Valentine’s Day 2019: Picking a Starting XI of Football’s Dreamiest Men for Your Superhunk Clubhouse

?Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! 

This has become a bit of an annual ritual, hasn’t it? But it’s been two years now since we started and – like some relationships two years in – things have gone a bit stale and need spicing up. What? No, you’re projecting. Shut up. 

Anyway, this year we’re including nobody who’s ever made it into the fit XI in past years. Change is coming. ?2017 lads, ?2018 hunks, you’re in the past now. 

What better way to feel great about your life on Valentine’s Day than to look at a bunch of genetically perfect millionaires, alone, on your phone or laptop? Exactly.

Goalkeeper: Paulo Gazzaniga

If you haven’t seen Paulo Gazzaniga before – and to be fair, it’s not like he’s played week in, week out anywhere in this country – you’re welcome. 

We ignore that he’s shaved his head and looks about 70% worse recently, he’s still got the eyes. Ah, the eyes…

Bonus fact: His middle name is Dino. 

Right-Back: Ramin Rezaeian

?If there was a competition for best looking national team, Iran would win hands down. Sorry Spain. But apparently it’s ‘not editorially justifiable’ to do a bit where every single player on this list is in the Iranian World Cup squad, so Ramin Rezaeian is the nod. Obviously. Look at him! 

Also? Four consecutive vowels in his name. That’s cool. 

Centre-Back: Joe Gomez

?He does a good line in smouldering looks, he’s a bit injury prone so he’ll have more time to spend at home with you…Joe Gomez, on the plane. 

Honourable mention for Fabian Schar, if only to shut up the *squints* 7,185 people on Twitter who kept going on about him. 

Centre-Back: Maya Yoshida

?Strong. Tall. Experienced. Serious. Distinguished. Maya Yoshida…is daddy? 

Left-Back: Jose Gaya

Dark eyes, thick hair, boyishly handsome face (to be fair, he is only 23) and – most importantly – a basically generically good looking left-back when there are so few out there. 

Right Wing: Keita Baldé Diao

?Oh yeah, now we’re getting to it. A wicked smile, a glint in the eye and the kind of upper body that makes everyone else in the gym locker room look down at themselves and ask ‘honestly, what’s the point of bothering?’

Central Midfield: Ruben Loftus-Cheek

?Roftus Loftus-Choftus is so wonderfully, ‘take home to mum’ safe in his inarguable handsomeness that he’s almost a doubt for this team. Sometimes you want a bit more of an edge, you know? 

But nah. He’s too good looking. He stays. 

Central Midfield: Andre Gomes

?*insert template of handsome Iberian footballer here*

Honourable mention: Granit Xhaka

Left Wing: Filip Kosti?

?Filip Kosti? has a jaw so strong it could bench the rest of this team single-handedly – and would grow a single hand so that it could do it. This man’s jaw could fight the entire cast of The Expendables in their primes. Filip Kosti?’s jaw absolutely fuc——I’m being told I’m not allowed to write that. 

Striker: Alexandre Lacazette

?If you aren’t charmed to death by this man when he turns his eyes on you and flashes that smile, you should probably go immediately to the nearest hospital because it appears you might be dead. 

Striker: Fernando Llorente

?O captain, my captain. 

Honourable mention: Kelechi Iheanacho

Manager: Herve Renard

?A 50-year-old man is the best looking person in football. Does Herve ‘Jaime Lannister but with crisp, half unbuttoned white shirts’ Renard spark joy? You bet he does. 

Honourable mention: Pepe Bordalas


Luciano Spalletti Reveals Mauro Icardi Refused to Travel With Squad to Face Rapid Wien

?Inter manager Luciano Spalletti has revealed that it was in fact Mauro Icardi’s decision to not travel for the Europa League clash with Rapid Wien, not a managerial snub. 

It was announced on Wednesday morning that Icardi had been stripped of the ?Nerazzurri captaincy after his drawn out contract talks with club caused a rift in relations, with veteran goalkeeper Samir Handanovic taking over as new club captain.

Mauro Icardi

And subsequently, the matchday squad for the game in Vienna was revealed, with the Argentine absent, in a suspected punishment. 

However, the tactician revealed a different tale in his pre-match press conference, as quoted by ?Calciomercato. Spalletti proclaimed: “There is a very important match on the way, then there will be time to clarify the situation, it is a difficult and painful decision made for the good of the team.

“?Icardi was summoned, it is he who did not come in. After Parma I said certain things because obviously there was a need to speak. I do not deal with contracts, you have to talk to them [the directors]. 

“The decision was made at the right time, it is a painful decision but well-reasoned. Sometimes, to love, things must be said as they think. There are situations in football, in life, that do not go over again.”

