Neymar has sparked speculation over Lionel Messi's future.

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar enjoyed a successful period alongside Messi at Barcelona before leaving in a world-record deal in 2017.

Now, Neymar wants to team up with Messi again.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, MESSI IN?

Paris Saint-Germain will have to sell Kylian Mbappe if they sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi has been linked with a move to Ligue 1 champions PSG after former Barca forward Neymar expressed his desire to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

If Manchester City target Messi arrives in the French capital, it could send Mbappe closer to LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has not ruled leaving the Spanish giants, reports El Transistor. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG, Juventus, Milan and Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino has been contacted by Madrid to replace under-fire head coach Zinedine Zidane, claims Sport. Pochettino, who has been out of work since he was sacked as Tottenham boss last year, has also been linked to United.

- Diario AS says Atletico Madrid are lining up a January bid for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik. The Poland international has been frozen out since making it clear he will not re-sign with the Serie A side. Tottenham, Everton and Roma have also emerged as possible destinations.

Romelu Lukaku is on Pep Guardiola's shortlist of forwards at City but Inter insist the Belgian star is non-transferable, according to Calciomercato.

- The Telegraph reports Chelsea's plan to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice rests on the success of off-season recruit Ben Chilwell.

Juventus defender Merih Demiral has been ruled out for at least 10 days after suffering another injury setback. 

Turkey international Demiral was taken off 69 minutes into Wednesday's 3-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League. 

He was making his return to Juve's starting line-up after two games out with a minor injury sustained against Cagliari on November 21. 

The Italian giants confirmed on their official website on Thursday that Demiral has suffered a low-grade lesion of the right thigh. 

The 22-year will miss this weekend's Serie A derby with Torino, as well as next week's trip to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Juve, fourth in Serie A after nine matches, also have games against Genoa, Atalanta, Parma and Fiorentina to come before the end of the year. 

Demiral has been used nine times in all competitions by head coach Andrea Pirlo this season, including five starts in Serie A. The reigning Italian champions have won two and drawn three of the league games the centre-back has appeared in the starting XI. 

He has averaged 61.31 passes per 90 minutes in the league this season, compared to 68.91 for Leonardo Bonucci, 80.06 for Giorgio Chiellini and 82.5 for Matthijs de Ligt. 

Demiral is Juve's top-ranked defender in terms of headed clearances, though, averaging 2.75 per 90 minutes - Bonucci the next highest with 2.29 - and his average of 2.16 interceptions is behind only full-back Danilo's mark of 2.89. 

Bonucci made his return against Kiev following a spell out with a thigh injury, while Chiellini has not featured since early November, leaving De Ligt as Juve's only fit senior centre-back at one point.

Cristiano Ronaldo thanked "players, coaches and loyal opponents" after the Juventus star scored the 750th goal of his remarkable career.

Ronaldo reached the milestone with a simple finish 57 minutes into Juve's 3-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in their Champions League Group G clash on Wednesday.

It was his 75th across all competitions for Juve, who Ronaldo joined from Real Madrid – where he scored 450 goals – in 2018.

The 35-year-old, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, reached that mammoth total for Madrid in just 438 matches across all competitions, following his then world-record move from Manchester United in 2009.

During his six-year stint at Old Trafford, he scored 118 times for the Red Devils.

Ronaldo, who recently surpassed the 100-goal mark for Portugal, becoming only the second male footballer to reach a century at international level after Iran's Ali Daei, is comfortably Madrid's all-time leading scorer, with 127 more goals than Los Blancos legend Raul, whose haul came from 741 appearances.

Despite missing several weeks of the campaign after testing positive for coronavirus, Ronaldo has been in fine form this season, having netted eight times from just four Serie A starts, though his strike against Dynamo was only his second in the Champions League this term.

Following his landmark achievement, Ronaldo used his official Twitter account to thank not only his team-mates and coaches – he has worked under the likes of Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane – but also his opponents.

"750 goals, 750 happy moments, 750 smiles in the faces of our supporters," he wrote. 

"Thank you to all the players and coaches that helped me reach this amazing number, thank you to all my loyal opponents that made me work harder and harder everyday."

