Real Madrid tops world’s most valuable team list’

However United is expected to climb in the next year, thanks largely to its new $1.139 billion kit deal with Adidas, while after that it will be boosted by the Premier League’s record-breaking $8 billion domestic TV rights deal.

German league winner Bayern Munich — beaten 3-0 by Barca in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal — was fourth at $2.35 billion, with Forbes saying it was at a disadvantage due to the Bundesliga’s less lucrative broadcast revenues.

Recently dethroned English Premier League champion Manchester City came in fifth with a valuation of $1.38 billion and can hope to increase that next season when its stadium is upgraded to a 55,000 capacity.

Chelsea, which has already clinched the 2014-15 Premier League title, was sixth on $1.37 billion ahead of London rival Arsenal ($1.31 billion) and U.S.-owned Liverpool ($982 million).

Read: Messi messes up Guardiola’s Barca return

. Real tops Forbes’ latest ranking with a value of $3.26 billion, while Barca is not far behind on $3.16 billion.

The Madrid club, which faces a 2-1 semifinal deficit against Juventus as it seeks to win an 11th European title, has topped the financial magazine’s standings for the past three seasons.

However, the gap between Spain’s top two teams has closed significantly in the past five years and the Catalan side hopes to soon take top spot.

“FC Barcelona’s staggering economic development is patently clear,” the La Liga’s leader’s first vice-president Javier Faus, who heads the club’s finance department, said in a statement.

“With the club now valued just $100 million short of Real Madrid, it’s the smallest gap for the last five years.

“Barcelona has risen from fifth to second in the ranking of the world’s most valuable clubs after multiplying its value by three, and is poised to take over at top spot in future studies.”

Forbes said Real’s performance was under-pinned by revenue of almost $750 million over the past year — the most by any sports team.

English club Manchester United — despite a season without Champions League football — was in third place, valued at $3.1 billion

Arturo Vidal: Bayern Munich transfer imminent

It is the second time Louis van Gaal has signed the Argentine, previously bringing him to AZ Alkmaar when he was manager in 2007.

James Milner turned down a contract extension at Manchester City to sign with Liverpool.

Angel Di Maria has joined Paris Saint-Germain — just one year after signing for Manchester United for a British record fee. Once I learned that United were interested in signing me, it was a very easy decision to make,” he said after signing a four-year-deal.

Firmino (left) is congratulated by his teammate Willian after scoring the winning goal against Venezuela in the Copa America. The Argentina international — who was part of the Copa America team that lost out to Chile in the final — has signed a five-year-deal with the club,

Europe’s summer signing window

Aston Villa has secured the signing of 19-year-old winger Adama Traore from Barcelona for $13.3 million. The former Atletico Madrid forward managed just four goals in 29 appearances for Manchester United last season.

Sergio Romero has joined Manchester United on a free transfer from Italian team Sampdoria after his contract expired. 1 shirt vacated by Petr Cech.

Europe’s summer signing window

Robin van Persie has completed his move from Manchester United to Fenerbahce. The Switzerland international, who has inked a five-year contract, spent just seven months at Inter after joining from Bayern Munich in January.

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Champions League finalists Juventus signed Paulo Dybala from Seria A rivals Palermo for $35m.

Carlos Tevez’s $7.2 million move to Boca Juniors from Juventus has been confirmed by the Italian club. Traore, the English Premier League club’s 10th buy this summer, has penned a five-year deal at Villa Park. “I am delighted to be a Manchester United player.

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Juventus has signed Colombia international Juan Cuadrado from Chelsea on loan for the season. The 20-year-old is the most expensive English player ever, signing for a reported $76 million. Liverpool have signed the 23-year-old for around $45 million from German Club Hoffenheim.

Europe’s summer signing window

Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas has joined Portuguese club Porto. The Spain international arrives off the back of a treble-winning season with the Spanish giants and also boasts a World Cup and European Championship.

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Mario Balotelli has joined former club AC Milan on a season-long loan from Liverpool. The 36-year-old joins up with Frank Lampard and David Villa.

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Raheem Sterling has completed his move to Manchester City from Liverpool. The 30-year-old has won every major trophy available and captained his country to World Cup victory in Brazil last year.

Europe’s summer signing window

Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic signs for Champions League runner-up Juventus from Atletico de Madrid for a reported $20.5m.. The Argentine is returning “home” after beginning his professional career with the Buenos Aires-based club back in 2001.

