Barcelona had been ‘more than a club’ for 100 years but Catalans have reached their ‘twilight hour’ with new sponsorship deal and move for Luis Suarez0
Except that instead of a beer brand or appliances company it was Unicef. And they paid the charity for it too, with over £1million annually going towards its projects.
On the pitch, Barcelona dived, fouled and cheated as much as any other team, but in between the gaps they played fabulous, expansive football. Purists adored them, millions dreamed of the opportunity to watch the likes of Ronaldinho, Xavi, Deco and the rest at the Nou Camp. They were everybody’s ‘second team’.
Mes que un club – more than a club – was the slogan they used to describe themselves. It refers to their commitment to matters beyond the football pitch, social and political affairs both local and global.
The slogan was initially invented by president Narcis de Careras in 1968, concerning their backing of Catalan society, which had been attacked by Spanish dictator Franco. Franco’s dictatorship tried to end the club’s social significance, removing the Catalan stripes from the crest.
Time passed, Franco died, Spain became democratic again and Barcelona wanted to apply their slogan to more than just Catalonia. ‘Barca has extended its social commitment to the rest of the planet,’ announces the club website, proudly. It heralded the Unicef deal as a specifically significant marker for this.
But in recent years there have been numerous decisions made by the club which have flung it from their self-made throne and down, down into the mire, with the all the other football clubs.
The shirt is in danger of becoming more like a Formula One car than a football jersey. This week they have added Turkish appliances firm Beko to it, with its logo emblazoned on the sleeve.
In the middle of the shirt is the far more controversial Qatar Airways sponsorship. It is the successor to Qatar Foundation, which ended Barcelona’s stance of refusing commercial shirt sponsorship.
The Unicef logo was been moved to another, less notable position on the shirt and from the start of the 2011-12 season Barcelona began to benefit from a £125m sponsorship deal.
Late last year, Barcelona announced a new shirt sponsorship deal, with Intel advertising inside of the shirt. Intel’s marketing officer Deborah Conrad described it as ‘more than sponsorship’. Perhaps a play on words on Barcelona’s club slogan, perhaps an unfortunate coincidence. But it highlighted how the attitude towards the previously pure, clean shirt had changed.
And sponsorships are the tip of the iceberg. There have been some dubious practices going on at the club in recent times.
The pursuit of Luis Suarez is the latest of them. This is a footballer who has been found guilty of racism by the FA. Who dives and cheats like the best of ‘em, who has recently bitten an opposition player for the THIRD time.
And yet, despite biting Giorgio Chiellini and subsequently being issued a four-month global ban, Barcelona’s club president and sporting director both described him as ‘honourable’ and new signing Ivan Rakitic said that his apology made him ‘a noble man’.
Bear in mind that this apology reads like it was spoken through gritted teeth, just days after claiming that he stumbled and fell into Chiellini. Bear in mind that Barcelona required Suarez to apologise before they could make a mood for him.
What Barcelona have been bearing in mind, above any qualms about Suarez compromising their club conscience, is that a front line comprised of Lionel Messi, Neymar and the Uruguayan would be nigh-on unstoppable.
The Brazilian Suarez will be playing with, Neymar, came to the club under a storm cloud too. The repercussions of his transfer deal affected the club long into the season, with Barcelona paying £11.1m to the tax authorities that they had evaded during the deal.
Barcelona denied any fiscal wrongdoing, stating that they were merely making a complimentary donation to the government to cover ‘any potential interpretation made concerning the contract’.
In reality the signing of Neymar which, initially, appeared as if it were a £49m deal, could have cost more than £71m. Barcelona’s president at the time, Sandro Rosell, resigned, and the man who followed him, Josep Maria Bartomeu, described the whole thing as ‘embarrassing’.
Then, there was the treatment of Eric Abidal. The Barcelona defender claimed that he was not paid while he was recovering from a liver transplant.
He said: ‘What was hard to understand was what Barcelona said during my last press conference. By saying that it was a professional choice, it made other clubs doubt. It wasn’t even a question of money. The proof being that all the months I was ill, the club didn’t pay me.’
Barcelona refuted this, saying that they had paid for it mostly, with only a ‘very small’ part coming from medical insurers.
The reason Barcelona want to buy Suarez, as well as Ivan Rakitic, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, is because the threat of a transfer ban still looms over them.
They were given this ban for disobeying FIFA instructions over the transfers of minors, with 10 under-18 players they signed contravening legislation. On appeal, their ban has been suspended, so they are making all their necessary deals this summer in case it eventually gets upheld.
All of this has left the club’s waters murky, like the sea by Barceloneta beach after the city’s famous all-night Sant Joan’s eve festival.
If the good times of decades past at the Camp Nou were the party, we are currently in the madrugada – the twilight hour – knee-deep in filth, waiting for the clean-up operation to begin.
The fixture list for the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season has been released.
Please find below the fixtures. All kick-off times are 3pm, unless stated. Please note these fixtures are subject to change.
