TJ Watt would sacrifice personal milestones for team success with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, though he still hopes to end the NFL season with more sacks than his brother and four-time All-Pro JJ Watt.

Steelers linebacker TJ Watt was instrumental in last Thursday's 52-21 thrashing of the Carolina Panthers as he recorded his eighth sack of the campaign to eclipse his 2017 total as a rookie.

However, he still trails his big brother and Houston Texans defensive end JJ by one sack, with the older Watt sibling looking like his old self in his team's six-game winning streak.

Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt has twice finished an NFL campaign as the sacks leader since entering the league in 2011, yet the Texans have never made it past the divisional round of the play-offs.

Though he would love to better his brother's personal stat line, TJ Watt is more focused on the collective goal with the AFC North-leading Steelers.

Asked by Omnisport if there was a friendly rivalry with his brother over the amount of sacks accrued, TJ Watt said: "There's is to a certain extent, but there's nothing [more to it].

"We just want to see each other succeed and hopefully I end up on top this year!

"It's all about the team. We just want to play as well as we possibly can and it doesn't matter who gets the accolades, who gets the success, we just want to have it as a whole."

Like the Texans, the Steelers are in the midst of a purple patch having won five games in a row.

Their Thursday night victory over the Panthers at Heinz Field was particularly impressive as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger posted a perfect passer rating, completing 22 of 25 passes and throwing five touchdowns to a quintet of different players.

On the other side of the ball the Steelers sacked Carolina QB Cam Newton on five occasions, as well as taking an interception back for a touchdown, and TJ Watt was impressed with the all-round display.

"On all cylinders we were clicking – in all three phases of the game," he added.

"We've got things to go back and look at and make corrections of but for a short week I think we accomplished what we wanted to."

Ben Roethlisberger has no hard feelings towards Le'Veon Bell, though the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback did not hear back from the running back when he text him after he failed to report by Tuesday's deadline.

Roethlisberger messaged disgruntled running back Bell following his decision not to sign his franchise tag, which has ensured he will be ineligible for the remainder of the NFL season.

"I texted him yesterday, didn't hear back, and wish him nothing but the best, he was a great team-mate and football player," Roethlisberger told KDKA-TV.

"To each their own...what they want to walk away from."

By not signing the $14.5million tender, his second in two years, Bell will not play in this campaign and is expected to end his tenure with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft.

He will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. 

Life goes on for the Steelers, who are expected to continue to lean on James Conner amid his breakout season, though he remained in the concussion protocol as of Tuesday afternoon. 

However, coach Mike Tomlin did not appear too concerned about the running back's status.

Entering Week 11, the second-year back ranks third in the league in rushing yards (771) and rushing touchdowns (10).

Marco Reus and Toni Kroos will sit out Germany's friendly match with Russia on Thursday, head coach Joachim Low has confirmed.

Borussia Dortmund forward Reus has a bruised foot and is due to take part in light training with a view to being available for the Nations League meeting with Netherlands on Monday.

Kroos, who is yet to link up with the squad, will be given extra time to rest.

"Marco Reus can't train at the moment and unfortunately he is not available for the game against Russia," Low told a news conference.

"He is scheduled to do light running training on Thursday, but we have to look at it from day to day.

"Toni gets a few days off."

Low expects a difficult match against World Cup quarter-finalists Russia, as Germany look to restore some order following a run of just two wins in their last seven outings.

Relegation from League A of the Nations League a real possibility, but Low is not too anxious ahead of his side's final two games of 2018.

"We're in a phase of upheaval. France was an important indicator for the next few months. The result tomorrow [Thursday] is not so crucial," he said.

"Russia are back to the level they had in 2008. They're a very disciplined side, very aggressive in defence and dangerous on the counter. The coach's influence on the team is clear to see.

"We've made the mistake of regarding the Nations League too highly. A relegation wouldn't be the end of the world, either.

"If we go down, we have to accept it and then the focus is on qualification [for Euro 2020]."

Virgil van Dijk would give his Netherlands defensive partner Matthijs de Ligt a glowing reference should Liverpool want to add him to Jurgen Klopp's squad.

De Ligt's reputation has gone from strength to strength since making his Ajax debut in 2016 and establishing himself at the heart of the club's defence.

A first international call-up followed last year and this season De Ligt has been linked with a string of Europe's top clubs – with Barcelona said to be at the front of the queue.

Paris-Saint Germain, Inter and Liverpool have also been named as potential destinations for the 19-year-old, who is contracted with Ajax until 2021.

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman expects the teenager to leave the Eredivisie in the near future but Van Dijk has yet to be asked about his international team-mate by Liverpool's hierarchy.

"He will be on the [Liverpool] lists because they have enough scouts at the club," he told De Telegraaf.