And, as quoted by the club’s official ?twitter page, Spalletti continued: “Taking the armband off Icardi was a difficult and painful decision, but we know his worth. However, we took it together with all of the club’s components involved. It was done exclusively for the good of Inter.”

Icardi’s absence ensures Lautaro Martinez of a starring role, and the 59-year-old confirmed: “We’ll see Lautaro tomorrow, a striker who’s just as strong and who already proved this on Sunday. From him, like all of the rest, we expect the same kind of contribution as always.”


Mauro Icardi Omitted From Inter’s Matchday Squad to Face Rapid Wien After Losing Captaincy

?Inter have omitted Mauro Icardi from their matchday squad to face Rapid Wien in the Europa League on Thursday, after stripping the Argentine forward of the captain’s armband.

The Serie A giants ?confirmed that Samir Handanovic will lead the team on the pitch going forward, amid rumours that talks over a new contract for Icardi have completely broken down.

?Inter confirmed their matchday squad for Thursday’s match on ?Twitter, revealing that ?Icardi will play no part in the important match.

Key players such as ?Ivan Perisic and Stefan De Vrij will join Handanovic on the field against Rapid Wien, with Lautaro Martinez likely to replace Icardi in attack.

Icardi’s omission from such an important fixture will certainly prompt rumours of an imminent departure from the club. The likes of ?Chelsea, ?Real Madrid and ?Juventus have all been heavily linked with a move for Icardi, but any list of potential suitors for the forward would likely be extensive if he was made available.

Mauro Icardi

Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea were regularly linked with the 25-year-old during the January transfer window, but instead opted to sign ?Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus. However, should Icardi be made available for transfer, the Blues could reignite their interest to help bolster their options in attack.

Icardi’s wife and agent, Wanda Nara, has forged a reputation as a tough negotiator, regularly speaking to the media about her client’s contract situation. He remains under contract at the San Siro until 2021, but talks of a potential renewal for Icardi have been ongoing for months.


There is reportedly a release clause in his contract which would allow Icardi to leave the club for a fee of €110m (£96m), and it is thought that Inter are keen to increase that clause in an attempt to keep rival clubs away from their star striker.

However, recent developments will certainly fuel talk of a potential transfer for Icardi, who has racked up a stunning 122 goals in 2010 games for Inter. World-class strikers are a valuable commodity, and Inter could be set for a bidding war once the summer transfer window opens.


Mauro Icardi Stripped of Inter Captaincy as Relationship With Club Reaches New Low

?Inter have confirmed that goalkeeper Samir Handanovic will replace Mauro Icardi as the club’s captain going forward, amid rumours that Icardi is unhappy at the club.

The striker has captained Inter since the start of the 2015/16 season, but has found himself heavily linked with a potential departure from the club amid rumours of a breakdown in contract talks.

?Inter confirmed the news on ?Twitter, simply stating: “The Club can confirm that Samir Handanovic is the new Inter captain.”

Despite remaining under contract at the club until 2021, ?Icardi’s future has been the subject of a huge amount of speculation this season – with his wife and agent Wanda Nara notoriously unpredictable in her dealings with the club. Reports have suggested that the 25-year-old has been discussing a new contract with the club for months, yet no renewal has materialised as of yet.

?Chelsea were heavily linked with a move for Icardi, but instead opted to sign ?Gonzalo Higuain from ?Juventus. ?Real Madrid are also regularly touted as potential suitors for the Argentine, and this latest development will only fuel the talk of an imminent departure from the San Siro.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

Despite netting nine goals in the first 13 ?Serie A matches of the season, Icardi is goalless in the last seven games, which is his longest drought since joining the club, and Inter fear that this contract stand-off is beginning to impact his performances on the pitch.

Speaking to DAZN following Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Parma, manager Luciano Spalletti called for an end to the uncertainty surrounding Icardi. He is quoted by ?Football Italia as saying: “I have not created any problems for Icardi. Issues need to be clarified, because when you leave things half-cocked, they become open to interpretation.

“People have said a few too many things, now there is time to sit down and talk about something we’ve avoided and dragged along with us for months.”


He then elaborated on this point in his press conference, and is quoted by Football Italia as saying: “Mauro is evidently seeing his performance affected by some situations that have been going on recently. He needs to free himself from the talk that is around him.

“The directors agreed to start talking about the contract, so now they need to go there and conclude it.”


10 Youngest Players to Score in the Champions League

Scoring is one of the best feelings in the world, but grabbing a goal in the Champions League is a feeling like no other.

And for young players, scoring in the Champions League can be the beginning of something magical – as they demonstrate to the world that they are capable of mixing it with the very best that European football has to offer.

We’ve seen plenty of young blossoming talent bursting on to the biggest stage in European competition with a bang – so here, we look at the 10 youngest players to have ever found the back of the net in the Champions League..

