Virgil van Dijk has a claim of being the best centre-back in Premier League history, according to former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany.

Van Dijk was named UEFA Men's Player of the Year last month and the Liverpool defender is firmly in Ballon d'Or contention after inspiring Jurgen Klopp's team to Champions League glory last season.

Liverpool and Van Dijk missed out to City by a point in an unrelenting Premier League title race in 2018-19 that ended with Kompany lifting the trophy for the fourth time in his career.

Now in the early stages of his tenure as player-manager at Anderlecht, Kompany is back in Manchester for his testimonial at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday – a match where the proceeds will go to his Tackle4MCR charity that aims to address the problem of homelessness in the city.

Somewhat fittingly and unfortunately, the frequently injury-ravaged 33-year-old will not be able to feature for a Manchester City All-Stars XI against his Premier League All-Stars due to a hamstring strain.

When discussing where he stood among the Premier League's finest central defenders, Kompany said such setbacks – calf strains were a persistent feature of his 11 years in east Manchester – meant he was fighting a losing battle against some of the greats.

"I never try to put me in any of these categories because these guys have been consistently at the top of their powers," he told a pre-match news conference.

"My journey was completely different. I've never been able to deal with the same tools. I've had a lot of injuries, a lot of comebacks.

"For me not to play this game because of an injury… surely the irony has not escaped anyone?

"That's been my journey at City; that's how they know me. I was always fighting my own battles. I could never compete with anybody else because I could not get the volume of games, but I was able to be substantial for my team and that's the only thing that mattered to me."

Although he was drawn to credit some of his contemporaries from earlier in the decade, Kompany cannot help but be impressed by Van Dijk's prowess.

"I go back to players that really impressed me when I played against them, central defenders [but] I would bring it back to Virgil van Dijk," he said.

"It's a weird one because he hasn't been on the scene for as long as John Terry, Rio Ferdinand – these guys were there for a long, long time - but the signs he showed in the last few years make it obvious that if he had been at the top level for longer, he would be further as well.

"Being a defender is how you make your team more solid. The Liverpool before Van Dijk and after, it is a completely different set-up. I'll give him that [accolade] because of that."

Aymeric Laporte looked primed to assume Kompany's mantle of being City's defensive lynchpin but a knee injury means the France international is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

It leaves Pep Guardiola short of senior centre-backs after deciding not to replace Kompany, but the ex-skipper believes there is no undue cause for concern.

"Losing Laporte, you lose a big player," he added. "You need them in the bigger games so that's where we'll see [if it has an impact].

"But the key strength of this Manchester City team and what Pep has been able to do is that it is relying more on the system than the individuals.

"If you go back through the last two years, in which the team won five of the available six domestic trophies, they've had to deal with long spells of Fernandinho out, long spells of Kevin De Bruyne out, long spells of myself being out.

"Sergio Aguero as well – big players – and the team has never seemed to collapse."

Vincent Kompany has revealed he will not play in his own Manchester City testimonial due to a hamstring injury.

Former City captain Kompany is returning to the Etihad Stadium for the first time since his departure at the end of last season, yet he will not feature in the match between Manchester City Legends and a Premier League All-Stars XI.

The 33-year-old, who has endured a tough start to life as Anderlecht player-coach, has not featured since hobbling out of a 1-0 defeat to Genk on August 23.

Kompany, who repeatedly suffered with injuries at City, last playing more than 30 Premier League games in a season in 2011-12, announced his absence from Wednesday's fixture in good humour.

"Unfortunately I won't be starting or playing," the Belgian told a news conference on the day of the match. "It's typical of me, right? I'm usually there for the end of the season...

"I've got a slight hamstring injury so I couldn't unfortunately risk it tonight.

"To say goodbyes doesn't necessarily have to be on the pitch, as such, and we're doing it for an unbelievable cause [Tackle4MCR, an initiative Kompany set up to help the homeless]."

With David Silva, Kompany's replacement as captain, leaving at the end of the season, he added: "I'll be there for David Silva's testimonial."

Raheem Sterling acknowledges he cannot be compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo until he has performed at the highest level for a number of seasons, but that is his aim.

