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Champions League Group Stage Ultimate XI

Group Stage Ultimate XI

The Champions League group stages are done and dusted with Chelsea becoming the first holders in the history to be knocked out in the group stages, Manchester City completely out of Europe, Real Madrid finishing second and Lionel Messi in fine form.

Here, IntoTheTopCorner picks its Group Stage Ultimate XI, containing the very best performers over the six matchdays in a 4-5-1 formation. There’s an alternative to each selection, so have a look at the team below…

GK – FRASER FORSTER (CELTIC)

Forster

Celtic are through to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2007/08 season and they had some individual performances to thank for. The former Newcastle United shot-stopper is one of them, as he had two brilliant games against Barcelona that actually secured their qualification. A last-gasp defeat at the Camp Nou and a historical win at Celtic Park did their confidence a world of good, and their final matchday win over Spartak Moscow was more than deserved.

Alternative – Joe Hart (Manchester City)

RB – PHILIPP LAHM (BAYERN MUNICH)

Lahm

Bayern’s skipper and Mr. Consistent, Philipp Lahm, has proved dependable yet again as the Bundesliga leaders secured the top spot in Group F ahead of Valencia. Though, the German international captain did his best work on the left flank he comes in our side as a right-back. He managed three assists and won one penalty in the five matches he played and looked very solid at the back.

Alternative – Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)

CB – THIAGO SILVA (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN)

Thiago Silva

The Brazilian is known as one of the best defenders in the world of football at the moment and he didn’t let anyone down. The former AC Milan centre-back was very consistent throughout the group stages as he helped the French side to first place in Group A in their long-awaited return to Europe’s elite. He scored two goals including the opener in PSG’s important win over Porto on Matchday six.

Alternative – Martin Demichelis (Malaga)

CB – MATS HUMMELS (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

Hummels

Dortmund – surprisingly – topped the Group of Death and they had their solid defence to thank for it. Hummels, the integral part of the reigning Bundesliga champions’ back four, was at his very best as Die Schwarzgelben remained unbeaten in all of their six group games and also managed to keep three clean sheets in the process.  All the defence played their part, but the German international was perhaps the standout performer in Jurgen Klopp’s back four.

Alternative – Nicolas Otamendi (Porto)

LB – GIORGIO CHIELLINI (JUVENTUS)

Chiellini

Juventus secured their passage through to the knockout stages as Group E winners thanks to an unbeaten run of six games. Their last three were impressive wins and also clean sheets, while the Old Lady came out victorious in Donetsk – a feat achieved by very few teams in the past 12 months or so. The Italian international was perhaps the most impressive player in Antonio Conte’s back three.

Alternative – Christian Fuchs (Schalke)

CDM – ARTURO VIDAL (JUVENTUS)

Vidal

The Chilean international has to be one of the players of the group stages. The former Leverkusen man is a typical box-to-box midfielder combining defensive steel with goal-scoring prowess at the highest level. His partnership with Claudio Marschisio is the engine of Conte’s team. In the group stages, he averaged 4.8 tackles per game and scored three goals with one assist—an absolutely remarkable feat for a defensive midfield.

Alternative – Victor Wanyama (Celtic)

CM – WILLIAN (SHAKHTAR DONETSK)

Willian

The Brazilian alongside the Chilean gives our side some South American feel in the midfield. Willian, who has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Tottenham in the past, was one of the top performers for Shakhtar scoring four goals and creating two as they made it through to the last-16 and dumped the holders out of the competition in the process.

Alternative – Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk)

CM – ISCO (MALAGA)

Isco

The 20-year-old Spaniard scored twice and assisted two in six games to announce himself on the European stage and walk straight into our line-up. While he has failed to to translate this form into his La Liga games, Isco has been in super form in the Champions League. It’s his form in the in Europe’s elite competition that has clubs scrambling to meet his €18.5 million buyout clause before Malaga extend his contract, and it’s clear this kid has something slightly special.

Alternative – Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich)

RW – CRISTIANO RONALDO (REAL MADRID)

Ronaldo

Love him or hate him, but the Portuguese is surely one of the best players in the world and he proved it with his performances for the Spanish champions in the group stages. The former Manchester United star managed to scored six goals in the group of death and will be hoping to score many more in the later stages as he hopes to guide the Los Blancos to their first ever Champions League title in over a decade.

