Pep Guardiola would be an ideal coach for Brazil as his style of play would benefit the likes of Neymar and Vinicius Junior, according to Julio Cesar. 

Brazil are on the hunt for a new boss with Tite leaving the role after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and Guardiola has been linked with the position.

The Catalan is under contract at Manchester City, who he could lead to Premier League glory on Sunday, until June 2023 but has previously expressed a desire to move into international management.

Julio Cesar thinks he would be a great fit for the Selecao as his possession-based approach would help Brazil's most talented players.

"He has all the qualities to do it. He is one of the best in the world, his style of play is very Brazilian," Julio Cesar told Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. 

"Everyone knows that Brazilian players love to keep the ball; the majority of them also play in Europe and they are learning to play better on the pitch.  

"We have so much quality on the Brazilian national team: Neymar, Raphinha, [Lucas] Paqueta, Vinicius Junior. All these players are very talented and having a manager like Guardiola would give these players the opportunity of playing the ball more. 

"Every player would love to work with a manager like him. It wouldn't be a bad idea, although we also have really good managers in Brazil. He is a big name in the football world and it wouldn't be a bad thing having him representing our national side. I like the idea." 

Tite's only previous World Cup campaign with Brazil ended in a quarter-final defeat to Belgium in Russia four years ago. 

He steered the Selecao to Copa America glory in 2019 but they were unable to defend their title two years later, with Argentina defeating them in the final. 

Julio Cesar already believes Tite will leave a lasting legacy but has no doubt that leading Brazil to glory in Qatar would achieve him an even higher status. 

"This is what the World Cup gets you, it will level you up. If you can bring the World Cup to Brazil, you can leave with your head held high, you have done your job," he said. 

"He won the Copa America in 2019, he got to the final again against Argentina. He did very well so far, even in the [World Cup] qualifiers he got first place ahead of Argentina.

"He can leave with his head held high, but winning a World Cup with Brazil will take him to the top." 

Shota Arveladze says Erik ten Hag will bring "something special" to Manchester United but must be given time.

Ten Hag left Ajax to take charge at Old Trafford, succeeding interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

The 52-year-old has been charged with the task of turning around the Red Devils following another disappointing season, which saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer get the sack.

Former Ajax forward Arveladze - who now coaches Hull City - believes Ten Hag can make a big impact at United, but there will be no quick fix. 

"Erik has grown very smart," he said. "[With] his career, he has done really good in choosing his previous teams, his previous works.

"At Bayern Munich, he was head coach of the second team, and then he moved to Utrecht and made a great football team

"Then Ajax, again, he took them to the top level in Europe, winning all the trophies, and now, to England.

"He is very principled. He knows his ideas, his philosophy and he will definitely bring something special there.

"He will need time to do, to show, to explain the way he wants to play [but] I'm quite comfortable with that, that he definitely will succeed."

United have not won a trophy since 2017 and they will not play in the Champions League next season.

Dirk Kuyt believes Thiago Alcantara is the best midfielder in the world and has backed Liverpool to complete an unprecedented quadruple.

Thiago moved to Anfield from Bayern Munich for £20million (€23.8m) on a four-year deal in September 2020, but failed to live up to expectations during a first season at the club that was hampered by injuries and COVID-19.

Jurgen Klopp's side lost nine of the first 21 games in which the Spain international featured, including six home defeats in a row, while they were dumped out of the FA Cup and Champions League.

However, Thiago has come to the fore this season, with the Reds a point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, through to the semi-finals of the Champions League and in the FA Cup final after already winning the EFL Cup.

The Merseyside club have won 14 of 15 top-flight games when Thiago has started this season, in comparison to 10 victories in 18 games without him in the line-up. They also score 2.9 goals on average when he is in the starting XI, as opposed to 2.3 without, and have conceded less (0.3 versus 1).

Thiago has kept Liverpool ticking with his magnificent range of passing, with no Reds player who has featured more than once in the league completing more passes (77.9) per 90 minutes or more in the opponents' half (46.9).

