Borussia Dortmund head coach Peter Stoger has not closed the door on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returning to the team, despite growing speculation the star forward is set to join Arsenal.Aubameyang was left out of the squad for Dortmund’s 1-1 draw against Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Friday amid links with Arsenal and doubts over his commitment.
The 28-year-old Gabon international has been tipped to replace Manchester United-bound Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal but Stoger said Aubameyang could be back for next week’s clash against Freiburg if he regains his focus. “Well generally it doesn’t bother me at all if Aubameyang right now is kicking it around somewhere else. That’s his decision. If he had been good the moment we had training, he would have played [Friday] today,” Stoger said.
“But I didn’t have that impression of him in the last training before the match. I felt like he was busy with many things but not this important match. That’s why he wasn’t with us. “If he is also playing football all the time next week and there are photos of him, then he will be in the squad against Freiburg.” Aubameyang – who has been subject of reported interest from the Chinese Super League – is Dortmund’s leading scorer this season with 13 goals in 15 matches.
Predrag Mijatovic sees no reason why Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo cannot play together at the Santiago Bernabeu as the former Real Madrid forward heaped praise on the Paris Saint-Germain star. Neymar completed a world-record move to PSG from Barcelona in August last year but the Brazil international has already been linked with Spanish and European champions Madrid.
There have been reports that five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo could move in the opposite direction but Mijatovic – who won the Champions League and LaLiga with Madrid – believes Neymar can flourish alongside the Portuguese superstar, just like he did with Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.
“Personally, I love Neymar as a player,” Mijatovic told Marca. “He has magic and would win over a lot of Real Madrid fans, or almost all of them. “If there was a chance to sign him, I’d be the first person to say yes, but I don’t know if it’s possible. “If Neymar was able to get on well with Lionel Messi, then there’s no reason he couldn’t get on well with Ronaldo.”
Ronaldo has struggled domestically this season, having starred with nine Champions League goals en route to the last 16. The 32-year-old has only scored four goals in 14 LaLiga appearances in 2017-18 amid links with PSG and former club Manchester United and speculation over a new contract. “The situation needs to be well evaluated at the end of this season,” Mijatovic said. “These things must be talked about and if he is not happy then he has to say so.
“I don’t see Ronaldo as being sad in the Champions League, but I do see it in LaLiga. That has nothing to do with his wages. Maybe he’s just more motivated by the Champions League.”
Reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich made it to the top ten list by beating Russian giants Zenit St. Petersburg, who finished 11th amongst the list of top 100 richest clubs around the globe.
The club has minority shareholders like Adidas, Audi and Allianz, while 75% ownership lies with the club members. The Bavarians also have 0 net debt value – the best amongst the ten clubs. The club has a high player asset value worth €603 million. Robert Lewandowski is their most valuable player for €80 million, followed by Thiago Alcantara and James Rodriguez. Also, their ability to churn out excellent results without making marquee signings is appreciable.
In an age where other European giants are ready to shell out large chunks of cash, Bayern is a club that stands strong by its values and principles. Though they don’t invest heavily in the market, they have provided stiff competition to other heavyweights in the UEFA Champions League.
FFI Score: 2.093
Roman Abrahamovic’s arrival in 2003 kick-started a revolution at Chelsea. The London-based club’s flurry of deals since the Russian billionaire’s takeover has transformed them into a major powerhouse in Europe.
However, in spite of their regular and significant activities in the transfer market, the Blues have also accumulated herculean net debt figures, extending up to €800 million. That is perhaps the crucial reason why the otherwise wealthy club is placed so low on the list. Eden Hazard, their most talented player, is also the most valuable one, valued at €100 million. Also, his teammates N’Golo Kante, Thibaut Courtois and new signing Alvaro Morata have market values of €50 million and above.
FFI Score: 2.260
Juventus have reinstated themselves amongst the premier clubs in the world under Massimiliano Allegri. Andrea Agnelli, the current chairperson and owner, boasts a lion’s share in the revival club after they were plunged into tough times following punishments received for maladministration of the club in 2006.
The Turin-based club has a comparatively low average attendance of 39500 per game, which can be cited as a vital area where the club fails to make money. That is down to the fan following they boast, which is certainly way behind the other European heavyweights.
