Sadio Mane claims lifting the Africa Cup of Nations trophy with Senegal would top his Champions League success with Liverpool.

The 27-year-old played a key part in Liverpool's triumphant run in 2018-19, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the final on June 1.

But Mane, who started all 13 of the Reds' European matches last season, now has a chance to eclipse that achievement by leading Senegal to glory in the continental showpiece for the first time in their history.

"It is up to us to achieve something great," he told France Football. "Of course we are one of the favourites, we cannot hide from that. But this standing is not enough to go all the way.

"Winning with my country, which has never won the Africa Cup of Nations, would be magnificent.

"I am even ready to swap a Champions League to win an Africa Cup of Nations. The return to Dakar would be extraordinary. This is my biggest and most crazy dream."

Senegal kicked off their Group C campaign with a 2-0 win over Tanzania on Sunday through goals from Keita Balde and Krepin Diatta.

And Mane, suspended for that opening match for picking up two bookings in qualifying, admitted his side have a real chance of going all the way in Egypt. 

"It's in our hands," he said. "It's clear that we're one of the favourites. 

"We can't deny it. It's not just enough to get results, but we have to be at our best level in every match."

Senegal face Algeria and Kenya in their remaining two group matches.

Lionel Messi and Neymar limit the success of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain because they are not "team players", according to former Blaugrana coach Louis van Gaal.

Messi is considered one of the greatest players of all time, while Neymar is the most expensive signing in history, yet Barca have not won the Champions League since 2015. PSG, meanwhile, are still waiting on their first such title.

And Van Gaal, who coached at Camp Nou from 1997 to 2000 and 2002 to 2003, believes the two individuals must take responsibility for these failings.

"Look at Barcelona. How many Champions Leagues have they won with what they say is the best player in the world?" he told El Pais.

"Look at Neymar at PSG. How many Champions Leagues have they won? I like Neymar and Messi as individual players but not as team players. I believe that in team games, there is nothing more important than the team player."

Extending his point, Van Gaal compared Messi and Neymar unfavourably to versatile Liverpool midfielder James Milner.

"One of the best is James Milner," he said. "In the final of the Champions League, he played as a defender and as a midfielder. It's great that he can offer that at 33.

"I think Messi should ask himself how it is possible that he has not won a Champions League for so long.

"I am neither in the dressing room nor in training at Barcelona. I cannot judge. I like Messi as an individual player. He is the best individual player in the world because his statistics are amazing. I like him.

"But why has he not won the Champions League since five years ago? Why? As a captain, you must ask yourself why the team does not win in Europe.

"Barca have a wonderful squad. You cannot say that [Ivan] Rakitic is bad, or that [Philippe] Coutinho is bad, or that [Jordi] Alba is a bad player, or [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen a bad goalie, or Arthur or [Arturo] Vidal.

"I think Messi is also responsible for what is happening in Barcelona - not only the coach. Players have a substantial part of responsibility for what happens on the team."

Van Gaal was not overly concerned by reports Neymar is set to rejoin Messi at Barca, yet he does feel the Blaugrana captain is given too much freedom by his coaches.

"I remember that Neymar at Barca played for Messi's service," the ex-Manchester United boss said. "I'm not against Neymar. He is fabulous. But at PSG, he does not play for the team.

"And I believe that every player must play for the team - even Messi. [Barcelona] have a staff of 30 players and I think Messi must adapt to the team and not the other way around.

"[Pep] Guardiola did play for the benefit of the team but recent coaches have adapted too much to Messi instead of protecting the team spirit. That is the most important."

Assessing Barca's 4-0 semi-final second-leg loss to Liverpool, Van Gaal said: "If there is a true team spirit, at the highest level this result is impossible."

On PSG, he added: "They do not have the right team spirit. It is obvious. I saw them at the Parc des Princes the day they beat Bayern 3-0 in the Champions League in 2017.

"I saw them on the field: the team-mates were not happy with Neymar's style of play. And they are still not happy."

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is excited about the Reds' future following their Champions League success in 2018-19.

Jurgen Klopp's men enjoyed a fine season last term, claiming a sixth European crown and finishing second to Manchester City in the Premier League.

