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Unbelieveable new video of Lionel Messi as a child

Watching Lionel Messi tear through defences is a weekly event these days, however a new video of the Barcelona star has been released – with him doing just that as a child.

It is unclear how old he is or who he is playing for, and the video quality is quite sketchy. However, it is clear to see that the three-time Ballon d’Or winner was destined for greatness from a young age.

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Chelsea’s Torres, Manchester United’s Rooney, Barcelona’s Messi and the biggest football contracts of all time

The Biggest Football Contracts of All Time

With the most recent investments into the game the price of players contracts are once again starting to soar. Take a look below to find out more on the current top ten earners in world football and their seasons rates. (Warning: you may be surprised by some of the names on the list.)

10. Cristiano Ronaldo (€10 million)

The Portuguese forward earns a hefty sum at Real Madrid, but he only just cracks our top ten list. Ronaldo came to prominence in the Sporting Lisbon youth team, where an exceptional performance in a friendly against Manchester United earned him a transfer to the English club. After a rocky beginning in England, Ronaldo developed his game and led the side to three English Premier League titles, two League Cups, one UEFA Champions League trophy and the Club World Championship. Success has followed him to Real Madrid, where he won La Liga last season.

9. Lionel Messi (€10.5 million)

Lionel Messi

He is widely considered the best player in the world, yet Messi is only ninth on this list. He is Barcelona’s most dangerous player, often being their sole threat on goal. Messi broke the record for most goals scored in a calendar year in 2012. He has already won three UEFA Champions League crowns, along with winning the Ballon d’Or on four occasions.

8. Dario Conca, Guangzhou Evergrande (€10.6 million)

Conca is an Argentine international who plies his trade in China’s major league. This contract is a massive surprise, given the fact that Conca is not among the world’s elite players.

7. Fernando Torres, Chelsea (€10.8 million)

Along with paying £50 million to Liverpool, Chelsea gave Fernando Torres a bumper contract. Unfortunately, he has rarely showed the quality to justify such a financial expense. He has struggled to recapture his Liverpool form and is likely to be sold this summer.

6. Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua (€12 million)

Didier Drogba

Ironically, Drogba is the man Torres was signed to replace at Chelsea. The Ivorian moved to China where he was on a handsome contract for half a season. Unfortunately, financial problems meant the cancellation of the deal allowing Drogba to move to Turkish giants Galatasaray, with employment lawyers now likely to get involved.

5. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City (€12.5 million)

Despite failure in the UEFA Champions League for two consecutive seasons, Aguero led City to last season’s Premier League title. More will be expected in future seasons from the Argentine star.

4. Yaya Toure, Manchester City (€13 million)

From Barcelona’s reserves to Manchester City’s first team, Yaya Toure made a massive jump when he left Spain. Not only did he earn a starting spot, but he got one of the best football contracts in history. His performances have lived up to the billing as he is often City’s best player.

3. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United (€13.8 million)

Wayne Rooney

A summer after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, United faced the possibility of Rooney leaving too. Instead, he was coaxed into staying by the manager and was rewarded with the third highest football contract. He has won four Premier League titles and the UEFA Champions League at Old Trafford.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG (€14.5 million)

Ibra continued his nomadic club journey to PSG this summer, signing a massive contract with the French giants. He will be the spearhead of their bid to dominate European football.

1. Samuel Eto’o, Anzhi Makhachkala (€20 million)

Why would a footballer leave Inter Milan (European champions at the time) for Russian football? The answer is €20 million euros a season and the largest contract ever given to a football player.

Author Bio
Jamie Stevenson is an avid copywriter who writes for a variety of websites, including specialist employment solicitors Slater & Gordon.

No Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or City: Champions League quarter-final preview

For the first time since 1996 there is no English representation in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Despite this, the draw has still thrown up some potentially exciting ties that are bound to produce plenty of goals and talking points.