Ronaldo will now set his sights on goal 751 when Juve take on Torino on Saturday – he has scored three goals from his four Serie A appearances against the Bianconeri's city rivals.

Andrea Pirlo says Alvaro Morata is playing "free of pressure" after another impressive display from the on-loan striker in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Morata, who returned to Juve on a temporary basis from Atletico Madrid in September, took his tally in this season's competition to six goals with the third in the Bianconeri's 3-0 win over Dynamo Kiev. 

Juve – who had already secured their last-16 spot after three wins from their opening four games – had earlier gone ahead thanks to Federico Chiesa's first Juve strike and Cristiano Ronaldo's 750th career goal.

Morata is level with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Erling Haaland as the Champions League top scorer this season, while his seven goal involvements is just one fewer than Borussia Monchengladbach's Alassane Plea, who leads the way in that department. 

Morata's tally also means he has scored the most goals for Juventus in the group stage since David Trezeguet also scored six in the 2001-02 campaign. 

Pirlo was thrilled with the Spain international's contribution and believes his experiences elsewhere in recent years have made him a more rounded player than the one that left the club in 2016. 

"Morata arrived very young at Juventus and he returned from his experiences in Madrid and London a more mature person and player," the Juve boss told Sky Sport Italia.

"He feels happy and free of pressure, so that helps anyone give their best. We wanted him at all costs and are very happy to have him."

Juve will need to overcome Barcelona at Camp Nou by three goals next week if they are to qualify for the knockout stages as group winners. 

While conceding it is a tall order, Pirlo believes his players will be highly motivated by the challenge. 

"These were the easiest games to prepare as a player, so I hope the same will be true as a coach," he added.

"These fixtures really focus the mind, the motivation comes by itself and I feel ready."

Captain Leonardo Bonucci agreed with his coach that the trip to Catalonia will be difficult, saying: "It won't be easy to score the three goals against Barcelona to take the top spot, but we'll try our best.

"We know there's a process and a journey we need to go through. The target was to qualify for the round of 16 and be in the running with Barcelona for the top spot until the end, so we've achieved that. Now we'll try to complete the job.

"I think we are on track considering we didn't have any real rest or the kind of pre-season training routine you need when there are many changes both on the bench and in the squad."

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 750th career goal as Juventus cruised past Dynamo Kiev 3-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday. 

Juve, who had already qualified for the last 16 after three wins from their opening four Group G games, scarcely had to get out of second gear against Mircea Lucescu's side, with Federico Chiesa's first goal for the club midway through the first half setting them on their way. 

Ronaldo then reached the latest milestone in his illustrious career, prodding home from almost on the line after 57 minutes.

Alvaro Morata sealed the routine win soon after to ensure Juve go into next week's final group game against Barcelona with an outside chance of securing top spot.

Weston McKennie and Morata were denied by Georgi Bushchan in the early stages but Chiesa got the better of him after 21 minutes to score his first ever Champions League goal. 

Chiesa – who joined on an initial two-year loan deal from Fiorentina in October – met Alex Sandro's left-wing cross with a downwards header, which powered through the grasp of the Dynamo goalkeeper. 

Ronaldo thundered a 12-yard effort against the crossbar after more impressive work from Alex Sandro soon after, while Wojciech Szczesny did well to thwart Viktor Tsygankov at the other end before half-time. 

Bushchan pushed over a long-range Ronaldo effort after the break but the Portugal international was not to be denied shortly before the hour mark, turning in from two yards after Chiesa's cross had caused panic inside the Dynamo penalty area. 

Morata had the assist for that goal and then scored for the sixth time in this season's competition in the 66th minute, the on-loan Atletico Madrid striker coolly slotting home from 10 yards after being picked out by the impressive Chiesa.

Pirlo's men were content to play out the game at a pedestrian pace after that, sealing a fifth win in six meetings against Dynamo with consummate ease.

If Dynamo Kiev goalkeeper Heorhii Bushchan needs any consolation, it had happened 749 times before.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 750th goal of a phenomenal career on Wednesday, finding the net in Juventus' Champions League clash with the Ukrainian side.

Ronaldo reached his latest landmark when he tapped in from the goal line to give Juve a 2-0 lead in Turin.

