FIFA Reveal 10-Player Shortlist for 2019 Puskas Award

FIFA has released the 10-player shortlist of nominees for the 2019 Puskas Award, the annual prize handed each year to individual who scores the ‘most beautiful’ goal of the year.

All goals under consideration were scored between 16 July 2018 and 18 July 2019 inclusive, with seven men and three women on the shortlist, the highest number of female nominees in a single year to date. As yet, no woman has ever won the Puskas Award.

Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend makes the list for his thunderbolt effort against Manchester City last season, as does Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his wonderfully improvised finish for LA Galaxy against Toronto FC back in September.

Amy Rodriguez’s stunning solo effort for Utah Royals also makes the list, as does Cliftonville Ladies’ Billie Simpson’s strike against Sion Swift Ladies – an incredible volley from the halfway line.

The full list of 2019 Puskas Award nominees are as follows:

​Player Team
​Matheus Cunha RB Leipzig​
​Juan Fernando Quintero River Plate​
​Zlatan Ibrahimovic ​LA Galaxy
​Lionel Messi Barcelona​
​Ajara Nchout ​Cameroon
​Fabio Quaqliarella ​Sampdoria
​Amy Rodriguez Utah Royals​
​Billie Simpson ​Cliftonville Ladies
Andros Townsend​ Crystal Palace​
Daniel Zsori​ Debrecen​

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah won last year’s Puskas Award, while other past winners since its creation in 2009 have included Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, James Rodriguez, Olivier Giroud as well as 2019 nominee Ibrahimovic.

Fans will have until midnight (CEST) on 1 September to cast their vote. The public vote will then close and the overall winner will be chosen from the top three by a panel of FIFA Legends.​​

The winner will be announced at the Best FIFA Football Awards gala in Milan on 23 September.

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Philippe Coutinho: How Bayern Munich Should Line Up This Season After Signing Brazilian Attacker

​German giants Bayern Munich have just secured the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona on a one-year loan deal with a €120m purchase clause.

The Brazilian struggled during his time with the La Liga champions but will be hoping to return to the form he produced at Liverpool that made him such a revered talent.

Philippe Coutinho

The European transfer window won’t shut until 2 September, leaving room for more signings, but Bayern have more than likely concluded their business.

Following the Coutinho ​announcement, here’s how manager Niko Kovac should line up the reigning Bundesliga champions to help them challenge Europe’s elite.


Goalkeepers & Defenders

Joshua Kimmich,David Alaba

Manuel Neuer (GK) – Once regarded as the best keeper in the world, the ​Bayern captain’s stock has fallen massively due to his injuries and a poor last campaign. The German looked to be back close to his best though in pre-season though, and will be hoping to carry that through. At 33, it’s not too late. 

Joshua Kimmich (RB) – Probably one of the best attacking full backs in the world, Kimmich has become an assist machine – racking up an astonishing 14 last season, three behind Bundesliga leader Jadon Sancho. His crossing and set-piece delivery have taken his quality up another level of late. Remember when Bayern would ‘never’ replace Philipp Lahm?

Niklas Süle (CB) – Currently the best centre back at the club. He beat out both Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels to become an regular starter over the course of last season, and has become one of the most underrated defenders in world football. A blend of deceptive speed, huge stature and progressive passing make him one of the first names on Niko Kovac’s team sheet.

Lucas Hernandez (CB) – Despite not being at full fitness yet, the French World Cup winner should start ahead Boateng and fellow Frenchman Benjamin Pavard once he recovers completely from a long-term knee injury. Lucas has vast Champions League experience from his time at ​Atlético and is a similar type of player to Süle. Oh, and he’s a great left back too.

David Alaba (LB) – Alaba is still one of the best in the world at his position, but his performances have been on the wane a little. The Austrian still has the skillset of a complete left back and remains a great set-piece taker – and having just turned 27 this summer, he has plenty of time to return to the top of his game.


Midfielders

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Thiago (CM) – The most technically gifted player in the Bayern squad. With Thiago best deployed as a number eight, the Spaniard should take his place in a double pivot as one of the most complete midfielders in the world.

Corentin Tolisso (CM) – The Frenchman gets the nod ahead of new boy Cuissance, Leon Goretzka, Renato Sanches and Javi Martinez. A much more physical number eight than Thiago, Tolisso is a great box-to-box midfielder and has the potential to become one of the best midfielders in the world. Having just returned from a devastating injury, Goretzka could feature more prominently but in crucial games, Tolisso offers much more to the Bayern side on a defensive end.

Serge Gnabry (RM) – Bayern’s player of the year last campaign, Gnabry shocked everyone with his great goalscoring threat and efficient dribbling. The 24-year-old’s form was a pleasant surprise and he plays superbly alongside striker Robert Lewandowski. Gnabry has a great eye for goal, which Bayern severely lack, and has the quality to change the momentum of a game.

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Philippe Coutinho (CAM) – The addition of the 27-year-old is the star power Bayern needed to help challenge for the Champions League this season. He was unable to prove the quality he possesses in a floundering Valverde system at ​Barcelona and will be hoping he can bring his attacking flair and sensational long-shot quality to Die Roten. Having lost James Rodriguez, Bayern have made a somewhat like for like replacement with the Brazilian able to both create and score in crucial moments. 

Kingsley Coman (LM) – Coman will likely start ahead of another loan signing in Ivan Perisic despite Kovac’s fondness of his fellow Croatian. The Frenchman has an incredible record of winning a league title in every season he’s played in and his dazzling quick feet and lightning pace have often played a role in those campaigns. If the 23-year-old were to add some quality finishing, Bayern would have a front four that would be hard to beat.


