Ben Stokes became just the third Test cricketer to reach 100 sixes in the longest format, but his England side were taking a bruising in the third match of the series against New Zealand.

England captain Stokes had seen New Zealand advance from their overnight 225-5 to post 329 all out, before a collapse saw the home side slump to 21-4 in reply at Headingley.

That brought Stokes to the middle, and he elected to go immediately on the attack.

From the third ball he faced, Stokes slapped Tim Southee's delivery high over the long-off boundary.

It took him to a career haul of 100 Test sixes, matching the total achieved by former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist.

The only man to plunder more is Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand great who is now England's Test head coach.

McCullum cleared the ropes 107 times in his distinguished Test career.

The all-out-attack approach from Stokes did not bring the desired results, with the skipper cracking a delivery from Neil Wagner to Kane Williamson at mid-off to be out for 18 from 13 deliveries.

When Ben Foakes was pegged leg before wicket three balls later, without any addition to the score, England were in deep trouble on 55-6, having earlier seen Alex Lees, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley bowled by the hugely impressive Trent Boult.

The final match of the series is effectively a dead rubber, however, with England holding an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe is plotting a path to a first Champions League triumph after committing his future to the club.

The Ligue 1 champions are yet to win Europe's top prize, despite reaching the knockout stages of the competition in each of the past 10 seasons.

Having finished as runners-up in 2019-20 and made the semi-finals in 2020-21, PSG suffered frustration at an earlier stage in the most recent campaign, letting a two-goal lead slip in the last 16 against eventual winners Real Madrid.

Mbappe could have subsequently departed for Madrid, but he has instead stayed in Paris and wants to be part of the team that finally delivers the trophy.

"The Champions League with PSG is a clear goal," Mbappe told BFM TV. "It's what we want, but there is a path to take.

"First of all, we have to be a winner at the national level, because in the last two years we have not been."

Mbappe has individual achievements in his sights, too, ranking behind only Edinson Cavani (200) with 171 PSG goals.

Asked about the prospect of passing Cavani, the 23-year-old added: "It can happen, it would be wonderful."

Mbappe was typically prolific in 2021-22 as he scored 28 Ligue 1 goals, with only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski (35) beating that total in Europe's top five leagues.

The former Monaco forward also added 17 assists, putting him well clear with 45 goal involvements – a return that shows why Madrid were so keen to have him.

Italy great Fabio Cannavaro has suggested former club Napoli should attempt to sign Paulo Dybala, while making a "sacrifice" to renew Kalidou Koulibaly's contract.

Dybala appears set to join Inter when his Juventus contract expires at the end of June, with Romelu Lukaku also reportedly close to joining Simone Inzaghi's side on loan.

Napoli supporters have grown frustrated with president Aurelio De Laurentiis, with the Partenopei said to be looking to reduce their wage bill, leaving the future of Dries Mertens and Koulibaly in doubt.

Lorenzo Insigne has already left for MLS side Toronto and Cannavaro, who started his career in Naples, urged Napoli to move for Dybala.

"If I were in De Laurentiis I would make a proposal to Dybala," the World Cup winner told Corriere dello Sport.

While Napoli are unlikely to be able to acquire the Argentina international, Cannavaro also says they must do all in their power to keep Koulibaly.

Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester United are reportedly interested in the centre-back, whose contract is set to expire in June 2023.

De Laurentiis conceded earlier in May that the Senegal international could not be forced into staying after Koulibaly had stated "we'll see what happens at the end of the season".

"Kalidou represents a pillar of a team that in recent years has always been lucky enough to be able to count on him: if I were in the club I would make a sacrifice to keep him, to renew," Cannavaro added. 

"Maybe he has demands that some other club could satisfy, but it is difficult to find players like him in that role: we must keep them close. 

"There is a shortage [of such players], you can find a midfielder or a forward."

Luciano Spalletti will be keen to keep Koulibaly after Napoli conceded the joint-fewest goals in Serie A (31) and kept the second-most clean sheets (16 – behind Milan, 18) in the 2021-22 campaign.