The former Bayern and Barcelona maestro's quality was again on show in the 2-0 win over Everton on Sunday as he made more successful passes (119) than Frank Lampard's entire side (95).

Former Liverpool forward Kuyt was quick to highlight the class of Thiago as he hailed the 31-year-old, but was unsure about the comparisons with Anfield hero Xabi Alonso.

"I think they are slightly different and I'm very happy for Thiago because in the beginning, he needed a bit of time, which is normal in life and in football is to just adapt to the system and to the team and to his new players," Kuyt told Stats Perform. 

"But he's playing such a great football and before he came he was one of the best midfielders in the world for me but now how he's playing on the level he's playing against top, top sides and performing week in week out.

"For me, he's the best midfielder out there at the minute."

Former Netherlands international Kuyt, who played 208 times for Liverpool between 2006 and 2012, also believes his former club have the credentials to win all four trophies.

"They've got the squad to do it. They've got the players and the manager to do it," he added.

"But it's just small details will decide whether they win the quadruple or maybe only the Premier League or the Champions League, but it will be amazing and very well deserved if Liverpool can achieve it all."

Klopp's team host Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday.

Gianluigi Donnarumma "still has a lot to give", says former Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar, despite the Italy shot-stopper's recent spate of high-profile errors on the biggest stages.

The 23-year-old ended last season on the high of a Euro 2020 triumph with the Azzurri, shortly before a move to Paris Saint-Germain alongside fellow new recruits Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos.

But fast-forward nine months, and he has struggled with costly performances for club and country, resulting in Italy's failure to reach the World Cup and PSG's Champions League exit.

Ex-Selecao goalkeeper Julio Cesar feels Donnarumma has possibly struggled with expectations since his arrival at the Parc des Princes.

"Being a keeper is tough," he told Stats Perform courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "Donnarumma made his debut at AC Milan when he was 16, then he joined the national team.

"He has already won a European Championship at such a young age, and then to join one of the strongest teams in the world, which is full of champions.

"Many positive things happened to this young man, sometimes it is not easy to have that personality you need to get on the pitch after all the things he has been through down the years.

"From being the strongest keeper of the world, to become the player making the mistake that kicked PSG out of the Champions League.

"Everybody was expecting PSG to reach the final simply because the club brought [Sergio] Ramos, [Achraf] Hakimi, [Lionel] Messi and him [Donnarumma]."

Donnarumma may not have been solely at fault for Italy's World Cup play-off exit to North Macedonia or PSG's elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, but Julio Cesar believes the ex-Milan star needs to learn to maintain his level amid the peaks and troughs of the game to become one of the best in the business.

"In football there are ups and downs, but you need to be consistent if you want to become a great keeper," he added. "If you make a mistake during a match, you cannot miss the next 10 or 20 balls.

"Otherwise, you are out. This is what I think, however, the team did not help. I am talking about both club and national team.

"PSG did not do a nice game against Real Madrid, same for Italy when they had the chance to qualify for the World Cup.

"He is a lad who still has a lot to give to football, he can offer a lot to this sport. He is very young, and fans will be happy to watch him playing, because he is a young talent."

Liverpool have nothing to lose in their engrossing Premier League title battle with Manchester City, according to former Reds defender Jose Enrique.

Jurgen Klopp's side trailed City by 14 points on January 15, but 10 wins in a row has moved them within a point of the leaders with eight matches to go.

Liverpool beat Watford on Saturday to move above their rivals for the first time since November 27, but City reclaimed top spot later in the day with victory at Burnley.

The two sides face off at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in what is being billed as a title decider, and Jose Enrique insists Liverpool are under less pressure than their opponents.

"Before there was a 14-point difference and now they are stuck with Manchester City, so it depends on the fight," the Spaniard, who spent five years at Anfield, told Stats Perform. 

"I think Liverpool have an advantage because they have nothing to lose. In January everything seemed lost and now they are there and it will be very nice. 

