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Just in: Messi reveals plan to retire from football

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Lionel Messi

Just in: Messi reveals plan to retire from football

Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi has expressed his intention to end his illustrious playing career with Inter Miami, but he doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.

Messi, under contract with the MLS team until the end of the 2025 season, shared his thoughts in an interview with ESPN.

“Yes, as of today, I think it’s going to be my last club,” Messi told ESPN. However, the soon-to-be 37-year-old added, “I’m not ready to leave football either.”

The record eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, who became a legend with Barcelona by winning four Champions League titles and 10 La Liga championships, also led Argentina to victories in the 2021 Copa America and the 2022 World Cup. He is set to play for Argentina in this month’s Copa America, hosted in the United States.

After playing for Barcelona from 2004 to 2021, Messi moved to Paris Saint-Germain for two years before joining Inter Miami last year, where he quickly helped the team win the Leagues Cup.

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“It was a difficult step to leave Europe to come here,” Messi said, adding that becoming a world champion helped him see things differently.

Messi’s move has significantly boosted the profile of MLS in the United States, with matches selling out and his jersey becoming the most popular in the league.

Looking ahead, Messi is considering playing for Argentina in the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the USA, Mexico, and Canada, while also contemplating the end of his extraordinary career.

“My whole life I did this. I love playing ball. I enjoy the training, the day every day, of the matches. A little afraid that everything will end,” Messi said.

“I try to enjoy. That’s why I enjoy everything much more, because I’m aware that there’s less and less to go and I have a good time at the club. How lucky I am to have colleagues and friends by my side. I had a good time in the selection, where I have teammates and friends too, and many of them, and I enjoy the little details that I know I’m going to miss when I don’t play anymore.”

Just in: Messi reveals plan to retire from football

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PSG to complete ‘discounted’ Osimhen’s deal Thursday

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Victor Osimhen

PSG to complete ‘discounted’ Osimhen’s deal Thursday

Nigeria international striker Victor Osimhen is expected to complete his  transfer from Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain on or before Thursday, according to Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport.

Speculations were rife  over the weekend that  the French Champions  are  ‘close to unblocking the deal’ for  Osimhen with Napoli reportedly ready  to give a slight discount on Osimhen’s €130m release clause.

According to  Football Italia, the Parisian giants have decided to fully focus on a deal for the 25-year-old Nigerian striker and have been in close contact with Partenopei president Aurelio De Laurentiis and the player’s agent Roberto Calenda in recent days.

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On Saturday, Osimhen  missed the club’s second pre-season friendly  as the coach Antonio Conte-led side  beat Mantova 3-0, following  their earlier  4-0 win  against Anaune Val di Non in  the first pre-season game.

But yesterday, Football Italia  reported that  Corriere dello Sport detailed  how Napoli are hoping to sell Osimhen to PSG by Thursday next week, allowing them to finally pull the trigger on the deal with Chelsea for Lukaku, who is waiting to be reunited with Antonio Conte.

The Belgian striker has reportedly  returned from his holiday in Turkey and is now individually training to start preparing for the move. He has agreed to a three-year contract worth €10m gross per season, taking advantage of the Growth Decree tax relief.

Napoli will pay Chelsea around €25m including add-ons for Lukaku, obtaining a significant discount on the circa €44m (£37.5m) release clause.

PSG to complete ‘discounted’ Osimhen’s deal Thursday

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Oshoala, Nkwocha listed among Africa’s 25 best athletes

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Asisat Oshoala

Oshoala, Nkwocha listed among Africa’s 25 best athletes

Super Falcons attacker, Asisat Oshoala, and former Nigeria international, Perpetual Nkwocha, have been included in Africa’s 25 Best Athletes of the 21st Century list.

The list of Africa’s 25 Best Athletes of the 21st Century was compiled by ESPN.

Apart from Oshoala and Nkwocha, other Nigerians who made the list include Mixed Martial Art (MMA) stars Israel Adesanya, Kamaru Usman and American Football star Osi Umenyiora.

Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane made the cut while athletics greats such as Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia), Caster Semenya (South Africa), Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya), Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) among others were listed.

Commenting on Oshoala, ESPN wrote: “Oshoala, who currently plays for Bay FC in the NWSL, has taken African women’s football to new heights. The Nigeria striker has been the African women’s Player of the Year a record six times, thanks in large part to her stellar five seasons with Barcelona.

 “Her 92 league goals for Barça came at a rate of roughly one every 65 minutes. There, she won the Spanish Primera Division four times, and the UEFA Women’s Champions League thrice. For Nigeria, she’s been part of the Super Falcons side that won the African title three times, and is set to represent the Super Falcons again at the Paris Olympics.“

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In its remarks on Adesanya: “Born in Lagos, although he moved to New Zealand aged 10 after a brief stint living in Ghana, Adesanya dominated the middleweight division of the UFC from 2019-2022, finally losing to Alex Pereira in November 2022 before beating him in a rematch five months later.

 “Adesanya lost his belt again to Sean Strickland later that year, but has a chance to win it back against South Africa’s Dricus du Plessis at UFC 305 on August 17 in Perth.

Adesanya will be 35 years old by the time that fight happens but whether or not he dethrones du Plessis (30), he will go down in history as one of the sport’s greatest ever, fulfilling ESPN’s prophecy of him as the “next big thing.”

The global sport media outfit described Nkwocha as prolific in front of goal.

 “A prolific goalscoring midfielder who conquered Africa five times with a dominant Nigeria side, former Super Falcons captain Nkwocha has made a name for herself in Sweden both as a player for Sunnanå SK and later as a coach for Clemensnäs IF.

 “Nkwocha combined dazzling dribbling skills with ruthless efficiency in front of goal to etch her name into the history books as one of the greatest African women’s footballers ever.“

Writing on Usman’s exploits in MMA, ESPN stated: “Born in Auchi in Edo State, Nigeria, Usman’s run as UFC welterweight champion coincided almost precisely with Adesanya’s as middleweight king.

Both held their belts from 2019-2022, with five successful title defense. In 2021, Usman was ESPN’s Male Fighter of the Year after wins over Gilbert Burns by TKO, Jorge Masvidal by KO (punch) and Colby Covington by unanimous decision.“

Concerning Umenyiora: “Born in London to Nigerian parents, New York Giants legend Umenyiora spent much of his childhood in Nigeria and continues his post-NFL in Lagos as a talent developer.

Oshoala, Nkwocha listed among Africa’s 25 best athletes

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Paris 2024: Super Falcons lose to Canada in friendly match

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Super Falcons

Paris 2024: Super Falcons lose to Canada in friendly match

The Super Falcons lost 1-0 to Canada in a friendly match at La Quinta Football Centre in Malaga, Spain on Wednesday night in their final preparation before the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Under head coach Randy Waldrum, Nigeria deployed the strongest lineup in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, aiming to uphold their impressive unbeaten streak.

Chiamaka Nnadozie started in goal, supported by defenders Michelle Alozie, Chidinma Okeke, Oluwatosin Demehin, and Osinachi Ohale.

The midfield featured Deborah Abiodun and Christy Ucheibe, with Jennifer Echegini and Toni Payne leading the attack alongside Chinwendu Ihezuo and Rasheedat Ajibade of Atletico Madrid.

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Canada seized an early lead in the 18th minute, despite Nigeria’s efforts to equalise throughout the match. The closest opportunity came in the second half when Echegini’s powerful strike hit the post, narrowly missing the net.

The defeat marked the end of Nigeria’s 15-game unbeaten streak with their last loss over 90 minutes occurring against Colombia in February 2023.

It also stands as the Super Falcons’ first defeat in 2024, following two wins and two draws against Cameroon and South Africa earlier in the year.

Nigeria will commence their Olympic campaign in eight days with a crucial match against Brazil in Bordeaux, followed by matches against Spain and the Korea Republic.

Paris 2024: Super Falcons lose to Canada in friendly match

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