The Juventus squad worth €470 million has a surfeit of talent that they have showcased in the past three years, dominating the Serie A and reaching the Champions League finals twice. Paulo Dybala is their most valuable player with a market value of €85 million followed by Gonzalo Higuain (€70 million).
#7 Manchester United
FFI Score: 2.314
There comes the first shock! A club who usually locks horns with Real Madrid for the crown of the richest club in the football world fails to penetrate even the top 5 in this list. How’s that even possible?
Manchester United have notched excellent figures in almost every department this list is based upon. However, according to Soccerex’s report, Malcolm Glazer’s total acquisition of the club in 2015 has seen the debt figures getting doubled. The American owners are in charge of 92.25% of the total shares while the remaining belong to minority shareholder George Soros.
They have a stellar squad value of €524 million, with fixed assets extending up to €347 million. Also, their cash in the bank value (€307 million) is the best on the list. Their record signing Paul Pogba is also their most valuable man with a value of €90 million, followed by newcomer Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and David De Gea.
Just like with Chelsea, it is the net debt value that has proven to be a crucial reason for this lowly ranking amongst the world’s richest football institutions.
#6 Real Madrid
FFI Score: 2.579
Another astonishing fact is that Real Madrid is the only Spanish club that makes this list, with Barcelona and Atletico missing out.
According to the report compiled by Soccerex, the ownership of the club is its biggest drawback; a reason why they scored a low FFI and ultimately a low rank on the list.
Real Madrid is owned totally by the club members which constitute a non-profitable organisation. But, if they were capitalised via the stock exchange, more lucidly, owned by a business organisation, they would have easily held the crown as financially the most powerful club on earth.
The club has notched impressive figures for their playing and fixed assets. Los Merengues boast the most expensive squad on the list worth €771 million. Obviously, Cristiano Ronaldo is their most precious player, with a market value of €120 million. He is followed by Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale and Isco.
#5 Tottenham Hotspur
FFI Score: 2.591
Surprise number three! In contrast to heavyweights like Manchester United and Real Madrid, The Lilywhites have a team with a lesser depth of talent. Also, they aren’t as popular as other European giants, but that doesn’t seem to have hampered their chances of finishing above the two clubs.
Tottenham is a club owned by the ENIC Group, with Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy being two of their most vital men in the managerial hierarchy. The club’s impressive position on the list is down to their wise investment in its fixed assets, an increased wage bill and growing involvement in transfers over the past two years.
The construction of a new White Hart Lane will see an increase in the capacity and will help generate a better matchday revenue for the club as well.
Also, they have the lowest squad value amongst the European giants (€463 million). Coming to the team, Tottenham’s most valuable man is undoubtedly Harry Kane, valued at €120 million, followed by Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen.
#4 Guangzhou Evergrande FC
FFI Score: 3.423
Guangzhou Evergrande is the first non-European club to make it to the top ten list. The club represents China’s growing influence in the world of football. It is also the most valuable Chinese club and has the second most valuable team in the Chinese Super League.
Owned by the Evergrande and Alibaba groups, the club’s stellar ranking is a result of the monumental investment potential of owners (€1050 million), the decisive and the most vital factor that contributes to this study.
The investment potential, as mentioned before, is the ability of the owner to inject cash in the overall development of the club, and the Chinese club has notched the best figures in that department.
The net worth of their owners is €32 billion, the best amongst the clubs on the list.They have the lowest squad value worth just €46 million! However, in spite of their shortcomings, Jack Ma and Co. have made it sure that the club provides stiff competition to the European giants in finances.
#3 Paris Saint-Germain
FFI Score: 4.128
Paris Saint-Germain have left everyone astounded this season, thanks to their herculean investment in the transfer market following the high-profile signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. They are in scintillating form at the moment and have established themselves as favourites for the UEFA Champions League title this season.
Purchased by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) group back in 2011, Les Parisiens have emulated the Chinese clubs when it comes to dependency on the owners.
Having a high owner investment potential is a crucial factor in their rank and the club has chairperson Nasser Al-Klelaifi to thank for everything. However, they could have had a higher rank if not for their low fixed asset value of just €83 million.
Neymar is undoubtedly their most prized asset worth €150 million, with Kylian Mbappe and Marco Veratti in the line behind him.