16 August 2014
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Burnley v Chelsea
Leicester City v Everton
Liverpool v Southampton
Manchester United v Swansea City
Newcastle United v Manchester City
Queens Park Rangers v Hull City
Stoke City v Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
23 August 2014
Aston Villa v Newcastle United
Chelsea v Leicester City
Crystal Palace v West Ham United
Everton v Arsenal
Hull City v Stoke City
Manchester City v Liverpool
Southampton v West Bromwich Albion
Sunderland v Manchester United
Swansea City v Burnley
Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers
30 August 2014
Aston Villa v Hull City
Burnley v Manchester United
Everton v Chelsea
Leicester City v Arsenal
Manchester City v Stoke City
Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland
Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
West Ham United v Southampton
13 September 2014
Arsenal v Manchester City
Chelsea v Swansea City
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Hull City v West Ham United
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Manchester United v Queens Park Rangers
Southampton v Newcastle United
Stoke City v Leicester City
Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur
West Bromwich Albion v Everton
20 September 2014
Aston Villa v Arsenal
Burnley v Sunderland
Everton v Crystal Palace
Leicester City v Manchester United
Manchester City v Chelsea
Newcastle United v Hull City
Queens Park Rangers v Stoke City
Swansea City v Southampton
Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United v Liverpool
27 September 2014
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Crystal Palace v Leicester City
Hull City v Manchester City
Liverpool v Everton
Manchester United v West Ham United
Southampton v Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City v Newcastle United
Sunderland v Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion v Burnley
4 October 2014
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Chelsea v Arsenal
Hull City v Crystal Palace
Leicester City v Burnley
Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion
Manchester United v Everton
Sunderland v Stoke City
Swansea City v Newcastle United
Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton
West Ham United v Queens Park Rangers
18 October 2014
Arsenal v Hull City
Burnley v West Ham United
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Everton v Aston Villa
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle United v Leicester City
Queens Park Rangers v Liverpool
Southampton v Sunderland
Stoke City v Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United
25 October 2014
Burnley v Everton
Liverpool v Hull City
Manchester United v Chelsea
Queens Park Rangers v Aston Villa
Southampton v Stoke City
Sunderland v Arsenal
Swansea City v Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United
West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace
West Ham United v Manchester City
1 November 2014
Arsenal v Burnley
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea v Queens Park Rangers
Crystal Palace v Sunderland
Everton v Swansea City
Hull City v Southampton
Leicester City v West Bromwich Albion
Manchester City v Manchester United
Newcastle United v Liverpool
Stoke City v West Ham United
8 November 2014
Burnley v Hull City
Liverpool v Chelsea
Manchester United v Crystal Palace
Queens Park Rangers v Manchester City
Southampton v Leicester City
Sunderland v Everton
Swansea City v Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City
West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United
West Ham United v Aston Villa
22 November 2014
Arsenal v Manchester United
Aston Villa v Southampton
Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion
Crystal Palace v Liverpool
Everton v West Ham United
Hull City v Tottenham Hotspur
Leicester City v Sunderland
Manchester City v Swansea City
Newcastle United v Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City v Burnley
29 November 2014
Burnley v Aston Villa
Liverpool v Stoke City
Manchester United v Hull City
Queens Park Rangers v Leicester City
Southampton v Manchester City
Sunderland v Chelsea
Swansea City v Crystal Palace
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton
West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal
West Ham United v Newcastle United
2 December 2014
Arsenal v Southampton, 7.45pm
Burnley v Newcastle United, 7.45pm
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa, 8pm
Leicester City v Liverpool, 7.45pm
Manchester United v Stoke City, 7.45pm
Swansea City v Queens Park Rangers, 7.45pm
West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United, 8pm
3 December 2014
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur, 7.45pm
Everton v Hull City, 7.45pm
Sunderland v Manchester City, 7.45pm
6 December 2014
Aston Villa v Leicester City
Hull City v West Bromwich Albion
Liverpool v Sunderland
Manchester City v Everton
Newcastle United v Chelsea
Queens Park Rangers v Burnley
Southampton v Manchester United
Stoke City v Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace
West Ham United v Swansea City
13 December 2014
Arsenal v Newcastle United
Burnley v Southampton
Chelsea v Hull City
Crystal Palace v Stoke City
Everton v Queens Park Rangers
Leicester City v Manchester City
Manchester United v Liverpool
Sunderland v West Ham United
Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur
West Bromwich Albion v Aston Villa
20 December 2014
Aston Villa v Manchester United
Hull City v Swansea City
Liverpool v Arsenal
Manchester City v Crystal Palace
Newcastle United v Sunderland
Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion
Southampton v Everton
Stoke City v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley
West Ham United v Leicester City
26 December 2014
Arsenal v Queens Park Rangers
Burnley v Liverpool
Chelsea v West Ham United
Crystal Palace v Southampton
Everton v Stoke City
Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United v Newcastle United
Sunderland v Hull City
Swansea City v Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City
28 December 2014
Aston Villa v Sunderland
Hull City v Leicester City
Liverpool v Swansea City
Manchester City v Burnley
Newcastle United v Everton
Queens Park Rangers v Crystal Palace
Southampton v Chelsea
Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
West Ham United v Arsenal
1 January 2015
Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Hull City v Everton
