Novak Djokovic has announced he will play at the Australian Open, revealing he has been given "exemption permission" to compete.

The world number one and nine-time champion in Melbourne has not declared whether he has been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

Australia has stringent rules about who should be allowed to enter the country, with tennis players needing to be either vaccinated or hold a medical exemption in order to play the grand slam tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic wrote on Instagram: "I’ve spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission. Let's go 2022!!"

Barcelona on Tuesday confirmed they have reached an agreement to sign Ferran Torres from Manchester City for a reported fee of €65million.

The Spain international returns to LaLiga following an 18-month spell in the Premier League and has signed a deal until June 2027.

Barca are said to be paying an initial €55m (£46.7m) and as much as €10m (£8.5m) in add-ons.

The Catalan giants revealed a €1billion release clause has been inserted in Torres' contract and he will be officially unveiled at Camp Nou on January 3.

City initially spent roughly €23m (£20m) to sign Torres from Valencia in 2020, meaning they have more than doubled their money on a player who has never truly been considered a first-choice starter.

Barca had been linked with Torres in pre-season but their crippling financial state meant transfer outlays were implausible.

The club's debts have topped €1.4billion this year and as a result of their financial performance, they saw their LaLiga salary cap slashed by €280m to just €97m, hence their inability to retain Lionel Messi.

That saw Barca slip from having the second-highest wage limit last season to seventh in 2021-22.

 

Speculation ahead of Torres' signing led to many pondering how Barca can suddenly afford such a significant transfer fee so soon, but reports indicate they recently took out a significant loan to ensure they can.

Torres' arrival means new coach Xavi has the type of young, dynamic attacker he had been after, with the 21-year-old capable of playing through the middle and out on the right, where he was most-frequently used at Valencia.

Since Xavi's return to Barca as head coach, he has spoken regularly about a desire to play with classic wingers, while his reluctance to use Luuk de Jong as the focal point of their attack has suggested a preference for a quick and energetic central striker – Torres fits the bill on both counts.

Yet he leaves City as something of an enigma, having only made 15 Premier League starts in 2020-21, and this season Torres has managed just four appearances in the top flight due to a foot injury he sustained on international duty in October.

As much as it feels he has left City before the Premier League truly got to know him, in his limited time Torres has made an impact on the pitch for City.

Among City players to feature for at least 1,000 minutes across all competitions since the start of last season, Torres' 0.55 goals per 90 minutes is the highest and none of his strikes have been from the penalty spot.

 

His average of 2.8 shots (per 90) is third only to Kevin De Bruyne (3.3) and Riyad Mahrez (3.2), and his expected goals on a per-90-minute basis of 0.44 is bettered by just Raheem Sterling (0.47), showing that Torres' high goals frequency comes from being a consistent threat.

Torres' 1.1 chances created on average is well down the list at City, however. While this may partly reflect the fact he has featured as a central striker often, perhaps greater productivity in this area would have seen City put up more of a fight to keep him.

Nevertheless, the signing represents something of a coup for a Barcelona that just a few months ago was incapable of paying for players of such a calibre.

Barcelona on Tuesday confirmed they have reached an agreement to sign Ferran Torres from Manchester City for a reported fee of €65million.

The Spain international returns to LaLiga following an 18-month spell in the Premier League and has signed a deal until June 2027.

Barca are said to be paying an initial €55m (£46.7m) and as much as €10m (£8.5m) in add-ons.

City initially spent roughly €23m (£20m) to sign Torres from Valencia in 2020, meaning they have more than doubled their money on a player who has never truly been considered a first-choice starter.

Barca had been linked with Torres in pre-season but their crippling financial state meant transfer outlays were implausible.

The club's debts have topped €1.4billion this year and as a result of their financial performance, they saw their LaLiga salary cap slashed by €280m to just €97m, hence their inability to retain Lionel Messi.

That saw Barca slip from having the second-highest wage limit last season to seventh in 2021-22.

 

Speculation ahead of Torres' signing led to many pondering how Barca can suddenly afford such a significant transfer fee so soon, but reports indicate they recently took out a significant loan to ensure they can.

Torres' arrival means new coach Xavi has the type of young, dynamic attacker he had been after, with the 21-year-old capable of playing through the middle and out on the right, where he was most-frequently used at Valencia.

Since Xavi's return to Barca as head coach, he has spoken regularly about a desire to play with classic wingers, while his reluctance to use Luuk de Jong as the focal point of their attack has suggested a preference for a quick and energetic central striker – Torres fits the bill on both counts.

Yet he leaves City as something of an enigma, having only made 15 Premier League starts in 2020-21, and this season Torres has managed just four appearances in the top flight due to a foot injury he sustained on international duty in October.