"Hopefully they win everything, but if it's just the Premier League or the Champions League it's going to be a very good season."

Indeed, like opponents City, Liverpool are still in the hunt to win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, on top of the EFL Cup they have already secured.

The Reds have been in particularly good form in 2022 and Jose Enrique believes the addition of Luis Diaz in January helped the club's relentless quest for a quadruple.

"April will be the month in which everything will be defined, although the Champions League final is later, and first you have to get there," he said. 

"But in April everything is played: Manchester City, the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and we will have to see what happens. The team is going to go all out. 

"The signing of Luis Diaz in January did the team a lot of good on a mental level because they needed a player who could compete with the other three and also Diogo Jota."

Liverpool risk damaging their long-term transfer policy if they offer Mohamed Salah a bumper new contract.

That is according to former Reds goalkeeper David James, who also told Stats Perform that the frustration of missing out on the World Cup is having a detrimental effect on Salah.

Salah is into the final 16 months of his existing deal at Anfield and is reportedly holding out for fresh terms that could make him the highest-paid player in the Premier League.

The 29-year-old has 28 goals in all competitions this season, a tally bettered only by Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (37) and Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (45) from Europe's top five leagues.

However, while Salah has once again proved his worth to Liverpool this campaign, James does not believe the club should bow to the Egypt forward's alleged wage demands.

"Quite simply, Liverpool won't offer him a contract that is wrong for them. As they say, no one is bigger than the club," James said.

"If he feels he could get more [money] elsewhere, and that's what he wants, then he'll have to go somewhere else.

"That would be the best business Liverpool can do with regards to sticking to whatever their policy is, rather than changing it to cater for an individual and upsetting the model."

 Amid the ongoing questions over his future, Salah's form has dropped in recent weeks, the former Chelsea attacker having scored in just one of his last seven club games.

That coincides with double heartbreak at international level for Salah, with Egypt losing to Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations final and last month's World Cup play-off.

Indeed, since returning from AFCON duty in February, Salah has averaged fewer goals (0.66 compared to 0.81) and fewer assists (0.16 compared to 0.45) per 90 minutes.

He is also creating fewer chances (1.97 compared to 2.07), all of which James puts down to Egypt's recent woes.

"There's been frustration because he's trying to score goals, rather than trying harder for the team," James added. "What I'd seen this season up to AFCON was Mo helping out.

"It was perfect harmony. But all of a sudden it was almost like 'I'm going away for a month, let me try and get my goals now because I can't score them when I'm away."

"That sort of frustration is more detrimental to his performance. With the negative experiences of the AFCON and World Cup, you start asking 'Where's the desperation?'

"Is there a desperation to his performances to try to make up for those other losses?"

Salah's struggles in front of goal over the past month have coincided with Luis Diaz's instant impact since arriving from Porto in the January transfer window.

Diaz has three goals and one assist in 13 appearances, providing Jurgen Klopp with even more depth in the final third of the field, where they also have Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota.

But James says that should come as no surprise given the impressive work of Liverpool's scouting department in recent times.

"I have to say, I didn't know a lot about him until he was rumoured to be going to Tottenham, so I did my homework on him," James said of Diaz.

"I was amazed at what a player he was. I'd like to think any Premier League club who plays against Diaz will know exactly what they are coming up against.

"But we shouldn't be surprised. One of the most impressive things about Liverpool is that Diaz isn't an exception – there's also Diogo Jota, Thiago [Alcantara], and so on.

"Players come into the team and look as though they have been there for years. That's all part of the system and environment. When players get an opportunity they just fit in.

"That is credit to Liverpool, who have allowed Diaz to fit in and feel part of the team in a short period of time. It's like he's been there all season."

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is capable of continuing his goalscoring form long into his career similarly to Cristiano Ronaldo, regardless of where he is plying his trade from next season.

That is according to Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform that he expects Lionel Messi to blow Ligue 1 opponents away once he regains full fitness in the new year.

Mbappe is into the final six months of his existing contract at the Parc des Princes and is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with clubs outside of Ligue 1 from January.