"No [they haven't mentioned De Ligt], but if they need my opinion, I'll give it.

"He is already very far, especially for his age. [He is] a good defender, good boy, calm, knows what he wants and hopefully he makes the right choice."

But Van Dijk does not expect De Ligt to take his record as the world's most-expensive defender, Liverpool having paid £75million for the 27-year-old in January.

"They will pay less for Matthijs," he added. "The amount for me was very high.

"It's just like that and if he ever becomes the most expensive defender, I'll be the first to congratulate him."

Sauber have started a junior programme that will feature drivers across Formula 2, Formula 3 and Formula 4 in 2019.

The Formula One team will partner with Charouz Racing System, who competed in Formula 2 for the first time this year.

Sauber hope the arrangement will provide a pathway through to F1 for drivers, and testing for the new Sauber Junior Team will begin in Abu Dhabi later this month.

"Racing is a vital part of Sauber Motorsport’s DNA and the Sauber Junior Team marks an important milestone in the company history," said Sauber Motorsport chief executive Frederic Vasseur.

"Sauber has a long tradition of helping drivers reach their full potential, having worked with the likes of Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and upcoming star Charles Leclerc.

"With this project, Sauber further extends its racing platform with a complete and dedicated programme from the junior series to the pinnacle of motorsport.

"We are delighted to partner with Charouz Racing System, a highly professional team that operates with success in all the series."

Novak Djokovic did not think there was any "breathtaking tennis" in his 6-4 6-1 triumph over Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals.

The Serbian staved off two break points at 4-4 in a closely contested opening set, but a costly double fault on set point from Zverev gave the world number one the initiative.

Third seed Zverev only won one more game as he committed numerous unforced errors and Djokovic closed out the match inside 67 minutes, moving to the brink of an eighth appearance in the semi-finals.

"I don't think it was breathtaking tennis to be honest from both of us but a win is win," said the 14-time grand slam champion in an on-court interview.

"I thought I played well from midway through the second set, I started to swing through the ball but I haven't served that great.

"He obviously made a lot of unforced errors that allowed me to win, probably easier than expected. Especially in the second set he wasn't close to his best."

Djokovic displayed his typically brilliant defence to keep points alive, with his flexibility leading to his interviewer Annabel Croft calling him Mr Bendy.

With a chuckle, he replied: "Mr Bendy? That's a first!

"I've been called different names for the flexibility. I'm obviously relying on it a lot ever since I was a boy, starting to play tennis and I was skiing a lot in those days and playing different sports.

"I was fortunate to be around people who emphasised the importance of stretching for the longevity of the career. It's paying off right now!"

Sam Curran believes England's spinners will be pivotal in their attempts to secure a series-sealing win in Kandy after the tourists' batsmen posted 285 on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka.

England, who recorded a convincing 211-run win in the first Test in Galle, won the toss and elected to bat but were in danger of failing to reach 200 when 171-7.

Yet Curran's superb 64, which included six sixes, helped Joe Root's men to 285 before Jack Leach bowled Kaushal Silva prior to stumps to leave Sri Lanka 26-1, still 259 runs in arrears.

Leach's delivery gripped and straightened before clipping the top of off stump and Curran expects the 27-year-old - along with Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid - to have a huge say in the coming days.

"You saw in the evening how much it spun," Curran told Sky Sports.

"The next couple of days are going to be exciting for spin bowlers and batters are going to be on their toes.

"Spinners are going to have a huge role and we've got three great spinners all bowling very nicely.

"We have a score we're fairly happy about with the surface breaking up and cracks getting a bit bigger."

Curran top-scored for England but Jos Buttler's 67-ball 63 was also a crucial knock.

It came either side of the lunch interval and Curran thought the hosts were running out of ideas for how to get Buttler out.

"Jos came in and played the way we know he can do: sweeping, reverse sweeping, running down - they looked like they started to panic a little bit," he added.

"It got to the stage after lunch where he was almost reverse sweeping or sweeping every ball, the field was all over the place."

Curran made a half-century for the third time in 11 Test innings and his 60-run final stand with James Anderson was England's most productive of the day.

"It was crucial - getting close to 300 was massive for us," he added.

"Me and Jimmy had quite a bit of fun out there. He was probably the one telling me to calm down and trust him.

"You've just got to back your ability, take the risks when you need to. Joe Root has been massive in the dressing room, saying: 'Don't worry about making mistakes'. We're just trying to go out with a positive mind-set."

Novak Djokovic moved closer to an eighth appearance in the last four of the ATP Finals with a commanding 6-4 6-1 victory over third seed Alexander Zverev at the O2 Arena in London.

Five-time champion Djokovic opened his campaign with a straight-sets win over the powerful John Isner and he consolidated his place at the top of Group Guga Kuerten with an unwavering triumph against Zverev.