Manchester United splashed a reported $55 million on 19-year-old French forward Anthony Martial, who agreed a four-year deal to leave Monaco ahead of the September 1 British deadline. The Spanish goalkeeper won every major trophy available, including one World Cup and two European Championships with his country.

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has agreed to join Manchester United from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on a three-year-deal. “The King” has signed a four-year-deal with the Bundesliga champion after returning from his holiday following the Copa America win with his country.

The most talked about English Premier League deal on Twitter during the European window was Chelsea’s capture of winger Pedro from Barcelona for $33.5m. Cuadrado only joined the Blues in February from Fiorentina for a reported $35.9 million, but has since been deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have loaned out Mohamed Salah to Roma for the season. Barca has inserted a buy-back clause in the deal enabling it to bring Traore back to the Camp Nou.

Manchester City’s long-running bid to sign Kevin De Bruyne finally ended after the English club paid Germany’s Wolfsburg £55 million ($84.7m) for the highly-rated Belgium midfielder on August 30.

Europe’s summer signing window

Bayern Munich has completed the signing of Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal from Juventus. The 29-year-old scored an impressive 72 goals from just 117 starts for City, but struggled to hold down a regular first-team spot.

Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina has joined Italian club Napoli from German champions Bayern Munich. The 28-year-old will take the No. The striker previously spent 18 months at the San Siro and has returned there after struggling to make an impact with the Reds since signing last summer.

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko has joined Roma on a season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer. He scored his first goal for the club on his debut in a friendly against AS Roma.

Manchester City made Nicolas Otamendi one of the most expensive defenders in history after paying Valencia $50m for his services. Reina had a previous loan spell in Naples during the 2013-14 season.

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Stoke City has broken its club transfer record to sign Xherdan Shaqiri from Inter Milan for $18.7 million. United paid $93.2 million to bring the Argentina international to Old Trafford last summer, but after a frustrating first season he has now moved to the French Ligue 1 champion for a reported $69.2 million.

Europe’s summer signing window

Chelsea confirm the signing of Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from Stoke City on a four-year-deal. It has been a rapid rise to the top for Vidal, who was playing in the second division with Almeria just two years ago.

Andrea Pirlo completes his move from Juventus to MLS side New York City FC. The 31-year-old enjoyed a Premier League title-winning debut season under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012/13, but struggled to make an impact since his departure.

Despite its transfer ban, Barcelona signed Sevilla’s Europa League-winning player Aleix Vidal for $24.4m. He joins the Serie A side on July 1 when his contract with Real Madrid expires.

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Europe’s summer signing window

Chelsea confirm the signing of Colombian striker Radamel Falcao on a season-long loan from French club Monaco.

Memphis Depay heads to Manchester United off the back of a prolific, title-winning season with PSV Eindhoven for around $34m.

One of the biggest talking points centered on a deal that did not go through — Real Madrid claims it received David De Gea’s registration from Manchester United too late to make the Spanish deadline. The deal includes an option for the Italian Serie A club to purchase the midfielder at any point during the campaign.

World Cup winner Sami Khedira signs a four-year contract with Juventus. The goalkeeper was the most talked about individual on deadline day, according to Twitter.

Liverpool complete the signing of 22-year-old striker Danny Ings for a reported fee of $18.3m.

France international Morgan Schneiderlin completes his move from Southampton to Manchester United for a reported fee of $39 million

Iniesta proves he’s man with big talent and a big heart to match; Barca’s midfield midget is rival fans’ hero.

But also that his humility sets him apart from most

modern-day footballers.

The Barca coach was also humbled by the reception Iniesta received.

He said: “Andres deserves it and I’d like to thank the

Espanyol fans.

. Cristian Zapata’s own goal in

88 minutes gave Edoardo Reja’s side a priceless three points.

He said: “It’s always a difficult encounter against

Espanyol but we used the space well and our forwards were really

successful on the night.

Napoli moved to within three point of Milan after a late Edinson

Cavani goal earned them a 1-0 home win over Lecce.

HUMBLED: Guardiola CLASS APART Iniesta controls the play against

derby rivals Espanyol but the home fans, below, heaped praise on the

Barca star following his tribute to their former player in the World Cup

Final, bottom

Doubles from David Villa and Pedro along with a Xavi strike sealed

the points for Pep Guardiola’s side who maintained their lead at

the top of La Liga.