Alternative – Juan Mata (Chelsea)

LW – LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA)

Messi

A Champions League team without the best player in the world? Not possible at all. The Barca striker is at his very peak and was again at his very best in the group stages scoring five goals and creating two as he helped the Catalans top their group. The Argentine has had the best year having scored 90 goals and will be hoping more of the same in 2013 as he looks to guide his team to yet another European success.

Alternative – Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray)

ST – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (PARIS SAINT-GERMIAN)

Ibrahimovic

Out strike force is a nightmare to any team and Ibrahimovic leads it. The Swede has played for the many elite club during his career but his contributions for the French capital side in this season’s campaign can’t be ignored. He has managed to score just two goals in the six games but it’s the five assists that are the most impressive. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez must really enjoy playing alongside the Swede as he continues to impress.

Alternative – Jackson Martinez (Porto)

Group Stage Ultimate XI

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Ten Greatest Manchester United Wins In The Sir Alex Ferguson Era (Videos)

Juventus-United-1999

On Sunday Manchester United take on their bitter neigbhours Manchester City, in what could prove to be an important fixture in the title race.

The Red Devils take on a City side which are unbeaten in the Premier League this season and haven’t lost a home game since December 2010, leading to Sir Alex Ferguson to insist that it would be ‘one of our best ever results’ should his side beat the reigning champions.

Should United win, it would surely be memorable, but will it be special like these victories? Below are the ten of the best Manchester United wins under Ferguson..

10 . Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea (FA Cup Final, 1994)

One of the greatest finals in the FA Cup history as United completely outplayed Chelsea at the Wembley Stadium. The Red Devils scored four times (Eric Cantona (x2), Mark Hughes and Brian McClair) as they went on to do the Premier League-FA Cup double. This triumph was the club’s eighth success in the competition, matching the record set by Tottenham Hotspur three years earlier.

9. Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City (Premier League, 2009)

One of the greatest Manchester derby ever. With the noisy neigbhours making more noise thanks to their Sheikh owners, a win was important for United as it would give them the bragging rights in the city. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring for the Red Devils early in the first half before Gareth Barry equalised. Darren Fletcher and Craig Bellamy both scored a brace in the second half and then in the sixth minute of injury time Michael Owen scored the dramatic winner to send Old Trafford into ecstasy.

8. Manchester United 3-2 Aston Villa (Premier League, 2009)

United came into this match on the back of a two-game losing streak and with star strikers – Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney not playing it looked like a tough task. The Red Devils took the lead early in the first half, but Villa came back and led 2-1 before Cristiano Ronaldo’s 80th minute equaliser and Federico Macheda’s injury time winner. The win knocked Liverpool off the top spot and United stayed there till the end, equaling the Reds’ record 18 titles.

7. Everton 2-4 Manchester United (Premier League, 2007)

United had gone three seasons without a title as Arsenal and Chelsea dominated between 2004 and 2006. In the 2006/07 season, United led the way by three points from Chelsea and with just four games left, a tricky trip to the Goodison Park turned out to be the decisive one. Everton went 2-0 up midway through the second half, but a stunning 4-2 win for the Red Devils saw them win the title that season.

6. Manchester United 1-1 (6-5 pens) Chelsea (Champions League Final, 2008)

United faced Chelsea in an All-English final at Moscow for the Champions League trophy. The Red Devils took the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo’s header before Frank Lampard equalised for the Blues. The game went into penalties and the rest as we know is history. The win gave Sir Alex his second Champions League trophy and also re-established United’s dominance in Europe.

5. Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal (FA Cup Semi-Final, 1999)

This win not only helped United to reach the final of the FA Cup in 1999, but also denied Arsenal a chance to win back-to-back doubles. Roy Keane was sent off, Peter Schmeichel saved a last minute penalty from Dennis Bergkamp, then Ryan Giggs scored the greatest goal in FA Cup history as United reached Wembley. The momentum helped them win the FA Cup final and also pip Arsenal to the league title by a point.

4. Nottingham Forest 0-1 Manchester United (FA Cup 3rd Round, 1990)

United were on the brink of relegation battle and Fergie had failed to win a trophy in over three years at Old Trafford. Nottingham Forests were cup specialists that time and United the underdogs. Fans were calling for Fergie’s head and defeat would probably have seen him sacked, but Mark Robins goal bougth him time and the Red Devils went on to win the Cup that season.

