Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hailed Lionel Messi as "probably the best player I have seen in my life" but thinks Virgil van Dijk should have been awarded the Ballon d'Or.

Barcelona superstar Messi the prestigious honour for a record sixth time on Monday, with organisers France Football declaring his seven-point margin over Van Dijk to be one of the narrowest in the award's 63-year history.

The Barcelona captain finished top of the count with 686 points, just ahead of Van Dijk's 679.

While recognising Messi as the greatest player of his generation, Klopp feels Van Dijk should have been rewarded with the prize for his stellar contribution to Liverpool's Champions League win last season.

He told a media conference: "The decisions are made by journalists, right? I see it slightly different. Lionel Messi is probably the best player I have seen in my life, but last season I cannot remember a more impressive season by a defender ever.

"It would have been right if Virgil had won as well. We won the Champions League and he had an outstanding season."

Van Dijk is likely to line up at the heart of Liverpool's defence for the Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield on Wednesday.

Monday's FA Cup third-round draw conjured up the exact same fixture for the first week of January, with Klopp revealing he would have preferred an easier tie to kick off their cup campaign.

"I didn't run through my living room and celebrate," he said. "It's not exactly what you wish for, but we have no problem playing Everton. It's a big game against big opponents. Obviously, we start the hard way. We cannot change that and we have time to prepare for that Everton game after this one."

Klopp confirmed Liverpool have no new injury concerns for Wednesday's game but says Joel Matip has still not recovered from a knee injury, which has kept him out since the 1-1 draw with Manchester United on October 20.

"Joel needs a bit more time," he explained. "It's healing but not exactly what we wish for."

Liverpool have been drawn at home to Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round, while holders Manchester City will start the defence of their title at home to third-tier Port Vale.

The Toffees face Jurgen Klopp's side on Wednesday in the Premier League and will make the short trip to Anfield for a second time this season during the first week of January.

Pep Guardiola's City thumped Watford 6-0 in last season's final and have been given a favourable draw to kick-start their 2019-20 campaign, with John Askey's League Two side pitching up at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester United face a difficult away tie against Premier League rivals Wolves, who knocked them out of the competition last season's quarter-finals, while Arsenal welcome Championship leaders Leeds United to the Emirates Stadium.

New Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho takes his side to Middlesbrough, managed by former Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate, and Chelsea host Nottingham Forest.

Ties will take place between January 3 and 6.

Yeovil Town's abandoned FA Cup tie against Haringey Borough has been rescheduled for Tuesday, October 29.

The original fixture in the fourth qualifying round was called off in the 64th minute on Saturday when Boro players walked off the pitch due to alleged racist abuse.

Cameroonian goalkeeper Douglas Pajetat was allegedly a victim of abuse from some Yeovil supporters.

Omnisport understands he had bottles thrown at him and was spat at, before Boro's coaching staff instigated the walk-off, with the abandonment occurring just after Yeovil had scored the opening goal.

An investigation from the Football Association is ongoing and two arrests have been made in connection with the events.

"The FA Challenge Cup Committee has made the decision for the original fixture to be replayed on Tuesday 29 October at Haringey Borough FC," read the FA's statement on Monday.

If a replay is required, it will take place on Tuesday, November 5.

The FA Cup qualifier between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town was abandoned on Saturday due to alleged racist abuse.

Boro players walked off the pitch in the 64th minute of the fourth-round qualifier, a few moments after conceding the opening goal of the game.

Following a lengthy delay, confirmation came that the match had been abandoned, with Boro's Cameroonian goalkeeper Douglas Pajetat allegedly a victim of abuse from some Yeovil supporters.

Omnisport understands the goalkeeper had bottles thrown at him and was spat at, before Boro's coaching staff instigated the walk-off.

A statement from the home side on social media confirmed alleged racist abuse was the reason for the abandonment.

"Sorry for the late update but wanted to make sure we gave correct information," Boro's Twitter post read. "Game has been abandoned following racial abuse. Horrendous afternoon.

"It must be said that 99.9 per cent of @YTFC [Yeovil Town] fans are also disgusted by what's happened as much as we are. One club, one community."

Players from both teams then returned to the pitch in what Yeovil described as "a show of solidarity".

The incident came at the end of a week when racism within football was at the forefront of the conversation, with England's Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria twice stopped due to abuse from the stands.

UEFA charged Bulgaria in the aftermath of Monday's match, referencing chants and Nazi salutes that were caught on camera.