It always feels somewhat presumptuous to talk about an NBA Draft in the immediate aftermath and judge who did well and who did not. Surely, we have to wait to see how things play out and whether players with immense potential are able to fulfil it?

However, what you can do is judge those who, on paper at least, seem to have struck gold and those who appeared to stumble through their Thursday evening and may well have come away disappointed with their haul.

The night started off delightfully chaotically as the Orlando Magic went against the widely predicted number one pick of Jabari Smith Jr and instead brought in Paolo Banchero.

Now the dust has settled after an interesting night, Stats Perform has taken a look at the potential winners and losers of the draft.

Winners

Houston Rockets

The Rockets could probably not believe their luck when the Magic decided to opt for Banchero. The Italian-American would have still been a fine first-round pick, but given the choice it seems like Houston would rather have taken Smith Jr, and they had the chance to do just that.

The youngster was a disruptive defender for Aubern, and clearly has sound fundamentals, a result no doubt of growing up in and around basketball, with his father Jabari Smith Sr a former NBA player himself.

Smith Jr averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists while shooting 42.9 per cent from the floor and 42 per cent from the three-point line in 2021-22, and should dovetail nicely with Alperen Sengun, a first-round pick from last year.

The Rockets also took Tari Eason, a breakout star at LSU, and TyTy Washington, a high-quality and versatile option who was expected to be picked up earlier in the night.

Detroit Pistons

A very similar moment of fortune fell for the Pistons as their top choice Jaden Ivey was surprisingly still available when it came to their number five pick, with the Sacramento Kings instead taking Keegan Murray.

In two seasons at Purdue, Ivey showed himself to be a top-five prospect with a well-rounded game, though questions persist about the consistency of his shooting. He averaged 17.3 points per game last season, though, with a field goal percentage of 46.0.

Detroit were also involved in a three-way trade with the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks. This ended with them procuring Jalen Duren and Kemba Walker in exchange for their 2025 first-round pick, having acquired it as part of the Jerami Grant trade to the Portland Trail Blazers earlier in the week.

Walker is expected to be bought out of his contract and become a free agent, so it looks like sound dealing to essentially trade a first-round pick to get Duren through the door, who averaged 12.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Memphis Tigers last season.

San Antonio Spurs

Nothing outrageous from the Spurs, but on the face of it, they ended the night with three solid picks.

Jeremy Sochan became the first British player to be picked in NBA Draft in over 10 years. As a freshman at Baylor, Sochan averaged 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game, making 47.4 per cent of his field goal attempts.

As that average suggests, one aspect to his game that could be improved is his shooting, but San Antonio's Chip Engelland is one of the best shooting coaches in the game and could well help the young man who was raised in Milton Keynes, England.

Malaki Branham looks a smart choice as the number 20 pick from Ohio State, with his one college season seeing him average 13.7 points on 49.8 per cent shooting, while Blake Wesley from Notre Dame also has the potential to also be a valuable arrival.

Losers

New York Knicks

After a poor season that felt like it would at least set them up for a productive draft, the Knicks appeared to overthink things at the draft, or underthink them depending on your viewpoint.

They decided to trade their number 11 pick for three future first-round picks, though none that really hold any value.

They managed to get Walker's contract out the door to the Pistons to free up some salary space, seemingly putting all their eggs in the Jalen Brunson basket, or potentially even Kyrie Irving. However, they only saved $9.2m from Walker's contract, which is not a lot considering they gave up one of their first-round picks. 

Who knows if it will pay off, but Knicks fans were almost certainly expecting more.

Washington Wizards

There was nothing particularly wrong with the picks from the Wizards, but as harsh as it may sound, they are in danger of becoming the NBA's dullest team.

A win percentage of 0.427 was down from 0.472 in 2020-21, and it felt like they might need to take a bit of a risk in the draft with their number 10 pick.

Johnny Davis is a fine player, averaging 19.7 points per game for the Wisconsin Badgers last year, the 25th highest in the college game, but someone like Duren could have been a roll of the dice for something to boost that win percentage sometime soon.

Who knows? It could be a sound strategy, but to be frank, it is a strategy that has not been working for the last few years in Washington.

