Lewandowski, Putellas win FIFA Best awards; Tuchel & Hayes best coaches

Robert Lewandowski was crowned the best men’s player and Alexia Putellas named best women’s player at the Best FIFA awards.

Poland international Lewandowski set a new record for most Bundesliga goals in a calendar year with his 43rd goal in December, breaking the record set by Gerd Muller in 1972.

The 33-year-old, winner of the men’s award in 2020, also became the first player in Bundesliga history to finish top scorer in four consecutive seasons.

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Lewandowski opens the scoring against Leverkusen with a very cheeky backheel flick from inside the area

Barcelona midfielder Putellas was named women’s player of the year, adding the accolade to her Ballon d’Or triumph.

Putellas, 27, captained Barcelona to the treble, with the Catalan side winning the Women’s Champions League, Spanish league and Copa de la Reina last term

Barcelona's Alexia Putellas won the FIFA Best women's award
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Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas won the FIFA Best women’s award

Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes were crowned the Best coaches in the men’s and women’s game.

Tuchel steered the Blues to Champions League glory last season. The 48-year-old German replaced Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge in January 2021 and had an immediate impact, starting his spell with a 14-game unbeaten run.

Former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain head coach Tuchel also led Chelsea to the FA Cup final and a fourth-placed finish in the Premier League.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel gives instructions
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Thomas Tuchel guided Chelsea to Champions League glory last term

Tuchel said he was shocked to receive the award from world football’s governing body.

“It was a pretty normal day so far at the training centre, I’ve just come from training because we have a game [on Tuesday], but now you opened the envelope and said my name, it’s pretty surreal.

“I’m overwhelmed, I feel a bit uncomfortable actually. I enjoy the journey and I enjoy the club, it’s a good fit. The company on the journey is so good, so I’m grateful to have such supportive people around me, to feel so good in such a competitive club.

“We’ve lost a bit of track to Manchester City in the [Premier] League, but in other competitions we follow our goals still. We try to be the best versions of ourselves and try to compete at the highest level. We’ll try our best to fulfil
our dreams.”

He was named on a seven-man shortlist alongside Antonio Conte, Hansi Flick, Pep Guardiola, Roberto Mancini, Lionel Scaloni and Diego Simeone.

Emma Hayes exclusive image
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Emma Hayes enjoyed a superb campaign with Chelsea last season

Hayes, 45, guided the Blues to Women’s Super League, League Cup and FA Cup glory last season and steered the London side to the Champions League final.

She was named WSL manager of the season for her feats and was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to football.

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Hayes says she was ‘stunned’ after being named The Best FIFA Women’s Coach for 2021

Hayes said she was also taken aback at winning the accolade and paid tribute to her players and staff at Chelsea.

Speaking via video link at the ceremony, she said: “I’m completely shocked. It’s down to the players and the fantastic people who represent my work. Ultimately, the coach is only as good as the people they have around them.

“I’ve got brilliant people at Chelsea that have helped to support the team to the place we’re at. Honestly, I’m absolutely shocked right now.”

Edouard Mendy, Chelsea
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Edouard Mendy was named men’s goalkeeper of the year

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was named men’s goalkeeper of the year for 2021 at the FIFA Best Football Awards.

Mendy, 29, is in his second season at the Premier League club after joining from Rennes in September 2020.

The Senegal international had been nominated alongside Italy and AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma and Germany and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.

Chile’s Christiane Endler, who joined Lyon from Paris Saint-Germain in June 2021, was named women’s goalkeeper of the year.

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Cristiano Ronaldo accepts The Best FIFA Special Award and insists he has the motivation and passion to carry on playing for several more years

Two outstanding performances on the international stage where landmark goalscoring records were broken were also recognised.

Christine Sinclair, with 188 goals in 308 caps for Canada, received The Best FIFA Special Award for women’s football, and Cristiano Ronaldo, with 115 goals in 184 appearances for Portugal, received The Best FIFA Special Award for men’s football.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino presented the awards to Ronaldo in-person and Christine Sinclair (virtually) at the ceremony at the Home of FIFA in Zurich.

Erik Lamela, who departed Tottenham for Sevilla in July 2021 – won the FIFA Puskas Award for his outrageous goal in the north London derby in March 2021. It is the second straight Puskas Award to be won for a goal scored in a Spurs shirt, after Heung-Min Son claimed the prize for his strike against Burnley last time around.