Bulgarian Football Union president Borislav Mihaylov resigned after being urged to stand down by Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov.

Head coach Krasimir Balakov, who initially claimed not to have heard the abuse before apologising, later also quit, although his departure was attributed to "unsatisfactory" performances.

Premier League clubs again promoted their "No Room for Racism" campaign at matches this weekend.

Ashley Cole has confirmed his retirement from professional football.

A decorated left-back for club and country, the England international was widely recognised as one of the finest players in the world in his position during his time with Arsenal and Chelsea.

Stints at Roma, LA Galaxy and Derby County followed for Cole, who will now focus on a move into coaching.

Here, we look at some of the numbers the 38-year-old returned over the course of a magnificent career at the top level.

385 ­– Across spells with Arsenal and Chelsea, Cole made 385 appearance in the Premier League. He won England's top flight on three occasions – with the Gunners in 2001-02 and 2003-04 before starring for Carlo Ancelotti's Blues in 2009-10.

7 – Triumphing with Arsenal in 2002, 2003 and 2005 and Chelsea in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2010, Cole has more FA Cup wins than any player in the competition's history.

38 – Cole was an ever-present for Chelsea in the Premier League during the 2011-12 campaign. It was also the season he supplied his highest number of assists (six).

15 – He chipped in with 15 goals over the course of his time in England's top flight, with four of those coming amid Chelsea's title-winning efforts of 2009-10.

107 – Cole comes in sixth in terms of all-time England caps with 107, one shy of 1966 World Cup-winning captain Bobby Robson. Former international team-mates Wayne Rooney (120), David Beckham (115) and Steven Gerrard (114) are also ahead of him, along with England's all-time most capped player Peter Shilton. Cole's Chelsea colleague Frank Lampard played for the Three Lions 106 times.

0 – No player has featured more often for England without scoring, with fellow full-back Gary Neville (85) the next most capped on that list.

22 – Cole has made more appearances at major tournament finals than any England player. Rooney and Gerrard managed 21, with Beckham and Shilton on 20.

Millwall have been fined £10,000 and ordered to "implement an action plan" after the Football Association (FA) ruled a section of the club's supporters were guilty of racist chanting in an FA Cup tie against Everton.

The FA launched an investigation after footage emerged on social media that appeared to show some fans taunting opposition spectators with a song including a derogatory term about people of south Asian descent during the fixture at The Den on January 26.

Millwall were subsequently charged with failing to control their fans and hit out at the "abhorrent" racist abuse in a club statement.

It was ruled by the FA that Millwall failed to "use all due diligence" to ensure the club's supporters did not use racist language.

"An independent Regulatory Commission has ordered Millwall FC to implement an action plan and fined the club £10,000," an FA spokesperson said.

"The Commission found that the club had failed to use all due diligence to ensure its responsibility was discharged under FA Rule E21 in respect of the charge against it for a breach of FA Rule E20.

"The FA investigated allegations of discriminatory behaviour and chanting during the club’s Emirates FA Cup fixture against Everton FC on 26 January 2019 after becoming aware of a video posted on social media.

"The FA subsequently alleged that the club failed to ensure its spectators, and all persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from using abusive and/or insulting words, which included a reference to race and/or ethnic origin and/or colour, during the fixture."

Millwall confirmed they will not appeal but said they "fundamentally disagree with several elements which have shaped the subsequent sanction against [us]".

The club have vowed to work alongside anti-racism governing bodies Kick It Out and Show Racism The Red Card.

Raheem Sterling has been denied an FA Cup final hat-trick after Manchester City's second goal against Watford was officially awarded to Gabriel Jesus.

After latching onto Jesus' header on the goal-line, Sterling stuck the ball into the net at Wembley on Saturday as City went 2-0 up against Watford.

Confusion reigned, with Sterling's second-half double seemingly making him just the fourth player to score a hat-trick in an FA Cup final, and the first since Stan Mortensen in 1953.

However, after a lengthy delay, the goal has now definitively been awarded to his team-mate Jesus, who also got on the scoresheet again to complete his brace after the interval as City cruised to a rampant 6-0 victory, securing an unprecedented domestic treble.

Sterling, for his part, took the news well.

The 24-year-old had taken to Twitter to cheekily claim the goal as his own, even going so far as to thank Jesus for the assist.

"I ain't gonna redo my tweets anyway," he then tweeted in response to the FA Cup's official post.

Manchester City clinched an unprecedented domestic treble by winning the FA Cup thanks to a Raheem Sterling-inspired 6-0 hammering of Watford at Wembley, equalling the record for the biggest win in the competition's final.

