Kevin De Bruyne: Man City star on course to smash Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s assists record and backed to win Ballon d’Or

27 Sep

Kevin De Bruyne is considered by many to be one of the world’s best midfielders and, judging by the stats, he’s only getting better.

The Manchester City playmaker created a league-high 105 chances for his teammates in their record-breaking 2017/18 campaign where they won 100 points in their Premier League success.

A knee injury limited his involvement last season but, this term, he is back to full fitness and has made a stunning start – creating 27 clear-cut chances for his side already.

De Bruyne has been sensational for Manchester City so far this season
Getty Images - Getty

To give the quality of his performances perspective, Christian Eriksen and Paul Pogba have created 10 and 11 chances respectively so far this term, with Manuel Lanzini, Pascal Gross and Riyad Mahrez tied in second in the rankings with 15.

The 28-year-old is tearing opposition defences to shreds with a playmaking masterclass, notching up an extraordinary SEVEN assists already in just six matches.

Despite winning an unprecedented domestic quadruple in 2018/19, Pep Guardiola saw De Bruyne’s absence in the last campaign as a missed opportunity for further dominance.

“We had an incredible season, winning four titles, but we missed him a lot last season, because he’s a special player,” he said after the 8-0 demolition of Watford last weekend.

Most chances created this season

1. Kevin de Bruyne: 27 chances created (451 minutes played)

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold: 23 chances created (540 minutes played)

3. Riyad Mahrez: 15 chances created (308 minutes played)

4. Pascal Gross: 15 chances created (356 minutes played)

5. Manuel Lanzini: 15 chances created (448 minutes played)

6. Gylfi Sigurdsson: 15 chances created (481 minutes played)

7. Emiliano Buendía: 14 chances created (533 minutes played)

8. Jack Grealish: 14 chances created (540 minutes played)

9. Oliver Norwood: 13 chances created (514 minutes played)

10. Lucas Digne: 13 chances created (523 minutes played)

De Bruyne’s rise to the top has been anything but plane sailing, though.

Throughout the early stages career he was repeatedly told he wasn’t good enough for the very highest level – including by Jose Mourinho – who showed him a list of stats detailing how other attacking midfielders at Chelsea were ‘outperforming him’.

“He showed us the stats of all attacking midfielders: assists, goals, pass percentage, decisive actions, dribbles” De Bruyne recalled of a meeting he had in 2013 with Mourinho during his time at Stamford Bridge.

“He wanted to prove that I didn’t perform at the same level as the others. I answered him: ‘Sorry, that’s not logical. I’ve played fewer games. How can you compare us?’”

From that moment, his stint in west London was as good as done.

A £25m move to Wolfsburg followed and ever since De Bruyne has painfully reminded Chelsea what they could have had.

De Bruyne never broke into the starting XI at Chelsea
AFP

The Belgian has now spent four trophy-laden seasons in England, winning everything except the Champions League.

According to former City winger Trevor Sinclair, De Bruyne ranks alongside some of the Premier League’s greatest ever midfielders, including his ex-England teammates David Beckham and Paul Scholes.

“He is right up there with those guys,” Sinclair exclusively told talkSPORT.com,

“He’s putting in match-winning performances, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and winning them by himself.

“When you look at any era with any great team, they’ve always got one great player and for Manchester City that is Kevin De Bruyne.”

Sinclair made 97 appearances for City
ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images

Sinclair also believes De Bruyne’s blistering displays stem from his deep-rooted anger at missing almost half of last season’s title-winning campaign.

“I think there’s a lot of frustration from what he missed out on last season,” he continued.

“He missed half the Premier League games and he is almost taking out his frustration on the rest of the Premier League. His performances have been absolutely breathtaking.

“Physically, I’ve not seen him look any better than now and if he stays fit it’s going to be a difficult title to take away from Manchester City.”