Sacramento Kings

There is some sympathy with the situation the Kings were put in as the extremely obvious pick at four was Ivey, who had expressly said he did not want to go to Sacramento, so they went with Murray instead.

Murray is a fine prospect himself, and arguably a better fit than Ivey for the Kings, but the latter felt like an opportunity to at the very least have significant trade leverage.

Murray did average the fourth-highest points per game average last year with 23.5 for Iowa, while also adding 8.7 rebounds per game, so comes in as a promising addition.

Ivey will inevitably feel like the one who got away if he does what many think he will at Detroit, though, which could bring back memories of when Sacramento failed to take on Luka Doncic in 2018.

To suggest the next 12 months may well define Lionel Messi's career would be doing a disservice to what we have witnessed up close over the past 18 campaigns. 

From boy wonder to the greatest player ever in the view of many, and now into a new chapter with Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentina forward has nothing to prove to anyone.

And yet on the day he turns 35 – the average age of retirement for a footballer – questions continue to be asked of Messi. 

Will he win a World Cup – still in the eyes of many the real barometer of a truly great player, even in the era of the Champions League – before he retires? 

Can he prove himself in a different country after a mixed first season in France? Both of those questions will be answered before he celebrates his 36th birthday in a year's time.

Stats Perform looks at how Messi's game has already changed, and whether he is still capable of inspiring club and country to glory in possibly the biggest year of his career.
 

MESSI 2.0

Ten months have passed since the shock announcement that Messi was bringing an end to his 21-year association with Barcelona to join Ligue 1 giants PSG.

By his own high standards, Messi's first campaign in Paris was far from great. He scored 11 goals in 34 appearances, down on the 38 scored in his last season with Barca.

And those 11 goals came from an expected goals (xG) value of 16.8, meaning he scored 5.8 goals fewer than he should have based on the quality of his chances.

Among players in Europe's top-five leagues in all competitions last season, only six others had a worse return, with Lille striker Burak Yilmaz (8.11 differential) topping the list.

There were extenuating circumstances, of course, with Messi himself recently opening up on just how badly he struggled after testing positive for coronavirus in January.

The La Masia product also had to adapt to life outside the place he had called home for more than two decades, seeing him take on an entirely different role.

While his scoring figures dropped considerably, Messi set up 14 league goals – only once in his last five seasons at Camp Nou (21 in 2019-20) did he assist more in a campaign.

The majority of his assists last season came from a left-of-centre position outside the box, where he predominantly played alongside Neymar and just off Kylian Mbappe.


RONALDO SHOWS THE WAY

The 11 goals Messi scored at the age of 34 is his lowest return since the eight he netted when aged 18 and still in the infancy of his Barcelona career.

While that can be put down to a change of scenery, and being in the unfamiliar role of having to play second-fiddle to Mbappe, age is also surely a factor.

At 35 – or 34 as he was last season – Messi will inevitably have to rely more on his footballing brain than his legs to give him an advantage over opponents.

As showed by Cristiano Ronaldo, though, age is just a number when it comes to the very best, the Portugal star having scored 75 goals in 102 games since his 35th birthday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, four months shy of his 41st birthday, has scored an impressive 112 goals in 174 appearances since hitting 35, an age often perceived as being 'over the hill'.


ALL EYES ON QATAR

Playing a supporting role may well be something we must come accustomed to when it comes to club level, but for Argentina Messi very much still remains the main man.

That was clear to see earlier this month when, in his final game in a gruelling campaign, Messi scored all five of Argentina's goals in their thumping friendly win over Estonia.

That five-goal showing rightly attracted plenty of focus, though it was arguably four days earlier in his side's 3-0 'Finalissima' victory over Italy that Messi truly showed his quality.

Messi pulled the strings from a slightly deeper position as Argentina, who also boast the likes of Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala, showed their credentials.

He assisted two of Argentina's three goals, including a delightful turn to leave Giovanni Di Lorenzo trailing in his wake before setting up Martinez for a simple finish. 

On the back of ending their 28-year wait for silverware in 2021 with victory at the Copa America, Lionel Scaloni's men now look good value to challenge for the World Cup.

