European champions Italy are on a world record 37-game unbeaten streak, but they remain lodged at number five in the FIFA rankings.

The world governing body published its new list on Thursday and the only change in the top five saw England jump to third, nudging France down to fourth.

England were runners-up to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, losing on penalties at Wembley after a 1-1 draw, and two wins and a draw from World Cup qualifiers in September have seen Gareth Southgate's team edge ahead of Les Bleus.

It is the first time since 2012 that England have reached the top three, and third place remains the highest position they have achieved in the rankings.

Didier Deschamps' France could only manage two draws and a win in this month's international break, while Italy were held by Bulgaria and Switzerland before landing a 5-0 victory over Lithuania.

Italy have been a roaring success under the leadership of Roberto Mancini, who inherited a team that failed to qualify for the last World Cup and had plummeted to 21st in FIFA's rankings.

They set the record for the most games unbeaten at international level during their run of September games, staying in control as leaders of World Cup European qualifying Group C.

With FIFA's rankings offering significant weighting to World Cup tournament performance, Italy could make a significant leap should their strong form under coach Mancini continue into the Qatar 2022 finals.

Belgium remain top of the FIFA list, with Brazil in second. Copa America winners Argentina stay sixth.

 

Germany international Leon Goretzka has signed a new long-term contract with Bayern Munich.

The 26-year-old's future had been the subject of speculation, as his previous deal was due to expire next June.

Goretzka will be staying with the Bundesliga champions after agreeing a new contract until June 2026.

The midfielder told the club's official website: "We've won everything there is to win over the past three years. But what would be even better than winning titles is confirming and repeating these successes.

"We want to build on this in the coming years. The team, the club and the environment are not just highly professional, but also familiar.

"This mixture is one of the things that guarantees success at this club. I'm very happy to be extending my contract until 2026."

Goretzka joined the Bavarian giants from Schalke in 2018 and has won three Bundesliga titles, the Champions League and the DFB Pokal twice.

He has also lifted the DFL Supercup three times, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2020.

Goretzka has scored 25 goals in 118 games for Bayern and put pen to paper on the back of a 3-0 Champions League win at Barcelona on Tuesday.

Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn said: "It's crucial for the development of FC Bayern that we keep our top performers long term.

"To be successful as a club, we need players who are permanently motivated - and Leon Goretzka doesn't need to be told about motivation. He always wants to improve and has the ambition to shape an era at FC Bayern.

"This contract extension is also a sign Leon is convinced we’ll continue to be as successful in the future as we have been in the past."

Roberto Mancini is wary about the prospect of the World Cup taking place every two years, with Italy's Euro 2020 winning boss calling for talks to weigh up the FIFA proposal.

The current men's international match calendar ends in 2024 and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is seeking to shape a new schedule in his role as FIFA's chief of global football development.

However's, the plans being pushed by Wenger have been met with opposition, with CONMEBOL and UEFA both coming out vehemently against his core idea.

The World Cup has traditionally been a tournament that has been held once every four years, and there are worries players could be overburdened and the competition devalued if it switches to a biennial event.

Mancini has not outright come out against the idea, but he wants it thoroughly examined.

"The World Cup every two years is something to be evaluated," Mancini said, quoted widely in the Italian media.

"The World Cup is fascinating because it comes once every four years. If you play every two, it would mean a World Cup, a European Championship, a World Cup, a European Championship. I don't know, we need to talk about it."

For now, Mancini is looking to build on his team's success in the recent European Championship, when they beat England on penalties in the final to be crowned kings of the continent.

The success put former Inter and Manchester City boss Mancini in the spotlight, and he has affirmed his commitment to Italy ahead of next year's World Cup in Qatar, ruling out a return to club management before that tournament.

Italy are closing in on a place in the finals, leading the way in Group C with four wins and two draws, extending their unbeaten record to an all-time record of 37 matches.

"Going back to coaching a club? Now there is the World Cup and then let's see," Mancini said. "We have to stay focused on the World Cup, we have to quickly secure qualification and we have to try to win the Nations League.