That does not quite tell the entire story of their domestic campaign, however, as they amassed a remarkable haul of 97 points, the most ever collected by a side who failed to win the title. City got 98.

Klopp's side were praised for their vibrant style of play and presence of youth, with Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez all having prominent roles.

Considering Liverpool's achievements and the squad they have assembled, Van Dijk – who was named Professional Footballers' Association's (PFA) Players' Player of the Year – thinks the Reds have much to look forward to.

"I think the future looks pretty bright," he told the club's official website.

"We have a fantastic team with players that want to develop, that want to give everything for the team and for the club.

"[There is] so much quality in the team. Sometimes you don't even realise how good [a group] of players we have – and also on the bench – that want to play and be part of the team. So, we have a fantastic future coming up."

Van Dijk was vital to Liverpool's impressive season, as the Reds conceded the fewest goals in the Premier League with him as a mainstay.

The Dutchman was keen to ensure others got credit, though, namechecking Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.

"I have been consistent," he said. "I've been feeling great, with the help – obviously – of all my team-mates, but everyone has been fantastic.

"If you look around the team, Robbo has had his best season ever. Trent has been amazing for such a young guy, so mature.

"And all the centre-backs, and obviously the rest of the team have been performing at such a high level."

Lionel Messi turns 32 on Monday and the Barcelona and Argentina forward's status as one of the greatest players of all time has been firmly cemented.

Not only is he one of the most gifted players to ever play football, he is undoubtedly one of the game's most devastating goalscorers.

Those goals are frequently head-turning in their brilliance, so to celebrate the birthday boy we take on the unenviable task of selecting his 10 best for club and country.  

Feliz cumpleanos, Leo!

 

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already had one goal wrongly ruled out for offside - an audacious chip from the edge of the box - Messi's confidence was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete goalkeeper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.

Malaga (H): March 22, 2009

Thierry Henry's favourite goal by Messi during their time playing together for Barca. Why not let the France great take up the story? "It defied logic what he did," Henry said in the 'Take the Ball, Pass the Ball' documentary. "There's a diagonal ball and he controls it on his chest. He runs full speed, then the first player goes and the second player is just behind. If he takes another step, that player will clear the ball." A shimmy of the body and deft touch later – in the blink of an eye – Messi stabbed into the top corner to conclude a moment of 100-miles-per-hour brilliance.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

Described by some as a defining goal in his career, this strike against Zaragoza seemed to take him from very good into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in a goal that began when he won the ball from a tackle on halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

At the height of the Clasico rivalry between Guardiola's Barca and Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, the two teams met four times in three different competitions in less than a month. The league meeting ended in a draw and Madrid won the Copa del Rey final, but Barca triumphed in the Champions League semi-final with a 3-1 aggregate win. The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, an ill-tempered affair to say the least, saw Messi make it 2-0 by bursting beyond four attempted challenges and slotting past Iker Casillas, all in the space of around five seconds.

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

Barca would regain their LaLiga title from Madrid but were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern Munich when they arrived at San Mames. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcantara, twisted past Mikel San Jose, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly sidefooting home from just inside the penalty area.

Iran (N): June 21, 2014

Prior to the 2014 World Cup, Messi had only scored one goal in eight appearances. Seemingly determined to step up for Argentina, he netted in his side's opening match before going on to score one of the goals of the tournament in the second against Iran. With the score at 0-0 heading into stoppage time, Messi took control of the ball and bent a powerful strike past the despairing arms of Alireza Haghighi to break Iranian hearts.

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Madrid the title, and it looked to be heading for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in the 92nd minute gave Jordi Alba the chance to square it to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

Ecuador (A): October 11, 2017

Romario Ibarra's first-minute goal in the last match of CONMEBOL qualification left football fans across the globe staring at the prospect of the unthinkable - a World Cup without Messi. Enter the man himself, who dragged Argentina out of a bumbling stupor to single-handedly tear Ecuador apart with a sensational hat-trick. The shift of pace and stunning, dipping finish into the top corner to claim the matchball was the best of the bunch and a grateful bench spilled on to the field to mob their hero.