His goal was his 75th for the Bianconeri, though the vast majority – 450 to be exact – were scored during a record-breaking spell with Real Madrid.

A hero at Madrid, Manchester United and now Juventus, a fair few of Ronaldo's incredible haul have been stone-cold classics. Here, we look back at 10 of his best goals.

Manchester United v Portsmouth: January 30, 2008

Perhaps the finest free-kick Ronaldo has struck in his career.

The Portuguese developed his reputation as a set-piece master at United and he lashed a phenomenal 25-yard effort past David James as part of a double to send Alex Ferguson's side to the top of the Premier League.

His knuckleball technique sent the ball swirling into the top-right corner for one of his defining Old Trafford moments.

Porto v Manchester United: April 15, 2009

He had absolutely no right to score this one.

Back in his homeland for a Champions League quarter-final against Porto, Ronaldo picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition half, got it out of his feet and sent a searing strike flying past Helton to seal a 1-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao and a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

 

Almeria v Real Madrid: April 15, 2010

Ronaldo has developed into more of a penalty-box poacher in recent seasons, but this effort against Almeria was a reminder of how devastating he could be when starting with the ball outside the area. 

Rafael van der Vaart won back possession in the Almeria half and the ball was worked to Ronaldo, who accelerated past two challenges, left a third defender for dead with a stepover and then drilled home with his left foot. The visitors would go on to win 2-1.

 

Sevilla v Real Madrid: December 17, 2011

Sevilla grew sick of the sight of Ronaldo during his time in Spain – he did score 27 times against them, after all – but this strike in a 6-2 thrashing is perhaps the best of them.

Collecting Karim Benzema's pass 30 yards out, Ronaldo took advantage of the time and space given to him by the defence to blast a shot into the top-right corner, the swerve on the ball making it totally unstoppable. It was one of three he scored that day at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

 

Real Madrid v Valencia: May 4, 2014

It was not enough to keep Madrid's title chase alive, but this was another goal that showcased Ronaldo's killer instinct and dexterity. 

In second-half injury time, with Valencia 2-1 ahead, Angel Di Maria volleyed over a cross from the left and Ronaldo swivelled to score a backheel volley and snatch a point.

 

Real Madrid v Espanyol: January 31, 2016

Although his game had become more refined from those buccaneering early days, Ronaldo showed here he was not quite done when it came to solo runs and spectacular finishes.

With Madrid already 3-0 up in what would prove to be a 6-0 thrashing, James Rodriguez's pass was deflected into Ronaldo's path and he did the rest, showing brilliant footwork to skip beyond three challenges before rifling home from the edge of the area with his left foot.

 

Hungary v Portugal: June 22, 2016

Portugal thrice fell behind to Hungary in Lyon during Euro 2016, and Ronaldo brought them level on the second occasion with a display of fine skill.

The captain added a deft flick with his trailing leg to Joao Mario's right-wing cross to make it 2-2, and he cancelled out Balazs Dzsudzsak's second with a double of his own. It was enough to send Portugal into the knockout stages and from there they claimed a maiden international title.

 

Juventus v Real Madrid: April 3, 2018

Arguably the finest goal Ronaldo has produced.

Moving away from goal as Dani Carvajal dug a cross towards the penalty spot from the right, the Portuguese rose into the air and connected with a stunning overhead kick. His leg was at a right angle to his body as he struck with the sweetest of volleys that flew past an idle Gianluigi Buffon.

Portugal v Spain: June 15, 2018

Having twice given his side the lead, Ronaldo found Portugal 3-2 down to their Iberian neighbours in their thrilling opener at the 2018 World Cup. 

While there was a sense of inevitability when he stood over an 88th minute free-kick, the execution was sheer perfection – power and dip combined to leave David de Gea with no chance.

 

Juventus v Manchester United: November 8, 2018

Another decorated Portuguese was celebrating at full-time when Jose Mourinho watched his Manchester United team complete a 2-1 comeback win.

But Ronaldo struck first with a sumptuous and technically brilliant strike, watching Leonardo Bonucci's raking ball over his shoulder to volley home.  

Cristiano Ronaldo has reached yet another goals milestone as his second-half strike against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday saw him hit 750.