Real Madrid had two bids turned down for the France international in the previous transfer window and remain the strong favourites to land the superstar in 2022.

Mbappe has scored 15 goals and assisted 12 more in 24 outings in all competitions this term in a star-studded attack that also contains Messi and the currently injured Neymar.

Only Mohamed Salah (31) and Robert Lewandowski (33) have been directly involved in more goals than Mbappe this campaign among players from Europe's top five leagues.

And while glad to see Mbappe remain in Ligue 1 for the 2021-22 campaign, Saha understands that his compatriot has a big decision to make on his future in the coming weeks.

"The main thing for me was for him to stay at PSG this year," Saha said. "Whatever he does next year, for me, that was logical for football in general throughout the world. 

"We wanted to see this trio of Mbappe, Messi and Neymar. It's incredible to see and today he has his destiny in his hands. He's a player who is exploding and he's reaching more milestones."

 

Mbappe recently became the youngest player in Ligue 1 history to score 100 goals for a single team with his second of the game for PSG against former club Monaco.

Since making his debut for PSG in September 2017, the 23-year-old has averaged a goal every 104.63 minutes in all competitions.

That ranks Mbappe behind only four others among Europe's elite attackers over that period and marginally ahead of Ronaldo, who averages a goal every 105.8 minutes at club level.

With Ronaldo still scoring regularly as he approaches his 37th birthday, Saha has challenged Mbappe to hit similar heights.

"If he can match Ronaldo's 40 goals a year average from the age of 20, that's something we want to keep seeing from Kylian," Saha said.

"That is not to put pressure on him. Kylian quite simply has the potential to do that."

Mbappe's 27 direct goal involvements this season is substantially more than PSG's next biggest attacking threat, with Messi second on the list with six goals and four assists.

The record seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored just once in 10 Ligue 1 appearances from an expected goals (xG) return of 4.7.

To put that in some context, Mbappe's nine goals in the competition this term have come from an xG of 10.9.

 

But while Messi's PSG career has yet to truly take off, Saha can see that changing once the Barcelona legend gets some regular starts under his belt.

"You can already see players who are not necessarily in great shape like Messi – imagine when he starts to find his form again!" Saha said. "I don't know how teams will cope. 

"PSG are an extraordinary team. I prayed for Mbappe to stay at PSG to see these three exceptional players. Neymar's injury has delayed that, but they have an incredible team. 

"Don't be surprised to see them win the league by 20 or 25 points come the end of the season."

Edwin van der Sar says he and Marc Overmars are "not ready yet" to leave their roles at Ajax and believe they can help take the club to the next level.

Van der Sar has been Ajax's chief executive since 2016, while Overmars took on the role of director of football in 2012.

The Dutch giants have claimed two Eredivisie titles and two KNVB Cup triumphs in the five years since the former goalkeeper was appointed, also appearing in a Champions League semi-final.

However, the 51-year-old claimed he is not satisfied with his achievements at the club he started his professional career with, as he expressed his desire to achieve even more success.

"I think Marc and myself are enjoying it very much here at Ajax," Van der Sar told Stats Perform. "The freedom and rewards, the level of the club is still growing. That brings joy to yourself and gives you a lot of confidence. We're easy in that way.

"For the moment I'm really happy in Amsterdam. I think we're not ready [to leave] yet. We can make a step higher and that's something we're aiming for. To be really, really successful on the pitch. It's not easy, but we're going [to give it a] go."

Van der Sar explained that players and coaches often feel they outgrow Ajax and look to move on, but he is determined to delay the departure of head coach Erik ten Hag for as long as possible.

"You see it also with players, sometimes they think they're finished at Ajax and want to take the next step," Van der Sar said continued.

"I've seen it myself when I went from Ajax to Juventus – it wasn't a natural fit. The level of football, the family, the expectations, it can be difficult abroad.

