Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni says Mauro Icardi remains part of his plans and he will consider recalling the Paris Saint-Germain striker if he can maintain his goalscoring form. 

Icardi has not featured for Argentina since scoring in last November’s 2-1 friendly win against Mexico and is not part of their latest squad for the friendlies with Brazil and Uruguay. 

The 26-year-old was overlooked for Copa America selection earlier this year after a turbulent campaign with Inter that saw him stripped of the captaincy amid a breakdown in contract talks. 

However, Icardi has scored nine goals in 10 matches since joining PSG on loan in September and is knocking on the door for a return to the international stage. 

"He is a player we have in mind," Scaloni said at a news conference ahead of Friday's friendly with Brazil in Saudi Arabia. 

"He is playing again, picking up pace after not playing at the end of last season. 

"He is on our agenda, and not because other strikers are not doing well. At any time he can return. The doors are always open for the best."

Lionel Messi is back in Argentina's squad for their friendly double-header after serving a three-month suspension for accusing CONMEBOL officials of corruption following his side's semi-final loss to Brazil at the Copa America.

South American champions Brazil will be without Neymar for the high-profile friendly, however, as the PSG forward is yet to fully recover from a hamstring injury sustained on international duty last month.

"Having Messi is always a positive," Scaloni said. "I would have liked Neymar to be involved, too.

"For us it is a joy to have Leo because he is a big part of the group and gets along with all his team-mates. He is a player who has marked an era in football."

Sergio Ramos has reiterated his desire to represent Spain at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Captain for club and country, Real Madrid defender Ramos is Spain's most-capped player, with 168 appearances on the international stage. 

He has never participated at the Olympics, however, where the football tournament is comprised of under-23 squads allowed to select three over-aged players.

Ramos' long-time international centre-back partner Gerard Pique has also voiced his desire to take part at Tokyo 2020, despite having retired from duty with Spain after the 2018 World Cup

"It makes me excited to always represent Spain. Like Pique, all the players who could play an Olympic Games with Spain would do it," Ramos told a news conference ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Malta – Robert Moreno's side already assured of their place at the finals.

"First there is a Euro and then we will see, but I am excited because it is something I have never experienced."

Another of Ramos' colleagues during a glorious era with Spain, David Villa, announced this week that he will retire in January, concluding a career in which he became his country's all-time record goalscorer. 

"He is a legend, one of the best players in Spain and the world," Ramos said of the former Valencia and Barcelona forward, who was a key member of Spain's triumphant campaigns at Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

"I congratulate him on his career and for everything he has given for Spain and the teams in which he has played."

Ramos will turn 34 in March but is not considering hanging up his boots just yet. 

In fact, he has designs on taking one more shot at World Cup glory in 2022.

"As long as football allows me and I am physically well and looking forward, I will not anticipate [my retirement]," he added.

"We have a wonderful Euro ahead of us. I would like to reach the World Cup. I want to win again with Spain."

Turkey ensured they and France qualified for Euro 2020 by holding out for a 0-0 draw against Iceland on Thursday.

Senol Gunes' side withstood substantial late pressure from their visitors, with Merih Demiral making a stunning goalline clearance to preserve parity in Istanbul.

The stalemate means Turkey edge to the top of Group H on 20 points, one ahead of France, who face an apparent formality at home to Moldova later on Thursday.

Didier Deschamps' world champions are three points ahead of Iceland in third and qualify by virtue of having a superior head-to-head record.

As things stand, a spot in the play-offs in March awaits Iceland.

Turkey and France join Belgium, Italy, Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Spain as confirmed participants at Euro 2020.

Sheffield Wednesday have been charged by the EFL following alleged breaches of financial rules relating to the sale of their Hillsborough stadium.

The Championship club say they are "vigorously defending" the charges, which under EFL regulations could result in penalties including a points deduction or a fine if proven.

The EFL launched an investigation into Wednesday's 2017-18 financial submission under profitability and sustainability rules following the reported sale of Hillsborough to owner Dejphon Chansiri.

Wednesday's accounts showed income of £61.27million "from related parties", which resulted in the club posting a profit.

The league body said in a statement on Thursday: "The EFL has reviewed a large number of documents obtained from the club as part of this process and concluded there is sufficient evidence to justify issuing charges of misconduct.

"The charges are in respect of a number of allegations regarding the process of how and when the stadium was sold and the inclusion of the profits in the 2017/18 accounts."

Wednesday responded by saying: "Sheffield Wednesday note the statement issued today by the EFL and the charges contained within. These charges will be vigorously defended and the club will be making no further comment at this time."

Leonardo Bonucci will be glad to see Cristiano Ronaldo back on the pitch for Portugal and is not concerned by the forward's recent tough stretch at Juventus.