The Portugal star was left with a simple finish 57 minutes in to put his side 2-0 up in the Champions League clash in Turin.

It was his 75th across all competitions for Juve, who Ronaldo joined from Real Madrid a little over two years ago.

It was in Madrid where he made his greatest impact on football, having amassed a remarkable 450 goals during his time with Los Blancos.

That figure made him comfortably their all-time leading scorer with 127 more than club great Raul.

Even more remarkably, Ronaldo reached 450 in just 438 matches after arriving for what was in 2009 a world-record fee – Raul's haul came from 741 games.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner had already left an indelible mark on the sport way before joining Juve, though his legend continues to grow – the Portugal great shows no sign of slowing down despite approaching his 36th birthday.

He has been in fine form this season, having netted eight times from just four Serie A starts, though his strike against Dynamo was only his second in the Champions League.

Ronaldo also recently surpassed the 100-goal mark for Portugal, becoming only the second male footballer to reach a century at international level after Iran's Ali Daei. His most recent, against Andorra last month, took him to 102.

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota has revealed he idolised Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo when he was a youngster.

Jota, 24 on Friday, is just under 12 years younger than Juventus star Ronaldo and while growing up was in awe of a player he now features alongside at international level.

The two players have both been in fine form for their club sides this season – Jota has scored nine goals in 15 appearances in all competitions for the Premier League champions.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, has managed nine goals in seven games for the Serie A title holders.

Jota told The Athletic: "My earliest memories are from the Euro 2004 when Portugal reached the final and unfortunately we lost. I was seven and I remember it well.

"Cristiano Ronaldo was my hero. At that time, he was 19 but he was already playing at the Euros with so much quality.

"During my childhood, he was at Manchester United and Real Madrid. As Portuguese guys, we always looked upon him as our main reference."

On Sunday, Jota will face former club Wolves for the first time since he joined Liverpool in September.

He claimed the influence of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has helped him make such an impressive start to life at Anfield.

Jota added: "When you reach a new club, having an open mind is key to be able to adapt as quickly as possible.

"With the season underway already, it was up to me to find a way to get into the team and not the opposite. That’s what I did with the help of Jurgen.

"He’s a fantastic manager who took care of me. When I first arrived, he had a meeting with me and he explained how the team works.

"Then it’s down to the player to try to learn as fast as you can and to prove to the manager that you can be an important player for him on the field."

It is crunch time in the Champions League as the group stage enters the penultimate round of fixtures.

Sevilla and Chelsea are already assured of football in Europe's top club competition in the new year, as are Juventus and Barcelona, but there is still plenty to be decided as teams jostle for position and players – including Cristiano Ronaldo – chase down individual records.

Paris Saint-Germain are among those whose fate hangs in the balance, while matchday five opponents Manchester United are still in need of a point.

We break down Wednesday's key matchday fixtures with the use of Opta data.

 

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain: Tuchel's men seeking win at fortress Old Trafford

PSG are in desperate need of a positive result at Old Trafford and the omens are good for Thomas Tuchel's charges, with the away team winning all three previous European games between the sides.

However, Group H leaders United have won their last seven home matches in continental competiiton, scoring 24 goals and conceding only two – their best return since a run of 12 wins in a row ending in April 2008.

Ligue 1 champions PSG scored in 38 of their 39 matches since the start of 2016-17, netting an average of 2.4 goals per game, with Bayern Munich the only team to stop them scoring during that run in last season's final.

Sevilla v Chelsea: Blues out to end Spain pain

Sevilla and Chelsea have already qualified for the last 16 but a win for one of these sides will see them secure top spot in Group E. The hosts have not advanced as group winners since 2009-10 while Chelsea last did so in 2015-16.

Frank Lampard's side have won only one of their last 10 games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League and are winless in six such matches. Sevilla, meanwhile, are unbeaten in seven against English sides in European competition – they beat United in the Europa League semi-finals last term.

Sevilla are also without defeat after four group matches for the third time in the Champions League, having previously done so in 2009-10 and 2016-17, but never before have they begun a campaign with five unbeaten games.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Lazio: Sancho seeking another European goal

Anything other than defeat will send Dortmund through to the knockouts and history suggests there is a good chance of that happening.