The world number one's place in the semi-finals will be secured if Isner overcomes Marin Cilic or the Croatian wins in three sets later on Wednesday.

Djokovic said before the match he expected Zverev to play at a higher level than their previous meeting – a 6-2 6-1 win that only took an hour and saw the Serbian break four times without facing a break point himself.

While Zverev did provide a far greater test in the opening set, the 21-year-old was unable to keep his head in the match after falling behind and made copious unforced errors as Djokovic charged on to a commanding victory.

Neither player gave anything away in the opening stages and it was not until the ninth game that either was able to engineer a break point, Zverev having benefited from a net cord that sent his forehand looping over Djokovic.

The German was unable to take his two chances to move in front as Djokovic held on, and the top seed was ahead when, on his third set point, the German frustratingly double faulted after his excellent start.

Although Zverev showed great character to hold on to his first service game in the second set, it proved to be the last one he would win during the match.

A wayward shot from the German went long and gave Djokovic two break points, before a botched backhand put the 31-year-old 3-1 up.

Zverev's poor volley at the net enabled Djokovic to take the first of three break points in game six and victory was complete after a long forehand from the world number five.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Djokovic [1] bt Zverev [3] 6-4 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic - 11/13
Zverev - 20/33

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic - 1/3
Zverev - 9/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic - 3/5
Zverev - 0/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Djokovic - 61
Zverev - 60

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Djokovic - 75/70
Zverev - 66/35

TOTAL POINTS
Djokovic - 61
Zverev - 41

Malcom has described team-mate Lionel Messi as "a football alien" and pledged to take full advantage of the opportunity to play alongside the talismanic superstar at Barcelona.

The Brazilian was included alongside Messi in Barcelona's starting line-up for the first time in Sunday's clash with Real Betis at Camp Nou, though the duo could not prevent the hosts slipping to a 4-3 defeat.

Despite finding his opportunities limited since arriving from Bordeaux in July, Malcom is relishing the chance to learn from a true footballing great.

"A few minutes before starting the match, in the tunnel, he told me that when he gets the ball he will find me," Malcom said in an interview with ESPN Brasil. "And he does because he's a football alien.

"He's someone who always wants the best for the group. This is why he's the captain and someone who can inspire players to give their best because, coming from someone who has five Ballon d'Or awards, you end up doing well and you're motivated to do it."

"For me, he's the best in the world," he added. "It's difficult to talk about.

"You never know what he's going to do because he never gives anything away, so it's difficult to know which direction he's going to go in.

"Simply by exchanging passes with him, I am learning so much.

"I want to take advantage of this opportunity to the maximum."

The 21-year-old admitted that he was looking forward to a move to Roma when Barcelona came in for him, but said he had no regrets about heading to Spain.

"I was going to Roma and I was very happy," he said.

"Then the opportunity to sign for Barcelona arrived and I did not think twice because it had been my dream since I was a kid.

"Being here is a dream come true."

Christian Pulisic thinks "the sky is the limit" for Borussia Dortmund team-mate Jadon Sancho.

Sancho has plundered four goals and six assists in 11 Bundesliga matches this season to help propel his side to the top of the table.

The 18-year-old's performances in Germany have also seen him establish himself in the senior England squad, underlining the success of his decision to leave Manchester City in search of first-team football in 2017.

And Pulisic, another of Dortmund's talented young forwards, believes Sancho has a great career ahead of him.

"The sky is the limit for a guy like that," he told Sky Sports. "He's got so much talent and he's a great young player.

"We've talked about playing against each other possibly. It would be a lot of fun because obviously we are in training and competing every day and it's cool to see a guy like that."

Pulisic believes Sancho's success in Germany proves the importance of making bold choices in football.

"Sometimes you have to take a risk if you want great things to happen," said the United States international, who could face Sancho in Thursday's friendly match against England at Wembley.

"I had to do the same thing moving to Germany. I'm really happy for him that things are working out and just want him to continue to push and continue to get better."

Former world number two and 2015 WTA Finals champion Agnieszka Radwanska has retired from tennis at the age of 29.

Radwanska won 20 WTA titles in her career, including the WTA Finals in Singapore three years ago, and she reached the final of Wimbledon in 2012, becoming the first Polish player to make it that far in a grand slam singles tournament in the Open Era.

However, having failed to make it past the fourth round of a grand slam since the 2016 Australian Open semi-finals, the current world number 75 has announced her retirement from the sport.

"After 13 years of playing tennis competitively, I have decided to end my career," Radwanska wrote on Facebook.

"This was not an easy decision. I am grateful to have so many special memories, including 20 WTA titles, the WTA Championships in Singapore, a Wimbledon final, and so many others.

