German football great Uwe Seeler has died at the age of 85.

Seeler spent his 19-year playing career, spanning from 1953 to 1972, with Hamburg and is considered the greatest player in the German club's history.

He also earned 72 caps for West Germany and played in their 1966 World Cup final defeat to England.

The news of Seeler's death was confirmed by Hamburg, where he also worked as president for three years in the 1990s, in a statement on their official website.

"Uwe stands for everything that characterises a good person: down-to-earthness, loyalty, joie de vivre, plus he was always approachable," said HSV board member Jonas Boldt.

"He is the epitome of HSV. I personally have special memories of our get-together on his last birthday. He talked shop, asked about his HSV, gave me tips and a few sayings.

"We will never forget him and will always cherish him. Now our thoughts and sympathy go out to Uwe's family, to whom we extend our heartfelt condolences."

Seeler scored 507 goals in 587 competitive matches for Hamburg, the club said, and he was made an honorary citizen of the city in 2003.

He was crowned German footballer of the year in 1959-1960, 1963-1964 and 1969-1970, while also winning the German top-flight title in the first of those campaigns.

One of four players to have scored at four separate World Cups, along with Pele, Miroslav Klose and Cristiano Ronaldo, Seeler became just the second honorary captain of the German national team in 1972.

The German Football Association (DFB) paid tribute to the striker, who Hamburg said was survived by wife Ilka as well as three daughters and seven grandchildren. 

"Rest in peace Uwe Seeler," the DFB tweeted. "Our honorary captain passed away at the age of 85. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to his family and loved ones."

Chelsea and Wales defender Ethan Ampadu is desperate to break into the Blues' first team this season, but admits he needs regular playing time ahead of a likely World Cup appearance in Qatar.

Ampadu spent last season on loan at Venezia, making 29 Serie A appearances but failing to prevent them from finishing bottom of the Italian top flight. 

Having also spent time at RB Leipzig and Sheffield United since joining Chelsea from Exeter at the age of 16, Ampadu – already a Wales regular with 36 senior caps – is eyeing a breakthrough campaign at Stamford Bridge.

Asked whether he hoped for a long-term future with Chelsea by The Athletic, Ampadu, who is part of Thomas Tuchel's squad for a pre-season tour of the United States, replied: "Of course – I'm here, aren't I?

"This club fights for everything, Champions League, Premier League. It's all about fighting here and trying to get to the top.

"There are a few of us with that same mindset that want to break through. We're out here now and it's our chance to show it.

"Like every footballer out there, my dream is to be at the top. I don't think that's a bad thing to say and dream, everyone wants to be at the top. It's about fighting and getting towards that."

Ampadu appeared from the bench in Chelsea's 2-1 friendly win over Mexican giants Club America on Sunday.

But the 21-year-old will face fierce competition in his bid to force his way into a defence which conceded just 33 Premier League goals last season (only Liverpool and Manchester City conceded fewer).

Chelsea have already signed Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and are being linked with Paris Saint-Germain's Presnel Kimpembe.

With Ampadu likely to feature when Wales begin their first World Cup campaign since 1958 against the United States on November 21, he recognises the importance of playing regularly.

"The World Cup adds something else, but even if there wasn't the World Cup, as a professional footballer you want to play," Ampadu added.

"I enjoy playing and I want to be playing week in, week out. But the World Cup is definitely something you want to be going to feeling fit and fresh."

Lucas Moura insists he is committed to Tottenham amid uncertainty over his future, as he expressed his desire to end a trophyless spell in north London next season.

The Brazil international revealed last month that the 2022-23 campaign could be his last with Spurs, though the forward's agent was quick to suggest his client remains an important part of Antonio Conte's plans.

Moura may have to settle for a rotational role, or play at wing-back as Conte previously hinted, due to the arrival of Richarlison in the off-season, with the former Everton man joining Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min in Spurs' attack.

With just a year left on his contract, on which Tottenham hold an option for a further 12 months, Moura said his planned return to Brazil can wait until he has experienced success under Conte.

