Erling Haaland said missing the World Cup "triggered" him after reaching 20 Premier League goals in record time during Manchester City's 3-1 win against his hometown club Leeds United. 

Haaland – who was born in Leeds when his father Alf-Inge represented the Yorkshire club – sat out the tournament in Qatar after Norway's failure to qualify.

The striker's place of birth provided the setting for his return to Premier League action on Wednesday, and he made it a memorable outing by tapping home City's second goal before beating Illan Meslier with a powerful finish.

Haaland's double took him to 20 goals in 14 Premier League appearances, meaning he required seven games fewer to reach the milestone than previous record holder Kevin Phillips.

Speaking to Amazon Prime Video after the game, Haaland said watching many of the world's top forwards making an impact in Qatar had irritated him during the international break.

Asked how he spent the World Cup, Haaland said: "Being home, being a bit mad that I didn't play the World Cup and was on my sofa. 

"I was kind of a commentator for the World Cup in my own home, where nobody listens to me!

"I recharged my batteries and to watch people score and win games at the World Cup triggered me and motivated me. It irritates me, as I just said. I'm more hungry than ever."

Haaland has now scored 26 times in all competitions for City, reaching 25 goals under Pep Guardiola in fewer games (20) than any other player during the coach's top-flight career.

But, showing his elite mentality, the 22-year-old was frustrated by his failure to add to his brace.

"I just said it inside, I could have scored five, it's the truth. But we won, that's the most important thing," Haaland said.

"We see Arsenal at the top now and we have to hunt them, so for the win, we are really happy.

"For me as a striker, I could have scored a couple more but that's life. What can I do? I have to practice more."

Haaland's double also saw him overtake his father's tally of 18 Premier League goals (in 181 appearances), and the significance of doing so at Elland Road was not lost on the striker.

"With my father and my mother over there, it's special. I'm happy today, it's a really special moment in my career," he said.

"When I was younger I had a jersey of [former Leeds and Norway midfielder] Eirik Bakke in my room, and also one of my father, so it's really weird. 

"Only in my craziest fantasy could I have thought of scoring at Elland Road for Manchester City against Leeds."

Asked whether he had set himself a target of scoring over 40 league goals this season, Haaland added: "I've got one, but I cannot tell you, you know this! No comment."

Reece James thanked Chelsea fans for their support after his "toughest year to date" ended with the right-back injured again.

It had looked like 2022 would be a year to remember for James for all the right reasons, starring for Chelsea and set to play a key role for England at Qatar 2022.

Yet injury robbed the defender of his World Cup dream, only returning from his knee problem in Tuesday's first Premier League match back against Bournemouth.

James' comeback was then cut short by an apparent setback, with Chelsea coach Graham Potter "concerned" afterwards and waiting for more news.

While there was no official word on James' status early on Wednesday, the England international revealed his mental toll in a downbeat Twitter post.

"2022 has been the toughest year to date," he wrote. "Just wanna thank you all for the support, none of you go unnoticed.

"It's naturally [affected] me mentally, I'm currently just [trying to] deal with the cards I've been dealt. 

"I hope your end of year is filled with peace, joy & happiness."

Potter, quoted by BBC Sport, had added: "Not until you work with him do you see how good he is. He could play in any team in the world, and any team would miss him.

"The plan was to play 60 minutes [against Bournemouth], so now he's disappointed, of course. We hope it's not as bad as it was and he can have a speedy recovery."

Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has extended his contract with the national side following a successful performance at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Samurai Blue were one of the tournament's surprise packages, beating Germany and Spain in the group stages to top Group E, before suffering a penalty shoot-out defeat to Croatia in the last 16.

After impressing in Qatar, Japanese Football Association president Kozo Tajima announced Moriyasu had extended his contract to run until after the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Japan have featured in every World Cup tournament since 1998, including as co-hosts alongside South Korea four years later, but have never entered consecutive tournaments under the same head coach – a record Moriyasu will look to change.

Ranked 50th when he took charge in 2018, Japan have climbed to 20th in FIFA's World Rankings – their highest position since 2005 (15th).

