Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe may have faced off against one another in the World Cup final in Qatar, but they line up in the same XI in FIFA 23's Team of the Year.

While Mbappe scored a hat-trick in the tournament's showpiece match, it was Messi's Argentina who lifted the World Cup for a third time with a penalty shoot-out victory following a 3-3 draw after extra-time.

The Paris Saint-Germain team-mates have both made FIFA 23's Team of the Year, though, with the selections made from over 10 million votes from fans.

Despite Argentina's World Cup win, Messi is the only player from Lionel Scaloni's team to be included, with Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema completing the front three after scoring 44 goals in 46 matches in the 2021-22 season to help Real Madrid to a LaLiga title and Champions League win.

Kevin De Bruyne finished third in the Ballon d'Or rankings and is part of the midfield, alongside the evergreen Madrid star Luka Modric and Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham, with the latter playing a key role for England at the World Cup at the age of just 19.

The Madrid theme running through the line-up continues at the back, with Thibaut Courtois between in goal and Eder Militao at the heart of the defence.

Virgil van Dijk joins Militao, while Theo Hernandez and Achraf Hakimi, who enjoyed excellent World Cups with France and Morocco respectively, fill the full-back roles.

Virgil van Dijk will be out of action for over a month after sustaining a hamstring injury in Liverpool's defeat to Brentford earlier this week, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.

Defender Van Dijk was one of three players substituted at half-time in Liverpool's damaging 3-1 loss at the Brentford Community Stadium, which saw them lose ground in the race for a top-four Premier League finish.

Klopp described Van Dijk's withdrawal as precautionary after the game, but reports later in the week suggested the Netherlands captain's injury was worse than initially feared.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie against Wolves, Klopp provided an estimated timeframe for Van Dijk's return and described his absence as a significant setback.

"On Virg, it's a surprise and obviously a big blow, as he didn't feel a lot," Klopp said at Friday's pre-match press conference. 

"I took him off actually, to avoid the risk, maybe he would have tried [to play on] and stuff like this.

"In the end, the diagnosis was pretty harsh. They talk about weeks – more than a month. 

"We have to see how it goes but we have other centre-halves. Everything is okay for the team but for Virg, it's hard for him. He's played an incredible amount of games over the last few years.

"We cannot use him on the pitch, only off the pitch, so we will do that."

Asked whether the congested festive fixture list had caused Van Dijk's injury, Klopp responded: "It's his hamstring. 

"He never had an issue with muscles or mentioned anything, between the games he was recovering.

"There's nothing to say about it, we did nothing different. It was one sprint."

As well as Saturday's meeting with Wolves, Van Dijk now appears likely to miss Premier League fixtures against Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea before the end of January.

Klopp will be desperate to have Van Dijk available for a crucial spell next month, in which Liverpool face Merseyside rivals Everton and fellow top-four contenders Newcastle United before playing the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid.

Virgil van Dijk's half-time withdrawal in Liverpool's 3-1 defeat to Brentford was a precautionary measure after the defender struggled with the intensity of the game, Jurgen Klopp explained.

With an Ibrahima Konate own goal and a Yoane Wissa header putting Liverpool 2-0 down before the break, Klopp rang the changes by removing Van Dijk, Konstantinos Tsimikas and Harvey Elliott from the action.

While replacements Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson and Naby Keita initially had a positive impact, they were unable to stop the Reds from sliding to their first defeat against the Bees since 1938.

Van Dijk began the game as captain with both Jordan Henderson and James Milner out, and his withdrawal led to suggestions he had sustained an injury.

However, Klopp outlined his belief that the Netherlands skipper had avoided any lasting damage in his post-match press conference, revealing: "Virgil felt a little bit the muscle but said he is fine, and he's a very good judge of these kinds of things. 

"But I didn't want to take any risk – the physios looked quite happy when I said we don't take risks. I think it is not an injury, he just felt the intensity.

"The other two were tactical. We obviously had the opportunities.

"We could bring in Naby, who I think played a really good game, and Robbo – and Robbo with the first action after half-time was exactly what we needed. 