The latest bombshell in the list. It is but natural to think how the Gunners have left behind a host of giants and attained such an unexpected yet impressive position on this list.
Owners Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov can potentially invest in the club. Notably, Arsenal have a giant fixed asset value of €766 million and a low net debt value of €8 million. Also, Soccerex accounts the club’s sound business model as the reason why the owners have a good potential to invest, should they plan on changing their business strategies.
Their most valuable player is Alexis Sanchez for €70.86 million, who is close to leaving the club in this transfer window. He is followed by newcomer Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.
In spite of all the financial muscle they possess, their incompetence in the transfer market does raise questions regarding their ambitions. They should definitely be investing more in the squad, don’t you think?
#1 Manchester City
FFI Score: 4.883
You might have guessed this one by now. According to Soccerex, The Citizens command the best financial muscle in the world as of late. They are a fine example of how money can transform a mid-table club into champions.
Abu Dhabi United Group holds 87% shares of the club while the rest lies with China Media Capital. Such ownership is bound to place you on the pedestal, isn’t it?
The club has invested heavily in their stadium and training centres which gives them impressive numbers in the fixed assets department. Also, the mammoth broadcast deals of the Premier League and the investment potential of the owners have added to the injection of cash. A very low net debt value of just €15 million is also a crucial reason behind their position.
Manchester City boast a valuable squad worth €637 million and thanks to his stellar form, Kevin De Bruyne is their most prized asset, believed to be worth €110 million. Following him, are Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane.
Ronaldo’s future looks to be away from the Bernabeu and it is growing closer to reality with each passing day. According to the good folks at Mundo Deportivo, Ronaldo has demanded to be paid €40 million per year by the club; a sum which is currently earned by his competitor Lionel Messi.
Real Madrid are not ready to pay such a huge amount to Ronaldo and this decision was reportedly taken by Florentino Perez in a recent meeting at his office. The club supremo is not happy with the player’s demands and may look to sell him in the summer with Manchester United interested.
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is to fund the construction of a children’s hospital in Santiago, Chile, according to his lawyers.
In a statement from New York-based law firm Brafman & Associates (h/t FourFourTwo), it’s noted the pediatrics facility will be finished before the year 2020. Italian businessman Alessandro Proto will also support the construction. “Cristiano, up to now the only player in the history to have won the The Best FIFA Award for the best player in the world, and Alessandro is very happy with this initiative,” the bulletin continued.
As Adriana Garcia of ESPN FC noted, the facility in Chile is one of a number of children’s hospitals Ronaldo and Porto are set to build across South America.
Ronaldo, regarded by many as the best player in the world, is heavily involved in different types of charity work. He posted the following message on social media encouraging followers to donate to a donor cause recently:
//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js Ronaldo himself has donated blood regularly, while he’s an ambassador for Save the Children, Unicef and World Vision too. Earlier this year, the Real Madrid forward also raised £600,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation when he sold the 2013 Ballon D’Or trophy he won. In 2015, Ronaldo was also named as the world’s most charitable athlete.
El Clasico is the battle between two of the most successful clubs in European football, Real Madrid, and Barcelona. The game between two of the fiercest rivals is considered the biggest game in club football. Between them, they share 57 La Liga titles and much more silverware.
Some of the greatest names in world football has played for these 2 legendary clubs. Zinedine Zidane, Raul Gonzalez, David Beckham, Iker Casillas, Hugo Sachez, Roberto Carlos and Di Stefano have represented the Los Blancos while Ronaldo, Xavi Hernandez, Ronaldinho, Carles Puyol, Michael Laudrup, Deigo Maradona, and Johan Cruyff have represented the Blaugrana.
This is an important game for Real Madrid as nothing but a win will only keep their hopes alive in the La Liga title race.
On that note, Let’s take a look at the 5 players who will make or break the El Clasico fixture on Saturday
#5 Marc-Andre ter Stegen
One of the most improved players in 2017, ter Stegen has moved from Barcelona’s second choice keeper to one of the world’s best in a span of few years. The 25-year-old has the best defensive record for any goalkeeper in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season.
The German shot-stopper has made some unbelievable saves when needed, notably against Juventus in a 0-0 draw, against Bilbao in a 2-0 win, and against Valencia in a 1-1 draw.
