Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek believes he still has the quality to play for England and dreams of featuring at the 2022 World Cup.

Loftus-Cheek earned his maiden call-up to Gareth Southgate's squad when on loan at Crystal Palace in November 2017, producing a man-of-the-match performance on his senior debut in a 0-0 draw with Germany.

The 26-year-old was then a part of Southgate's 23-man party for the 2018 World Cup and appeared as a second-half substitute in the opening win over Tunisia.

However, he did not feature for the rest of the tournament, in which England were beaten semi-finalists by Croatia, and injuries forced him to withdraw from each national squad during the 2018-19 campaign.

A ruptured Achilles suffered in May 2019 kept him on the sidelines for over a year, but Loftus-Cheek now features regularly at Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel after a season on loan at Fulham in 2020-21.

Loftus-Cheek has played his most Premier League minutes for Chelsea this term (1,309) and started his most games (13), and he insists he still has the ability to perform for England, who head to Qatar in November.

"It's always a dream for me to play for England at a World Cup, so it was an incredible experience to be part of the squad in 2018 off the back of my first full Premier League season at Crystal Palace," he told Sky Sports. 

"I was feeling good but I've not been in the fold now for a while. I still want to play for England and I still believe my qualities will allow me to.

"I'll keep pushing but the focus right now is on getting a top-four finish and winning the FA Cup with Chelsea."

Loftus-Cheek's attention will turn to an FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday, after Chelsea visit strugglers Leeds United in the league on Wednesday.

The midfielder, who made his 50th league start for Chelsea last week, also believes his long-awaited chance to feature regularly offers those in the Blues' academy hope and a clear pathway to the first team.

"Chelsea have always brought through talent and made talent coming through the ranks," he added.

"For me, maybe I didn't really have anyone to look up to. Other than John Terry, there weren't players coming through from the academy to the first team regularly.

"I didn't have the idol to look up to and see where I could go but now you see the players who have reached the first team and hopefully the boys can see there is a pathway and see it can be done in different ways.

"You might not just go straight through, you might have to go on loan, but the pathway is there to end up in the Chelsea first team.

"If you're coming through from the Under 18s or Under 23s, just training with the first team can help so much.

"You can soak in so much information, but it does reach a point where you've played with the first team for a bit and you feel you can handle that level then for sure there's no substitute for playing regularly – whether that's in the Championship or a different country.

"You just need to get that stimulus of playing every week, and that's the foundation of your footballing knowledge. It helps you to better understand your body.

"I didn't necessarily have that consistency growing up so it was very difficult for me to have that base of fitness and confidence in myself but everyone has a different journey.

"Hopefully we can inspire those boys in the Under-23s and below that it can be done."

FIFA has confirmed Brazil and Argentina will have to replay last September's abandoned World Cup qualifier after rejecting appeals from both countries' football federations. 

The original fixture in Sao Paolo was abandoned after just five minutes when Brazilian health officials entered the pitch, with players Emiliano Martinez, Emiliano Buendia, Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso accused by the Brazilian government of providing false information on their immigration forms and breaking the nation's Covid-19 laws.

FIFA's original ruling on the matter was announced in February, ordering the fixture to be replayed with all four of those players suspended and handing fines to both sides.

Both countries' federations subsequently lodged appeals against those measures, but FIFA has now confirmed the fixture will be replayed at an as-yet unspecified date and venue.

A statement from world football's governing body on Monday said: "The FIFA Appeal Committee has taken decisions on the appeals lodged by the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) and the Argentinian Football Association (AFA).

"After analysing the submissions of both parties and considering all circumstances of the case, the Appeal Committee confirmed that the match would be replayed and also upheld the fine of CHF 50,000 that was imposed on both associations as a result of the abandonment."

Brazil and Argentina have both qualified for the tournament in Qatar in comfortable fashion, with Brazil sitting top of the CONMEBOL qualification group with 45 points after an as-yet unbeaten campaign, and Argentina second with 39 points, meaning the replayed fixture will have no impact on the final standings.

United States centre-back Miles Robinson is a major doubt for the World Cup after rupturing the Achilles tendon in his left leg.

The 25-year-old sustained the non-contact injury in the 14th minute of Atlanta United's 4-1 MLS win over Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Robinson, who has been capped 21 times by USA, slammed the turf in frustration and was stretchered off.

Atlanta confirmed on Monday that the defender will undergo surgery to rectify the damage.