"But someone with the quality of Erik and the way he lets Ajax play and tick for the last four years, it's obvious there's a lot of interest in him. He is named among the big clubs in Europe.

"Eventually, he will take the next step, but we will try to delay it as long as possible but of course, at a certain point it's up to him. But we have to challenge him and make sure he maybe sees will there be a next level – can we be even better?

"That's what we're working hard for to make sure the players are staying, the scouting brings new talents and the structure around him are ready for a successful period."

Ten Hag will be hoping for another deep run into the latter stages of the Champions League after being drawn against Benfica in the round of 16.

Wantaway forward Anthony Martial can revive his Manchester United career if he shows the same aggressive mentality as Cristiano Ronaldo.

That is according to former United striker Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform it is down to new interim manager Ralf Rangnick to get the best out of Paul Pogba.

Martial's agent revealed last week that the France international, who has spent the past six years at United, is eager to leave in January due to a lack of playing time this season.

Former Monaco forward Martial has played just 358 minutes of football for the Red Devils in all competitions this season – the 20th most in the squad – and only started four times.

He scored 17 goals under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer two seasons ago, but found the net just four times in all competitions last season and only once so far this term.

But Saha does not believe it is too late for Martial – who has not featured in a matchday squad in Rangnick's three games in charge – to get his career back on track at United.

"He needs a big switch in his mentality," Saha said of his compatriot. "I heard that he doesn't listen to any critics, he just protects himself and his self-belief and all that.

"Sometimes you must listen. You need to hear the critics and understand you have so much potential and that's why you've been criticised – because you can do much more. 

"The mentality that Cristiano is showing, that's something that you need to have as a number nine. And the number nine at the moment is Martial. 

"So he really needs to be very aggressive. And this is what I want because I think he's a terrific player and it's not because he's French. 

"I love his potential when he's playing with full confidence, it's just unstoppable. I can see him being part of this squad when there's a proper aggressiveness in his approach to games. 

"Maybe you can last four or five games, 70 minutes because you can't do anymore, but then you go to 80 minutes and then 90 minutes." 

Martial is not the only Frenchman facing an uncertain future at Old Trafford, with midfielder Pogba now into the final six months of his contract.

Rangnick stated last week it is not his job to persuade Pogba, who is out until 2022 with a thigh injury sustained last month, to sign a new deal.
 
Despite featuring in just 13 of United's 22 games in all competitions this term, Pogba's tally of seven assists is bettered only by Bruno Fernandes (eight) among his team-mates.

Indeed, each of those assists have come in the Premier League from nine appearances. 

Of those to have played as many games in Europe's top five leagues this term, only Angers midfielder Mathias Pereira Lage (1.08) and Cologne's Louis Schaub (1.24) have assisted more goals per 90 minutes than Pogba (1).

And Saha insists there is a place in the United side for Pogba once he has recovered from injury, even if his playing style is not necessarily suited to a Rangnick-coached team.
 
"It's not like every player needs to press," said Saha, who spent four years at United before leaving in 2008. "That's not the way football is. 

"Some players have a great quality to do that and some can read the games and can be the counter-attacker in some way. There are so many combinations. 

"This is where the balance is really important for a manager. You need to find the kind of right formula for the players to express themselves to the best. 

"Paul Pogba is not well known and you will never be well known to press and be like N'Golo Kante. It's just not his quality. His quality is somewhere else."

Pogba often comes in for criticism, but Saha has urged his countryman to do his talking where it matters most.

"That's the problem for Paul. It's not about quality and it's not about mentality. When he is on the field, he never hides, he works, he commits," Saha said.

"Just play, just enjoy, just work hard, just speak on the field. I don't want to hear anyone talk and I know that.

"And you can see the best players like [Lionel] Messi, Ronaldo, they don't need to speak. Nobody is speaking. You don't need to defend yourself when you're performing."

Emerson Fittipaldi is one of only two men who knows exactly the emotions Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will experience as they do battle in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Verstappen and Hamilton head into the final grand prix of the Formula One season tied at the top of the standings on 369.5 points.

