Kylian Mbappe fittingly scored a brilliant last-gasp winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Much of the build-up to the match focused on Mbappe, given the expectation that he will join Madrid at the end of the season, and he ultimately made the difference at the Parc des Princes.

It looked as though PSG were going to be frustrated, as the France striker had previously been thwarted on a few occasions by Thibaut Courtois, who also saved a Lionel Messi penalty that Mbappe won.

But with time almost up, Mbappe finally got his goal to give PSG a slender advantage ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

When the Champions League last-16 draw took place in December, Paris Saint-Germain versus Manchester United looked set to be the headline fixture.

However, a technical fault resulted in a re-draw, dashing hopes – at least at this stage – of seeing Lionel Messi take on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Instead, we get to take in Messi vs Real Madrid. All in all, it's not a bad trade-off.

There are plenty of side stories to assess heading into Tuesday's first leg in Paris. Will Neymar be back fit in time? What will Sergio Ramos think if he has to sit out the game injured? How about Kylian Mbappe going up against the side for whom he seems destined to sign at the end of the season?

Messi, though, is used to making headlines against Madrid, of course, and the Barcelona great will surely be relishing the chance to renew these particular hostilities.

Clasico rivalry reignited 

It would be fair to say Messi has had something of a stuttering start to his PSG career, with the fearsome trio of the 34-year-old, Mbappe and Neymar having not quite clicked into full gear – indeed, the latter has missed a good chunk of the season through injury while Messi has had spells out and has also contracted COVID-19.

Messi netted 38 goals and contributed 12 assists in 47 games in his final season at Barcelona, striking every 110 minutes on average.

So far at PSG, he has only scored two Ligue 1 goals (one every 536 minutes), while his shot conversion rate is a measly 3.9 per cent from 51 attempts in total. His other five strikes have all come in the Champions League, at a rate of one every 90 minutes.

The Argentina star has provided seven assists from 44 chances created in the French top flight, with his creativity still evident even if he is playing in a slightly different role to that which he fulfilled in his final seasons at Barca.

But, what of Messi's record against Madrid?

He scored 672 goals in 778 matches across all competitions for the Blaugrana, and 26 (roughly four per cent) of those came in Clasicos. Of his 266 assists, 13 were provided against Madrid.

In total, Messi has played 45 times against Los Blancos, accumulating 3,940 minutes, directly contributing to a goal every 101 minutes.

Messi has celebrated victory on 19 occasions, tasted defeat 15 times and scored two hat-tricks. However, he failed to find the net in any of his final five Clasico appearances.

Magic moments

One of Messi's hat-tricks came in a thrilling Clasico in March 2014. With their title hopes on the line, Barca came from behind twice before finally prevailing 4-3 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Messi, then 26, assisted Andres Iniesta's opener before scoring once from open play and twice from the penalty spot (indeed, Messi has converted all six of the penalties he has taken against Los Blancos) after Karim Benzema and Ronaldo had netted for Madrid.

His first hat-trick came in 2006-07 when, at the age of 19, he salvaged a 3-3 draw with an injury-time equaliser.

Other highlights include a stunning free-kick in the 2012 Supercopa de Espana, though it was ultimately fruitless as Madrid went on to claim victory. Later that year, Messi scored twice in a 2-2 draw, dispatching another wonderful free-kick, with Ronaldo grabbing both of Madrid's goals as that rivalry headed into its peak years.

In 2008-09, Messi scored twice and set up another in a 6-2 rout of Madrid, one of Pep Guardiola's finest moments as his Barca side stormed to six trophies in a year, while in 2010-11, Messi directly contributed to all five of the Blaugrana's goals across two legs in a Supercopa triumph.

He scored a supreme solo goal in a 2-0 Champions League victory in April 2011, with Barca going on to win the trophy that season and six years later, Messi netted twice in a 3-2 victory in LaLiga.

His second, a dramatic winner with the final kick of the game, was his 500th Barca goal and resulted in one of the most famous celebrations of all time, with Messi holding up his shirt to taunt Madrid's fans.