In the three previous encounters between these sides in major European competition, the home side has always come out on top.

Lazio have won only one of their previous seven encounters away to German opposition – a 2-0 win against Stuttgart in the 2012-13 Europa League – while Dortmund are unbeaten in their last eight home Champions League group games.

Jadon Sancho has scored in his last two Champions League games and, at the age of 20 years and 252 days, he could become the second-youngest Englishman to score in three successive games in the competition after Alan Smith with Leeds United in 2000-01 (20y, 158d).

Ferencvaros v Barcelona: Koeman's men hungry for a clean sweep

A place in the last 16 already assured, Barcelona are now seeking a fifth straight win to begin a group-stage campaign for the first time since 2002-03, when they won six from six.

Barca have won all five of their previous encounters with Hungarian opposition, including a 5-1 victory in the reverse fixture, which was notable for being the only Champions League match ever to see two players aged under 18 to score (Ansu Fati and Pedri).

Fati has since been ruled out with a long-term injury, though Martin Braithwaite profited with two goals on his first start in the competition against Dynamo Kiev – not since David Villa in 2010 has a Barca player scored in their first two Champions League starts.

 

Juventus v Dynamo Kiev: Down-and-out Dynamo out to avoid Ronaldo repeat

Third place is the best Dynamo can hope for and they enter this match with just one win to their name in 12 Champions League games, losing the last two of those. Not since 2007-08 have they lost three or more on the spin.

Juve are battling with Barca for top spot and have lost only two of their 26 home group-stage matches, albeit with that defeat coming against the Catalan giants in October.

Ronaldo has scored three goals in two previous meetings with Dynamo in UEFA's flagship competition.

Should he score on Wednesday it will be 13 years and 25 days after his last goal against them, in 2007 – the longest gap between goals for one player against a single side.

Other fixtures:

Krasnodar v Rennes

1 – This will be Rennes' first away game against Russian opponents in European competition. Krasnodar have hosted French side twice previously, drawing 1-1 with Lille and beating Nice 5-2, both in the Europa League.

24 – The visitors have used 24 different players in the Champions League this season – only Barca (25) have used more – yet only one of them has registered a goal in their first four matches.


Club Brugge v Zenit

2 – Brugge won the reverse fixture against Zenit 2-1 but have only won home and away against the same opponent twice before in the group stage – against CSKA Moscow in 1992-93 and Rapid Vienna in 2005-06.

12 – The Belgian side are winless in their last 12 Champions League home games. Only Basel, who have failed to win any of their last 13, have a worse such record.


Istanbul Basaksehir v RB Leipzig 

1 – German teams have lost only one of their last 14 games against Turkish opposition in major European competition. However, that solitary loss was inflicted on Leipzig by Besiktas in their only previous such match in the Champions League.

5 – Leipzig have been awarded five penalties in the competition since the start of last season, behind only Chelsea (7). All five have been converted.

Andrea Pirlo is not worried by Juventus' inconsistent form that has so far defined his first season as coach.

The Juve and Italy legend saw his side held to a 1-1 draw by Benevento on Saturday, leaving the defending Serie A champions six points behind leaders Milan.

That gap would be just two points if not for the four Juve have dropped from winning positions in the 2020-21 campaign, Benevento coming from behind to force them to settle for their fifth draw from nine league games.

It is a much better picture in the Champions League for Juve, with the Bianconeri already sure of their qualification for the last 16 ahead of Wednesday's clash with Dynamo Kiev.

And with the derby with Torino on the horizon after their European commitments, Pirlo is under no illusion as to what Juve need in order to gain ground on Milan.

"After Benevento, I said that we need more concentration and desire to bring home the points, even when we are ahead in the games," he told a media conference.

"We've spoken about it and we are all aware of it.

"I'm absolutely not worried. In Benevento it was our game to win but we weren't good at closing it out and then they managed to do that well, this can happen. We've analysed the match and we will try to improve.

"We must face all the matches in the same way, both in Europe and in Italy. I would have preferred a little more consistency, but it's normal that it takes a little more time to achieve it. The players know what they must and want to do.

"When you win, everything is fine; when you don't, problems arise that may not even exist. We are working well to improve."