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

Rarely has a hat-trick been completed in finer fashion. Messi's two goals had helped Barca to a 3-1 lead at the Benito Villamarin, before he passed to Ivan Rakitic, ran onto the return ball and sent a first-time chip over goalkeeper Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from just inside the box. It was a sublime effort that even had the home fans on the feet, applauding - something Messi himself admitted he has not experienced before.

Liverpool (H): May 1, 2019

Over the past few years, Messi has mastered the art of free-kick taking, one of few skills to elude him in his younger days. Liverpool held their own for long periods in the Champions League semi-final at Camp Nou but goals from Luis Suarez and Messi gave the hosts breathing space. Jurgen Klopp's side then simply had to bow to greatness when, after being brought down by Fabinho, Barca's talisman swept an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner. That strike took Messi to 600 Barca goals, but the shine was taken off six days later as Liverpool mounted a sensational second-leg comeback, winning 4-0 at Anfield.

Every birthday that passes represents a step closer to a time world football will no longer be able to enjoy the prodigious talents of Lionel Messi on the pitch.

The Barcelona and Argentina star is 32 on Monday, an age at which most players would be considered to be entering the twilight of their careers.

Granted, if the years are kind to Messi, he could play until he is 40 - he will surely be good enough.

For the moment, he shows little sign of slowing down and continues to rack up the achievements, accolades, trophies and goals.

Here's a breakdown of the birthday boy's achievements at each age...

 

MESSI THROUGH THE YEARS

17 - Messi announced himself to Spanish football as a 17-year-old, making his debut against Espanyol before going on to get his first goal, a delightful lob in a win over Albacete, having had a similar finish harshly disallowed. That season also brought his first piece of silverware, as Barca won LaLiga.

18 - On the international stage, Messi's career has been a case of 'what might have been' and the signs were there right from the start. His Argentina debut at the age of 18 lasted less than a minute, as he was sent off in a friendly against Hungary. However, he did get his first goal at the same age, scoring against Croatia. At club level, he got his hands on the Champions League for the first time, plus a second LaLiga title and the Spanish Supercopa.

19 - A second successive Supercopa arrived for Messi when he was 19, though his greatest achievement of the year was his first hat-trick, in El Clasico of all games. A clinical finish at the end of a flowing move was followed by an emphatic volley and fine solo effort in a 3-3 draw.

20 - Although he was clearly already destined for greatness, Messi's career may have been significantly different had Pep Guardiola not been appointed Barca coach when the forward was 20. His arrival came after Frank Rijkaard could only guide Barca to third in LaLiga.

21 - Messi found another level and truly established himself as Barca's key player at the age of 21. He scored 38 goals that year, helping the club to a remarkable treble, which included his second European title and a third LaLiga crown.

22 - Champions League and Copa del Rey retention were beyond Barca the following year, though Messi still got to lift the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup for the first time. The Blaugrana also won LaLiga and the Supercopa, while Messi took home his first Ballon d'Or and European Golden Shoe.

23 - Another glorious year followed, as Messi got his hands on a fifth LaLiga title and won the Champions League for the third time. He scored 53 goals as a 23-year-old, a personal best at the time, and unsurprisingly clinched a second successive Ballon d'Or.

24 - Although the two main trophies eluded Barca and Messi when he was 24, it proved to be his best year to date in terms of goals. He scored a remarkable 73 in all competitions, making him the obvious winner of a third consecutive Ballon d'Or and second European Golden Shoe.

25 - Incredibly, Messi reached the 300 goals mark for Barca when he was just 25. The same year he guided the team to the league title – his sixth – and won the Ballon d'Or for the fourth season in a row, making him the first to ever achieve the feat.

26 - Having passed the 300 mark at 25, netting 60 that year, Messi became Barca's all-time leading scorer across all matches – including friendlies – when he was 26, passing Paulino Alcantara's record of 369. The Spanish Supercopa was the only trophy he won that year, however, as Gerardo Martino was dismissed.

27 - Messi's Champions League drought ended when he was 27 and he was truly back to his best. He boosted his goal haul from 41 the previous year to 58, passing the 400 mark in the process, and inspired the team to another treble.