"I will turn 30 in August. I'm getting old already, but I feel very good mentally and physically," he told football.london. "I'm very, very happy at Tottenham. I love the club. I love the fans.

"I love everyone who works in the club, but of course I have a plan to go back to Brazil one day. I have at least one year in my contract, maybe two.

"I don't know if the club will want me to sign another contract but I'm happy here. I just want to have the best season this season. 

"I just want to win a trophy because this has been my objective here since the first day I arrived in the club, and I believe this season I can achieve this, and then we'll see next season what is the desire of the club."

The former Paris Saint-Germain attacker appeared 34 times across the 2021-22 Premier League campaign, scoring two goals and assisting six, while creating 34 chances.

That represented Moura's worst goal return when playing a full season in the English top flight, but he hopes to prove his worth in a bid to feature at the Qatar World Cup for Brazil in November.

"I have other targets, which are to go back to the national team," he added. "Why not play in the World Cup at the end of the year? It's very difficult but anything is possible.

"I have this hope and I will work for this. These are the two most important targets for now."

Moura's compatriot Richarlison is another who will aim to feature in Qatar for Brazil following his big-money move from Everton.

The 25-year-old scored (10) and assisted (five) more Premier League goals than any other Everton player last term, and Moura believes Conte's new signing could be a great asset.

"I met him two years ago on the national team. Quality player, very good guy, he will help us a lot because he has some experience in the Premier League," he continued.

"He is strong. His mentality is very good. He's a great addition for us. He's a very simple guy, very humble, very funny. It's always good to have a guy like this in the squad and I'm happy because he's Brazilian, so I have one more Brazilian with me now!

"He's always ready to play because we see he loves to play football. It's good to have a player like this. 

"This season we can see another Tottenham and I hope we achieve our targets because we have a quality squad and a great manager. We have the quality to win trophies and this is our objective.

"We know how difficult it is because we play in the Premier League and there are a lot of teams that can win. Also, the Champions League we know is not easy, but we have a great squad.

"We have stars like Harry and Sonny. We have a manager who is one of the best. We have a structure, an amazing training ground, an unbelievable stadium, great fans.

"We have everything we need to achieve. Now it depends on us. We need to work hard and show on the pitch we deserve to win."

Fabinho has backed Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz to step up in Sadio Mane's absence for Liverpool, though he acknowledged the Uruguay striker may need time to adapt to the Premier League.

Liverpool narrowly missed out on a historic quadruple last term, winning both domestic cups but finishing as runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League as Mane scored 23 goals in all competitions.

The off-season has seen Jurgen Klopp remould his attack after Mane left for Bayern Munich, signing Nunez from Benfica in a deal potentially worth up to £85million (€100.5m), while Diaz made a positive impact after joining from Porto in January.

While Fabinho acknowledged Mane is a "big loss" for Liverpool, he remains confident the Reds' new-look attack will fire them into contention for more silverware next campaign.

"Darwin may need a bit of time to adapt, let's see, but a player like him can really change a team," Fabinho told the Athletic.

"He's a proper number nine. He's a goalscorer. He scored in both games against us in the Champions League. We know how good he is. 

"Even though we lost Sadio, I still believe that we can fight for everything. The team is still really strong.

"For a long time it was always Sadio on the left side. But we have Luis on the left side and we saw how well he played in the second half of last season. Luis will become increasingly important.

"At the end of the season, I spoke a lot with Sadio. He told me about the situation that he could leave. I was always saying to him, 'come on Sadio, stay here. You can win the Premier League and the Champions League right here, don't leave'. But I think he had already made his mind up. We had to respect that.

"Sadio had a really good story in a Liverpool shirt. He played for six years here and during that time he won everything you can win and he decided that he wanted a new challenge. That's okay.

"After the parade in Liverpool, everyone said goodbye to him. We knew there was a good chance he would be leaving. I always kept some hope that he would still stay but then it was all confirmed.