Paulo Dybala, who is yet to score in the league this season and has been the subject of continued criticism, is not expected to feature against Dynamo.

"I don't think we'll see a trident attack tomorrow, Morata will probably play, whilst Dybala will prepare for the derby on Saturday," added Pirlo.

One player who has impressed this season is Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

Ramsey endured a difficult first season with Juve after joining from Arsenal in 2019. He scored three goals in Serie A, provided one assist and created 20 chances.

He has yet to find the net in the league this term but already has an assist to his name and has created 10 chances.

His per-90 minutes average for chances created of 2.67 is second only to Dejan Kulusevski (2.89).

Pirlo said of Ramsey: "I have to say that Ramsey was a great find for me and he can still improve. For me and for the team he is very important."

Robert Lewandowski is "the most complete" player in world football and should be named The Best FIFA Men's Player 2020, according to Lothar Matthaus.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski scored 55 goals in all competitions last season as Hansi Flick's side won the Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.

Voting for the award considers achievements from July 20, 2019 to October 7, 2020, during which the Poland international also won the UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup with Bayern.

Lewandowski scored 15 goals and assisted five more as Bayern won all of their 2019-20 Champions League games and lifted the trophy, an achievement that will be central to his claim for the honour.

The 32-year-old's output far outstripped perennial contenders Cristiano Ronaldo (four goals, no assists) and Lionel Messi (three goals, three assists).

Bayern overcame Paris Saint-Germain in the final and their star duo of Neymar (three goals, four assists) and Kylian Mbappe (five goals, five assists) could not get anywhere near Lewandowski in the Champions League.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah – the only other attacker on the 11-man shortlist for the FIFA accolade – had four goals and two assists in last season's Champions League.

Lewandowski also had a better shot conversion rate (34.9 per cent) than any of those candidates and averaged 3.4 shots on target per 90 minutes – the most of any player to have featured more than four times.

"As the name suggests, there can only be one who is the best. That is Robert Lewandowski," Matthaus wrote in his Sky Sports column.

"He's no longer just the best number nine in the world. Robert is the most complete and best player there is in world football.

"With FC Bayern he has won the five big titles that can be won. Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, DFL-Supercup and UEFA Super Cup. In addition, he was also the top scorer in the first three competitions mentioned.

"His rivals Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Mbappe are all fantastic players – just like Lewy. The difference is he has won every title there was to be won.

"Messi had a season without a trophy, Ronaldo became Italian champion, is still great, but not as strong as a few years ago."

Cristiano Ronaldo has been nominated for the UEFA Men's Team of the Year for a 17th successive year but unsurprisingly it is Champions League winners Bayern Munich who dominate.

UEFA announced its shortlist for fan voting on Tuesday and Bayern led the way in terms of nominations, with 10 players – including new Liverpool signing Thiago Alcantara – up for inclusion.

The 50-name shortlist was determined by UEFA on the basis of the players' respective performances in European and domestic competition throughout 2020.

Bayern claimed European club football's biggest prize for a sixth time in August, beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 at the Estadio da Luz as the Champions League's delayed latter stages were completed in Lisbon because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kingsley Coman, scorer of the winning goal in the final, is among the Bayern players nominated, while Robert Lewandowski – the top-scorer with 15 last term – seems a likely bet for a place in the final XI.

Ronaldo is present yet again, the 17th year in a row in which he has been nominated, as he hopes to extend his record of 14 inclusions in the line-up. He is four clear of Lionel Messi, who is also in the running again.

Alphonso Davies, 20, is the youngest nominee while the oldest is 36-year-old Thiago Silva, who helped PSG reach the Champions League final before joining Chelsea in pre-season.

The Premier League and Bundesliga are the most-represented leagues with 15 players to have at some point this year played in either division.

UEFA also revealed the shortlist for the Women's Team of the Year, with Women's Champions League winners Lyon having 13 players – including the since-departed Lucy Bronze – in contention.

Stephanie Frappart has been appointed as the referee for Juventus' clash with Dynamo Kiev, making the French official the first woman to oversee a Champions League match.

Frappart refereed the 2019 Women's World Cup final between the United States and the Netherlands, before going on to take charge of Liverpool's meeting with Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup.