The Manchester City forward was in irrepressible form in England's 5-3 win against Kosovo on Tuesday, scoring an early equaliser and then laying on three assists in a stunning first-half display.

Sterling's performance continued an outstanding start to the new season, with eight goals to his name for club and country already.

The 24-year-old scored 35 times in the Premier League across the previous two campaigns, but he concedes he is still some way short of the standard set by all-time greats Messi and Ronaldo.

"The most remarkable thing about these players is not that they've been doing it for two or three seasons," said Sterling. "They've been doing it for pretty much their whole career, season after season.

"This is my third season at a high level, I would say, and I just have to keep continuing. I have full belief in myself.

"I have goals and they've been goals of mine since I was a child, and I'll keep thriving and keep learning and try to get all the way to the top, for sure."

Sterling had scored just twice for his country prior to visiting Spain last October but doubled his international tally with a brace in that away win and now has 10 goals in England colours.

"When I first put on the England shirt, I wasn't looking at my stats too much," he said. "It wasn't until I saw how bad they were I put extra pressure on myself to score.

"But I said to myself that once my first goal goes in, I know that the goals will come after that. That's all I was waiting for.

"That night in Spain when I scored two, from then I knew I'd kick on and keep scoring goals."

Kevin De Bruyne has revealed he plans to join former Manchester City team-mate Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht.

Kompany left City at the end of the 2018-19 season, in which he led them to a domestic clean sweep, to take up a player-manager role in his native Belgium.

He has endured a stumbling start to life back at Anderlecht, though, and has already stepped back from managerial duties on matchdays.

De Bruyne has backed his compatriot to turn things around, however, with the City playmaker even offering to join Kompany's squad in the future.

"I hope his career will be just as amazing at Anderlecht as it was at City," De Bruyne told The Sun of international colleague Kompany.

"I've told him to keep a place in his team for me in a year, or seven, when I'm finished here [at City].

"If he does do that for me I will already have my next destination lined up; my next job.

"I will definitely miss him being around City."

Kompany's testimonial will be played at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

And De Bruyne gave an insight into the role played by Kompany in his decision to join City.

"At the time City were trying to sign me from Wolfsburg and Vinny was pushing for me to move to Manchester to play alongside him," De Bruyne added.

"He would constantly ask me when I was coming. He would say 'you need to come', constantly encouraging me to join City."

Christian Eriksen – the name that will not go away, even with the transfer window closed.

Eriksen wanted to leave Tottenham for a new challenge as Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Inter reportedly circled.

A move did not materialise, much to his disappointment, but a transfer could be on the horizon.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID LOOK TO ERIKSEN AMID POGBA DOUBTS

Sky Sports News claims Real Madrid will make a move for Tottenham star Christian Eriksen at the end of the season if Paul Pogba extends his Manchester United deal.

Zinedine Zidane has made no secret of his desire to reinforce his midfield, with Tottenham's Eriksen, Pogba and Ajax sensation Donny van de Beek linked to the Santiago Bernabeu.

While Los Blancos remain keen on Pogba, they are eyeing a move for Eriksen – whose contract expires at the end of the campaign.

 

ROUND-UP:

- According to Tuttosport, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham are set to go head-to-head for Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala in January. Both clubs were reportedly interested in signing Dybala prior to the transfer deadline, and with Dybala set to struggle for regular game time PSG and Spurs are poised to fight it out.

- Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is close to finally signing a new £290,000-a-week contract at Old Trafford, claims The Guardian.

Inter are keeping tabs on Borussia Dortmund attacker Mario Gotze, says Welt. Gotze is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations over a new deal are reportedly not progressing.

- The Serie A side, meanwhile, will not sell star defender Milan Skriniar in January. That is according to Tuttosport amid growing speculation Manchester City are targeting the Inter centre-back.

- According to Sky Sports News, Wolves are still interested in signing AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie. Wolves tried to prise Kessie from Milan before the transfer window shut, but the 22-year-old knocked back the move.

Arsenal could make another attempt to sign Belgium international Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, reports The Sun. The Gunners have long been linked with Carrasco and Dalian's supposed interest in Napoli star Dries Mertens could make a deal possible.