“Far more important than any rivalry is the people. They have

sent me many messages and that is much more important to me.”

As he celebrated his famous goal Iniesta unveiled the words

”Dani Jarque, you are always with us” and fans of

Barca’s city rivals will never forget it.

“This club has given me and my family everything.

There was drama at the Weserstadion as Kaiserslautern beat Werder

Bremen 2-1 in a fiery clash. And one which highlights why he’s now the clear

favourite to win FIFA’s coveted Ballon D’Or – the award for

the world’s best player.

Despite the fact Iniesta helped destroy them with another polished

display at the Cornella-El Prat Stadium – they gave the midfielder a

standing ovation when he was substituted.

The Spaniard is now 4-7 with the bookies to lift the trophy ahead

of Barcelona team-mates Xavi (6-4) and Lionel Messi (8-1).

Roma moved into the chasing pack with a crucial win over leaders AC

Milan. I’d

like to think my best moments on the pitch are still ahead of me and I

still think I can give more.”

And the good news for Guardiola is that after another sparkling

display from Barcelona, Iniesta revealed he’d like to spend the

rest of his career at the Nou Camp.

After falling into fifth spot in the league, he said: “We gave

our all on the pitch but we had a great team in front of us.”

It was a special moment for Iniesta, who was a close friend of

Jarque’s. Aaron Hunt cancelled out Srdan Lakic’s

early penalty before the Croatian striker hit a second-half winner but

both sides were then reduced to 10 men when Alex Bugera and Sandro

Wagner saw red.

In Italy, Lazio stayed joint second in Serie A after a 3-2 victory

over Udinese at the Olympic Stadium. Loan star Marco Borriello returned to the San Siro to haunt his

parent club as he grabbed the winner for the visitors.

CAPTION(S):

Athletic Bilbao beat Levante 2-1 and Sporting Gijon salvaged a draw

against Deportivo La Coruna thanks to Diego Castro’s 89th minute

equaliser.

“We feel that Iniesta reflects what our club as an institution

is all about.”

Espanyol boss Javier Marquez – whose side had only lost two goals

at home all season until meeting Barca could only hold his hands up and

admit they lost to a superior team.

That will be a scary thought for the rest of La Liga as Barcelona

continue to set the pace at the top of the table.

Byline: SCOTT McDERMOTT

Elsewhere in Spain, Valencia snatched a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad

thanks to an Aritz Aduriz’s stoppage-time goal while Villarreal

beat Real Mallorca 3-1 with Nilmar, Santi Cazorla and Guiseppe Rossi all

on target for the home side.

“It would be special to end my time as a player at Barca – but

it depends on how I perform over the next few years.

Iniesta endeared himself to every supporter in Spain when he hit

the winning goal in the World Cup Final against Holland in the summer.

After helping put Espanyol to the sword, the 26-year-old said:

“I felt something from the fans when I was on the pitch and

that’s the greatest thing about it.

In Germany, runaway leaders Borrusia Dortmund suffered a surprise

1-0 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt with Greek striker Theofanis Gekas

hitting a late winner.

But the 26-year-old showed he was a class apart when he displayed a

touching message under his shirt in honour of tragic Espanyol star

Daniel Jarque who died after suffering a heart attack last August, aged

just 26.

BARCELONA superstar Andres Iniesta proved two things during the

Catalan side’s 5-1 demolition of derby rivals Espanyol at the

weekend.

That not only is the diminutive midfielder one of the world’s

greatest players

KILLER ON THE LUIS; Suarez warns Italians: I’ll do to you what I did to England.

“But what happened before the match [against England] I did not want to attack anybody, only some media started making fun of me.

Suarez claimed his two goals against England were revenge for hisperceived, e s mistreatment there, claiming people were “laughingat his attitude” in the buildup to the World Cup.

Asked by Mirror Sport to explain his remarks, particularly when he was voted PFA and FWA footballer of the year for last season, Suarez went on the attack.

“The objective is only to play for Uruguay, to fulfil our ambitions, to go beyond this stage and see how far we get,” he added. . The knee feels good. “You are in the media, you should know what happened and why they did that to me.”

