Jose Mourinho Names the Greatest Footballer He Has Ever Seen

Jose Mourinho has claimed ?Brazil icon Ronaldo is the greatest player he has ever witnessed on the field of play.

Often dubbed ‘O Fenomeno’ by supporters, the striker twice broke the world-record transfer fee before his 21st birthday, having initially moved to Europe in 1994 after agreeing to join PSV Eindhoven from Cruzeiro. He swiftly moved on, switching to Barcelona two years later in a £16m deal, only to leave Catalonia for Inter after just a single season at the Nou Camp.

Foot : Final / Germany - Brazil / Wc 2002

Aside from Ronaldo’s tally of 13 trophies with various clubs – including ?Real Madrid and the aforementioned trio – the forward collected numerous individual honours, with a brace of Ballon d’Or victories standing as one of his finest achievements in the game.

During an interview with LiveScore, Mourinho took time to discuss the best footballers he’d seen in his lifetime. Asked which of them stood out amongst the rest, the 56-year-old replied (as quoted by ?Marca): “Ronaldo, the phenomenon. 

?Cristiano Ronaldo and ?Lionel Messi have had longer careers, they have remained at the top every day for 15 years. But, if we talk strictly about talent and skill, nobody surpasses Ronaldo. 

“When he was in ?Barcelona with Bobby Robson, I realised that he was the strongest player ever seen on the field.”

Real Madrid's Brazilian Ronaldo (down) l

Ronaldo reached over 400 career goals, despite his career being hampered by injuries. Knee issues began to plague the double world champion during his time at ?Inter in 1999, with fitness problems seeing him miss the entirety of the 2000/01 campaign.

Mourinho took those struggles into account when making his decision, explaining: “The injuries killed a race that could have been even more incredible.

“But, the talent that this 19-year-old boy had was something incredible. In 1997 there is a Barcelona final against Paris Saint-Germain in Rotterdam and goal of Ronaldo, 1-0. Awesome.”


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Under-17 World Cup: 11 Players From 11 Different Countries You Need to Know This Autumn

?The FIFA Under-17 World Cup might be turning into an adult with its 18th instalment later this year in Brazil, but the competition remains the go-to destination for scouts across the globe to catch a glimpse of the latest batch of wonderkids.

It’s a platform which has already seen the likes of Cesc Fàbregas, Toni Kroos, Landon Donovan and most recently Phil Foden shine as players of the tournament since its inception in 1985.

England won’t have a chance to defend their title after failing to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil, but fans might still want to tune in to catch a glimpse of the biggest stars of tomorrow.

And just in case you do, here’s 11 players from 11 different counties who are bound to leave their mark on the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.


11. Lucien Agoumé

France U17 v Slovakia U17 - UEFA U17 Elite Round

Age: 17

Club: Inter

Country: France

It’s been an unbelievable year for Lucien Agoumé, who made his senior debut at Sochaux as well as reached new heights with the French youth teams before securing a £4m move to join Serie A giants Inter.

Even though he’s already being promoted into France Under-18 side, Agoumé is still eligible to compete at the Under-17 World Cup and he’ll even be one of the oldest players in Brazil later this month.

Did you know? France are the only side to ever win an Under-17 World Cup final by more than two goals (3-0 vs Nigeria in 2001).


10. Marcelo Flores


Age: 15

Club: Arsenal

Country: Mexico

At the other end of the age spectrum at the World Cup will be Mexico’s Marcelo Flores, who joined Arsenal’s famous academy system earlier this year from Ipswich Town.

He’s joined in north London by his two sisters Silvana and Tatiana, and crucially for fans he already has experienced football above his normal age group so could have a staring role for El Tri at the Under-17 World Cup.

Did you know? Mexico conceded just three goals during qualification for the Under-17 World Cup – one every 210 minutes.


9. Alexander Aravena

FBL-U17-SOUTH AMERICA-CHI-PAR

Age: 17

Club: CD Universidad Católica

Country: Chile

He’s not the only player on this list who still doesn’t have any senior minutes under his belt at club level, but Alexander Aravena could be fast-tracked into the top flight of Chilean football if he continues to provide goals and assists at youth level.

Aravena finished as the third top goalscorer at the recent Under-17 South American championships and he’ll be looking to replicate that form alongside Luis Rojas.

Did you know? Chile scored more goals (17) than any other South American qualifier. But they also conceded the most (nine).


8. Etienne Eto’o Pineda


Age: 17

Club: RCD Mallorca

Country: Cameroon

While the likes of Federico Chiesa, Giovanni Simeone and Justin Kluivert have already broken through youth football being compared to their fathers, the son of former Barcelona and Inter striker Samuel Eto’o is about to go through the same.