Liverpool v Leicester City
Manchester City v Sunderland
Newcastle United v Burnley
Queens Park Rangers v Swansea City
Southampton v Arsenal
Stoke City v Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion
10 January 2015
Arsenal v Stoke City
Burnley v Queens Park Rangers
Chelsea v Newcastle United
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur
Everton v Manchester City
Leicester City v Aston Villa
Manchester United v Southampton
Sunderland v Liverpool
Swansea City v West Ham United
West Bromwich Albion v Hull City
17 January 2015
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Everton v West Bromwich Albion
Leicester City v Stoke City
Manchester City v Arsenal
Newcastle United v Southampton
Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United
Swansea City v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland
West Ham United v Hull City
31 January 2015
Arsenal v Aston Villa
Chelsea v Manchester City
Crystal Palace v Everton
Hull City v Newcastle United
Liverpool v West Ham United
Manchester United v Leicester City
Southampton v Swansea City
Stoke City v Queens Park Rangers
Sunderland v Burnley
West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur
7 February 2015
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Burnley v West Bromwich Albion
Everton v Liverpool
Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Manchester City v Hull City
Newcastle United v Stoke City
Queens Park Rangers v Southampton
Swansea City v Sunderland
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
West Ham United v Manchester United
10 February 2015
Arsenal v Leicester City, 7.45pm
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United, 8pm
Hull City v Aston Villa, 7.45pm
Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur, 8pm
Manchester United v Burnley, 7.45pm
Southampton v West Ham United, 7.45pm
West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City, 8pm
11 February 2015
Chelsea v Everton, 7.45pm
Stoke City v Manchester City, 7.45pm
Sunderland v Queens Park Rangers, 7.45pm
21 February 2015
Aston Villa v Stoke City
Chelsea v Burnley
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Everton v Leicester City
Hull City v Queens Park Rangers
Manchester City v Newcastle United
Southampton v Liverpool
Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion
Swansea City v Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United
28 February 2015
Arsenal v Everton
Burnley v Swansea City
Leicester City v Chelsea
Liverpool v Manchester City
Manchester United v Sunderland
Newcastle United v Aston Villa
Queens Park Rangers v Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke City v Hull City
West Bromwich Albion v Southampton
West Ham United v Crystal Palace
3 March 2015
Aston Villa v West Bromwich Albion, 7.45pm
Hull City v Sunderland, 7.45pm
Liverpool v Burnley, 8pm
Queens Park Rangers v Arsenal, 7.45pm
Southampton v Crystal Palace, 7.45pm
West Ham United v Chelsea, 7.45pm
4 March 2015
Manchester City v Leicester City, 7.45pm
Newcastle United v Manchester United, 7.45pm
Stoke City v Everton, 7.45pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City, 7.45pm
14 March 2015
Arsenal v West Ham United
Burnley v Manchester City
Chelsea v Southampton
Crystal Palace v Queens Park Rangers
Everton v Newcastle United
Leicester City v Hull City
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur
Sunderland v Aston Villa
Swansea City v Liverpool
West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City
21 March 2015
Aston Villa v Swansea City
Hull City v Chelsea
Liverpool v Manchester United
Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion
Newcastle United v Arsenal
Queens Park Rangers v Everton
Southampton v Burnley
Stoke City v Crystal Palace
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City
West Ham United v Sunderland
4 April 2015
Arsenal v Liverpool
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea v Stoke City
Crystal Palace v Manchester City
Everton v Southampton
Leicester City v West Ham United
Manchester United v Aston Villa
Sunderland v Newcastle United
Swansea City v Hull City
West Bromwich Albion v Queens Park Rangers
11 April 2015
Burnley v Arsenal
Liverpool v Newcastle United
Manchester United v Manchester City
Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea
Southampton v Hull City
Sunderland v Crystal Palace
Swansea City v Everton
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City
West Ham United v Stoke City
18 April 2015
Arsenal v Sunderland
Aston Villa v Queens Park Rangers
Chelsea v Manchester United
Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion
Everton v Burnley
Hull City v Liverpool
Leicester City v Swansea City
Manchester City v West Ham United
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke City v Southampton
25 April 2015
Arsenal v Chelsea
Burnley v Leicester City
Crystal Palace v Hull City
Everton v Manchester United
Manchester City v Aston Villa
Newcastle United v Swansea City
Queens Park Rangers v West Ham United
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur
Stoke City v Sunderland
West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool
2 May 2015
Aston Villa v Everton
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Hull City v Arsenal
Leicester City v Newcastle United
Liverpool v Queens Park Rangers
Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion
Sunderland v Southampton
Swansea City v Stoke City
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City
West Ham United v Burnley
9 May 2015
Arsenal v Swansea City
Aston Villa v West Ham United
Chelsea v Liverpool
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
Everton v Sunderland
Hull City v Burnley
Leicester City v Southampton
Manchester City v Queens Park Rangers
Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion
Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur
16 May 2015
Burnley v Stoke City
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Manchester United v Arsenal
Queens Park Rangers v Newcastle United
Southampton v Aston Villa
Sunderland v Leicester City
Swansea City v Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City
West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea
West Ham United v Everton
24 May 2015
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
Aston Villa v Burnley
Chelsea v Sunderland
Crystal Palace v Swansea City
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
Hull City v Manchester United
Leicester City v Queens Park Rangers