De Bruyne's record at City

Premier League appearances: 126

Wins: 87

Losses: 16

Goals: 25

Assists: 53

Honours: Premier League x2, FA Cup, Carabao Cup x3

Incredibly, ​Manchester City had no players named in FIFA’s World XI that was announced earlier this week – but Sinclair has backed De Bruyne to win the biggest individual prize – the Ballon d’Or – if he remains fit.

“He can absolutely win it,” Sinclair added. “The only reason he hasn’t been considered is because there’s something going on with FIFA and Manchester City players.

“None of them made team of the year – even Bernardo Silva despite what he won for City and Portugal.”

De Bruyne missed a significant part of last season through injury
Getty Images - Getty

De Bruyne’s remarkable start to the campaign will unquestionably be a concern for title rivals Liverpool.

City have a player who has created twice as much as any other and one who is already halfway towards equalling Thierry Henry’s league record of 20 assists in a single season.

And Sinclair believes the Arsenal legend’s record has no chance of staying in tact with De Bruyne in the form he’s in.

“He’s going to absolutely blow that record apart if he continues. I just hope he stays fit because he’s got something no one else has in the Premier League.”

De Bruyne will be in action for Manchester City against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, in one of THREE live GameDay commentaries on talkSPORT
* All stats correct as of 27 September, 2019


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Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this weekend...

  • Stoke vs Nottingham Forest (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Sheffield United vs Liverpool (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • QPR vs West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Chelsea vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Everton vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

Liverpool star Virgil Van Dijk ODDS-ON to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

7 Jun

Liverpool hero Virgil Van Dijk is now odds on to win the Ballon d’Or after a flurry of bets with bookmakers.

The Netherlands captain put in a typically imperious performance against England in the Nations League semi-final on Thursday night.

Virgil Van Dijk has overtaken Messi in the race for the 2019 Ballon d’Or
GETTY

Van Dijk will now pit his wits against Cristiano Ronaldo in Sunday’s final against Portugal, with the £75million man hoping to lead his side to glory.

After winning the Champions League and narrowly missing out on the Premier League title, the 27-year-old has now overtaken Lionel Messi as the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.

According to Oddschecker, the Dutch defender was 7/1 to win the award in May but has now shortened drastically due to a spate of bets on the centre back, with 46% of all bets in the last 24 hours and 42% of all bets in the past week.

Oddschecker spokesperson Callum Wilson: “Virgil van Dijk’s imperious performances for both club and country this season have not just been noticed by fans, but by punters in equal measure.

Sadio Mane is also in contention for the prestigious award
Reuters

“A spate of bets on the Liverpool stalwart has seen him overtake the consensus best player in the world, Lionel Messi, for the first time this season.

“Luca Modric proved last year that it is possible to break the Messi-Ronaldo stranglehold and punters will be watching closely to see if a certain Dutchman can repeat the feat.”

BALLON D'OR LATEST ODDS

  • Virgil van Dijk – 8/11
  • Lionel Messi – 6/5
  • Sadio Mane – 20/1
  • Mohammed Salah – 20/1
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – 25/1
  • Raheem Sterling – 25/1
  • Eden Hazard – 40/1

Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender should win Ballon d’Or ahead of Lionel Messi, says Reds legend John Barnes

3 Jun

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk deserves to win this year’s Ballon d’Or after claiming the Champions League title, according to Anfield legend John Barnes.

You would struggle to find another player who has made as much of an impact as the Dutchman has in 18 months at Anfield.

Virgil van Dijk has cemented his status as one of the world’s best defenders by lifting the European Cup
GETTY

In future years, Van Dijk’s £75million arrival in January 2018 may be remembered as the starting point of a new era of success for the Merseyside giants – people will talk about BVD (before Van Dijk) and AVD (after Van Dijk).

In fact, had the club not signed the centre-back or £67m goalkeeper Alisson, Liverpool probably wouldn’t be celebrating their sixth European Cup success – both were key in their scrappy final victory over Tottenham in Madrid.