Having only recently been selected for Under-17 duty with Cameroon, Etienne Eto’o Pineda could be in action for Les Lions Indomptables sooner rather than later.

Coming through the ranks with Spanish side Mallorca – where his dad scored 66 goals in 154 games – Eto’o Pineda has already been named in Cameroon’s provisional squad for the Under-17 World Cup.

Did you know? Eto’o Pineda’s teammate Steve Mvoue, who was named Player of the Tournament at this year’s Under-17 Cup of Nations, is the son of former Cameroon women’s international Regine Mvoue.


7. Noah Botic


Age: 17

Club: TSG Hoffenheim

Country: Australia

The cousin of Australia international Tomi Juric, teenager Noah Botic has already taken his first steps in European football after swapping his native side Rockdale City Suns for TSG Hoffenheim in Germany.

He’s already made three appearances in Germany’s Under-19 league this season, playing out of position in midfield on the opening day, then again on the left wing the next week, before scoring in his preferred place as a centre-forward against Ingolstadt.

Did you know? Australia came close to winning the Under-17 World Cup in 1999, but ultimately lost 8-7 in a penalty shootout to three-time champions Brazil.


6. Sebastiano Esposito

Sebastiano Esposito

Age: 17

Club: Inter

Country: Italy

Italy striker Sebastian Esposito will be one of the oldest players at the Under-17 World Cup, with an outstanding record in the Azzurri’s youth sides already under his belt.

He’ll also be one of the most experienced at a senior level, as although Esposito has only ever made one senior appearance for Inter, he was included in their matchday squad which travelled to Barcelona in the Champions League earlier this season.

Esposito has also made the bench three times in Serie A under Antonio Conte, but he hasn’t made an appearance for Inter since he came off the bench in last season’s Europa League clash against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Did you know? At the age of 16 years and eight months, Esposito became the third-youngest player in Inter’s 111-year history in March.


5. Matías Palacios


Age: 17

Club: San Lorenzo

Country: Argentina

If you can do enough to make Lionel Messi smile during a training session, then you’ve got to be doing something right.

Matías Palacios has had a lot of hype around him for quite some time, having made his first-team debut for Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro at just 16 years, four months and 11 days – making him the club’s youngest ever player.

He’s spent time training with Argentina’s senior squad and is already making appearances with their youth teams that are above his age range.

Did you know? Argentina goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo went five games without conceding a goal during the South American Championships.


4. Giovanni Reyna


Age: 16

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Country: United States

The United States have never reached a final of the Under-17 World Cup, with their best place finish currently coming from their star-studded squad which included the likes of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, who finished fourth in 1999.

At the heart of this year’s challenge will be Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna, who moved to Germany during the summer transfer window after coming through New York City FC’s academy system.

He hasn’t featured for Lucien Favre’s first-team this season, but Reyna has already taken the Under-19 Bundesliga by storm, scoring two goals and picking up six assists in just seven appearances.

Did you know? Midfielder Gianluca Busio is the second-youngest player to sign for a Major League Soccer club, joining Sporting Kansas at the age of just 15. In August 2018, aged 16, he became the third-youngest player to start an MLS match.


3. Xavi Simons

U16 Netherlands v U16 Germany - Algarve Cup

Age: 16

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Country: Netherlands

Xavi Simons, whose father Regillio made over 100 appearances in the Eredivise, is still in his first season at Paris Saint-Germain but he’s already made two appearances in the UEFA Youth League – an Under-19 competition.

He spent nine years being nurtured in Barcelona’s La Masia academy and even qualified for Spanish citizenship, but Dutch football’s next big thing has already assured the Netherlands he won’t switch his allegiances. 

Did you know? Ajax’s Naci Ünüvar, who became the youngest player to score in the UEFA Youth League in 2018, was also the first 15-year-old to net in a UEFA Under-17 Championship final.


2. Reinier


Age: 17

Club: Flamengo

Country: Brazil

Eligible for the Under-17 World Cup by just over two weeks, Reinier is already a regular in first-team football with Brazilian Série A side Flamengo, having already featured in the top flight and Copa Libertadores.

Brazil Under-17’s captain might be an attacking midfielder by trade but he’s already proven he can be a threat in front of goal, scoring five in ten with the international team’s youth side.

Did you know? Brazil legends Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Geovanni (both 1997) and Adriano (1999) have all lifted the Under-17 World Cup, while Marcelo was a runner-up in 2005.


