Virgil van Dijk said Manchester United are not "at the same level" as Real Madrid as he offered transfer advice to his in-form Netherlands team-mate Cody Gakpo.

PSV forward Gakpo scored in each of the Netherlands' three group-stage games and played alongside Van Dijk as the Dutch defeated the United States 3-1 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

With nine goals in 14 Eredivisie games this season, Gakpo's stock has continued to rise in Qatar and rumours of a switch to United have exacerbated since the Red Devils terminated the contract of Cristiano Ronaldo.

LaLiga heavyweights Madrid have also been registered with an interest, while Liverpool are also reportedly monitoring the situation.

Van Dijk has no doubt Gakpo is ready to take the next step in his career but offered a cheeky dig at Liverpool's rivals when speaking to reporters after the USA game.

"Are Manchester United and Real Madrid on the same level? No disrespect, not at all," he said.

"I definitely think he has that next step in him. I definitely feel like it could happen, whether that is in the winter or the summer or next year, time will tell. 

"He is a great boy who works hard, very talented and definitely there is more in him. We are so pleased he is doing so well for us. Long may it continue."

Gakpo did little to quell rumours of a January move when speaking to De Telegraaf about his future last week.

"As it stands now, I will still be playing for PSV after the winter break," he said. "But, as I said before the start of the World Cup, we will see what will happen."

Wayne Rooney has backed Harry Kane to end his World Cup goalscoring drought and "come alive" in England's last-16 clash with Senegal.

Captain Kane has yet to find the net at the finals, though he has provided three assists for Gareth Southgate's side.

Kane won the golden boot at the 2018 World Cup with six goals and Rooney expects the pressure of the knockout stages to inspire a return to that kind of form.

"Harry Kane is made for these games," England's record goalscorer wrote in his column in The Times. 

"The games that are tighter, where the pressure is higher, where the football has to be more calculated – they are where Harry steps up.

"He hasn't scored in the tournament yet but I think there will be a shift in his mindset. He'll think, 'right, it's on me now to make sure we progress', and I think this is when he'll come alive.

"Gareth's other forwards are talented but no one has Harry's consistency. He is always calm and composed and he doesn't let misses bother him.

"Failing to score in the group stage won't affect him like at Euro 2016, where you could see frustration. I reckon this will be more like Euro 2020 when we had similar conversations about his lack of goals in the group stage – and then he started scoring."

Rooney anticipates changes to the starting XI from the 3-0 win over Wales, but would stick with both Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford in the front three.

"It wouldn't surprise me if Gareth brought back Sterling or Bukayo Saka, and maybe even both," the DC United manager added.

"I think he will leave either Foden or Marcus Rashford out and will be keen to use Sterling because he knows and trusts Raheem more than any of the other wide forwards.

"Me? I would stick with the side that beat Wales and keep Rashford and Foden. Foden gives you better control and helps you a lot more and you could see Rashford's confidence grow after his goals against the Welsh. Confidence is key with him."

Jude Bellingham is expected to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of this season, with numerous clubs lining up to sign him.

The England international, who has impressed during the World Cup, is contracted with Dortmund until 2025.

It has been speculated that Bellingham will cost English clubs more than £100million to fund the deal.

TOP STORY – CITY TO USE GREALISH IN DEAL FOR BELLINGHAM

Manchester City will dangle Jack Grealish to Borussia Dortmund as part of a deal to land Bellingham, claims Football Insider.

Grealish, who City signed for £100m from Aston Villa 18 months ago, has not fully convinced since his switch to the English champions.

According to the report, City are intensifying their interest in Bellingham and are willing to use Grealish.

Le10Sport have also reported French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in 19-year-old Bellingham.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool are plotting a surprise move for Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic, reports Calciomercato. The Serbian striker has scored six Serie A goals this term.

– Mundo Deportivo reports Borussia Dortmund's Thomas Meunier is willing to listen to offers from Milan, Juventus, Manchester United and two other Premier League clubs if Barcelona do not bid for him.

– Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix is open to a Premier League switch amid interest from Chelsea, claims GiveMeSport transfer expert Dean Jones.