PFA Player of the Year Van Dijk has cemented his status as one of the world’s best defenders this season, and Barnes believes he would be a worthy winner when the Ballon d’Or is awarded later in the year.

He is undoubtedly the strongest contender to rival Lionel Messi for the gong.

Fans raged last year when World Cup and Champions League winner Luka Modric won the prize ahead of Messi, who finished fifth in the voting despite scoring 45 goals and winning LaLiga and Copa del Rey titles for Barcelona.

This season, Messi scored a stunning 51 goals and provided 22 assists in 50 games for Barca, and has been widely tipped to win his SEVENTH Golden Ball.

No opposition player has completed a dribble past Virgil van Dijk in any of his last 64 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool
getty

But, asked if Van Dijk on course to win the coveted gong, Barnes told talkSPORT: “Very possibly.

“Normally when you look at the Ballon d’Or winners, they’re either attacking midfield players or centre-forwards. They are goalscorers and eye-catching players.

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  • Portugal vs Switzerland (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
  • Netherlands vs England (Thursday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT
  • France vs South Korea (Friday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Denmark vs Republic of Ireland (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Croatia vs Wales (Saturday, 2pm) – talkSPORT
  • England vs Scotland (Sunday, 5pm) – talkSPORT

“But there haven’t been any of those types of players who have really set the world alight this season.

“So from a point of consistency and from a point of success, for me Van Dijk would have to be the man.”

Virgil van Dijk: PFA winner focused on Lionel Messi and Barcelona, dismissing Ballon d’Or talk

29 Apr

Virgil van Dijk has dismissed the idea he is in contention to win the Ballon d’Or award and is instead focused on dealing with ‘out of this world’ Lionel Messi.

The Liverpool centre-back was crowned PFA Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday for his standout Premier League season, but faces a tough test in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.

Van Dijk has won the top individual prize in English football this season

The 27-year-old’s rock-solid form at the heart of the Reds’ defence has helped keep his side in contention for their first league title in 29 years and seen them once again progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Spanish title-winners Barcelona await Van Dijk in the last four of the European competition, with the first leg at the Nou Camp, a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT.



LIVE ON talkSPORT

talkSPORT is your home of live football! Here's what's coming up on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2...

  • Millwall vs Bristol City (Tuesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Swansea vs Derby (Wednesday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Barcelona vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 8pm) – talkSPORT
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs Chelsea (Thursday, 8pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • West Ham vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Cardiff vs Crystal Palace (Saturday 5:30pm) – talkSPORT

And the world’s most expensive defender admits he still has plenty to prove to be considered alongside the continent’s elite players, including Barca’s five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi.

“Nah, that’s not something that’s on my mind at all,” Van Dijk replied when asked about winning the Ballon d’Or at the end of the year.

Lionel Messi secured his 10th LaLiga title with Barcelona on Saturday.

“There are currently players walking around in this football world that are out of this world basically and they’ve been doing it for many years.

Liverpool face Messi and Barcelona, who won LaLiga at the weekend

“I’m very happy how I perform at the moment, how consistent I’m performing, that I’m fit as well. I think I just need to not look too far ahead.

“Right now we’re in a tight title race, in the Champions League semi-finals against a fantastic team, where probably the best players are playing so we just take it game by game.

“For us now it’s time to focus on Barcelona midweek and then we have a big game at Newcastle away as well so I won’t look too far ahead and the only goals I will set are personal goals with Liverpool.”

While Argentina forward Messi secured his 10th LaLiga title with Barca this weekend, Van Dijk became only the fourth defender – after Gary Pallister, Paul McGrath and John Terry – to win the PFA award.

Van Dijk is the first defender to win the award since John Terry in 2005

Signed from Southampton for £75million in January 2018, he has played a pivotal role in turning Liverpool’s defence into the tightest in the division, conceding only 20 goals in 36 games and contributing to a league-high 20 clean sheets this term.

Jurgen Klopp’s second-placed side sit only a point behind leaders Manchester City with two fixtures remaining.