Belgium and Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne is just focused on playing well after it was put to him that he is the most in-form player in the world.

De Bruyne produced another scintillating display with three assists and a goal as Belgium eased past Scotland 4-0 in Euro 2020 qualifying on Monday.

The playmaker has also managed one goal and five assists for two-time reigning Premier League champions City this term.

"Fortunately I don't have to judge that," De Bruyne said when asked if there is anyone playing better than him at the moment.

"I just have to play well. I'm just content. I'm feeling good. 

"I have already played many matches and am starting to come into my rhythm. That is important, because there are still many games to play."

De Bruyne added: "When your career is over, you can see what you have done afterwards. But right now I just want to win competitions. The faster we do that, the better. That can also be very important for the rest of the season."

Romelu Lukaku benefited from one of De Bruyne's assists as he opened the scoring against Scotland in Glasgow.

Lukaku broke the deadlock in the ninth minute before Thomas Vermaelen, Toby Alderweireld and De Bruyne preserved Belgium's 100 per cent record in Group I.

Inter striker Lukaku – Belgium's all-time leading scorer – moved within one of his 50th international goal.

"I'll get to that 50th goal," said Lukaku. "I have to say that I was more busy with the 30th, when I was able to break the record. 

"I don't dream about the 50. I really don't. I'm relaxed. I am a killer on the field, but not next to it. I was happy with that goal. It was a long time ago that we had scored another goal on the counter. If we can play like this, we are deadly. The best counter-attacking team in the world. 

"I am happy that I could give an assist to De Bruyne. He finished it nicely. The finish was more beautiful than the pass itself."

EA Sports has revealed the 10 highest-rated players on FIFA 20 ahead of the game's release later this month, with Lionel Messi back on top after Cristiano Ronaldo ranked first last year.

Messi enjoyed another stellar campaign for Barcelona in 2018-19, scoring 36 goals in 34 LaLiga matches, inspiring the club's title defence and run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Ronaldo's first season at Juventus – who will be known as Piemonte Calcio on FIFA 20 – went as smoothly as might have been expected, with the forward finishing as the club's top-scorer as they claimed an eighth successive Scudetto, though that was not enough to retain his crown as FIFA's highest-rated player.

Neither Ronaldo nor Messi were able to win the Champions League, however, with that honour falling to Liverpool, who have two representatives in the top 10.

Find out who they are and which other players join Messi and Ronaldo in the 10 below.

10. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Germany international Ter Stegen has developed into one of the globe's most well-rounded goalkeepers after an initially slow start to life at Camp Nou. He is one of three players with a rating of 90, making him the second best keeper on the game.

9. Luka Modric, Real Madrid – 90

Last year's Ballon d'Or winner, Modric's 2019 has not been particularly outstanding, as he has found himself out of the Madrid team a little more due to suspect form. He may be down one rating point from FIFA 19, but he still reaches 90.

8. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 90

A crucial part of Liverpool's Champions League winning side, Salah has truly established himself as one the world's primary stars over the last couple of years. He was not even in the top 20 in FIFA 19, however.

7. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 91

The most important player in Liverpool's Champions League success? Until recently the most expensive defender ever, Van Dijk's influence on the Reds is undeniable. That is reflected in the fact he will be FIFA 20's best defender.

6. Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world for his quality and consistency, Oblak replaces David de Gea – who had a shaky 2018-19 – as the top-ranked keeper on FIFA.

5. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Even though injuries have plagued De Bruyne in recent times, robbing him of a chunk of last season, the Belgium star remains one of most highly regarded players on the game, with the City star beginning 2019-20 in ominous fashion.

4. Eden Hazard, Real Madrid – 91

After helping Chelsea to Europa League success, enjoying a generally fine individual campaign as the Premier League's most creative player with 15 assists, he earned his dream move to Real Madrid. He's yet to feature due to injury, but he'll be hopeful of elevating himself to the next level now.

3. Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 92

Perhaps a controversial choice to some, Neymar missed a big part of last season through injury and only won Ligue 1 and the Trophee des Champions, as he was also absent for Brazil's Copa America success. Nevertheless, his skill is undoubtable and he comes in at number three.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Piemonte Calcio (Juventus) – 93

The best-ranked player on FIFA 19, Ronaldo's rating drops one to 93 despite enjoying a solid season in Serie A. Cynics might suggest Juve's exclusivity deal with FIFA rival Pro Evolution Soccer has something to do with it.

1.Lionel Messi, Barcelona – 94

The world's best player comes in at number one with a rating of 94 after he enjoyed another spell-binding season on all fronts, impressing even though Barca failed in the Champions League.

Lionel Messi's Barcelona contract is making headlines.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed Messi has a get-out clause in his deal.

Now, a move across the pond could be on the cards for the Argentina superstar…

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CONSIDERING MLS

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi could leave Camp Nou for MLS, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Messi has an annual exit option in his deal and the five-time Ballon d'Or winner could swap Spain for the United States.

It comes as the Catalan giants look to offer Messi – who has been linked to David Beckham's Inter Miami franchise – a lifetime contract.

 

ROUND-UP:

- Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is set to sign a new contract, reports Il Messaggero. The Serbia international midfielder – contracted until 2023 – was linked to Manchester United, Inter, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain during the transfer window. However, Lazio are looking to include a release clause of at least €100million.

- Tuttosport, meanwhile, says Inter are targeting Milinkovic-Savic and Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa.

- According to AS, Real Madrid are lining up Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek for the 2020-21 season. Van de Beek was heavily linked to Madrid prior to the transfer deadline but a move did not materialise.

Manchester City continue to be linked to Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. Tuttosport says Pep Guardiola wants to sign the star defender in January following Aymeric Laporte's knee injury.

- Corriere dello Sport claims Dries Mertens could move to China, Belgium or the USA on a free transfer when his Napoli contract expires at the end of the season.

- According to the Daily Star, Adidas played a crucial role in keeping Paul Pogba at Manchester United. Reports linked Pogba to Real Madrid and Juventus but the Frenchman remained at Old Trafford.

Ilkay Gundogan will miss Germany's Euro 2020 qualifier against Northern Ireland due to illness.

The Manchester City midfielder will return to his club rather than remaining in Belfast with the Germany squad, who take on the Euro 2020 qualifying Group C leaders on Monday.

Germany revealed Gundogan was suffering with a cold via Twitter, signing off the post with the line: "Get well soon, Ilkay!"

Gundogan came on as a second-half substitute for Germany in their 4-2 home loss to Netherlands on Friday, a result that leaves them three points behind their next opponents in the table.

His condition will be monitored by City, who travel to Carrow Road to face Norwich City in Premier League action next Saturday.

The 28-year-old has featured in all four league matches for Pep Guardiola's side this season, starting in the 2-2 home draw with Tottenham and the 3-1 away triumph at Bournemouth.

Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden has no plans to alter his personality in the wake of Pep Guardiola's suggestion that he is "shy" and shows him too much "respect".

Talented teenager Foden has continued to remain on the periphery of City's first team this season, with Guardiola having an enviable battery of attacking midfielders that includes Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and David Silva.

Last month Guardiola said Foden - who has made just three Premier League starts in his career to date and played only 10 minutes this term - needs to be more assertive and start acting like an established member of City's first-team squad given he has been around the group since making his senior debut in 2017.

However, the 19-year-old disagrees with Guardiola's assertion and promised to let his football do the talking.

"He has his own opinions and I stick by how I am," England Under-21 international Foden told reporters.

"I just know that I'm ready to play. I feel like I am. I try to show him every day in training.

"There is a bit of team-mates telling me to be patient but obviously I'm hungry and want to play now.

"I'm going to fight for it every day. I'm ready to play whenever."

The worst part for Abbie McManus was she knew what was coming.

England defender McManus, formerly of Manchester City, made her debut for United in Saturday's Manchester derby before a record Women's Super League crowd at the Etihad Stadium.

Casey Stoney's top-flight newcomers had the better of the first half, with Ellie Roebuck forced into a remarkable point-blank save to deny Jane Ross – another of United's ex-City contingent.

Then, in the 48th minute, Caroline Weir collected a loose clearance 25 yards from goal, sized things up and let fly left-footed.