While the 2021-22 vintage of Messi has not yet hit – and indeed is unlikely ever to hit – the same heights of his Barca prime, Tuesday's fixture is another chance for him to haunt Madrid

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A late goal from Kylian Mbappe saw Paris Saint-Germain extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 16 points with a 1-0 win against Rennes on Friday.

The PSG number seven had been his team's brightest spark but had to wait until the 93rd minute for a trademark goal from Lionel Messi's pass to spark relief at the Parc des Princes.

To that point, this had hardly been a performance from Mauricio Pochettino's men to leave their upcoming Champions League opponents Real Madrid quaking in their boots.

But Mbappe made the difference against the only side to have beaten PSG in the league so far this season.

Keylor Navas was forced to tip the ball behind in the seventh minute when Benjamin Bourigeaud's volley into the ground threatened to loop in before the goalkeeper intervened.

Mbappe was predictably a thorn in the side of the away team and came close to giving PSG the lead late in the first half when he bent a shot just wide of the far post from the left corner of the penalty area and then hit the post shortly afterwards.

The dynamic Mbappe had the ball in the net on 64 minutes when he raced onto a Messi throughball and rounded Dogan Alemdar before slotting in, but the flag went up and the goal was chalked off.

It looked like the hosts would have to settle for a point only for Messi to find Mbappe just inside the penalty area, and he made no mistake as he placed a low shot past Alemdar and into the net past Alemdar's.

Kylian Mbappe has denied he has already decided to join Real Madrid at the end of the season.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker spoke about what the future might hold after his fine strike put the seal on a 5-1 win over Lille in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

German newspaper Bild recently reported Mbappe and Madrid had reached an agreement that would see the France international move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mbappe's contract at PSG is due to expire at the end of the season, and although the French club are keen for him to sign an extension, it is unclear whether that is under consideration. Madrid's interest is no secret, after they tried to sign Mbappe in August.

The 23-year-old Mbappe would be able to leave on a free transfer, but the fact PSG have drawn Madrid in the Champions League last-16 stage appears to have held up any direct talks.

The European giants will go head to head in Paris on February 15 and in Madrid on March 9, with Mbappe steadfast that he wants to help PSG win that tie.

Asked whether he has already decided his next step, or whether the Madrid game could influence his choice of club, Mbappe told Amazon Prime Sport Video: "No, my decision hasn't been taken.

"The fact we play against Real Madrid, that changes a lot of things. Even if I'm free to do what I want at the moment, I'm not going to go and talk with the opposition or do this sort of thing.

"I'm concentrated on winning against Real Madrid, to try to make the difference. And after that, we'll see what will happen."

Mbappe and Lionel Messi are striking up a strong on-pitch relationship, with Messi looking to find Mbappe 12 times during the win at Lille and Mbappe playing eight passes to the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, only seeking out Marco Verratti more often (10 passes).

Messi scored his second Ligue 1 goal and his first since November, ending a six-game drought in the competition, delivering a performance that might cause concern in Madrid.

He also played a more central role than has often been the case, and Mbappe, who took his league haul to a team-high 11 goals for the campaign, liked what he saw from the former Barcelona star.

"I'm not a coach. But Leo, he's a player who needs to touch the ball, to feel the game and the match, to be involved too," Mbappe said.

"So I think it's a good position for him. He's free, he can move, pick up the ball, he is close to the goal. I think that for him, it's a good position."

Mbappe is starting on the left of a front three, with the only worry from Sunday's match being that Angel Di Maria, who began on the right, was substituted shortly before half-time, having seemed uncomfortable.

Neymar will soon be back from injury, and Mbappe said: "We will also have to configure with Ney, because he is also an important player. He changes our team, so we'll see when he comes back. We hope he comes back as soon as possible."

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni insists there is still plenty to play for in World Cup qualifying with spots in their squad for Qatar 2022 up for grabs "except for one".

