N'Golo Kante and Lucas Hernandez have dropped out of the France squad ahead of Monday's Nations League showdown with Croatia.

France head into next week's match sitting bottom of Group A1 after following up a shock 2-1 home loss against Denmark with draws away to Croatia and Austria.

The reigning Nations League champions are four points behind leaders Denmark and two adrift of Austria and Croatia with three games remaining and only one team advancing.

Les Blues will be without central midfielder Kante and versatile defender Hernandez for the visit of Croatia at the Stade de France.

Kante misses out due to a knee injury, while Hernandez has been given permission to join his partner, who is due to give birth.

Neither player played any part in Friday's 1-1 draw against Austria, with Kylian Mbappe cancelling out Andreas Weimann's first-half opener in Vienna to salvage a late point.

Didier Deschamps has backed Antoine Griezmann and N'Golo Kante to be at their best by the time the World Cup arrives, heading into Friday's Nations League clash with Austria.

After a disappointing spell at Barcelona, Griezmann's transfer back to Atletico Madrid did not translate into an immediate return to form, while experiencing fitness concerns for the first time.

In a career that has seen him mostly without injury, missing two games in 2019-20 with Barcelona, the 31-year-old missed 15 games with Atleti due to a combination of muscle injuries and Covid-19 enforced isolation.

With that in mind, though, Deschamps believes the talismanic attacker for Les Bleus will be back to his best.

"I know him well," Deschamps said. "He has often benefited more from playing for Les Bleus. It's not his best period.

"A part of it is physical, and a part of it mental. He suffered his first injury this season. I'm not saying he's worn out. I know his qualities and his mind too. He does not baulk.

"This is not his best period, but it does not mean that I question what he is capable of doing. I know very well what he can bring to the collective."

Along with Kylian Mbappe and Adrien Rabiot, also missing in Monday's draw to Croatia, Kante will miss Friday's game in Vienna due to lingering injury concerns.

The 31-year has sat extensive periods on the sidelines at club level over the past three seasons, with continual hamstring problems denying him from a consistent run of minutes at Chelsea.

After missing almost two months of football this past season, Deschamps concedes that Kante's fitness needs to be managed, but will hope to count on him.

"When he is at full capacity, any coach wants to see him in his team," the Les Bleus boss said. "In relation to the deadlines that are ours, let's make sure that he is in full possession of his means.

"Many players have accumulated seasons of 60 games. At some point, organisations suffer a little more. His coach at Chelsea [Thomas Tuchel] would like to have him a little more. You have to manage it. Him there, me here."

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reportedly spent his first few days identifying transfer targets with football director John Murtough, technical director Darren Fletcher and recruitment consultant Ralf Rangnick.

United's maneuverability in the transfer market will likely depend on the players they can first offload, in what is an already bloated and disjointed squad.

The Dutch manager joined United in the off-season after leading Ajax to the Dutch Eredivisie title.

TOP STORY – TEN HAG PRIORITISES NUNEZ, TIMBER DEALS    

Erik ten Hag has told Manchester United to make the signings of Benfica's Darwin Nunez and Ajax's Jurrien Timber as the first order of business this off-season, according to the Mirror.

Ten Hag wants to make six signings, with the Benfica striker and Ajax defender at the top of his priorities, with respective £80million and £35m price tags.

The two players would effectively be the first dominoes in the row, given the cumulative hit to their transfer budget. 

ROUND-UP

– Ten Hag and United are also considering a bid for Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, according The Guardian.

– Meanwhile, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel will hold talks with Conor Gallagher over his future after his loan spell at Crystal Palace, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Romano is also reporting Ivan Perisic is set to sign this week for Tottenham on a free transfer from Inter.

– Roma boss Jose Mourinho is hoping to beat his former clubs in United and Spurs in the race to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, TyC Sports is reporting.

New Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reportedly spent his first few days identifying transfer targets with football director John Murtough, technical director Darren Fletcher and recruitment consultant Ralf Rangnick.

United's maneuverability in the transfer market will likely depend on the players they can first offload, in what is an already bloated and disjointed squad.

The Dutch manager joined United in the off-season after leading Ajax to the Dutch Eredivisie title.