"I don't think about clubs and I am concentrated on the national team. Coaching the national team is the best thing."

Could Jurgen Klopp and Robert Lewandowski be set to work together again?

The pair enjoyed a successful partnership at Borussia Dortmund.

Now, Klopp is reportedly trying to lure the Bayern Munich forward to Liverpool.

 

TOP STORY – KLOPP WANTS LEWANDOWSKI REUNION

Liverpool are targeting Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, according to Fichajes.

Lewandowski worked with Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund before joining Bundesliga rivals Bayern in 2014.

There has been talk Lewandowski could be ready for a new challenge amid links to Real Madrid and Manchester City, though Klopp is reportedly determined to reunite with the Poland international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild claims Dortmund have identified Chelsea forward Timo Werner as a possible option to replace Erling Haaland. Club are queueing up to sign Haaland, with City, Manchester United, Bayern, Liverpool, Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain all reportedly interested. Should Haaland leave Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit reportedly see former RB Leipzig star Werner as a potential successor.

- Fabrizio Romano says Inter forward Lautaro Martinez is nearing a contract extension at San Siro. He has reportedly turned down offers from Tottenham and Atletico Madrid.

Bayern, Inter, Real Madrid and Tottenham are interested in Borussia Monchengladbach defender Matthias Ginter, reports Calciomercato.

Chelsea are looking to sign Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen to new contracts, according to Romano.

Sporting Kansas City crushed Minnesota United 4-0 in MLS to go top of the Western Conference standings, while Real Salt Lake prevailed in a seven-goal shoot-out.

Johnny Russell scored a goal and assisted two others as Sporting KC routed Minnesota at Children's Mercy Park on Wednesday.

Russell converted a penalty as part of a three-goal first half, with Khiry Shelton and Daniel Salloi also on target against the visitors.

Cameron Duke added a fourth goal seven minutes into the second half as Sporting KC found the back of the net in their 28th consecutive regular-season home game dating back to August 2019 – the longest active streak in MLS.

Sporting KC are a point clear in the west, though second-placed Seattle Sounders have played two games less, while Minnesota are two points outside the play-off positions.

San Jose Earthquakes star Javier Lopez scored a hat-trick, but Real Salt Lake still prevailed 4-3 in a wild clash.

Lopez opened the scoring in the 26th minute and completed his treble in the second half, however, RSL emerged victorious thanks to Rubio Rubin's brace.

The result snapped a five-match away losing streak for RSL, who ended San Jose's run of three consecutive wins over their rivals in MLS – a run that had equalled the longest streak by either team in history.

Elsewhere, former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez salvaged a 1-1 draw for LA Galaxy against Houston Dynamo.

Another ex-United star, Nani, was sent off in the first half as Orlando City were beaten 4-2 by Montreal, Ola Kamara's opening-half hat-trick lifted DC United past Chicago Fire 3-0, Atlanta United were 4-0 winners against FC Cincinnati courtesy of a Josef Martinez double, Los Angeles FC edged Austin 2-1 and 10-man Portland Timbers drew 2-2 with Colorado Rapids.

Club America reached the CONCACAF Champions League final after eliminating Philadelphia Union 2-0 on Wednesday.

Liga MX giants America sealed a 4-0 aggregate semi-final triumph thanks to second-half goals from Nicolas Benedetti and Henry Martin.

America – seven-time champions – will face either Cruz Azul or Monterrey in an all-Mexican final on October 28.

MLS outfit the Union had a two-goal deficit to overturn in Philadelphia midweek and the home side came close to scoring five minutes into the second half.

The Union had a penalty saved by Mexico international Guillermo Ochoa, who denied Jamiro Monteiro, after Kacper Przybylko was fouled by Bruno Valdez.

Philadelphia – looking to end MLS' title drought in the Champions League, dating back to LA Galaxy's success in 2000, dominated the second half.