Regardless of any more titles he adds to his collection at PSG, Messi lifting the most famous trophy of them all in Qatar later this year would be the defining image of his career.

Different now he may be, but Messi has a chance to show in his 35th year that he has plenty more left in the tank to turn a great career into the greatest.

The Brooklyn Nets could be set to lose their two biggest stars with Kyrie Irving eyeing up other teams and Kevin Durant monitoring the situation, according to multiple reports. 

By June 29, Irving must decide whether to take up his $36.5million player option for the 2022-23 season or opt out and test free agency or sign a new deal with the Nets. 

Talks are understood to be at an impasse and ESPN reported on Thursday that if an agreement cannot be reached, the seven-time All-Star would pursue a sign-and-trade. 

It was claimed the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers were on Irving's list of favoured destinations. 

According to The Athletic, the uncertainty surrounding the Nets has led to Durant considering his future with the franchise. 

Durant signed an extension through the 2025-26 season last year, but would reportedly seek a trade if Irving departed. 

Irving is said to have engaged in conversations with former Cleveland Cavaliers team-mate LeBron James about a reunion at the Lakers. The pair led the Cavaliers to the NBA championship in 2016, but parted ways the following season. 

Across the three seasons they have both been in Brooklyn, Irving and Durant have only played a total of 58 games together. 

Durant sat out the entire 2019-20 season due to an Achilles injury, while he missed significant time in each of the following two campaigns through hamstring and knee problems respectively. 

Irving, meanwhile, was a bit-part player for much of 2021-22 after he refused to comply with the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

Matthijs de Ligt should be allowed to leave Juventus if the right offer is made, according to club legend Ciro Ferrara.

The Netherlands international is under contract at the Allianz Stadium until June 2024, but is yet to agree an extension with the Bianconeri.

Chelsea have been linked with a move for the 22-year-old, who has a release clause of €125million.

De Ligt has been a regular in the heart of the Juve defence since arriving from Ajax for €85.5million in 2019.

The centre-half has racked up 117 appearances across all competitions, scoring eight goals, and winning the Serie A title during his maiden season with the Old Lady.

Ferrara, who won five Scudettos and the Champions League with Juve between 1994 and 2005, acknowledged De Ligt's importance, but insists the club should not stand in his way.

The former defender told Tutti Convocati: "We have to understand if De Ligt has the right motivation.

"He is an important figure in the defence. But if he wants to leave, then Juve will not hold him against his will."

Top seed Daniil Medvedev crashed out of the Mallorca Championships following a straight-sets defeat by Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter-finals.

Reigning champion Medvedev was a commanding winner when he locked horns with Bautista Agut in Halle last week.

But the Spaniard gained revenge this time around, prevailing 6-3 6-2 for his fourth victory in five meetings with the world number one.

"I had to play very good to beat Daniil," said the former Wimbledon semi-finalist. "He’s the number one; the last champion here in Mallorca. He just beat me a few days ago.

"I played a really compete match. I was more convinced with my game, hitting strong, very solid. I think I did a really good match."

Next up for the Doha champion is Antoine Bellier after the Swiss qualifier came from behind to defeat Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

Elsewhere, Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to his first tour-level semi-final on grass after eventually seeing off Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3.

The former Roland Garros runner-up, who hit 13 aces, claimed the crucial break in game eight of the deciding set to extend his record tally of wins for the campaign to 38.

The world number six will play Benjamin Bonzi in the last four after the Frenchman overcame Daniel Altmaier 6-3 6-4.

Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie was beaten in the quarter-finals of the Eastbourne International, the top seed going down 7-5 7-5 against Maxime Cressy.

The debutant hit 10 aces and won 80 per cent of points on his first serve to advance to a second tour-level semi-final of the season.

There, he will play Jack Draper, who built on his victory over Diego Schwartzman by downing compatriot Ryan Peniston 6-3 6-3 to seal his maiden ATP semi-final appearance.

Reigning champion Alex De Minaur overcame Tommy Paul 6-2 4-6 6-4 to set up a clash with 2019 winner Taylor Fritz, who claimed his seventh successive victory at Eastbourne after seeing off Alexander Bublik 6-3 6-2 in just 67 minutes.

