Karim Benzema took to social media with a cryptic message saying he is "not interested" just two days ahead of France's World Cup final showdown with Argentina.

Real Madrid striker Benzema was ruled out of Qatar 2022 on the eve of the tournament due to a thigh injury he aggravated in training.

There had been suggestions the reigning Ballon d'Or winner could link back up with the squad having recovered from the injury and returned to training with his club.

However, asked if Benzema could make a shock return ahead of Sunday's final, France boss Didier Deschamps said: "I don't want to answer you. It's a stupid question."

Further reports from Spain on Friday claimed Benzema was unhappy to have been sent home in the first place and did not take kindly to Deschamps' latest comments.

The 34-year-old has now posted an ambiguous message on social media, simply translated as "I'm not interested", accompanied by an explosion emoji.

Former Lyon striker Benzema has scored 37 goals in 97 appearances for France.

Les Bleus are aiming to become just the third side – and first since Brazil in 1962 – to retain the World Cup trophy after beating Morocco 2-0 in the semi-finals to advance.

Ousmane Dembele says France are "taking precautions" ahead of Sunday's World Cup final with Argentina after two more key players were struck down by illness.

Les Blues were without Adrien Rabiot and Dayot Upamecano for Wednesday's 2-0 semi-final win over Morocco due to a sickness bug in the camp.

Rabiot missed out on the squad entirely while Upamecano was an unused substitute, as was Kingsley Coman, who was also suffering from a fever on the day of the game.

Midfielder Rabiot and defender Upamecano are understood to have now recovered in time for this weekend's final at Lusail Stadium.

However, according to widespread reports, central-defensive duo Raphael Varane and Ibrahima Konate trained away from the team on Friday after falling ill.

Aurelien Tchouameni and Theo Hernandez are also said to have missed the full session two days out from the final as they are recovering from minor injuries.

Despite potentially losing more players to illness and injury, Dembele insists France are not overly concerned at this stage.

"It doesn't worry us," he said at a news conference on Friday. "With Dayot, after a day I went to see him with my mask on and he was much better. 

"For the players and the staff, it doesn't worry us, we are just taking precautions.

"We are not afraid of the virus. Dayot and Adrien had headaches and stomach aches. I made them honey and ginger tea. We hope everyone will be better for the final."

France are already without the likes of Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Hernandez and Christopher Nkunku through injury.

Les Blues are aiming to become just the third ever side to retain the trophy, while Argentina are seeking a first world crown in 36 years.

There is undoubtedly a perception the World Cup's third-place play-off is little more than an exhibition match – compared to the final, anyway.

But for Croatia and Morocco, Saturday's clash at the Khalifa International Stadium holds a great deal of significance regardless of what others might think.

Croatia were denied the chance to reach successive World Cup finals by Argentina, while Morocco put up an admirable fight against defending champions France in their 2-0 defeat.

But the fact Croatia – who clinched bronze at the 1998 World Cup – were in the 2018 final does not diminish the achievement of potentially finishing third here for coach Zlatko Dalic.

"We are sad and disappointed, but we have to gather energy to come back and be ready for the next fight for bronze," he said.

"The match on Saturday is a big final for us, not a small [game]. It's a big deal if we get the bronze.

"We have to refresh the team and put healthy players in the team because a grand final is ahead of us.

"Morocco is the biggest surprise of the World Cup. They've got national backing, unity, compactness. They knocked out Belgium, Spain and Portugal. They deserve all the respect."

Of course, these two tussled in a rather drab goalless group-stage draw, when Croatia were restricted to just five shots, their fewest ever in a World Cup game.

That encounter was something of a foreshadowing: Croatia have not been one of the tournament's great entertainers.

Morocco caused France plenty of problems and will fancy their chances of worrying Croatia on Saturday, particularly given Dalic's side have faced more shots (75) than any other team at the tournament.

The Atlas Lions have certainly benefited from a degree of pragmatism as well, with one more clean sheet enough for them to become only the eighth team in tournament history to keep five in one World Cup.