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Erik Lamela’s outrageous Rabona goal for Tottenham against Arsenal has won FIFA’s Puskas Award

The Denmark men’s national team medical team and coaching staff won the FIFA Fair Play award for their heroics after Christian Eriksen collapsed during their match against Finland at Euro 2020,

Denmark and Finland supporters won the FIFA Fan award for their show of solidarity following Eriksen’s collapse. As the crowd waited for news on Eriksen’s health, fans of both teams banded together in an emotional tribute. Finnish fans chanted “Christian!” while Danish supporters responded with “Eriksen”.

Euro: Lewandowski hits treble as Bayern thrash Cologne

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick to make it 300 Bundesliga career goals as he steered them to a 4-0 win at Cologne on Saturday that restored a six-point lead at the top.

Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski rifled in from a Thomas Muller assist in the ninth minute to set a league record as Bayern have now scored in 66 consecutive Bundesliga matches.

With Dortmund having beaten Freiburg 5-1 on Friday to provisionally move within three points of the leaders, Bayern were eager to make sure of victory quickly.

They scored again when Corentin Tolisso beautifully combined with Muller to thunder a shot into the top corner in the 25th minute.

The hosts, who were on a three-game winning run, tried to get back into the game and put the ball in the net through Mark Uth after the half-hour mark but it was ruled offside.

Lewandowski killed off the game just past the hour, chipping the ball past Cologne keeper Marvin Schwaebe to make it 3-0.

The 33-year-old Pole bagged his 23rd goal of the campaign, and his 300th in the Bundesliga having also played for Borussia Dortmund, when he slotted home from close range after good work by Leroy Sane 12 minutes later.

Lewandowski is second on the league’s all-time scorers list with only Bayern great Gerd Mueller ahead of him with 365 goals.

The Bavarians, chasing a record-extending 10th consecutive league title, have 46 points from 19 games with Dortmund in second place on 40.

Serie A: Immobile fires Lazio into sixth

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic controls the ball for Lazio
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Sergej Milinkovic-Savic controls the ball for Lazio

Ciro Immobile scored twice to climb to the top of the Serie A scoring charts as Lazio beat COVID-hit bottom side Salernitana 3-0 on Saturday to go sixth.

The Italy international struck twice in the opening 10 minutes to take his tally for the season to 17 goals, one more than Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic.

Immobile’s second was his 140th Serie A goal since joining the Roman club ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

That tally is second only to Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (179 goals) and Lionel Messi of Paris St Germain (163) in Europe’s top-five leagues during that period.

The 31-year-old was close to a hat-trick when his glancing header struck the underside of the bar, as the visitors dominated against a Salernitana side missing six players through COVID-19.

Substitute Manuel Lazzari completed a comfortable win by finishing off a flowing counter-attack after the break.

Maurizio Sarris side rose to sixth place on 35 points, three behind Juventus, while Salernitana remain bottom with 11 points.

Elsewhere, ninth-placed Torino came from behind to beat relegation battling Sampdoria 2-1 in Genoa, as Wilfried Singo and Dennis Praet responded to Francesco Caputos opener.

Notebook: Boro set to sign £2.5m McGree from MLS

Middlesbrough are closing in on the £2.5m signing of Charlotte FC midfielder Riley McGree, write Lyall Thomas, Anthony Joseph and Keith Downie.

The Australia international was in the UK and undergoing a medical with Boro on Wednesday, as head of football Kieran Scott and manager Chris Wilder continue their work to improve the club’s promotion chances.

Sky Sports News reported last night that talks over a move to Celtic had broken down. Celtic are understood to have shown late interest but the player was keen on a move to the Riverside.

McGree has been tracked for some time by Scott, who joined Boro in the summer after leaving Norwich, and Wilder, who has helped the team surge up the table since taking over from Neil Warnock.

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Riley McGree impressed on loan at Birmingham in the first half of the campaign

McGree had been impressing in the Championship while on loan at Birmingham City during the first half of the campaign.

Boro also confirmed the loan signing of Arsenal striker Folarin Bolagun on Wednesday.

Former Man Utd target Coman signs new Bayern deal

Ex-Manchester United target Kingsley Coman has signed a new contract with Bayern Munich until 2027.

The France international winger had been looked at by United in past windows as a potential alternative to Jadon Sancho, who finally signed from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.

Coman’s future was in serious doubt but he has now recommitted at the Allianz Arena and said: “I’m very happy because FC Bayern are one of the best clubs in the world and I know we still have a lot of opportunities and big goals here.

“I’ve been at the club since 2015 – it feels like a big family. Everything is perfect here. My best years as a footballer are still ahead of me, and I’m glad I’ll be spending them at FC Bayern.