TOP STORY – TEN HAG PRIORITISES NUNEZ, TIMBER DEALS    

Erik ten Hag has told Manchester United to make the signings of Benfica's Darwin Nunez and Ajax's Jurrien Timber as the first order of business this off-season, according to the Mirror.

Ten Hag wants to make six signings, with the Benfica striker and Ajax defender at the top of his priorities, with respective £80million and £35m price tags.

The two players would effectively be the first dominoes in the row, given the cumulative hit to their transfer budget. 

ROUND-UP

– Ten Hag and United are also considering a bid for Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, according The Guardian.

– Meanwhile, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel will hold talks with Conor Gallagher over his future after his loan spell at Crystal Palace, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Romano is also reporting Ivan Perisic is set to sign this week for Tottenham on a free transfer from Inter.

– Roma boss Jose Mourinho is hoping to beat his former clubs in United and Spurs in the race to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, TyC Sports is reporting.

Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea must find a solution to N'Golo Kante's fitness struggles after the Blues came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Leicester City.

Marcos Alonso volleyed home to cancel out James Maddison's opener in front of Todd Boehly, part of a consortium looking to take ownership of the club, with the Blues all but securing a third-place finish in the Premier League despite having won just one of their last five league games (three draws, one loss).

Tuchel's men have now drawn 11 league games during a frustrating season, more than they have managed in a single campaign since recording 10 stalemates when finishing 10th in 2015-16.

World Cup winner Kante played the first 72 minutes against his former club before being replaced by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but has been linked with a move away with his Stamford Bridge contract due to expire in 2023.

The 31-year-old has only started 20 of the Blues' 37 league games this term, featuring for a total of just 1,688 minutes in the Premier League and missing out entirely on 12 of the team's league fixtures.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Tuchel said the midfielder was Chelsea's "key player", stressing the need to resolve his fitness issues.

Tuchel also likened Kante to the players such as Mohammed Salah, Kylian Mbappe and several other world stars, claiming he lifts the rest of the side when fit.

"I think he is our key, key, key player, but key, key, key players need to be on the pitch. He plays only 40 per cent of the games, so then it is maybe a miracle that we arrive in third place," Tuchel said.

"He is our Mo Salah, he is our [Virgil] van Dijk, he is our [Kevin] De Bruyne. He is simply that player, he is our Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

"He is that guy who makes the difference and if you only have him for 40 per cent then it is a huge problem. Given that percentage, it is maybe a miracle that he produces results. 

"It puts everything into perspective as I saw Liverpool without Van Dijk last season and they struggled heavily. You see the difference. N'Golo is our key player and we need him on the pitch.

"It's hard to live with. It's important for him to be there and to have the rhythm. I think he played okay but he can play so much better. But when was the last game he started? It was weeks ago. So he constantly starts getting rhythm, but once he has that, there comes a little injury and he's out again.

"Last year, in the last five matches of the Champions League, he got the [man of the match] trophy. This guy who gets man of the match in every Champions League game, he is only here for 40-something per cent of the matches. This is huge for us."

Meanwhile, Chelsea were once again left to rely on their wing-backs to provide attacking impetus against the Foxes, with Reece James claiming his eighth league assist of the season by teeing up Alonso's goal.

James has now created twice as many goals this season as in his previous two Premier League campaigns combined (four assists in 56 appearances), while the Blues also racked up 20 shots to Leicester's two over the course of the contest.

Christian Pulisic was guilty of missing Chelsea's best chance to claim a second-half winner as the hosts created 1.64 expected goals (xG) to the Foxes' 0.09, and while Tuchel was content with his team's performance, he was again left to bemoan their lack of cutting edge.  

"We were the better team and deserved to win," he added. "We didn't allow any chances and got punished by a shot from outside the box. We created enough to win, didn't allow transitions and chances for Leicester. So, I am fine with the performance.

"It's a bit of a broken record, we did not take what we deserve. We needed a goal from a wing-back and an assist from a wing-back."

Chelsea will round off their Premier League campaign with another home match on Sunday, when relegated Watford travel to Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United's midfield has long been an area of dysfunction, even in relative terms at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils have not been able to find balance with the likes of Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred.