Of course, Walid Regragui insisted his team want to finish third, but there's also a degree of their job being done as the head coach acknowledged the gravity of their achievement in becoming Africa's first World Cup semi-finalists

"I will give opportunities to those who did not participate, and we will try to clinch the third place," Regragui told reporters.

"We realise that we made a great achievement already. We know that from the media, social media, and on TV, we saw the pictures, and we saw that everyone was proud of us in our country.

"We're disappointed for the Moroccan people, we wanted to keep the dream alive, but we're pleased with what we've achieved.

"We felt that we could have gone even further but these small details help real champions, which we saw [against France], of course.

"My players gave everything and they've gone as far as they could. I really wanted to rewrite the history books, but you can't win a World Cup with miracles, you need to do it through hard work."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Croatia – Mateo Kovacic

Dalic is expected to make a few changes: Marcelo Brozovic is an injury doubt; Luka Modric could be given a breather. All three of their regular midfield probably won't come out of the side, meaning Kovacic is surely the likeliest to start.

Kovacic was one of Croatia's better players against Argentina, with his physicality and ball carrying standing out as the Valtreni tried to cope with the feisty Argentinians. He attempted six dribbles, completing four, and engaged in 15 duels, winning 10 – all of those were highs for his team.

 

Morocco – Azzedine Ounahi

Again, Regragui will alter his team a bit, so it is difficult to know who's going to play, but all the neutrals will be hoping to get another glimpse of Ounahi.

An elegant central midfielder, the 22-year-old has been one of the tournament's breakthrough stars, with his composure in possession really making him stand out. He has completed 77 per cent of his take-on attempts in the World Cup (10/13), which is the highest rate of any player to try at least 10.

 

PREDICTION

Morocco's win probability of 30.9 per cent for this is a reasonable increase on the 24.8 per cent Stats Perform's AI model gave them ahead of the matchday one meeting.

Nevertheless, Croatia remain the favourites, with the supercomputer putting their win likelihood at 43.1 per cent.

The draw is rated at 26 per cent, but it's worth noting that none of the 19 previous third place play-off matches at the World Cup have gone to penalties, while only one has been settled in extra time (France v Belgium in 1986).

Spain's third-highest appearance maker Sergio Busquets has announced his retirement from international football.

The 34-year-old captained Spain in each of their four games at the World Cup in Qatar, missing a penalty in the shootout as Luis Enrique's side were knocked out by Morocco at the last-16 stage.

Busquets made his debut for La Roja against Turkey in April 2009 and went on to make 143 appearances, behind only Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos in the country's history.

The Barcelona midfielder, who scored two international goals, was an integral part of the Spain squads that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship two years later.

"I would like to thank all the people who have accompanied me on this long journey," he wrote on Instagram. 

"From Vicente del Bosque who gave me the opportunity to start, to Luis Enrique for making me enjoy it until the last second.

"I also thank Julen Lopetegui, Fernando Hierro and Robert Moreno for their trust, as well as all their staff.

"And, of course, to each and every one of my team-mates, with whom I have struggled to try to take the team where it deserved, with more or less success but always giving everything and with the greatest of pride.

"It has been an honour to represent my country and take it to the top.

"To be a World and European champion, to be captain and to play so many games, with greater or lesser success but always giving everything and contributing my grain of sand so that everything went the right way."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed the governing body is proceeding with plans for a 32-team Club World Cup, while the format of the next World Cup is to be revisited.

Infantino was addressing the media in Doha on Friday for the first time since his extraordinary press conference at the start of Qatar 2022.

He opted against a 45-minute opening monologue on this occasion, instead taking the opportunity to provide an update following a FIFA Council meeting earlier in the day.

During that meeting, plans were approved to push on with a previously proposed expansion to the Club World Cup.

The competition currently pits the winners of the main continental club competitions against each other every year, but the new version will feature 32 teams from across the globe and take place once every four years.

"It will be a Club World Cup of 32 teams, every four years, and the first edition will be summer of 2025," he said. "They will be the best teams in the world invited to participate."