Holland international Van Dijk, part of the team beaten in last year’s Champions League final by Real Madrid, has previously spoken of becoming “a legend of Liverpool“.

The former Celtic and Saints man feels he must lift silverware to accomplish that dream.

“All the players in the league, I think, want to play for trophies, want to get trophies,” he said.

“I can only speak for myself and my team – we definitely want to get a trophy and we’re working hard every day for it and hopefully in the future that will happen.

“That’s what we’re definitely looking for.”

Fifth best in the world? Lionel Messi made a mockery of Ballon d’Or ranking with a derby masterclass

9 Dec

If you ever needed proof that individual awards are a waste of time in team sports, then this year’s Ballon d’Or provides the best evidence you’ll need.

Lionel Messi is the fifth best player in the world, according to that ranking. Some of those chosen to decide the winner didn’t even have him in their top five.

Modric claimed the honour of being crowned the best player in the world

His masterclass that decided the Barcelona derby on Saturday suggested that assessment may just be wide of the mark. It quite literally had everything – this was Messi in vintage mode.

There was the goal, from a stunning free-kick. The assist, from some incredible work in tight spaces. The second goal, from another equally stunning free-kick. The dribbles, the nutmegs, the work-rate, the intelligence, not to mention the tracking back to defend and win the ball back then initiate moves.

Messi was everywhere, and more importantly he was decisive everywhere, too.

The exhibition started with 10 minutes played, Messi receiving the ball between the lines on the edge of the box, accelerating in a burst then playing a well-weighted pass to the overlapping Nelson Semedo, whose cutback was only just put out for a corner before it reached a free Arturo Vidal.

This was Messi at his exquisite best

It was an early warning shot and five minutes later he was at it again.

Espanyol, pushing with the confidence of a team that has excelled at the RCDE Stadium for much of this season, lost the ball to the worst player possible with a lack of numbers left at the back. Messi was free, in space, surging down the right towards the box, beating man after man before he was brought down.

The subsequent free-kick that broke the deadlock should go down as one of the Argentinian’s best – no small feat considering the variety he has scored.

Dipping up and over the wall then curling into the corner well beyond Diego Lopez’s reach, it marked his 19th in La Liga against Espanyol, more than any other player in history.

Messi stepped and scored a truly beautiful free-kick

The warm-up was over, and the exhibition just starting.

Six minutes later the Rosario native was turning on a sixpence in the box, wriggling away from challenges in signature style, then apparently from one challenge too many, crumbling to the ground. Even from there Messi still managed to keep possession – not looking for a foul but instead shielding the ball before returning to an upright position and picking out Ousmane Dembélé, the only player in space, all in a blur.

The Frenchman cut inside to curl in a wonderful right-footed finish, sprinting away with his supplier, Barcelona’s inimitable number 10, who leapt into his arms.

A goal and an assist all before the break, and Messi wasn’t done.

There should have been more before the players went in for half-time; a perfectly weighted first-time ball over the top to Luis Suarez was begging for the right connection, while Messi’s own header – complete with a leap reminiscent of the one in Rome against Manchester United in 2009 – hit the post.

Messi even claimed a small part in Barcelona’s third as a defender of sorts, racing back to win back possession (and a rare smattering of applause from some of Espanyol’s fans) to start the move that ended with Suarez finally beating Lopez.

In the second half the Argentinian continued to toy with his city rivals, constantly looking over his shoulder and drawing a map of the right space to deal damage.

As it happened, the right space was from 30 metres out, where his second free-kick sailed into the back of the net in the 65th minute. A different variation with less curl and more power this time, Lopez was again beaten comfortably, Messi scoring two free-kick goals in one La Liga game for the first time ever.

As the ball flew past the home keeper silence gripped the RCDE stadium, a number of supporters simply getting up and leaving, resigned. In theory there was plenty of time left for a comeback and tickets aren’t cheap, but with Messi in this mood they knew there was no way to turn it around. It was by far the best game he has ever played at Espanyol’s ground.