1. Pedri

Pedro Gonzalez Lopez ''Pedri''

Age: 16

Club: UD Las Palmas 

Country: Spain

The most recognisable player at the Under-17 World Cup could have been Barcelona’s Ansu Fati, but it’s already been confirmed that the 16-year-old will instead stay in Catalunya, where he could feature in El Clásico.

Instead, Spain could look towards Las Palmas midfielder Pedri to guide them through the competition in Brazil, with the 16-year-old already playing (and scoring) for La Roja’s Under-18 squad.

Pedri has missed just one match this season due to commitments with the national team, but in nine appearances he’s scored three goals and picked up one assist in Spain’s second division, helping Las Palmas to within three points of the top two – Cádiz are already 10 points clear at the top of the table.

Did you know? Seven of Spain’s World Cup-winning squad in 2010 – Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres – are also graduates of the Under-17 World Cup.


For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!

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The 7 Clubs Who Loaned Out the Most Players This Decade

?Ah, the ever-divisive loan market. A transfer device older than the professional game itself that has predictably been taken full advantage of for the financial benefit of some of the richest clubs in the world. 

The majority of clubs use it innocently to bring in players on a budget, while some others use it to circumvent financial fair play rules. And then you get those who take the biscuit and loan players out as if it’s a competitive sport, with no view to a first team pathway and a sole focus on selling them on for a profit. 

Here, we’re shining a spotlight on those biscuit-thieves and highlighting the seven clubs who have sent the most players out on loan over the last ten years. 

*We’re only counting players loaned out to clubs in Europe’s top five leagues, because otherwise this becomes too much of a mess to calculate*


7. SSC Napoli (41 players) 

UC Sampdoria v Bologna FC - Serie A

Ranking as seventh only because ‘N’ comes after ‘M’ on the alphabet, it should come as no surprise that ?Napoli, who have 21 players out on loan at present, are old heads at this game. 

They infamously offloaded Duvan Zapata to Sampdoria in one of those ominous ‘loan with an obligation to buy’ deals back in 2017, only for the Colombian to immediately establish himself as one of ?Serie A’s top marksmen and leave them with egg on their face. 


6. Manchester City (41 players) 

Douglas Luiz

You might have expected to see ?City rank a bit higher on the list given they have something of a reputation for the dramatically-tagged ‘player-farming’, but the reality is that there are (far) bigger offenders since the 2009-10 season.

Still, over the years, City have done their fair share of the old ‘signing highly-rated players and loaning them out for three straight seasons before selling them on for a substantial profit’. Douglas Luiz, Pablo Maffeo, Jason Denayer and all that. 


5. AS Roma (43 players)

Luca Pellegrini

Roma took advantage of the loan market to lure in Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan among others in the summer, but are no strangers to moving players out on a temporary basis either.

Luca Pellegrini earned himself a move to Juventus off the back of a successful loan spell to Cagliari, while former Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons, having failed to break into the first team in Roma, has been shunted out to Granada in ?La Liga. 


4. Juventus (51 players)

Gonzalo Higuain

The Italian champions can more or less do what they want when it comes to…well, anything, such is the gravitational pull of the club since they’ve rebuilt themselves into the undisputed top dogs of Serie A. 

They currently have seven million players in their first team squad, but have toned down the loaning out under Maurizio Sarri, with just the two out on loan compared to 13 last season. Gonzalo Higuain was a victim of a couple of loan spells away with AC Milan and Chelsea last season, while Rogerio, who was signed from Sassuolo three years ago and spent his entire career on loan at Sassuolo, has just been sold to *checks notes* Sassuolo. 

Italy is a strange place. Let’s move on.


3. Inter (53 players)

Mauro Icardi

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the loan market in Italy is more than a little bonkers. They deal in loans more frequently than they do in actual transfers and Inter, more than almost anyone else, are big fans of it.

They of course have Mauro Icardi on loan at PSG at present, in a deal that is less about the player finding his form again and more about him just…not being at Inter. That’s the most high-profile one, but there have been a lot more. 52 more, as far as Europe’s big leagues go, to be precise. 


2. Chelsea (57 players)

Mason Mount,Tammy Abraham

Up until very recently, when a registration ban essentially forced them into dipping into their ‘loan army’ to fill out their depleted squad, Chelsea had an aggressive agenda against every single player they ever loaned out. 

Or that’s how it seemed, at least, back in the heady days of six months ago when they’d rather have loaned in Higuain than given Tammy Abraham a chance. 

It might be changed days with the likes of Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori playing starring first team roles after spells in the Championship, but the North doesn’t forget with Chelsea, who continue to loan out a scandalous amount of players (27) – albeit some of them might actually fancy their chances of making the cut under Frank Lampard.  


