How can you tell if a football manager is actually good at their job?

The Athletic

An important thing to remember about Andre Villas-Boas is that he had ridiculously good hair. You don’t spend a record-shattering €15 million (£12.9; $16.3m) fee to sign a rookie manager away from Porto unless you’re pretty sure you know what you’re getting, and one thing Chelsea knew for certain, back in the heady days of … Read more

Jude Bellingham’s non-goal shows us football’s full-time law needs to change

The Athletic

It is the final seconds of the NBA Finals. The clock hits 0.0 in a one-point game, but play continues for a few seconds because the Golden State Warriors are driving towards the rim. The fight at Madison Square Garden is going the distance. The final bell goes in the 12th round, but the referee … Read more

Dani Alves – from 43 trophies to four years in prison

The Athletic

Dani Alves, who was this morning sentenced to four and a half years in prison in Spain after being found guilty of sexual assault, was, until very recently, one of global football’s golden boys. An exuberant, technical right-back, he was a major part of the Barcelona team that set new standards in the European game … Read more

Robert Lewandowski was Barcelona’s big post-Messi gamble. It hasn’t entirely paid off

The Athletic

“Everything Robert won at Bayern Munich, the goals he scored, it was all with the aim of ending up where he is now: playing for Barcelona.” Robert Lewandowski’s career has been full of targets, but two summers ago he fulfilled what is fair to describe as his ultimate ambition. The quote above comes from a … Read more

Kylian Mbappe is leaving PSG: Thank god that’s finally over

Ice ages haven’t lasted as long as this. Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid… it has been a thing for about a decade at least. The Athletic was not even in existence when the pair began courting each other. Twitter was still fun (and called Twitter), Taylor Swift hadn’t heard of American football and the closest … Read more

Lionel Messi’s first Barcelona contract, signed on napkin, to be sold at auction

The napkin upon which Lionel Messi’s first Barcelona agreement was informally written will be sold at auction. Bonhams — a privately owned, London-based international auction house — will run the auction between March 18-27, with a starting price of £300,000 ($381k), on behalf of Argentine player agent Horacio Gaggioli. The agreement was reached on December … Read more

Xavi’s Barcelona resignation: The full story behind his decision to step down in June

The Athletic

“President, I’d like to speak with you.” Barcelona’s traumatic 5-3 home defeat against Villarreal prompted an agitated evening behind the scenes at their temporary home ground on Montjuic on Saturday. Club executives immediately held an urgent meeting after the final whistle at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys, just next to the VIP boxes, where other … Read more