While no timeframe has been given for Robinson's return, he is not likely to play again before Qatar 2022, which runs from November 21 until December 18.

He had become a regular for USA alongside Walker Zimmerman in their World Cup qualifying campaign, but coach Gregg Berhalter may now be forced to rethink his plans.

Berhalter's side have been drawn in a group alongside England, Iran and one of Scotland, Ukraine or Wales.

Didier Deschamps and France have agreed not to discuss a new contract until after the World Cup but that does not mean Zinedine Zidane is guaranteed to take charge of Les Blues, says French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.

Deschamps became France boss in 2012 and has since signed two contract extensions, the latter of which came after World Cup glory at Russia 2018.

The 53-year-old's current deal expires after Les Blues aim to defend their title at Qatar 2022, leading to speculation that former Real Madrid boss Zidane will be appointed after the tournament.

Le Graet suggested the appointment of Zidane has not already been pre-agreed as he placed his support behind Deschamps.

"We both agreed not to renew him until after the World Cup," Le Graet said of Deschamps to L'Equipe. "He's not mad at me. He adores me. I think he will never say anything bad about me. 

"He lost a game in the European Championship and for much of France, he should have been fired [after the last-16 exit to Switzerland at Euro 2020].

"We'll see at the end of the World Cup if he wants to renew. We will spend time in Guingamp to discuss."

When pressed for an answer as to Zidane taking charge as Deschamps' successor, Le Graet responded: "First of all, you have to be careful with what you say. Zidane showed in Madrid that he had qualities that were barely imagined. 

"In the minds of the French, he could be a successor. But that is not my goal. We'll see. If Didier and I split up, he will definitely be one of the options.

"I'm not going to say to myself: 'I hope Didier says he doesn't want to renew and I go see Zidane'. Do you see me saying today: 'It is Zidane who is going to replace Deschamps'? We'll see.

"Maybe Zidane will take charge of Paris Saint-Germain. To train the national team you have to be free. But today we will do everything possible to put Didier in the best conditions to win this World Cup."

Indeed, Zidane emerged as a favourite when reports circulated in France that Mauricio Pochettino's PSG job was under threat after Champions League elimination at the last-16 stage to Real Madrid.

Even if Zidane is available, Le Graet insists he has learnt from the mistakes of his predecessor and will not seek a new manager while Deschamps is still at the helm.

"I will never do what my predecessor [Jean-Pierre Escalettes] did, who had already signed Laurent Blanc before going to South Africa for the [2010] World Cup," he added.

"[Raymond] Domenech was already on alert. How do you expect the players to respect you when a successor has already been named? 

"It doesn't work and never will. In no case will I see another coach before having lunch with Didier after the World Cup."

Brazil legend Dani Alves is dreaming of winning the World Cup for the first time in Qatar to leave a legacy in the twilight of his career.

Alves turned 39 on Friday but the veteran Barcelona full-back is still going strong at the highest level.

The veteran has won an incredible haul of medals during his illustrious club career, while he helped his country win the Copa America twice and captained Brazil to Olympic glory in Tokyo last year.

It is 20 years since the Selecao last won the World Cup and Alves missed the 2018 tournament in Russia due to injury.

The Barca great says he has given plenty of thought to what might happen if he lifts the World Cup and hopes to realise that ambition this year.

He told Marca: "This is a question I have been asking myself since I started playing. After I win, what happens? The answer is always the same. We don't live for trophies, we live for legacy.

"But, not for the legacy we leave for people, but for the legacy we leave in people. This is the most important title I'm going to win.

"Is winning the World Cup a dream? Of course it is, but it is the same for all the teams that participate and for everyone who strives to be better every day."

Brazil have been drawn in Group G with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Qatar.

Edgar Davids declared he was "proud" to be reunited with Louis van Gaal after being appointed assistant coach of the Netherlands national team.

Dutch great Davids will step into the role immediately and is set to be heavily involved in the lead-up to, and throughout, the World Cup later this year.

The 49-year-old, who was nicknamed 'Pitbull' by Van Gaal when the pair worked together at Ajax in the 1990s, has taken over from Henk Fraser who is leaving to become head coach of FC Utrecht.

Davids said: "I am not only proud but also very enthusiastic that I can continue my career as a coach together with such a renowned coach as Louis van Gaal and that I can work with the absolute best of the Netherlands."

