Lionel Messi Among Finalists for FIFA’s Annual Awards List for Best Men’s Player of 2020-21 Season

Lionel Messi is back in familiar territory… 

The 34-year-old Argentine soccer star, who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and captains the Argentina national team, appears on FIFA‘s annual awards list for best men’s player of the 2020-21 season.

Lionel Messi

Messi appears on a finalist alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and last year’s winner, Robert Lewandowski.

A men’s list dominated by forwards was completed by Mohamed SalahKylian MbappeErling HaalandKevin De BruyneKarim Benzema and Neymar in the nominations by a FIFA-appointed panel. Two Chelsea players — Jorginho and N’Golo Kante — rounded out the 11 candidates.

There are no defenders or goalkeepers in contention for the main FIFA award, though goalkeepers have their own separate award.

Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was named player of the tournament at Euro 2020, is among the five goalkeeping candidates.

Robert Mancini, who led Italy to the European title, is among seven candidates for the men’s coaching award that include Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel and Lionel Scaloni, whose Argentina team won the Copa America.

The winner of the women’s award last year, England defender Lucy Bronze, is nominated again and the 13 candidates include her national and Manchester City teammate Ellen White.

Olympic gold medal-winning Canada has just one candidate, veteran forward Christine Sinclair, 19 years after she was first voted into the top 10.

No player was nominated from the United States women’s team, which took bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Two men and three women are in contention to be the best coach in women’s football. They include Bev Priestman of Canada, Lluis Cortes of European champion Barcelona, and Emma Hayes of runner-up Chelsea.

Votes in all categories from national team captains and coaches, fans and media worldwide will be collected through Dec. 10. A virtual ceremony will be held on Jan. 17 remotely, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, from FIFA headquarters in Zurich. Ahead of the awards, three-candidate shortlists will be announced for each award, FIFA said.

Lionel Messi to Play in Argentina’s World Cup Qualifier Match Against Brazil

Lionel Messi is returning to international play…

The 34-year-old Argentine professional footballer and Argentina captain is fit again, and he’s set to start during Argentina’s World Cup qualifier against Brazil on Tuesday.

Lionel MessiMeanwhile, Neymar will miss out for the visitors after feeling pain in his thigh, according to to team.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made similar comments ahead of their last game, a 1-0 win over Uruguay on Friday, although Messi only appeared for the final 14 minutes of the match.

Argentina are second in South America’s 10-team qualifying group, six points behind Brazil, who are the only team from the region to have secured their place at Qatar 2022 so far.

Scaloni repeated that Messi, 34, had recovered fully from the knee and hamstring issues that kept him out of Paris Saint-Germain‘s last two games and was ready for one of the biggest matches in the South American calendar.

“He was physically fit the other day and in the end we decided that the best thing was for him to play a few minutes so that he could get a feel for it and he is confirmed to play tomorrow,” Scaloni said of Tuesday’s match in San Juan.

“It’s going to be a very difficult game. They are the team that leads the qualifiers and they are already through to the finals.”

Brazil will be without Neymar after their top scorer reported feeling pains in the adductor region of his left thigh.

Neymar Jr. said he felt insecure about the situation and as there is not enough time to carry out complementary exams the technical commission decided to rest the player who will not travel with the team to San Juan, location of Tuesday’s game against Argentina,” the Brazil team said in a statement.

The top four teams in South American qualifying progress automatically to next year’s FIFA World Cup finals and the fifth-placed side goes into an inter-regional playoff.

Argentina are unbeaten in 26 games, a run that includes a 1-0 win over Brazil in the Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro in July.

Lionel Messi Breaks Pele’s South American Men’s Record for International Career Goals

Lionel Messi continues making history…

The 34-year-old Argentine professional footballer has scored his 79th international career goal for Argentina, surpassing the South American men’s record held by Brazil legend Pele.

Lionel Messi

Messi scored all three goals in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Bolivia on Thursday in a World Cup qualifying match at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, giving him two more than Pele, who had 77 career goals in international play.

Messi trails Brazilian duo Marta (109) and Cristiane (96) for the overall record for most goals scored by any South American player at the international level.

Third on the men’s list is Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar, who has 69 international goals for Brazil.

“I was very nervous, I just wanted to enjoy the night. I waited a long time for this,” an emotional Messi said after the match. “We won the game [and] that was the most important thing and now we can celebrate.”