1. Udinese (62 players)

Zico,Franco Soldati,Gianpaolo Pozzo

The big bad guys of the loan market, Udinese love sending someone out on loan. Especially to Watford, in fact; they famously sent five at once to the English club back in 2012. It was, of course, entirely coincidental that they had the same owners. 

They’ve taken their fair share of players in the other direction, in fact, having a look at Ben Wilmot at the tail end of last season, and enjoy a similar relationship with Granada – to whom they have sent as many as 20 players over the last ten years. For context, that’s 11 more than have moved between any two clubs over that time. 

Also owned by the Pozzo family, Granada. Funny, that. 

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90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings – Week 7: Succession Special

?Following a week during which: 

– Juventus put Inter in their place AGAIN.

– Chelsea’s young guns shot the lights out AGAIN.

– Liverpool won AGAIN.

– Manchester City dropped points AGAIN.

We, using quotes from Succession season two, and while listening to Pusha T’s remix of the Nicholas Britell penned Succession soundtrack (?yes, this is a real thing), rank the 15 best teams in Europe.


15) Nantes (New Entry) 

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-NANTES-NICE

If I was to give Tom a letter grade, I’d give him a B+ for Bad plus Terrible.”

If I was to give Nantes a letter grade, I’d give them an A+ for Amazing plus Incredible. 

La Maison Jaune have won three on the bounce in Ligue 1 and now sit second in the table, just two points adrift of Paris Saint-Germain.

If that’s not Amazing plus Incredible then I don’t know what is. 


14) Inter (Down 5) 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

Worried that I agreed to be CEO of a dumpster fire pirate death ship.”

In previous iterations of 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings, the following was written about ?Inter: 

We’re 95% sure Antonio Conte’s Inter are a great team. 95% sure. However, due to how disastrously pathetic Inter have been for the majority of the past decade, there’s 5% of doubt still lingering.”

BUT hold your horses, and maybe quell the “OMG Inter are going to win the league” chatter. Because we’ve seen this story play out so many times over the past few years: hope of a new dawn, painful setbacks, then embarrassing defeats, then the kicker, a fifth place finish. This season may very well be different…but…you know…it might not be…”

So after last weekend’s humbling at the hand of Juventus, we’re not going to say ‘we told you so’ but…yeah, actually, we are: 

We told you so. 


13) Red Bull Salzburg (Re-Entry) 

FC Red Bull Salzburg v Cashpoint SCR Altach - tipico Bundesliga

“I’m golden, baby.”

Played: 10

Won: 9

Drawn: 1

Lost: 0

Goals Scored: 46 (yes, 46) 

Goals Conceded: 9

Goal Difference: +37 (yes, +37)

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Red Bull Salzburg are golden, baby. 


12) Atalanta (Re-Entry) 

Duvan Zapata

“It looks like there might be a slight uptick in ticket sales.”

– Champions League football? Check.

– A top three side in Serie A? Check. 

– Exciting style of play? Check.

– World class goalscorer? Check.

– World class trequartista? Check. 

– World class, newly refurbished stadium? Check. 

It looks like there’s going to yet another uptick in ticket sales for Atalanta games in the coming months. 


11) Famalicão (-) 

Diogo Goncalves

Good story.”

New DEPR favourites Famalicão didn’t actually play this past week, but neither did any other team in the Primeira Liga, so guess what:

Famalicão are still top of the league!

So rejoice at the feel-good story of the year for one more week (at least). 


10) Manchester City (Down 7) 

Sergio Aguero

I think this might be the end of the company. We might get sucked into a black hole of embarrassment that we never get out of.”

It’s become abundantly clear in recent weeks that Aymeric Laporte’s injury might be the end of ?Manchester City’s title challenge. 

They been sucked into a black hole of playing the embarrassingly awful John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, and until Laporte is back, they will not get out of it. 


9) Ajax (-) 

Dutch Eredivisie"ADO Den Haag v Ajax Amsterdam"

Yeah. So, I think I just, uh, turned down a quarter of a billion dollars.”

Ajax made about a quarter of a billion dollars during the 2019 summer transfer window, but they also turned down about a quarter of a billion dollars too.

And thank God they did. 

If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have the likes of Hakim Ziyech and David Neres keeping them relevant in the Netherlands and on the continent. 


8) Real Madrid (Re-Entry) 

James,Zinedine Zidane

“So I hereby convene the meeting of the newly formed ‘what the f*ck are we gonna do’ committee.”

There were, approximately 23,458 ‘what the f*ck are we gonna do’ committee meetings over the past 12 months at ?Real Madrid, as the club’s hierarchy tried – mostly in vein – to turn their faltering football team around. 