"We needed that speed in behind and so that was the reason for these two changes."

Liverpool's loss at the Brentford Community Stadium dealt a huge blow to their hopes of Champions League qualification, leaving them four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United having played a game more.

Virgil van Dijk has not given up on Liverpool's Premier League title hopes despite being 15 points behind Arsenal.

The Reds came from behind to beat Leicester City 2-1 at Anfield on Friday thanks to two Wout Faes own goals, making it four league wins on the bounce for Jurgen Klopp's men.

Van Dijk previously acknowledged Liverpool's performance against the Foxes had been underwhelming, but results are suddenly looking up for a side that had headed into November with just two wins – and three defeats – in seven top-flight games.

Liverpool are four points adrift of great rivals Manchester United in fourth, and yet Van Dijk is still not admitting defeat in the Premier League title race, even though Arsenal are starting to create a handsome lead over everyone.

For Van Dijk, this belief and motivation has partly come from his experience at the World Cup, where the Netherlands were eliminated by eventual winners Argentina in a feisty quarter-final.

He remains hopeful of international success being just around the corner, and this mentality is seemingly keeping his eyes on the prize with Liverpool as well.

"Things were disappointing in the end [for the Netherlands], that is also part of football," he told reporters.

"It was a tough couple of days but then it was about switching back towards the most important things in life; my wife and kids.

"It fuels me because I want to be successful with the Netherlands. I feel like we have a fantastic squad and new era with Ronald Koeman coming back and young players coming through, like Cody [Gakpo] for example. He can make big steps with his transfer [to Liverpool] and then become more important [for the Netherlands].

"Hopefully we can do something nice in the summer with the Nations League finals, that is something I really want to win, even though it is the end of the season when you are absolutely shattered.

"It has also motivated me here. We are quite some points behind Arsenal, but the season could be a very crazy one, a very strange one.

"But we have to be realistic and we're not thinking about the title at the moment. We have to focus on the game ahead of us, win games and then we'll see."

Liverpool are next in action away to Brentford on Monday.

Virgil van Dijk felt Liverpool got away with being "very poor" in a 2-1 Premier League victory over Leicester City at Anfield.

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall took advantage of some slack Reds defending to give the Foxes an early lead, but Wout Faes gifted the Reds a fourth consecutive win on Friday.

The Leicester centre-back scored two first-half own goals to give Jurgen Klopp's side a victory that moves them just two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Liverpool were not at their fluent best, with Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah wasteful in front of goal.

Reds centre-back Van Dijk offered a frank assessment of the performance in their final match of 2022, which was watched by new signing Cody Gakpo on Merseyside.

The Netherlands defender told Sky Sports: "We were very poor today but it's just good to get the three points, very important to win these type of games, that's the positive.

"Now we have to recover, improve and prepare for Brentford [on Monday]. We tried to get in the game, it wasn't good enough and we all know that. There are plenty of things we have to improve."

He added: "At times we were maybe too quick and then we lose the ball and it’s a bit too open, and they can play, but we have to take the three points and on to the next one."

Liverpool head into 2023 in sixth spot with momentum after a disappointing start to the season.

Cody Gakpo highlighted Virgil van Dijk's influence on his decision to join Liverpool after the Reds formally confirmed his arrival from PSV on Wednesday.

The Netherlands international has signed for Jurgen Klopp's side in a move reportedly worth an initial £37million (€42m) on the back of an impressive World Cup campaign.

Gakpo's arrival on Merseyside is a major boost for Klopp's men and a blow to rivals Manchester United, where the forward had been heavily tipped to join his countryman Erik ten Hag.

Speaking to Liverpool's website after sealing his transfer, Gakpo said it was another Dutchman who helped convince him he was making the right call in moving to Anfield.

"At the moment I was calling [in] with the coach, he came into the office and saw me," Gakpo said of Van Dijk. "We chatted a little bit. We spoke a lot over the phone [in] the last days.

"What he told me was that this is the right move for me to make and for me to develop and to become a better player, that the club is massive, but also like a real family.