Infantino also revealed FIFA is re-thinking its format for the next World Cup, which will be the first with 48 competing teams.

Initially FIFA planned for the tournament to consist of 16 groups of three teams; however, enlightened by the drama at the end of the first stage of Qatar 2022, Infantino suggested groups of four are likely to remain.

"I have to say, after this World Cup and the success of groups of four and looking at other competitions such as the Euros, here [four-team groups] have been incredible," he added

"I think we have to revisit or at least re-discuss the format. This is something that will certainly be on the agenda."

Speaking two days before Qatar 2022's final, Infantino summarised the tournament as a success in every way, in his opinion, praising the behaviour of supporters.

"The World Cup has been an incredible success on all fronts," said Infantino.

"The main one being the fans, the behaviour, the joyful atmosphere, the bringing of people together. The fans meeting the Arab world, it has been very important for the future of all of us.

"When it comes to the matches, we have seen some incredibly competitive games, some surprises, some great goals.

"At the end of the day, there was on average 10 minutes played as additional time every match. This was a very fair World Cup on the pitch, no simulations, not so many yellow and red cards.

"But this shows the compliment goes to the players and coaches, who maintained their calm, and of course the referees."

The discussion over Lionel Messi's defensive work is "almost silly", according to his former coach at Paris Saint-Germain Mauricio Pochettino.

Messi's Argentina will appear in their sixth World Cup final on Sunday against France, aiming to get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 1986.

Messi will claim the World Cup appearance record outright by playing his 26th and likely final game at the tournament, while he could become the first player to record 20 goal contributions in the competition (currently 11 goals, eight assists).

The Argentina captain started the tournament slowly, with some observers criticising his work rate, but he has shone in the knockout stage.

Former Albiceleste international Pochettino, who coached Messi at PSG until his dismissal earlier this year, scoffed at those concerns and compared Messi to two icons of the game not renowned for their defensive work.

"Honestly, I think the debate about Messi's defensive work is so stale, almost silly," he wrote in The Athletic.

"You cannot pretend that [Diego] Maradona or Pele — along with Messi, the most important players in football — were focused on trying to win the ball back. He can't participate in that. He just needs the others to run for him.

"He doesn't need to press. When you have Messi, you need the other players to understand that they have to get the ball and give it to him so he can conserve his energy and then be decisive, as shown."

 

Argentina's run to the final has not been all about Messi, though, with Lionel Scaloni's side proving resolute in defence.  

They have restricted their opponents to just 5.7 shots per game – fewer than any other side. Indeed, they have not faced above 0.6 expected goals against in any of their six games so far.

Pochettino believes that defensive solidity and work ethic has been crucial in allowing Messi to flourish. 

"Of course, Argentina need Messi, but Messi needs the other 10 players to fight for him at all times," he added. "That's one of the keys to this team: they all believe that playing for Messi, they can win the World Cup.

"You can see that the players give 120 per cent to achieve this. Different players: [Rodrigo] De Paul, [Alexis] Mac Allister, [Enzo] Fernandez, [Julian] Alvarez, they give everything they have and more, and they do it for Messi.

"They give everything because it's their dream, they are so close, and when they have Messi, they know that everything is possible.

"That's the most important thing about this Argentina team, and the reason why they are in the final. It's because the players fully understand their role. When you have Messi in your team, you have to run for him.

"And when you have the ball, you have to give it to him as soon as possible so that he can create something. So, the players know what they have to do at all times: to give Messi everything he needs to be decisive."

Bernard Laporte has been told he must stand down as president of the French Rugby Federation after his corruption conviction, reports said on Friday.

Former France coach Laporte had signalled an intention to remain at the helm of the federation (FFR), but the organisation's own ethics committee has decided he must go.

According to French newspapers Le Parisien and L'Equipe, the ethics committee has served Laporte with an injunction insisting he vacates his post.

Should Laporte not follow the instruction to leave office, the ethics committee would reportedly have the power to take control of the FFR disciplinary commission and impose sanctions on the 58-year-old president.