Malaga v Borussia Dortmund

Probably the least glamorous looking of the ties but has the potential to be one of the most entertaining. Both teams have been extremely impressive in getting this far. Malaga topped their group, remaining unbeaten, and finishing ahead of AC Milan and Zenit, before overturning a first-leg deficit against Porto in the last 16. Dortmund meanwhile were put in the so-called Group of Death alongside Manchester City, Real Madrid and Ajax. They too remained unbeaten though, and also finished first in their group before sweeping aside Shakhtar in the last 16.

Mario Gotze

While most people will look at Isco as Malaga’s main threat, the experience they possess with the likes of Joaquin, Toulalan, Saviola and Demichelis is not to be under-estimated though, and they will be prepared for the occasion. Dortmund’s youth and attacking style may just prove to be too much for the Spaniards however, and with the guaranteed goals and creativity of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski along with home advantage in the second leg, the Germans may well be a good outside bet to make it all the way to Wembley.

Real Madrid v Galatasaray

The second favourites meet the rank outsiders in this quarter-final tie. Madrid cruised through their group, even though they finished second to Dortmund, and then controversially saw off Manchester United over two tense games. Galatasaray just edged through their group ahead of CFR Cluj and their attacking prowess saw them score three in Germany to get past Schalke.

Didier Drogba

There is no doubting the Turkish side’s attacking options. Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder were the big name signings in January but they also boast the joint top scorer in the competition with Burak Yilmaz. Add to this the experience of Felipe Melo and Hamit Altintop in the midfield and they certainly have a strong core to their team. Over two games though it is hard to see a defence which has already conceded in all but one game in the competition so far this season containing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and company. Galatasaray do have the advantage of being at home for the second leg but they cannot afford to be more than a goal or two behind after their trip to the Bernabeu.

Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona

Undoubtedly the tie of the round, the big-spending French team against the side who have raised most of their players through their youth team. Despite a couple of wobbles along the way against Celtic and in the first leg against AC Milan, the Catalan giants still remain the team to beat. As they showed in the second leg against Milan they are still unstoppable when they are on form. PSG were very impressive in topping their group and despite a nervy second leg against Valencia they deservedly fought their way through.

Jordi Alba

The biggest problem for the French side in the first game will be the continued suspension of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. To have any chance against Barcelona they will need their strongest team and it will be a big blow to not have their talisman. Not that PSG are a one-man team though. Ezequiel Lavezzi continues to show his talent with five goals in this tournament and they have the exciting young talents of Lucas Moura and Javier Pastore. The problem they may find though is getting the ball to these players, but if they can there is no doubt they can cause Barcelona problems. It would be no surprise if Paris Saint-Germain got a positive result at home but as Milan found out in the last 16, it needs a big lead to take to the Nou Camp for the return game.

Bayern Munich v Juventus

The final tie pits together two of the heavyweights of European football over the years. Bayern have been very impressive to this stage and despite their second-leg defeat to Arsenal they still dominated in terms of attempts at goal and possession. Juventus came through a slow start to qualify first from a group containing Shakhtar and defending champions Chelsea, before brushing aside the challenge of Celtic.

Andrea Pirlo

Bayern will be determined to make amends for their final defeat to Chelsea last year and they certainly have a team who find it easy to create chances and, certainly at domestic level, score goals. They are coming up against a side though that is more of a stereotypical Italian team. Solid at the back and good in possession, Juve play the game at their own pace. They may be short of big names but they have an Italian core that are well drilled and know exactly what they are doing. This is probably the hardest of the quarter-finals to call, but it may well be that Bayern’s extra options in the attacking third will be enough to see them through; but only just.

By Chris Newman

Lionel Messi and Barcelona have potential to end AC Milan’s Champions League in first leg

Two European powerhouses collide on Wednesday evening, when Spanish maestros Barcelona travel to the San Siro to face seven-time European Champions AC Milan.