Three-time World Cup winner Pele remains in hospital due to surgery for a tumor on his colon on Monday, although the 80-year-old said the operation was a “great victory.”

Messi has had a memorable summer — changing clubs from Barcelona to PSG in August and winning his first senior international football title in July. He and La Albiceleste claimed the Copa America from Brazil in a 1-0 win at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.

After Thursday’s result, Messi danced with his teammates and showed off the Copa trophy to the 21,000 supporters present.

“It was a unique moment [to win the Copa America] because of where and how we obtained the title,” Messi said.

“There was no better way to do it and be able to celebrate the title now, it’s incredible. My mother, my brothers are here in the stands. They have suffered a lot … I’m very happy.”

Thursday’s game also came days after Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match against Brazil — their first rematch since the Copa final — was controversially suspended. Brazilian health authorities entered the pitch at Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena with the game in progress and accused four Argentina players of failing to follow Brazil’s COVID-19 protocols for entering the country.

With 26 goals in World Cup qualifying matches following his hat-trick against Bolivia, Messi also passes Uruguay star Luis Suarez — his former teammate at Barcelona — for most among CONMEBOL players.

With eight career goals vs. Bolivia in 11 games, it is Messi’s most against a single opponent while donning the Argentina shirt.

Messi is also his country’s men’s all-time leading scorer, having moved past Gabriel Batistuta (54 goals) in 2016. He is also Argentina’s most capped player, with Thursday’s match against Bolivia marking his 153rd international appearance.

Prior to the Copa America victory, Messi had lost four major finals with Argentina’s senior side. They were beaten by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and had lost in the final at the Copa America in 2007, 2015 and 2016.

He had won the under-20 World Cup in 2005 and an Olympic gold medal with Argentina’s U23s in 2008.

Messi joined PSG over the summer on a shock free-agent move after two decades with Barcelona. Messi had been with Barcelona since 2001, joining the academy the year before.

Messi played 778 games at Barcelona, breaking Xavi Hernandez‘s appearance record in the 2020-21 season. In addition, he scored 672 goals, another club record, and helped Barca win, among other trophies, 10 La Liga titles and the Champions League on four occasions.

Angel Di Maria Leads Argentina to Copa America Title

Angel Di Maria will be getting a hero’s welcome…

Argentina won their first major title in 28 years on Saturday when a goal by the 33-year-old Argentine professional footballer gave them a 1-0 win over Brazil and a record-equaling 15th Copa America.

Angel Di Maria

Argentina’s win was a particular triumph for Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who picked up his first ever title in a blue and white shirt after more than a decade of club and individual honors.

Di Maria started for just the second time in the Copa and he justified his selection by scoring the opener midway through the first half.

Renan Lodi failed to cut out a long ball forward from Rodrigo De Paul and Di Maria lobbed the stranded Ederson with aplomb.

Brazil piled on the pressure in an exciting second half but even with five strikers on the field they could not get an equalizer against an Argentine defense protected by the outstanding De Paul.

“I can’t cry yet,” Di Maria said after the match. “We dreamed of getting this, and we fought. Many people criticized us and asked us not to come back [to the national team].”

The match itself was a disappointing one, with Argentina the better side in a cagey first half that featured 21 fouls.

“First we have to congratulate our opponents especially for the first half when they neutralized us,” said Brazilian defender Thiago Silva.

“In the second half there was no contest — only one team tried to play football, the other just wasted time as we knew they would. It’s not an excuse, we didn’t do what we had to, principally in the first half.”

The Argentine players surrounded their captain at the final whistle. Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez celebrated what he called a Maracanazo, a remarkable win at the famous Rio stadium.

“I’m speechless,” he said. “I knew my dream would come true, and where better than the Maracanazo and giving the title to the best in the world and fulfilling his dream.”

Messi finished the tournament’s joint top goalscorer with four goals and was elected joint best player along with Neymar. But he was quiet throughout and uncharacteristically missed a golden opportunity to wrap the game up with two minutes remaining.

When the final whistle went, Argentina TV declared “Argentina Champions, Lionel Messi Champion!”

“This is a very big title,” said Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni. “I hope that Argentines can enjoy it. The fans love the team unconditionally and I think they identify with this side that never drops its guard.”

The victory was Argentina’s 15th Copa America triumph and means they draw level with Uruguay as the all-time leading winners.