Manchester City v Southampton
Newcastle United v West Ham United
Stoke City v Liverpool
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Provisional: Rais M’bolhi (CSKA Sofia), Mohamed Zemmamouche (USM Alger), Ezzdine Doukha (USM El Harrach), Mohamed Cedric (CS Constantine); Essaid Belkalem (no club), Madjid Bougherra (no club), Lyassine Cadamuro (Mallorca), Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli), Rafik Halliche (Academica Coimbra), Nacereddine Khoualed (USM Alger), Aissa Mandi (Reims), Mehdi Mostefa (Ajaccio), Carl Medjani (Valenciennes), Djamel Mesbah (Livorno); Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham), Ryad Boudebouz (Bastia), Yacine Brahimi (Granada), Adlene Guedioura (Crystal Palace), Amir Karaoui (ES Setif), Medhi Lacen (Getafe), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan), Hassen Yebda (Udinese); Rafik Djebour (Nottingham Forest), Abdelmoumen Djabou (Club Africain), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Ryad Mahrez (Leicester), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon), Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb), Foued Kadir (Rennes), Nabil Ghilas (FC Porto)
Provisional: Mark Birighitti, (Newcastle Jets), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Mat Ryan (Club Brugge); Jason Davidson (SC Heracles Almelo), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Curtis Good (Newcastle United), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng), Matthew Spiranovic, (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow), Bailey Wright (Preston North End); Oliver Bozanic (FC Luzern), Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa), Joshua Brilliante (Newcastle Jets), James Holland (Austria Wien), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht), Tommy Rogic (Melbourne Victory), Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Dario Vidosic (FC Sion); Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Duesseldorf), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Matthew Leckie (Frankfurt 1899), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets)
Provisional: Sergio Romero (Monaco), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors); Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Nicolas Otamendi (Atletico Mineiro), Lisandro Lopez (Getafe), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate); Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Ever Banega (Newell’s Old Boys), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Fabian Rinaudo (Catania), Jose Sosa (Atletico Madrid); Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Franco Di Santo (Werder Bremen).
Provisional: Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid, on loan from Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Koen Casteels (Hoffenheim), Silvio Proto (Anderlecht), Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid), Laurent Ciman (Standard Liege), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St Petersburg), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern Munich), Anthony Vanden Borre (Anderlecht), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele (both Tottenham), Steven Defour (Porto), Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg), Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj (both Manchester United), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Divock Origi (Lille), Axel Witsel (Zenit St Petersburg).
Provisional: Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Jasmin Fejzic (Aalen), Asmir Avdukic (Borac Banja Luka), Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke), Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor), Toni Sunjic (Zorya Lugansk), Avdija Vrsajevic (Hajduk Split), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg), Ervin Zukanovic (Gent), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhou Renhe), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Senad Lulic (Lazio), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyesspor), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB), Tino Susic (Hajduk Split), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros), Anel Hadzic (Sturm Graz), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Vedad Ibisevic (Stuttgart).
Final: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro); David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Henrique (Napoli), Maicon (Roma), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris Saint-Germain); Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Ramires (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan); Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Fred (Fluminense)
Provisional: Charles Itandje (Konyaspor), Ndy Assembe (Guingamp), Sammy Ndjock (Fetihespor), Loic Feudjou (Coton Sport); Allan Nyom (Granada), Dany Nounkeu (Besiktas), Cedric Djeugoue (Coton Sport), Aurelien Chedjou (Galatasaray), Nicolas Nkoulou (Marsiglia), Armel Kana-Biyik (Rennes), Henri Bedimo (Lione), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur), Gaetang Bong (Olympiakos); Eyong Enoh (Antalyaspor), Jean Makoun (Rennes), Joel Matip (Schalke), Stephane Mbia (QPR), Landry Nguemo (Bordeaux), Alex Song (Barcelona), Cedric Loe (Osasuna), Edgar Sally (Lens); Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea), Eric Choupo Moting (Mainz), Benjamin Moukandjo (Nancy), Vincent Aboubakar (Lorient), Achille Webo (Fenerbahce), Mohamadou Idrissou (Kaiserslautern), Fabrice Olinga (Zulte-Waregem).
Provisional: Claudio Bravo (Real Sociedad), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Paulo Garces (O’Higgins),Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica), Gary Medel (Cardiff), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest), Mauricio Isla (Juventus), Eugenio Mena (Santos), Marcos Gonzalez (Union Espanola, Chile), Enzo Andia (Universidad Catolica, Chile), Jose Rojas (Universidad de Chile), Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Jorge Valdivia (Palmeiras), Miiko Albornoz (Malmo), Marcelo Diaz (Basel), Felipe Gutierrez (FC Twente), Rodrigo Millar (Atlas), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Colo Colo, Chile), Pedro Pablo Hernandez (O’Higgins, Chile), Matias Fernandez (Fiorentina), Francisco Silva (Osasuna), Charles Aranguiz (Internacional), Carlos Carmona (Atalanta), Jean Beausejour (Wigan), Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo), Eduardo Vargas (Valencia), Gustavo Canales (Union Espanola), Mauricio Pinilla (Cagliari), Fabian Orellana (Celta).