The already-qualified Albiceleste got past Colombia 1-0 in Cordoba on Tuesday thanks to Lautaro Martinez's 29th-minute strike to clinch another three points.

Scaloni did not call up Lionel Messi for Argentina's two qualifiers over the past week following his recent COVID-19 case while Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes were also absent, with Emiliano Buendia making his debut off the bench against Colombia.

"We had the possibility of calling up players but we preferred not to expose footballers who aren’t playing right now," Scaloni told reporters after the game.

"Not only did we miss players but we had to improvise in putting players in positions. We went forward with these call ups who came to contribute and in the end, it went well.

“Here, you can’t relax. Everyone is part of this process but on the pitch, you have to perform. The players that were here today took advantage of their opportunity.

“There’s still a lot left until the World Cup. No one has their spot secured, except for one, as I have always said.”

The victory over Colombia means Scaloni becomes the first Argentine coach to beat all nine South American national teams.

The clean sheet meant Argentina have not conceded in their past five home qualifiers, while the win also extended Argentina's unbeaten run to 29 games.

"I don’t think that’s important, it’s how the team functions and how these players feel wearing the shirt," Scaloni said about their unbeaten streak.

Roger Goodell's description of Tom Brady on Tuesday as merely "one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL" felt a little generous to the competition. 

In the period of claim and counter-claim between reports of his retirement on Saturday and confirmation on Tuesday, the verdict had been cast – not that it was ever in doubt. 

Among others, Patrick Mahomes, better placed than most to consider quality quarterback play, told ESPN: "His career is one of a kind. That's why he's the GOAT." 

There is no dispute, no debate: Brady is the greatest. 

The 44-year-old leads the way by most metrics, including the most important one, with an unprecedented seven Super Bowl championships. 

Yet the stunning nature of some of those successes mean the emotional argument in Brady's favour is as convincing as the statistical one. 

Unmoved by his NFL-record 84,520 passing yards? Try the Super Bowl LI comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. 

This career had it all, and most dissenting voices had long since disappeared by the time Brady arrived in Tampa in 2020 "as the greatest football player of all time", as Bruce Arians put it. He still had another title in him. 

But Brady has not just set the standard in the NFL for the past 22 years; his achievements are surely unmatched across the entire sporting world. 

BEATING THE BEST

Wrestling with past legacies is never easy for an elite sports star. Even as the best of their generation, comparisons will be drawn with those who have gone before. 

In the case of LeBron James in the NBA, Michael Jordan casts a long shadow. 

James may now widely be considered the second-greatest player in the history of the league, but the gap to the number one spot scarcely seems to be closing, even now with titles and Finals MVP recognition on three different teams – and his own Space Jam sequel. 

Elsewhere, Formula One's Lewis Hamilton has done what James could not with Jordan in matching Michael Schumacher's haul of titles. 

But when Hamilton closed in on a record-breaking eighth drivers' championship in 2021, rival Sebastian Vettel scoffed: "Even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest. Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships, but it doesn't change anything for me." 

The combination of being unable to see two athletes side by side and having memories tinged with nostalgia makes life hard on the modern great. 

For Brady, Joe Montana was the closest thing to a Jordan or Schumacher figure at quarterback. 

Although Montana ranked sixth for all-time passing yards – Dan Marino, the 20th century's passing yards leader, never won a title – his four Super Bowls had matched Terry Bradshaw's benchmark and were still fresh enough in the memory in 2000, the last coming in the 1989 season. 

Yet that was a gap Brady was swiftly able to bridge. By August 2005, with three rings already in his collection, the headline of a GQ profile asked if the Patriots passer was "the best there ever was". 

At 27, 10 years younger than James and Hamilton are now, there appeared little doubt Brady would leave Marino behind. 

TOP OF HIS CLASS

Perhaps Brady benefited from the standard of the competition. His career overlapped with Brett Favre at the start, Mahomes at the end and met with Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers somewhere around the middle, all of them forcing him to raise his game. 