Their win extended their sequence of undefeated matches to 20 under Lionel Scaloni and handed Brazil their first competitive defeat since they lost to Belgium in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup.

Neymar Signs with Puma for Long-Term Partnership

Neymar is reppin’ a new brand…

Puma has announced the signing of the 28-year-old Brazilian soccer star after the Paris Saint-Germain player left Nike following a 15-year association.

Neymar’s arrival was announced on the Puma website alongside the banner “The king is back” and “Welcome to the family Neymar JR.”

Neymar wrote in a statement on his Twitter page: “At the beginning of each new season, I take some time to think about my career and the choices I have made. I think about the dreams I had when I started this sport, and the path that lies ahead.

“This will be a different season, a special season. For that reason, as I have done in the past, I decided to write this text.

“I am about to live a unique experience, a new challenge. I consider myself privileged to have had a life filled with unique experiences and wonderful challenges.

“I grew up watching videos of great football legends such as Pele, Cruyff, Matthaus, Eusebio and Maradona … These were the kings of the pitch, the kings of my sport. And they had something in common — a love of the game, a drive to be the best version of themselves and a spirit that unites all. It’s not always about being the best or the greatest but instead, to inspire future generations. That is exactly what I have dreamt of for myself, to give all of me to football because football has given me everything I have. I want to do it my way, using my gift.

“New challenges, new responsibilities, I understand that. I wish to bring back the legacy that those athletes created on the pitch. I was to help bring back memories from each of their football histories and the magic they gave us in their classic leather boots — and through boots like those, leave behind my own legacy. They each played in PUMA, and each of them created their magic in The KING.

“And so now, as I begin this new season, I want the KING to reign on the pitch and inspire generations as it has inspired me and others.

“To be in this project, associating myself to those Kings of football, through KING, it is a dream. For these reasons, from today onward, I have the honour to unite with the brand that helped the biggest legends of football become what they are. Every time I lace my boots, my KING boots, I will do anything to achieve all of my dreams to honour my name and that of all those great ones who wore the KING before me. This will be my PUMA history. The KING is back!”

Sources told ESPN that only four executives knew about the deal to land Neymar and it was “a big secret in the company” that they had been working to sign the player for several months.

He returned to training with PSG on Friday after missing their opening Ligue 1 fixture of the campaign, a 1-0 defeat at Lens, following a positive test for the coronavirus.

Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a world-record €222 million fee and has won three Ligue 1 titles in Paris. He also helped the French club reach the Champions League final in August, where they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich.

During his time at Barca he won the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and two La Liga titles.

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest-Paid Latino on Forbes’ The Celebrity 100 List

Lionel Messi is kickin’ his way to the top of the earnings charts…

The 33-year-old Argentine soccer star, who plays for FC Barcelona, is the top-earning Latinx celebrity on Forbes’ recently released The Celebrity 100 list, which ranks the world’s highest-paid celebrities of 2020.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who has been awarded both FIFA’s Ballon d’Or and the European Golden Shoe for top scorer on the continent a record six times, comes in at No. 5 with earning of $104 million.

His current contract with Barcelona is through 2020-21 and pays him more than $80 million annually. He also has a lifelong deal with Adidas, and he launched his own clothing line and opened his first retail outlet, The Messi Store, in September 2019 in Barcelona.

The World Health Organization (WHO) tapped Messi in March 2020 to help lead a worldwide campaign aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nipping on Messi’s heels is another soccer star and his former teammate… Neymar.

The 28-year-old Brazilian soccer player comes in at No. 7 on the list with earning of $95.5 million.

Neymar is currently on a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain through June 2022 worth $350 million in salary.

His transfer from Barcelona to PSG stands as the most expensive in the world at $263 million, which the French club paid in full ahead of his signing.

He’s the second most popular athlete on social media with a combined 244 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Nike‘s Jordan Brand signed Neymar as its first soccer ambassador in 2016. In March 2020 its film unit released a movie about his life.

Jennifer Lopez is this year’s highest-paid Latina on the list.

The 51-year-old Puerto Rican superstar comes in at No. 56 on the list with earnings of $47.5 million.

One of the more popular celebrities when it comes to endorsements, J.Lo has deals with Versace, DSW, Quay sunglasses and her own fragrance.