As a result, Erik ten Hag's rebuild at United could mean a big-name signing to rejuvenate their play in the centre of the pitch.


TOP STORY – KANTE TARGETED BY 

New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag wants N'Golo Kante to form the basis of his rebuild at Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

The 31-year-old has one year left on his contract at Chelsea and Ten Hag is reportedly confident in Kante's sustained ability to perform at the highest level.

Kante is believed to be an attainable target if Todd Boehly's takeover at Stamford Bridge is rubber-stamped, giving Thomas Tuchel a sizeable transfer budget to work with.

United are no guarantee to even play in the Europa League, sitting three points ahead of West Ham, who have a game in hand.

ROUND-UP

- The Sun is reporting Frenkie de Jong is prepared to waive €7million of unpaid wages by Barcelona in order to move to Manchester City.

- Arsenal have agreed on a fee of up to €25m with Bologna for Scotland international Aaron Hickey, according to Calciomercato.

- Robert Lewandowski is set to leave Bayern Munich and join Barcelona on a three-year deal, the Sun reports.

- Ousmane Dembele might be moving in the other direction to join Bayern when his contract expires at the end of the season, per Sky Sports.

Mateo Kovacic has recovered from an ankle injury to start Saturday's FA Cup final for Chelsea against Liverpool, while N'Golo Kante is on the bench.

Kovacic suffered a knock in the 3-0 win over Leeds United on Wednesday in the challenge that saw Daniel James sent off at Elland Road, but the Croatian will take his place from the start at Wembley Stadium.

Kante has not played since April's 1-1 draw at Manchester United, but is back in the squad for the final.

Kai Havertz has not been named at all, with Romelu Lukaku and Christian Pulisic keeping their places in attack.

The only change made by Thomas Tuchel from the midweek victory sees Thiago Silva coming in for Andreas Christensen.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson looks set to play the six role for Jurgen Klopp's side after Fabinho was ruled out with a hamstring strain he sustained in Tuesday's win at Aston Villa.

Mohamed Salah returns to the starting line-up having come off the bench at Villa Park looking to score just his fourth goal in his 17th appearance since Liverpool beat Chelsea in the EFL Cup final in February.

The Egyptian is partnered by Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane in attack, while Andrew Robertson also comes back in for Kostas Tsimikas at left back.

Ibrahima Konate partners Virgil van Dijk in defence, while Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita join Henderson in a three-man midfield.

Chelsea's midfield targets in the upcoming transfer window have left a potential opening for Real Madrid in pursuit of N'Golo Kante.

The France international reportedly knocked back a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the January window, but midfield rejuvenation is a priority for Madrid.

While Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been mainstays in the middle at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kante would bring new energy to the Spanish giants.

TOP STORY – KANTE LINED UP AS REAL MADRID SOLUTION

The transfer market domino effect could lead Kante to Madrid, AS has reported.

While both Madrid and Chelsea are in the race to sign Aurelien Tchouameni, the Blues also have an interest in Declan Rice, which could open up the possibility of Kante leaving.

The 31-year-old is coming into the final year of his contract, leaving Madrid with potential leverage to force Chelsea's hand.

While Kante has seen extensive time on the sidelines this season, missing game time through a combination of COVID-19, groin and knee troubles, he could be Madrid's top target if they fail to land Tchouameni.

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are keen to sign 30-year-old Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, Sport reports.

– Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is confident the club will be able to keep Antonio Rudiger alongside Cesar Azpilicueta, who triggered a contract extension, per Goal.

– Bild is reporting Bayern Munich have commenced talks over a new deal for Thomas Muller, with his contract expiring at the end of next season.

– Erik ten Hag is the favourite to become the new Manchester United manager, with the Ajax coach seeing a move to the Premier League as a progression in his career, according to Sport1.

Everton have endured a nightmarish season and currently find themselves in the Premier League's relegation scramble.

The Toffees are sitting only three points above the relegation zone, despite two games in hand on 18th-placed Watford.

Just as pertinent is their financial situation, which will reportedly force them into having to sell one of their most valuable assets.

TOP STORY – EVERTON TO CHOOSE BETWEEN RICHARLISON AND CALVERT-LEWIN

The Sun is reporting Richarlison or Dominic Calvert-Lewin will have to leave Everton in order for the club to balance their books.