Having met in last seasons Champions League in both the group and knockout stages, the teams will be all too aware of the dangers each present.
Milan held Barcelona to a draw at Camp Nou in last years group stage; also drawing the first leg of the last-eight clash before the Spanish league leaders went on to win the second leg 3-1 courtesy of goals from Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. If the Italians are going to qualify for this years quarter-final they will have to come away from this first leg with some sort of advantage. Stephan El Shaarawy will be hoping to start after his late fitness test, but Giampaolo Pazzini will definitely be part of the squad having overcome a thigh injury. Milan will be missing Mario Balotelli (cup-tied); otherwise they have their strongest available line up.

Lionel Messi

Barcelona, sitting top of La Liga by 12 points, may feel they have a point to prove in this competition. Arguably the best team in the modern era, Barca have won the Champions League three times in the last seven years – and were it not for stout defending by Chelsea last year, may have made another final. Having faced Milan several times in recent seasons they will know that an away goal will be key in this tie.

Barca will welcome Xavi back into the squad after a fitness test on Monday, but it seems David Villa will unfortunately miss the tie. Lionel Messi will of course start the game; the Argentine with five goals in the competition already will look to add a couple more to his ever-impressive scoring record.

Milan will look to keep this game tight – but if they fail to defend properly against Messi and co, the tournament could be over before it has even started.

By Stephen Reid

Can Wayne Rooney ever be called “world-class”?

Watching Wayne Rooney’s performance against Real Madrid this week, one word sprang to mind – selfless.

It is a word that describes many of his performances in the Champions League, certainly in recent years, as he regularly sacrifices his attacking intent for the good of the team.  But it is also a trait that may prevent him from ever breaking into that elite group that some argue contains only two.

One school of thought is that ‘world-class’ equals ‘showman’.  While the other claims it is more akin to ‘catalyst’.  The very best – in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – are both.

Wayne Rooney

And yet, in Europe at least, Rooney is neither of those.  He works tirelessly, carrying out his manager’s orders with a tenacious energy and unquestionable will to win.  But on nights like Wednesday, few would call him world-class.

Is it the case that Ronaldo and Messi are at the peak of their sport because they are allowed to be, because they are rarely given other jobs to do?  Similarly with the likes of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta, who make the game adapt to them rather than the other way round?

Rooney is an outstanding footballer.  Of that there is no question.  And he has evolved perhaps more than anyone else currently in the Premier League, from a fearless teenage striker to a deep-lying forward who sprays passes, creates for others and still finds time to score plenty himself.

But he is too good at too many things to ever be allowed to do just one.

This is a man who as a boy tore league and international defences apart, who scored a hat-trick on his debut for Manchester United and didn’t look surprised.  And so the footballing world may always wonder what would have happened if he had remained that player – if that were even possible.

In a game that evolves, players who do the same should be championed, and 155 goals in 336 appearances are proof enough that Rooney was and remains an outstanding talent.  You just wonder, although United would be weaker without everything he brings to every area of the pitch, what would have happened if he had focused on just one.  Perhaps then we would be talking of three not two.

For United fans, he will go down as a legend.  While for English football, he will be remembered as possibly the best of his generation.  And of course at only 27, there is plenty yet to come.

But he has evolved in such a way as to prevent the possibility of joining those termed world-class, not when it is defined as one man standing out from ten more.

Instead he does what is asked of him.  And with every win he contributes to, he will be happy, even if the world doesn’t always notice.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Euro 2012 distractions

Whilst Euro 2012 is on the Ninety Minutes Online team have outsourced their considerable resources to cover the tournament for other leading media outlets. As such posts for the next while may well be sparse.

However just quickly, after watching the Germany vs Portugal game last night a few things came to the fore. Firstly, Mesut Ozil steadied a rocky Germany ship that was in no way sure to beat Paulo Bento’s men. The Real Madrid playmaker showed poise and confidence on the ball and it is easy to see why he is so highly regarded at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Another Real Madrid man, Fabio Coentrao, had an enterprising game for Portugal at left-back, showing solidity in defence but a real attacking threat when he ventured forward.