Red Bull's Verstappen has a slight advantage, having won more races – a potentially pivotal tie-breaker – and taken pole on Saturday, but he will start alongside Hamilton on the front row.

At the 1974 United States Grand Prix, Fittipaldi lined up next to title rival Clay Regazzoni – albeit in eighth and ninth – in the only previous example of the top two being all square heading into the last race of the year.

"[There was] incredible pressure on myself, on the team, on my family, on my friends, on the sponsors," Fittipaldi told Stats Perform.

"When you think [about] going to the last race on equal points, I don't even call it a race, I call it like a duel.

"And knowing that only one is going to be world champion, there's no other chance. After two hours, someone is going to be world champion – one or the other.

"There was tremendous pressure, with all my race experience. I raced in Indianapolis, everywhere, the Brazilian Grand Prix, Monza – where I decided my first world championship.

"I had never experienced so much pressure in my career. I only slept like three hours the night before."

Now as an outsider, though, Fittipaldi is relishing seeing F1's two modern superstars go toe-to-toe in the most highly anticipated grand prix in years.

"I know that's going to happen on Sunday with Max and Lewis," the Brazilian said. "They will have so much pressure. The teams are under tremendous pressure and remember the families, the sponsors, the public.

"It will be a fantastic grand prix to watch. And this is why I say it's one of the best situations ever for a Formula One grand finale – it will be a grand finale, for sure."

Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha cannot believe "insane" claims that Cristiano Ronaldo was a bad signing for the Red Devils.

Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford from Juventus in the last transfer window and is comfortably the club's top scorer in all competitions this term, scoring 12 times from 17 appearances - seven clear of the next-highest scorers Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood.

The 36-year-old also has the highest expected goals tally of any United player across all competitions with 9.67 - Fernandes is next with 3.46.

Saha - who played for the Red Devils between 2004 and 2008, scoring 28 times in 86 Premier League appearances for the club - does not see how anyone could view the acquisition of Ronaldo as anything but a success.

"It's insane to say that [Ronaldo was a bad signing]. Absolutely insane," Saha told Stats Perform.

"I've heard so many people jump on the bandwagon and criticise him because he's missed a game, people blaming the sacking of Solskjaer on him because he's 'a hard player to manage.'

"He guarantees you goals and [people] say this? I was baffled, but at the same time you look at his career and he is someone who wants to win and to score goals. That is such an asset. It's unbelievable to average 40 goals a year - 30 would be amazing."

Saha insisted that Ronaldo does not need to press to be effective in Ralf Rangnick's system, explaining that the Portugal international is not only a goal threat, but that his presence creates space for his team-mates.

"I think he [adapted] straight away," he continued. "He arrived as a 36-year-old playing on the wing who can score goals.

"People say he needs to press - that's not why he's here. He's here to score goals. He opens up opportunities for others, whereas before it was all about Fernandes or maybe [Anthony] Martial.

"Cristiano could have scored recently but played the ball to [Donny] Van de Beek instead, showing he's a team player as well. If he's playing well United will win."

Ronaldo will be hoping to add to his six Premier League goals this term as United face strugglers Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Tyson Fury needs to defeat more of the heavyweight division to "cement his greatness", so says Shannon Briggs.

WBC champion Fury is eager to return to the ring by early 2022 following victory over Deontay Wilder in the trilogy fight between the pair in October.

But his opponent remains unclear as uncertainty lingers whether he will face Dillian Whyte, who wants to be sanctioned as the mandatory challenger for the heavyweight title.

Fury also has his eyes on a bout against Oleksandr Usyk, who claimed the WBA, WBO and IBF titles from Anthony Joshua in September.

Usyk and Joshua are set to meet again in the early months of 2022, though the latter could drop out to allow the undisputed fight and Briggs believes Fury needs to face top contenders to cement his legacy.

"I think he'll make the decision to stick around and fight guys," Briggs, who was a two-time heavyweight champion, told Stats Perform. 