Their latest figures revealed a £121million loss in the last financial year, and one of the two strikers will now have to be sold.

Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin are Everton's two highest goal scorers still at the club since the latter arrived in 2016. The Brazilian has scored 47 in 142 appearances in all competitions, while the former Sheffield United man has tallied 55 in 180 games.

Richarlison is a reported target for Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, with Arsenal apparently keeping a close eye on Calvert-Lewin's situation.

ROUND-UP

– England midfielder Kalvin Phillips has told Leeds United he wants to sign a new contract, potentially warding off interest from the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle, per The Mirror.

– According to ESPN, Anthony Martial could be used to create a package deal from Manchester United for Tottenham's Harry Kane .

– Le Parisien report N'Golo Kante turned down an offer to leave Chelsea for Paris Saint-Germain in January.

Milan have cooled on Real Madrid's Marco Asensio due to the 26-year-old's wage demands, as reported by Tuttosport.

N'Golo Kante admits the Chelsea players "were not prepared" for the news that Roman Abramovich wants to sell the club.

Abramovich announced on Wednesday he had taken the "incredibly difficult" decision to put the club up for sale and donate the net proceeds to the victims of the war in Ukraine.

In a statement, he said the sale "will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process", adding he will not be asking for loans to be repaid by the club.

"This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club," he said.

"Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the club."

Abramovich's decision came amid the threat of sanctions against further Russian businesses and high-profile individuals following the invasion of Ukraine a week ago.

The 55-year-old oligarch has been photographed with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the past, and while it was claimed last week that Abramovich has no involvement in politics, a spokesperson for the Blues' owner suggested to the Press Association on Monday that he was "trying to help" achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Kante says the players were shocked to hear the news just hours before their FA Cup win over Luton was due to kick off.

"We were not prepared," he told Sky Sports. "It came quick. But the only thing we can do, because we don't control these things, is to do the best as we have always done.

"That means playing football at our best for us, for the club, for the fans. It's the only thing we control, and we want to do that."

Speaking on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Kante said: "It's sad to see things like this, and we can only hope it finishes as quickly as possible, in the best way."

Kante, who turns 31 this month, is fully committed to the Chelsea cause and is not yet considering leaving Stamford Bridge.

"Most of the games have passed [this season], and we're in a good position for the top four. It's not going to be easy; we still need to win many games," he said.

"Since I came here, I spent many great seasons, many successes with the players, the managers, the fans. I hope we can carry on like this: keep winning, keep celebrating many great achievements. This is the way I see the future."

One topic sure to take up plenty of column inches at the end of the season will be the appointment of Manchester United's next permanent manager, but one front-runner may be out of the race already.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has been heavily tipped to make a sensational return to the Premier League to take over at Old Trafford.

However, the former Tottenham manager may have already turned down the opportunity while he waits for what he considers to be a better offer from elsewhere.

TOP STORY - POCHETTINO HOLDING OUT FOR REAL MADRID

Pochettino has been linked with the manager's role at Man Utd since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked in November, but has turned the opportunity down as he waits for Real Madrid, according to Sport.

Ralf Rangnick was appointed as interim manager at the Premier League club after Solskjaer's departure and will play a role in deciding on the next permanent Red Devils boss at the end of the campaign.

However, it seems the Argentine may have ruled himself out of contention as he believes he could have an opportunity waiting for him at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The report claims that Los Blancos president Florentino Perez has Pochettino "in mind as one of Madrid's future coaches", and that should the Spanish giants decide to dismiss Carlo Ancelotti at the end of the season, he would be one of the leading candidates to replace the Italian at the helm.

ROUND-UP

- PSG are considering an off-season move for Chelsea star N'Golo Kante, whose contract at the Blues expires in 2023, according to the Telegraph.

- The Daily Express reports that Harry Kane may once again try to force a move away from Tottenham if manager Antonio Conte does leave the club.

- Georginio Wijnaldum could leave PSG after only one season, with West Ham, Atletico Madrid and Aston Villa among those interested in the former Liverpool midfielder, says Calciomercato.