28 - It was another hugely successful year for Messi at 28, with LaLiga, the Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup all added to the crowded Barca trophy cabinet. Messi also increased his personal collection, winning a fifth Ballon d'Or. He also overtook Gabriel Batistuta to become Argentina's all-time leading scorer.

29 - The goals landmarks continued to tumble at 29, with Messi surpassing 500 in a Barca shirt. For the year he scored an impressive 54, earning himself a fourth European Golden shoe. With the club, he lifted a fifth Copa del Rey title and seventh Supercopa, but Luis Enrique ended his three-year stint at the helm.

30 - Early in the 2017-18 season, Messi became the first player to reach 350 LaLiga goals and made his 600th appearance for the club across all competitions in November. After the turn of the year, he broke Gerd Muller's record for most league goals at one club in Europe's top five competitions, before helping Barca to a domestic double, while they also set a new record unbeaten streak in LaLiga – 43 matches.

31 - With Andres Iniesta gone, Barca made Messi their new captain in August 2018 and he lifted his first trophy as skipper the same month, winning the Supercopa. He was inspirational in the title win, sparing the team's blushes several times with late goals and winning a sixth Pichichi trophy, equalling Telmo Zarra's record. He also netted his 600th Barca goal but Champions League and Copa del Rey success eluded the Blaugrana.

Zeljko Kalac is hopeful Marco Giampaolo can bring Champions League football back to AC Milan as he hailed the Italian's arrival at the Serie A giants.

Giampaolo will lead Milan in 2019-20 after leaving Sampdoria to replace Gennaro Gattuso on a two-year deal at San Siro, with an option to extend through to June 2022.

The 51-year-old arrives in Milan after establishing Sampdoria's position in the top half of the table with an entertaining brand of football over his three seasons in Genoa.

Not since 2013 have 18-time champions Milan finished in Serie A's top four but former goalkeeper Kalac is excited by Giampaolo's appointment.

"They'll play a good brand of football," Kalac – who won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup during his four years at Milan – told Omnisport. "The way his teams play, fantastic. He is a real believer in possession, playing out from the back. They'll be very entertaining.

"He's done a great job at Sampdoria obviously with the next tier of players down. So, I think with a better quality of player, Milan will be even better.

"Hopefully Milan can get back to the top if he can finish in the top four to get back to where they deserve. One thing I always say is Milan don't wear all those stars on their jerseys for no reason. They need to be playing in the Champions League and competing for the Champions League."

Club great Gattuso quit Milan last month after the Rossoneri narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification in 2018-19.

Gattuso was promoted from the Primavera team in November 2017 after Vincenzo Montella's sacking and his one and only full season in charge saw Milan finish just a point outside the Champions League positions.

Kalac, who played alongside tenacious midfielder Gattuso between 2005 and 2009 after arriving from Perugia, added: "What Rino did was fantastic. He brought the culture back to Milan. There's something I really believe in football and that's to have a culture at a club and I think Rino brought that back.

"Was his team the best? Probably not. But what he did bring back was the red and black, and the heart and soul of the club. Rino was there to do a job and he did the job fantastically. People don't understand what kind of pressure coaching Milan is. It's enormous pressure."

Milan have a new-look set-up heading into 2019-20 with icon Paolo Maldini now technical director following Leonardo's return to Paris Saint-Germain. Former star Zvonimir Boban has also been named chief football officer after leaving his role at FIFA, while ex-Roma chief Frederic Massara has arrived as sporting director.

"I think they have the right people in charge. Maldini – another person who bleeds Milan and knows the culture," former Australia international Kalac said. "What Milan went away from for many years was the culture of the person, not just the footballer but the actual person. I remember when I got to Milan, there was a lot of talk that they didn't sign clowns, they signed professionals and people who were humble and hungry for success. They will bring that back.

"Now with Maldini and Boban – they have the right people that know what kind of players the supporters expect."

Kalac, 46, added: "People talk about the glory years of Milan and everyone wants it back, but Maldinis aren't born every day, the Kakas, [Clarence] Seedorfs, [Andrea] Pirlos and Cafus aren't born every day. These were special players. It wasn't just one, it was a squad full of them.