But such depth of talent can so easily muddy the waters. 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have matched each other stride for stride, meaning there remains no consensus pick for football's 'GOAT'. Both merit the position, yet neither have dominated an era like Pele or Diego Maradona. 

In tennis, the tussle is even more intense. Until Rafael Nadal's Australian Open triumph on Sunday, three men were tied on a record 20 grand slam titles. 

Injuries to Roger Federer and coronavirus complications with Novak Djokovic may be enough to keep Nadal at the summit, but personal preference dictates the all-time rankings when the margins are so fine. 

Again, however, Brady came through. None of those modern-day rivals have won three Super Bowls, let alone matching Montana's four or Brady's staggering seven. 

Mahomes had appeared the most likely to challenge that mark in the years to come, but four seasons as a starter have now yielded one title. At the same point, Brady had three and that GQ headline. 

"To win that many Super Bowls and win that many games, it's hard," Mahomes said after losing Sunday's AFC Championship Game. "I understand that. The years that I've had, I've been close a lot.  

"I've only been there twice, and I've only won once. I understand it takes a special player ... for that to happen." 

In Joe Burrow, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert, Mahomes will not have it easy going forward either – an exciting new generation guarding Brady's legacy, not that he could not have done it himself had he chosen to play on. 

Brady, in the regular season and playoffs, holds a 3-2 record against Mahomes, 4-0 against Allen and 1-0 against Herbert. He never faced Burrow, potentially the next Super Bowl-winning QB. 

Instead, the perennial winner departs not as a champion – he has been that enough times – but as undoubtedly the best player his sport has ever seen. A rare phenomenon indeed. 

Rodrigo De Paul claims Argentina were subjected to some rough off-field treatment from hosts Chile before their World Cup qualifier.

The midfielder said the Albiceleste were prevented from using the bathroom on arrival, had no air conditioning or water and were made to suffer the sound of sirens during their stay in Calama. 

It did not appear to derail the visitors, already safely through to Qatar 2022, as they secured a 2-1 win despite the COVID-enforced absences of Lionel Messi and coach Lionel Scaloni.

"They didn't even let us go to the bathroom when we got off the plane," De Paul told reporters. "They cut off our air conditioners, we had no water and they made sirens sound throughout the stay.

"I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but, as an Argentine, every team that comes to my country, we have to make them feel as comfortable as possible and we have to win on the playing field where it belongs."

Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez netted first-half goals around Ben Brereton-Diaz's looping header as Argentina extended their unbeaten run to 27 games.

The victory improves second-placed Argentina's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying campaign to 32 points from 14 games, while Chile are battling to reach Qatar 2022.

After a solid if unspectacular showing, assistant coach Walter Samuel was pleased to see how well the team coped despite being without talisman Messi.

"Sure there are things to improve, but the team showed character in a difficult environment," he said.

"Messi is the leader of this team, but we were able to do very well without him. We lacked other guys because of Covid that we wanted to be there, but the team made a great effort and I want to thank them for that.

"The character of the boys is moving. All the players start from scratch and want to earn a place in the World Cup. There is healthy competition here."

Sergio Ramos scored his first Paris Saint-Germain goal as the Ligue 1 leaders cruised to a 4-0 victory over Reims.

The defender, who has endured a challenging start to life in the French capital since his switch from Real Madrid, opened his account for Mauricio Pochettino's side with a close-range second-half finish at the Parc des Princes.

Marco Verratti began the scoring with his first league goal in just under five years, while Wout Faes' own goal and a Danilo Pereira strike sealed the points as the hosts moved 11 points clear at the top of the table.

PSG, who also welcomed back Lionel Messi following his absence due to COVID-19, have now won the last four Ligue 1 meetings between these sides, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion.

Unbeaten in 13 home league games, PSG quickly took control of proceedings. Pereira headed over from a corner, while Kylian Mbappe shot straight at Predrag Rajkovic.

The hosts broke through just before half-time; Icardi's blocked effort ricocheting for Verratti, who beat Rajkovic with a sweetly struck shot.