Juve superstar Ronaldo has been substituted in his past two club matches, reportedly leaving the stadium before full-time last time out against AC Milan.

Coach Maurizio Sarri attributed the former Real Madrid forward’s early withdrawal down to a bruised knee, yet he is in line to start for Portugal against Lithuania in Euro 2020 qualifying on Thursday.

Club colleague Bonucci is keen not to dwell on the events of recent weeks, though, happy to instead back Ronaldo to return to Turin determined to lead the Bianconeri going forward.

"I like to look forward, not back," Italy international Bonucci told a news conference. "There will be time to talk but now we are with the national teams.

"He will play with Portugal - that means he is physically better and mentally great. And I am here to represent Italy. In Turin, we will talk.

"There are still many games in which we will need the best Ronaldo. I am convinced that, for him, too, the goal is to be better than the past to achieve team and personal goals."

Ronaldo has scored six goals in 14 matches in all competitions for Juve this season.

Sarri's men are a point clear of nearest rivals Inter at the top of Serie A, while they have secured their place in the Champions League knockout stage with two group matches to spare.

Marcello Lippi has resigned as China head coach after taking responsibility for a 2022 World Cup qualifying defeat to Syria.

China remain in the hunt for the third round of AFC qualification, having thrashed Guam and the Maldives while drawing with Philippines, but they were beaten 2-1 by Group A leaders Syria on Thursday.

Zhang Linpeng scored an own goal 14 minutes from time to settle the match, leaving Lippi dismayed by both the result and the performance, swiftly announcing his departure.

"I don't want to talk about this game," he told a news conference.

"A team should give everything on the pitch. The tactics of the head coach should be carried out. If the player is afraid of losing the game, then there is no fighting spirit, desire, guts.

"It is my responsibility, the head coach's responsibility – although we defeated Guam and the Maldives. But the team we played against today is better, more coordinated and more organised than us. 

"My annual salary is very high, and I am fully responsible for this loss. Now I declare that I have officially resigned."

Veteran coach Lippi, who guided Italy to World Cup glory in 2006, had only been appointed China boss for a second time in May.

Lippi was coach from October 2016 to January 2019, before returning when replacement Fabio Cannavaro ​– his World Cup-winning captain – promptly left.

Australia made it four wins from four in the second round of World Cup qualifying as Adam Taggart secured a 1-0 win away to Jordan.

The Suwon Bluewings striker scored the only goal of the game after 13 minutes in Amman to put the Socceroos five points clear at the top of Group B.

Graham Arnold's men were given a scare in the second half, most notably when Tareq Khattab headed wide from close range, but they held firm to take a significant step towards claiming the automatic qualifying spot for round three.

Australia went ahead from their first shot of the match, with Taggart running on to Jackson Irvine's throughball and finishing past the onrushing Amer Shafi.

Irvine spurned a good chance for a second when he side-footed over the bar after Aaron Mooy's corner was flicked on at the right-hand post.

The Socceroos were fairly comfortable until the break but suddenly came under pressure early in the second half, with Mousa Suleiman shooting narrowly wide and Mat Ryan making a good block to deny Yaseen Al Bakhit from a tight angle.

Khattab then spurned a glorious chance to equalise, heading wide of the left-hand post when left completely unmarked by a static Australia defence.

Ryan produced a brilliant save to keep out Hamza Al-Dardoor's header before Al Bakhit shot straight at the keeper in injury time, as Jordan suffered their first Group B defeat and missed out on the chance to leapfrog Australia at the top.

What does it mean? Socceroos bounding clear

Victory puts Australia five points clear of Jordan at the top of Group B, with a perfect 12-point return.

They are firmly on course to secure a place in the next phase of qualifying ahead of their meeting with Kuwait in March.

Clinical Taggart the difference

This was far from the free-scoring Australia that dismantled Chinese Taipei 7-1 last month, but Taggart made no mistake with his one goalscoring opportunity, and he completed all four of his attempted passes before being taken off 20 minutes from time.

Khattab miss costly

Khattab was caught out for the goal by Irvine's fine throughball and missed the best of Jordan's chances to equalise in the second half..

What's next?

Australia's next scheduled outing is a home qualifier against Kuwait on March 25. Jordan are in action on November 19 at home to Chinese Taipei.

Timo Werner acknowledges he has little hope of outscoring Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga this season, as the Bayern Munich forward's form can only be matched by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

RB Leipzig striker Werner has scored an impressive 11 league goals so far in 2019-20, yet he lags behind the remarkable Lewandowski.

The Bayern and Poland superstar has struck 16 times in the Bundesliga and leads the way among players in Europe's top leagues this season, with 23 goals in 18 games in all competitions – including in each top-flight and Champions League match.

Indeed, Werner believes only all-time greats Messi and Ronaldo can reach the extraordinary standards set by Lewandowski.