The highest-ranked Asian nation, Moriyasu's side return to action in March, when they will play two friendlies as part of the 2023 Kirin Challenge Cup.  

Lionel Messi will not return to Paris Saint-Germain until early January, but Kylian Mbappe is set for an immediate return to Ligue 1 action against Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Head coach Christophe Galtier revealed Messi will miss the Strasbourg game, and Sunday's trip to Lens, after being given dispensation to stay in Argentina for an extended post-World Cup break.

Messi headed home after Argentina's Qatar 2022 triumph, to be feted for his leading role in the team's triumph after their dramatic win on penalties against France in the December 18 final.

Mbappe, who hit a hat-trick for France in that game but still finished as a runner-up, has returned to full training with the capital club and looks set to line up at the Parc des Princes against Strasbourg, with Brazil's Neymar and Marquinhos and Morocco's Achraf Hakimi also available after rejoining Galtier's group.

Galtier said: "There are individual cases with the players who went very far. Achraf Hakimi played in every game at the World Cup for Morocco. He was in the team of the World Cup.

"He wanted to get back as quickly as possible, as did Kylian Mbappe. He also turned in some brilliant performances and was the top goalscorer at the World Cup.

"After speaking to him and all my different teams who stayed in regular contact with the players, Kylian Mbappe wanted to join back up with us pretty quickly.

"There could be a time when Achraf Hakimi and Kylian Mbappe need to rest. Not necessarily physically, but definitely mentally.

"As for Leo Messi, who had a brilliant tournament, given they won the competition, he went back to Argentina for the celebrations. We made the decision to give him until January 1, so he will be back here with us on the second or third to get back into the swing of things after 13 or 14 days off."

Reports have claimed Messi, who scored seven goals and won the World Cup's Golden Ball prize, has agreed a contract extension with PSG, who will be hoping to get that deal completed soon after his return to France.

An ankle blow for Neymar during the World Cup is no longer troubling the former Barcelona forward, Galtier said.

He returned to France on December 22, and Galtier said: "He has been working outside as normal without any restrictions. Physically he is fine, and mentally he is looking forward to playing."

The PSG boss dismissed any suggestion of a possible problem emerging between Messi and Mbappe, after Argentina's post-final celebrations in the dressing room saw goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez mock the PSG and France striker.

Galtier suggested all the blame for that episode was with Martinez.

"What happened in the celebrations belongs to the Argentinians, and it is not down to me. What matters to me is what I saw in the final and on the sidelines I saw Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi embrace," Galtier said.

"There is a lot of respect between them. They have an exemplary attitude after the games. And of course, [Messi] needs to be congratulated for the trophies, and the Argentina coach as well.

"So I would focus on the relationship between them. It wasn't Leo Messi winding anybody else up. What I saw after the final, what I have experienced, is there is no reason to mix these things up because the goalkeeper's behaviour is down to him.

"What matters to me is the relationship between the players. Kylian Mbappe had a very good attitude, despite losing. Of course he was very disappointed, but he did that in a classy way. He congratulated Leo Messi and that is a very good thing for the club and for the team."

For the players who returned from the World Cup disheartened, Galtier says throwing themselves back into club duty has been a welcome escape.

"When they came back, our medical and coaching teams have spoken to the players to understand how they are feeling, because they are top-level footballers who enjoy playing and training to be able to play," Galtier said.

"There is no better remedy than to go back to your club where there is a very good atmosphere, a good feeling. Everyone is showing their commitment based on the training sessions I've been involved with."

Lionel Scaloni has no intention of stepping down as head coach after guiding Argentina to World Cup glory, says Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia.

Argentina defeated France 4-2 on penalties in a thrilling Qatar 2022 final that finished 3-3 after extra time to add to the Copa America crown won last year.

With his team's latest success, Scaloni became just the third manager in history to win both competitions, after former Brazil bosses Mario Zagallo and Carlos Alberto Parreira.

The 44-year-old is due to be out of contract later this week and has been tipped to take on a high-profile position at club level, but Tapia does not see that happening.

"I have no doubt he will continue to be the head coach of the Argentina team," AFA chief Tapia told reporters.

"We are both men of our word. We shook hands and we said yes to each other. He is currently travelling but as soon as he comes back we are going to finalise it."