"The shots from distance from Georgia Stanway and Caroline Weir we knew about but, unfortunately, on that one goal, we didn't get tight enough to her," McManus said, thoughts of training sessions past undoubtedly having flashed through her mind.

"It was an unbelievable strike by Caroline Weir."

The vast majority of the 31,213 in attendance rose to their feet as Weir tore away in celebration, soon subsumed by her team-mates. Ideally, all big sporting events need their moment, and City's matchwinner provided it when securing a 1-0 victory.

These are buoyant times for women's football in the UK, following a World Cup where England captured the imagination of millions on their way to the semi-finals.

"It's a great moment for women's football coming back off the successful World Cup. It's a turning point for women's football," Weir said, in acknowledgement of the bigger picture despite her VAR-laced heartache during the group stages with Scotland.

"Support is coming from all places. It's about pushing on and improving at all levels."

The Football Association has shrewdly looked to grasp the sense of positivity by staging showpiece fixtures at some of England's premier venues on this opening weekend of the WSL season.

The Manchester derby crowd was a six-fold improvement on the league's previous best attendance, although the record will not have a chance to dry in the books before a near-capacity crowd watch Chelsea entertain Tottenham on Sunday.

Steph Houghton, City and England captain and the lynchpin of a defence placed under greater scrutiny than they might have imagined at the Etihad, knows these are changing times to be seized.

"We played here a few years ago and there were only 2,000 people," Houghton said, recalling the 2014 Continental Cup clash with Everton, where the attendance actually failed to breach 1,500.

"To get a record-breaking crowd and attendance, and for us to make sure that Manchester stays blue, it was unbelievable.

"There are a lot of big games going on this weekend. I think it's important that we get bums on seats as much as we can."

Houghton is hopeful plenty of those who revelled in derby delight will follow the team back across Alan Turing Way to their usual home at the City Football Academy.

At that stage, when sunlit September afternoons become an inevitably bleak English winter, the domestic football season reverts to a slog that feelgood factors and a sense of novelty alone cannot sustain.

The good news is the evidence in Manchester and beyond is of sport repeatedly capable of capturing the imagination on its own terms.

Before the derby, lifelong City fan Keira Walsh said with relish that she wanted to "absolutely smash" United and her calm, crisp passing granted early control to Nick Cushing's side.

However, the brilliant Netherlands midfielder Jackie Groenen turned the contest in United's favour and, when the visitors seemed to have faded as an attacking force inside the final 10 minutes, she bundled against the base of the post.

In between heroics from Roebuck and Weir, Groenen found herself briefly squared up to the City goalscorer – a late tackle having touched a calf and a nerve. Every one moment stitching new storylines on to the tapestry of a grand old rivalry, with threads everyone involved will be itching to pick up next time.

"The style of football we've just played and both teams have put on, it's a good show," McManus added.

"I hope it's not classed as women's football anymore and I hope that we get the men's fans in now.

"It's getting bigger and better and the crowd make it a little bit more exciting for us. We hope to see those fans back."

Caroline Weir was the derby hero for Manchester City as her spectacular strike sealed a 1-0 win over Manchester United on a record-breaking day for the Women's Super League.

A crowd of 31,213 at the Etihad Stadium smashed the division's previous best crowd of 5,265, for Arsenal's title-sealing win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium in April.

It is likely to be a short-lived best mark, though, with a crowd close to Stamford Bridge's 41,000 capacity expected for Sunday's London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham.

Staging showpiece games at some of England's biggest grounds is part of the WSL's drive to capitalise upon the national team's run to the semi-finals of this year's World Cup, which culminated in an estimated audience of 11.7million tuning in to watch Phil Neville's side lose to eventual winners the United States.

Five of England's World Cup stars featured for City on Saturday, but it was United – only re-established last season and newly promoted from the Championship after their women's team were wound down in 2005 – who looked the most threatening before half-time, as Ellie Roebuck made a stunning close-range save to deny Jane Ross.

The hosts resumed on the front foot, however, and Weir sent most of the history-making attendees into raptures by arrowing a stunning 25-yarder into the top corner after 48 minutes.