However, Los Blancos’ main man Cristiano Ronaldo was decidedly muted and did not look like the player that scored against every Primera Division team in 2011-12. Playing predominantly in a wide position CR7 struggled to make any impact on the game; Nani looked more dangerous on the other flank. Ronaldo’s claim to be amongst the best players to have ever played the game hinges on whether he can replicate club form on the international set-up, and last night’s showing did little to inspire confidence that he can be talked about in the same light as Pele, Maradona, Cruyff etc.

Whilst Ronaldo toiled, Messi starred. The current Ballon d’Or holder scored a meticulous hat-trick in Argentina’s 4-3 win over Brazil to show why he is the world’s best; check out this wonderful winner.

Enjoy the remainder of Euro 2012

Lionel Messi vs Diego Maradona: How the rise of the Champions League is at the expense of international football

When you think of great players of decades gone by, such as Pele or Diego Maradona, their World Cup performances instantly spring to mind. Comparing players from different eras is always difficult, but two of the best of the current generation are without doubt Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The crucial difference is that the current top two have reached their exalted status of ‘best players in the world’ almost totally through their performances in club football – Messi for Barcelona and Ronaldo for Manchester United and Real Madrid. Despite this, the current Ballon d’Or holder failed to score in his most recent World Cup finals in 2010 or the Copa America finals in 2011.

This is just one indication of the rise of the UEFA Champions League and the relative decline of international football. The Champions League, rather than the World Cup, is now sometimes spoken of as the greatest prize in football. Here we examine some of the possible reasons for this shift:

Player motivation – Players of teams able to challenge for the Champions League title are, without exception, rewarded handsomely for their efforts by their clubs. In this era of the super-rich footballer, playing international football has become something of a labour of love. After a career in which he enjoyed massive success with Manchester United but had precious little joy with England, Gary Neville said:

“There have been times when I’ve reflected on my international career and just thought ‘Well that was a massive waste of time’.”

Imagine what effect Neville’s words might have had on a young player just starting his international career.

Club spending power – The clubs in the major European leagues, such as the Premier League and La Liga, are the richest in the world. Their resources allow them to assemble an array of talent from all corners of the globe, from South America to Africa and the Far East. With these resources at their disposal, the leading club sides are arguably stronger than some of the top international teams.

Entertainment value –  The Champions League is quite simply often better to watch than international football. An average of 2.65 goals were scored per game in the group stages of the 2011/12 Champions League, whereas in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup, this figure was only 2.06. With six group games as opposed to three, the fear of the consequences of losing a group match is lower in the Champions League. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described the last six World Cup finals as ‘like pulling teeth’.

Television coverage – In many European countries, Champions League football is covered by a satellite sports channel, while international football is largely shown on general terrestrial channels. Sports channels thus have more time to cover their events in greater depth.

Supporters’ attitudes – Possibly influenced by the saturation coverage of the Champions League, and other factors, supporters of bigger clubs sometimes have little regard for international football. In England it is often supporters of lower division clubs that provide unstinting support for the national team. As an example, the fans of Manchester United have a song that mocks England’s lack of success on the world stage.

With Euro 2012 and football at the Olympics coming up this summer, will international tournaments come back into modern players and fans’ preferences?

By Martin Saxon

Can the Chelsea oldies possibly stop Barcelona and the mighty Messi?

Chelsea’s rejuvenation under former midfielder, now temporary Abramovich plaything, Roberto Di Matteo has been quite the story. There has been improvement in the league (they even beat current form team Wigan!!), an FA Cup semi-final demolition of sorry Spurs thanks to Juan Mata hitting the back of the net and progression to the Champions League semi-finals; Chelsea are on a roll. Big time. However, they have just hit a snag. They, very sillily, have been drawn against Barcelona. Whimper.

But wait! Chelsea are in great form I hear you say. They even beat Napoli and Diddy Drogba is red-hot and Fernando even scored at one point. Plus, the Blues have Roberto ‘mastermind’ Di Matteo, I scored the quickest ever goal in an FA Cup final, at the helm. Branislav ‘Rocky’ Ivanovic can play, and David Luiz is injured – what more could the Stamford Bridge club ask for?