England goalkeeper Nick Pope has secured his Premier League future by joining Newcastle United after suffering the pain of relegation with Burnley.

Pope, 30, has reportedly cost Newcastle around £10million and is expected to replace Martin Dubravka as Eddie Howe's number one.

The former Charlton Athletic player has signed a four-year contract at Newcastle and becomes the Magpies' second confirmed deal of the close season, after Matt Targett's loan move last term was made permanent.

Pope, capped eight times by England, continued to impress at Burnley even as the Clarets headed for the Championship. It was inevitable he would leave after they went down, given his desire to play at the World Cup later this year.

Among goalkeepers with at least 10 appearances in the 2021-22 Premier League, Pope had the fourth best save percentage (71.69 per cent).

He managed nine clean sheets from 36 appearances, which was more shut-outs than Manchester United's David de Gea (eight from 38 games) and West Ham's Lukasz Fabianski (eight from 37 games).

While at Burnley, where he spent six seasons, he was named in the 2019-20 Premier League team of the year after keeping 15 clean sheets, which was bettered only by Manchester City's Ederson.

Head coach Howe said: "Nick is an exceptional Premier League and international level goalkeeper, so I'm very pleased to be adding strong competition to a very important position.

"There has been a lot of interest in him from other clubs this summer, so I'd like to thank our owners and everyone behind the scenes for getting us ahead of the competition.

"I'm delighted he is joining us as we prepare for the exciting challenge ahead."

Pope is relishing the challenge, with Newcastle having enjoyed a revival in the second half of the season following an influx of transfer funds from the club's new Saudi owners.

From looking like relegation fodder, Newcastle raced up the table to finish in 11th place, while Burnley ended up 18th in the 20-team table.

Pope said Newcastle had been "taking good steps in the right direction in the recent past".

"This club maybe underperformed in the past a little and would like to perform better. The ambitions are there to go to the next level," Pope added in an interview on the club's website.

"It's something for myself that's really exciting to be a part of."

Newcastle confirmed the long-anticipated arrival of sporting director Dan Ashworth in May, after he left Brighton and Hove Albion, and have been strongly linked in recent weeks with Lille defender Sven Botman and Reims forward Hugo Ekitike.

Eddie Nketiah says it was "almost impossible" to leave Arsenal after he was given a run of games in the Premier League towards the back end of last season.

The England U21 international's contract at the Emirates Stadium was due to expire following the end of the 2021-22 season, making him available for a free transfer, and the Gunners were unable to secure fresh terms with the striker prior to the end of the season.

Nketiah's future looked set to lie away from north London until his 90 minutes against Southampton in April, his first Premier League start of the season, and he struck a brace four days later in a 4-2 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Mikel Arteta would stick with the Hale End academy graduate for the remainder of the season, as he started the final eight games of the Gunners' Premier League campaign and struck five goals – with only Tottenham's Son Heung-Min scoring more in the same timeframe.

While Nketiah's future was unresolved during this period, the young striker has made it clear that Arteta's faith in him gave him an easy decision to make.

"Everyone knows how much I love Arsenal. I have come through the academy, I have the attachment with the club," he told the Telegraph.

"The manager was very supportive and pushed a lot for me to stay. Once I had those kinds of assurances, and no doubts that I will get opportunities to play next season, it was almost impossible for me to leave.

"That run [of matches] really helped me. It gave me the feeling I always wanted, that I have craved. That feeling of playing well, doing well, scoring. It helped me with my decision and made it a lot clearer.

"Experiencing that with my family, we knew this is the place to be. There is nothing quite like doing well for the club you support and love."

Nketiah's new contract also sees him take Arsenal's famous number 14 shirt, previously worn by all-time record scorer Thierry Henry, but he does not believe it comes with additional pressure.

"We know it is a special shirt and Thierry has made it cool to wear this shirt, just like he did with long socks and gloves," he added.

"It is what we have grown up with. But I am just trying to be the best version of myself. I’m focused on creating my own memories in that shirt, leaving my own stamp on it.