His role will be that of 'second assistant'. Van Gaal's first assistant is another veteran of the great Ajax teams of the 1990s, Danny Blind.

Van Gaal announced in April he had undergone treatment for prostate cancer, and declared that had been a success. He will lead the Netherlands at Qatar 2022 before stepping down to be replaced by Ronald Koeman, and the veteran boss believes Davids can make a positive contribution to the Oranje national team.

The 70-year-old Van Gaal, in his third spell as Netherlands coach, said: "I am delighted that Edgar Davids will join our technical staff.

"After it was clear that Henk Fraser will focus entirely on FC Utrecht from next season, I asked Edgar if he wanted to become my – second – assistant at the Oranje squad.

"Our paths have crossed regularly in the past and I am convinced that he will fill this role in an excellent way. The players can take full advantage of his experience as an international at four international final tournaments, among other things."

Davids has little experience of hands-on coaching, and none at the highest levels of the game, but his playing career was highly successful, taking in stints with the likes of Ajax, Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter and Tottenham. His coaching roles have come at Barnet, Telstar and Olhanense.

He won 74 caps for the Netherlands and captained the team 12 times, with tournament experience coming at three European Championships and one World Cup.

Inter's unlikely 2009-10 Champions League success under Jose Mourinho could inspire Cameroon to a shock World Cup triumph in Qatar, according to the former Nerazzurri and Indomitable Lions striker Samuel Eto'o.

The Cameroon great was part of the Inter side that completed a stunning treble in 2009-10, winning a fifth consecutive Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and their first Champions League or European Cup title in 45 years.

Diego Milito's brace was enough to down Bayern Munich in the final of UEFA's elite club competition, with Eto'o assisting the Argentina international for his second goal to wrap up victory.

Inter overcame Chelsea and Barcelona either side of defeating of CSKA Moscow en route to the final, and Eto'o – who is now president of the Cameroonian Football Federation – optimistically believes his country can follow the Nerazzurri's example at Qatar 2022.

"I don't see why he can't win it," he told reporters in Milan, where the 41-year-old has returned to announce a charity friendly game in San Siro on May 23 that will include the likes of Francesco Totti and Lionel Messi.

"I believe that in order to win the World Cup you don't need to be monsters or aliens, you need good preparation, a strong mentality and a pinch of madness.

"I won a bit in my career and to do it I gave everything. 

"I always take Inter as an example: no one at the beginning of the 2009-10 season thought we could win [the Champions League] and instead Mourinho did something crazy, with a group of men and warriors.

"I would like something like that for Cameroon too."

Cameroon's best performance at a World Cup saw them famously reach the 1990 quarter-finals, but they did not make it out of the group in any of their other six participations, failing to even register a point at either South Africa 2010 or Brazil 2014.

Having missed out on Russia 2018, Cameroon will have to overcome the world's number-one ranked side Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in Group G later this year.

The shirt worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the "Hand of God" goal has fetched over £7million at auction, the highest price ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia.

Maradona scored two of the most memorable goals in World Cup history to knock England out at the quarter-final stage in the 1986 tournament in Mexico.

The late, great former Argentina captain rose above Peter Shilton to knock the first in with his fist at the Azteca Stadium, with the officials failing to spot the infringement.

Moments later, he beat a series of England players with a sublime dribble on the way to scoring a magnificent solo goal as Argentina won 2-1 and went on to be crowned world champions.

England midfielder Steve Hodge ended up with the shirt after swapping with Maradona – who passed away in November 2020 – following the match.

The shirt has been on loan to the National Football Museum in Manchester, but was put up for auction at Sotheby's in London for a bidding period between April 20 to May 4, with estimators expecting it to collect around £4m.

However, the successful bid ended up being significantly higher, with Sotheby's confirming on Wednesday that the shirt went for a whopping £7,142,500.

That eye-watering total makes it the most expensive piece of sporting attire in history, with a 1928-30 road jersey of baseball icon Babe Ruth setting the previous record in 2019, going for £4.4m ($5.6m).

Ukraine's hopes of reaching the World Cup will be decided in early June after new dates were confirmed for the postponed play-off games.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine meant the original plan to play Scotland in March was shelved and the knock-on effect was that Wales have also been kept waiting.

To reach the finals in Qatar, Ukraine must win away to Scotland on Wednesday, June 1, before coming out on top in another away game against Wales on June 5.