Striker

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski (ST) – It’s fitting that the Pole gets his own section as he has been in a league of his own for the past couple of years. He has been the ​Bundesliga’s top scorer four out of the last six campaigns and doesn’t show sign of slowing down anytime soon. A complete striker and capable of playing any role required by the manager, the finishing machine has been a crucial cog to Bayern’s success over the years. The only thing missing is that he has yet to show up in crucial Champions League games in a Bayern shirt – probably due to Bayern’s recent inability to keep up with Europe’s elite.

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Scott McTominay & Daniel James Is the New Bromance That Man Utd Need This Season

Manchester United fans saw the breakup of one of football’s best bromances when Ander Herrera exited Old Trafford on a free transfer to join Paris Saint-Germain and left pals Juan Mata and David de Gea behind.

Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard are famously tight and remain at the club – but another new bromance has also emerged at United this summer, with increasingly popular home-grown star Scott McTominay and new signing Daniel James already the best of friends.

Daniel James

McTominay is also close with a number of United’s other young talents, including Mason Greenwood, and his rise to the first team makes him an important role model and example.

It speaks of the positive atmosphere inside the dressing room, overcoming the dismal end to last season, and it can only be a good thing that players feel so happy in their surroundings.

McTominay has described the moment James found the net in the 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea last week as the ‘happiest’ he’s ever been on a football pitch when one of his friends has scored.

“I’ve had a really close bond with him since he’s come to the club,” the 22-year-old Scotland international told BBC Sport of his new Welsh colleague.

Having made what was considered by many to be a surprising £15m switch from Swansea in June after being so close to joining Leeds the previous January, James came off the bench in the Premier League opener at Old Trafford and showed just what he can do in a United shirt.

“Obviously, I knew a little bit about him before he came, but I was so, so pleased for him; that’s probably one of the happiest I’ve been on a football pitch seeing one of my pals score; scoring his first goal for the club and I was made up for him,” McTominay said.

“When I got home, I sent him a little text and said ‘well done’. He deserves it; he’s such a hard-working lad, but he knows it’s just the start. It’s not just one goal, it’s getting 50 or 100 and he’s very capable of doing that. As you’ve seen, he’s done really well to start his Man Utd career.”

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United have always had bromances over the years.

Paul Pogba was a huge factor in Romelu Lukaku joining the club in 2017, with the pair having been friends for several years before. Dwight Yorke and Andrew Cole were as tight off the pitch as they were on it. David Beckham and Gary Neville were also very famously pals, while the Park Ji-sung/Patrice Evra bromance is the stuff of cult legend.

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Casemiro & Thibaut Courtois Insist Gareth Bale Deserves to Play for Real Madrid This Season

​Real Madrid stars Casemiro and Thibaut Courtois have offered their support to teammate Gareth Bale, insisting that the Welshman deserves to play for the club this season.

Bale has been heavily linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer amid rumours that manager Zinedine Zidane isn’t exactly his biggest fan. A switch to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning ultimately collapsed, leaving Bale is somewhat of a limbo.

Speaking after Real’s 3-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday (via Goal), Casemiro insisted that Bale has been such an important player in the club’s history, and he deserves a place in the team as a result.

David Costas,Gareth Bale

He said: “He has given us titles, he’s scored in finals and he has a lot of respect from us all. He has to play. He’s a great player and is very important for us.”

Zidane surprised many by opting to start Bale against Celta Vigo, and the winger responded by putting in a stellar performance. He created ​Karim Benzema‘s opener and was hugely impressive throughout before being withdrawn late on.

On Bale, ​Courtois added: “He is an important player and played a great match. Everyone loves him and it is important that he plays for us. We are so happy with Bale.”

Zinedine Zidane

Courtois’ feelings were clearly echoed by Zidane, who also insisted that Bale will stay with the club for the upcoming season, and that his decision has nothing to do with the injuries to Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard.

Last season, the 30-year-old made 42 appearances in all competitions, racking up 14 goals and seven assists. However, his output dropped hugely following Zidane’s arrival, and Bale often found himself used as a late substitute in games.

Fortunately for Bale, after an impressive pre-season, he appears to have played his way back into Zidane’s team, and his good form on Saturday will likely help him stay there.

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Kane vs Sterling: Premier League Fans Vote on the Biggest English Goal Threat

Premier League fans have revealed who they think is the bigger English talent between Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, in an online poll for ​Virgin Media. 

Debates like this have raged for years in English football, with the two biggest stars from the last generation – Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard – polarising opinion, with fans never able to definitively decide who was the superior player. 

Both retired into management in the last few years without ever establishing themselves as superior to the other, and we’ve since moved onto a new generation of English talent. 

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The Gareth Southgate generation has its debates to settle too though, and when Sterling’s ​Manchester City took on England captain Kane’s ​Tottenham on Saturday evening, we saw arguably the two best of this crop of players hash out a 2-2 draw. 

On the day, it was Sterling who showed more of what he can do, as he headed in his fourth of the season to put his side into an early lead, while Kane – after scoring a double against Aston Villa last weekend – was often left isolated up front. 

Their early season form was reflected in the results of the poll, as Sterling emerged victorious with a pretty definitive 66% of the vote.

Of course, the two play in different positions, with Sterling operating as a wide forward while Kane occupies a central role, so it is difficult to fairly compare their vastly different skillsets. 

If you were assessing on goals alone, then Kane would be the clear winner. He’s netted 87 goals in his last 100 appearances at club level while Sterling has managed a ‘mere’ 53 in his last 100.

However, Sterling has also assisted 35 goals in the same time, helping City to successive Premier League titles and an unprecedented domestic treble last season, and it seems fans see his wider contributions to the Manchester City juggernaut over the last few seasons as indicative of a brighter star than that of Kane. 

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