As much as it feels he has left City before the Premier League truly got to know him, in his limited time Torres has made an impact on the pitch for City.

Among City players to feature for at least 1,000 minutes across all competitions since the start of last season, Torres' 0.55 goals per 90 minutes is the highest and none of his strikes have been from the penalty spot.

 

His average of 2.8 shots (per 90) is third only to Kevin De Bruyne (3.3) and Riyad Mahrez (3.2), and his expected goals on a per-90-minute basis of 0.44 is bettered by just Raheem Sterling (0.47), showing that Torres' high goals frequency comes from being a consistent threat.

Torres' 1.1 chances created on average is well down the list at City, however. While this may partly reflect the fact he has featured as a central striker often, perhaps greater productivity in this area would have seen City put up more of a fight to keep him.

Nevertheless, the signing represents something of a coup for a Barcelona that just a few months ago was incapable of paying for players of such a calibre.

Sergio Aguero has retired at the age of 33 due to a heart problem.

The Barcelona forward announced his decision to retire in a statement on Wednesday that was delivered at an event featuring president Joan Laporta and the club's first-team players.

Aguero, who starred for Atletico Madrid before becoming a Manchester City great, suffered chest pain in the draw with Deportivo Alaves on October 30, which the club confirmed was down to a heart arrhythmia.

Sergi Barjuan, interim coach at the time, said Aguero told him he was feeling "a little dizzy".

Further tests resulted in Aguero being ruled out for three months to undergo a "diagnostic and therapeutic process". 

However, after consultations with specialists, the Argentina international has been told it is too much of a risk to continue playing.

An emotional Aguero said at Camp Nou on Wednesday: "This conference is to communicate that I have decided to stop playing football.

"It's a very difficult moment. The decision I've made, I've taken it for my health, because of the problem I had a month and a half ago. I was in good hands with the medical staff, who did their best, who told me the best thing would be to stop playing.

"So, 10 days ago I made that decision, but I want to tell everyone I did everything to have some hope, but there wasn't very much."

Aguero joined Barca on a free transfer from City in July, but a calf injury meant he did not make his debut until October.

He made five appearances in all competitions for Barca, playing just 166 minutes, with his sole goal coming in the form of a late consolation in a 2-1 Clasico defeat to Real Madrid.

Aguero scored a club-record 260 goals in 390 appearances in a trophy-laden decade at City, including their famous last-gasp winner against QPR in 2011-12 to clinch the club's maiden Premier League title.

Sergio Aguero has retired at the age of 33 due to a heart problem.

The Barcelona forward announced his decision to retire in a statement on Wednesday that was delivered at an event featuring president Joan Laporta and the club's first-team players.

Aguero, who starred for Atletico Madrid before becoming a Manchester City great, suffered chest pain in the draw with Deportivo Alaves on October 30, which the club confirmed was down to a heart arrhythmia.

Sergi Barjuan, interim coach at the time, said Aguero told him he was feeling "a little dizzy".

Further tests resulted in Aguero being ruled out for three months to undergo a "diagnostic and therapeutic process". 

However, after consultations with specialists, the Argentina international has been told it is too much of a risk to continue playing.

Aguero joined Barca on a free transfer from City in July, but a calf injury meant he did not make his debut until October.

He made five appearances in all competitions for Barca, playing just 166 minutes, with his sole goal coming in the form of a late consolation in a 2-1 Clasico defeat to Real Madrid.

Aguero scored a club-record 260 goals in 390 appearances in a trophy-laden decade at City, including their famous last-gasp winner against QPR in 2011-12 to clinch the club's maiden Premier League title.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and will not be considered for selection to face West Ham following last week's disciplinary breach, the club has confirmed.

Mikel Arteta left Aubameyang out of the squad for the 3-0 weekend defeat of Southampton, confirming afterwards that the Gabon international was dropped for disciplinary reasons.

Aubameyang was reported to have returned to the club late after being granted a trip abroad, though Arteta did not elaborate on what the striker was being punished for.

Arteta did appear to suggest Aubameyang would be back in contention to face the Hammers on Wednesday, but Arsenal have since communicated he is to be left at home.

A club statement read: "Following his latest disciplinary breach last week, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will no longer be our club captain, and will not be considered for selection for Wednesday's match against West Ham United.

"We expect all our players, particularly our captain, to work to the rules and standards we have all set and agreed.

"We are fully focused on tomorrow's match."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy and will not be considered for selection to face West Ham following last week's disciplinary breach, the club has confirmed.