In 2018, she played her final shows at Las Vegas’ Zappos Theater, grossing more than $100 million in two years–the top Vegas residency by a Latin artist. She tacked on another $55 million in 2019 ticket sales for her ensuing world tour, which included stops in Egypt, Israel and Russia.

Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his first appearance on The Celebrity 100.

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican actor/rapper/lyricist/composer and Broadway star, the creator of the hit musical Hamilton, comes in at No. 62 with earning of $45.5 million.

Disney acquired worldwide rights to the film version of Hamilton in February 2020 for $75 million. And he helped create a $1 million emergency relief fund to benefit artists impacted by COVID-19 in Puerto Rico.

Other Latinx celebrities making the list include Howie Dorough (as a member of Backstreet Boys); Sofia Vergara, the world’s highest-paid actress; Robert Trujillo (as a member of Metallica); tennis star Rafael Nadal; and Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez.

Forbes’ list ranks “front of the camera” stars around the globe using pretax earnings from June 2019 through May 2020 before deducting fees for managers, lawyers and agents. Figures are based on information from Nielsen Music/MRC Data, Pollstar, IMDB, NPD BookScan and ComScore as well as interviews with industry experts and many of the stars themselves.

In total, the 100 celebrities racked in a total of $6.1 billion in pretax earnings, which took a $200 million dip from last year after the pandemic halted — or rather redirected — lots of business models.

Here’s a look at the Latino/a celebrities who made the list this year:

No. 5 Lionel Messi, 33, Argentina, Soccer, $104 million

No. 7 Neymar, 28, Brazil, Soccer, $95.5 million
No. 56 Jennifer Lopez, 51, USA (Puerto Rican), Entertainment, $47.5 million

No. 62 Lin-Manuel Miranda, 40, USA (Puerto Rican), Entertainment, $45.5 million
No. 64 Howie Dorough (Backstreet Boys), 47, USA (Half-Puerto Rican), Music, $45 million
No. 71 Sofia Vergara, 48, Colombia, Entertainment, $43 million

No. 78 Robert Trujillo (Metallica), 55, USA (Half-Mexican)Music, $40.5 million
No. 80 Rafael Nadal, 34, Spain, Tennis, $40 million
No. 91 Canelo Alvarez, 30, Mexico, Boxing, $37 million

Click here for the complete list.

Neymar Leads Paris Saint-Germain to Coupe de France Win with Sole Goal Against Saint-Etienne

Neymar’s celebrating a big kick…

The 28-year-old Brazilian professional footballer and Paris Saint-Germain forward kicked a goal early in the game to give his team a 1-0 win over 10-man Saint-Etienne on Friday in a near empty stadium.

Neymar & Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar’s goal gave PSG the Coupe de France as French football came out of a four-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Neymar scored on the rebound in the 14th minute after PSG striker Kylian Mbappe sprinted clear and saw his shot blocked by goalkeeper Jessy Moulin, with only 5,000 fans in the 80,000-seater Stade de France due to strict health protocols.

Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron had met the players on the pitch but kept his distance and wore a face mask.

The atmosphere in the run-up to the first professional game in France after the long hiatus was far from festive with only a handful of people around the stadium before the match.

The contest got off to an eventful start with Yvann Macon felling Neymar in the opening seconds to earn a yellow card and St Etienne’s Denis Bouanga hitting the post in the fifth minute.

But it was the Parisians who scored when Neymar pounced on Moulin’s save to fire in.

Mbappe was injured in the 26th minute from a rough challengeby Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin, who was sent off.

“We won the final and that is what matter(s),” PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said. His team had lost last year’s final to Stade Rennes on penalties.

Tuchel was also not happy with the way Saint-Etienne had played from the start.

“It was complicated with all the fouls to Thilo Kehrer, Neymar and Mbappe. In the last three matches against Saint-Etienne they get a red card in the first 30 minutes. I don’t know what is being said in their dressing room. It is horrible I can’t understand it.

“We won and we have a lot of things to improve, to talk about and analyze.”

With Ligue 1 champions PSG chasing a quadruple of titles 

this season, the few fans in the stands breathed a sigh of relief when Mbappe returned on crutches to the bench after the interval, joking and laughing with his teammates.

Rhaudeman Santiago Signs with France’s FC Lyon

Rhaudeman Santiago will be kickin’ it in France…

The 26-year-old soccer player, the cousin of Paris Saint-Germainforward Neymar, has signed with FC Lyon, who compete in the French sixth division.