"You still have to deliver. There is always going to be pressure, whether you are wearing number 30, or 14, or whatever, because that is what comes with playing for Arsenal."

Neymar's former agent Wagner Ribiero believes the Brazilian is not about to leave Paris Saint-Germain as he is still dreaming of Champions League glory with the French champions.

The 30-year-old is contracted in Paris until 2025, but there have been rumours that PSG could look to offload him, having signed Lionel Messi in 2021 and recently renewing Kylian Mbappe's contract.

A return to Barcelona has long been muted for Neymar, with whom he won the Champions League with in 2014-15, while he has also previously spoken about his desire to play in the United States. 

However, when quizzed about Neymar's future, Ribiero made it clear his understanding that the former Santos starlet is not considering an exit and has his eyes firmly set on ending PSG's wait for Champions League glory.

"Neymar has a dream: to be champion of the Champions League with PSG," he told Goal.

"Despite all the rumours regarding a possible exit, he is very motivated and will not stop until he achieves it."

 

Asked whether Neymar likes the project at PSG, he added: "Of course. Every year that passes Nasser Al-Khelaifi (club president) improves the team in every way.

"They just finished the training centre, which will be one of the best. And now he wants to have the best French players at PSG."

Since Neymar joined PSG in 2017, the French giants have been eliminated at the quarter-final stage in three of the five seasons – finishing runners-up in 2019-20 and falling at the semi-finals the following year.

During that period, Neymar has scored 20 Champions League goals and secured 13 assists – with the only player to have more assists in the same period being team-mate Mbappe.

Christopher Nkunku has signed a new deal with RB Leipzig, extending his deal with the club until 2026.

The two-year agreement for the France international comes amid recent reported transfer interest from a number of clubs, including Chelsea and Manchester United, but cements his immediate future to the Bundesliga side.

Signed from Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, Nkunku has excelled at Leipzig, and broke a club record last season for most goal contributions in a single season with a direct hand in 54 goals.

Nkunku was also a part of the Leipzig side that won the club's first ever DFB-Pokal last season.

Despite reported interest from elsewhere, Nkunku has committed his future to the German side and is targeting further honours.

 

"I’m pleased to continue wearing the RB Leipzig shirt. After our great achievement in winning the DFB-Pokal, it remained clear that my story here isn't over yet – we want more!" He told the club's official website.

"I was really impressed with the club's efforts to keep me, so a big thanks goes to those responsible for the trust in me and especially to [CEO] Oliver Mintzlaff, with whom I was always in close contact. 

"RB Leipzig have made a name for themselves on the international stage in recent years and have shown time and again that we can compete for titles. We want to build on that going forward and go one step further.”

Leipzig begin the new season with a DFB Supercup clash against Bayern Munich on July 30, with the new Bundesliga campaign commencing away to Stuttgart on August 6.

Manchester United overlooking Antonio Conte hurt Patrice Evra, who has no doubt his former Juventus boss could have turned things around at Old Trafford. 

Conte was linked with United ahead of the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last November, but Ralf Rangnick was given the nod as an interim boss with a view to changing the club from the top down as a consultant at the end of the 2021-22 season. 

Rangnick averaged 1.5 points per game and a win percentage of 42 in the Premier League – both of which were record lows in the competition for a Red Devils manager – as United failed to qualify for the Champions League. 

Conte ended up at Tottenham instead and steered them from ninth to a top-four finish, leaving Evra to wonder what might have been. 

"It hurts my heart because I think Conte, [Jurgen] Klopp, [Pep] Guardiola – all those managers are the best in the world right now and we could have had him at Manchester United," Evra told The Mirror. 

"But some people at the club, they said: 'It's not our style, it's not what we’re looking for.' 

"So let's see, now we have Erik ten Hag. Let's see what he's going to do. He has my support. But then, even if you brought a chef in, as the manager of Man United, he'd have my full support." 

Evra added: "It's a massive disappointment because he [Conte] could have done something at Man United. 

"And you can see with Tottenham, he helped them to qualify for the Champions League spot. They have the same players, so that's why this manager is a genius. 