– Calciomercato reports that Arsenal are interested in a January move for Real Madrid's Marco Asensio.

Leeds United are interested in a January move for Newcastle forward Chris Wood, claims Football Insider. Wood left Leeds for Burnley in 2017.

Memphis Depay has taken a swipe at ex-NBA star and American TV analyst Charles Barkley following the Netherlands' 3-1 win over the United States in the World Cup round of 16 on Saturday.

Depay opened the scoring in the victory, which came after Barkley had started trash talk in the lead-up to the knockout stage clash.

Barkley said on NBA on TNT: "We're going for the Netherlands. We opening up a can of whoop-a** 'cause I guarantee the Netherlands is in trouble."

The official Dutch team Twitter account responded with a hype video of Barkley's quotes shortly prior to kick-off with Barcelona attacker having the last laugh.

"Lotta bark, no bite," Depay posted on Twitter only a few hours after the game, with an image of a forlorn-looking Barkley under the 3-1 scoreline.

The victory means the Netherlands will take on Argentina in the quarter-finals, while the USA's World Cup is over.

Matthijs de Ligt has no issues with being left out of Louis van Gaal's starting line-up for the Netherlands' past three games as he "expected to play nothing" at this World Cup.

De Ligt came on as a 93rd-minute substitute in the Netherlands' 3-1 win over the United States in Saturday's last-16 encounter.

That marked the 23-year-old's first appearance for the Oranje since starting in their World Cup opener, the 2-0 win over Senegal, having been demoted to the bench by Van Gaal for the ensuing three games.

"It's not so frustrating, honestly," De Ligt told The Athletic. "Every player wants to play but we are a group of 26 players.

"Honestly, I have played more than I expected to play at this World Cup. I expected to play nothing. I'm quite okay. We won together and we are in a quarter-final."

The defender, who has established himself at Bayern Munich since his off-season switch from Juventus, has seen Ajax 21-year-old Jurrien Timber take his place alongside Nathan Ake and Virgil van Dijk in Van Gaal's back three.

"No, it's just the way of playing," De Ligt replied when asked if injury was behind his non-selection. "Maybe the coach doesn't put me in the team and I am okay with that. I expected it.

"So for me it's fine. I know my role and I train hard every day to be important for the team."

Meanwhile, Van Dijk backed 23-year-old Netherlands team-mate Cody Gakpo to take the next step in his career.

Gakpo, who scored in all three of the Dutch's World Cup group-stage wins, has been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid.

"Are Manchester United and Real Madrid the same level at this moment? No disrespect, not at all," Liverpool defender Van Dijk told The Athletic.

"I think he definitely has a next step in him. I definitely feel like it could happen. Whether it happens in the winter or next year, time will tell.

"But he's a great boy. Works hard, is very talented and there's definitely more in him. We are very pleased he's doing so well and long may it continue."

Gakpo would not be drawn on his future after the win over USA, while United defender Tyrell Malacia backed him to step up should an opportunity arise.

"He's good enough for the top, there's no doubt," Malacia said.

Gareth Southgate has no concern about calling upon Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka to take a penalty in a shootout at the World Cup.

The pair were among a trio of players to miss from the spot in the European Championship final defeat to Italy last year, along with Jadon Sancho, who was not selected for the tournament in Qatar.

Rashford has been a fine performer for Southgate's side, scoring a trio of goals to sit joint-top of the scoring charts, while Saka netted a brace in the demolition of Iran in the opening group match.

Now into the knockout stage, with a round of 16 tie against Senegal on the horizon, the prospect of penalties continues to be a talking point – particularly regarding who could be called upon.

Asked if he had any reservations about either Rashford or Saka stepping up in a shootout, Southgate said: "None at all.

"Marcus' stats would be among the best in the world on penalty taking, and Bukayo is now taking them more regularly with his club. They're both in a good space with that."

In the World Cup in Russia, Southgate introduced players, including Rashford, off the bench in order to take penalties but was criticised for the same approach against Italy – with Rashford and Sancho both missing after their late introductions.