Plus! Don’t forget that Chelsea almost beat Barcelona back in 2009. They drew 0-0 at the Camp Nou and were a west London whisker of making the final only for Andres Iniesta and the referee to conspire to steal the glory of losing to Manchester United in the final away from them.

Also! Former West Brom boss Robbie Di Mat has a masterplan. So you like to play tic-tac football eh? Pass the ball to each other 1000 times in a game eh? Got Xavi and Iniesta eh? And Fabregas, shit I forgot about him! Doesn’t matter – Chelski have a plan. Crowd the midfield. It’s devilish.

An inside source from the Blues has let me know that Roman Abramovich has instructed Robby DM to crowd the midfield or face 1000 lashes. So, the Blues are going to play a six-man central midfield to stop the constant, soul-destroying passing of Pep Gorgonzola’s showponies. Ramires, Mikel, Oriol Romeu (ex-Barcelona don’t you know?), Lampard, John Terry and Dennis Wise are all going to play in the middle of the pitch and run around kicking people up in the air; pass around that!!!

You are starting to get a bit more confident aren’t you? The plan, it could work; it might work. Ah, just wait. What about Lionel Messi?

Single John Terry Champions League final 2008 tear runs down the face.

Messi was pretty good back when Chelsea last played the ticcy-tackers, now he is, well, sub human. He has scored 60 goals this season. 60. All by himself. He is the new Barcelona all-time top goalscorer at the mere age of 24; that makes him better than Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Mark Hughes all put together. Rumours are rife that Messi is about to form a one-man Harlem Globetrotters football team of just him to play a World XI, but no-one wants to play in the World XI cos they’re all too scared.

Messi is unstoppable. We have Jose Bosingwa and Paulo Ferreira in our team, it’s not fair. At least Chelsea will win the midfield battle though.

Published – Danger Here

London 2012: Should the Olympics be higher on a footballer’s priority list?

With an exciting end to the Premier League campaign, the Champions League last four and the upcoming Euro 2012 championships in Poland and Ukraine this summer, football fans can be forgiven for forgetting about the Olympic Games and football’s involvement at the London event.

Attitudes in football to the Olympics are in stark contrast to how modern sports in general perceive the Olympics; they are the moment for professional sportmen and athletes to compete and prove yourself at the highest level possible. For many sports the Olympics are a defining showcase moment, and for many sportspeople they are the ultimate test.

Football, however, is different. Club football has changed the dynamic to the extent that international football seems like an unnecessary luxury, reserved only for countries who lack a strong domestic league. You can even argue that the best football club could easily beat the best football team in the world.

For track and field athletes the Olympics, held every four years, are of a similar importance as the football World Cup or Champions League (or indeed, Premier League survival). Football however is spoilt with one important game after the next, challenges spread out throughout the season and with more opportunities to succeed. As such, the Olympics has been tagged as just another tournament and from a club football perspective, lacking any benefits in an already- packed football calendar.

There is no doubt that the sheer amount of football played by the professional footballer in the modern day is startling, with their domestic leagues, cup competitions, European football, international friendlies and competitive national fixtures all taking their toll physically and mentally. More than the quantity of football is the intensity – playing at full tilt for 90 minutes 50 times a season will take it’s toll on you (just ask David Silva).

For most other sports the Olympics, held every four years, is the pinnacle and the culmination of countless hours on the training ground and gym. Modern-day players are as professional as the game has ever seen, and therefore should want to play at the highest level possible, strive for victory and be the best that they can be. This attitude will be adopted by other sports represented at the Games, and should be treated as such by football.

The age limit on participants in Olympic football ensures that young players – whose footballing output needs to be managed far better than the case of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere – get an early chance to appear in a major tournament and hone their skills against competitors of the same age group, if not always the same technical level.