Scaloni has been in charge since July 2018, initially on a caretaker basis, and also won the inaugural Finalissima earlier this year with victory over European champions Italy.

However, the decision to appoint Scaloni as Jorge Sampaoli's successor after defeat to France in the last 16 of Russia 2018 was not a unanimous one.

"Ninety-nine per cent of people thought we were wrong or even crazy," Tapia said. "But this team brought happiness to the people with the three titles they won."

Graham Potter says Reece James is "in a good place" again after the "brutal" experience of missing England's World Cup campaign.

Full-back James was left out of Gareth Southgate's 26-man squad for Qatar 2022, where England lost to France in the quarter-finals, due to a knee injury.

The 23-year-old has not played since sustaining the injury against Milan on October 11, but he returned to training at the start of December.

Potter acknowledged it has been a difficult period for James, who is set to feature against Bournemouth on Tuesday as Chelsea make their return to Premier League action.

"It was a World Cup and they come around every four years. So when you’re young, the perspective is not so easy to get," Potter said.

"You are young and you want to play. That's really understandable. It's the same for Reece, Ben Chilwell, N'Golo Kante. It's brutal really to have to deal with.

"You can try to help them and give them a bit of perspective but in the end it has to come from them, their families and those people close to them.

"I have to say he is in a good mood, he is in a good place. He has trained with us, is training well and is a good team-mate. He has dealt with it well.

"There is not too much you can say. You say it will get better with time and you have to focus on the things you can control. 

"There is nothing you can say to a player that will make it get better. All I can do is acknowledge it is upsetting, that whatever he is feeling is normal and help him move forwards.

"It was a challenging period for all the players. There were another 12 that are watching their team-mates and getting injured and missing the World Cup. 

"You have to think on some level there is an effect there. They're only human."

Potter confirmed he will continue to monitor James' playing time, though Wesley Fofana and Chilwell remain absent, while key midfield man Kante is out until February.

James has started half of Chelsea's 20 Premier League and Champions League games this season, with his absence from the side coinciding with a downturn in results.

"He's been training for a few weeks now and that helps," Potter added. "The tough time is when you can't play football because you're injured.

"For him, the best thing is that he is playing football and the World Cup is finished now and he can concentrate on playing football.

"He was in a really good place before he got injured. If you look at how the team was functioning before he got injured and after. 

"It's not the only reason of course but Reece is a top, top player and when he is not with us it's a miss. 

"I'm confident the more football he plays the more we will see what a fantastic footballer he really is."

Liverpool have reached an agreement to sign Netherlands international Cody Gakpo, his club PSV have announced.

Gakpo has been linked with several of Europe's biggest clubs – including Manchester United and Real Madrid – after emerging as a key part of Ruud van Nistelrooy's side. 

The forward has scored nine goals and provided 12 assists in 14 Eredivisie games this season, the third-highest tally of goal contributions (21) after 14 games in the league since the 1999-00 season – only Van Nistelrooy (27 in 1999-00) and former Liverpool man Luis Suarez (25 in 2009-10) have bettered that tally.

While Erik ten Hag's United have been linked with Gakpo for several months, reports on Monday claimed Liverpool were close to signing the 23-year-old for an initial £37million (€42m) fee.

Having impressed for the Netherlands at the World Cup in Qatar, where he scored three goals, Gakpo is now on course to arrive at Anfield in the January transfer window.

A statement from the Eredivisie giants said: "PSV and Liverpool have reached an agreement on the proposed transfer of Cody Gakpo.

"The 23-year-old attacker will leave for England imminently where he will be subjected to the necessary formalities ahead of the completion of the transfer."

The statement added that both clubs would not make an announcement on the fee, but general manager Marcel Brands did say: "this is a record transfer for PSV," with the club's previous record being the sale of Hirving Lozano to Napoli for a reported €45m.

Should a deal be completed, Gakpo will provide competition in the forward line for Jurgen Klopp's team, who are currently without injured pair Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.

 

Liverpool have reached an agreement to sign Netherlands international Cody Gakpo, his club PSV have announced.