"Losing Sadio is a big loss. He was one of our best players but it's something that we can't change. We have to deal with it. Now other players have to step up and take on greater responsibility."

Next season will also see Fabinho assume a key role as Brazil look to end a 20-year wait for a World Cup win in Qatar, with the Selecao beginning their campaign against Serbia on November 24. 

And the midfield enforcer admitted ending his nation's long drought is in his thoughts as he suggested the timing of the tournament could be a positive for players.

"For us as players, I actually think it's good for us that the World Cup will be in November and December," he added. "Maybe around that time of year, we'll be in our best shape of the season.

"One of my big targets for the season is to play in the World Cup and try to win it for my country. 

"It's been 20 years since Brazil last won the World Cup and the people at home want so much for us to win it for the sixth time.

"I'm focused on giving my maximum to play a good season for Liverpool but I can't lie, the World Cup is also in my thoughts."

Chile pulled off an upset by overcoming the United States 31-29 in Colorado on Saturday to qualify for the Rugby World Cup for the first time ever.

The South American nation lost last week's first leg 22-21 in Santiago, but pulled off a huge result away from home to advance by a single point on aggregate.

Not until the 75th minute of the second leg, when Santiago Videla kicked over a penalty, did Chile take the lead for the first time.

Pablo Lemoine's side, who were 19-0 down at one stage in the second leg, will now join England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa in Pool D at next year's tournament in France.

USA will have a second chance to advance when they compete in a final qualification tournament in November, where Portugal, Kenya and the loser of the Asia/Pacific play-off await.

Speaking on the back of an historic win for his side, Chile captain Martin Sigren said: "It really means so much... the sacrifices that this team has made. 

"There were times when it seemed like it was uphill. I want to thank all the family who came here. They were the ones who kept us pushing."

Johnny Sexton was determined to enjoy Ireland's historic series win in New Zealand, even if he recognises there remains work to do ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.

Ireland headed to New Zealand for a three-match series having never won an away Test against the All Blacks.

They ended that wait last week to set up a decider in Wellington, where the tourists sensationally snatched the series with a 32-22 success.

The result was no less than Ireland deserved, with their 19-point half-time lead the largest any team has ever enjoyed at that stage of a Test against New Zealand.

Although the All Blacks rallied after the break, with Andrew Porter heading to the sin bin, Sexton helped to keep his side ahead having passed 1,000 international points in the first half.

"It's a very special day, because we're playing against the best in the world, the very best," Sexton told Sky Sport in the post-match presentation. "To come down here and do it is very, very special."

Sexton said Ireland have learned the hard way about getting carried away. This result comes a year out from the 2023 World Cup – a competition that Ireland have yet to win, or even make the semi-finals of, despite being one of the world's best teams over an extended period.

"It means a lot now," Sexton said. "I know in a year's time, when the World Cup starts, it won't mean anything, as we've learned before.

"But we'll certainly enjoy tonight – and maybe a couple more days. Then we've got to keep improving; that's what we've learned from previous years: we've got to keep improving.

"This group of boys, with the management we've got, they're a very special group, and I'm proud to be part of it."

Sexton paid special tribute to Ireland coach Andy Farrell.

"It's clear how much belief [is in the team], and it starts with the main man, with Faz," he said.

"He's come in here, he's changed things, he was brave at the start and he stuck with some older lads and got criticised, he brought in some younger lads, he's just done an amazing job. It's all credit to him, really."

Jurgen Klopp has conceded Diogo Jota will likely miss the Community Shield final for Liverpool, while Alisson "should be fit" to face Manchester City.

Jota sat out of the pre-season opener in Bangkok on Tuesday, a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United, before Alisson joined the forward on the injury list ahead of the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Friday.

Klopp had previously suggested he was concerned by a recurrence of Jota's hamstring issues, the forward having initially aggravated the problem he suffered when away with Portugal on international duty in June.

After victory over Palace in Singapore, where Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson were on target, Klopp provided an update on the injured duo.