Seeking only a third win from 15 away matches, Reims almost found a leveller after the break. Nathanael Mbuku drew a smart save out of Keylor Navas, before Hugo Ekitike sent the rebound over.

However, it was PSG who doubled their lead in the 62nd minute as Ramos prodded home at the second attempt after his initial strike following a corner was parried by Rajkovic.

Five minutes later, two became three with Verratti's strike taking two deflections – the latter off Faes – before nestling in the far corner.

Mauro Icardi was denied shortly afterwards before Pereira got in on the act with a quarter of an hour remaining, latching onto Mbappe's centre before his deflected shot flew past Rajkovic.

Lionel Messi has found an unlikely ally in Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who believes those criticising the Argentinian's form at Paris Saint-Germain know nothing about football.

Messi joined PSG on a shock free transfer from Barcelona in August after the Blaugrana came to the realisation they simply could not afford to pay his wages in line with their reduced salary cap.

The move was seen as another big step for PSG in their quest to finally win the Champions League, as he was joining a team that already boasted Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in attack.

But Messi is yet to truly take off in Paris. While his haul of five goals in as many Champions League games is a good return, in Ligue 1 it has been a different story, netting just once in 11 appearances.

Unless he has an incredible second half to the season, Messi will fall well short of the 38 goals he scored across all competitions for Barca last term.

As for his creativity, Messi ranks third in the PSG squad for chances created (32) and his assists total of four is rather less than many would expect of him, particularly when Mbappe has 12 to his name.

But there have been extenuating circumstances given he did not have much of a pre-season, he has suffered with injuries and illness, and he is settling into new surroundings for the first time in his senior career.

As such, Benzema feels criticism of Messi – who could make his first appearance of 2022 on Sunday after a bout of coronavirus – is unfair.

Asked if Messi will be a success at PSG, Benzema told TF1: "How won't he succeed?

"It is just a period of adaptation, because he is not scoring a lot of goals. But watch what he does on the pitch.

"In any case you can't criticise a player like that. In fact, he who criticises Messi, knows nothing about football."

Messi claimed his record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or last year, an award that many had tipped Benzema to win over the course of the year.

Ultimately the Frenchman finished fourth in the running, also behind Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho, which was seemingly a source of frustration for him.

Winning the prize remains a goal of Benzema's, though he does not think he could have done any more than he did over 2021.

"Fourth, third or second is the same as 30th," he said. "The main thing is to win it.

"I was told that I hadn't won enough trophies, but I couldn't do more. It remains a goal and each season I will try to do better than what I did last season."

Everything points to the 34-year-old being in contention again at the end of 2022 as he sits atop LaLiga's goalscoring chart with 17, five more than anyone else in the division.

That haul has helped him to 303 goals for Madrid, which leaves Benzema just five behind club great Alfredo Di Stefano in third, while Raul (323) is not much further ahead in second – Cristiano Ronaldo (450) is way out in front.

Benzema never expected to get anywhere near Di Stefano's haul, which makes the achievement even more satisfying.

"It's a source of pride but I want to continue," Benzema added. "When I arrived, I saw [Di Stefano's record] so far away.

"I did not see these records as an objective, but today to be close to these legends is exceptional.

"When we arrive at Madrid, we don't tell ourselves that we will stay 10 or 15 years, we just want to win titles."

Mauricio Pochettino declared Paris Saint-Germain are ready to do business before the transfer window closes – but refused to discuss Tanguy Ndombele.

Tottenham midfielder Ndombele is thought to be a target for the Ligue 1 leaders, with reports that a loan deal is being discussed between the clubs.

Pochettino brought Ndombele to Spurs in 2019 and thinks highly of the former Lyon playmaker, but a move back to France is not yet a formality.

The Argentine head coach declined to explain PSG's apparent interest in the 25-year-old when his name was mentioned in a news conference on Saturday.

"I don't like speaking about rumours or players who are at other clubs," said Pochettino. "We have a squad with enormous quality. The club made a huge effort in the summer to put together the best possible squad with the right balance.