Gakpo has been linked with several of Europe's biggest clubs – including Manchester United and Real Madrid – after emerging as a key part of Ruud van Nistelrooy's side. 

The forward has scored nine goals and provided 12 assists in 14 Eredivisie games this season, the third-highest tally of goal contributions (21) after 14 games in the league since the 1999-00 season – only Van Nistelrooy (27 in 1999-00) and former Liverpool man Luis Suarez (25 in 2009-10) have bettered that tally.

While Erik ten Hag's United have been linked with Gakpo for several months, reports on Monday claimed Liverpool were close to signing the 23-year-old for an initial £37million (€42m) fee.

Having impressed for the Netherlands at the World Cup in Qatar, where he scored three goals, Gakpo is now on course to arrive at Anfield in the January transfer window.

A statement from the Eredivisie giants said: "PSV and Liverpool have reached an agreement on the proposed transfer of Cody Gakpo.

"The 23-year-old attacker will leave for England imminently where he will be subjected to the necessary formalities ahead of the completion of the transfer."

Should a deal be completed, Gakpo will provide competition in the forward line for Jurgen Klopp's team, who are currently without injured pair Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Jude Bellingham will not come under too much pressure following his "absolutely exceptional" showing for England at the World Cup.

The Borussia Dortmund midfielder has been strongly linked with a move to a number of Europe's elite clubs – Liverpool among them – on the back of another impressive year.

Bellingham started all five of England's matches at Qatar 2022, which ended in quarter-final defeat to France, scoring and assisting one goal from central midfield.

He was reportedly valued in excess of €100million (£88.5m) by Dortmund prior to the World Cup, a valuation that is likely to have only risen since.

However, Klopp says that no matter how expensive the 19-year-old is, he should not be weighed down by growing expectations in his home country.

"I don't like to talk always about money," Klopp told reporters. "When you talk about a player like Jude, I think everybody agrees he's just exceptional for the age group. 

"Imagine somebody has no clue about football or whatever or knows about football but didn't watch it for a while and has no clue on Jude Bellingham...  

"'How old do you think he is?' I think nobody would get it. Or even get close to his age. It's like 28, 29, whatever, these kind of things, because he plays that maturely. 

"He played an exceptional World Cup, absolutely exceptional. And he's so good in so many things and has to improve and other things.

"But to describe him I'd say the things he can do already are difficult to learn. The things he has to improve are easy to learn and to improve so that makes a really good player. 

"What can I say? I don’t say anything new. I thought that already, since two or three years ago, since he had his breakthrough at Dortmund, everybody knows that already.

"But I have no idea what that means for the money side of it. I really think if we all if want to do him a favour, then we just don't talk too much about money. 

"And I mean, from an English point of view, don't throw any hurdles in his development. That would be really cool, wherever he will end up."

Bellingham (19 years, 145 days) is the third-youngest player to start for England at a World Cup after Michael Owen in 1998 (18y, 198d) and Luke Shaw in 2014 (18y, 347d).

The Birmingham City academy product became the second-youngest player to score for England in the competition behind only Owen with his goal against Iran.

 

The teenage midfielder will remain in high demand ahead of the January transfer window, which Liverpool will target as a chance to strengthen their squad.

Liverpool are sixth in the Premier League and face a challenge to qualify for the Champions League, which Klopp accepts that could impact what players his side try to sign.

"It's very important, very important," he said of finishing in the top four. "That's obviously our main target. I'm surprised that you don't ask me today 'can you be champions?' 

"I think we have a good chance to qualify for the Champions League. If it will happen this year, I don't know. But we're 100 per cent one of the contenders for the next few years. 

"If you ask a player and he's like, 'yeah, but next year you're not sure if you're in the Champions League; I'd prefer to go to a club who play in it now, but maybe not next year'. 

"I'm not sure I would want this player still to be honest. So it's like I understand it 100 per cent. I want to be part of the Champions League, to be honest, all the time.

"For now, we have pathways still to qualify for the Champions League next year. As long as that's the case, I see ourselves as a proper contender for qualification."

The twelve Tottenham players who featured at the World Cup will not find rest easy to come by, to Antonio Conte's frustration.