"I think that's also very important for me because I'm a family guy. He said only good things. I'm happy that he's here, so he can help me with some stuff. I'm really grateful to be here."

Amid injuries to Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, Gakpo's arrival offers a major offensive boost to Liverpool, with the 23-year-old having scored nine goals and provided 12 assists in 14 Eredivisie games this season.

Klopp could not hide his delight at getting the move over the line, saying: "It really is great news for us that we have been able to do it.

"The work that has gone into this has been really impressive and in the end, we have managed to sign a player who we have known about for quite some time and who we believe will have a bright future with us.

"There is a lot to like about Cody. He is still only 23 years old, but he already has a lot of experience. 

"We know he is a smart footballer and a smart person, so we are excited to be able to work with him."

Virgil van Dijk would like to see Liverpool sign some "new players" in the January transfer window.

After scoring in Liverpool's 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Monday, Van Dijk hinted at possible transfer activity from the Merseyside club, with reports suggesting he could soon be joined at Anfield by Netherlands team-mate Cody Gakpo.

The Athletic reported on Monday that Liverpool are in "advanced negotiations" with PSV for the forward for an initial fee in the region of £37million (€42m).

Manager Jurgen Klopp oversaw his team's first league game back since the World Cup, still missing attacking duo Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota through injury, with neither likely to be back until February at the earliest.

"Hopefully the injured players can come back soon, and hopefully we can welcome some new players at our football club," Van Dijk said after the win at Villa Park.

"We will see. I think that quality is always welcome at Liverpool."

Gakpo has scored nine goals and provided 12 assists in 14 Eredivisie games this season, the third-highest tally of goal contributions (21) after 14 Eredivisie games since 1999-00, ironically behind his PSV head coach Ruud van Nistelrooy (27 in 1999-00) and former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez (25 in 2009-10).

The 23-year-old also scored three goals for the Netherlands at the World Cup before their eventual elimination on penalties in the quarter-final against Argentina, who went on to lift the trophy in Qatar.

Liverpool made a winning return to Premier League action as Mohamed Salah starred and Stefan Bajcetic scored his first senior goal in an entertaining 3-1 Boxing Day win at Aston Villa.

Salah handed Liverpool a strong start when he converted Andrew Robertson's delivery from close range – making the left-back the defender with the most Premier League assists in history.

The Egypt star then teed up Virgil van Dijk to steer home a deflected second, though Liverpool came under pressure after Ollie Watkins halved the arrears with just over half an hour remaining.

However, Jurgen Klopp's side made the points safe late on as substitute Bajcetic rounded Robin Olsen to score his first Premier League goal, moving Liverpool within five points of the top four.

Liverpool needed just five minutes to take the lead, with Salah on hand to tap home Robertson's cross after the left-back latched onto a sublime outside-of-the-foot pass from Trent Alexander Arnold.

A lively first half saw both goalkeepers forced into action, though Watkins should have done better when heading at Alisson before Robin Olsen was tested by Darwin Nunez's volley.

After a series of narrow escapes, Villa failed to prevent Liverpool from striking again 37 minutes in, as Van Dijk's left-footed volley struck Ezri Konsa before finding the bottom-right corner.

The offside flag denied Watkins a goal soon after the restart, but there was to be no reprieve for Liverpool when he nodded Douglas Luiz's cross home after 59 minutes.

Liverpool then went close to a third through Nunez, but 18-year-old Bajcetic stepped off the bench to calm any nerves, latching onto a loose ball to round Olsen and lash a left-footed finish home.

What does it mean? Liverpool back in the groove

Liverpool entered the World Cup break seven points adrift of a top-four place after an inconsistent spell, leading Klopp to acknowledge his side will be playing catch-up from here on in.

However, the Reds have now won three consecutive Premier League games for the first time this season, and with over half the campaign remaining, they remain a strong contender to reach the table's upper echelons. 

Salah hits the ground running

Egypt's failure to qualify for the World Cup ensured Salah enjoyed a seven-week break ahead of Liverpool's return to action in the EFL Cup last week, and the winger looked every bit refreshed as he netted his 55th away Premier League goal for the club – a joint-high tally alongside Michael Owen.