3. Manchester United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday (Premier League, 1993)

It was 26 years since United had last won the league and, trailing Villa in the title race and losing 1-0 at home to Sheff Wed, it looked like the wait would continue. But two headed goals by Steve Bruce – the second into injury time – took United at the top, where they stayed until the end, as Villa fell away.

2. Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (Champions League Final, 1999)

This was one of the best comebacks in the history of the Champions League. With just three minutes of injury time left in Barcelona, United scored twice  (Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunner Solskjaer) to snatch the European Cup away from the hands of Bayern Munich, who had completely dominated the game and led since the eighth minute.

1. Juventus 2-3 Manchester United (Champions League Semi-Final, 1999)

This was the greatest win ever under Sir Alex Ferguson, even bigger than the above 1999 Champions League final itself. United came back from two goals down to win 3-2 in Italy against the best team in Europe and that to by completely outplayed them. This was the match that marked United as the worthy champions of Europe.

Manchester City v Manchester United Preview

City-Utd

The first Manchester derby of the season is here as Manchester City and Manchester United resume their rivalry on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium which could provide vital momentum in the title race.

Roberto Mancini’s City emerged victorious in both the Premier League encounters last season, winning 6-1 at Old Trafford and 1-0 at home before winning the title in the most dramatic style on the final day of the season.

The reigning champions have made a decent start to the defence of their crown and remain unbeaten after 15 games, but it is United who have a three-point advantage at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s meeting. There have been indications that it is already a two-horse race for the Premier League title, with others rivals – Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – struggling for consistency.

City’s participation in the Champions League and even Europe came to an end with a 1-0 loss to the Bundesliga champions – Borussia Dortmund in the midweek, while they were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton last weekend after a less than impressive performance. United, on the other, were also beaten 1-0 (at home) by CFR Cluj but had already won the group so Sir Alex Ferguson was able to rotate his squad. The 19-time league champions overcame Reading 4-3 last weekend and have been in superb form going forward all season, but it was yet another match in which they fell behind and this time not once but twice.

Ferguson will surely be demanding greater concentration against a team that has the best defensive record in the league and haven’t lost a single game at home since December 2010. The Scot says it would be one of United’s best-ever results if they can win on Sunday.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester City

City’s influential playmaker David Silva will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the Manchester derby at home. The Spanish international missed the Champions League loss to Dortmund with a hamstring injury but remains in contention and is batting to take part on Sunday. Aleksandar Kolarov has been ruled out with a groin problem and Micah Richards (knee) is still sidelined. Gael Clichy (ankle) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) both should be available for selection, while James Milner (hamstring) is likely to miss out.

Manchester United

Tom Cleverley is doubtful for Manchester United after limping out in the first half of the game against Cluj and will have a scan on his calf injury. Sir Alex Ferguson has also revealed that Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic (both) are struggling to be fit in time for the derby and may completely be ready for the Sunderland game. Antonio Valencia (thigh), Nani and Anderson (both hamstring) have been ruled out of the important clash, while the likes of Robin van Persie and Patrice Evra are set to return to the starting XI after being rested in midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 164
Manchester City Wins – 46
Draw – 50
Manchester United Wins – 68

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

30-Apr-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
08-Jan-12 – FA Cup – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
23-Oct-11 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
07-Aug-12 – Community Shield – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
16-Apr-11 – FA Cup – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Manchester City – LDWDD
The Citizens have been unbeaten in the league so far this season and are just three points behind leaders Manchester United in the standings. But they have won just once and drawn thrice in their last five games in all competitions, with the only win coming at Wigan. A win on Sunday will take them above United in the league table on goal difference.

04-Dec-12 – Champions League – Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Manchester City
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-1 Everton
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Wigan Athletic 0-2 Manchester City
25-Nov-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City
21-Nov-12 – Champions League – Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid

Manchester United – LWWWL
The Red Devils come into this match on the back of three consecutive wins in the Premier League and are sitting three points clear of their opponents at the top of the table. But they haven’t hit top gear and their defensive frailties have already been exposed. A win on Sunday will be massive one and will take them six points clear of City at the top.