Spurs return to action on Boxing Day against Brentford, just eight days after two of their players – France captain Hugo Lloris and Argentina defender Cristian Romero – played in the World Cup final.

Lloris will be on the bench against the Bees but Romero is unlikely to be in the squad. 

Spurs also have to contend with Richarlison's absence, with the Brazil forward having sustained a serious hamstring injury while playing in Qatar. Son Heung-min, Eric Dier and Harry Kane made it to the last 16 and quarter-finals of the competition with South Korea and England respectively, while Ivan Perisic went deep into the competition with Croatia.

"I am not really happy," Conte said. "On one hand, you are happy because for my club, Tottenham, to have 12 players at the World Cup it means that we are in the right way to try to be competitive and to try to win something.

"But it is normal that when you have so many players play a tournament like this, especially during the season, that now it is not easy because the physical condition is not at the top.

"It is impossible to give them a lot of rest and for sure with the players that didn't play the World Cup and we work for four weeks, now they are in a great physical condition.

"We worked a lot on the tactical aspect and physical aspect. Now they are at a level that is better than the players who finished the World Cup.

"For this reason I think I have to make the best decision for the game against Brentford.

"On one side I have players who I worked with for four weeks really well and on the other side, I have players who worked at the World Cup and are not at the top at the moment."

After taking on Brentford, Spurs host Aston Villa on New Year's Day before facing Crystal Palace on January 4.

Fabinho believes Liverpool are well-placed to benefit from the World Cup break as Jurgen Klopp's team look to chase down their Premier League rivals.

Having fallen narrowly short of winning a second title of the Premier League era when amassing 92 points last season, Liverpool now sit sixth in the top flight, seven points adrift of a top-four place.

Jurgen Klopp's side did improve before the Premier League paused in November, and they could win three consecutive games for the first time this season when they visit Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

With France's Ibrahima Konate the only Liverpool player to remain involved beyond the quarter-finals at the World Cup, Fabinho believes the break has benefited the Reds.

"It can be good," he told the club's website. "I hope this will be good for the team because, as I said before, our position in the Premier League is not the position that we wanted it to be. 

"But this is the reality. We have to face it, we have to try to close the gap to the other teams and yes, game by game, try to play better and win."

Fabinho played 45 minutes as the Reds returned to competitive action with a 3-2 EFL Cup defeat to Manchester City on Thursday, and he was pleased to resume with a game of that magnitude. 

"In the game against City it was [important] to show that we are there, that we will fight with the best teams because we are one of the best teams as well," Fabinho said.

"I hope that we will keep this level because we will need it. To have this as the first game back from the World Cup, I think, was good for us. The intensity of the game was really good."

Tammy Abraham is unsurprised by reports suggesting both Portugal and Brazil are interested in Roma coach Jose Mourinho, who he views as an "uncle" figure.

Mourinho led Roma to the inaugural Europa Conference League title last season, his fifth major continental triumph after winning both the UEFA Cup/Europa League and Champions League on two occasions.

However, the Giallorossi boss has been linked with an exit in the aftermath of the World Cup, with both Portugal and Brazil searching for a new coach following quarter-final exits in Qatar.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Roma striker Abraham said any side would be fortunate to have Mourinho, crediting the 59-year-old's methods for his own development. 

"Jose is a great coach, everyone wants him," Abraham said. "It's also an honour that an important national team like Portugal is looking for him, but I'm sure the coach is focused on the team. 

"We've read the news on social media, but we haven't discussed it. We're all focused on Roma.

"He's a point of reference, I consider him to be like my uncle in Rome. He wants the best for me, when I don't express myself at my best, he pushes me. 

"Even when I play well, he's never satisfied and that's what I need. I'm not the type for pats on the back, but I need that trust he shows in me every day."

Brendan Rodgers anticipates Leicester City will rebuff any offers tabled for James Maddison in the January transfer window.

The England international has been a standout performer for the Foxes this term, and has been their brightest light amid a poor 2022-23 campaign to date.

Maddison was crucial to the pre-break revival enjoyed by Leicester, earning a recall to the Three Lions fold and a spot in Gareth Southgate's World Cup squad too.