- The same publication also believes that RB Leipzig left-back Angelino could leave Germany at the end of the season, with Barcelona, Arsenal and Tottenham all interested in the former Manchester City man.

- Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen will not join another Premier League club when his contract expires at the end of the season, but could move to either Barcelona or Bayern Munich, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- Romano also reports that PSG are "really convinced" to make the loan move of left-back Nuno Mendes from Sporting CP permanent for a fee of around €40million.

N'Golo Kante has insisted Chelsea "will go for every trophy" and is still hungry for success after winning the Club World Cup.

The Blues defeated Palmeiras 2-1 to win the competition for the first time in their history, having qualified after winning their second Champions League title last season.

Chelsea were fancied to push Manchester City and Liverpool all the way in the Premier League title race, though a top-flight charge now looks unlikely.

However, they have an EFL Cup final coming up against Liverpool at the end of February, while Thomas Tuchel's team remain in the FA Cup and the Champions League. They will face Luton Town and Lille respectively in the next rounds of those competitions.

With a first trophy of the season under Chelsea's belt, Kante – who also counts two Premier League titles and the World Cup among his honours – is eager for more.

"We know there are many more important games coming with the final of the Carabao Cup, we're still in the Champions League, we have to do well in the Premier League and the FA Cup is coming," Kante told reporters.

"So many great things are ahead of us. We hope we will enjoy many more nights like these. I don't know what we can achieve, but what we want is to get the best out of our team so we compete for everything. We will go for every trophy."

Kante also believes Chelsea proved how much the Club World Cup success meant to them by playing a strong team, despite the tournament being played mid-season.

"We took it very seriously," Kante continued. "For many of the players, we've never played this tournament, the club had never won it and to have the privilege to play it and win it is very special. It's a very nice feeling.

"It's the first time for the club and we're happy to be part of that, to have done it. Also, for us, it is the following of the success of the Champions League.

"This is special. It's a nice moment, we're all together and it's another trophy."

Despite the success this Chelsea squad has achieved over the past year, Callum Hudson-Odoi explained that, for young players like himself, there is still much to accomplish before he or his team-mates can be considered as club greats.

"I don't feel like a legend at all," Hudson-Odoi said. "At the end of the day I'm young, I've got a long way to go.

"I'm delighted to win trophies. When you win trophies it is a big feeling. You keep adding and adding to the cabinet and it's nice but you can't say you're a legend at 21.

"It is too, too early to say that. There is a lot more to come, hopefully. We keep pushing and keep going and at the end of the day we keep creating more history for the club and enjoy it while we can."

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has revealed that N'Golo Kante and Thiago Silva have tested positive for COVID-19.

The pair were left out of Chelsea's starting line-up for Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Tottenham and will now serve a period of self-isolation.

Kante has featured in 17 of the Blues' 31 matches this season, while Silva – who signed a one-year contract extension on Monday – has been used 22 times.

It is the second time in a little over three months that France international Kante has tested positive for coronavirus.

Asked about the duo's absence from the side to face Tottenham, Tuchel told Sky Sports: "Unfortunately, Thiago and N'Golo have tested positive.

"It's huge for us because they are two huge players. We had the last information today in the morning, so it is quite challenging, but we will push.

"The guys who are here have our trust and our belief.

"We will push things to the maximum. The situation hasn't changed since some weeks ago, it's not the moment to repeat it, from here we are looking for solutions. 

"I have trust in the guys who play and hopefully we put in a strong performance."

As well as facing Tottenham over two legs, Chelsea also take on Chesterfield in the FA Cup and face Manchester City in the Premier League over the next 10 days.

Romelu Lukaku started the tie at Stamford Bridge, three days on from being left out of Chelsea's squad to face Liverpool after giving a controversial interview.

The striker made a public apology on Tuesday and was back involved against Spurs, with the Blues eyeing a first-leg advantage to take into next week's reverse fixture.

Chelsea have progressed from five of their last seven EFL Cup semi-final ties, failing only in 2012-13 (v Swansea City) and 2017-18 (v Arsenal) in that run.

Since winning three games in a row against Chelsea between 2018 and 2019, Tottenham were winless in their last eight against the Blues in all competitions prior to Wednesday's game.