Southgate defended that tactic and hinted that similar moves could be made in the future, if required.

"In terms of the changes, Marcus came on as a sub in Moscow and took a penalty four or five minutes earlier than we put him on at Wembley," he added.

"I've seen lots of teams do that and scored, and it's the right thing. If you don't then it's wrong.

"We've got to stick with our processes, give ourselves the best percentages of winning, and we feel we are very well prepared.

"We've won two, we've lost the last one. We've refined some of those things we didn't think were quite right. We feel that the process is good."

Lionel Messi was motivated to become "even bigger than he is" against Australia due to a confrontation with Aziz Behich moments before his goal, according to Alexis Mac Allister.

Argentina captain Messi inspired his side to a 2-1 win in the last 16 of the World Cup on Saturday, booking a quarter-final against the Netherlands.

The legendary forward had endured a quiet start to the match, with Argentina struggling as a result, but he burst into life 10 minutes before half-time.

Messi pressed Behich in the corner of the pitch and won an Albiceleste throw-in, with the pair then tangling in a brief tussle.

Within seconds, Messi had fired a precious opener, his first World Cup knockout goal in his ninth such match.

"Leo, when these things happen, he brings out that inner fire that he has, that personality that makes him even bigger than he is," team-mate Mac Allister said. "In these kind of games, he becomes bigger.

"For us, he is the most important player. He knows it, he helps us a lot, and for us, it is a pride to be able to accompany him.

 

"We know that he always tries to give his best, but when something happens [like the confrontation] he has enough personality to get out of it, to make it work for him and start playing even better."

Messi was involved in everything Argentina did going forward, attempting six shots and creating four chances – two high marks across the match.

That made Mac Allister's job simple: give Messi the ball.

"I really enjoy playing with Messi," the Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder said. "For me, he's the best player in history, in the world, and I'm proud to be next to him.

"I try to give him the ball to him, because if the ball goes through him, everything is easier. I think he's having a great World Cup and we need him a lot."

Australia's plan to foil Lionel Messi did not come off, but Garang Kuol believes the Socceroos showed in this World Cup campaign they can compete with the best around.

After losing their opening game to France, Australia responded with back-to-back 1-0 wins over Tunisia and Denmark, reaching a last-16 tie against Argentina.

Graham Arnold's side threatened an upset on Saturday, too, but eventually went down 2-1 after Messi inspired La Albiceleste to victory.

Socceroos coach Arnold said of Messi, who scored the opener: "Look, he's incredible, one of the greatest ever.

"We worked really hard to not be in awe of him, because of the great player he is, but he's remarkable.

"I had the privilege of playing against Diego Maradona and now of coaching against Lionel Messi on a few occasions.

"They're both wonderful players and Argentina should be so proud and happy they've produced players of that calibre."

Teenage winger Kuol, who at 18 became the youngest player to feature in a World Cup knockout match since Pele, could have netted a late leveller, only for Emiliano Martinez to block well.

"I was telling myself that I'd come on and score a goal, and Arnie was telling me to come on and do the same thing," Kuol said. "We had the same expectation.

"When I wasn't able to score, I was very disappointed, but we move on.

"I didn't really see much of it. I just turned around and tried to shoot. It was only when I saw the replay I could see the keeper rushed out. It's just a learning curve."

Although Australia came up short against both France and Argentina, Kuol felt their performances were evident of a narrowing gap between the Socceroos and their elite opponents.

"Yeah, 100 per cent," he said. "People think the people in Europe can fly or something, but we're all humans, we've all got two feet. It's all just about the passion and the heart."

Whether Arnold is the man to lead Australia into future meetings with Argentina and Co. remains to be seen.

"I haven't even thought about it," he said. "My contract is up and I just want to go away, have a good holiday, have a break and see what happens.

"I've worked extremely hard throughout this campaign, I did the Olympic team for nothing just to help these players come through.

"I need a break and a rest, then I'm sure I'll have good discussions with the federation."

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni said his players were born to handle high-pressure World Cup contests after Lionel Messi led them to a 2-1 win over Australia in the last 16.