"It's hard [to be top-scorer]," Werner told a news conference on Thursday.

"When you score two goals against Hertha Berlin and then watch the game evening game, having scored four or three goals less than Robert Lewandowski this season, and he scores twice against Borussia Dortmund...

"Against whom is he not going to score? That's very hard.

"How he is playing at the moment, maybe only one or two players on the planet are on this level. That's the category of Messi and Ronaldo."

Werner was speaking alongside Germany team-mate Joshua Kimmich on international duty.

The duo each came through the Stuttgart academy before moving on to Leipzig, but Werner claimed he was not discussing a next move with Bayern's Kimmich, despite repeated talk of him switching to the Allianz Arena.

"We don't really talk about it at all," he said. "It was also a coincidence that I came to Leipzig when he was there. I don't imitate everything that Joshua Kimmich does.

"If he goes to Real Madrid, I'm not going to Real Madrid also. Leipzig was the perfect step for me as well as for him.

"He took the step to Bayern Munich relatively early, which was also a good step. Now I'm still a player at Leipzig. That was the right step for me.

"I don't know what the future will bring. But I won't imitate Joshua and go wherever he is."

RB Leipzig captain Willi Orban has been ruled out until 2020 due to a knee injury, the Bundesliga club have confirmed.

The 27-year-old has undergone an arthroscopy to correct a problem and will be sidelined until after the mid-season break.

Orban is set to miss the league matches with Cologne, Paderborn, Hoffenheim, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Borussia Dortmund and Augsburg.

He will also be unavailable for the Champions League games against Benfica and Lyon, with Leipzig top of Group G on nine points from four matches.

The Hungary defender has made 14 appearances in all competitions for Julian Nagelsmann's side this season, scoring once.

Leipzig, who are four points behind leaders Borussia Monchengladbach in the table, begin the second half of the Bundesliga campaign at home to Union Berlin on January 18.

Bayern Munich youngster Jann-Fiete Arp has been diagnosed with another injury just two days after returning to full training with the Bundesliga champions.

The 19-year-old, who joined from Hamburg in July, was welcomed back to a team session at Sabener Strasse on Tuesday for the first time since having surgery on a broken left wrist in September.

However, the forward is now expected to be sidelined for a time after damaging his left forearm.

Bayern confirmed on Thursday that scans showed Arp had suffered "minor damage to the radial bone in his left forearm during training", adding that he will need to wear a cast.

The Germany youth international has yet to make a competitive senior appearance for Bayern, although he was an unused substitute for the 1-1 league draw with RB Leipzig in September and the DFL-Supercup defeat to Borussia Dortmund in August.

 

Bayern Munich youngster Jann-Fiete Arp has been diagnosed with another injury just two days after returning to full training with the Bundesliga champions.

The 19-year-old, who joined from Hamburg in July, was welcomed back to a team session at Sabener Strasse on Tuesday for the first time since having surgery on a broken left wrist in September.

However, the forward is now expected to be sidelined for a time after damaging his left forearm.

Bayern confirmed on Thursday that scans showed Fiete Arp had suffered "minor damage to the radial bone in his left forearm during training", adding that he will need to wear a cast.

The Germany youth international has yet to make a competitive senior appearance for Bayern, although he was an unused substitute for the 1-1 league draw with RB Leipzig in September and the DFL-Supercup defeat to Borussia Dortmund in August.

 

Thierry Henry has been named the new head coach of MLS side Montreal Impact.

The former Arsenal and France star has signed an initial two-year deal, with the option of a third.

It is Henry's first coaching job since a troubled 20 games in charge of former club Monaco in Ligue 1 last season.

"We are extremely happy to announce the nomination of this legend of the game," said Impact president and CEO Kevin Gilmore via the club's website.

"Henry will bring a new energy to our club. He shares our vision to elevate this club and will help us achieve our goals on and off the field. He is a competitor and a leader who has proven himself at the highest level throughout his career. He now brings these qualities with him to Montreal, a place he wants to be."

Henry, 42, said: "It's an honour to coach the Montreal Impact and return to MLS.

"It's a league I know well, in which I had some very nice moments. To be in Quebec, in Montreal, which has an enormous multicultural heritage, it's extraordinary. I've always kept an eye on the club and now I'm here."

Henry spent four years with New York Red Bulls after leaving Barcelona in 2010, winning the Supporters' Shield in 2013 after helping his side finish top of the Eastern Conference.

After taking a coaching role with the Arsenal academy following his retirement in 2014, Henry then enjoyed a successful two-year spell as assistant to Roberto Martinez with Belgium.

He took charge of Monaco in October 2018 after the dismissal of Leonardo Jardim, but he was sacked in January this year after managing only four wins in his brief tenure.

