By DAN KARELL
UEFA released their fan-voted team of the year, and just like the FIFPro World XI, it contains several players from Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Both Madrid and Bayern have four players included on the UEFA Best XI, lead by Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery. Also included from Madrid include Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, and former player Mesut Özil. For Bayern, Manuel Neuer took Iker Casillas’ place as the top goalkeeper in Europe, joining fullbacks Philipp Lahm and David Alaba.
Most notably, despite finishing second in the Ballon d’Or voting, Lionel Messi missed out on the UEFA Team of the Year, with Ronaldo joined up top with Ribery and Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It’s Ronaldo’s seventh consecutive year in the UEFA Team of the Year, a record total.
Alaba, Neuer, and Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus all make their debut’s in the UEFA Team of the Year. More than 6.3 million fans recorded votes for this year’s team.
Here are some more stories to start your Wednesday:
ARSENAL FURTHER LINKED WITH DRAXLER SIGNING
With news that FC Schalke are preparing for the eventual departure of talented midfielder Julian Draxler, Arsenal have reportedly stepped up their interest.
The 20-year-old German National Team player is currently injured but according to a report in the Daily Mail in England, Arsenal have no problem meeting Draxler’s release clause of €45 million ($62 million) before the end of the January transfer window. The report states that Arsene Wenger sees a bit of Robin Van Persie and Thierry Henry in Draxler, a player who has a background as a midfielder but could play as Arsenal’s center forward at times.
Draxler has struggled with a number of injuries this season but he’s coming off his best year since breaking into the Schalke first team in 2011. Last season, Draxler scored 13 goals in 39 appearances in all competitions.
ATLETI, PSG ADVANCE IN CUP COMPETITIONS
Both Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain enjoyed strong mid-week performances to keep them alive in the cup competitions.
Playing at home against Valencia, Atleti took down their La Liga opponents, 2-0 (3-1 on aggregate) in the Copa Del Rey, with header goals from Diego Godin and Raul Garcia in the second half. Both goals came off corner kicks, with Garcia nearly scoring his first in the 52nd minute when a strike from outside the box cannoned off the post on to Valencia goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
Meanwhile PSG, playing without a number of starters, relied on Argentine Javier Pastore to defeat Bordeaux, 3-1, in the Coup de la Ligue. The win puts PSG into the semifinals.
Pastore scored the opener for his club just before halftime with a one-time finish in the box. In the second half, Pastore set up teammate Adrien Rabiot with a wonderful chip pass, and then again in the 88th minute earned a “hockey assist” on Blaise Matuidi’s goal.
Everton are expected to offer left back Leighton Baines an improved deal to ward off other clubs, including Manchester United. (REPORT)
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan said that he’ll make a decision on his future in the coming weeks. (REPORT)
As his first move as head coach of AC Milan, Clarence Seedorf has asked CEO Adriano Galliani to sign Seedorf’s former Botafogo teammate Doria, a 19-year-old centerback. (REPORT)
Aaron Ramsey is expected to return from a thigh strain this Saturday when Arsenal face Fulham. (REPORT)
Brazilian club Corinthians will go to FIFA over what they claim are €2.2 million owed to them by Paris Saint-Germain in the deal to bring Marquinhos over from AS Roma. (REPORT)
Costa Rican forward Bryan Ruiz has completed a loan move from Fulham to PSV Eindhoven through the end of the season. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Agree with the UEFA fan-voted Team of the Year? Do you see Wenger spending $62 million on Draxler this month?
Share your thoughts below.