Messi scored his ninth World Cup goal – and his first in a knockout tie – as Argentina edged out Australia at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday, with Julian Alvarez also getting on the scoresheet following a mistake from Mathew Ryan.

Argentina will now face the Netherlands for a semi-final place on Friday, a prospect which appeared unlikely when they began their campaign with a stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia 11 days ago.

Asked how the Albiceleste had managed to turn their tournament around, Scaloni said: "What I said before the Mexico match was that these guys were born to play these games.

"Argentina have played three games which were very intense, where being knocked out was a reality. But these players are capable. Sometimes the urgency and anxiety makes you feel different.

"Even if things happen like the Saudi Arabia game or the Australia goal today, we have to keep believing in our football. 

"There is no pressure in football, that's how I see it. Pressure is something else.

"If you've watched Argentina today, these are memories which will stay with you forever. You've seen these young players, and also Leo, playing beautifully."

The next hurdle for Argentina to overcome will be a heavyweight tussle with the nation they beat in both the 1978 World Cup final and the 2014 semi-finals.

While Scaloni acknowledges the Oranje's current crop may not be as easy on the eye as some of their predecessors, he expects a tough test against Louis van Gaal's men.

Asked about Van Gaal's qualities, Scaloni said: "I was a young player at Deportivo La Coruna when he was coaching at Barcelona. He's a great coach and many have to try to take a page from his book. It's a pleasure to face him at a World Cup.

"Today we saw the Netherlands match. They probably don't play as beautifully as some older Dutch teams, but they have very strong points that they will try to use.

"It will be a beautiful game between two historic national teams, and one will be knocked out, unfortunately."

Argentina are hopeful of receiving a fitness boost ahead of Friday, with Scaloni revealing Angel Di Maria – who was an unused substitute on Saturday after suffering a thigh injury – could return.

"I didn't think we were going to help anyone by bringing him on today," he said of Di Maria. "We hope that in the next few days he keeps evolving and he can make it for the next match."

Lionel Messi has now gone past Diego Maradona for World Cup appearances and goals – and the Argentina number 10 has pulled exactly level with his predecessor on two important statistics that showcase their creative brilliance.

Saturday's hard-fought 2-1 win over Australia carried Argentina into the quarter-finals, with Messi scoring the ninth World Cup goal of his career to put Lionel Scaloni's team 1-0 in front in the first half.

That nudged Messi ahead of Maradona's career haul of eight goals, while he has moved to 23 World Cup appearances during this tournament, two ahead of his late compatriot and fellow number 10 shirt wearer's previous national team record.

Messi is just one behind Gabriel Batistuta's record of 10 World Cup goals with Argentina, and he may have that in the back of his mind ahead of Friday's last-eight clash with the Netherlands.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is picking off records as he goes during this tournament, and he will surely overtake two more Maradona marks in that clash with Louis van Gaal's team.

That is because Messi and Maradona are now exactly level when it comes to chances created and open play chances created at the World Cup.

 

They have both created 67 chances, and with each man, 48 of those chances have come about in open play, Opta data shows.

Messi created four chances in all against Australia, including a golden opportunity for Lautaro Martinez that the substitute ballooned wastefully late in the game as Argentina looked to put the game beyond their gallant opponents.

Where Maradona beats Messi is in goal assists. Maradona's eight from 1982 to 1994 beats Messi's haul of six assists to date, since his World Cup debut at the 2006 finals.

Maradona was the driving force behind Argentina's 1986 World Cup triumph in Mexico, and later coached the national team, notably at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He died in November 2020 at the age of 60.

Saturday's game against Australia was the 1,000th of Messi's career for club and country.

 

Lionel Messi celebrated his first World Cup knockout stage goal on his 1,000th career appearance by showing appreciation for Argentina's fans as he helped his country reach the quarter-finals in Qatar.

Messi opened the scoring in Argentina's 2-1 win against Australia at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday, with Julian Alvarez doubling the lead before an Enzo Fernandez own goal caused some late nerves.