Wales secured their place in the final round of the play-offs with a 2-1 victory against Austria on March 24, which had been the original date for the Scotland-Ukraine fixture.

The winner of the final European play-off will go into a World Cup group alongside England, Iran and the United States.

UEFA announced the new play-off dates on Thursday, as well as explaining how its Nations League opening fixtures, also set for the June international window, would be rearranged to allow for Ukraine, Wales and Scotland to fulfil their World Cup commitments.

European football's governing body said it had held "extensive discussions" with eight national associations who would be affected by the World Cup games being switched to the intended Nations League dates and said there had been "a remarkable spirit of solidarity and cooperation" in negotiating an updated schedule.

Wales were due to play Poland in the Nations League on June 3, but that game has been switched to June 1, meaning Rob Page's team will have a competitive game in the build-up to facing either Scotland or Ukraine.

Scotland had been due to play Ukraine in the Nations League on June 7, but that game has been shunted back to September 21, with both teams then due to play three games in seven days.


Nations League group A4 and B1 games affected by World Cup play-offs, with new dates:

June 1: A4 - Poland v Wales
June 4: B1 - Armenia v Republic of Ireland
June 8: A4 - Belgium v Poland, Wales v Netherlands; Scotland v Armenia, Republic of Ireland v Ukraine
June 11: A4 - Netherlands v Poland, Wales v Belgium
June 14: A4 - Netherlands v Wales, Poland v Belgium
September 21: B1 - Scotland v Ukraine
September 24: B1 - Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Armenia v Ukraine
September 27: B1 - Republic of Ireland v Armenia, Ukraine v Scotland

Sergio Ramos says he has "four or five more years" left at a high level despite struggling for game time since his move to Paris Saint-German. 

The 36-year-old has endured an injury-hit first campaign in the French capital, playing 392 minutes across his seven appearances in all competitions, just four of which were starts. 

However, the former Real Madrid defender impressed on his return to the line-up in PSG's 6-1 thrashing of Clermont last time out, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe each netted hat-tricks and Lionel Messi claimed three assists. 

Ramos completed 99 of his 105 attempted passes – both of which were game highs – during the Ligue 1 leaders' dominant win. 

The defender now says he believes he can play at the highest level into his forties, insisting he feels back to his physical best. 

"I see myself playing four or five more years at a high level, and then [I'll have] another experience," Ramos told Amazon Prime Video in France. 

"Here in Paris, I have two more years [on my contract], I'll try to make it three, [with] one more, we'll see.  

"As long as my physique holds up, I think my head is very focused. Now, I'm very well, very happy and eager to play." 

Ramos' excellent distribution from the back contributed to PSG completing 93.6 per cent of their passes against Clermont, the highest percentage managed by any Ligue 1 team since Opta began recording such data in the 2006-07 season. 

Meanwhile, Ramos refused to say whether he preferred international football to the club game, having won an incredible 180 caps for Spain during a glittering career that has seen him win one World Cup and two European Championships. 

He never formally retired from international duty despite being left out of Luis Enrique's squad for Euro 2020 and could yet look to fight his way back into the coach's plans for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

"It's a difficult question to answer," Ramos added. "The feeling of your homeland and your country is always something very big. [The feeling] that your team is to whom you owe yourself, [that] you have to play well in your [club] team to be selected.  

"They are both a unique feeling, I can't keep [only] one, although with the national team you can aspire to be a world champion." 

PSG have a 12-point lead over second-placed Marseille in Ligue 1, and Mauricio Pochettino's team can take a huge step towards securing the French title when they face their nearest rivals on Sunday. 

Pep Guardiola says he will happily manage Manchester City for the rest of his career as he shut down speculation linking him with the soon-to-be-vacant Brazil job.

With head coach Tite set to step down after the World Cup, reports from Spain earlier this week suggested Brazil have already reached out to Guardiola.

According to Marca, Brazil are willing to pay Guardiola a salary of €12million (£10m) a year through until after the next World Cup in 2026.

However, asked about the rumours on Friday, Guardiola made clear that he cannot see himself managing any side other than City.

"Not today, come on," he told a news conference.

"I'm under contract here and I'm so happy. I'm willing to stay forever here. There cannot be a better place to be [than City]. 

"I'd extend the contract ten years but I could not extend the contract ten years. Now is not the moment. I don't know where it's come from."

