The 100 best footballers in the world 2017

Our panel of 169 experts from 63 nations compile a list of the greatest male players in 2017. Click on an individual to read more about their year.• Messi edges Ronaldo to No1 | The data behind our 100 | Watch: our top 10• Meet our panel of judges for 2017 | 2016 edition | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 Continue reading...



Brook v Khan may be latest fight that gets away in boxing’s numbers game | Kevin Mitchell

The two 32-year-olds are past their box-office peaks and Khan is being lined up to take on WBO title-holder Terence CrawfordThe immediate, logical reaction to Kell Brook grinding out a flat-footed points win over the Australian Michael Zerafa in Sheffield was that it would make his long-awaited showdown with Amir Khan much easier to put together.“If I was Amir Khan, I’d be straight on the phone,” Eddie Hearn said after an unimpressive 118-110, 119-109, 117-111 win that ensured Brook is the mandated challenger for Jarrett Hurd’s WBA light-middleweight title. “Kell knows that was below par. But, every time they fight, one becomes the favourite and one becomes the underdog. [Kell] knows he’s got to be a lot better than that, and he will be.” Continue reading...



'His Magnum opus': even for Lionel Messi, this was special | Sid Lowe

This weekend Messi did something unusual: he did something he hasn’t done before, exceeding his own expectationsSunday morning and military machines rolled down the Castellana, armoured vehicles on the move. Snipers stood on roofs and helicopters circled. Something big was happening. “We’ll know how it feels,” Marca said, which they wouldn’t of course, but like everyone else they hoped to find out. And, like everyone else, they were trying. Politicians packed the place, more even than usual, and people arrived from everywhere, papers dedicating dozens of pages. Florentino Pérez left Real Madrid’s match at Huesca early to be there and the best player in the world was due as soon as he’d finished, his club mates too. The third best was there. And so was the fifth.Leo Messi boarded a plane bound for the Bernabéu, where he’s scored more than any visitor, but he wasn’t playing this time. This was the weekend when Javi Calleja was sacked as Villarreal manager and a last-minute equaliser for Valencia couldn’t stop Mestalla whipping out white hankies; when Betis defender Sidnei went all Maradona, or so they said, and Eibar and Levante went wild; when Cornellá hosted the Catalan derby and Butarque the “southern derby”, Leganés’s mascot presiding over an on-pitch proposal at half-time against Getafe because nothing says romance like a six-foot cucumber. Yet much of that didn’t warrant a word because this was also the weekend when Madrid hosted the derby; one they tried to make their own, although it’s not. Continue reading...



The 100 best female footballers in the world 2018

Seventy-two judges from 30 countries have had their say and here is our top 100 of the best players in the world. In association with The Offside Rule Suzanne Wrack meets our No 1, Pernille HarderInterview: Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegeberg Continue reading...



David Squires on ... the weekend Premier League derbies

Our resident cartoonist looks back on a weekend of incident-packed local tusslesIf you like David’s cartoons, buy his new book Goalless Draws Continue reading...



Premier League stats: Have we finally got a real Premier League title race?

A fierce battle for top spot, Unai Emery's half-time tinkering, Fulham's leaky defence - the best stats from the Premier League weekend.



'Rugby's like a chessboard with 120kg pieces' - how virtual reality could transform training

Painstaking research, virtual reality and holding the tackle bags in training... an insight into how a top rugby analyst operates.



Why calls for athletes to compete as a homogenised group should be resisted | Sean Ingle

In response to the impact of transgender athletes some advocate the sexes competing together, a move others argue would banish women from top-level sportCan you imagine sport without separate men’s and women’s categories? A world where Serena Williams never got a sniff of 23 majors – not with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in her path – and the golden British women’s hockey team of Rio 2016 never even took to the field. It sounds like a dystopian nightmare. In fact it was an idea mooted on Radio 4 last week in a Woman’s Hour discussion about whether transgender women should play women’s sports.When it was put to the psychologist Dr Beth Jones that it could lead to no woman playing for a British team again, her response was startling. “They may, they may not. That is all in the future to be determined,” she said. Told that the idea would seem a “horrifying prospect” for those who believe in the importance of female sport, Jones replied that women might also push themselves more. “There is a bit of an argument, academically, that perhaps women cap their capability psychologically because they are competing against other women,” she added. “If they feel they’re then competing against men – perhaps they would up their performance and be competing on more of that level.” Continue reading...



Racism in football: have you witnessed abuse at a match in the UK?

After a troubling week with two high-profile incidents in the Premier League, we want to hear from fansRaheem Sterling says sections of the media “fuel racism” in football after being the subject of alleged racist abuse during a Premier League match on Saturday. The England and Manchester City forward wrote on his Instagram account that young black footballers are treated differently to their white counterparts and, because of reporting like this, he expects no better from fans. Related: Raheem Sterling has kicked up a storm but as ever the outrage will pass | Stan Collymore Continue reading...



Raheem Sterling negative press coverage 'emboldens racist rhetoric' - PFA

Negative press coverage of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling "emboldens racist rhetoric", says the PFA.



Football transfer rumours: Harry Kane or Richarlison to Barcelona?

Today’s tell-all is on holiday by mistake More used to seeing their Merseyside rivals Liverpool having their best South American players cherry-picked by a certain Spanish side, Everton fans will be none-too-pleased to wake up to the news that Barcelona are giving Richarlison the glad eye. Speculation abounds that the Brazilian, who will face his former club Watford at Goodison Park on Monday night, has been earmarked as a potential replacement for Luis Suárez, but only if La Liga’s leaders are unsuccessful in their preferred bid to lure Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur. Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action Continue reading...



The NFL Show: Olly Murs is put through his paces by Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora

Singer-song writer Olly Murs swaps his microphone for an American football as Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora put him through a series of NFL tests.



'Humble and generous, but a private enigma' - who was Leicester City's owner?

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is revered in Leicester as the man who presided over one of sport's great triumphs - but who was the billionaire Thai businessman?