17 goals in 13 games; for contrast, Messi has six goals and Ronaldo five.

    The Poland international has benefited from playing at the forefront of a brilliant team, however, and has had by far the most shots of any player in this time.

    His 63 attempts outperform Messi's second-placed 48 by 15. Ronaldo is third with 47, with the leading five shot-takers all nominated as Mohamed Salah (42) and Kylian Mbappe (41) are next on that list.

    But Lewandowski has made the most of these opportunities, hitting the target 36 times - another high.

    The striker's shot conversion rate of 27.0 per cent far outstrips Salah (14.3 per cent), Neymar (13.3 per cent), Sadio Mane (12.5 per cent), Messi (also 12.5 per cent), Mbappe (12.2 per cent) and Ronaldo (10.6 per cent).

    For balance, Ramos is the leading scorer among defenders in this period, netting three goals.

    MISSED THE CUT

    Although Thiago Alcantara, who has since departed for Liverpool, was included, it was perhaps slightly surprising to see only two members of Bayern's treble-winning team make the list.

    The players who created Lewandowski's opportunities went unrewarded.

    Joshua Kimmich has a joint-high seven assists and has created the most chances of any player with 38. Thomas Muller played 31 key passes.

    Similarly, at Paris Saint-Germain, where Neymar and Mbappe are considered, Angel Di Maria supplied six assists, 24 chances and 12 big chances.

    One admission who will surely make the cut in the years to come is Erling Haaland, widely considered the heir to Lewandowski's crown as the Bundesliga's leading marksman.

    The 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund man, who was named the 2020 Golden Boy, is the only player to come close to Lewandowski's level of productivity in the Champions League.

    Despite playing the first half of last season at Salzburg, who did not qualify from their group, Haaland has 16 goals in just 12 games.

    Serge Gnabry, another team-mate of Lewandowski's, is third for goals behind the pair but has a relatively modest nine.

    Of Haaland's 40 shots, 24 have hit the target - a tally beaten only by Lewandowski and matched by Messi (from eight more attempts). A shot conversion rate of 40 per cent is the best mark of any player with 40 or more shots.

    This might well be Lewandowski's year, but the future is not far away.

  • Van de Beek believes deeper role worked well in Man Utd victory Van de Beek believes deeper role worked well in Man Utd victory

    Donny van de Beek believes his deployment in a deeper role worked well as Manchester United thrashed Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.

    United won 4-1 at Old Trafford on Tuesday, with Bruno Fernandes' early double added to by strikes from Marcus Rashford and substitute Daniel James.

    With the superb Fernandes causing havoc in the number 10 role, Van de Beek played as a holding midfielder alongside Fred.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's use of the Netherlands international has been a subject of intense debate given he is yet to start a Premier League game but the 23-year-old has played in all four continental matches, starting three.

    Van de Beek had two key passes, completed 33 passes in the opposition half – second only to Fred – and boasted an 87.5 per cent passing accuracy against Basaksehir.

    While he enjoys playing in a more advanced position, Van de Beek also feels comfortable in a deeper role and believes the system was a good one.

    "It worked really well," Van de Beek, a £40million signing from Ajax, said to MUTV.

    "Some games I play number 10 and sometimes the coach needs me in the control position.

    "That is fine for me because before, when I played at Ajax, I was playing in those positions, so it is okay.

    "It was a good reaction from the away game. To win 4-1 at home I think you can be happy. The first half was really good especially the first 30 minutes and we played nice football and scored nice goals.

    "In the second half we lost too many balls and gave them some chances but the last five minutes we controlled the game again."

    A third straight win in all competitions for United avenged their defeat in Turkey earlier this month and put them three points clear at the top of Group H.

    They have now won their last seven home games in European competition by an aggregate score of 24-2.

    "It is not finished but we are in a good position," added Van de Beek, with United sitting ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

    "We need to keep working and everything will be fine. We now have eyes on the weekend [against Southampton]."

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