"People have to be realistic too. That generation doesn't exist anymore. So you need to have that culture with a team ethic. Even as special as those players were, they were all part of a team. They knew their roles. That's what Rino brought back. Now Giampaolo has come in and he will continue that."

Maurizio Sarri hopes he can help Cristiano Ronaldo make even more history at Juventus and is targeting Serie A's single-season goalscoring record.

Former Napoli and Chelsea boss Sarri has been appointed as Juve's new head coach following Massimiliano Allegri's departure after the 2018-19 season, during which the club won an eighth straight league title.

Ronaldo, who arrived from Real Madrid in a €112million deal last year, played his part with 21 Serie A goals but trailed Capocannoniere Fabio Quagliarella's 26.

But Sarri was in charge of Napoli when Gonzalo Higuain netted a record-breaking 36 times in the 2015-16 Serie A season and he wants to see Ronaldo do likewise.

"It is an upgrade from this point of view [in terms of players]," he said in a news conference.

"In the past years, I have found myself managing good players, then better players at Chelsea, but here it is another step forward. [Ronaldo is] at the top of the world, for sure.

"It is emotional, he has almost all the records you can set in world football and I would like to help him set and beat some other records. I hope I can influence him from this point of view.

"For example, I would like to have the record of goals in Serie A. I already had this record and I would like to help him have another one."

Star forward Paulo Dybala struggled to find his best form playing alongside Ronaldo last term and has been linked with a move away, but Sarri is confident he can find effective roles for the pair.

"When players have the characteristics of Dybala and Cristiano, I believe they can play any role," he said.

"What might change is the interpretation of the role, which will alter their characteristics. The team will have to adapt, which is fundamental to get results."

The signing of Ronaldo was seen as a key step towards Juve winning the Champions League for the first time since 1995-96, and Sarri acknowledges that must be a target after they fell in the quarter-finals this year.

"I expect to wake up in the morning and have a winning mentality," he said. "It's something that is not guaranteed to happen. You cannot take anything for granted.

"In Italy, Juventus must bear the burden of being favourites. We have the obligation to do well.

"It is quite clear that Juventus will have to start with the target of winning the Champions League - but with the awareness that, at European level, there are another eight or nine clubs who are as strong.

"Unfortunately, different results have to be accepted. But we have to start at this level.

"We have this dream, this target, that we want to pursue with great determination, with the awareness that, in order to be achieved, it has a very high level of difficulty."

Neymar's appeal against his three-match European ban has been rejected by UEFA.

The Brazil forward was sanctioned for insulting match officials following Paris Saint-Germain's dramatic Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United in March.

United progressed on the away goals rule after a VAR review saw Presnel Kimpembe penalised for handball in stoppage time at the Parc des Princes, with Marcus Rashford dispatching the resulting penalty.

The punishment means Neymar will miss the first three group matches of the 2019-20 Champions League.

Whether those are games he takes in as a PSG player is a moot point, given the 27-year-old has been linked with what would be a sensational return to Barcelona over recent days.

Neymar is absent from Brazil's ongoing Copa America campaign due to ankle ligament damage.

Barcelona's medical team have given midfielder Rafinha the all-clear after he completed his recovery from a knee injury that kept him out for almost seven months.

The Brazilian playmaker ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in November 2018 and he had surgery to address the problem.

A statement on Barcelona's official website confirmed the 26-year-old has been given the green light to return to full training, but it remains to be seen whether he can force his way back into the first team at Camp Nou.

Rafinha's Barcelona career was stuttering when he sustained the injury and he made just five LaLiga appearances for the club in the first four months of the 2018-19 season, having spent the previous campaign on loan at Inter.

Born in Sao Paulo, Rafinha came up through Barcelona's youth ranks before enjoying a strong season on loan at Celta de Vigo in 2013-14 that led to him breaking into the Barca first team the following year.

His future at the club could hinge on whether under-pressure coach Ernesto Valverde keeps his job.

Rafinha's father, former Brazil international Mazinho, expressed his frustration with the limited first-team opportunities afforded to his son before the injury struck, saying he would be seeking a transfer if nothing changed.