Salah's assist then made him just the second Reds player to reach a half century for both goals and assists in the Premier League (125 goals and 50 assists), alongside Steven Gerrard (120 goals, 92 assists).

Van Dijk exploits Villa frailties

Though Villa looked menacing on the break throughout, they struggled to cope with Liverpool's attacking threat – including from set pieces.

Van Dijk lost marker Emiliano Buendia with ease to double Liverpool's lead. Since the start of the 2018-19 season, the Dutchman's tally of 15 Premier League goals is more than any other defender.

What's next?

Liverpool host Leicester City in their final Premier League game of the year on Friday, while Villa's 2022 is over – they are next in action at Tottenham on New Year's Day.

Jurgen Klopp has suggested he will not consider selecting Virgil van Dijk for Liverpool's return to action against Manchester City next week.

Van Dijk returned to training with Liverpool in Dubai this week on the back of the Netherlands' elimination from the World Cup against Argentina last Friday.

The 31-year-old played a full part in all five of his country's matches in Qatar – including extra time in the quarter-final loss to Argentina – totalling 480 minutes of action.

However, while Klopp does not want to rush Van Dijk's comeback, he has yet to make a call on England duo Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Henderson did not finish any of the three England matches he started, while Alexander-Arnold managed just 33 minutes on the field across the Three Lions' five matches.

"Yes, there's a chance, of course – they're training already," Klopp told Liverpool's official website when asked if any returning World Cup players would be in action against City.

"Hendo is already training here. Virgil is training here, but I don't think we will try that. Hendo we will see, Trent we will see. 

"But this group worked now together for nearly two weeks and we made a real step and that's cool. I don't know in this moment.

"I hope we all get through it and we all know in England, and in Europe in general, there's kind of a virus going around, so we hope we can stay out of that. 

"Then we'll make the decision obviously on Wednesday who can play on Thursday. But it's good and will be a very interesting game after that period, but I'm looking forward to it."

Liverpool defeated Milan 4-1 in their second mid-season friendly on Friday, with Darwin Nunez – who suffered early World Cup heartbreak with Uruguay – scoring twice.

Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara were also on target for Liverpool in the United Arab Emirates, where Klopp used 22 different players, including a number of youngsters.

"In general, tonight was the result of the last 10 days what we saw in training and tonight we could bring it on the pitch, which is obviously nice," Klopp said.

"I'm not sure the academy [players] could watch the game tonight but when you see these boys and performing in a game like this, it's cool. 

"It's a real physical game, adult football is a physical game and the boys need to make these steps so they can get ready for it step by step. 

"The physical part will come but until you are that strong, you can create a lot of ideas, you can do things a bit smarter. 

"There was a lot of really good things tonight and that's why we play football. We want to see good football games."

Liverpool's trip to the Etihad Stadium is followed four days later by a visit to Aston Villa on their return to Premier League action, before hosting Leicester City on December 30.

Virgil van Dijk was left "very hurt" after the Netherlands were knocked out of the World Cup on penalties by Argentina on Friday.

Goals from Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi looked to have Argentina coasting to the semi-finals, but substitute Wout Weghorst scored twice late on to force the game into extra time.

Neither team could find a winner in the additional 30 minutes, but Emiliano Martinez saved from Van Dijk and then Steven Berghuis before Lautaro Martinez fired home the deciding spot-kick to knock the Netherlands out.

Van Dijk spoke of his frustration at his team pulling themselves back into the contest, only to lose on penalties.

"I'm very disappointed that we're out of the tournament, after a very eventful game," the Liverpool star told reporters.

"We showed great character, we came back last 15 minutes, got extra time then it's penalties.

"Unfortunately we couldn't get the job done. We're going home. I'm very sad about that, but that's life. We lost on penalties, and that's the thing that is difficult. It's like a lottery.

"We practiced penalties a lot but unfortunately, he [Emiliano Martinez] made two great saves and we're out.

"I think we were confident, but you can't replicate a full stadium where 80,000 fans are whistling against you and a different goalie that you don't face in training."