05-Dec-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 0-1 CFR Cluj
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Reading 3-4 Manchester United
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United
24-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
20-Nov-12 – Champions League – Galatasaray 1-0 Manchester United

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
The Belgium international scored the only goal in last season’s 1-0 win over United at the Etihad stadium – which won them the title – and was also as solid as rock at the back. The club captain is an inspirational presence for Roberto Mancini, and his match-up against Robin van Persie will see arguably two of the best players in their respective positions battling in a mouth-watering clash. How he copes with the Dutchman and what he can offer going forward will be the key to the outcome of the game, but one thing is for sure – if Kompany is on form, City are a very hard team to beat.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
All eyes have been on Robin van Persie this season, and – even Javier Hernandez has gone past Wayne Rooney in the goal-scoring charts, but numbers alone do not tell the full influence of the 27-year-old on his side. With the Dutch forward being the target man of the strike force, Rooney will certainly drop deeper when United lose possession, and will try to create chances from further back in the final third. His work rate and distribution are very important in clashes like these, and with two strikes in his last league game at Reading, the England forward may be in line for a hot goal-scoring streak.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany (C), Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy; Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry; David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri; Sergio Aguero.

City XI

City manager Roberto Mancini is likely to recall Yaya Toure back to the squad after resting him for the Champions League game against Dortmund, while David Silva may well recover from his hamstring injury in time for the big game. Joe Hart continues in goal as Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic will play ahead of him in centre of the defence. Aleksandar Kolarov (groin) has been ruled out, which means Gael Clichy could be rushed back after recovering from his ankle injury, but should he not be ready Joleon Lescott could slot in or Pablo Zabaleta could switch sides win Maicon coming in on the right side. Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure are expected to shield the defence as Silva, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri could play in a more advance role. Sergio Aguero is likely to lead the line for the hosts, with both Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko coming off the bench at some point during the game.

Manchester United (4-3-3): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Ashley Young.

United XI

Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to continue with David De Gea in goal after the keeper made his return to first team action against CFR Cluj in the Champions League. Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra are all expected to be back in defence after being rested during the midweek defeat at home. With Valencia and Nani both out, United are expected to play with the same formation (4-3-3) that won at Reading. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes will make the three-man midfield with Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young further up the pitch, playing on either side of Robin van Persie. Shinji Kagawa is expected to make the bench, while the inform Javier Hernandez will be an option should the visitors need a goal at some stage of the game.

OPTA FACTS

  • 3 – Man Utd have won 1-0 against City three times in their last six Premier League games at the Etihad.
  • 5 – There have been just five goals scored in the last six league meetings between City and United at the Etihad Stadium and no more than one in any of those games.
  • 10 – Robin van Persie is joint-top scorer in the league, with 10 goals alongside Demba Ba, Michu and Luis Suarez – Man City’s top scorer is Carlos Tevez with seven.
  • 36 – City (15) and United (21) have come from behind to win a combined 36 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season.
  • 21 – Man City and Man Utd have been awarded more penalties than any other side in the Premier League since the start of 2010-11.

REFEREE

Name – Martin Atkinson
Based – Yorkshire
Age – 41
Games – 18
Yellow Cards – 71
Red Cards – 1

MATCH ODDS

Manchester City 13/10, Draw 12/5, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

As both teams have pulled away from the rest at the top of the table, it could turn out to be a very close affair decided by a moment of brilliance or a mistake. City will be looking to attack at home and take full advantage of United’s weaknesses at the back, while the Red Devils will hope to avoid conceding the first goal again but have also shown the determination and character to win games from losing positions. With the winner taking the top spot in the league table, both teams will look to get the 3 points. United have the firepower, but City have a very solid defence, making the hosts slight favourites. Expect United to get something out of this one, maybe a high scoring draw.

Predicted Score: Manchester City 2-2 Manchester United

Top Ten Best-Paid Managers In The World

best-paid managers

Brazilian sports business consultants – Pluri Consultoria – have this week published online a list of the best-paid football managers in the world, by annual salary.

There is no surprise who heads the pack but there are some interesting names on the list. Here at IntoTheTopCorner, we have a look at the top ten managers from that rich list…

10. ROBERTO MANCINI (MANCHESTER CITY | €5.9 MILLION)

Roberto-Mancini

When you are managing a club owned by oil-rich owners you are expected to be earning a huge annual salary and it’s no surprise to see the current Manchester City manager on the list, perhaps that he is tenth on the list is a bit surprising. The former Inter and Lazio boss has won the FA Cup and the Premier League during his time at Eastlands and is at the helm of Europe’s few undefeated teams in the league this season.

