Gareth Southgate to name his England World Cup squad on May 16

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Man in charge: England coach Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate‘s final squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be announced on May 16.

Southgate will name his England’s squad on Wednesday, with hopefuls finding out their fates well before the official deadline.

After a privately-submitted long list of 35 is handed in on Monday, FIFA do not require finalised squads until June 4.

Southgate, though, wants to have his plans in place before preparatory friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica and will announce his 23-man group on May 16.

Most of the squad has been set in stone for some time but the final few places will have taxed Southgate in recent weeks.

Jack Wilshere has not played for the Three Lions since their defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 but a more prominent role for Arsenal has thrown him back into the conversation, particularly with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out injured.

Southgate handed Wilshere a golden chance to stake his claim in the March get together but he pulled out of games against Holland and Italy and concerns over the midfielder’s fitness, rather than his finesse, could settle the issue.

Jack Wilshere's return to form and injury could see him make the plane to Russia.

Jack Wilshere’s return to form and injury could see him make the plane to Russia.

If Wilshere misses the cut, or has to settle for a place among the five standby call-ups, that could be good news for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The Chelsea player, who has spent the season on loan at Crystal Palace, turned in a man-of-the-match performance on debut against Germany in November and despite never playing a competitive senior international he has huge experience at age-group level.

Liverpool’s uncapped full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been under consideration after helping the Reds to the Champions League final.

Kyle Walker is locked down either at right-back or in a central three, with Kieran Trippier his established understudy.

The Tottenham defender has picked up a knee problem at just the wrong time, though, and Walker’s impressive performances in a back three last time out bodes well for Alexander-Arnold.

At left wing-back Ashley Young and Danny Rose remain best placed, despite challengers including Luke Shaw, Aaron Cresswell and Fulham prospect Ryan Sessegnon.

Joe Gomez might well have offered cover across the back line but he is out after ankle surgery.

Adam Lallana is another Liverpool player with question marks over his condition but, despite a campaign wrecked by injury, he has always been a trusted performer in England colours and a steady outing against Brighton on Sunday might be enough to settle any concerns.

Fabian Delph is versatile and a title winner with Manchester City but is yet to feature under the current regime.

In defence John Stones, Phil Jones and Harry Maguire are all inked in, with Burnley’s James Tarkowski potentially going head to head with the more seasoned Gary Cahill. The latter was a regular throughout qualifying, as well as a recent captain, but was surprisingly ditched by Southgate in March.

Could Ryan Sessegnon be a shock inclusion in England's World Cup squad?

Could Ryan Sessegnon be a shock inclusion in England’s World Cup squad?

The England boss has also taken to naming four goalkeepers in recent squads but will have to settle on three for Russia.

Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland will be two, with Joe Hart highly likely to see off the challenge of Nick Pope.

Clarets stopper Pope has been a revelation since stepping in for the injured Tom Heaton in September but Southgate has assessed Hart’s attitude and believes the long-time number one can still play a leadership role even if he travels as third choice.

England face Nigeria at Wembley on June 2 and Costa Rica at Elland Road on June 7 before departing for Russia.

They kick-off their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on June 18 in Volgograd and also face Panama and Belgium in the group stage.

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Andres Iniesta set to join five other big-name football stars who moved to Japan

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Lukas Podolski with Vissel Kobe.

If Andres Iniesta chooses Japan as his next destination, he won’t be the first football icon to do so.

Iniesta, 33, is set to leave Barcelona this summer after 22 years, more than 650 appearances and 32 major trophies.

The attacking midfielder, who struck Spain’s winning goal at the 2010 World Cup final, had been expected to join Chinese Super League’s Chongqing Dangdai Lifan. But the connection between Barca and sponsors Rakuten is set to see him land at mid-table Vissel Kobe on a monster three-year contract worth approximately €75 million (Dh327.1m) after tax, according to Cadena SER.

J1 League has attracted several of the sport’s biggest names throughout its history. Here are five of the best.

MICHAEL LAUDRUP

The path from an El Clasico giant to Kobe has been tread before. In 1996, Laudrup – an elegant attacking midfielder – swapped Real Madrid for a promotion fight in Japan.

The 32-year-old Denmark international arrived mid-season and ensured Stuart Baxter’s charges earned their berth in the top flight, with five goals in 12 games. Laudrup then hung around for three J League matches before winding down his celebrated career at Ajax in 1997/98.