Guardiola was speaking ahead of Sunday's huge showdown with Premier League title rivals Liverpool, with City holding a one-point lead over Jurgen Klopp's team.

The ex-Barcelona coach was also questioned about another article published this week, in German outlet Der Spiegel, alleging City are being investigated over illegal payments.

Among other allegations, Der Spiegel reported that City pressured young players "to sign contracts through monetary payments, in violation of the rules".

City have yet to officially comment on the matter and Guardiola did not want to discuss it any further when probed on the topic.

"It's come from outside," he said. "When you understand the important win we had a few days ago [against Atletico Madrid], and the games ahead, I don't spend one second on it.

"In fact, I have spent 50 seconds talking about it now, so next question."

Neville Southall insists Jordan Pickford is not to blame for Everton's woes and believes he is rightfully England's first-choice goalkeeper.

Pickford captained Everton as Frank Lampard's team capitulated to another dismal away defeat on Wednesday, this time to relegation rivals Burnley.

Two penalties from Richarlison had put Everton 2-1 up at Turf Moor heading into half-time yet Jay Rodriguez and Maxwel Cornet struck to seal a 3-2 victory for Burnley that takes the Clarets to within a point of Lampard's side, who sit 17th with nine games remaining.

Pickford was hardly at fault for any of Burnley's goals and has been a consistent performer for Everton despite their torrid form.

The 28-year-old's place as England number one has been called into question this term, due in large part to Aaron Ramsdale's strong form for Arsenal, though Gareth Southgate has stood by Pickford, who has played a pivotal role in the Three Lions reaching a World Cup semi-final and the final of Euro 2020.

Asked about Pickford by Sky Sports, Everton great Southall, who was their goalkeeper throughout the club's successful spell in the 1980s, said: "Confidence plays a part in it. Jordan Pickford's done nothing wrong this season.

"Unfortunately at the moment, we've got Aaron Ramsdale at Arsenal and traditionally most of the media want somebody to play [for England] from a London club.

"So he's always going to be under more scrutiny because he's playing for a club up north. I truly believe there's been a witch hunt against him through the media at times and I think it's just silly.

"He's a decent goalkeeper, playing for England. Is he going to make mistakes? Of course he is, because he's human."

Southall also believes fans and pundits have to be more aware of the potential damage that being highly critical of players can do to their mental wellbeing.

"We've got to think about what we say to these players," he continued. "Telling them all the time that they can't do stuff. 

"We should start saying that they can do it. They don't know what damage they're doing. You're entitled to an opinion but some of the language I think has been over the top and it can affect some of the players. For me it's about looking after the players' welfare."

Everton's situation makes for grim reading. Lampard has lost all five of his Premier League away games in charge of the club – he is the first manager to lose his first five away matches at a Premier League side since Jan Siewert at Huddersfield Town in 2019, who lost his first seven.

Southall, though, has put the onus on the players to step up after mistakes from Ben Godfrey and Jonjoe Kenny proved costly at Turf Moor.

"I wouldn't say any, to be fair," Southall said when asked how much responsibility fell on Lampard's shoulders.

"Whoever he puts out it's up to them to do the job. It's all about the players on the pitch. The players have to emulate the fans, passion, expression, desire and if they show them things I think we'll get results."

Everton face Manchester United at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Arsene Wenger-fronted plan for a World Cup every two years was "more or less a nonsense" and FIFA saw sense by finally ditching the idea, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino last week indicated the world governing body had dropped the project, which had drawn strong criticism from European and South American authorities in particular.

Infantino said FIFA had never proposed the change to the tournament that has taken place every four years since the first edition in 1930.

But Infantino had been seen by many as a cheerleader for the switch, making a widely criticised claim in January that opportunities delivered by a World Cup every two years could provide impetus for African migrants to avoid treacherous crossings to Europe, suggesting they could avoid "death in the sea".

Ceferin told a news conference on Thursday: "We are happy FIFA ordered that it is finally off the table, the biennial World Cup.

"Formally it was not proposed by FIFA, but it was encouraged by FIFA. It's good they've listened to the football community.

"For me, it's very good that this project that is more or less a nonsense is off the table."

Former Arsenal manager Wenger, as FIFA's chief of global development, had been the main advocate for the biennial World Cup, promoting the concept widely ahead of a possible vote and nailing his colours firmly to the mast.