Only Gabriel Batistuta (10) has scored more World Cup goals for La Albiceleste than Messi's nine, and the captain praised the efforts of travelling fans as his team advanced to face the Netherlands in the last eight.

"I am very happy for taking another step forward and achieving another objective," Messi said at a post-match press conference. "[Australia] were very strong and it was a difficult match, we knew it would be this way.

"We played very recently and didn't have much time to rest up, so we were concerned as we knew it would be a very physical match. Luckily we found the goal, and then at two goals ahead it was easier for us.

"I am very happy to share these beautiful moments with all the fans, I know the efforts they have made to be here with us in every match. The whole of Argentina would like to be here."

Messi made his 169th appearance for Argentina, to go with 778 at Barcelona and 53 at Paris Saint-Germain. To date, he has 789 goals and 338 assists across those 1,000 games, and Australia were the 129th team he has scored against in his career.

"This bond or union that we have with the fans is something beautiful, and that's what the national team should be," Messi said.

"We were excited and eager to be together with the people again. It's unbelievable, the passion and energy they transmit."

Lionel Messi marked his 1,000th career appearance with his first ever goal in the World Cup knockout stage as Argentina reached the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Australia on Saturday.

Australia were content to frustrate their opponents at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, but Messi carved the Socceroos open in trademark fashion as half-time approached – picking out the bottom-left corner to net.

If Argentina's first goal was sublime, their second bordered on the ridiculous as Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan gifted possession to Julian Alvarez, who made no mistake to seal the win.

Australia halved the arrears when Craig Goodwin's effort deflected off Enzo Fernandez and beyond Emiliano Martinez, but Argentina never looked likely to be pegged back as they teed up a quarter-final clash with the Netherlands.

Argentina struggled to make any early headway as Graham Arnold's men defended resolutely, but La Albiceleste had their seven-time Ballon d'Or winner to thank when they took the lead with their first real attack.

With 35 minutes gone, Messi darted inside from the right wing to latch onto Nicolas Otamendi's lay-off before planting a neat side-footed finish beyond the despairing dive of Ryan. 

Messi saw an effort deflect into Ryan's arms as Argentina chased a second after the restart, but the goalkeeper was at fault as Argentina doubled their lead with 57 minutes gone.

Ryan inexplicably tried to dribble his way out of trouble when pressed by Rodrigo De Paul and Alvarez, and the Manchester City striker applied the simplest of finishes after stealing possession.

Australia reduced the deficit out of nowhere when Goodwin's long-range strike found the bottom-right corner via Fernandez, before Lisandro Martinez denied Aziz Behich a remarkable leveller with a fine last-ditch tackle.

Substitute Lautaro Martinez went close on three occasions before Emiliano Martinez denied Garang Kuol from point-blank range at the last, but Argentina clung on to seal their progress.

The United States must be proud of their efforts at the World Cup in Qatar, but Christian Pulisic insisted the team "don't want to feel like this again."

A 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha saw the USA knocked out of the competition on Saturday.

While the Dutch had a quarter-final against either Australia or Argentina to look forward to, the USA's focus will now turn to developing their young squad further ahead of the 2026 edition.

That tournament will be co-hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico, and feature 48 countries, and Pulisic wants to see a team with title-winning quality.

"Right now, it's just tough, you know? It hurts, after a tough loss like that, we feel like we could have had more," he said.

"It's another experience for all these guys, moments that we can be proud of. We don't want to feel like this again. We want to put ourselves in a position to win tournaments like this."

Pulisic missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring three minutes into the game, seeing a close-range attempt saved by Andries Noppert.

In contrast, Memphis Depay slotted away the Netherlands' first big opportunity, with Daley Blind making it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time.

"It happened so early in the game, and he made a good save," said Pulisic, who assisted Haji Wright for the USA's goal, which was swiftly cancelled out by Denzel Dumfries at the other end.

"They defended well for the most part, but I think when their first kind of two real chances went down, they just cut back, execute it, finish.

"We were down 2-0, but it didn't feel like it should be that way. But that's what good teams do."

USA coach Gregg Berhalter is approaching the end of his contract, and did not give much clarity over what his future holds.