Provisional: David Ospina (Nice), Faryd Mondragon (Deportivo Cali), Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe); Mario Yepes (Atalanta), Aquivaldo Mosquera (Club America), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan), Carlos Valdes (San Lorenzo), Amaranto Perea (Cruz Azul), Eder Alvarez Balanta (River Plate), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Camilo Zuniga (Napoli), Pablo Armero (Napoli); Carlos Sanchez (Elche), Fredy Guarin (Inter Milan), Abel Aguilar (Toulouse), Aldo Leao Ramirez (Morelia), Juan Fernando Quintero (Porto), Victor Ibarbo (Cagliari), James Rodriguez (Monaco), Macnelly Torres (Al Shabab), Juan Guilermo Cuadrado (Fiorentina), Edwin Valencia (Fluminense), Alexander Mejia (Nacional); Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Carlos Bacca (Sevilla), Adrian Ramos (Hertha Berlin), Luis Fernando Muriel (Udinese), Teofilo Gutierrez (River Plate).
Provisional: Keilor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Daniel Cambronero (Herediano), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Brugge), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), Heiner Mora (Saprissa), Junior Diaz (Mainz), Christian Gamboa (Rosenborg), Roy Miller (Red Bull New York), Kendall Waston (Saprissa), Celso Borges (AIK), Christian Bolanos (Copenhaguen), Oscar Esteban Granados (Herediano), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Diego Calvo (Valerenga), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Carlos Hernandez (Wellingtong Phoenix), Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake), Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven), Joel Campbell (Olympiacos), Randall Brenes (Cartagines), Marco Urena (Kuban Krasnodar).
Provisional: To follow…
Provisional: Maximo Banguera (Barcelona, Ecuador), Adrian Bone (El Nacional), Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito), Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca, Mexico), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Flamengo, Brazil), Jorge Guagua (Emelec), Juan Carlos Paredes (Barcelona, Ecuador), Cristian Ramirez (Fortuna Duesseldorf, Germany), Segundo Castillo (Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia), Carlos Gruezo (Stuttgart, Germany), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem, Netherlands), Fidel Martinez (Tijuana, Mexico), Cristian Noboa (Dynamo Moscow, Russia), Pedro Quinonez (Emelec), Luis Saritama (Barcelona, Ecuador), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United, England), Jaime Ayovi (Tijuana, Mexico), Felipe Caicedo (Al-Jazira, United Arab Emirates), Jefferson Montero (Morelia, Mexico), Joao Rojas (Cruz Azul, Mexico), Enner Valencia (Pachuca, Mexico), Armando Wila (Universidad Catolica)
Final: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Fraser Forster (Celtic), Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United).
Final: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia). Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Lucas Digne (Paris Saint-Germain). Rio Mavuba (Lille), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Yohan Cabaye (Paris Saint-Germain), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Clement Grenier (Lyon), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United). Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loic Remy (Newcastle United)
Provisional: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover). Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Erik Durm, Kevin Grosskreutz (both Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria), Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund). Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Draxler (Schalke), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Andre Hahn (Augsburg), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Max Meyer (Schalke), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Kevin Volland (Hoffenheim), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Miroslav Klose (Lazio).
Provisional: Stephen Adams, Fatawu Dauda (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Adam Kwarasey (Stromsgodset, Norway), Harrison Afful (Esperance, Tunisia), Jerry Akaminko (Kisehirspor, Turkey), John Boye (Rennes, France), Samuel Inkoom (Platanias, Greece), Jonathan Mensah (Evian, France), Daniel Opare (Standard Liege, Belgium), Jeffrey Schlupp (Leicester, England), Rashid Sumaila (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), David Accam (Helsingborg, Sweden), Afriyie Acquah (Parma, Italy), Albert Adomah (Middlesbrough, England), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu (Udinese, Italy), Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus, Italy), Christian Atsu (Vitesse, Netherlands), Andre Ayew (Marsellie, France), Michael Essien (AC Milan, Italy), Rabiu Mohammed (Kuban Krasnodar, Russia), Wakaso Mubarak (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Sulley Muntari (AC Milan, Italy), Jordan Ayew (Sochaux, France), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Schalke, Germany), Asamoah Gyan (Al Ain, United Arab Emirates) Abdul Majeed Waris (Valenciennes, France)
Provisional: To follow…
Final: Noel Valladares, Donis Escober (both Olimpia), Luis Lopez (Real Espana); Brayan Beckeles (Olimpia), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Juan Carlos Garcia (Wigan), Maynor Figueroa (Hull), Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes), Osman Chavez (Qingdao Janoon), Juan Pablo Montes (Motagua); Arnold Peralta (Rangers), Luis Garrido (Olimpia), Roger Espinoza (Wigan), Jorge Claros (Motagua), Wilson Palacios (Stoke), Oscar Garcia (Houston Dynamo), Andy Najar (Anderlecht), Mario Martinez (Real Espana), Marvin Chavez (Colorado Rapids); Jerry Bengtson (New England Revolution), Jerry Palacios (Alajuelense), Carlo Costly (Real Espana), Rony Martinez (Real Sociedad).