Infantino claimed the alterations would yield significant financial returns if the plans were approved, with a boost of $4.4billion in the first four-year cycle of a new international calendar, which would climb to $6.6bn if each confederation also switched its regional competition to become biennial.

A vote now appears highly unlikely to happen in the near future, and Ceferin questioned whether there should be any other major tournaments added to the international calendar.

"About new tournaments, I don't think there's much time for new competitions, but let's speak about it and let's see," Ceferin said. "For now, we didn't discuss it."

Ceferin said UEFA would take a decision "very soon" on Russia's possible involvement in the Women's European Championship, which begins in July and will be staged in England.

Despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has led the country to be widely ostracised, a final ruling has yet to be taken on whether the women's football team should be allowed to take part.

The men's team were swiftly thrown out of the World Cup by FIFA, denied a place in a play-off to reach the Qatar 2022 finals.

Ceferin said: "There is a court case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of the Russian Football Union. We expect some information from there as soon as possible, but we know we are in a hurry to decide about this issue. We know the Euro is very soon and that we'll have to take the decision soon, but we need some more information."

Asked whether Russian football authorities should be expelled by UEFA, Ceferin said there were "considerations about many things these days".

Russia has bid to host the Euro 2028 or Euro 2032 finals, in a move that has been met with widespread disbelief.

Ceferin will be aware of that sentiment and said of Russia's bid: "We are discussing it, and you will have the answer very soon."

England could be considered as "the biggest favourite" for the 2022 World Cup, according to former Three Lions manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Gareth Southgate's team reached the semi-finals at Russia 2018, matching England's best effort at a World Cup since they triumphed on home soil in 1966.

England then made their first major tournament final appearance since 1966 when they faced Italy in a Euro 2020 showdown last year, only to lose on penalties.

Eriksson managed England at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals of each tournament respectively, while also getting to the last eight at Euro 2004.

Beaten by Brazil in 2002, and Portugal at the following two tournaments, Eriksson was unable to guide England's 'golden generation' to success.

But the Swede believes Southgate's team have earned the right to be considered among the favourites – and, indeed, the frontrunner overall – to succeed in Qatar later this year.

Eriksson told Stats Perform: "I think they are one of the big teams who can win, and maybe they are the biggest favourite.

 

"I'm not sure how strong Brazil and Argentina are in this moment, but in Europe, Italy [are] not there. Spain, I don't think they are good enough to win it too. Germany, you never know they could do it. Belgium, always a good team."

Eriksson also believes England should easily progress from Group B, in which they have been drawn alongside Iran, the United States and one of Ukraine, Scotland or Wales.

"The group with England, Iran, United States and then it's Ukraine Scotland or Wales. I mean, it's always difficult in the World Cup, but I can't see them not winning that group," Eriksson added.

"That's impossible. They will win it easily. And then it depends always, who are you going to meet next stage, and then if you win there you go to the quarter-final.

"So, a little bit of luck there and no injuries, important players and so on and England can do it."

Ronald Koeman will return to his former role as head coach of the Netherlands national team after the 2022 World Cup.

The former Barcelona boss will take over from Louis van Gaal, who revealed recently on Dutch TV show Humberto he has undergone 25 rounds of radiation treatment for prostate cancer.

The 70-year-old has continued to work and did not tell his players of his condition when the Netherlands squad got together in March for friendlies against Denmark and Germany.

However, Van Gaal will remain in charge for the tournament in Qatar, which takes place between November 21 and December 18, with Koeman resuming the role he left in 2020 after that.

The news was confirmed by the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) on Wednesday.

"I am looking forward to the new collaboration," Koeman said. "A little over a year and a half ago, I certainly did not leave the Dutch national team out of dissatisfaction. 

"My stay felt good, the results were good and the connection with the players was good. We will soon continue on that path, that is certain to me."

Marianne van Leeuwen, director of professional football for the KNVB, said: "We are very happy that Ronald will return next year. During his previous term as national coach, there was great satisfaction with his work and the results.

"That is why, after internal deliberations, together with director of top-level football Nico-Jan Hoogma, I entered into discussions with Ronald and his agent Rob Jansen."

Koeman previously spent just over two years as national team coach between 2018 and 2020, guiding the Netherlands to the final of the 2018-19 Nations League, before leaving for Barca in August 2020.

The Netherlands will face hosts Qatar, Senegal and Ecuador in Group A at the World Cup following Friday's draw.

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