UEFA has confirmed the Champions League last-16 draw will have to be re-done after a technical error with the initial procedure.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain were set to face each other in the knockout stage, but that headline fixture and the other ties will have to be redrawn after what UEFA labelled as a "technical problem with the software of an external service provider that instructs the officials as to which teams are eligible to play each other."

United were initially drawn to face Villarreal, but the sides were unable to play each other as they had previously featured in the same group.

After complaints from affected clubs, including Atletico Madrid, UEFA later announced the draw would take place again at 1500 CET (1400 GMT).

UEFA's deputy general secretary, Giorgio Marchetti, spotted the mistake involving United's ball and ordered the tie to be drawn again. Manchester City were instead picked to go against Villarreal.

Yet United, due to the technical error, were subsequently blocked from being selected as one of the teams eligible to play the next team, which was LaLiga champions Atleti.

Bayern Munich were ultimately picked to face Atleti, while United were drawn in the glamour tie of the round against PSG – a game that would have seen Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi meet in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since the 2010-11 semi-finals.

The re-draw could well benefit United, given the challenge of facing PSG. However, holders Chelsea and Liverpool were handed favourable draws against Lille and Salzburg respectively.

Inter had been due to face Ajax, while Sporting CP were up against Juventus. Real Madrid had been drawn against Benfica.

UEFA has confirmed the Champions League last-16 draw will have to be re-done after a technical error with the initial procedure.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain were set to face each other in the knockout stage, but that headline fixture and the other ties will have to be redrawn after what UEFA labelled as a "technical problem with the software of an external service provider that instructs the officials as to which teams are eligible to play each other."

United were initially drawn to face Villarreal, but the sides were unable to play each other as they had previously featured in the same group.

After complaints from affected clubs, including Atletico Madrid, UEFA later announced the draw would take place again at 1500 CET (1400 GMT).

Max Verstappen won a controversial rollercoaster Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton to sensationally claim his first Formula One world championship.

RB Leipzig head coach Jesse Marsch has left the club my mutual consent following Friday's 2-1 loss at Union Berlin, their third straight Bundesliga defeat. 

Marsch arrived from Salzburg as the successor to Julian Nagelsmann, who left for Bayern Munich, but has overseen a series of disappointing results, with the loss to Union and Saturday's results leaving them 11th in the table. 

Leipzig have already been eliminated from the Champions League and could yet miss out on a spot in the Europa League too as they sit level with Club Brugge on four points in Group A. 

Marsch has struggled to combine a high-intensity press with a solid defence, with the departure of France international centre-back Dayot Upamecano clearly still hurting the team. 

Only Cologne (8.6) have a better PPDA than Leipzig (8.6) in the Bundesliga this season – a measure of the number of opposition passes allowed before a defensive action – while the Red Bulls lead the league in high turnovers (159) and shot-ending high turnovers (26), though they have been unable to score from any of them. 

However, the defence has been Leipzig's downfall. They have already committed six errors leading to shots in the Bundesliga (an increase of one from the entirety of last season) and three of those have ended in goals. None of their mistakes directly resulted in goals conceded under Nagelsmann in 2020-21. 

Leipzig have conceded 18 goals in the top flight but have an expected goals (xG) against of 23.6. Their xG against in the 2020-21 top-flight campaign was 29.6. 

Leipzig entertain Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday and face Borussia Monchengladbach, Augsburg and Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga before the mid-season break. 

Lionel Messi has won a record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or after beating Robert Lewandowski to the most sought-after individual prize in football.

The Paris Saint-Germain star may have endured a somewhat slow start to life in France this season, but before that he was electric for Barcelona and Argentina.

It was surely his long-awaited first trophy success with La Albiceleste that gave Messi the edge over Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski. 

Messi captained Argentina to Copa America success in July, ending their 28-year drought in major international competitions.

 

At the Maracana – the scene of Argentina's 2014 World Cup final defeat to Germany – Messi helped Lionel Scaloni's men to a 1-0 win over bitter rivals and Copa hosts Brazil.

He had previously lost Copa finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016, briefly retiring after missing his penalty in the shootout that saw the trophy slip from their grasp in the latter.

Messi may not have had the decisive impact in this year's final, but over the course of the tournament he was deemed to have been the best player, scoring four goals and setting up another five – no one bettered him in either metric.

 

Lewandowski had been considered the favourite before then, partly due to breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season.

The Poland striker looked likely to have won the award in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Messi's success in Brazil seemed to tip the scales in his favour, with the 34-year-old increasing his lead over Cristiano Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or stakes, the Manchester United forward now two back on five after finishing sixth in the voting this time around.

Lewandowski did, however, win the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

Manchester United have appointed Ralf Rangnick as their interim manager until the end of the season.

Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United parted ways following the 4-1 humiliation at Watford, with the Red Devils announcing they were looking for a temporary boss until the end of the campaign when they will search for a permanent solution.

