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‘What I want most is for Messi to win a World Cup’

ROSARIO: Twenty years ago Enrique Dominguez was coaching 10-year-olds at Newell's Old Boys in Argentina when he saw Lionel Messi for the first time. He remembers it still: "He was a gift of life!" Sitting in the empty stands of the Rosario club now as a 67-year-old, Dominguez gets emotional at the memory. "What was special about Leo was his naturalness. Leo was the natural leader of his group of companions." While coach Dominguez gave his 10-year-old charges instructions, Messi would listen while juggling a ball,…

‘Monstrous’ Messi to enter Barca’s 600 club

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi will celebrate his 600th start for Barcelona on Saturday in what his manager Ernesto Valverde hails as "a monstrous" achievement. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner becomes only the third player to reach the milestone for the Catalan club after ex-playmaker Xavi Hernandez (767 appearances) and the current captain Andres Iniesta (642). In his 599 games since 2004 the 30-year-old Argentine legend has scored 523 goals all competitions to be the club's all time top scorer and the top scorer in La Liga…

Barca’s Neymar to stand trial for fraud

MADRID:  Barcelona forward Neymar and his parents will stand trial over alleged fraud and corruption, making the Brazilian the latest football superstar to have to take the stand, a Spanish court ordered on Thursday. The National Court also ordered Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell to be sent to trial over alleged fraud and corruption over Neymar's transfer from Santos in 2013. They will stand trial for "business corruption and fraud", the court said in a statement. The two…

It was a perfect year, says Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo signed off his stellar 2016 in style on Sunday, scoring a hat-trick to lift Real Madrid to Club World Cup glory and underline his status as the world's best player. Ronaldo, crowned the Ballon d'Or winner for a fourth time last week, helped Real win the Champions League before leading Portugal to European Championship triumph. "The statistics don't lie," Ronaldo told Real's website. "I've had a great season personally and as part of a team. It was a perfect year. "I have kept my level of…