It made her the first woman to officiate a game in a major UEFA men's competition, and now the 36-year-old – a regular Ligue 1 referee – is set to make history once again.

Juve face Kiev in Turin on Wednesday, with progress to the last 16 already secured for Andrea Pirlo's side.

Frappart refereed her first Europa League fixture in October, when Leicester City took on Zorya Luhansk at the King Power Stadium, and last week ran the rule over Granada v Omonoia Nicosia.

Following the Super Cup clash in Istanbul last year, which Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp hailed the performance of Frappart and her all-female team of officials.

"I spoke to the refereeing team after the game [and said] that if we would have played like they whistled, then we would have won 6-0," Klopp told reporters.

"They played a brilliant game. They were good, they were really good. There was pressure on them like hell. It was an historic moment and they stayed themselves, stayed calm and did what they had to do in a very difficult and intense game.

"I couldn't have more respect, it was a really brilliant performance."

Napoli head coach Gennaro Gattuso believes Inter are favourites to win Serie A this season, ahead of current leaders Milan and defending champions Juventus.

Milan – without a Scudetto since 2010-11 – top the table by five points through nine matchdays after defeating Fiorentina 2-0 on Sunday to remain unbeaten.

City rivals Inter and Sassuolo are five points off the pace, while Andrea Pirlo's Juve are fourth and a point further back, along with Napoli and Roma.

Gattuso considers Antonio Conte's Inter title favourites following Napoli's 4-0 rout of Roma on Sunday, telling Sky Sport Italia: "In my view, Inter are the team to beat.

"They combine quality with physical strength, they have so many options available and they are the favourites.

"Then there's Juventus, who are accustomed to being up there."

Napoli played their first Serie A match since the death of club great Diego Maradona on Wednesday and it was an emotional occasion at the Stadio San Paolo, where captain Lorenzo Insigne, Fabian Ruiz, all-time leading scorer Dries Mertens and Matteo Politano were on target.

The Partenopei equalled their largest margin of victory against Roma in Serie A, having also routed the capital club 4-0 in 1980 and 1971.

Napoli – who moved up to fifth position in Serie A, six points adrift of Milan – earned their fourth win from five games across all competitions.

Gattuso earned his 50th career victory as a coach in the Italian top flight, while becoming the first Napoli boss to win his first two Serie A encounters against Roma.

"We have to play with this intensity in every single game, with this atmosphere on the team bus, in the dressing room, throughout the match. Take nothing for granted," Gattuso said.

"What I liked was the attitude today. When there was an error from a team-mate, they helped each other out, applauded rather than telling them to go f*** themselves, that's what I like to see.

"Perhaps it's my fault, because in order to not stress the players out, I let things go, I go easy. Now I realise I can never let anything go and I can't afford to go easy on them. Times have changed.

"We know that with the fixture list as packed as it is, we can't always be at 100 per cent in every single game. But that's why mentality is so important, because it can allow you to push through difficulties, to keep going and raise the bar. I see the mentality as the issue here, we need to find the balance of playing good football, but as a team."

Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo said the Serie A champions must learn to win without Cristiano Ronaldo after the superstar missed Saturday's draw against Benevento.

Ronaldo was rested as Juve produced another below-par performance in their 1-1 draw away to Benevento.

Alvaro Morata's 21st-minute opener was cancelled out by Benevento's Gaetano Letizia on the stroke of half-time, before the former was sent off at the death.

Juve are three points adrift of leaders Milan and Pirlo urged his side to improve in the absence of Ronaldo – who has scored eight goals in five Serie A appearances this season.

"Ronaldo is a very important player, not only for us," Pirlo told reporters post-match.

"He was for Real Madrid and for previous Juventus.

"This kind of players are game and goals catalysts, but we must win this kind of games with or without Ronaldo. We must improve this side."

Juve have won only one of their last nine away matches in Serie A, dating back to last season.

The Italian powerhouse – who have four wins and five draws so far in Serie A – have also drawn at least five of their first nine league games of the season for the first time since 2001-02.

"I am not worried, but we must start thinking that games are going on and we are losing many points," added Pirlo.

"We need to change our path, our mentality and our personality because all the matches are not the same."

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