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  1. Ten legends who deserved the Ballon d'Or

    Ten legends who deserved the Ballon d’Or

    After Lionel Messi claimed the prestigious award for the fourth time on Monday,‘s Enis Koylu takes a look at some of the greatest players in history that were never crowned the world’s best


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Bender: Bayer blocked my move to Bayern

Lars Bender has revealed that Bayer Leverkusen blocked a possible summer transfer to Bayern Munich despite the midfielder speaking to the 2012 Champions League finalists on the phone.

The Germany international was reported to be close to a €22million move to the 21-time Bundesliga champions, that, despite signing a new contract with Bayer in March 2012.

But he has admitted that his current club stopped him from talking to the Allianz Arena outfit about a transfer.

I called a few times in the summer with Bayern but Bayer blocked the topic very quickly. Thus, the issue for me was off the table,” he told

A request from Bayern makes you proud. But I had just extended my contract in Leverkusen in 2017 and you do not know if it would be the right club for you.”

The midfielder’s failure to secure a move meant he was unable to play alongside international partner Bastian Schweinsteiger at club level, but Bender was happy to receive praise from the 28-year-old after the Bayern Munich midfielder had said that Germany would have beaten Sweden in their epic 4-4 draw during the last round of World Cup qualifiers, if Bender had been playing.

He added: “I was not there. But if that is what he said, it makes me naturally proud. It shows that I have not done so much wrong in my career so far.

“When a player like Schweinsteiger says so, that is an honour for me.”

The 23-year-old is yet to win a Bundesliga title at Leverkusen, with twin brother Sven already the owner of two championship medals with Borussia Dortmund.

But Lars believes that it is only a matter of time before he begins to catch his sibling up in the silverware stakes.

Bender continued: “A title is a dream of every player. In our team, it’s really what’s inside. So far we have not got over the final hurdle. But it is a must for the club and we must get there soon.

“I can catch him up. But I do not grudge him the trophies. We both know that we must be thankful that we can both live our dream. It’s wonderful that we’re both so successful.”

Tottenham to make official €18m bid for Leandro Damiao

By Greg Stobart

Tottenham will make an official bid worth around £15 million (€18m) for Leandro Damiao in an attempt to add quality to their strikeforce as they push for a place in the Champions League next season.

Spurs have chased Damiao for two years but feel this transfer window could be the best time to finally land their man from Brazilian club Internacional, with the Londoners’ need for further forward options highlighted by Emmanuel Adebayor’s u-turn in deciding to play for Togo in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Damiao and Porto playmaker Joao Moutinho are the two major targets in the remainder of the January window for Spurs, who have already this month reached a pre-contract agreement to sign Lewis Holtby in June and bought youngster Zeki Fryers from Standard Liege.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is a keen admirer of Damiao, who the club first tried to sign in January 2011, and Internacional are believed to finally be ready to sell the 23-year-old with the Brazilian championship now out of season.

Damiao, who has 14 caps for Brazil, caught the eye as he finished top scorer in the 2012 Olympic Games with six goals, and is also attracting interest from Inter Milan having been the subject of several bids from Spurs over the last two years.

The deal to sign Damiao is particularly complicated due to third party investors and Internacional’s changing stance with regards to their star man, despite the ‘partnership agreement’ struck between the Brazilian club and Tottenham when Sandro moved to north London in 2010.

Asked last week about the prospect of Damiao moving to Tottenham or another big European club in January, the player’s agent Vinicius Prates said: “While Leandro Damiao stays at Internacional, Tottenham will always be interested.

“Andre Villas-Boas has liked him since he was Chelsea’s manager.”

The Portuguese coach has also publicly revealed his admiration for Damiao, a tall and powerful striker who likes to play on the last man and has superb eye for goal in the penalty area.

The move for Damiao is unrelated to Adebayor’s apparent change of heart in coming out of retirement to play in the African Cup of Nations in South Africa.

The Togolese striker has twice quite the national team but has now decided to play in the tournament, with the decision still to be officially confirmed before the deadline on Wednesday.

In any case, Spurs feel they need a striker to add to Jermain Defoe and Adebayor, who has scored just two Premier League goals this term.

The Togolese striker is understood to have a difficult relationship with Villas-Boas, having held two sets of crisis talks about his role in the team with his coach earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, Spurs are not interested in joining the race for highly rated Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who is a target for Manchester United and Arsenal.

Zaha has been heavily linked with a move away from Selhurst Park but the Championship club are deterring bidders by demanding £15m (€18m) for the teenager.

QPR release Kieron Dyer

QPR have terminated the contract of midfielder Kieron Dyer, with Harry Redknapp admitting the midfielder did not feature in his plans at Loftus Road.

The 34-year-old joined the Hoops on a free transfer from West Ham at the start of last season, but was stretchered off seven minutes into his debut against Bolton and failed to make another appearance all campaign.

Dyer featured as a last-minute substitute in QPR’s recent win over Chelsea, but played 90 minutes and scored in their 1-1 FA Cup draw with West Brom on Saturday.

Redknapp told the club’s official website: “I’d like to thank Kieron for his services to QPR.

“If he can stay clear of injuries I’m sure there’s clubs out there that will offer him the chance to play football.

“He wasn’t in my plans and I think he’s got something to offer someone, so we wish him all the best.”

Barcelona will not sell Villa, insists Rosell

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has insisted that the Primera Division leaders have no intention of selling David Villa. revealed earlier this month that the Arsenal have made a formal approach for the Spain international as they aim to strengthen their attack this winter.

However, the Catalans have stressed that Villa still has a role to play at the Camp Nou side as they are fighting for silverware in La Liga, Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

“I absolutely reject the notion that David Villa could leave Barcelona this winter,” Rosell was quoted as saying by Sport.

“David is one of our players and we need him in the second half of the season.”

The 31-year-old has a contract with Barcelona until the summer of 2014.