Pep Guardiola's men needed penalties to beat Chelsea in the EFL Cup final and were run extremely close by Liverpool in the Premier League, but Saturday's triumph was a procession as City rounded off an historic campaign in incredible fashion.

Although the first big chance of the game was created by Watford, a dominant City made them pay just before the half-hour with David Silva's first goal since December and Gabriel Jesus doubled their advantage with 38 minutes on the clock.

Watford's positive start to the second period was futile and ruthless City swept them away in style, as Jesus set up substitute Kevin De Bruyne and then added his second of the afternoon.

Sterling rounded off a glorious day for Guardiola's men by scoring twice in the last nine minutes.

For all of City's early domination, the first opportunity fell to Watford on the break in the 10th minute. Gerard Deulofeu led the counter down the right and his cross was perfect for Roberto Pereyra but the Argentinian's shot was blocked by the outrushing Ederson.

City capitalised on that let-off 16 minutes later, as Sterling headed the loose ball into the left side of the box and David Silva fired across Heurelho Gomes into the bottom-right corner.

Watford's task became even greater late in the half when Jesus nudged Bernardo Silva's cross past Gomes, the goal belatedly given to the Brazil striker despite Sterling appearing to nudge it over the line.

Gomes was well beaten when City finally extended their lead just past the hour, as Watford were caught on the break by Jesus and he squared to the exceptional De Bruyne, who cleverly sidestepped the goalkeeper and converted six minutes after coming on.

Jesus got a second goal in the 68th minute, racing on to De Bruyne's pass and confidently slotting past Gomes.

Sterling completed the rout and his double in the latter stages, first meeting Bernardo Silva's cross and firing in from close range, before then latching on to De Bruyne's right-wing delivery and finding the net despite Gomes' best efforts, capping a momentous day for City.


What does it mean? City make history yet again

Guardiola's spell in charge of City has been remarkable. Even though supporters will have been disappointed by another failure in the Champions League, winning English football's first ever domestic treble is a fine consolation, particularly given Saturday's astounding victory.

After Pereyra's early chance, there rarely appeared to be much hope for Watford as they became the latest victims of Guardiola's exceptional City, who showed – if anyone had any doubt – they are the leading power in English football.


De Bruyne injects brilliance in stunning cameo

Although Sterling and Jesus deserve plaudits for their respective performances, De Bruyne was truly immense after his 55th-minute introduction for Riyad Mahrez. The Belgian injected drive, creativity and power in midfield, while he got a goal and had a hand in Sterling's second.


Gomes departs on a low

Watford's Gomes looks set to retire and he bowed out after a difficult day. Boss Javi Gracia might regret an arguably sentimental selection as he offered little assurance at the back with his inability to cope with crosses.


What's next?

While the season may be over, City will not be resting on their laurels over the close season, with Guardiola certain to bolster his team to ensure they remain at the front of the pack next term. They are said to be after an attacking midfielder and a left-back. As for Watford, they will be hoping to keep hold of key players such as Deulofeu and Abdoulaye Doucoure, while Gracia has been linked with a return to Spain.

Pep Guardiola has hailed an "incredible gesture" from Raheem Sterling after the Manchester City forward gave 500 tickets for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley to children from his old school.

Sterling grew up in Wembley and attended Copland Community School, which is now known as Ark Elvin Academy.

And students will now head to their most famous local landmark to see Sterling in action this weekend.

Ten pupils from the school visited Manchester this week for a tour of the Etihad Stadium before meeting Sterling - and Guardiola offered a glowing assessment of his forward, who continues to grow in stature on and off the pitch.

"It's an incredible gesture, nice," he told a pre-match news conference. "I think these kind of gestures make a better society for everybody.

"Football players are human beings. We live all together and these kind of gestures dignify who he is, the club and everybody. I like it."

Sterling's generosity was not the only ticketing item on the agenda for Guardiola, after City failed to sell out their allocation for the semi-final.

A 17:30pm local-time start, limited late public transport provision back to Manchester, three London matches in the space of eight days and the overall expense of City's fourth trip to Wembley this season have all been cited as factors in the relatively limited uptake.

"Really, honestly, I don't know the reason why, " Guardiola said.

"Maybe the club could answer this question better than me. Always I am alongside the fans, not just our fans.

"When they can go, they will go. When they cannot, they don't go. Maybe for different reasons. Honestly, I don't know."

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