Netherlands captain Van Dijk took the opening penalty of the shoot-out, only to see his low effort saved by Emiliano Martinez down to the goalkeeper's right.

When asked about his spot-kick after the match, the centre-back said: "I never took it in the Premier League, so it's quite difficult. It's never easy, you're under pressure, but I was looking forward to it, I was ready for it. 

"He saved it, fair play to him. Bad for us, bad for me. I'm very sad, but unfortunately things like this happen in life and it's about how you deal with it.

"I'll be very sad for the next period and I'll regroup, be with my family, and think about good things in life.

"These things happen unfortunately, you can miss. But it doesn't mean you feel fine, I'm very hurt and I felt like I let my guys down a bit. It's about turning that feeling into hunger for the rest of the season."

Van Dijk's defensive partner Nathan Ake echoed his skipper's sentiments on the disappointing manner of the Netherlands' exit, having done so well to get back in the game.

"We can be proud. Obviously we wanted more but it wasn't to be," Ake explained. "We stayed in the game, we tried to fight back. In the end, it's painful.

"Maybe in extra time we should've pushed on a bit more, but the legs were a little bit tired."

Ake was also asked for his thoughts on an ill-tempered game that produced 15 cards, more than any other World Cup clash in history.

"That's part of football," Ake added. "They love their country, they want to fight for their country and we have the same. It's an emotional game. Everyone wants to go through.

"In the end, the penalties decided the game and not the referee."

Lionel Messi will be a danger to the Netherlands even when he is "chilling" and the Dutch must have a "good plan" to combat Argentina's superstar, says Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutch will renew hostilities with La Albiceleste in Friday's quarter-final contest in Qatar, in a fixture rich in World Cup history.

Argentina defeated the Netherlands in the 1978 final, while Louis van Gaal will get the chance at revenge having been in charge when his side lost to Messi and company on penalties in the semis eight years ago.

Van Dijk came up against Messi, who already has three goals in Qatar including in the 2-1 last-16 win over Australia, when Liverpool defeated Barcelona in the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals.

 

So, naturally, he knows the Paris Saint-Germain star and seven-time Ballon d'Or winner is a player you can never take your eyes off.

"The difficult thing about him is when we are attacking, he is chilling somewhere in a corner or something," Van Dijk said.

"You have to be so very sharp in terms of defensive organisation. They always looked for him to try to make it difficult for us on the counter.

"It is an honour to play against him. It is not me against him, or the Netherlands against him, but the Netherlands against Argentina.

"No one can do it on his own, we will have to come up with a good plan."

Virgil van Dijk has complete confidence Liverpool will remain a force in world football regardless of who owns the Reds.

It was confirmed last month the club's Fenway Sports Group (FSG) are exploring the possibility of selling up or seeking outside investment as they aim to keep up with the Premier League's big spenders.

Reports suggest Liverpool are valued at an eye-watering £3.7billion with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs said to be overseeing the process.

Van Dijk, speaking to reporters after helping the Netherlands defeat the United States 3-1 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, says Liverpool will continue to thrive whoever is in charge at Anfield.

"I have full trust in Liverpool that they will be fine. We are a very established club, one of the biggest in the world and that will stay that way," he said.

"Whoever comes in to fill in those roles, they will do very well. I am aware of everything that is happening.

"Whether I am taking it in and doing something with it right now, I don't think so because the full focus is on the World Cup but hopefully everything will be sorted and clarified when I am back. At this point, I am definitely not thinking about it."

Liverpool struggled for consistency prior to the World Cup and sit sixth in the Premier League, 15 points off leaders Arsenal and seven back of Spurs in fourth.

They did win five of their six Champions League group-stage games but finished second behind Napoli on goal difference and face Real Madrid in the last 16 in a repeat of last season's final, which they lost 1-0.

Netherlands World Cup captain Virgil van Dijk hit back in the face of stiff criticism from Dutch great Marco van Basten, retorting: "I don't think he's ever positive."

A World Cup draw against Ecuador on Friday was not a result the Netherlands were looking for, with the 1-1 outcome meaning Louis van Gaal's team missed a chance to nail down a last-16 place with a game to spare.