"Unfortunately, I am no longer able to train and play the way I used to, and recently my body can't live up to my expectations.

"Taking into consideration my health and the heavy burdens of professional tennis, I have to concede that I'm not able to push my body to the limits required.

"I'm hanging the racquet up and say goodbye to the pro tour."

Radwanska won her first WTA title in 2007 and her last in 2016 and WTA chairman Steve Simon said her impact would be lasting.

"Agnieszka embodies the qualities that make a true champion, on the court delivering world-class performances and incredible displays of athleticism, and off the court with her poise, professionalism and support for her fellow players," he added.

"Agnieszka leaves a legacy on the game across the globe and on behalf of the WTA, she will truly be missed."

Christian Pulisic indicated he would be open to joining a Premier League club but says he avoids speculation over his Borussia Dortmund future.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham are reportedly among the clubs interested in buying the versatile 20-year-old from the Bundesliga leaders.

But United States international Pulisic, whose side face England in a friendly at Wembley on Thursday, is not worried about transfer talk.

"As you can see, we are having a great year at Dortmund and I am enjoying every moment of that," Pulisic told reporters in London. 

"Then, when the time comes for me to talk in the breaks about my future, then that’s when those things happen.

"Like I said before, reading these articles [about his future], I tend to stay away from that stuff. I know it is going to be there but it is not my priority.

"England and the Premier League, it is a league where lots of kids dream of playing, so there is no reason why maybe one day I won’t play here."

Thursday's game against the Three Lions will see Wayne Rooney make his 120th and final appearance for England, with some proceeds from the game going towards the striker's charity.

Rooney has thrived in MLS since leaving Premier League side Everton for DC United, with Pulisic inspired by the longevity of the former Manchester United attacker's career.

"He was a very passionate guy, and I loved watching that about him," Pulisic said of England's all-time leading goalscorer. "He worked so hard, and my dad always told me he was a good guy to look up to. I still agree with that.

"A guy like him has had such a successful career, that's something I can look at and I want to be just like that. I want to have a long career, wherever I may be, [and one where] I'm doing the best I can.

"Now he's ended up in MLS. Who knows if I'll end there one day? But it's great to see that and it's great to look up to a guy like that.

"What he's done in Europe and now what he's doing in MLS is honestly great for our country as well because he's gone there and you can see what he's still doing over there. It's great to see."

Suso has declared his pride at being linked with a move to Real Madrid but insists he is happy at AC Milan.

The Spain international is reportedly a target for Madrid, with Milan having rejected interest from rivals Inter ahead of the 2018-19 season.

Suso has scored three goals in his last five appearances, his fine form helping to push Gennaro Gattuso's side up the Serie A table.

But although the 24-year-old - who spent a season on loan at Almeria from Liverpool - would welcome a LaLiga return, he does not intend to push for a move home at this stage of his career.

"When the best teams in the world are interested in you, it is to be proud that things are going well. Who would not be happy to have them interested in you?" Suso told Radio Marca. 

"To make the jump to one of the biggest teams in the world is always to be happy.

"Playing at home is always beautiful, now I am in a country whose culture is very similar to the Spanish one and, at the moment, I am very happy there.

"I feel important in the team, I am very comfortable, I am happy and with the coach I get along quite well."

Milan have climbed into Champions League contention in Serie A but speculation continues to surround the future of Gattuso.

Arsene Wenger denied he was being lined up as a successor to Gattuso, with Suso backing the current coach to keep the Rossoneri on the right track.

"It's like when he played, he has not lost that intensity as a coach," Suso added. "When he finishes training he's the nicest and friendliest person you can find, he's the perfect man for the club we're at."

Giovani Lo Celso will sign permanently for Real Betis when his loan from Paris Saint-Germain comes to an end, according to club president Jose Miguel Lopez Catalan.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been in fine form since joining Betis in August and shone in the club's shock 4-3 victory over Barcelona on Sunday.

Lo Celso scored in the 71st minute at Camp Nou to put Betis 3-1 up and put in an eye-catching performance in a game that saw Lionel Messi score twice for the hosts on his return from injury.

Lopez Catalan said the club would endeavour to keep Lo Celso when his loan expires in June, and explained that Betis have a compulsory clause to purchase the player should they qualify for European competition as well as first refusal if they do not.

"It is very clear that Lo Celso is going to stay at Betis," Lopez Catalan told Radio Marca.

"We are convinced. We were convinced throughout the summer."
 
Lopez Catalan was in talks with Barcelona over the potential signing of Rafinha before the season started but he claimed that Lo Celso was always the preferred option.

"He was our option number one and is proving that he is the player we believed," said the Betis chief.

"There is a mandatory purchase option for €25million if we enter Europe. And if not, it is optional for us and mandatory for PSG, if we carry it out."

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