"The transfer window is open now. It also depends on the players who are not getting many chances here. Or for whatever reasons it is that they want to leave.

"The window is open, and the club is always open. Not just to listen but also to see what is happening in the transfer market. I am pleased with the squad that I have. We will deal with individual matters as they come up."

Lionel Messi is poised for his first appearance of the year as Pochettino's team tackle Reims on Sunday, with Kylian Mbappe also set to feature after recovering from an adductor problem.

Messi made his PSG debut as a substitute when PSG and Reims met in August, with a double from Mbappe earning a 2-0 away win amid a whirlwind of global interest in the game.

"It will definitely be a different match to the first one we played against them," Pochettino said.

Messi is fit after a brush with COVID-19, and Pochettino added: "Leo Messi has trained this week. We are pleased with how he is coming along. He is going to be in the squad tomorrow.

"It is always good news when players who have been out for a while are able to return and be back in the squad to help the team."

Mbappe scored in last weekend's 2-0 win against Brest, before a midweek medical bulletin pointed to an injury.

"We are happy to see the way that his problem has evolved," Pochettino said. "He trained with us in the last two sessions. He is going to be in the squad tomorrow. We will decide tomorrow if he starts or is on the bench."

Messi has not scored in his last five domestic matches for PSG and has just six goals across all competitions since arriving from Barcelona.

He has hit the woodwork more than anybody in the French top flight this season (six) – more times than the entire Reims squad (five).

PSG have won each of their last three meetings with Reims in Ligue 1 without conceding a goal, achieving as many clean sheets in this sequence as in the first 11 between the two clubs in the 21st century.

Reims will clearly do well to take anything from Sunday's game, having not scored in their last two Ligue 1 games and with PSG having won 12 and drawn one of their last 13 home games in the competition.

Lionel Messi has not been included in Lionel Scaloni's latest Argentina squad as he continues to recover from coronavirus.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has not played a match in almost a month, with the 1-1 Ligue 1 draw at Lorient on December 22 being his most recent outing.

He contracted COVID-19 while back home in Argentina during the mid-season break, forcing him to return to France later than initially planned.

Messi seemed all set to return to action against Lyon on January 9, but PSG said he needed to continue his recovery and then he also missed the 2-0 win over Brest on Saturday.

While he said last week that "I have almost recovered", Messi did reveal on social media that getting over the illness took "longer than I thought".

Given his situation, Argentina have seemingly deemed it pointless risking Messi or further disrupting his recovery given they have already secured qualification for this year's World Cup.

Argentina travel to Chile on Thursday before hosting Colombia five days later, with both opponents still desperately fighting for the right to play at Qatar 2022.

La Albiceleste's other remaining qualifiers are against Venezuela and surprise-package Ecuador in March.

 

Robert Lewandowski declared he would not let it trouble him after Lionel Messi left the Bayern Munich striker off his picks for the FIFA Best Men's Player award.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi lavished Lewandowski with praise after pipping him to the Ballon d'Or award in November, saying the Poland captain would have deserved the previous year's award, which was scrapped because of the pandemic.

Yet when it came to selecting his picks for the FIFA prize, which is a right afforded to all national team captains and head coaches, Argentina skipper Messi chose PSG team-mates Neymar and Kylian Mbappe as his first and second picks respectively, putting Real Madrid's Karim Benzema in third place.

Lewandowski picked Champions League and Euro 2020 winner Jorginho as his first choice, ahead of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

In the end, Messi's voting choices did not prevent Lewandowski picking up the FIFA honour, which went his way on Monday. Messi finished second, with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah third.

"When you see what he said at the Ballon d'Or, those were nice words and it was very nice of him," Lewandowski said of Messi in a news conference on Tuesday.

"Regarding his choices, this question must go to him. I don't think he can be mad at me privately, if it's about sport. It was his decision and I have to respect that. I don't have to be mad. I definitely voted him second."

Messi and Ronaldo had held a near-duopoly over European and world football's top awards in recent times, but Lewandowski has now won the FIFA award in consecutive years.