“But of course you can build yourself up and come to the next assignment and this is what I am doing. I guess this is very obvious and even the people in the Premier League voted for me, and then if the papers vote for me as well that is sensational,” he said. “I was the other day really at the limits of my physical capacity and, for the last match of Liverpool, I was full of cramps and I was tired.

“I have certainly not set my sights on being the best player at the World Cup.”

“Everybody knows that I was elected the best player of the year. It’s not in perfect shape, but after surgery you need time to see the reaction, particularly having played so much and been the object of a lot of attention.

LUIS SUAREZ is ready to subject Italy to the same one-man demolition job that sank England.

Byline: FROM DAVID McDONNELL in Natal

GROUP D: Italy v Uruguay 5pm

But Suarez, who scored 31 goals in 33 league games for Liverpool last season, said he has no desire to be the best player in Brazil.

Suarez’s match-winning display in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England defied belief, coming 26 days after the operation that cast doubt upon his participation in the World Cup.

All-time head to head: 2 Italy wins, 3 Uruguay wins, 4 drawsManagers: Italy: Cesare Prandelli Uruguay: Oscar Tabarez Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mex) Weather forecast: Heavy rain, 26C, Humidity 88%, 14mph Wind TV: ITV from 4pm GROUP D Probable teamsItaly: Buffon, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini, Damian, Deseglio, Marchisio, Pirlo, Verratti, Immobile, Balotelli Uruguay: Muslera, Caceres, Gimenez, Godin, A Pereira, Gonzalez, Arevalo, Rodriguez, Lodeiro, Suarez, Cavani Das Dunas, Natal

Suarez will aim to repeat his heroics against Italy today, when the two nations meet for a place in the last 16.

CAPTION(S):

“If it didn’t feel good, I would tell the coach that I wasn’t available, but I feel good now.”

Suarez’s exploits against England confirmed his status as one of the world’s best players, with both Real Madrid and Barcelona chasing the PS65million-rated star.

The Liverpool striker, who is looking more likely to leave Anfield with every passing day, admitted he was at the limit of his physical capacity before undergoing knee surgery.

HE’S CHIN THE MOOD Suarez telling the media yesterday he is in good shape and (below) after winner against England

But the 27-year-old said he has recovered fully following the England game and is ready to face the Italians.

“I was not really 100 per cent fit and sometimes things turn around,” said Suarez. I am building myself up again for the game against Italy

Liverpool FC OKs Red Sox Owners’ Bid for Team

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. All Rights Reserved. Liverpool hasn’t won in five matches in all competitions and is currently in the Premier League’s relegation zone. said Tuesday that they would resist the bid from New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Red Sox, and a separate bid from Asia because both “dramatically undervalue” the 18-time English champions.. 15, a person familiar with the situation said. “I am delighted that we have been able to successfully conclude the sale process which has been thorough and extensive,” Broughton said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because financial details aren’t being discussed publicly.

2010 The Associated Press.

The offer was accepted by the non-owner board members, Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton, who was hired by Hicks and Gillett in April to sell the club, managing director Christian Purslow and commercial director Ian Ayre.

Before a board meeting Tuesday to discuss the offer – as well as the bid from Asia – the current owners unsuccessfully tried to remove Purslow and Ayre from the board and install one of Hicks’ sons and a financial controller from his company.

“NESV’s philosophy is all about winning and they have fully demonstrated that at Red Sox,” Broughton said.

The turmoil comes after Liverpool lost to Blackpool on Sunday to confirm the club’s worst start to a league season since 1953. “By removing the burden of acquisition debt, this offer allows us to focus on investment in the team.

The Red Sox owners offered to pay about $477 million for a club with debts of $453 million that must be repaid by Oct. “We’ve met them in Boston, London and Liverpool over several weeks and I am immensely impressed with what they have achieved and with their vision for Liverpool.”

“I am only disappointed that the owners have tried everything to prevent the deal from happening and that we need to go through legal proceedings in order to complete the sale.”

Broughton said that New England Sports Ventures “best met the criteria we set out originally for a suitable new owner.”

Liverpool’s board agreed to sell the Premier League club to the owners of the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, and also announced they will have to take legal action against the existing American owners to force the takeover.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. The team was also recently knocked out of the League Cup by Northampton, a club struggling in the fourth tier of English football.