He possesses excellent reflexes, brilliant in one-on-one situations and known for his ability as a sweeper-keeper. He is expected to have a busy day on Saturday, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema looking to get the better of him.
Ter Stegen 2017/18 stats in La Liga:
Total appearances – 16
Clean sheets – 10
Avg. goals conceded – 0.44
Total saves – 45
#4 Toni Kroos
One of the best midfielders in world football at the moment, Toni Kroos is the fulcrum of Real Madrid’s attacking play. Known for his incisive passing and vision, Kroos can perform various midfield roles.
Zinedine Zidane will look to him to control the midfield and dictate the play. With a pass accuracy of at least 93% in his last 2 La Liga seasons, Kroos is the man for Real Madrid to break open Barcelona’s defense.
With Luka Modric not at his usual best, the German midfielder will be expected to run the show. He will be the key player for Zidane to break Barcelona’s rhythm and stop passes from reaching Messi and Suarez in the final third. His set-piece deliveries will also be a key factor in the game.
#3 Luiz Suarez
Luis Suarez has hit form at the right moment. The 30-year-old struggled for goals early in the campaign but has scored six in his last five games. The Uruguayan star has a fair share of El Clasico moments. Since arriving from Liverpool in 2014, Luis Suarez has been the target man for Barcelona.
His brace in the 0-4 thrashing of the Los Blancos at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2015 still holds a place in the mind of Barcelona fans.
His linkup play with Lionel Messi holds the key to Barcelona’s success and the pair is expected to start the game on Saturday. While all the focus is on Messi and Ronaldo, the Uruguayan hotshot has the ability to turn the game in Barcelona’s favor.
El Clasico goals in La Liga – 4
La Liga goals in 2017/18 – 9
Recent form – 6 goals in his last 5 La Liga games
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid is struggling for consistency and not clicking as a unit. It is fair to say that the hopes of Real Madrid solely rest on his shoulders. He may be struggling in La Liga at the moment but the Cristiano Ronaldo we all know will not stay quiet for long.
The best footballer in the world (according to FIFA) needs no motivation and it gives him one more opportunity to be a hero again for Real Madrid. With 17 El Clasico goals in 28 appearances for Real Madrid, the Portuguese star is one short of Di Stefano to become Real’s all-time top scorer in Clasico.
He is fresh from lifting the Club World Cup and goals are beginning to come for him. He reminded us of his abilities with a stunning free kick in the finals at Abu Dhabi. With Barcelona’s best defender Samuel Umtiti out injured, Barcelona may find it hard to stop the 5 times Ballon d’Or winner.
Ronaldo El Clasico stats:
Appearances – 28
Goals – 17
Assists – 1
#1 Lionel Messi
The most successful players in the history of El Clasico, Lionel Messi is the man to watch out for when the Catalan Giants takes the field on Saturday. The Argentine has been in sensational form for the club and country over the last few months. With 24 goals, he is the all-time top scorer in the El Clasico. He single-handedly took Argentina to the World Cup and played a pivotal role for Barcelona until now.
Messi has scored 14 goals and assisted 5 more in 16 La Liga appearances this season. He is playing his role to perfection under the new boss Ernesto Valverde, helping Barcelona to an unbeaten run in 2017/18.
Last time when Barcelona traveled to Santiago Bernabeu for a La Liga game in April 2017, the little magician grabbed a stunning brace to sink Real Madrid 2-3 at their home. With an 11 point lead in La Liga, Messi is under no pressure this time around and can play freely. Ominous signs for Real Madrid.
Neymar left Barca for French giants Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million deal in August but the Brazil international has been linked with Madrid.
Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has previously insisted Neymar would be welcome at the LaLiga and Champions League titleholders, while president Florentino Perez fuelled rumours after claiming the PSG forward would have a better chance of winning the Ballon d’Or in the Spanish capital.
Asked about Neymar’s future and Madrid during a commercial event, ex-Barca star Rivaldo said: “You never know what can happen in his future.” Neymar finished third in this year’s Ballon d’Or as Cristiano Ronaldo claimed a record-equalling fifth award to move level with Barca foe Lionel Messi.
Brazilian great Rivaldo – who won two LaLiga titles, the Champions League and the World Cup during his illustrious career – insisted he could challenge Ronaldo and Messi for the Ballon d’Or if he was still playing.