However, Benedetti all but settled the contest in the 79th minute before Martin tapped home America's second of the night in stoppage time.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has called for patience and trust from the fanbase as he attempts to "solve" the Catalan giants' on and off the field problems.

Years of financial mismanagement caught up with Barca last month as they lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

Antoine Griezmann was also sent back to title rivals Atletico Madrid on an initial loan amid a flurry of late activity in an attempt to help balance the books.

Barca's solid, if not spectacular. start to the LaLiga campaign, in which they have picked up seven points from a possible nine, helped lift the mood around Camp Nou somewhat.

But a crushing 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Tuesday – the first time Barca have lost their opening Champions League game in 23 seasons – has changed all that.

Sergi Roberto was booed by a section of his own supporters when being substituted off during the game, which captain Gerard Pique admitted left him feeling "hurt".

With supporter unrest growing during a tough period for the LaLiga heavyweights, Laporta issued a video statement on his social media channels on Wednesday.

"Hello Cules. I am as disappointed and upset as all of you are," he said. "I need to tell you what is happening. This is one of the situations that we expected. 

"I ask you all for your patience, and that you continue supporting our team. I also ask you to trust us, the people who are managing the club. 

"We need your trust and time. Do not doubt that we will solve the situation."

Bayern's prolific striker Robert Lewandowski helped himself to a double after Thomas Muller had opened the scoring in the first half of Tuesday's Group E clash.

Barca have lost three successive home games in European competition for the first time in their history, having also lost to Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou last season.

In their first European game since Messi's exit, the Catalans failed to register a shot on target in a Champions League match for the first time since Opta started recording such data in 2003-04.

Barcelona's injury problems have deepened as midfielder Pedri and left-back Jordi Alba have been ruled out with muscular injuries sustained in the 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Alba was taken off in the 74th minute of Tuesday's Champions League contest with a hamstring issue, while Pedri played a full part on his return to action following a three-week rest.

Barca announced on their official website on Wednesday that Pedri is suffering with a thigh problem and has joined Alba in the treatment room ahead of Monday's LaLiga clash with Granada.

No timeline has been given for both players' return to action.

"The first team player Pedri has a quadriceps muscle injury in his left thigh," Barca revealed. "The player is unavailable for selection and his recovery will dictate his return.

"Tests carried out on Wednesday morning on the first team player Jordi Alba show that he has a hamstring injury in his right thigh. 

"The player is unavailable for selection and his recovery will dictate his return."

Barca's injury issues are piling up ahead of a busy spell of five games in a fortnight, including a huge clash with LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid early next month.

Martin Braithwaite is expected to miss the rest of 2021 after undergoing knee surgery, while fellow attackers Sergio Aguero, Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati are also out of action.

According to Spanish outlet Marca, Barca boss Ronald Koeman feels the club's medical department are partly to blame for the growing list of absentees.

The loss of Alba will leave a big void to be filled in the troublesome area of left-back, with academy product Alejandro Balde coming on for his senior debut in the heavy defeat to Bayern.

Pedri has also been a regular under Koeman over the past 13 months, making 55 appearances in all competitions since the start of last season – only Youssef En-Nesyri (57) and Manu Trigueros (59) have been used more often among LaLiga clubs.

Harry Kane's attempt to leave Tottenham did not go according to plan before the transfer window closed.

Despite interest from Manchester City, Kane remains in London with Spurs.

Kane could be prepared to sign another contract at Tottenham…

 

TOP STORY – NEW DEAL FOR KANE?

Tottenham star Harry Kane is open to a contract extension if the offer includes a release clause, according to Eurosport.

Kane wanted to leave Tottenham in the off-season, but a move did not materialise, despite interest from Premier League champions Manchester City.

The England striker, though, could be willing to re-sign on one condition.

Paris Saint-Germain, JuventusReal Madrid and Barcelona have previously been linked with Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus could face competition from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for City forward Gabriel Jesus, reports Calciomercato. Juve are keen to bolster their attack following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit but face a battle should Robert Lewandowski leave Bayern. Lewandowski has been linked with the likes of City and Madrid.