Provisional: Daniel Davari (Eintracht Braunschweig), Alireza Haghighi (Sporting Covilha, on loan from Rubin Kazan), Rahman Ahmadi (Sepahan), Sousha Makani (Foolad Khuzestan). Khosro Heidari (Esteghlal), Hossein Mahini (Persepolis), Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps), Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal), Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Amir Sadeghi (Esteghlal), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Zob Ahan), Ahmad Alenemeh (Naft), Hashem Beikzadeh (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan), Mehrdad Pooladi (Persepolis), Javad Nekounam (Al Kuwait), Andranik Teymourian (Esteghlal), Reza Haghighi (Persepolis), Ghasem Hadadifar (Zob Ahan), Bakhtiyar Rahmani (Foolad), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC Nijmegen), Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham), Masoud Shojaei (Las Palmas), Mohammad Reza Khalatbari (Persepolis), Mehdi Sharifi (Sepahan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton), Karim Ansarifard (Persepolis, on loan at Tractor Sazi), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan).
Provisional: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain). Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan). Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Romulo (Hellas Verona), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain). Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Mattia Destro (Roma), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina).
Provisional: Copa Barry (Lokeren), Gbohouo Sylvain (Sewe Sport), Sayouba Mandé (Stabaek), Badra Ali (ASEC Mimosas), Kolo Touré (Liverpool), Bamba Souleyman (Trabzonspor), Jean Daniel Akpa Akpro (Toulouse), Arthur Boka (Stuttgart), Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Brice Dja Djédjé (Marseille), Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor), Benjamin Angoua Brou (Valenciennes), Ousman Vieira (Caykur Rizespor), Cheik Tioté (Newcastle), Yaya Touré (Manchester City), Romaric (Bastia), Max-Alain Gradel (St-Etienne), Ismaël Diomandé (St-Etienne), Didier Ya Konan (Hannover), Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt), Geoffroy Serey Dié (Basel), Wilfried Bony (Swansea), Didier Drogba (Galatasaray), Gervinho (Roma), Giovanni Sio (Basel), Seydou Doumbia (CSKA Moscow), Lacina Traoré (Monaco), Salomon Kalou (Lille).
Final: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo), Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Nuremberg), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nuremberg), Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos), Yuya Osako (1860 Munich)
Final: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca); Paul Aguilar (America), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen), Miguel Layun (America), Rafa Marquez (Leon), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Diego Reyes (Porto), Maza Rodriguez (America), Carlos Salcido (Tigres); Juan Carlos Medina (America), Gallito Vazquez (Leon), Hector Herrera (Porto), Carlos Peña (Leon), Isaac Brizuela (Toluca), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Luis Montes (Leon); Oribe Peralta (Santos), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), Raul Jimenez (America), Alan Pulido (Tigres), Giovani Dos Santos (Villarreal)
Provisional: Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Jasper Cillessen (AFC Ajax), Jeroen Zoet (PSV Eindhoven); Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Daley Blind (Ajax), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Karim Rekik (PSV), Joel Veltman (AFC Ajax), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnhem), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord); Rafael van der Vaart (SV Hamburg), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasary), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord); Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Jeremain Lens (Dinamo Kiev), Memphis Depay (PSV), Jean-Paul Boetius (Feyenoord), Quincy Promes (FC Twente).
Provisional: Vincent Enyeama (Lille); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Daniel Akpeyi (Warri Wolves), Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United), Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco); Efe Ambrose (Celtic); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC); Joseph Yobo (Norwich City); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea); Ramon Azeez (Almeria FC); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio); Joel Obi (Parma); Nnamdi Oduamadi (Varese); Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis), Sunday Mba (CA Bastia), Reuben Gabriel (Waasland-Beveren), Michael Babatunde (Volyn Lutsk), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow); Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce); Obinna Nsofor (Chievo Verona); Peter Odemwingie (Stoke City), Michael Uchebo (Cercle Brugge); Victor Moses (Liverpool), Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen).
Provisional: Anthony Lopes (Lyon), Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon); Andre Almeida (Benfica), Antunes (Malaga), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Neto (Zenit St. Petersburg), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Rolando (Inter Milan); Andre Gomes (Benfica), Joao Mario (Vitoria Guimaraes), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (Braga), Helder Postiga (Lazio), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Ivan Cavaleiro (Benfica), Nani (Manchester United), Rafa (Braga), Ricardo Quaresma, Silvestre Varela (both Porto), Vieirinha (Wolfsburg).
Provisional: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Lodygin (Zenit St Petersburg), Sergey Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan); Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexey Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow), Vasili Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Andrey Eshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergey Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Alexey Kozlov (Dynamo Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Terek Grozny), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow); Vladimir Bystrov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Yury Gazinskiy (Krasnodar), Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Zhirkov (Dynamo Moscow), Alexey Ionov (Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Mogilevets (Rubin Kazan), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Victor Faizulin (Zenit St Petersburg), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Krasnodar); Artem Dzyuba (Rostov), Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading)
Final: Jung Sung-ryeong (Suwon Bluewings), Kim Seung-gyu (Ulsan Horang-i), Lee Bom-young (Busan I’Park); Kim Jin-soo (Albirex Niigata), Yun Suk-young (QPR), Kim Young-kwon (Guangzhou Evergrande), Hwang Seok-ho (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hong Jeong-ho (Augsburg), Kwak Tae-hwi (Al Hilal), Lee Yong (Ulsan Horang-i), Kim Chang-soo (Kashiwa Reysol); Ki Seung-yeung (Sunderland), Ha Dae-sung (Beijing Guoan), Han Kook-young (Kashiwa Reysol), Park Jung-woo (Guangzhou R&F), Son Heung-min (Bayer Leverkusen), Kim Bo-kyoung (Cardiff City), Lee Chung-yong (Bolton Wanderers), Ji Dong-won (Augusburg); Koo Ja-cheol (Mainz), Lee Keun-ho (Sangju Sangmu), Park Chu-young (Arsenal), Kim Shin-wook (Ulsan Horang-i).