It was almost as if he was particularly motivated.

The Ballon d’Or may not recognize it, but there is no other player in the world who can dominate in so many different ways in the space of 90 minutes.


Englishman abroad Patrick Roberts proves leaving Manchester City was a brilliant decision


And this was no straightforward game either. The gap between Espanyol and Barça is the shortest for a long time this season, the smaller team from Barcelona sitting second in the table and undefeated at home as recently as the second week of November, playing some excellent attacking football at their ground. On Saturday they approached the derby with ambition and intent, but unfortunately for them, so too did the extra-terrestrial in the Barça number 10 shirt.

“They can compare Messi with whoever they want, they’re only wasting their time,” Spanish football historian Angel Iturriaga concluded. With the level Messi produced on Saturday, it was almost a waste of time trying to stop him.

talkSPORT host Adrian Durham labels Tottenham’s Harry Kane coming 10th in the Ballon d’Or standings as ‘anti-Englishness at its very worst’

4 Dec

talkSPORT host Adrian Durham believes Harry Kane only finishing tenth in this year’s Ballon d’Or standings “smacks of anti-Englishness at its very worst.”

The award produced a somewhat surprising result with Luka Modric claiming the prize, ahead of five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo in second and World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann in third.

Modric won the Champions League and helped Croatia to the World Cup final in 2018

It’s the first time a player other than Ronaldo or Lionel Messi (who finished fifth this year) has won the award since former Brazil and AC Milan superstar Kaka did in 2007.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah was the highest-placed Premier League footballer in sixth.

But Durham was outraged that the Tottenham and England forward was not higher in the standings.

On Drivetime, Adrian said: “For him [Kane] to only come tenth in the Ballon d’Or list I think smacks of anti-Englishness at its very worst.

Durham believes Kane should have finished higher

“It seems to me that the Ballon d’Or has become the best player in the team that wins the Champions League and that’s not how it should be.

“If you look at the pound-for-pound performances and the level that Harry Kane has kept up does he really deserve to be tenth?”

Fellow Drivetime host Darren Gough also suggested that five-time winner Messi only coming fifth was perhaps more of an injustice than Kane’s position which Adrian agreed with.

Below you can see the discussion between the pair on this year’s Ballon d’Or awards.

‘I would have punched him’ – talkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer fumes after women’s Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg is asked to twerk

4 Dec

talkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer has blasted the co-host of the 2018 Ballon d’Or awards over his sexist comments towards winner Ada Hegerberg, telling talkSPORT: ‘I would have punched him’.

What should have been a highly significant moment for women’s football on Monday night was badly blemished by French radio DJ Martin Solveig, who asked Hegerberg to twerk after she collected her award.

Ada Hegerberg was asked to twerk at the Ballon d’Or awards

The 23-year-old Lyon and Norway star was announced as the first ever winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or at the star-studded event in Paris, and gave an empowering speech encouraging more girls to play football.

However, as she was leaving the stage, ceremony co-host Solveig asked her if she could twerk.

The three-time women’s Champions League winner abruptly said “no” before walking away.

The moment, which quickly spread on social media, has been a huge topic of controversy on Tuesday.

After the event, Hegerberg told reporters that she had accepted an apology from Solveig, who insisted he had not intended to cause offence and was merely referencing an earlier moment in the ceremony when he invited Under-21 gong winner Kylian Mbappe to dance with him.

Nevertheless, it was clear from the reaction in the room that his comments to Hegerberg were highly inappropriate.

Julia Hartley-Brewer joined talkSPORT host Jim White on Tuesday to offer her verdict on the events, and branded the 42-year-old DJ ‘a sexist pig’.

“[Hegerberg] rather magnificently responded ‘…no’, which I think was the best response,” said the host of talkRADIO’s No-Nonsense Breakfast Show.

“I would have punched him – he stole her moment!