"We could not stay outside this situation," said the ethics committee, quoted by Le Parisien. "But it took time for the members to come together, far from the media tumult, to make a decision in calm and serenity."

Laporte stepped down from his role as vice-chairman of World Rugby on Tuesday as an act of "self-suspension" after he was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

That came after an investigation which examined a number of decisions that favoured Mohed Altrad, the president of Top 14 side Montpellier, including the award of a shirt sponsorship deal for the France national team to Altrad's construction business.

Laporte, who was France's head coach between 1999 and 2007, was also hit with a €75,000 fine and a two-year ban from involvement in rugby by the Paris Criminal Court on Tuesday.

The ban from rugby activities is suspended pending the outcome of Laporte's planned appeal; however, France's sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and the French National Rugby League have this week both called for Laporte to be replaced.

France will host the Rugby World Cup next year.

Oudea-Castera said it would be inappropriate for Laporte to remain in charge "at a moment as decisive for French rugby as the home stretch before a Rugby World Cup where France will receive nations from all over the world".

Milan "have to be a little more ambitious" and aim to win more than just the Serie A title, according to director and club legend Paolo Maldini.

The Rossoneri won the Scudetto last season for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign after beating Sassuolo 3-0 on the final day, wrestling the trophy back from city rivals Inter.

Milan's attempts to lift the Serie A trophy for a second straight season have seen them win 10 of their opening 15 matches.

Yet despite sitting second in the table, leaders Napoli are yet to lose a game and already hold an eight-point lead over Stefano Pioli's men.

Milan have fared well in Europe, though, making it into the Champions League knockout stages for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Maldini, who won seven Serie A titles and five Champions League trophies with the Rossoneri as a player, feels they should be looking for continental success to add to their domestic triumph of last term.

Maldini told MilanTV: "The match played in Sassuolo [to clinch the title on the final day] ended a three-year period that started in 2019 with a very specific project, which did not envisage the victory of the Scudetto, but envisaged the return to be competitive.

"Of course, we're talking about Milan, and we can't be satisfied with having won a Scudetto, we have to be a little more ambitious.

"We can and must be protagonists in the four competitions that remain to us, because little by little, they will be very intense months."

The World Cup has seen several Milan players undertake a starring role for their national teams in Qatar. France duo Theo Hernandez and Olivier Giroud are set to play in Sunday's final against Argentina.

Hernandez scored in the semi-final victory over Morocco and Giroud has become Les Bleus' all-time leading marksman, while winger Rafael Leao also netted twice for Portugal.

"Rafa [Leao] did his part," Maldini added. "Two goals in a World Cup is no small thing. Unfortunately, he didn't play much, but I think it was still a good and high-level experience for him. 

"Olivier and Theo have been stars since the beginning. I must say that we are proud to see them in the starting line-up having reached the final of a World Cup."

Milan return to competitive action on January 4, when they take on Salernitana in Serie A.

The French National Rugby League (LNR) has called on the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to hold new elections after its president Bernard Laporte was found guilty of corruption.

Laporte stepped down from his role as vice-chairman of World Rugby as an act of "self-suspension" after he was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

It came after an investigation which examined a number of decisions that favoured Mohed Altrad, the president of Top 14 side Montpellier, including the award of a shirt sponsorship deal for the France national team to Altrad's construction business.

Laporte, who was France's head coach between 1999 and 2007, also received a €75,000 fine and a two-year ban from involvement in rugby by the Paris Criminal Court on Tuesday.

With France hosting the Rugby World Cup next year, the nation's sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera stated Laporte should be replaced as FFR president, and the LNR has now echoed those sentiments.

An LNR press release said: "The LNR Office took note of the decision pronounced Tuesday by the Paris Criminal Court and of the position of the Minister of Sports.

"Faced with this unprecedented situation which is weakening the institution, and after consultation with the presidents of Top 14 and Pro D2, the LNR Board considers that it is appropriate to restore appeasement within French rugby through the organisation of new elections by the FFR, as requested by the Minister of Sports.