Numerous protests by supporters have been staged at the team’s matches at Anfield, and a group of Liverpool celebrities has even appeared on a video playing on the Internet pleading with Hicks and Gillett to leave the club

Westminster Dog Show News, Photos and Videos

“She is a princess,” handler Will Alexander said

. Westminster Kennel Club Show Winner Is a Beagle Madison Square Garden, where more than 2,711 dogs representing 192 breeds and varieties competed for awards at the Westminster Kennel Club Show. Miss P, however, didn’t let out a peep in the ring. The special canine didn’t ….. popular hound that barked and bayed his way to becoming the only previous beagle to win at the nation’s most prominent dog show in 2008. Miss P, a beagle from British Columbia, won the top honor, Best in Show

WIN TICKETS TO SEE MAN UTD v FC BASEL IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BY 10PM TONIGHT! IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BY 10PM TONIGHT!; WHO IS MANCHESTER UNITED’S MANAGER? A: Gerard Houllier B: Arsene Wenger C: Sir Alex Ferguson.

All rights reserved.

There promises to be a carnival atmosphere in Manchester as United aim to say on course for a dream Champions League Final appearance at their home ground in May.

FANCY a trip to The Theatre of Dreams to see Manchester United takeon FC Basel in the Champions League?

The Irish Mirror is giving away three trips for two people to Old Trafford to see them take on Christian Gross’s Swiss side in Europe’s top club competition on Wednesday, March 12.

Today we are giving away a trip a day by 10pm.

To enter simply call our competition line, leaving your answer to the question below along with your name, address and contact details. Or from a mobile simply text BALL followed by a space and then your answer (a,b or c) to 57051. Lines close at 10pm. . And you and a friend could be flying off from Dublin to enjoy this great night of European football in the United section of the ground.

After two tough games against Juventus, United will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten home record.

Winners will be notified the following morning. Usual MGN rules apply.

TO ENTER PHONE 1550 696710

COPYRIGHT 2003 MGN LTD

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.

Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. Calls cost 74c per minute and last for two minutes. Text entries cost EUR2.00

Vidal Sassoon’s girl found dead at home.

There was no sign of foul play.” . But rumours of boozing and lesbian affairs dogged her.

Despite her turbulent lifestyle, she had kept in close contact with mum Beverly Adams, who divorced Sassoon in 1980.

The eldest of Sassoon’s four children, she was a true wild child and had married and separated at the age of 15.

The coroner is now awaiting the results of tests to establish exactly how she died.

The body of Catya Sassoon, 33, was discovered by husband Joe Myers just hours after a wild New Year’s Eve party.

A coroner’s spokesman said: “At this stage, we cannot confirm the exact cause of death. But Catya complained of her father: “He knows how to be Vidal Sassoon but not how to be a dad.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.

Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. But her career floundered, though Catya claimed: “I see myself as another Meryl Streep.”

Catya, a model and aspiring actress, had battled serious drug and alcohol problems.

Catya’s manager, Hilly Elkins, said: “She had complained of feeling woozy and they left the party and went home.”

She appeared on the covers of several magazines including Rolling Stone which, in 1985, declared: “Catya Sassoon defines the word nubile.”

She remarried at 22 and quickly became pregnant, giving birth to a son. All rights reserved.

He had gone back to their exclusive Hollywood mansion to check on her.

Byline: ANDY LINES

THE troubled daughter of British hairdressing king Vidal Sassoon has been found dead of a suspected drug overdose.

Catya tried to break into films, starring in her first movie, Tuff Turf, alongside Robert Downey jr

Barcelona lo hizo de nuevo, dice emocionado Iniesta | Deportes | Reuters

“Empezamos muy bien, en el segundo tiempo equipararon el juego y sufrimos, pero tenemos jugadores desequilibrantes y eso hace la diferencia”, agreg.

(Escrito por Javier Leira va mesa de edicin en espaol)

Thomson Reuters 2015 All rights reserved.

.

“Muy pocas veces pasa, en seis aos lo hemos vuelto a hacer, todas las palabras de elogio se quedan cortas, esto es espectacular (…) Que la gente disfrute de este Bara”, agreg.

El equipo azulgrana ya haba conquistado la Liga espaola y la Copa del Rey, pero no se conform con eso.

“Ni en el sueo ms hermoso hubiramos pensado en una temporada as.

