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Saturday, Jan 21st

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Argentine forward Lionel Messi has decided not to renew his contract with Spanish football champions FC Barcelona, according to media reports.

According to a Spanish newspaper on Monday, Messi made the decision in July during a family vacation in Ibiza and asked his father to inform FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu about his intention to leave the club.

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Germany's next 2018 World Cup qualifier against San Marino this Friday evening might not be an important game for coach Joachim Loew and many of his players as the 2014 World Champions are the big favourite against the minnows. In the case of Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City) though, things are different. The 26-year-old midfielder, who was transferred to the Premier League club for 27 million euro, is the man to watch at present in the German squad.

The player with Turkish roots is set to replace Sami Khedira (Juventus) alongside Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) in Germany's midfield engine room. German football fans are rubbing their eyes in disbelief when watching a man that seems to be revealing previously unknown talents. Since leaving Borussia Dortmund last summer for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, he seems to have gone through a metamorphosis.

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Former Bayern Munich and Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz, Paraguay's all-time leading scorer, has announced that the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Bolivia in the next week would be his last appearances for the national football team.

The 35-year-old said on Tuesday, "With this call-up I am bringing to an end my time in the national team. It's a decision that's hard to take but had to be taken at some point...I think it's time to just dedicate myself to my club. I'm happy to retire at a time when I still feel good enough to play," added Santa Cruz, who currently plays for Olimpia club.

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Nigeria's national football team began to tune up for next Saturday's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against North African rivals Algeria. Nigerian team officials told the press today that training has commenced in the country's capital, Abuja.

Nigeria had invited a total of 25 players to tune up for the Algerians known to have a fast-paced attacking squad. The match is scheduled to take place at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in the southeastern city of Uyo.

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Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp was predictably impressed by his side's display as the Reds crushed Watford 6-1 at Anfield to move to the top of the Premier League standings on the back of another fantastic display of attacking football.

Klopp shared in an interview with BBC Sport after the game, "When the result gives you the impression that it is easy there is a lot of hard work behind that. The result is wonderful and the performance is terrific. But Chelsea yesterday were not bad, Manchester City against Barcelona not bad, Arsenal great movement and Tottenham - oh my god. We need to be good."

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Chelsea took top spot in the Premier League standings by putting 5 goals past Everton at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Liverpool went one better on Sunday afternoon, hitting 6 past Watford to replace the Blues in pole position 11 games into the Premier League season courtesy of another superb attacking display at Anfield.

Two goals inside four minutes from Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho set Liverpool on the road to victory while Emre Can added a third on the stroke of half-time from Adam Lallana's cross to put the contest to bed in the first half itself.

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The Chelsea turnaround story continues to amaze as the Blues went top of the table just weeks after having been written off already this season, with Antonio Conte masterminding another fantastic performance, one which resulted in a poor Everton side leaving Stamford Bridge with their tails between their legs on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline.

Consistency thou art Antonio Conte as the Blues' boss fielded the same starting eleven for the third successive game, coming into this clash on the back of four straight wins in the Premier League and no exertions in midweek on account of not being in Europe this season.

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