His rising stock, therefore, is likely to attract bids during the new year, but Rodgers expects the club to keep hold of their man and knock back any approaches.

"I've been given no indication that we have to do anything with James in January," he stated. "He's someone I want to keep here.

"When you have good players, it's a good sign. They'll always be coveted by other teams. That's OK, I'm confident those players will be here. My focus is on improving the squad. That's what I want to do."

Maddison himself is only just returning to action with Leicester following a post-Qatar 2022 breather, after England were edged by ultimate finalists France in the last eight.

Speaking at the World Darts Championship as a guest of Sky Sports, the 26-year-old acknowledged Southgate's men felt they could go the distance, while hailing the squad the latter has put together.

"The World Cup came to a disappointing end, in the end," he added. "There was a real feel we were going to go all the way and win it, to be honest. It wasn't to be - we lost to a very good France side.

"The group's so good. I've had a few years out of the squad, so there's a few faces I didn't know. It's quite a young group, so it was easy to transition back in.

"It's such an easy group to go into and be yourself, express yourself. That's why, even though I didn't get any minutes, when we went out, I was devastated. You build up such a bond."

Emiliano Martinez's "stupid" celebrations "took away" from Argentina's World Cup success, according to France and Arsenal great Patrick Vieira.

Martinez saved Kingsley Coman's attempt and watched Aurelien Tchouameni roll wide as La Albiceleste overcame France 4-2 on penalties following an entertaining 3-3 draw in Sunday's Lusail Stadium final.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper was criticised for his gamesmanship during the shoot-out before his subsequent celebrations were thought to cross the line after appearing to repeatedly taunt Kylian Mbappe.

Martinez called for a "moment of silence" for Mbappe after his hat-trick proved in vain, while he was seen holding a bizarre puppet with the France forward's face on during homecoming celebrations.

Former Gunners captain Vieira, who won the 1998 World Cup with Les Bleus, labelled ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez's action as unnecessary.

"When you talk about the abuse and the comments that [Mbappe] received after the World Cup, I think that is damaging the game and himself," the Crystal Palace manager said on Friday.

"Some of the pictures that I saw from the Argentina goalkeeper took away a little bit from what Argentina achieved at the World Cup.

"I don't think they really needed that. Sometimes, you can't control people's emotions or decisions, but that was a stupid decision from Martinez to do that. I was really disappointed. 

"I want to have a picture of the Argentina fans with the passion and the love they showed during those games. Of course, they won the World Cup, but in the stands, they were the best as well.

"I want to keep that in my mind and not think about those stupid fans who put some darkness on top of what Argentina achieved on and off the field. This is the dark side of the Argentina World Cup win."

Emiliano Martinez's "stupid" celebrations "took away" from Argentina's World Cup success, according to France and Arsenal great Patrick Vieira.

Martinez saved Kingsley Coman's attempt and watched Aurelien Tchouameni roll wide as La Albiceleste overcame France 4-2 on penalties following an entertaining 3-3 draw in Sunday's Lusail Stadium final.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper was criticised for his gamesmanship during the shoot-out before his subsequent celebrations were thought to cross the line after appearing to repeatedly taunt Kylian Mbappe.

Martinez called for a "moment of silence" for Mbappe after his hat-trick proved in vain, while he was seen holding a bizarre puppet with the France forward's face on during homecoming celebrations.

Former Gunners captain Vieira, who won the 1998 World Cup with Les Bleus, labelled ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Martinez's action as unnecessary.

"When you talk about the abuse and the comments that [Mbappe] received after the World Cup, I think that is damaging the game and himself," the Crystal Palace manager said on Friday.

"Some of the pictures that I saw from the Argentina goalkeeper took away a little bit from what Argentina achieved at the World Cup.

"I don't think they really needed that. Sometimes, you can't control people's emotions or decisions, but that was a stupid decision from Martinez to do that. I was really disappointed. 

"I want to have a picture of the Argentina fans with the passion and the love they showed during those games. Of course, they won the World Cup, but in the stands, they were the best as well.

"I want to keep that in my mind and not think about those stupid fans who put some darkness on top of what Argentina achieved on and off the field. This is the dark side of the Argentina World Cup win."

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