"This approach will allow the governance appointed at the end of these elections to move forward serenely towards the major deadlines facing French rugby. 

"Whatever happens, the priority of the LNR and the Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs will remain over the coming months to mobilise all the energies of professional rugby for the success of French rugby, especially as the big goal approaches of the 2023 World Cup."

The French National Rugby League (LNR) has called on the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to hold new elections after its president Bernard Laporte was found guilty of corruption.

Laporte stepped down from his role as vice-chairman of World Rugby as an act of "self-suspension" after he was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

It came after an investigation which examined a number of decisions that favoured Mohed Altrad, the president of Top 14 side Montpellier, including the award of a shirt sponsorship deal for the France national team to Altrad's construction business.

Laporte, who was France's head coach between 1999 and 2007, also received a €75,000 fine and a two-year ban from involvement in rugby by the Paris Criminal Court on Tuesday.

With France hosting the Rugby World Cup next year, the nation's sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera stated Laporte should be replaced as FFR president, and the LNR has now echoed those sentiments.

An LNR press release said: "The LNR Office took note of the decision pronounced Tuesday by the Paris Criminal Court and of the position of the Minister of Sports.

"Faced with this unprecedented situation which is weakening the institution, and after consultation with the presidents of Top 14 and Pro D2, the LNR Board considers that it is appropriate to restore appeasement within French rugby through the organisation of new elections by the FFR, as requested by the Minister of Sports.

"This approach will allow the governance appointed at the end of these elections to move forward serenely towards the major deadlines facing French rugby. 

"Whatever happens, the priority of the LNR and the Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs will remain over the coming months to mobilise all the energies of professional rugby for the success of French rugby, especially as the big goal approaches of the 2023 World Cup."

Emmanuel Macron described his pride after France returned to the World Cup final by beating Morocco on Wednesday.

The French president was at Al Bayt Stadium where Didier Deschamps' side overcame the Atlas Lions 2-0, with goals from Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani setting up a clash with Argentina in Sunday's showpiece.

Defending champions France are the first nation since Brazil (in 2002) to reach consecutive finals – and the first from Europe to achieve the feat since Germany 32 years ago.

Macron paid tribute to the players, who he visited in the dressing room after the game, while giving his backing to head coach Deschamps.

"Our compatriots need simple and pure joy, sport provides it and football in particular," he said. "I am much better now than I was an hour and a half ago.

"We suffered a lot, but we saw a great team. A huge thank you to our coach and to this team, which is actually a mix of several generations, and that's what's great.

"We bring back the cup and, obviously, Deschamps has to stay. This France team makes me very proud."

France entered the semi-final without the impressive Adrien Rabiot, who was absent through illness, with Youssouf Fofana deputising in the heart of the midfield.

"There were a lot of hours of work" the Monaco man told beIN SPORTS. "It's a shame that Adrien is not here to celebrate. I hope he will be there on Sunday.

"It was not easy replacing him, it's hard to reach the level he's been at since the start of the competition. We worked together and it worked out for us."

Hernandez added to TF1: "To play two finals in a row is incredible. We did a great job, it was hard. The final against Argentina, we know it's going to be a great game, we're going to work hard to win this final."

On a visit to Qatar in January, Kylian Mbappe predicted France would play Achraf Hakimi's Morocco at the World Cup.

The Paris Saint-Germain star was examining the surroundings in Qatar with club team-mate Hakimi when Mbappe jokingly put forward to possibility they would face one another, adding "I have to destroy my friend," to which Hakimi replied, quick as a flash, "I am going to kick him."

Fast-forward 11 months and that semi-serious guess came true, with the very serious prize of a World Cup final place on the line.

Separated in age by just six weeks, Mbappe and Hakimi have built a strong bond in Paris since the latter moved to PSG in July 2021, with a clear respect on the pitch as well as off it.

Mbappe called Hakimi the best right-back in the world after the former Inter man's free-kick for Morocco against Malawi at the Africa Cup of Nations sent the Atlas Lions into the quarter-finals of that tournament in late January.