"He's not very old, although he's accomplished a lot. He's had gaps in his career between lay-offs due to whatever circumstances he was dealing with. It hasn't been consistent. 

"I think that for us to cement his greatness, we need to see consistency. I think we need to see at least three to six wins from the guys in the top 10. 

"Clear out the top 10, clear out the heavyweight division, and then maybe we can say he's the greatest heavyweight of all time, due to size, due to his ability to move, his rhythm. For a big man, it's just unreal. 

"His heart, his chin – he got off the ground against one of the hardest punchers that ever lived in [Deontay] Wilder."

The undefeated Fury has 31 wins to his name, with the only blotch on his record a contentious split-decision draw against Wilder in their first clash.

Briggs appreciates the talent of 'The Gypsy King', who he implored to become more consistent to further his standing within boxing's history.

"He's shown us flashes of greatness, but we need to see one last thing," he added. 

"What makes a champion is consistency, so we need six to 10 Larry Holmes style wins, Lennox Lewis style wins, staying busy. Lennox was a busy fighter. Lennox defended his title, he fought a lot.

"We need three, four fights a year consistently for the next two years if not more. I think he's a great guy and a great fighter, but I just think we need to see consistency and consecutive wins."

Anthony Joshua stepping aside from his Oleksandr Usyk rematch would be a "great step for the heavyweight division", says former American boxer Shannon Briggs.

Joshua is set for a second bout in early 2022 with Usyk, who claimed the WBA, WBO and IBF titles on a unanimous points decision at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September.

The Briton has since hinted he would step out the way for WBC champion Tyson Fury, who is awaiting a decision as to whether he has to face mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte, to challenge Usyk to crown an undisputed champion.

While believing a bout between the two British boxers, Joshua and Fury, would be an entertaining meeting, Briggs would like to see a bout to become the undisputed champion first.

"The Fury-Joshua would be a good fight," Briggs, who held a world heavyweight title twice, told Stats Perform. 

"It's a very interesting fight to analyse and to think about which Joshua is going to show up. We've got to find out which Josh was going to show up. 

"I think that if Joshua steps aside and lets Fury fight Usyk, it might not be a bad idea. I really think it might not be a bad idea, and Anthony fights the winner. 

"I think it'd be a great step for the heavyweight division, uniting the belts, and then Joshua would get the winner. He was the champion, he was the guy. I don't want to say it was a fluke, but he was upset by a great guy, a tough guy to fight. 

"I don't care who fought Usyk. Usyk is a machine. He's not like normal people. He's not like normal humans. This man can handstand on his arms for an hour. This is what I was told. This man is in phenomenal shape. 

"As the rounds go on, he gets stronger. As you can see in the Joshua fight in the 12th round, he put his foot on the gas. I think that he's going to be a tough guy to beat for Fury, for anybody. 

"Maybe not Fury because of the height and the size, but we're going to see. That's what makes it great, because the interest is there. If Joshua is to step aside and let him fight Usyk, it might not be bad. Just a thought, and then he fights the winner."

Indeed, Usyk is a phenomenal machine, having held world champion status in two weight classes while he is one of only four boxers to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles.

Briggs, who collected 53 of his 60 wins via knockout, appreciates the class of Usyk as he reiterated the 34-year-old's impressive abilities.

"Again, like I said earlier, the fight with Usyk is a battle," he added. "It's not an easy fight, it's a tough fight. 

"It's a 50-50 chance. [Actually], it's more like a 60-40 chance that you lose because he's in phenomenal shape, he's a freak of nature, and he's not normal. 

"On top of all of that, he's a southpaw. It's awkward, it's coming from another way. You've got to have super conditioning and step to him. 

"You've got to be able to punish him and knock him out, but you can't be boxing him from the outside. You've got to wear him down. He's slippery, he's moving, he's awkward. You've got to be in tip-top shape to beat a guy like that."

Former France defender Lilian Thuram believes the efforts of Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and other athletes in speaking out against racism have changed society for the better.