Hegerberg was the top scorer in the French league last season with 31 goals and netted 15 in the Champions League, which she helped Lyon win

“His explanation that, ‘oh, I don’t understand the culture’, rubbish! You’re just a sexist pig!

“I’m not a big fan of people leaping on the offence bus at every single thing.

“But this is a professional sportswoman being awarded this incredible accolade, and it’s really significant, the first time women’s football is really being taken seriously alongside the men’s game.

“And for him to basically ask about sexual dancing, it’s just so embarrassing!

“With that said, David Ginola can twerk for me any time he wants, but that’s another story entirely…

“But it is different isn’t it because women’s football hasn’t been taken seriously, it’s all about, ‘oh I hope they get their shirts off at the end’, and, ‘let’s go for some comedy and watch women’s football’.

“The fact women’s football is finally being taken seriously and at that point he sexualises it, it’s just so embarrassing.

“But I love that the reaction is he is the idiot and she has been class personified.”

Hegerberg has scored 185 goals in 149 games since signing for Lyon in 2014

Andy Murray was among the high-profile stars outraged by the incident, saying it was an example of how ‘ridiculous’ sexism is still rife within sport.

Meanwhile, Hartley-Brewer questioned why a radio DJ was chosen to present the women’s award instead of a more prestigious sporting guest, after French football hero David Ginola presented Luka Modric and Mbappe with their gongs.

“I would at the very least expect a top footballer to hand out that award, or maybe another top sportswoman in a different field,” she added.

“I think the fact it was just a random DJ who clearly didn’t know what the hell he was talking about was a bit of a giveaway that it was a bit of an afterthought.”

Listen back to the debate with talkSPORT host Jim White IN FULL above!

Andy Murray rages at Ballon d’Or host for ‘sexist’ comments towards winner Ada Hegerberg – ‘Why do women still have to put up with this s***?’

4 Dec

Andy Murray has hit out at the co-host of the 2018 Ballon d’Or awards for asking Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg if she knew how to twerk.

The British tennis ace says the incident shows ‘ridiculous’ sexism is still rife in sport.

Womens’ Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg with Luka Modric, winner of the mens’ award, and Kylian Mbappe, winner of the Under-21 award

Lyon striker Hegerberg was announced as the first ever winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or at the star-studded event in Paris on Monday night, and gave an empowering speech encouraging more girls to play football.

However, as the 23-year-old was leaving the stage, French DJ and ceremony co-host Martin Solveig asked her if she could twerk.

The three-time women’s Champions League winner abruptly said “no” before walking away.

After the event, Hegerberg told reporters that she had accepted an apology from the 42-year-old.

But former world number one Murray – a long-time campaigner for gender equality, and for two years had former Wimbledon ladies’ champion Amelie Mauresmo as his coach – hit out at Solveig.

He wrote on Instagram: “Another example of the ridiculous sexism that still exists in sport – why do women still have to put up with that s***?

“What questions did they ask Mbappe and Modric? I’d imagine something to do with football.

“And to everyone who thinks people are overreacting and it was just a joke… It wasn’t.

“I’ve been involved in sport my whole life and the level of sexism is unreal.”

Solveig’s comments have sparked a backlash

Hegerberg told Sky Sports after the awards: “He [Solveig] came to me afterwards and was really sad that it went that way. I didn’t really think about it at the time to be honest.

“I didn’t really consider it as sexual harassment or anything in the moment. I was just happy to do the dance and win the Ballon d’Or to be honest.”

Accompanied by a video apologising further to Hegerberg, Solveig wrote on Twitter: “Sincere apologies to the one I may have offended.

“My point was: I don’t invite women to twerk but dance on a Sinatra song. Watch the full sequence.

“People who have followed me for 20 years know how respectful I am especially with women.”

Solveig posted a picture of the pair embracing and wrote: “I explained to @AdaStolsmo the buzz and she told me she understood it was a joke.

“Nevertheless my apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Most importantly congratulations to Ada.”

England defender and Lyon team-mate Lucy Bronze, who came sixth in the inaugural women’s award, believed the incident was just a joke.