"Ali, I think, has the chance for City and Diogo not," Reds manager Klopp told reporters as he discussed the upcoming Community Shield on July 30.

"Ali, he feels a muscle, abdominal. It's nothing serious but, again, we prepare a full season. So he can train but just not like before, so he should not play in the moment. Not normal goalie training but he has a pre-season, so he doesn't lose time. 

"But yeah, these kind of things happen. The boys have to travel a lot and train and you never know exactly. 

"It's only little things, nothing serious but we have to be careful because the rest of the season is much longer than the start."

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was another to limp off in the pre-season clash with Patrick Vieira's side, and Klopp hopes the "top-class" England international will soon recover from a muscle injury setback.

"Of course, it's very disappointing for us because Oxlade trained all the time really well since the pre-season started," he added.

"It happened obviously with Ox in the past when it gets more intense and something can happen. Now this is just a muscle thing and that's OK. We had worse situations, so I'm OK with it. 

"I don't know exactly how long it will take but he will be back and then it's all fine. He is obviously a top-class player and he can help us."

As injury fears mount, Klopp's attention turned to the upcoming Qatar World Cup, with July effectively serving as the first pre-season before unselected players will have to keep fitness across November and December.

Klopp, a regular critic of the Nations League and international football schedule, labelled this pre-season as like no other as he lamented the lack of concern for player welfare.

"Normally our pre-season is always the basis for the rest of the season, this time we have the first part of the season that's interrupted," he continued. 

"We are already kind of used to it because with the pandemic we had breaks and starting again.

"So it's not completely new to us anymore and when these players have time off, for example, if they are not at the World Cup, they never have real time off, they have a training schedule to fulfil so they don't lose a lot in these periods, which is very important for us.

"That's why we can give them at least as long as possible time off with family and holiday and stuff like this, but they just need it.

"Apart from that, the World Cup is for all top teams in football pretty much the same, especially in England it's the same because we play immediately.

"If you are in the final or the third-place [game] then you play again a week later - and then you play 26th, 31st, 2nd and stuff like this.

"Obviously the guys in the Premier League like the spectacular. I've said it often enough, nobody really cares about the players in these moments but that's how it is."

Former Wales centre Jamie Roberts says playing rugby has been "the best job in the world" and he intends to remain with the sport after announcing his retirement at 35.

The ex-Cardiff Blues back, who has enjoyed a prolific club and international career that saw him play his domestic trade in five countries and win 94 caps for his nation, finishes his time after a brief stint with the Waratahs.

Roberts, who also won three caps for the British and Irish Lions, says he plans to stay in the game after hanging up his boots, and has spoken of the honour he has enjoyed to be able to live out his career.

"There's no doubt I'll stay with the sport past retirement," he said. "Whilst I figure everything out, that'll be predominantly in a broadcasting capacity.

"My experiences in the game have indeed taken me to immeasurable highs as well as desperate lows, eliciting every emotion possible along the way. Above all, the game has provided a sense of belonging, friendship and healthy competition.

"I'll miss the changing room, the matchday buzz and the aches and pains. I guess most of all I'll miss the lads.

"I've had the privilege of playing alongside and against many of the modern day greats; not just great players but great men. To all those I've been fortunate to share the field with, it was a pleasure.

"For a short while, we have the best job in the world. Never forget it."

Roberts made his debut for Wales in 2008, in a Six Nations win over Scotland on the wing, and retires as the joint-eighth most-capped man in the country's history.

He featured in their 2011 and 2015 World Cup campaigns - helping them to fourth in the former - and was a member of two separate Lions tours, to South Africa in 2009 and Australia in 2013.

"Representing my country was always a childhood dream, I'm fortunate it became reality," said Roberts. "It meant the world to me and forever will.

"I'll also never forget the immense pride of captaining my country. Singing the anthem had the same impact whether at home in Cardiff, away at some of the most iconic stadiums in World rugby, or during two Rugby World Cups.