Provisional: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Jose Reina (Liverpool), David De Gea (Manchester United); Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid); Midfielders: Xavi (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Ander Iturraspe (Athletic Bilbao), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Juan Mata (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City); Pedro (Barcelona), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid), David Villa (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Fernando Llorente (Juventus).
Final: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg), Yann Sommer (Basel), Roman Buerki (Grasshoppers), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Michael Lang (Grasshoppers), Steve von Bergen (Young Boys), Fabian Schaer (Basel), Philippe Senderos (Valencia), Johan Djourou (Hamburger SV), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Reto Ziegler (Sassuolo), Valon Behrami (Napoli), Blerim Dzemaili (Napoli), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Valentin Stocker (Basel), Tranquillo Barnetta (Schalke), Gelson Fernandes (Freiburg), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich), Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad), Josip Drmic (Bayer Leverkusen), Admir Mehmedi (Freiburg), Mario Gavranovic (Zurich).
Provisional: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake); DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC); Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Maurice Edu (Philadelphia Union), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City); Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Final: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco Da Gama), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad); Diego Lugano (West Brom), Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Martin Caceres (Juventus), Maximiliano Pereira (Benfical), Jorge Fucile (Porto), Sebastian Coates (Nacional); Egidio Arevalo-Rios (Morelia), Walter Gargano (Parma), Diego Perez (Bologna), Sebastian Eguren (Palmeiras), Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Alejandro Silva (Lanus), Alvaro Pereira (Sao Pablo), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo); Edinson Cavani (PSG), Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Cristian Stuani (Espanyol). Standy-by list: Andres Scotti (Nacional), Alvaro Fernandez (Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata), Gonzalo Castro (Real Sociedad).
After another rampaging display to propel Man City to the brink of the title, here’s why Yaya deserves to be player of the year ahead of Liverpool hotshot Suarez?0
Yaya Toure’s timing on the pitch, his ability to see the space, switch gear and bustle in at just the right moment, is exemplary. But the Manchester City midfielder must wish more of his peers and observers had the capability to match it.
The Ivorian’s superb individual goal against Aston Villa on Wednesday night was apparently scored by only the third best player in the Barclays Premier League. It must be some competition, the English top flight, if a midfielder can score 20 league goals in a potentially title-winning campaign, display such power, strength, vision and skill and yet only be third in the queue.
Toure has claimed he missed out on becoming the first African international to be crowned the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Player of the Year because of his nationality, but it’s more complex than that. It’s a question of timing and momentum and the value of stunningly memorable goal-scoring performances over relentless consistency.
There is also an element of style of substance at play here. It is blindingly obvious that Luis Suarez is a prodigiously talented footballer: nippy, deft, clinical and exciting to watch. But the Toure machine takes a little longer to wind up. He trundles around the pitch at times, his heavy frame looking more likely to succumb to injury than make a match-winning difference.
But it is that burst of pace that makes him such a wonderful player. He simply has a higher gear than most of those around him. Watch the way he circled the edge of the area in the build-up to Stevan Jovetic’s third goal for City against Villa: waiting, waiting, waiting and then, bang, he was in to bustle past defenders and provide the assist. You don’t know you have been Toure-d until he has shrugged you aside.
Individual awards are also about winning teams. Or they should be, anyway. Maybe not so much for the Footballer Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year, which is given to the player considered the best ‘by precept and example’ and was won by Scott Parker in the season he was relegated with West Ham, but certainly the PFA award. It should be given to the player who has performed the best when it matters most and, in 2014, this means when the Premier League title is at stake.
Patrick Vieira said: ‘When you are voting for the best player, it shouldn’t just be about the number of goals you have scored or the number of assists you have made. It should also be about whether you have done great things against the biggest teams in the biggest games.
‘Look at what Yaya has done in his years at City – he is the biggest big-game player in the Premier League.
‘In the Capital One Cup final this season, we were losing against Sunderland and things were very difficult, but then Yaya scored an unbelievable goal and we go on to win the trophy.
‘That was the mark of a player – but Yaya does that in every big game. He makes the difference.’
Toure, 31 next week, already has a Capital One Cup winners’ medal this season, having scored City’s equaliser in the final against Sunderland, and is one more win away from getting his hands on one the Premier League trophy, too.
But when the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year was announced on April 18, Liverpool were two points clear at the top of the Premier League table. City were six points behind in third place, with a game in hand over Brendan Rodgers’ side. Toure made the six-man shortlist, but there was only ever going to be one winner: Luis Suarez, who duly lifted the award on April 27.
That day, the Uruguayan had failed to break down Chelsea’s defence as his side suffered a 2-0 defeat at Anfield. Some 230 miles away at Selhurst Park, Toure had scored City’s second goal against Crystal Palace; a brilliant, powerful effort that killed off any Palace threat and put City in the driving seat to win their second Premier League title in three years.