The 33-year-old set a Bundesliga single-season scoring record last term when he hit 41 goals for champions Bayern Munich, passing Gerd Muller's 40-goal benchmark.

Once again, this season he is setting the standard across Europe's top five leagues for putting the ball in the back of the net.

Among players from the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, LaLiga and Serie A, nobody comes close to matching Lewandowski's haul of 34 goals in 27 games so far across all competitions.

Benzema is second on the list with 24 goals, Mbappe has 19, while Messi has scored only six times for PSG since his dramatic move from Barcelona.

After Salah (23 goals) in third place, next among scorers is Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland (21 goals).

There has been speculation Haaland's next club could be Bayern, and Lewandowski was asked whether the strikers could play together.

"If I train with him, then after a week or two you could say something," Lewandowski said. "Erling is a different type of player than me. But he's a top player, and I'm happy that he shows how good he is in every game. For me, that means I can keep doing my job.”

Robert Lewandowski won the men's FIFA Best award for the second year running at a ceremony at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich on Monday.

The Bayern Munich striker beat fellow nominees Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah to the award, having also won it the last time it was up for grabs in December 2020.

Lewandowski scored 58 goals in 47 games in all competitions in 2021, which included breaking two long-standing records previously held by the legendary German striker Gerd Muller. He bagged 41 goals in a single Bundesliga season for Bayern, and 43 Bundesliga goals in a calendar year.

The Pole has scored 34 goals in 27 games so far this season, including nine in the Champions League group stage.

 

The 33-year-old was presented the award in Munich surrounded by Bayern's chief executive officer Oliver Kahn, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

"Thank you very much. I am very honoured to win this trophy," he said upon receiving the award. "I feel very proud, very happy. This trophy also belongs to my team-mates and my coaches."

Lewandowski was also asked about breaking the records of Muller, who passed away in August last year at the age of 75.

"I never dreamed I could break [Muller's] records, to score 41 goals in 29 games, if you asked me a few years ago if this was possible I would tell you 'no'.

"But now he's not with us anymore, and these old records that I broke, I also say to him 'thank you' because he had so many records and for us, the next generation players, that was like the next step. To try to break these records and I did, so I am very honoured and very proud of this as well."

Robert Lewandowski won the men's FIFA Best award for the second year running at a ceremony at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich on Monday.

The Bayern Munich striker beat fellow nominees Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah to the award, having also won it the last time it was up for grabs in December 2020.

Lewandowski scored 58 goals in 47 games in all competitions in 2021, which included breaking two long-standing records previously held by the legendary German striker Gerd Muller. He bagged 41 goals in a single Bundesliga season for Bayern, and 43 Bundesliga goals in a calendar year.

The Pole has scored 34 goals in 27 games so far this season, including nine in the Champions League group stage.

Lionel Messi has revealed that it took him longer than he expected to recover after recently testing positive for COVID-19.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward tested positive for COVID-19 while back home in Argentina during the mid-season break and subsequently missed his team's 4-0 victory over Vannes in the Coupe de France.

However, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner returned a negative test last week and was set to be available to face Lyon, only for the Ligue 1 leaders to confirm that he would "continue his post-COVID individual recovery protocol for the next few days."

Addressing his 300 million followers on Instagram, Messi issued his appreciation for the support during his recovery, and hopes it will not be long until he returns to action.

He posted: "Good afternoon! As you know I had COVID and I wanted to thank you for all the messages I received and to tell you that it took me longer than I thought to be well, but I have almost recovered, and I am really looking forward to getting back on the pitch. 

"I have been training these days to put myself at 100 per cent, very nice challenges are coming this year and I hope we can meet again very soon. Thanks!!!"

Messi has been directly involved in 10 goals in 16 appearances across all competitions since his switch from Barcelona, scoring six and assisting four. He has created 32 chances for his team-mates, and averaged a goal every 219 minutes.

However, he has only found the net once in 11 Ligue 1 games so far under Mauricio Pochettino.

 

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