"When I arrived at Juventus, every player told me: 'Patrice, this guy is a genius. He's addicted, he's so passionate about football. So you're going to run really hard. He's going to make you sweat.' 

"But if you look at the Tottenham fans, they are so happy because when they see the players now, win or lose, they give everything. That's the mentality of Antonio Conte. 

"That's why I say it hurts. Not because it's Tottenham – I love every team – but it's just because Conte could have done something." 

Vinicius Junior will be one of the leading candidates for the Ballon d'Or in 2023, according to Rivaldo. 

Brazil international Vinicius was a key part of the Real Madrid side that won LaLiga and the Champions League in 2021-22, scoring the only goal of the game as Los Blancos beat Liverpool in the European final. 

The 21-year-old scored 22 goals and supplied 16 assists – more than he managed across the previous three campaigns combined – in 52 games in all competitions. Only Kylian Mbappe (60), Karim Benzema (59), Christopher Nkunku (51) and Mohamed Salah (46) were involved in more goals in all competitions among players in the top five European leagues. 

Benzema is the favourite for the 2022 Ballon d'Or, which will be awarded in October, but World Cup-winning former attacker Rivaldo believes next year could be Vinicius' time. 

"After a fantastic season with Real Madrid, in which he scored the goal that won the Champions League, I can only hope the young Brazilian attacker continues to develop in this way," Rivaldo told Betfair. 

"He has improved a lot in front of goal and if he continues like this he can claim to be the star of Real Madrid, because Karim Benzema will retire one day. 

"It's hard to name favourites [for the Ballon d'Or] when the season hasn't started, but I don't seem him behind Kylian Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne and others. 

"The titles that each club wins will be very important in the final choice." 

Ben Stokes hailed Eoin Morgan as a "phenomenal leader" and Jos Buttler also voiced his support amid questions over the England white-ball captain's role in the side.

Stokes has taken the Test captaincy by storm, winning his first two matches against the world Test champions New Zealand, while England have been playing white-ball fixtures in the Netherlands.

England coasted to an eighth straight ODI win on Wednesday, their longest run since a streak between January and May 2017 (also eight), to complete the series sweep over the Netherlands.

Morgan missed that outing in the Amsterdam suburbs due to a groin issue, but the 35-year-old failed to score a run in each of the first two games.

The England white-ball skipper has passed 50 just once in his last eight ODI innings since scoring 106 against Ireland in February 2020, but Stokes was quick to back Morgan.

"Well, he's only had two low scores so I wouldn't say he's going through a hard time at the moment," said Stokes as England prepare for the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley on Thursday.

"I think the press are the only ones giving him a hard time and I think the players have shown it's not an issue with them.

"People are allowed to not score many runs and more than that he's our captain. He's a phenomenal leader and always will be so I've got no issues with anything going on with him at the moment."

Buttler stepped in as captain against the Netherlands in the absence of Morgan, blasting an unbeaten 86 from 64 deliveries as England chased 245 in just 30.1 overs.

The absence of Morgan was labelled as a "precautionary issue" by England and Buttler assured his captain has the backing of the entire team.

"There's certainly no questioning of his position from within the camp," Buttler said. "I can't put into words what he's achieved. 

"Everyone always talks about his captaincy but you forget what a brilliant batsman he's been for England in over 200 ODIs – that doesn't just go away overnight. Everyone in the team is backing him."

The destructive white-ball form of Buttler has led to suggestions he could return to the England Test side, with Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum encouraging an aggressive brand of cricket.

Buttler acknowledged he is in the form of his life, but says there has been no contact regarding a return to the red-ball team.

"I'd have to say yes," said Buttler, when asked whether he was in the form of his life. "The IPL was incredibly special personally to have a tournament like that, I surprised myself.

"I think what's important for us in white-ball cricket in England is we talk about playing in a particular fashion and we must try and live that to the max.

"Of course, there's a bit of a risk element to that way of playing but it's what we ask of everyone."

"I haven't had any conversations with anyone about [the Test team]. I'm very happy with where I'm at, at the moment. It might not ever be a question that has to be answered."

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