"I'll remember fondly reaching the pinnacle of representative rugby and touring twice with the Lions. The joys and despair I experienced on both tours amounted to nothing short of experiences of a lifetime."

Juventus' new signing Angel Di Maria is casting aside thoughts of Argentina's World Cup campaign as he prepares for his first Serie A season.

Di Maria joined Juve last week, after leaving Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer following seven successful years in the French capital.

The 34-year-old has signed a one-year deal in Turin, and staying in top condition ahead of the Qatar World Cup might have played a part in his decision to stay in Europe.

Yet he insisted that his full focus is on Juve, and not on helping Argentina contest for a world title come November.

"The same Di Maria as always has arrived, who wants to win at all costs, who hates to lose and wants to be a champion: I think Juve chose me for this," said Di Maria, who has been joined by Paul Pogba in signing for the Bianconeri.

"The most important thing will be to work hard and I will try to do my best.

"My head is now solely and exclusively at Juve. I came here to win and work with this great club. We will think about the national team when the time comes to think about it. I want to win with Juventus.

"The World Cup is one of the best experiences for a player, but it is essential to have your head focused on the present. I repeat, I will always do my best for Juve. I always give my best to every new beginning and it will be the same here."

Asked why he elected to join Juve, who have finished fourth in Serie A in consecutive seasons, Di Maria explained: "Juve is Juve, they have won many titles and they are a great club that now has a great desire to return to the highest levels.

"I want to make this happen. It will be important to form a united group.

"I chose Juve because they are the most important club in Italy and have all the credentials to be able to win. I know it's a strong team and I want to be part of this team. If they have looked for me, it means that they believe me to be up to it.

"If an important team like Juve is looking for you, it is almost impossible to say no. They waited patiently for the end of my contract, I really wanted to come here. I was calm with my family, and the right moment came."

Di Maria, speaking at his unveiling on Monday, also revealed a Juve great played a part in his decision to join Juve.

He said: "I have a good relationship with Gianluigi Buffon. I also talked to him when I signed the contract.

"He wanted me to come to Juve and I think being here is very nice. I am calm and I will do my best to help Juventus win."

Dani Alves says Barcelona "do not care about the people who made history for the club" following his release by the LaLiga giants last month.

The Brazil international returned to Camp Nou last November and made 17 appearances after being officially registered in January, but his short-term contract was not renewed.

Alves spent eight years with Barca in his previous spell in Catalonia and won 23 trophies in arguably the most successful period in the club's decorated history.

During that past stint, the 377 chances created by Alves were bettered by only five others from Europe's top five leagues, two of them being Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

While grateful to have had the chance to return, the veteran full-back is upset at the manner of his latest exit and has taken aim at those in charge of running the club.

"I didn't leave sad. I left happy to have returned to Barcelona. I dreamed for five years wanting to live this second moment," he told The Guardian. 

"The only thing I didn't like was how my departure was handled. 

"Since I arrived, I made it very clear that I wasn't any more a 20-year-old guy and that I wanted things to be done head-on, without hiding things. 

"But this club has sinned in recent years. Barcelona don't care about the people who made history for the club.

"As a [Barca fan], I would like Barcelona to do things differently. I’m not talking about myself because my situation was another scenario. 

"I am eternally grateful to Xavi and the president for bringing me back. I found a club full of young people with incredible ideas on the pitch. 

"But it needs to improve the work outside the field. The mindset is totally opposite to what we built a few years ago. 

"Everything that happens on the field is a reflection of what happens outside.

"I'm supporting for Barcelona to come back to the top, but it's super-complicated. Football is more balanced, it's a collective game. And that has been left out at the club."

 

Alves scored one goal and set up four more between his second debut on January 5 and the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

That is a tally bettered only by Ferran Torres (six), Jordi Alba (seven) and Ousmane Dembele (11) among Barca players over that period.

Despite recently turning 39, Alves has made clear he intends to find a new club in order to remain part of Tite's Brazil plans for the 2022 World Cup, which begins in November.

