Ronaldo, Messi, Bellingham and Mbappe named on FIFPro Team of the Year shortlist

By Sports Desk February 13, 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe have all been named on FIFA's FIFPro Men's Team of the Year 26-player shortlist for 2022.

Ronaldo's inclusion was arguably the major surprise after a difficult back half to the year where he was dropped by both Manchester United and Portugal, ultimately parting ways with the Red Devils in November.

The Portuguese star has made the Team of the Year, along with Messi, every year since 2007, but will face stiff competition among the forwards alongside Erling Haaland, Mbappe, Neymar, Robert Lewandowski and reigning Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema.

Last year, four forwards were named in the final XI; Ronaldo, Haaland, Lewandowski and Messi.

World Cup stars Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez are named in the shortlist for the first time in midfield, alongside Casemiro, Kevin de Bruyne, Gavi, Luka Modric, Pedri and Federico Valverde.

The defenders nominated are Joao Cancelo, Virgil van Dijk, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Alphonso Davies, Josko Gvardiol, Achraf Hakimi and Theo Hernandez.

The goalkeepers in contention are Alisson Becker, Thibaut Courtois and Emiliano Martinez.

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    Bayern Munich may always have an "attraction" to coaches but Carsten Ramelow does not expect Germany boss Julian Nagelsmann to return to the Bundesliga giants.

    Nagelsmann was dismissed from his role as Bayern coach back in March 2023, as his former side were trying to make ground on Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga title race.

    Thomas Tuchel was swiftly appointed as his replacement, leading the club to an 11th straight top-flight title last term, but the former Chelsea boss has failed to live up to expectations this season, and will leave at the end of the campaign.

    Xabi Alonso rebuffed Bayern's interest to stay at Bayer Leverkusen, and it remains to be seen who the Bundesliga giants will go for as Tuchel's replacement.

    Nagelsmann is preparing to lead Germany at Euro 2024, which they will host from June 14, and former international Ramelow cannot see him being enticed back to his old club.

    "Quite honestly, it's hard for me to imagine that," Ramelow told Stats Perform when asked about Nagelsmann reuniting with Bayern. 

    "I would be surprised. First, he was sacked at Bayern, then he got the chance to coach Germany and now he should return. 

    "I think he will stay as Germany head coach. I also think that Bayern has different ideas, so let's be surprised by what they do over the next months."

    Nagelsmann oversaw back-to-back friendly victories over France and Netherlands as Germany impressed in the March internationals.

    Meanwhile, Tuchel's Bayern are almost out of the running for the Bundesliga title but will hope to reach the Champions League semi-final when Arsenal return to Germany for their finely poised last-eight tie.

    Ramelow acknowledged that Bayern remain an attractive proposition for any coach, however.

    "I mean everything is possible, sure," he added. "But I think that Nagelsmann has his own ideas and you don't take over as a national team's head coach only for a few months.

    "Even though Bayern always has its attraction. But he coached them already and they had their reasons to sack him, so, I would be surprised."

    Germany start their Euro 2024 campaign against Scotland at Allianz Arena on June 14, after friendlies against Ukraine and Greece to warm up for the tournament.

  • Rangers title hopes suffer blow after historic defeat to Ross County Rangers title hopes suffer blow after historic defeat to Ross County

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    When Staggies skipper Jack Baldwin scored an own goal after 15 minutes it already looked a long way back for the home side but two goals in three minutes soon after the break from Simon Murray and George Harmon turned the game on its head before Josh Sims added a third after 69 minutes.

    Gers skipper James Tavernier netted a penalty in the 89th minute following VAR intervention but the spirited home side held on for a momentous 3-2 win which also boosts their bid to avoid relegation.

    After 20 defeats and four draws in 24 games against Rangers, the Dingwall club had at last registered a long-awaited win over the Govan club and its ramifications affect both ends of the table as second-bottom County moved to within a point of 10th-placed St Johnstone.

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    Once again Rangers, with Borna Barisic, Kieran Dowell, Todd Cantwell and Abdallah Sima back in the side, found themselves under the pressure of trying to reduce the gap behind their Old Firm rivals.

    Ross Laidlaw, Yan Dhanda, Sims, Victor Loturi and  Harmon were restored to Don Cowie’s side who started the game nine points ahead of bottom side Livingston.

    County had the first attempt on goal within minutes when Michee Efete’s cross from the right found Harmon at the back post but under pressure from Sima he scoped the ball over the bar.

    Rangers struggled to get into their rhythm but they were gifted the lead following Tavernier’s corner from the right.

    Portuguese attacker Silva headed on and in his attempt to clear while facing his own net and challenging Gers defender John Souttar, Baldwin succeeded only in knocking the ball over the line as Laidlaw failed to keep it out although it took a while before the goal registered with the travelling fans at the other end of the ground.