Celtic were drawn against Sarajevo in the Champions League first qualifying round, while Rangers learnt their Europa League fate.

While Celtic completed a third straight domestic treble in 2018-19, they failed to reach the group stage of Europe's elite club competition after falling to AEK Athens in the third qualifying round.

Neil Lennon's team will begin their quest to return to the Champions League with a home match against Sarajevo on July 9 or 10, with the return game in Bosnia-Herzegovina taking place the following week.

"The biggest mistake you can make is underestimating a team like this. It's the Champions League so anything can happen. You just have to do your research and do as well as you can," said the club's on-loan attacker Daniel Arzani.

"I think we have the quality to go all the way. We just have to stick our heads down and get the job done."

Rangers will take on either Kosovan side Prishtina or St Joseph's of Gibraltar in the Europa League first qualifying round on July 11. The second leg will take place at Ibrox the following week.

Kilmarnock were pitted against Connah's Quay Nomads of Wales and Aberdeen drew Finnish side RoPS.

Cristiano Ronaldo hailed 2018-19 as an "unforgettable season" after he set records and lifted trophies with both Juventus and Portugal.

Ronaldo ended his nine-year stay at LaLiga giants Real Madrid in July 2018, moving to Italian champions Juve for €120million.

The 34-year-old more than repaid his transfer fee, scoring 21 Serie A goals as Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus cruised to an eighth successive Scudetto.

Ronaldo also became the first player to reach 100 wins and 125 goals in the Champions League, though Juve were eliminated by Ajax in the quarter-finals – a defeat which ultimately may have been the reason for Allegri's departure at the end of the campaign.

But Ronaldo was not done there, and after his success with his new club, led Portugal to a Nations League Finals triumph on home soil, scoring a stunning hat-trick in the semi-final win over Switzerland.

And, taking to his official Instagram channel, Ronaldo shared his joy at achieving so much over the course of the season.

"What an unforgettable season! New experiences, gigantic club, exciting city, broken records and three more titles," Ronaldo posted.

"I have to thank all of Juventus fans for the wonderful way I was welcomed in Italy! You're a very important part of our victories! 

"Thanks to all my fans around the world and particularly to the Portuguese people that helped us reach another historical win for Portugal! You'll always have a special place in my heart!

"Personally, I'll never forget the great moments and new record-breaking achievements I've had so far in 2019."

Ronaldo then went onto list some of his accolades from the season, including becoming the first player to win 10 UEFA titles, and being the first to score in all national team finals.

Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool are hungry for more success after winning the Champions League.

A 2-0 win over Tottenham in Madrid this month broke Jurgen Klopp's trophy duck at the club. 

Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title, though, finishing a point behind Manchester City in their quest to win the league again 29 years on from their previous triumph.

And Van Dijk, who was part of the Netherlands team that lost  the Nations League final to Portugal, feels Liverpool will want even more success when they return for the 2019-20 campaign.

"I've had a few days to reflect now at the end of what's been an unbelievable season," Van Dijk wrote on Instagram. 

"We achieved great things this season at Liverpool as a team and I feel proud to be part of such an incredible club with this group of players. To be European champions is a dream come true!

"We are all now hungry for more success and will continue to give all we can to achieve that. I'm also excited about the future with the national team and we will look to build on the promising season we've just had 

"Thank you for all of your support over the last few months and I'll see you after a break ready to go again!" 

Liverpool play the first game of the new Premier League season at home to Norwich City on August 9.

The club also confirmed the Reds will play in the EFL Trophy next season.

UEFA's strongest sides must consider reforms to the Champions League to help address the imbalances with the current system, according to the European Clubs Association (ECA).

The ECA, spearheaded by Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, is pushing to revamp the structure of continental club competitions, with proposed changes reportedly including promotion and relegation.

Preliminary discussions with UEFA have taken place but the ECA's attempted overhaul has been met with considerable opposition.

LaLiga and the Premier League have made clear their disapproval at the plan, while the European Leagues - a representative body - claim only a "few rich and dominant clubs" would see the benefits.

However, ECA vice-chairman Aki Riihilahti disputed that view.