Hakimi returned the compliment in April when asked about Mbappe's club future, saying: "Mbappe is one of the best players in the world, and my friend."

When Morocco's surprise run to the final four in Qatar lined them up against the defending world champions, Hakimi v Mbappe promised to be more than merely a contest between good pals, because they also happen to be among the best footballers on the planet.

In 2021-22, Mbappe became the first player to finish as both the top scorer (28 goals) and top assister (17 assists) in a Ligue 1 season since those two awards have been handed out (2007-08), and was directly involved in more goals in all competitions (60 – 39 goals, 21 assists) than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

During that same season, Hakimi was the defender involved in the most sequences in open play that ended in a goal in Ligue 1 (22).

Their brilliance extended to the World Cup, where, prior to the semi-finals, as well as being the tournament's top scorer at the time (five), no player had attempted more than Mbappe's 32 dribbles, with only Germany's Jamal Musiala (19) completing more than his 15, while no defender had won as many duels as Hakimi's 35, made as many tackles as his 19 or won as many tackles as his 13.

Coach Walid Regragui said before the semi-final that there would be no "anti-Mbappe plan" from his team, adding: "To focus on Mbappe would be a mistake. Hakimi is one of the best in the world in his position, too, so it will be a great duel between two champions, both going at it hell for leather."

In the fifth minute at Al Bayt Stadium, Mbappe had a chance to get the upper hand as he received the ball in the Morocco penalty area, and though his effort was blocked, the ball fell kindly to Theo Hernandez to fire France into an early lead; in fact, the earliest scored by any side in a World Cup semi-final since 1958.

It took until the 35th minute for Mbappe to show off his electric pace, racing in behind after Aurelien Tchouameni had won the ball and played him in, only for his scuffed attempt to be cleared.

Hakimi was largely having the better of their duel, tackling Mbappe well on one occasion while he also made more passes in the final third than anyone else on the pitch in the first-half as Morocco looked for an equaliser.

Early in the second half the two were in a race again as Antoine Griezmann played in Mbappe, but Hakimi was able to ease his friend away from the ball after anticipating the sort of run he is so familiar with.

Even when Mbappe finally got away from Hakimi, he found himself getting absolutely clattered by the impressive Sofyan Amrabat as France struggled to stay on top.

The personal battle looked effectively over when Marcus Thuram replaced Olivier Giroud in the 65th minute, with Mbappe moving centrally.

However, with 11 minutes remaining, Mbappe drifted slightly back out left and turned beautifully away from Hakimi as he dribbled through the Moroccan defence before his deflected shot fell kindly to substitute Randal Kolo Muani to put the game beyond doubt.

 

When Mbappe said in January with a wry smile that he was going to "destroy" Hakimi, he followed up with: "That will break my heart a little bit, but you know football, it is what it is. I have to kill him."

The 79th minute was the first real moment where Mbappe had got the better of his friend, and it proved to be the final dagger that would kill Morocco's World Cup dreams.

Hakimi did have one final moment where he was able to stop Mbappe from adding to the score with a determined tackle, but ultimately the last laugh belonged to the French forward as Les Bleus secured a 2-0 victory, with Mbappe likely having the full support of his friend when he lines up to potentially win his second World Cup against Argentina on Sunday.

They shook hands and swapped shirts after the final whistle having enjoyed a battle. While Mbappe may not have destroyed his friend, he ensured bragging rights for the next few years at least.

France have replaced Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot in their starting XI for Wednesday's World Cup semi-final against Morocco due to illness.

Reports began to circulate on Tuesday that the two players were suffering with flu, and as such they were deemed unable to line up at Al Bayt Stadium.

Juventus midfielder Rabiot was out of the squad entirely, remaining at the team's base, but Upamecano took a place among the substitutes.

Rabiot had played in all five of France's previous matches in the tournament, while Upamecano started all but their final group game, the defeat to Tunisia.

Drafted into their places were Youssouf Fofana and Ibrahima Konate, starting in midfield and centre-back, respectively.