Antonee Robinson, however, hopes Berhalter continues in the role as the USA look to build towards 2026.

"I hope so," said the Fulham full-back. "He's given a lot of boys a chance to develop with this group, and I feel like this whole time we've shown the type football we can play."

Netherlands players shrugged off criticism about their style of play from supporters after seeing off the United States 3-1 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Oranje have attracted flak from fans and media due to the brand of football and system used by Louis van Gaal, with their classic 'Total Football' approach and 4-3-3 formation discarded.

Van Gaal prefers to deploy a back three and puts an emphasis on making the Netherlands difficult to break down, aiming to hit teams on the counter-attack.

His system was reasonably effective against the USA at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday, with the Netherlands soaking up pressure and catching Gregg Berhalter's men on the break.

The Netherlands were 2-0 up at half-time, and although they came under more threatening pressure in the second half with the USA pulling one back, Denzel Dumfries – who set up the first two – capped off a strong individual performance to finish the Americans off.

Fans and media alike will still probably find reasons to criticise Van Gaal's men, but for Dumfries their performance vindicated the system.

"There's a lot of criticism because we are used to it [a certain style of play], we are good on the ball," he said. "Normally we play 4-3-3, but we play a different system [now].

"But the goals today… this is everything. I gave an assist for the other full-back, Daley Blind, and he gave an assist to me, so today we showed the quality of the system.

"In the Netherlands we are used to having the ball, playing with possession. This is a different way of playing and I also understand the criticism because we can play much better with the ball, create more chances.

"But you see when we get the ball, we have qualities on the counter, very fast strikers, and it's also a strength of ours. We have to focus now to continue to make the system work perfectly."

Nathan Ake sympathised somewhat with the Netherlands' critics, even agreeing with assessments about the Oranje perhaps failing to impress despite topping Group A.

But like Dumfries, the Manchester City defender believes the defeat of the USA showed how effective Van Gaal's system can be.

It was put to him that winning is all that matters, to which he replied: "It is, it is, but sometimes I think playing well helps getting the result.

"In the first few games we were a little lucky sometimes with how we got the goals or how we played, we could've conceded, but today I think we were much more solid defensively but also attacking wise, we created so many more chances.

"I think the first few games [the critics] were right. We didn't play our best football, but we knew from inside the camp that we got the points; played bad but got the points and qualified first.

"We knew we had to play better. I think today we showed much more [of] what we can do, play through spaces.

"Sometimes we had to defend a bit more, but we know we are very dangerous on the counter-attack and we haven't shown that in the last games. Today, we showed that."

The Netherlands will play either Argentina or Australia at Lusail on Friday in their quarter-final.

Cody Gakpo and Denzel Dumfries have both made it clear their focus is on their World Cup exploits with the Netherlands amid ongoing speculation regarding their futures.

Both featured as the Dutch beat the United States 3-1 in their last-16 clash in Qatar on Saturday, with Dumfries recording a goal and two assists.

PSV forward Gakpo has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United, and may have attracted further suitors after scoring in each of his first three World Cup appearances.

"To be honest, I'm not thinking about that now, I'm really focused on the tournament," he told reporters after the win over the USA.

"I try to keep performing well, keep helping the team, hopefully when we become world champion we can think about it."

Asked whether his future was a distraction, he added: "No not really because I just keep trying to stay focused, and the other players don't really talk about this sort of thing, and they help me also in this situation."

Dumfries is another player who has attracted speculation, and his performance against the USA would have only served to strengthen any interest.

Chelsea are among the clubs linked with a move for Dumfries, though the Inter right-back made it clear he is happy to continue in Milan when asked about interest from the Premier League side.

"The only thing I'm focused on right now is the national team, and I play for a very, very, beautiful club in Italy," he stressed.

"I'm very proud I can play for Inter. I'm not focused on anything else other than the national team and Inter.

"Of course, it's a compliment [to be linked with other clubs]. But I can tell you, when you put the Nerazzurri jersey on, that is a big compliment."

Page 1 of 675
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.