Thomas Tuchel was delighted to see Chelsea come from behind to defeat Aston Villa 3-1 but was left concerned by injuries to N'Golo Kante and Thiago Silva on Sunday.

Chelsea fell a goal behind when Reece James inadvertently flicked Matthew Targett's first-half cross past Edouard Mendy, but Jorginho soon levelled things up from the spot following Matthew Cash's foul on Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Tuchel introduced Romelu Lukaku at half-time and the Belgium forward flicked the visitors ahead with his ninth goal in 10 Premier League appearances against Villa; he has not scored more against any other opponent in the top five European leagues.

Jorginho again converted from 12 yards to seal victory with his 10th top-flight penalty in 2021. Since Tuchel's first game in charge, the Blues have scored more penalties than any other Premier League side, while the Italy midfielder has scored more spot-kicks than any other club besides Chelsea in that period.

Chelsea's win moved them within six points of leaders Manchester City and level on points with Liverpool, who have a game in hand, but Tuchel was left frustrated by the game going ahead as injuries and COVID-19 infections impacted upon his plans.

Tuchel told BBC Sport: "We showed a very good reaction after their goal. The own goal made things super complicated. The reaction was very good. We defended strong and did not allow big chances. It was a deserved win but hard work.

"We have concerns for injured players. We let Callum Hudson-Odoi play 90 minutes after COVID. Thiago Silva got injured. N'Golo Kante is injured. Mateo Kovacic is playing after injury and COVID without any preparation and training.

"We're just filling holes where we can fill them. We play teams without international duties. Five changes were invented because of COVID.

"Now we're in the middle of COVID and some teams are having games postponed and others aren't. Three changes are a big disadvantage."

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick insisted five substitutes should be reintroduced in England's top flight for the benefit of player welfare, and Tuchel echoed his compatriot's thoughts.

Asked whether five substitutes should be reintroduced, Tuchel responded: "Of course. We are the only league that play in winter, which I love, but we're not protecting the players.

"All other leagues have five changes. Then we compete against them in the Champions League. It's a bit frustrating. It will not stop.

"Brighton and Hove Albion will play a super physical game then we have two games against Tottenham, who are out of Europe and fully focused on the league and EFL Cup."

Lukaku – who scored in the reverse fixture this season – has a fantastic record against Villa but Tuchel revealed he had no idea about his striker's tendency to score past the Villans.

"No, I was not aware of [Lukaku's excellent] record against Villa," he continued. "I should have known this before. We decided at half-time to have a bit more threat and create more problems.

"I was happy he was involved. He was the game-changer today. We took a lot of risks – 45 minutes was more than the medical department recommended. Who knows if it's the right thing to do?"

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain each have four nominees in the 23-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11 for 2021.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold are also included, although there is no place for Mohamed Salah.

PSG's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are among the forwards, as is Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Veteran Dani Alves also won enough votes to make the list, even though the 38-year-old, who recently rejoined Barcelona, only played 16 times in domestic competition in Brazil this year.

Professional footballers across the world were asked to vote for the three players they considered to have the best seasons during the 2020-21 season among goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

FIFPRO said: "For the first time in 17 years, FIFPRO is updating the announcement about the most-voted players, reducing the shortlist from 55 to 23. This has been done to resemble a real-life 'squad' which, usually for international competitions, is the number of players involved. 

"The three goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and six forwards with the most votes earned a place in the 23-men World 11 'squad'. To complete this elite selection, the two remaining outfield players with the most votes were added."

The keeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards with the most votes will be chosen for the World 11, with the remaining spot assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes.

The final 11 will be announced at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on January 17.

 

FIFA FIFPRO MEN'S WORLD 11 23-PLAYER SHORTLIST:

Goalkeepers:
Alisson (Liverpool, Brazil)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan/Paris Saint-Germain, Italy)
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, Senegal)

Defenders:
David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Austria)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona, Spain)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)
Dani Alves (Sao Paulo/Barcelona, Brazil)
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy)
Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal)

Midfielders:
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, Spain)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal)
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona, The Netherlands)
Jorginho (Chelsea, Italy)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea, France)

Forwards:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United, Portugal)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)
Romelu Lukaku (Inter/Chelsea, Belgium)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil)

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