10. Mariyan Ognyanov: 18 years & 59 days

Manuel Konrad,Mariyan Ognyanov,Velin Damyanov

Levski Sofia (vs Chelsea) 2006/07 season.

Just two months after he celebrated his 18th birthday, Ognyanov found himself scoring Levski’s first ever goal in the Champions League. 

The goal only served as a consolation as Levski lost the game 3-1, but it was a moment that Ognyanov will never forget. To date, he has failed to score again in the Champions League – and Levski have yet to qualify for the competition again.

9. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 18 years & 44 days

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arsenal (vs Olympiakos) 2011/12 season.

With this goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain become the youngest English goalscorer in the Champions League, getting his goal just eight minutes into his debut.

He had only joined the Gunners a month previously from Southampton, and enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the competition – with Milan ultimately triumphing over Arsene Wenger’s side.

8. Karim Benzema: 17 years & 355 days

Lyon's French forward Karim Benzema (L)

Lyon (vs Rosenborg) 2005/06 season.

Karim Benzema grabbed his first professional goal in Lyon’s 2-1 victory over Rosenborg, introducing himself into the first team picture in the best way possible.

The Ligue 1 heavyweights were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals by Italian giants AC Milan – but not before Benzema had demonstrated that he would be more than capable of making it on the world’s stage.

7. Aaron Ramsey: 17 years & 299 days

Arsenal's Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey

Arsenal (vs Fenerbahce) 2008/09 season.

Aaron Ramsey’s goal against Fenerbahce ensured that he became only the second player born in the 1990s to score in the Champions League – sealing a comprehensive 5-2 win for the Gunners. 

Arsenal would make it all the way to the semi-finals, were they were knocked out by arch rivals Manchester United 4-1 on aggregate.

6. Breel Embolo: 17 years & 263 days


Basel (vs Ludogorets) 2014/15 season.

The Swiss striker announced his name to the world aged just 16 when he scored four minutes into his Basel debut. It wouldn’t take long for Embolo to then score at Champions League level, in a season where he would score an impressive 17 times.

Basel were eliminated in the round of 16 by FC Porto, with their 4-0 second leg defeat ensuring they lost convincingly on aggregate.

5. Martin Klein: 17 years & 240 days

Czech AC Sparta Prague goalkeeper Petr C

Sparta Prague (vs Panathinakos) 2001/02 season.

Martin Klein is not a name that will be familiar to many, but he does currently stand as the fifth youngest goalscorer in Champions League history.

The teenager netted a late goal in Sparta’s 2-1 loss – though it would count for very little in the long run as they failed to progress from a group that included eventual winners Real Madrid.

4. Cesc Fabregas: 17 years, 218 days

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas (Front) celebrat

Arsenal (vs Rosenborg) 2004/05 season.

Cesc Fabregas’ introduction on to the world’s stage came in a Highbury demolition job – with Norwegian champions Rosenborg the unfortunate victims.

The Spaniard’s goal came in a 5-1 win and was the most moment of significance in what would turn out to be an illustrious European career for Fabregas. Bayern Munich would knock Arsenal out of the competition before they could really get going though, claiming a narrow 3-2 aggregate win.

3. Bojan Krkic: 17 years & 217 days

Bojan Krkic

Barcelona (vs Schalke) 2007/08 season.

Bojan began his career with a bang, becoming the first player born in the 1990s to score a Champions League goal. 

He netted the only goal in a quarter-final first leg tie away at Schalke, breaking Lionel Messi’s record of being the youngest player to represent Barça. The Catalan giants reached the semi-finals, before narrowly losing to eventual winners Manchester United.

2. Mateo Kovacic: 17 years & 215 days

Mateo Kovacic

Dinamo Zagreb (vs Lyon), 2011/12 season.

Mateo Kovacic put his name up in lights after surprisingly putting Dinamo 1-0 up against Ligue 1 favourites Lyon – though his side would eventually go to concede seven!

The Croatian went onto become one of Zagreb’s key players, earning the captaincy before moving on to Inter in 2013. His goal in the 2011/12 campaign meant very little in the end – with Zagreb ending that season’s competition with six defeats out of six.

1. Peter Ofori-Quaye: 17 years & 195 days

Peter Oforiquaye

Olympiacos (vs Rosenborg) 1997/98 season.

Here we have it, the youngest goal scorer in Champions League history – Ghanaian striker Peter Ofori-Quaye.

Coming off the bench, he produced a superb turn and neat finish to become a history maker – though his goal unfortunately came amidst a Rosenborg spanking. He would go on to score three further Champions League goals in his career, but his career would drift off into obscurity after being released by Olympiacos in 2003.