- Fabrizio Romano claims United are planning to offer Luke Shaw a new contract at Old Trafford. However, United are prioritising new deals for Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.

Liverpool are among the contenders to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, says 90min. Haaland has been linked with United, City, Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Juve and PSG but 90min claims Liverpool have held talks with his agent Mino Raiola.

Christian Makoun converted an injury-time penalty as David Beckham's in-form Inter Miami edged 10-man Toronto 1-0 in MLS.

With Tuesday's contest seemingly heading for a draw, Inter Miami's Makoun stepped up and scored a spot-kick in the 95th minute.

Unbeaten in six matches, Inter Miami – co-owned by former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England star Beckham – have won three consecutive matches for the first time in their history as they moved into the Eastern Conference play-off positions.

Toronto had just 15 points through 23 matches entering the matchup. Only five teams in MLS history have had fewer points at this stage of a season, most recently DC United in 2013 (13).

Kemar Lawrence was sent off in the 37th minute but Toronto thought they had snatched a winner with two minutes of regulation remaining when the hosts believed Jacob Shaffelburg's rebound crossed the line.

Inter Miami went up the other end and claimed all three points in the fifth minute of stoppage time – Makoun fouled by Chris Mavinga before tucking away the last-gasp penalty.

Following four consecutive clean sheets – a club first, Inter Miami are fifth in the east with 32 points from 23 rounds, while Toronto sit bottom after six straight defeats and nine games without a win.

Elsewhere, New York City and Dallas played out an entertaining 3-3 draw.

New York – fourth in the Eastern Conference – led 2-1 and 3-2 but had to settle for a point in a see-sawing contest at Red Bull Arena.

As for MLS champions Columbus Crew, they overcame New York Red Bulls 2-1 thanks to an 88th-minute goal via substitute Miguel Berry.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz defender, Damion Lowe, insists the team understands the frustration fans are experiencing following a slow start to the World Cup qualifiers but maintains the race to advance from the region has only just begun.

The Jamaica national team, who are looking to get to the World Cup for the first time in over 23 years, find themselves at the bottom of the eight-team group after the first three games.  The Boyz opened with a 2-1 loss away to Mexico, followed by a damaging 3-0 home loss to Panama.

The Jamaicans did, however, stage a recovery of sorts with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.  The team is at this point, however, six points behind leaders Mexico who top the table with 7 and four behind the trio of Canada, the United States, and Panama who are currently in the qualifying spots, all tied on five points.  Lowe has, however, assured fans the team is far from out of the running.

“Every team goes through struggles and rough patches, unfortunately, ours was at the start of the qualifiers, but it only gives us fire in our belly and keeps us humble,” Lowe told SportsMax.TV’s InCaseYouMissedIT.

“If you look at the table we are not far off, people are tying, people are losing.  You saw Honduras, USA game, anything can happen, Concacaf is one of the hardest to qualify out of.  It’s all up in the air, nothing is decided, it’s only three games in,” he added.

 

Paul Pogba has yet to decide if he will stay at Manchester United beyond the end of the season, according to his brother Mathias.

The France midfielder is out of contract at the end of the campaign and has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

United are in the tricky position of knowing Pogba is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a team outside of the Premier League from January 1 and are keen to get their midfield maestro to commit to fresh terms.

However, Mathias Pogba says his sibling will make a decision about his future when the time is right.

Speaking to Spanish TV show El Chiringuito, he said: "Paul has yet to decide whether he intends to stay at Manchester United or leave next summer.

"The decision is up to him. Right now, he feels very good at Manchester United, especially this season.

"We will see. We will see when it is time to make a decision."

Pogba has been in flying form for unbeaten United in the Premier League this season, registering seven assists in only four matches – a record in the competition after that many games to start a campaign.

The World Cup winner's future has often been a hot topic of discussion, though recent reports suggest Pogba is leaning towards remaining at Old Trafford with the return of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo thought to be playing a significant part in his thinking.