Late goals earned them victory over Senegal on matchday one, and the Dutch should have no trouble in beating hosts Qatar next Tuesday to make sure of a spot in the knock-out rounds.

But letting Cody Gakpo's sixth-minute opener against Ecuador be cancelled out by Enner Valencia's leveller early in the second half left former striker Van Basten unimpressed, particularly with the Oranje skipper.

Euro 88 hero Van Basten told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "You go in front very quickly. And then I think a thought arises: okay, we are ahead, we have to defend. But that is something that does not help us. I think Virgil should play the leading role in that. He talks a lot, but says nothing.

"Who's the best player on the team? That's Virgil. When you see what he does in possession... It's just tapping a ball to the players next to him. He needs to pick up the pace. It just goes way too slow."

Reacting to the remarks, Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk told Voetbal International: "I don't think he is ever positive, so what do you do with it?

"It is easy to make an analysis from [NOS headquarters in] Hilversum. I don't want to say that I played a fantastic game, not at all. But the things that are said about me failing as a captain: what do you do with that?

"I'm always at the front, I lead the team in the best way possible."

Van Dijk made more defensive clearances (6) than anyone else in Friday's game. He was kept busy as Ecuador had 15 shots to the Netherlands' paltry two, the Dutch team's lowest total at a World Cup since at least 1966, the first tournament for which such data is available.

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has hit back at accusations that not wearing OneLove at the World Cup showed a lack of "backbone".

It was confirmed on Monday that skippers of the Oranje, England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland would not don the armband in Qatar.

That came after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in a country where homosexuality is illegal.

The European nations were critcised for not going through with their pledge to wear the armbands, but Van Dijk believes it is unfair to be accused of being spineless after the Oranje started the tournament with a 2-0 win over Senegal.

He told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "I play in a position where a yellow card is not useful. I became a football player and I want to play these kind of tournaments.

"There are people who say we don't have a backbone, but that's not how it works.

"We just want to play football. I would have loved to play with that band, but not at the expense of a yellow card."

It has been reported that captains could have faced a one-match ban if they had worn the OneLove armband.

Memphis Depay was frustrated to be restricted to the role of a substitute in the Netherlands' World Cup opener, but he is confident of having a greater impact in coming matches.

Depay had been ruled out of Monday's match against Senegal in Louis van Gaal's pre-match news conference.

But the Barcelona forward appeared on the bench and was introduced in the final half an hour with the game still goalless.

Although Depay did not get on the scoresheet, he was involved in the build-up to both Oranje goals in a 2-0 win, with Cody Gakpo scoring the first before Davy Klaassen tucked away the rebound from the Netherlands number 10's shot.

Speaking afterwards, Depay said: "I feel good, I feel good, I feel fit. Obviously a player like me always wants to start from the kick-off, but this was the plan and now we focus on the next game.

"I'm sure that I'll feel better, and I'll work hard to find more rhythm. I'm happy that I could do a little bit of a part in 30 minutes today."

On Gakpo, who benefited from Depay's absence and was preferred to Klaassen, he said: "I'm very happy for him. He's a hard worker, he's very dedicated in his career. He's a young baller.

"I'm very happy. He's a great guy, a young guy, lots to learn, so I'm sure you'll see more moments like this."

Despite missing out on the XI, the stoppage-time clincher was also a big moment for Klaassen.

"It's a dream, of course," he said. "It's my first World Cup game, so to score your first World Cup goal and to win... you can't ask much more."

Klaassen was also asked about the OneLove captain's armband, which Virgil van Dijk had been due to wear until FIFA threatened sanctions.

The campaign promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", but those planning to wear the armband feared they would immediately be shown a yellow card.

"We're still behind the statement," Klaassen added. "FIFA forced us to not wear it, but the statement is still there."

Van Dijk himself did not appear impressed by discussion of the topic, saying: "You know exactly what the outcome was.

"Two hours before the England game, the news came out, and I was sleeping at the time. I had no influence on anything.

"I'm not dealing with the armband because I don't want to get a yellow card."

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