Thuram praised Kaepernick and James and others who have made their voices heard, including footballers Jordan Henderson and Megan Rapinoe, and England manager Gareth Southgate.

However, the 49-year-old urged more players to speak up on the issue and also called for increased education on the subject.

"If you know the history of racism, you know to what extent high-level sportsmen and women have made society change for the better," Thuram told Stats Perform.

"There are a lot of people of very good will who want to get out of these patterns of domination linked to skin colour.

"Recently I was very happy to hear the words of Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool captain. The coach of the English national team has also spoken out about these issues. LeBron James, when he speaks, it's important. When you see Rapinoe, it's important. Colin Kaepernick, I think he's extraordinary.

"Because, to be very outspoken, very often, when you look at history, is to look for trouble. That's why some people don't say anything and act like they don't know. Most of the players are aware of what is going on and it doesn't matter what colour they are.

"So, yes, there are players [who are speaking out]. But you must encourage the players who are silent to speak up. It's very important. You must educate the players. You must educate the children to say: 'No, I don't accept that.'"

Thuram says he had to contend with racial prejudices in his playing days and encouraged people to be more aware of the issue and to stand up against it.

"I myself, when I was a young football player, was subject to a lot of racial prejudice," Thuram continued. "In [my] book, I recount an exchange with one of my team-mates after training, and he said to me: 'You know what, with your physique and my intelligence, I would be an incredible player.'

"First, to change things, you have to be aware of the problem.  It would be interesting to say: 'Racism is a real scourge in our country, we must make sure it changes.'

"Racism is primarily a way of thinking. It is a series of prejudices. And you are the history, we are the history of these prejudices. Racism is part of our cultural heritage, as is sexism, as are the accents, the languages you speak.

"That's why I say again, I am not looking to make people feel guilty. I simply invite people to question themselves and to understand that.

"Therefore, we must invite people to take a stand and not think that we can remain neutral when talking about racism. If you are neutral, it means that you support what is happening. Many people who do not experience racism think that racism is not their problem. 

"Therefore, I invite readers to think about this. Can we escape these identities and consider ourselves above all as human beings?"

Erling Haaland must move on from Borussia Dortmund to take his game to the next level, according to former Bayern Munich defender Patrik Andersson.

Haaland joined Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg after the Bundesliga side met his €20 million release clause in December 2019.

Since then, the 21-year-old has registered 50 goals in as many games in the German top flight, netting 1.12 times on average per 90 minutes.

Indeed, since the Norway international's Dortmund debut on January 18, 2020, only Robert Lewandowski (98) has scored more than Haaland (71) among players from Europe's top five leagues across all competitions.

But Andersson, who racked up over 200 Bundesliga appearances across spells with Bayern and Borussia Monchengladbach, believes Haaland must move on to further his game.

Asked to compare Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Haaland, two-time Bundesliga winner Andersson told Stats Perform: "First of all, it was a question about Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erling Halaand and talking about taking the next step to reach the next level. 

"You should never compare such good players because both of them are unique in their own way. Haaland is just at the beginning of a great career and Zlatan is at the other end. 

"But I think, what is football about? It's about winning, winning titles and he's had a really good development at Dortmund but personally, I think he needs to move to reach the next level. 

"When you play, for instance, for Sweden or Norway, you're not in the position to maybe win the World Cup or a European Championship, so for him winning big titles and maybe by moving to another league he could reach this little level."

 

Haaland has already reached a level above most of those at his age, given no other player has reached the 50-goal Bundesliga milestone in as few appearances or at such a young age (21 years, four months and six days).

Andersson appreciates the quality of the former Molde striker but believes he must find a team and coach befitting of his own personality to kick-on and reach the summit of world football.

"I think from his quality he is technically there, he's really strong, he's fast, he scores goals, he sets up players, but it's more about finding a really good team [and] surroundings," he continued.

"For him as a young player also, [it is important] to have a coach who really relies on him, to give him confidence, pushing him, so not so much talking about leagues."

Page 1 of 2
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.