United are top of the table on goal difference through four games having taken 10 points.

Bernd Leno's future at Emirates Stadium is up in the air.

Aaron Ramsdale's arrival, on a deal that could reach a reported £30million, put Leno's first-choice position in jeopardy.

The 29-year-old German joined Arsenal in 2018 and has been number one since.

TOP STORY - ARSENAL CONSIDERS LENO SALE

Arsenal are contemplating selling German goalkeeper Leno next year following Ramsdale's arrival, claims the Daily Mail.

Ramsdale was selected ahead of Leno in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday after the German had an indifferent start to the season

The report claims there is little chance Arsenal will sell Leno in January but that the Gunners signed Ramsdale believing he may usurp the German by the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- As Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid circle, Paul Pogba is leaning towards extending his stay with Manchester United claims The Athletic. The report cites Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at United on Pogba's thinking.

- West Ham United have placed a £100 million price tag on in-demand Declan Rice with  Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City all jostling for his signature according to Football.London.

- French midfielder Thomas Lemar is expendable following Antoine Griezmann's arrival and could be sold by Spanish champions Atletico Madrid claims Todo Fichajes. Atletico wants to raise transfer funds to bolster their squad.

- Football Insider claims that Bayern Munich are already working on signing Chelsea's German striker Timo Werner next year, with a January move not ruled out.

- Chelsea will open talks with England international midfielder Mason Mount on a new long-term deal according to 90min.

- Arsenal target Houssem Aouar will not leave Olympique Lyon mid-season reports Todo Fichajes.

Barcelona have confirmed forward Martin Braithwaite will undergo surgery on his left knee with reports the injury will rule him out for the remainder of 2021.

The 30-year-old Denmark international had asked to be substituted late in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Getafe last month due to left knee pain and missed his country's subsequent international fixtures.

Braithwaite had initially tried a conservative approach to manage the injury but Barca have confirmed he will go under the knife to resolve the issue.

"Martin Braithwaite has a femoropatellar injury in his left knee which has not responded to conservative treatment," the club wrote in a statement.

"The Danish striker will undergo surgery in the coming days. The club will publish a new injury update when the process has taken place."

It has been widely reported that Braithwaite will not return this calendar year, which is a setback for the Catalans who had forwards Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann depart during the recent transfer window.

Braithwaite scored seven goals in 42 appearances in all competitions for the Blaugrana last season, before netting a double in their opening LaLiga win over Real Sociedad.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann admits Tuesday's Champions League opponent Barcelona will miss Lionel Messi's "extravagance" but believes they are not much weaker without him.

Messi left Barcelona in the off-season to join Paris Saint-Germain after a glittering career at Camp Nou.

The Catalans have started life domestically without Messi with seven points from three games in LaLiga, while they will commence their Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Nagelsmann's Bayern in Barcelona.

"Barcelona definitely don't have the extravagance of a Messi any more. But they also have other players who can play a very important role if you take Frenkie de Jong and Pedri for example," Nagelsmann said at the pre-game news conference.

"We are ready for anything. I don't believe they are much weaker. The future will show if they are any better. But we definitely want to take three points."

Barcelona have a variety of selection issues with injuries to Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero, while Nagelsmann was coy on Serge Gnabry's availability.

Gnabry was substituted with a back problem in Saturday's 4-1 Bundesliga win over RB Leipzig, along with Robert Lewandowski for "precautionary" reasons with a groin complaint.

"We'll have to make a late decision on that one," Nagelsmann said about Gnabry.

"Gnabry will travel. [Corentin] Tolisso will not. [Kingsley] Coman is in the squad but not an option to start. It's looking good for Lewandowski again though."

Bayern thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in the 2020 Champions League quarter-final played as a one-off in Lisbon, adding further spice to their opening Group E fixture.

"Being the favourites or not the favourites is always more of a subject for the media," he said. "Two world-class clubs face each other."

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