Andy Murray helped to break gender barriers by appointing former Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014

“The DJ asked each person that won what their dance was but she can twerk, she was lying. It was more of a joke of making her dance,” Bronze told BBC Sport.

On receiving the award, Hegerberg said: “I would like to say a huge thanks to France Football, for letting us have this opportunity to have this award.

“It is a huge step for women’s football and the work you have put down is such an important thing for women’s football and together we will make a difference.

“I would like to end this speech with some words to young girls all over the world. Please believe in yourself.”

First women’s Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg asked to twerk

4 Dec

Ada Hegerberg was asked if she knew how to twerk after collecting the first ever women’s Ballon d’Or award.

Martin Solveig, a French DJ hosting the event in Paris, sparked a sexism row after making the comment as Hegerberg was named the world’s best female footballer.

The Lyon striker, 23, said “no” and immediately walked away.

Solveig outraged many on social media with the remark and has since apologised through his personal Twitter account.

“Sincere apologies to the one I may have offended,” he said. “My point was: I don’t invite women to twerk but dance on a Sinatra song. Watch the full sequence, people who have followed me for 20 years know how respectful I am especially with women.”

Ada Hegerberg claimed the prize

The ceremony marked the first time a separate women’s trophy has been awarded since the Ballon d’Or’s inception in 1956.

Before Solveig’s comment, Norwegian international Hegerberg described the night as a dream come true.

She said: “It feels like a victory for, taking a good step in the right direction for the women’s football. This is a huge part they’ve done, France Football, and it’s positive for all parts.

Solveig’s comments sparked a backlash

“We need help to develop women’s football and I think this is a really positive announcement.

“We’re in 2018 and we’ve got a historical women’s Ballon d’Or, so I feel very proud. It’s not that often that I use the word ‘proud’, but today I am really proud to be a part of it.

“Sometimes you have episodes or situations where you feel like ‘damn, we’re in such a man(‘s) world’.

Luka Modric won the men’s award

“But at the same time, I’ve never looked at myself different from a man’s footballer. I’ve always felt the same: I work hard to try to achieve my dreams like any other girl out there and, that’s the way we have to look at it.”

Meanwhile, Luka Modric collected the men’s Ballon d’Or award, becoming the first player other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to do so since 2007.

Ballon d’or 2018: Eden Hazard believes Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe deserve to win prestigious award before him

23 Nov

Eden Hazard believes Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe deserve to win the Ballon d’Or more than he does, despite a terrific year for club and country.

The Chelsea forward earned a place on the illustrious list after a spectacular 2018 where he added goals, assists and consistency to his game.

Neither Messi or Ronaldo are expected to win the Ballon d’Or for the first time in a decade

As captain of Belgium, the diminutive forward led his country to the World Cup semi-finals and also helped bring the FA Cup back to Stamford Bridge.

However, the 27-year-old does not feel as though he is worthy of being called the best player in the world, naming two players who deserve the accolade more than he does.

He even went as far as tipping one of the two to pick up the illustrious award at the glitzy ceremony in Paris next month.

Hazard told RTFB:  “Even though I had a very good year, I have to keep my feet on the ground.

Modric poses with the World Cup Golden Ball, while Mbappe won recognition as the Best Young Player in Russia

“I do not deserve the Ballon d’Or. I think there are players who have been better than me.

“Winning the Ballon d’Or is not a goal for me. If I win it one day, great. If I do not, it won’t be a problem.

“I would have said Luka Modric, but he has played a little less well since August and September.

“So, if we take into account the beginning of the season, I would say Kylian Mbappe.”

Hazard has already won the Premier League Player of the Month of the award, but wants to keep his feet on the ground

Modric and Mbappe are the clear favourites to scoop the prize, ahead of Real Madrid‘s World Cup winning defender Raphael Varane and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

Despite winning the Champions League with Real and earning a lucrative move to Juventus, five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo is finally expected to relinquish his grasp on the prestigious award.