FUSSBALL: WM FRANCE 98 Lens, 12.06.98

GARY LINEKER

One of England’s finest strikers chose Japan for the final years of his career.

A £2 million (Dh14.2m) fee was paid by ambitious Nagoya Grampus Eight to land Lineker, who headed east aged 31 after being controversially denied a chance to level Sir Bobby Charlton’s scoring record for his nation at Euro 92.

Injuries would stunt his impact during two seasons in J League, where he wound up with a disappointing four goals in 18 games.

UEFA Euro '92 Group 1 - Sweden v England

LUKAS PODOLSKI

After experiencing dwindling returns at Arsenal, Internazionale and Galatasaray, the 130-cap Germany forward chose to join Kobe for the 2017 season.

The 32-year-old could not lift Kobe beyond mid-table last term and the same theme is repeating in 2018 – Takayuki Yoshida’s men currently sit 10th in the table.

In all competitions thus far in Japan, Podolski has struck 10 times in 30 run-outs. Not a bad return on his €5 million-per-annum (Dh21.8m), three-year deal.

Vegalta Sendai v Vissel Kobe - Preseason Friendly

HRISTO STOICHKOV

The final years of the Bulgaria talisman’s celebrated career took him on a world tour.

From 1998’s return to CSKA Sofia until he hung up his boots at DC United in 2003, ‘El Pistolero’ took in five different clubs in four separate countries.

Stoichkov headed to Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol in the wake of a brief stop at Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr.

At Reysol, the 32-year-old forward scored 13 times in 29 games.

MEXICO V BULGARIA

ZICO

When you earn the nickname ‘God of Football’ from an adoring Japanese public, it is no surprise to learn Zico’s time there was a resounding success.

One of the Brazil’s great attacking midfielders came out of retirement in 1991 aged 38 to join lower-league Sumitomo Metals. His dedication would turn them into J League contenders when named Kashima Antlers.

Zico would go on to manage Japan from 2002 until a disappointing 2006 World Cup campaign.

WORLD CUP-1986-FRA-BRAZIL

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Hublot turns back time to look at career of World Cup legend Diego Maradona

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World Cup great: Diego Maradona

The age-old debate over who was the better player – Pele or Maradona – still divides football fans around the world. The World Cup-winning Argentine would glide past opposition with the ball seemingly glued to his feet. He’s also one of the game’s most controversial figures thanks to his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal scored against England and wide-eyed celebration at the 1994 World Cup.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1960, one of eight kids, young Diego was given a football at the age of three, beginning his love for ‘the beautiful game’. His first club was Los Cebollitas, a youth side of Argentinos Juniors – one of the biggest clubs in the country. The sides went on an incredible 136-game unbeaten streak with Maradona in the side.

Hublot ambassador: Maradona

Hublot ambassador: Maradona

During his professional career, the midfield maestro won club titles in Argentina, Italy and Spain but it was his impact in the national side, which will be forever remembered. His two goals against England en route to World Cup glory 1986 are still talked about today. One was a moment of individual brilliance, dribbling the ball from his own half before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton. The other was the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, which saw the little midfielder deliberately handle the ball into the net – which somehow went unnoticed by the officials.

Hand of God: Maradona's controversial goal against England

Hand of God: Maradona’s controversial goal against England

In total, Maradona played in four World Cups, scoring an impressive 34 goals in 91 international appearances for Argentina. He also holds the records for captaining a side the most at the World Cup finals – leading Argentina out on 16 occasions. His 21 appearances in the finals are bettered only by three others.

He saw out his playing career in his homeland before announcing his retirement in 1997. He was appointed as the Head Coach of the Argentinean national team in 2008 and his team reached the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals but lost 4-0 to Germany. Maradona has since continued his managerial career in the UAE, most recently as the Fujairah manager. The midfielder was also awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1995 for his services to football.

Hublot signed Maradona as an official partner after the footballing genius was spotted wearing two Hublot watches at the 2010 World Cup. Speaking at the announcement he said, “More than a partnership, I feel to be part of the Hublot family. I met authentic and fantastic people who became my friends. I remember my visit last year to the manufacture in Nyon, it was like feeling almost home. The thing that drew me to Hublot was also their charity efforts. I’m very involved in my community, giving kids opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise get. Sitting down talking to the people at Hublot, everything came back to family, and that’s me. It’s a perfect relationship from that standpoint.”

World Cup 2018 watch: The officials will be wearing the BIG BANG timepiece

World Cup 2018 watch: The officials will be wearing the BIG BANG timepiece

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