A raft of leading Premier League players such as Jack Rodwell and Gareth Bale have been rumoured to be keen to represent Team GB this summer with clubs fuming over the possibility of losing star players in pre-season. The FA has had to assure Premier League clubs that players who take part in the Euros will not take part in the Olympics, there will undoubtedly be athletes who prioritise Euro 2012 and the upcoming 2012/13 Premier League season over involvement at the Olympics.

Despite this, Pearce has issued the rallying cry for all interested parties to come forward, and the modern day competitor should jump at the chance. Admittedly the Olympics will not carry the same following in football as Euro 2012, but the unique chance to play in the Great Britain team, at the sporting summit of the Olympics, on home soil, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The fact that the majority of competitors need to be 23 or under (there are three overage players allowed in each squad), should mean that up-and-coming superstars like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones and Daniel Sturridge to name but a few should be clambering over themselves to be involved at the Olympics. With some of the higher-profile and older players not eligible or interested, a young prospect could shoot themselves to super-stardom with strong performances, and join a very small group of players to have an Olympic medal in their trophy cabinet.

The likes of Lionel Messi have competed in the Olympic Games before (against the wishes of his parent club), and won the gold. If you ask Messi, despite is embarrassment of titles he will still remember the Olympic gold and what it means to him. Most of the players likely to head to London 2012 under Stuart Pearce can only dream of getting close to Messi’s trophy count – and if the world’s best footballer wants to win everything on offer, if a football tournament at home presents your country’s best chance of international success in football for ages – then it’s only right that players and management (FA) make it a high priority.

Football fans in England tend to say that the Olympics don’t matter. They do to the people taking part, and especially to the people who give it their best shot, and win.

Published – Soccerlens

Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Portugal out of the Euro 2012 Group of Death?

It has been quite the season so far for Cristiano Ronaldo, who is setting records at Real Madrid and has fired the Santiago Bernabeu side to the top of La Liga. The attacker has been caught in a personal battle with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi over the last four to five years in the debate of who the best player in the world is. The Argentine superstar has a slight edge over CR7 and has won the Ballon d’Or three years running, however with neither player replicating stellar club form on the international stage, Ronaldo has a chance to claw back some ground on his nemesis by leading Portugal to glory this summer.

The Portuguese forward’s performances for Los Blancos have been nothing short of phenomenal this season, with the 27-year-old setting history as he goes. Ronaldo has reached 100 La Liga goals for the Spanish capital-city side in 92 matches, which is less games than anyone else in the club’s illustrious history. If he scores against Mallorca and Barcelona in two of Madrid’s remaining fixtures he will have hit the net against every other team in the division in the space of one season. He has also powered into the outfit’s top 10 all-time goalscorers, and is the driving force behind Madrid’s quest for success this season.

With the level of his personal performances alone, Portugal may well be a dark horse for Euro 2012 this summer. That said, the Iberian nation have failed to deliver on the international stage since the days of Eusebio, and the generation of world-beaters in the 1990’s and 2000’s comprising the likes of Rui Costa, Luis Figo and Joao Pinto have long-retired.

Despite have a gifted squad at his disposal, Portugal coach Paulo Bento will do very well to satisfy the country’s supporters in Ukraine and Poland. With Ronaldo at the heart of their attack, the nation will have to overcome a devastatingly difficult group comprising Germany, Netherlands and Denmark to even get to the knockout rounds. The likes of Fabio Coentrao, Nani, Joao Moutinho, etc will help Ronaldo in his mission to drive the nation to success, but, on paper, Portugal will struggle to get out of Group B.

However, this may well be the perfect opportunity for Ronaldo to take the next step in his career, to achieve greatness and be rightfully spoken of in the same regard as Pele, Diego Maradona and his arch-enemy Lionel Messi. Both of the retired South American stars led their nations to World Cup glories, something that the current Camp Nou star has not achieved; by surpassing expectations this summer and leading Portugal to Euro 2012 glory, Ronaldo could achieve the international recognition that Messi has not yet received.

Published – MIUsoccer

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