    The game opened up further and Laidlaw saved a decent shot from Cantwell before Gers keeper Jack Baldwin kept out a low drive from Sims with Laidlaw saving further efforts from Sima and striker Cyriel Dessers.

    In the 38th minute, amid a spell of County pressing, Harmon lifted a shot high over the bar from close range as did Dessers at the other end before the break.

    The game took an unexpected twist at the start of the second half when energetic County striker Murray levelled at the second attempt, driving in after Butland had blocked his first shot with his foot.

    Rangers were still coming to terms with that setback when Murray found himself with space again before unleashing a drive which Butland spilled but Harmon was on hand to drive into the net.

    The Govan side shook themselves and Dessers and Sima had efforts of varying quality before Sima used his hand to knock the ball into the County net with the ‘goal’ ruled out.

    The home side ran up the pitch moments later and scored a third, Murray breaking into the box and setting up Sims to show composure before beating Butland from close range

    Cantwell struck the bar with a terrific effort six minutes later and then VAR Andrew Dallas flagged up a possible handball from County substitute Brandon Khela inside the box and referee Matthew MacDermid awarded a penalty after a monitor check which Tavernier converted, but there was to be no comeback.

    Rangers slipped up against the most unlikeliest of opponents and it may prove fatal.

  • Rangers title hopes suffer blow after first-ever defeat to Ross County Rangers title hopes suffer blow after first-ever defeat to Ross County

    Ross County delivered a body blow to Rangers’ cinch Premiership title hopes in Dingwall with their first-ever win over the Ibrox side.

    When Staggies skipper Jack Baldwin scored an own goal after 15 minutes it already looked a long way back for the home side but two goals in three minutes soon after the break from Simon Murray and George Harmon turned the game on its head before Josh Sims added a third after 69 minutes.

    Gers skipper James Tavernier netted a penalty in the 89th minute following VAR intervention but the spirited home side held on for a momentous 3-2 win which also boosts their bid to avoid relegation.

    After 20 defeats and four draws in 24 games against Rangers, the Dingwall club had at last registered a long-awaited win over the Govan club and its ramifications affect both ends of the table as second-bottom County moved to within a point of 10th-placed St Johnstone.

    With six fixtures remaining Philippe Clement’s side are four points behind leaders Celtic with a game in hand against Dundee at Dens Park on Wednesday night but it is the Hoops who now look to be in command.

    Once again Rangers, with Borna Barisic, Kieran Dowell, Todd Cantwell and Abdallah Sima back in the side, found themselves under the pressure of trying to reduce the gap behind their Old Firm rivals.

    Ross Laidlaw, Yan Dhanda, Sims, Victor Loturi and  Harmon were restored to Don Cowie’s side who started the game nine points ahead of bottom side Livingston.

    County had the first attempt on goal within minutes when Michee Efete’s cross from the right found Harmon at the back post but under pressure from Sima he scoped the ball over the bar.

    Rangers struggled to get into their rhythm but they were gifted the lead following Tavernier’s corner from the right.

    Portuguese attacker Silva headed on and in his attempt to clear while facing his own net and challenging Gers defender John Souttar, Baldwin succeeded only in knocking the ball over the line as Laidlaw failed to keep it out although it took a while before the goal registered with the travelling fans at the other end of the ground.

    The game opened up further and Laidlaw saved a decent shot from Cantwell before Gers keeper Jack Baldwin kept out a low drive from Sims with Laidlaw saving further efforts from Sima and striker Cyriel Dessers.

    In the 38th minute, amid a spell of County pressing, Harmon lifted a shot high over the bar from close range as did Dessers at the other end before the break.

    The game took an unexpected twist at the start of the second half when energetic County striker Murray levelled at the second attempt, driving in after Butland had blocked his first shot with his foot.

    Rangers were still coming to terms with that setback when Murray found himself with space again before unleashing a drive which Butland spilled but Harmon was on hand to drive into the net.

    The Govan side shook themselves and Dessers and Sima had efforts of varying quality before Sima used his hand to knock the ball into the County net with the ‘goal’ ruled out.

    The home side ran up the pitch moments later and scored a third, Murray breaking into the box and setting up Sims to show composure before beating Butland from close range

    Cantwell struck the bar with a terrific effort six minutes later and then VAR Andrew Dallas flagged up a possible handball from County substitute Brandon Khela inside the box and referee Matthew MacDermid awarded a penalty after a monitor check which Tavernier converted, but there was to be no comeback.

    Rangers slipped up against the most unlikeliest of opponents and it may prove fatal.

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