Rhaudeman Santiago aka Rhau

Santiago — known as “Rhau” — went to the Santos academy, like Neymar, and plays on the left wing.

Rhau, who has already arrived in Lyon via Paris, has mostly played in lower leagues in Brazil before joining FC Lyon, who are the third oldest club in France as they were formed in 1893.

FC Lyon are a non-professional club, which is renowned in the area as a very good grassroots club with a lot of their young players then signing for top academies.

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest Paid Latino Celebrity

Lionel Messi isn’t just making goals… He’s makin’ some serious bank…

Forbes magazine has released its list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities, with the 32-year-old Argentine professional footballer coming in at No. 5 with $104 million, making his the highest-paid Latino celebrity in the world.

Lionel Messi

Messi has been awarded both FIFA‘s Player of the Year and the European Golden Shoe for top scorer on the continent a record six times. His 438 goals, including 36 hat tricks for Barcelona, is a club and La Liga record.

Neymarcomes in at No. 7…

The 28-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team, had reported earnings of $95.5 million.

Jennifer Lopez is the highest-paid Latina celebrity on Forbes’ list.

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar,one of the more popular celebrities when it comes to endorsements, had earnings of $47.5 million. She has deals with VersaceDSWQuay sunglasses and her own fragrances.

The multi-hyphenate also produced and starred in the 2019 film Hustlers.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has made Forbes’ list for the first time…

The 40-year-old Puerto Rican Broadway star had reported earnings of $45.5 million.

The Hamilton creator and star added to his haul from the Broadway hit in February when Walt Disney paid $75 million for the rights to air the filmed version of his Founding Father musical. 

Other Latino/a celebrities making the list include Howie Dorough (along with his fellow Backstreet Boys), Sofia VergaraRobert Trujillo (along with his fellow Metallica band mates), Rafael Nadal and Canelo Alvarez.

Here’s a look at the Latino/as making this year’s list:

No. 5 Lionel Messi, $104 million
No. 7 Neymar, $95.5 million
No. 56 Jennifer Lopez, $47.5 million 
No. 62 Lin-Manuel Miranda, $45.5 million
No. 64 Backstreet Boys, $45 million
No. 71 Sofia Vergara, $43 million
No. 78 Metallica, $40.5 million
No. 80 Rafael Nadal, $40 million
No. 91 Canelo Alvarez, $37 million

Lionel Messi: The World’s Highest Paid Latino Athlete

Lionel Messi is breaking the bank…

The 32-year-old Argentine soccer star is the highest-paid Latino on Forbes’ list of this year’s The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes.

Lionel Messi

Messi comes in at No. 3 on the list, behind Roger Federer and Cristiano Ronaldo, with earning reported at $104 million.

The Futbol Club Barcelona star’s earnings includes his $72 million salary with his team, as well as  $32 million in endorsements, including his lifelong deal with Adidas.

Nipping on Messi’s heels… Neymar.

The 28-year-old Brazilian footballer, on a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain through June 2022 worth $350 million, comes in at No. 4 with combined earnings of $95.5 million. 

Nike‘s Jordan Brand signed Neymar as its first soccer ambassador in 2016. In March 2020, its film unit released a movie about his life.

Messi and Ronaldo had previously held the No. 1 spot in three of the past four years.

Rafael Nadal comes in at No. 27 on the list.

The 33-year-old tennis star has combined earnings of $40 million. The greatest clay court player of his generation captured two of Grand Slam titles in 2019, his 12th French Open title and fourth U.S. Open.

Here’s a look at the Latino athletes making this year’s top earners list.

No. 3:  Lionel Messi, Soccer, Argentine, $104 million
No. 4:  Neymar, Soccer, Brazil, $95.5 million
No. 27:  Rafael Nadal, Tennis, Spain, $40 million
No. 30:  Canelo Alvarez, Boxing, Mexico, $37 million
No. 46:  Andres Iniesta, Soccer, Spain, $29.6 million
No. 56: Oscar, Soccer, Brazil, $27.5 million
No. 67: David de Gea, Soccer, Spain,  $25.7 million
No. 69: Alexis Sanchez, Soccer, Chile, $25.6 million
No. 79: Al Horford, Basketball, Dominican Republic, $24.4 million
No. 100: Sergio Ramos, Soccer, Spain, $21.8 million