United almost levelled seven minutes from time when Netherlands star Jackie Groenen – one of six debutants in Casey Stoney's starting XI - scrambled against the base of the post, only for a rattled City to hang on.

With Aymeric Laporte on the sidelines, Manchester City are looking for reinforcements.

Laporte's knee injury has left City with John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as their only recognised centre-backs.

Could a star defender from Serie A be the answer in January?

 

TOP STORY – CITY LOOK TO SKRINIAR

Pep Guardiola wants defensive reinforcements in January and Manchester City are set to target Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to CalcioMercato.

Aymeric Laporte is set for a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, depleting City's options as they eye a third consecutive Premier League title.

Inter star Skriniar has emerged as an option for City, though the Italian side are not keen on losing the 24-year-old – who was linked to Manchester United in the off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Real Madrid will try to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season. Madrid were linked with Neymar prior to the transfer deadline but now appear set to target his PSG team-mate.

- According to Aksam, Liverpool will monitor the form of Trabzonspor goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir throughout the season.

- Tuttomercatoweb says Napoli are ready to re-sign Arkadiusz Milik, Piotr Zielinski and Nikola Maksimovic, while a contract extension for Gianluigi Donnarumma is AC Milan's priority.

- Former AC Milan forward Jeremy Menez wants to return to Serie A via Sampdoria, according to CalcioMercato. The 32-year-old former France international is a free agent after leaving Mexican side Club America.

- Serie A champions Juventus are eyeing a double swoop for Tottenham stars Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, says the Daily Mail. Eriksen and Alderweireld are set to become free agents at the end of the season and Inter are also reportedly monitoring the situation.

- Valencia are determined to tie down Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres to new deals, reports SuperDeportes.

Lionel Messi will get to decide his Barcelona future, regardless of when the star is contracted until.

Messi, 32, re-signed with the LaLiga champions two years ago, extending his contract until 2021.

But such extensions may not matter when it comes to arguably the world's best player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CAN LEAVE BARCELONA AT THE END OF ANY SEASON

Messi can choose to leave Barcelona at the conclusion of any campaign regardless of his contract, according to El Pais.

The Argentina superstar made his debut for the club in late 2004, and his future is seemingly in his own hands.

It remains to be seen when, or if, Messi decides to depart Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Philippe Coutinho eventually left Barcelona for Bayern Munich on loan, but it could have been different for the playmaker. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola rejected the chance to sign the 27-year-old, according to Marca.

- Left out of Juventus' Champions League squad, Mario Mandzukic is eyeing a January exit, according to Calciomercato.com. The striker was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the transfer window.

- Staying in Turin, Juventus could have signed Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the close season. Calciomercato.com reports Maurizio Sarri rejected a move for the centre-back.

- Ousmane Dembele was reportedly wanted by Paris Saint-Germain while they were in talks with Barcelona over a move for Neymar. But the attacker refused to leave because he is at his dream club at Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

- Former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is reportedly in talks with Monaco, but the 55-time Italy international turned down a move to Scottish giants Rangers, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Left out of the England squad, Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is worried he has no international future under Gareth Southgate, the Daily Star reports.

Premier League clubs boast the most players on the 55-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPro World 11 for the first time in a decade.

LaLiga, with 20 representatives, has been displaced after nine successive years as the best represented competition, with clubs in England's top flight contributing 21 nominees.

Manchester City lead the Premier League with eight players in contention for a spot, including five first-time nominees: Ederson, Raheem Sterling, Aymeric Laporte, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo.

The club's captain, David Silva, misses out, but Sergio Aguero is back in the mix after being overlooked for the past two years.

European champions Liverpool are next best in England with seven but neither club boast as many as Real Madrid (nine) or Barcelona (11).

New signings Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann boost Barca's representation following a season in which the Spanish side made a stunning Champions League exit at the hands of the Reds.

More than 23,000 professional footballers voted on the list, which predictably includes names like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

Thibaut Courtois, Philippe Coutinho, Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku are among the notable omissions.

The 2019 FIFA FIFPro World 11 will be revealed at The Best FIFA Football Awards in Milan on September 23.

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