It was also a masterclass in performing when it matters most, and a timely, if unconscious, rebuke to those who had overlooked Toure’s ability.
Yet it was Suarez who was crowned the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year eight days later, too. Journalists could vote up until 12 noon on May 5 and awarded the Liverpool striker a prestigious double for his then-haul of 30 Premier League goals. It’s 31 now, a joint record with Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer in a 38-game season, and deserved recognition for a wonderful season.
But had the deadline been just 24 hours later, after Liverpool’s 3-3 capitulation at Palace, it might just have been Toure being honoured on May 15 instead. With the Manchester City midfielder it’s all about the timing, after all.
The Frenchman is struggling to win over some sections of the Gunners’ support, having seen his side drop from first to fifth in alarming fashion in recent weeks.
Arsenal may be in the FA Cup final but, as they prepare to face West Ham in a vital London derby in Tuesday night, there is a distinct, unwelcome air of uncertainty pervading the corridors of the Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger has been offered a new contract by club yet, despite the deal laying on the table and terms having been agreed since October last year, it remains unsigned.
And, despite the irrefutable, legacy-sealing success of his early tenure in particular, many fans would rather that the Frenchman passed on the chance to stay, instead handing over the reins to somebody, anybody, else after another dismally frustrating season.
A skin-of-the-teeth penalty shootout victory over Wigan saw the Gunners into the cup final on Saturday and they now stand just 90 minutes away from ending that cursed nine-year trophy drought which has spawned spoof Twitter accounts and even its own website.
It seems straightforward but it may not be enough.
With the Gunners’ league form such that missing out on Champions League football appears a real danger, those who fear that Wenger has been left behind by the modern era, that his frugality in the transfer market continues to cost the league’s most cash-rich club dear, that his Midas touch has long since been lost, are an increasingly vocal unit within the club.
Lukas Podolski claims that missing out on the Champions League would be a “disaster” for the Gunners, even if they were to triumph at Wembley – and few fans disagree. Yet the selfies taken by the Gunners players following the penalty victory over Wigan suggests that they believe they are on the verge of something special.
Quite simply, they are not. Roy Keane offered a withering assessment of the pictures, brutally ripping into the players for celebrating their Wembley win in the manner they did, saying on ITV: “These Arsenal players need a reality check.
“Last season they celebrated finishing fourth and now they celebrate beating a Championship side on penalties – we are talking about Arsenal FC here.”
Yet this is the stage Arsenal have reached. A single trophy, for these players under Wenger, is a success. At Manchester United during Keane’s days, if it wasn’t the Premier League or the Champions League, it was a consolation. They were expected to win everything.
Arsenal are merely expected to finish fourth. On Wenger’s watch they have gone from serial winners to perennial also-rans.
Wenger, when he took over, was seen as a revolutionary. Dubbed ‘Le Professeur’, the bespectacled Frenchman ushered in a era of unprecedented success, winning three Premier League titles – one with the fabled ‘Invincibles’ – and four FA Cups. The north Londoners also went within a hair’s breadth of lifting Europe’s premier prize, though they were defeated by Barcelona in the Champions League final.
He also laid down the blueprint for the Arsenal of today, with young players preferred to big-money acquisitions and attacking, possession-based football preferred to the defensive style fostered beforehand. When he did dip his toe in the market, in the early years, he hit paydirt often – with the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires all becoming club legends.
Now he is regarded as frustratingly uncertain. He finally loosened the purse-strings last summer, with the £42.5 million signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid appearing to signal the start of a cash-laden re-emergence.
The season started brightly, with the German sparkling, but he, along with the team, soon burned out. Support was needed but only an injured Kim Kallstrom arrived in January.
Wenger has often been criticised for spending the club’s money as though it is his own. He is frugal to the point of being penny-pinching and has never been rushed into a deal. It has cost the Gunners dear.
His failure to sign a striker in January has seen the burden fall upon the shoulders of Olivier Giroud and, to a lesser extent, Yaya Sanogo – a free transfer in a summer where Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney were regarded as realistic targets. Neither have delivered since the transfer window shut, with Arsenal falling from the summit to fifth in alarmingly quick time.
They were thumped by fourth-placed Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park – a result even more damaging within the context of similar beatings at the hands of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City – and are in genuine danger of missing out on the Champions League. They simply must beat West Ham.
Gunners legend Pires believes that the uncertainty surrounding Wenger’s contract has transmitted to the players, telling Goal in March: “There is a little bit of confusion in the situation because normally he would have already signed the contract but maybe he can wait until the end of the season or the FA Cup [to announce it].
“I love Arsene Wenger but the situation for the players is maybe not good.”
It is one theory. Yet Wenger must surely sense the discontent currently engulfing the stands.
They are stuck in an identity crisis. Maybe the critics are right; Wenger stepping aside would allow Arsenal football club to find themselves once again. Yet that contract remains on the table. A win over Hull and a top-four finish would likely see it inked, with a trophy added to that threadbare cabinet in the Emirates Stadium trophy room.
It is far from certain, though, whether that version of events would benefit the club.