Luego de que el equipo del ftbol espaol conquistara un indito triplete de ttulos en la temporada 2008-2009, el sbado repiti la hazaa con la victoria 3-1 sobre la Juventus en la final de la Liga de Campeones.

“No se puede pedir ms, los tres ttulos, acabar ganado esta Champions. Hemos hecho historia para este club”, dijo por su parte el centrocampista argentino Javier Mascherano. Esta es una temporada espectacular, un momento muy bonito y muy difcil de conseguir”, dijo tras la victoria el centrocampista del Bara, Andrs Iniesta.

BERLN (Reuters) – El Barcelona lo ha vuelto a hacer

Liverpool FC – The Post-Suarez Era

On loan, again.

Of course, the first question that springs to mind is why the boy was even signed. Balotelli is well known for his lack of social skills, to put it mildly, often previously displayed by disruptive and sometimes aggressive behavior on the pitch, as well as causing problems away from it. To be fair, Can did relatively well as a center-back in a line of 3 at the back, but his energy and creativity was sorely missed in midfield.

Many people blame Rodgers for not utilizing players optimally, with again Balotelli and Rickie Lambert being the case. Rodgers had previously claimed that Mario Balotelli would NOT be joining Liverpool, and indicated several times after that signing the Italian was NOT his decision.

However, the very next season indicated that this was probably too big a step for the Northern Irishman. During his first season at Liverpool, he played mostly as a wing-back, sometimes even a full-back, and it’s not that hard to fathom the reasons for his failure to impress. Yet, he played mostly as a center-back, and sometimes as a full-back, in an attempt from Rodgers to make the 11 players on the pitch flexible in terms of formation. The team failed to achieve any of the goals set by the owners of the club, that supposedly being to reach the top 4, to win a cup and to work on developing the young players in the squad. Also, many people feel that his man-management skills thoroughly failed the test with Mario Balotelli.

Lazar Markovi is very useful when he plays as a classic winger, an attacking midfielder, or even a second striker, paired up with a classic center-forward. The season was thoroughly revised. When the season ended, Rodgers had spent three years as the Liverpool manager, and became the first manager in 50 years of club’s history not to have won a single trophy in that time. His long-ago spoken words “judge me after three years” came to mind, as well as “a team that spends over 100m in a single transfer window should be winning the title”.

Upon his arrival, Brendan Rodgers was widely perceived as someone with a lot of potential for becoming a truly great manager, having impressed during his two years of managing Swansea. Balotelli is considered widely as a striker that gives most output in a partnership, and the away 0-3 victory against Tottenham was a good example of that. The loan was then cut short, and he was sent back to Madrid. Many players were played out of their natural position, and while one might argue that this probably helped the development of Raheem Sterling, it very much hindered that of Lazar Markovi and Emre Can. Many started calling for him to be sacked.

As mentioned before, Javier Manquillo was on loan at Liverpool from Atletico Madrid, a two-year loan with an option to buy. As for Lambert, a tall player with much strength and little speed was expected to feed on skillfully threaded passes, the cunning footwork of Coutinho, instead of sending high crosses into the box. More experienced, accomplished managers such as Jose Mourinho, Massimiliano Allegri and Roberto Mancini are, failed to make something of him, and despite the obvious talent, Balotelli is still constantly falling short of his potential, his ability to focus, his football intelligence, work-ethic, discipline and team spirit being under constant bombardment from the critics. It was decided that he will be given another chance. The option was believed to be activated by 20 appearances for Liverpool, so Rodgers carefully avoided the boy crossing the magical number 19. But when Sturridge got injured, Balotelli spent most of his time on the pitch as a lone striker. The 2013/14 season and the unexpected title charge saw his reputation rise rapidly. Before that, he had spells at Watford and Reading. The club had spent nearly 120m on new players the previous summer. The same can be said of Emre Can, who has shown time and time again that as a box-to-box central midfielder, he can be the driveing force of the team. Now he has joined Olympic Marseille. Probably the last one.

It would seem that having an inexperienced manager without a single trophy in his career, at such a high level, is taking its toll. Partnered with Daniel Sturridge, Balotelli was a real handful for the Spurs’ defense. He was slowly entering the “big-boys’ game” as Liverpool were expected to continually challenge top teams in England and fight with some strength for a Champions League spot.

After the nightmare at the Britannia Stadium at Stoke, he had a long meeting with the people from FSG in charge of the club. As wrong as it gets.