Monday Kickoff: Van Persie voted Player of the Year, Muamba speaks & more

Monday Kickoff: Van Persie voted Player of the Year, Muamba speaks & more

Euro 2012

Monday Kickoff: Van Persie voted Player of the Year, Muamba speaks & more


Van Persie (Reuters)

After carrying Arsenal for much of this season, Robin Van Persie now gets to lift the PFA Player of the Year trophy.

The Dutch striker was given the honor Sunday after scoring an English Premier League-leading 27 goals for the Gunners, who sit in third place with three fixtures remaining. In claiming the award, he beat out Manchester City's Joe Hart, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, Tottenham's Scott Parker, and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.

"If other people are saying it, it is special, but it is even more special if your opponents are saying it," Van Persie said.

Here is the Professional Footballers' Association's best 11: Hart; Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Leighton Baines (Everton); Silva, Parker, Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Tottenham); Rooney, Van Persie.

Here are a few more stories to get your Monday going:


After suffering a heart attack during an FA Cup match at Tottenham last month and having his heart stop for 78 minutes, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba said he isn't sure if he will play soccer again, but he noted, "If I can come back from the dead, then perhaps I can achieve anything."

Muamba, who revealed to The Sun that he could only walk five steps after first regaining consciousness, recalled, "I couldn't believe how wrecked I felt." But after being released from the hospital last week, he is beginning to return to full health.

"I'm making progress," he said. "It's too early to say whether I'll play football professionally again, but I have great faith in God and I have hope, so who knows?"


Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has set his sights on France coach Laurent Blanc to take over the Blues, according to ESPN Soccernet. Roberto Di Matteo has been Chelsea's interim manager since Andre Villas-Boas was fired last month.

In addition to long-shot candidates Pep Guardiola of Barcelona and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho of Real Madrid, Abramovich has also reportedly targeted Marseille's Didier Deschamps and Zenit St. Petersburg's Luciano Spalletti.

Di Matteo, of course, could hang onto the job if he leads Chelsea to the Champions League title. The Blues carry a 1-0 aggregate lead into the second leg of their semifinal clash with Barcelona on Tuesday.


Despite the repeated antics of Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, Italy manager Cesare Prandelli still intends to take the 21-year-old to Euro 2012 this summer. Prandelli in February left Balotelli off Italy's roster for a friendly against the United States after the forward was suspended for four matches for stomping on Tottenham's Scott Parker.

"I never really thought of doing this without Balotelli; he is a focal point of the national team," Prandelli said. "Have I made peace with Balotelli? Yes, although to be honest, we never argued in the first place."


Do you agree with Van Persie's selection as Player of the Year? Should Muamba consider playing again? Is Blanc a good candidate to manage Chelsea?

Share your thoughts below.

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