"I know that everyone is talking about my age, that I am old, that 20 years ago everyone wanted me and today not," he said. 

"But I completely disagree because I have an experience today that I didn't have 20 years ago. When there's a big game, 20-year-olds get nervous and worried, but I don't.

"Age has its pros and cons. There are many things you do when you're 20, but you don't do it when you're older. 

"Maturity comes from just living. I also have the experience of having lived almost everything in the sport."

Alves, capped 124 times by Brazil, added: "The last dance is when you're going to retire, but I think I’ll keep dancing. 

"A dance is always welcome, regardless of the place and which dance. I do not think like that. 

"And the last dance has already been done. It's better to create a new chapter, a new series. It's another chapter of my life."

Roberto Mancini has revealed he twice considered stepping down as Italy head coach, but is now determined to win the World Cup with his country after deciding to stay on.

The 57-year-old guided Italy to Euro 2020 success exactly one year ago, only to then miss out on qualification for Qatar 2022 following a shock play-off loss to North Macedonia.

It is the second successive World Cup the four-time winners have missed out on, having previously failed to reach Russia 2018.

Despite the latest disappointing qualifying campaign, Italian Football Federation president Gabriele Gravina confirmed in March that Mancini would remain in the job if he wished.

However, Mancini has admitted he contemplated walking away after the loss to North Macedonia, as well as eight months prior after beating England in the Euro 2020 final.

"It was more [likely] the second time," the former Manchester City and Inter boss told Gazzetta dello Sport. "I found myself in a really difficult situation. 

"I thought about it a bit after Wembley but there was a World Cup a little more than a year later."

Italy's next shot at World Cup glory will now have to wait until 2026 when Canada, Mexico and the United States will jointly host the competition, which will be expanded to feature 48 sides rather than 32.

And Mancini, who took charge of Italy in May 2018, intends to still be in charge by the time that tournament comes around.

"From when I became manager, I had an objective: win the Euros and a World Cup," he said. "A year ago, with the cup in my hands, I told myself: 'I'm going after the other'.

"I was thinking about this World Cup [in Qatar] – obviously that isn't the case. But I continue to think we will win one, yes."

Ben Chilwell hopes to achieve the "highlight of my life" by securing the left-back spot for England and featuring at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

The Chelsea defender missed a large part of the 2021-22 campaign, playing just 541 Premier League minutes, after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Juventus in November.

Chilwell required surgery for his knee issue but made an encouraging return on the final day of the season against Watford.

While the 25-year-old aims to deliver success for Thomas Tuchel's side, Chilwell also has his eyes on the World Cup in November, where England are in a group with Wales, Iran and the United States.

Luke Shaw and Tyrick Mitchell are among the left-backs competing with Chilwell, though Gareth Southgate has previously utilised right-backs Kieran Tripper and Reece James in the role.

With 17 caps to his name already after making his debut in September 2018, Chilwell wants to make the left-back position with England his own as the Three Lions search for a first major trophy since 1966.

"I'm back in full training now, I trained with the group in the last week of the season, came on for a few minutes," he told reporters.

"It has been nice to get away from it all after a long six months of rehab for a few weeks. I've come back early and I've been here three weeks and feel fit and ready.

"I took [the injury] in my stride and was pretty positive. I felt it could improve me mentally. The World Cup is a big motivation as well as the season with Chelsea.

"If I play well between now and then I am confident I will be in the squad. That's my mindset and I wasn't worried.

"I just wanted to do everything I can to be the best version of myself and play well for Chelsea for four months to give myself a chance to be picked.

"I dreamed of playing in the World Cup ever since I can remember, to know it is around the corner is more motivation than you know for me to see if I can establish my spot. Especially after the Euros which was a difficult time for me.

"I want to be the left-back in the team and I think we can do really well and go a long way. It would be amazing. It would be a highlight of not just my career but my life.

"So I am going to work for it for the next four months."