9. JOSE CAMACHO (CHINA | €5.9 MILLION)

Jose-Camacho

In order to catch up with the Asian heavyweights like Japan and South Korea, the rich Chinese FA searched in many parts of Europe – mainly the Netherlands, Germany and Spain – for an experienced coach, and appointed Jose Camacho. The former Spain and Real Madrid coach was given the job with objective of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Despite his huge annual paycheck the Spaniard failed and is now preparing for next year’s Asian Cup.

8. TITO VILANOVA (BARCELONA | €7 MILLION)

Tito-Vilanova

Taking over at Barcelona is not an easy job especially from the club’s most successful manager in history – Pep Guardiola. However, the former assistant is justifying his millions in his first top-flight job and currently has a win rate of 86%, which is more than his predecessor. The Catalan giants are 11 points clear of Real Madrid in the league and through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

7. FABIO CAPELLO (RUSSIA | €7.8 MILLION)

Fabio-Capello

A CV boasting of five Serie A titles, one Champions League and two La Liga titles, it’s no surprise that the Italian is the best-paid international manager in the world during his current tenure as Russia coach. His current salary is a slight increase than what he earned during his time as England coach, where his contributions were a bit disappointing. However, the Russians under Capello are undefeated with five win in seven games and are at the top of their World Cup qualifying group.

6. GUUS HIDDINK (ANZHI MAKHACHKALA | €8.3 MILLION)

Guus-Hiddink

Like Capello, the Dutchman has also enjoed a long and successful managerial career at club and international level. After failing to qualify for Euro 2012 in Poland & Ukraine with Turkey, Hiddink joined the Russian moneybags earlier this year. With Anzhi second in the Russian Premier League, the former Chelsea boss has announced that his current annual paycheck will be the last one as he will be retiring at the end of the season.

5. ARSENE WENGER (ARSENAL | €9.3 MILLION)

Arsene-Wenger

With his intelligent spending, innovative training techniques and brilliant ability to develop youngsters, the Frenchman might be the cleverest manager in the game and he gets very well paid for that. Wenger has delivered three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and 15 consecutive seasons of Champions League football since taking over at Arsenal in 1996. Yet his willingness to sell Arsenal’s best players has been identified as a major flaw by the fans. With the Gunners virtually out of the title race, Wenger’s days may be numbered if his team fails to finish in the top four.

4. SIR ALEX FERGUSON (MANCHESTER UNITED | €9.4 MILLION)

Sir-Alex-Ferguson

The Scot has been at the same job – Manchester United – for over 25 years, which makes his annual salary seem relatively modest compared to ones above him in the list. The Red Devils were in deep trouble when he took over and has made them one of most successful teams in the world by winning 12 league titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups and four League Cups. This season, Sir Alex’s side remain on course for yet another league title and have also reached the last-16 of the Champions League.

3. MARCELLO LIPPI (GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE | €10 MILLION)

Marcello-Lippi

A manager whose resume boasts a World Cup, five Serie A titles and a Champions  League is expected to earn an annual salary in double figures. The former Italy coach joined the Chinese Super League champions in May this year on a two-and-a-half year contract worth up to €30 million. So far, Lippi has fulfilled the club’s expectations by guiding them to their second consecutive league title in October and also by winning the Chinese FA Cup in November for the first time evert in the club’s history.

2. CARLO ANCELOTTI (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN | €13.5 MILLION)

Carlo-Ancelotti

The Italian proved that getting sacked at Chelsea doesn’t put a dent to your managerial career when he signing a multi-million Euro deal to take over at Qatar-funded PSG last year. He took charge when the French side were at the top of the league, but failed to guide them to the title. Despite spending heavily during the transfer windows, he has yet to bring any silverware to the Paresians. However, the former Milan boss could turn things around this season, as PSG are third in the league – five points behind Lyon – and are through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

1, JOSE MOURINHO (REAL MADRID | €15.3 MILLION)

Jose-Mourinho

The Portuguese takes home the largest amount each year and it is hardly surprising given his extraordinary record since guiding Porto to an historic treble in 2003. The Special One has won league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain and has also won the Champions League with Porto and Inter. However, things aren’t going well for him in the current campaign, with Los Blancos 11 points behind leaders Barcelona. Such a margin is a bit too much in the La Liga and if Mou fails to bring the Champions League to the Bernabeu, he might get his marching orders at the end of the season.