Otherwise, there were no changes to Didier Deschamps' team from the side that beat England 2-1 in the quarter-finals.

Opponents Morocco also made changes, welcoming back key defensive pair Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui following injuries.

But Walid Regragui's line-up hinted at a change in system as Aguerd replaced midfielder Selim Amallah, rather than fellow centre-back Jawad El Yamiq.

France were looking to become the first reigning champions to reach the final of the World Cup since Brazil in 1998. The last European nation to do so were Italy in 1938.

If Les Bleus were to win, it would take Deschamps to 14 victories as a coach at the World Cup, a record bettered only by Helmut Schon (16).

 

Fikayo Tomori is aware "I have to do more" to avoid a repeat of the "disappointment" at being left out of England's World Cup squad.

Despite playing every match for Milan in Serie A this season, while missing just one of their six Champions League games through suspension, the defender was not included by Gareth Southgate, whose side were eliminated by France in the quarter-finals.

Tomori also played a key role as the Rossoneri last term, featuring 31 times as they ended their 11-year wait to claim the Scudetto, pipping rivals Inter to the title on the final day of the campaign.

But having only earned three senior England caps since making his debut against Kosovo in November 2019, the 24-year-old feels he must raise his game to force himself back into contention for the European Championship in 18 months' time, should the Three Lions qualify.

"I'm always motivated, obviously there is disappointment because I wanted to be there," he told DAZN. "But it didn't happen, and I know I have to do more to go to Euro 2024.

"There was disappointment, but I have to keep working and then let's see. Right now, I'm happy and content."

Tomori and Milan resume their Serie A title defence when they travel to Salernitana on January 4. Stefano Pioli's side are second after 15 matches, but already trailing unbeaten leaders Napoli by eight points.

The centre-half admits the reigning champions have had to adapt to different challenges from their opponents this season, but he is confident the campaign can culminate in a successful title defence.

"In my opinion, the most difficult thing is to win again," he added. "Last year, we know that there weren't many people who thought we could win. But now we have done it, and we have the Scudetto on our chest, whoever plays against us changes.

"So, we have to look for another way to win and another level - both in mentality and in play. We knew it would be difficult, but we can win again, and we will do everything for that."

Grant Wahl died after an undetected aortic aneurysm ruptured, the American journalist's wife Dr. Celine Gounder has revealed.

The 49-year-old collapsed in his seat while reporting on last Friday's World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and the Netherlands at Lusail Stadium.

Wahl was attended by medics inside the ground and taken to hospital, but his death was later announced and an outpouring of tributes soon followed.

He was flown back to New York City on Monday, and an autopsy revealed the cause of his death, with wife Gounder ruling out any sort of foul play.

"Grant died from the rupture of a slowly growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with hemopericardium," Gounder posted on her husband's blog. 

"The chest pressure he experienced shortly before his death may have represented the initial symptoms. No amount of CPR or shocks would have saved him. 

"His death was unrelated to COVID. His death was unrelated to vaccination status. There was nothing nefarious about his death."

Wahl, who was best known for his long career with Sports Illustrated, attended a medical clinic at Qatar 2022's Main Media Centre four days prior to his death after feeling unwell and was diagnosed with bronchitis.

The much-respected reporter was at the centre of controversy earlier in the World Cup when he sported a rainbow t-shirt in support of LGBT rights as he attempted to attend a match.

He was initially prevented from entering Ahmad bin Ali Stadium for the United States' group game against Wales, although he was later allowed inside.

Wahl's brother suggested he had been "killed" in the immediate aftermath of his death, but he later said he "regretted" those comments and no longer believed that to be true ahead of Wednesday's announcement.

Paying her own respects to her husband, Gounder said: "We will forever cherish the gift of his life; to share his company was our greatest love and source of joy.

"Grant was an incredibly empathetic, dedicated and loving husband, brother, uncle and son, who was our greatest team-mate and fan. 

"While the world knew Grant as a great journalist, we knew him as a man who approached the world with openness and love."

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