Gareth Bale hailed the "incredible reception" he received after being presented to the Los Angeles FC fans for the first time since his move to the MLS leaders.

The former Real Madrid and Tottenham forward recently joined the MLS franchise on a one-year deal, which could be extended through to 2024, following his departure from Los Blancos.

The Wales international will be hoping for plenty of game time ahead of the World Cup later this year, and what will be the Dragons' first appearance at the finals since 1958.

Bale arrived in California on Friday and received a rapturous reception at the Banc of California Stadium when he was paraded to the supporters ahead of his new side's 'El Trafico' derby against rivals LA Galaxy.

LAFC ran out 3-2 winners and the 32-year-old is excited by the ongoing project at the franchise formed back in 2014.

 

"What an incredible reception I had when I came in," he told ESPN.

"The best prep [for the World Cup] is to play games.

"I want to come here. I want to play games and make my stamp and do as best I can to try and help LAFC win a trophy.

"And I can help with the youngsters because it's a very young team here, give them advice, seeing what I do in terms of professional standard and try to help them.

"The league is a growing league. It was an exciting opportunity I felt was right for me and my family.

"It's very new, but it's something that's really glamorous. It's just a very attractive club."

Julian Alvarez declared he has already achieved one childhood dream in playing alongside Lionel Messi for Argentina, as Manchester City's new signing targets a spot at the World Cup in Qatar.

Alvarez agreed to join Pep Guardiola's side from River Plate in a reported £14million ($18.8m) move in January but remained on loan with the Buenos Aires giants until their Copa Libertadores exit to Velez Sarsfield on Thursday.

On Friday, the Premier League champions confirmed Alvarez would join up with their first team ahead of the 2022-23 season, having scored 54 goals in 122 outings since coming through River's youth system.

Having also won nine caps for his country, Alvarez is primed to appear at the World Cup later this year and scored his first Argentina goal when appearing alongside Messi in a 1-1 draw with Ecuador in March.

Alvarez will face competition from the likes of Lautaro Martinez and Paulo Dybala to start for the Albiceleste in Qatar, where the City new boy wants to build on his international breakthrough.

"Messi has been my idol since I was a child," he told City's website ahead of his arrival. "He is my family's idol, the idol of my brothers too. So, Messi is a hero for me. 

"Playing for my country is a dream come true. I dreamed as a child to play in the national team with Messi. 

"To have achieved this at the age of 22 obviously makes me feel very proud, happy, and I have to keep going for more success."

Messi is both Argentina's most-capped player (162 appearances) and record goalscorer (86), and will join the likes of Lothar Matthaus, Rafael Marquez, Antonio Carbajal and Gianluigi Buffon in playing at five separate World Cups with an appearance in Qatar.

Athletic Club's Inaki Williams announced he will opt to represent Ghana in international football on Tuesday, having previously played for Spain.

Born in Bilbao to Ghanaian parents, Williams has made one appearance for La Roja at senior international level but in a friendly, coming on as a substitute against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016.

Also part of Spain's run to the Under-21 Euro 2017 final, Williams' ability to switch allegiance falls under FIFA's eligibility rules change of 2003, when Tim Cahill opted to play for Australia after representing Western Samoa at junior level.

Posting on social media, the 28-year-old striker believes it is an opportunity to cultivate a deeper connection to his origins.

"Every step we take forward has its own meaning - a glance into the future which leaves a trace itself," he said. "A legacy. My parents have raised me with values based on humility, respect and love.

"That's why I feel the moment has come for me to find my origins within myself and with Africa and Ghana which means so much to me and my family."

At club level, Williams holds the LaLiga record for consecutive appearances at 233 games, after breaking the previous mark of 202 in October.

Ghana Football Association president Kurt Okraku also tweeted Tariq Lamptey, Stephan Ambrosius, Patric Pfeiffer and Ransford Yeboah are all set to confirm their allegiance to the Black Stars.

All five diaspora members could bolster Ghana's prospects at this year's World Cup, where they have been grouped with Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea.

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