Impact, who will play in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League, finished ninth in the Eastern Conference in 2019.

Joshua Kimmich says he would not be against the return of Pep Guardiola to Bayern Munich.

The Manchester City manager is being linked with a possible return to the Allianz Arena at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Guardiola, who was a rumoured target for Juventus before they appointed Maurizio Sarri, is said to be one of Bayern's top candidates as a permanent successor to Niko Kovac, who left in the wake of the 5-1 Bundesliga defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Although Hansi Flick appears likely to stay on as interim boss for the time being, and perhaps until the end of the season, Kimmich would not be averse to Guardiola's return next year.

Speaking at a news conference while on Germany duty, the Bayern full-back said: "Regarding Pep Guardiola. I have no idea what Bayern's plan is with Hansi Flick.

"At first you thought that we would get a new coach after the international break. Now, we won both games with Flick and it sounds like he will stay until winter or even the entire season. What happens then is the business of the club – we players have nothing to do with it.

"But of course, I know [Guardiola] and have a lot to thank him for. He took me from the second division and let me play in the Bundesliga. We won the double together and after that season I became a player for Germany. So, of course, I won't be against him coming back."

Kimmich joined from RB Leipzig ahead of 2015-16, Guardiola's final season in charge of Bayern, and won the domestic double.

In total, Guardiola guided Bayern to three Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokals, the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup in his three years in charge.

He could not deliver the Champions League, though, losing to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the semi-final stage in each of his three seasons in Germany.

Thierry Henry believes Kylian Mbappe can beat his France goalscoring record and set the benchmark "very, very high" for generations to come.

Arsenal great Henry scored 51 goals for his country, the most of any France player, in a career that saw triumphs at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

However, Mbappe, still just 20, has already tallied 13 international goals, also winning a World Cup in Russia in 2018.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has quickly established himself as one of world football's outstanding talents and appears set to dominate for years to come.

Henry certainly believes that will be the case, explaining when asked by Omnisport if Mbappe could break his record: "With Kylian, we say he's young because of his age but he's not really young anymore because of what he does, because of the amount of games he has played, because of his game IQ.

"I often talk about that because we talk about his speed, his dribbles, his goals, and I think we'll talk about it for 20 more years. It's [a long time], I hope for him, but yes maybe 15, 16 years, 20 years if he can.

"Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] is still playing [at 38]. If [Mbappe] has no injuries, he'll be called up [to] the national team, of course he will.

"So yes, I think he will set the bar very, very high."

Henry is similarly optimistic France can follow up their World Cup triumph from last year with further success at Euro 2020.

He points out Didier Deschamps' men came close at the last European Championship, losing to Portugal in the final on home soil, before excelling further on the world stage - aided by Mbappe's emergence.

"It's very hard [to win consecutive tournaments] because everybody's waiting for you," Henry said.

"It's not easy to do it again, especially at that level.

"Spain did it three times in a row [from 2008 to 2012]. That French generation could have done the back-to-back [in 2016] but sadly [Portugal goalscorer] Eder decided otherwise, so it could have been three in a row.

"What is remarkable with that generation - and especially with Deschamps, who's there to guide them because he lived it as a player - is that people forget that they reached the final of Euro 2016, and then they won the World Cup.

"Now everybody's waiting for the confirmation. That team has talent, they proved it, they played two finals in a row, one lost, one won.

"What this generation is doing is extraordinary and it's good for French football. But yes they can do it [win again]."

HEINEKEN has announced it will become ‘Official Beer Partner of UEFA EURO 2020™’, and in a separate agreement has extended its UEFA Champions League partnership by another three years, from 2021-24. The new UEFA EURO 2020™ agreement means that Heineken® will be a partner of Europe’s most prestigious club and international football tournaments. Heineken®’s global ambassador Thierry Henry, has previously won both the EURO Championships with France in 2000 and the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona in the 2008/09 season.

Diego Costa has been diagnosed with a cervical disc herniation in a fresh blow to goal-shy Atletico Madrid.

Scans undertaken in recent days identified the issue, which relates to the spine, but a rehabilitation programme has not yet been formulated.

Atletico said the 31-year-old requires special neurosurgery assessment before the full scale of the injury can be established.

"The medical services of the club have conducted radiological tests of Diego Costa to assess the cervical discomfort suffered in recent days," read an Atletico statement.

"These tests have determined that the forward suffers a cervical disc herniation.

"In the next few days he will be evaluated by specialists in neurosurgery to establish the definitive treatment."

Former Chelsea striker Costa trained earlier this week after appearing for the final 10 minutes of Atletico's 3-1 win over Espanyol on Sunday.

Prior to that match, Diego Simeone's men had managed 12 goals in as many LaLiga games in a lean start to the new season.

Costa has found the net twice from 15 appearances in all competitions this term.

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