Now, it looks like they might have just worked it out. They finally found that the answer to many of their problems was right in front of them all along. 

It’s James Rodriguez…of all people. 


7) Bayern Munich (Down 6) 

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN-MUNICH-HOFFENHEIM

The weakest strong man at the circus.”

Lads, what happened? 

How did you lose to Hoffenheim at the Allianz Arena? 

How does that happen? 

It was all going so well Bayern, you looked like the strongest strong man in all of Europe; now you’re the weakest strong man in the Bundesliga. 

Shambles. 


6) Chelsea (Up 4) 

FBL-ENG-PR-SOUTHAMPTON-CHELSEA

“Let’s move ahead with that process shall we?”

Even the most optimistic of ?Chelsea fans didn’t see this one coming. 

The Blues, armed with a myriad of young go-getters, are – out of nowhere – the second best team in the Premier League.*

They’re better than Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United (everyone is), and maybe even the Laporte-less Manchester City. Nice one. 


5) Paris Saint-Germain (-)

Pablo Sarabia

This is all normal.”

Oh, would you look at that…Paris Saint-Germain won a Ligue 1 game. 

Whoop-de-doo. 


4) Borussia Monchengladbach (New Entry) 

Denis Zakaria,Breel Embolo

The world’s tallest dwarf.”

Hallelujah! The world’s tallest dwarf (Borussia Monchengladbach) has bested the weakest strong man in the circus (Bayern Munich) and is now top of the Bundesliga. 

It’s the first time a rather tall dwarf (any German team other than Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich) has sat atop of the BuLi table in five years, and it was run of strong man dominance that Gladbach broke in style as – thanks to a Patrick Herrmann (the German) masterclass – they thumped Augsburg 5-1. 


3) Barcelona (Up 3) 

Lionel Messi

“One hundred percent based on truth.”

?Barcelona beat Sevilla 40-0 despite having nine of their ten outfield players sent off this past weekend in La Liga. 

That sentence is 100% based on truth.*

*The truth is, Barca beat Sevilla 4-0 despite having two of their ten outfield players sent off…which is still impressive…but I like my version better; it’s more dramatic. 


2) Liverpool (-) 

Jurgen Klopp

“Hey, this is where the party is at. Look at us, all the cool and beautiful people in one spot.”

?Liverpool fans, it’s time to party. 

For the first time in what feels like 3,000 years (since 1990, to be exact), your football time has won the English top flight; and deservedly so. 

What. A. Team. 


1) Juventus (Up 3) 

Maurizio Sarri

“Bill. The best boss that ever lived. It’s like Mandela f*cked Santa and gave birth to Bill.”

Maurizio. The best boss that ever lived. It’s like Arrigo Sacchi f*cked Marcello Lippi and gave birth to Maurizio. 

For he has worked wonders at ?Juventus. 

He’s revitalised Paulo Dybala, rejuvenated Gonzalo Higuain, and reinvigorated Leonardo Bonucci to make Juventus play the best football in all Europe. Impressive. 


For more from Jack Gallagher, follow him on Twitter! 

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Bayern Munich CEO ‘Won’t Rule Out’ Buying Ivan Perisic After Solid Start to Loan Spell

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has refused to rule out the prospect of making Ivan Perisic’s loan move from Inter permanent in the summer, after the Croatian’s strong start to life back in the Bundesliga. 

The German champions brought the ?Inter winger in on an initial loan as they looked to add some experience to their attacking ranks following the departures of Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, and although his game time has been carefully managed, he has scored twice in four league appearances. 

There is a reported €20m-option to buy if they deem the spell a success, and although Rummenigge wouldn’t be drawn into discussing the specifics, he did allude to an agreement with Inter to make the deal permanent if ?Bayern saw fit – and refused to deny they would pursue that avenue down the line. 

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

“I won’t rule out Bayern Munich purchasing Perisic, as he has had a good start to the season,” Rummenigge told Italian outlet ?Tuttomercatoweb.

“We have an agreement with Inter to discuss it later on and we’ll evaluate with the player too.”

Back in Italy, Inter haven’t quite missed Perisic as much as many expected and, under Antonio Conte, have been tipped to break Juventus’ stranglehold on ?Serie A. 

Their hopes of doing so were dented somewhat when ?Juve picked up a narrow victory at San Siro at the weekend, but they sit just a point behind the leaders, and Rummenigge added he thinks they have it in them to go the distance. 

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-INTER-JUVENTUS

“They look good to me and had an excellent start to the season, apart from the defeat to Juventus,” he said. “They can win the Scudetto. 

“Conte is doing a great job and the important thing is that the team has a reliable coach like him.”


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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