Here are the remaining twenty managers from the 30-man rich list..

11. Frank Rijkaard (Saudi Arabia | €5.3 Million)
12. Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich | €5.2 Million)
13. Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham Hotspur | €4.5 Million)
14. Harry Redknapp (Queens Park Rangers | €4 Million)
15. Jorge Jesus (Benfica | €4 Million)
16. David Moyes (Everton | €3.6 Million)
17. Manuel Pellegrini (Malaga | €3.6 Million)
18. Paulo Autuori (Qatar | €3.6 Million)
19. Abel Braga (Fluminense | €3.5 Million)
20. Luciano Spaletti (Zenit St Petersburg | €3.3 Million)
21. Antonio Conte (Juventus | €3 Million)
22. Cesare Prandelli (Italy | €3 Million)
23. Luxemburgo (Gremio | €3 Million)
24. Muricy (Santos | €3 Million)
25. Tite (Corinthians | €3 Million)
26. Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland | €2.6 Million)
27. Joachim Low (Germany | €2.5 Million)
28. Marcelo Biesla (Athletic Bilbao | €2.5 Million)
29. Martin O’Neill (Sunderland | €2.5 Million)
30. Roy Hodgson (England | €2.5 Million)

‘One Last Challenge’ – Where Next For David Beckham?

The former England captain David Beckham has announced he will leave the Los Angeles Galaxy after next month’s MLS Cup final against Houston Dynamo.

At 37-years-old, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star is in the twilight of his glittering career which has seen him win numerous trophies, but he wants “one last challenge”.

So, here at IntoTheTopCorner, we have a look at the possible destinations for Beckham before he decides to end his playing career.

Australian A-League

There have been reports suggesting that an offer from Melbourne Heart is on the table, and A-League chiefs have been making noise of a possible deal. The Beckham camp have denied the reports but Australia looks likely his most likely destination in future. While the standard of football is not the greatest, the attraction for the former Manchester United and Real Madrid winger would be a growing football market – similar to when he joined MLS five years ago. The weather and lifestyle would also suit Beckham and his family.

Paris Saint-Germain

The moneybags of France have the backing, the ambition and the money to afford any wages that Beckham would demand and it would also be a good move as he would be close to friends and family in London. The standard of football in Ligue 1 is also something that would appeal a man looking for his next challenge. But at the same time you have to question why PSG would want Beckham. They were interested in him almost a year ago, but have spent heavily since then, and it’s difficult to see a regular place in their starting XI for former England skipper.

England

Unlikely, but not impossible at all. Beckham has been linked with Tottenham, West Ham and Leyton Orient in past 12 months or so and as reports suggested he could be keen to end his career in England. And QPR – at the bottom of the Premier League table – are in desperate need of a saviour and Becks could well be the man to save the Hoops. Or will he come back to Manchester for one final stint and turn dreams of millions of United fans into reality?

China

There are very few footballers on the planet that are more popular in the Far East than Beckham. What more, the Chinese club owners are trying to raise the profile of the game in the country by signing some star players like Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, but bringing Beckham would be the biggest coup of them all. The financial package would surely attract any player but whether such a major change for the player and his family at this stage in his career would appeal to the Beckhams remains to be seen.

Russia

Russia would be another appealing destination for Beckham because of the cash he could earn and the less strict tax laws. It would also mean he stays in Europe which would appeal to him for both footballing and family reasons. Samuel Eto’o is the best example to give as he has become the best paid player in the world at Anzhi Makhachkala and Beckham’s final challenge could merely be replacing the Cameroon star at the top of the pay charts.

Staying in the US

Just because Beckham is leaving LA Galaxy, that doesn’t mean that the USA has seen the last of him. Beckham is known to enjoy the lifestyle he has in the States and also has a wife and four children to take into consideration. Afrer Los Angeles, where to go? Maybe across the coast to New York? He joined LA Galaxy not only to increase the interest in the MLS, but also to carry on winning trophies. And the Red Bulls could have a real shot at winning trophies next season, with the likes of Rafael Marquez, Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry already among their number.