"The current system doesn't work for most sides, and if we want to keep professional and grassroots football alive, we have to take into consideration the different local situations, whilst at the same time developing it at higher levels," said Riihilahti.

"Playing in more relevant competitions would help the growth of minor leagues."

Chairman Agnelli insisted that changes are a long way from coming to fruition, yet he claimed to have "swept away the concerns" of some clubs who attended a two-day summit in Malta.

"There are several problems for which we must find a solution and to do so we must put ourselves in the shoes of others and have an overall vision of European football," Agnelli said.

"We are at the beginning of a long process, but what matters is that the clubs have shown a willingness to engage positively and with intellectual honesty, in order to address the reform of European football in the best way.

"In September, in Nyon, we will share our points of view and many things will still need to be discussed, but we are open to a transparent conversation and we want the satisfaction of all European football, not just some clubs."

Former Manchester United goalkeeper and Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar added: "Not everyone was born in Manchester or London.

"We must also find a way for those who come from leagues, such as Poland, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Holland to grow at a European level."

Divock Origi claims Liverpool have offered him a contract extension in the wake of his Champions League heroics.

Belgium international Origi scored the sealer in the 2-0 victory over Tottenham in last weekend's final at the Wanda Metropolitano and could be rewarded with a new deal.

The 24-year-old only has 12 months to run on his existing agreement but is willing to postpone discussions until after the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Scotland.

Origi made a habit of scoring crucial goals from minimal playing time in 2018-19, hitting a double against Barcelona in the dramatic Champions League semi-final comeback and late winners against Everton and Newcastle United in the Premier League.

"Yes, it shows Liverpool's recognition," Origi said when asked whether the Reds have offered him a contract.

"I think it's now up to us to talk about it internally. We have to discuss the way we'll move forward but there are two important games to play [with Belgium].

"I want to focus on them and we can talk [with the club] afterwards."

Origi continued: "It's my agent who is dealing with it. I know that [Liverpool] made the first step.

"We are now waiting until the end of the season to talk about it.

"As I said, it's important that I'm not focusing on that now. I really want to be ready for the next two games with the national team."

Origi represented Belgium at the 2014 World Cup while still a teenager but has struggled to break into the first team at Anfield and was reportedly close to joining Wolves in January.

The former Lille forward believes he has gained maturity with age and is wary of further stagnation.

"I'm 24 and I want to keep moving forward. I have ambitions. I try to use them to keep progressing," he said.

Trent Alexander-Arnold says it would be a dream come true to follow winning the Champions League with a Nations League Finals triumph with England.

The full-back celebrated the first major trophy of his career last Saturday as Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid to become champions of Europe for the sixth time.

The 20-year-old is now preparing for Thursday's last-four clash with Netherlands in Guimaraes as England attempt to become the first team to win the Nations League trophy.

And Alexander-Arnold hopes to do just that after realising a childhood ambition by tasting success with Liverpool.

When asked how important it would be to win the Nations League Finals, he told the Football Association's website: "Massive. It would be a dream come true. 

"You don't expect to be in these situations and you never know if you ever will be again, so I think for now I'm trying to soak it up, give everything that I can and hopefully that will be achieved in the next few days.

"If you look at everyone in the squad, in one way or another, they've got something to be proud of this season. Whether it's Manchester City, who have won the vast majority of trophies, or us winning the trophy the other night or the Tottenham players who've also had an incredible season and have pushed everyone so far. 

"The whole squad has had a really good season altogether and I'm sure we'll be looking to top it off over the next week and hopefully we'll leave Portugal with another trophy."

Alexander-Arnold said Tottenham players were among the first in the squad to congratulate the Liverpool contingent for their triumph at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"The reception has been unbelievable," he said. "They're really happy for us and positive. For the Tottenham lads it must be tough for them, but they've come and congratulated us and were one of the first to do it.

"Even if it was the other way around you have to put what happened with our clubs to one side and focus on winning something for your country. We're a team now, a few days ago we weren't, but now we are so we need to recognise that and if we pull together for the same aim then we've got a great chance of reaching where we want."

Page 1 of 120
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.