Rangnick, 63, leaves his role as head of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow to take up the vacancy at Old Trafford, which Michael Carrick had temporarily occupied.

Former midfielder Carrick took temporary charge for the 2-0 Champions League win at Villarreal and the 1-1 draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday.

Rangnick, whose appointment is subject to work visa requirements, will take up a two-year consultancy role with United once 2021-22 is concluded.

Rangnick, who is known for his high-pressing philosophy and influence on some of Bundesliga's brightest minds, started his career with his hometown club Viktoria Backnang.

After spells with the likes of Stuttgart, Hoffenheim, Hannover and Schalke, Rangnick enjoyed a brief managerial stint with RB Leipzig, who rose from the fourth tier of German football to the Bundesliga with the new United man as director of football.

Across 293 games in the German top flight, Rangnick has 120 victories to his name at a win percentage of 41, though he remains somewhat of an unknown quantity outside of his homeland.

Indeed, Rangnick has only faced United twice in his managerial career when in charge of Schalke, who were outclassed over two legs in the Champions League semi-final in 2011 as Alex Ferguson's side made their third final in four years.

The Red Devils are eighth in the Premier League, five points outside the top four and 12 adrift of Chelsea.

Manchester United have appointed Ralf Rangnick as their interim manager until the end of the season.

Club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United parted ways following the 4-1 humiliation at Watford, with the Red Devils announcing they were looking for a temporary boss until the end of the campaign when they will search for a permanent solution.

Rangnick, 63, leaves his role as head of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow to take up the vacancy at Old Trafford, which Michael Carrick had temporarily occupied.

Former midfielder Carrick took temporary charge for the 2-0 Champions League win at Villarreal and the 1-1 draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday.

Rangnick, whose appointment is subject to work visa requirements, will take up a two-year consultancy role with United once 2021-22 is concluded.

Rangnick, who is known for his high-pressing philosophy and influence on some of Bundesliga's brightest minds, started his career with his hometown club Viktoria Backnang.

After spells with the likes of Stuttgart, Hoffenheim, Hannover and Schalke, Rangnick enjoyed a brief managerial stint with RB Leipzig, who rose from the fourth tier of German football to the Bundesliga with the new United man as director of football.

Across 293 games in the German top flight, Rangnick has 120 victories to his name at a win percentage of 41, though he remains somewhat of an unknown quantity outside of his homeland.

Indeed, Rangnick has only faced United twice in his managerial career when in charge of Schalke, who were outclassed over two legs in the Champions League semi-final in 2011 as Alex Ferguson's side made their third final in four years.

The Red Devils are eighth in the Premier League, five points outside the top four and 12 adrift of Chelsea.

Gareth Southgate has signed a new deal to extend his stay as England manager through to December 2024, the Football Association (FA) has confirmed.

It means Southgate will remain in charge for the Three Lions' World Cup campaign in Qatar next year, and oversee qualifying for Euro 2024.

Southgate's assistant Steve Holland has also penned fresh terms to remain in his role.

"I am delighted that Steve and I have been able to extend our stay in our respective roles. It remains an incredible privilege to lead this team," Southgate said via an FA statement on Monday.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mark, John and the board for their support – and of course the players and support team for their hard work. 

"We have a great opportunity in front of us and I know they and the fans are all excited about what this squad could achieve in future."

Southgate initially took on the role on an interim basis in September 2016 after Sam Allardyce's tenure lasted just one match and 67 days after he became embroiled in newspaper accusations that he offered advice on how to circumvent rules on player signings.

Two months later, Southgate was appointed to the position on a permanent basis and oversaw qualification to the 2018 World Cup.

In Russia, England achieved their best result in international football's most prestigious tournament since 1990 with a run to the semi-finals, where they were defeated 2-1 by Croatia.

England went on to secure a third-place finish in the inaugural Nations League Finals a year later, before easily qualifying for Euro 2020.

That tournament was postponed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic but Southgate then guided England to just a second ever major tournament final appearance, where his side agonisingly lost out in a penalty shoot-out to Italy after a 1-1 draw at Wembley in July.

Having regrouped to secure a relatively safe passage to Qatar, Southgate has been rewarded with a new deal.

The FA's statement added: "Southgate, who marks five years in charge at the end of this month, has overseen a period of positive progress guiding England to a FIFA World Cup semi-final and UEFA Nations League third place before securing the best men’s performance in 55 years with the UEFA EURO final this summer."

Under Southgate's stewardship, England have won 44 of 68 matches (drawing 14 and losing 10) giving him a win percentage of 65. They have scored 152 times and conceded 42 in that time.

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