Kingsley Coman, Bayern Munich
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Kingsley Coman a former Man Utd target -has recommitted his future to Bayern Munich until 2027

My biggest goal is to win the Champions League again – and this time, please, together with our fans.”

Brentford’s Zamburek joins Viborg FF in Denmark

Brentford’s Jan Zamburek has signed for Viborg FF in Denmark on a permanent basis. He is one of a number of players the Bees are willing to part with in the January window.

The central-midfielder was a product of their B team and made 19 first-team appearances after the step up in 2019. However, he has not been involved in the Premier League campaign.

Sky Sports News reported on Tuesday that the Bees have a number of players they are willing to move out on loan including Marcus Forss, Luka Racic and Joel Valencia.

They want to sign a striker this month to provide competition for Ivan Toney – which will mean Marcus Forss is also allowed to go out on loan – as well as more options no the wings in the form of wingers or wing-backs.

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Bayern beaten by Monchengladbach

A makeshift Bayern Munich team conceded two goals in four minutes to suffer a shock 2-1 loss to visitors Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday as the Bundesliga resumed following a three-week winter break.

Missing nine players through COVID-19 infections and more to Africa Cup of Nations duties and injuries, league leaders Bayern still easily bossed Gladbach around for some 30 minutes and took the lead through top scorer Robert Lewandowski in the 18th minute.

But the visitors sensationally struck twice with their first two chances of the game, with a Florian Neuhaus volley in the 27th minute and Stefan Lainer’s glancing header shortly after turning the game around.

Top scorer Lewandowski twice hit the woodwork as Bayern desperately pushed for an equaliser and missed a hatful of chances.

Bayern are on 43 points with Borussia Dortmund, who travel to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, in second place on 34.

Conditions were far from perfect for Bayern’s season restart, with no fans allowed in because of COVID-19 restrictions and a string of big-name absences including keeper Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernandez, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Alphonso Davies and Kingsley Coman among others.

But they still enjoyed a strong start and Lewandowski, who came close in the 15th minute, was on target a little later with his 20th goal of the season, after he shook off his marker with a brilliant first touch and fired in with a powerful shot.

Bayern have now scored in each of their last 65 Bundesliga games, equalling the league record set by themselves in 2014.

But out of nowhere the visitors levelled with Neuhaus volleying in with the Bayern defence disorganised.

They then went ahead in the 31st minute when Stefan Lainer headed in from a corner, with Bayern’s backline again out of place.

Gladbach, who also crushed Bayern 5-0 in the German Cup in October, could have added a third with Neuhaus and Breel Embolo just before the break.

Lewandowski rattled the post with a shot in first-half stoppage time and then hit the crossbar just past the hour mark as the hosts pushed for an equaliser.

Running out of options from the bench, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann brought on Paul Wanner, who at 16 years and 16 days became the youngest Bayern player to make his Bundesliga debut, and 17-year-old Lucas Copado, but the champions could not find an equaliser.

Salah, Kerr on FIFA Player of the Year shortlists

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has been shortlisted for The Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year award, while Chelsea’s Sam Kerr is up for the Women’s award.

The Egypt star is currently with his national team preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations but has been nominated after a blistering start to the season at club level.

Salah is the Premier League’s top goalscorer so far this season, with 16 to his name, and is arguably in the best form of his life.

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Some of Mohamed Salah’s best goals from his time in the Premier League

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi are the other two names on the shortlist, which was announced by FIFA on Friday afternoon.

The award is voted for by a jury made up of current men’s national team coaches and captains, one specialist journalist from each territory represented by a national team and fans registered on FIFA.com.

Lionel Messi
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Lionel Messi is also shortlisted, alongside Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski enjoyed another spectacular year at club level for Bayern, scoring a Bundesliga record 41 goals in the 2020-21 season to eclipse the previous best total set by Gerd Muller in the 1971-72 campaign.

Messi finally ended his wait for major international silverware in 2021 as he helped Argentina to win the Copa America. It was an emotional year for Messi, who left Barcelona for PSG last summer after more than 20 years at the Spanish club.

Kerr shortlisted for Women’s award

Sam Kerr signed a new deal with Chelsea this week until summer 2024
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Sam Kerr has been shortlisted for the Women’s award

Chelsea forward Sam Kerr made the women’s player of the year shortlist.

The Australian helped the Blues retain the Women’s Super League title in 2021 and reach the Champions League final. She also scored twice in the 3-0 win over Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup final last month.

Barcelona and Spain team-mates Jennifer Hermoso and Alexia Putellas were the other names on the women’s shortlist.

The award winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony on January 17.

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