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The absence of Barcelona players from the
finalists for UEFA’s Best Player in Europe
Award is “scandalous,” the club’s vice
president Jordi Mestre says.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and
Neymar were not included when the
finalists were announced on Friday, with the
honours instead going to Real Madrid’s
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and
Atletico’s Antoine Grizemann.
“It doesn’t seem the right decision to me at
all,” Mestre told TV3. “I don’t know what
criteria UEFA applied, with all respect to the
chosen winners, but I disagree.
“That our players aren’t there, such as
Suarez or Messi, is scandalous.
“The club are very disappointed and angry.”
Barcelona won La Liga last season, with
Suarez scoring a remarkable 59 goals in all
competition, while Messi — who has won
the award twice before — added 41.
Ronaldo scored 51 goals in all competitions
as Real Madrid edged Atletico for the
Champions League crown.
All three finalists also reached the semifinals
of Euro 2016, with Ronaldo’s Portugal the
victors, while Barcelona’s three stars are all
from South America.
Journalists from each of UEFA’s 55 member
associations provided an initial list of their
five best players, with the 10 gaining the
most points advancing to a second vote to
determine the final three.
The winner of the award will be voted for at
the Champions League group stage draw on
Jose Mourinho has set his Manchester
United players the “unrealistic” goal of
winning the Premier League title in his first
Mourinho won the Champions League
against the odds with Portuguese side Porto
in 2004, lifting the trophy again with Inter
Milan in 2010.
United have not won the Premier League
since 2013, and finished fifth last season
under the management of Louis van Gaal.
And Mourinho said a United title this season
would be a similar feat to one of his
unexpected Champions League triumphs.
He told reporters: “Sometimes, during my
career, I created some unrealistic targets.
“By creating these [targets], you push the
team to unexpected levels. To win the
Champions League with Porto or Inter is
unexpected and a very risky objective.
“To win championships in the first season is
a little bit of the same, but I like that.
“People analyse it as arrogant and so on.
That’s not a problem for me. The reality is I
always feel this kind of difficult target can
only help us.”
Mourinho won the Premier League with
Chelsea in 2004-05 — his first season in the
Premier League — but when he returned for
a second stint in 2013 he had to wait until
his second season to do so.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand
believes he can make an instant impact at
Old Trafford by lifting the title, telling the
Manchester Evening News: “If they get a
good start, they’ll be a hard train to stop.”
He added: “United should be aiming to win
the league — simple as that. With the players
that we’ve signed, I’m sure the players in
the changing room will be thinking the
“Mourinho is not going there thinking that
hopefully we’ll be back in the Champions
League. No chance. His mentality is not like
that — he’s a winner. He’s going to want
4:00 PM – Leicester City vs Manchester United
1:00 PM – West Ham United vs Juventus
2:00 PM – Werder Bremen vs Chelsea
2:45 PM – Mainz vs Liverpool
6:00 PM – Manchester City vs Arsenal
8/08 12:00 AM – Orlando City SC vs Seattle Sounders FC
8/08 2:30 AM – LA Galaxy vs New York Red Bulls
5:00 PM – Fiji U23 vs Mexico U23
8:00 PM – Germany U23 vs South Korea U23
10:00 PM – Argentina U23 vs Algeria U23
8/08 2:00 AM – Brazil U23 vs Iraq U23
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday
expressed optimism that the country’s team
will put up an impressive showing at the
2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro,
This was contained in his message to the
Nigerian Olympic contingent.
Buhari, in a statement by the Senior Special
Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba
Shehu, hoped that the victory of Nigeria’s
Under 23 football team, the “Dream Team
Six” over their Japanese opponents in the
early hours of Friday will serve as an
inspiration to the entire contingent.
He said: “On behalf of the government and
people of our great country, I wish to
express my support to our athletes who
have arrived in Rio for the 2016 Olympic
Games. I am particularly delighted by the
outcome of the football match early this
morning in which our football team
defeated their Japanese counterparts.
“The sweetness of the victory comes from
the fact that it came against all odds. Our
team overcame several challenges to put up
a sterling performance. This is a good
beginning.” He added
He praised the resilience, hardwork and
patriotism that the athletes have put into
He said: “I am already aware that you have
made personal sacrifices in your journey to
the Olympic Games. The motivation comes
from strong discipline and the love of the
“As you embark on the search for honours
for the nation, I seize this opportunity to
assure our Olympians that you have my
support and those of all Nigerians.