Former Dutch star Ronald Koeman has been appointed coach of the national team and given the Herculean task of restoring the country’s pride after a series of humiliating defeats.
The national football association (KNVB) said in a statement that it had “reached an agreement with Ronald Koeman over his appointment as the Dutch national coach.”
The contract was with “immediate effect” and would include the 2022 World Cup, it added.
The Dutch national team failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup after a disastrous qualifying campaign, which followed on from the failure to qualify for Euro 2016.
Koeman was last in a managerial role at Everton, leading the club to a seventh-placed finish last season but getting sacked in October with the club lurching towards the relegation zone following an alarming dip in form.
Iconic France left-back Patrice Evra took in Dubai’s best views on Monday as he experienced Skydive Dubai.
The non-contracted former Man United and Juventus star trains regularly in the UAE and is known for his hilarious social media posts, which often centre around the famed #MondayMotivation hashtag.
Evra descended from 13,000 feet high above the city’s spectacular Palm Jumeirah and Marina skyline.
Whilst the post is now not accessible via the 36-year-old’s social platforms, check out the screengrab below.
With Neymar turning 26 on Monday and Cristiano Ronaldo also celebrating his 33rd birthday on February 5, we look at how the two birthday boys, as well as Lionel Messi, compare when they were all 26 years of age.
Here, we analyse three key areas specifically:
BALLON D’OR TITLES
Neymar is still waiting for the elusive prize after finishing third last year behind second-placed Messi and Ronaldo.
Barcelona legend Messi won his first Ballon d’Or crown at the age of just 22 in 2009 following a stellar 12 months which saw the Argentine maestro inspire Barcelona to a La Liga and Copa del Rey domestic double – and then of course he was instrumental during Blaugrana’s 2-0 Champions League victory over Man United in Rome.
Staggeringly, Messi netted his fourth world crown at the age of 25 in 2012 after a record-breaking year in front of goal which saw him score 91 times over the calendar period, breaking Gerd Muller’s record of 85 in the process, and helping the Spanish giants to the La Liga title.
Cristiano claimed his first Ballon d’Or at the age of 23 in 2008. The accolade came after a blistering 2007-08 season with Manchester United, which ended in him winning the Champions League in Moscow. Ronaldo’s stunning form in the first half of his last campaign at Old Trafford, culminating in another Premier League title (2008-09), also played a part. His move to Real Madrid then came that summer.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINS
While Messi was still very much coming of age as an 18-year-old during the 2005-06 season, technically, that’s when his first European Cup crown arrived, after Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1 in Paris. He added another two European titles (09 and 11) before his 26th birthday – adding to the six La Liga trophies he had won.
Ronaldo obviously won the Champions League as a 23-year-old with United and Barcelona’s Neymar matched that feat at the same age in 2015, scoring in a 3-1 win over Juventus in the final.
While neither of the trio have a World Cup to their name, Neymar edges the goalscoring stakes when it comes to international football. The attacker has scored 53 strikes in 83 caps to date.
At the same age, Ronaldo had turned out 80 times for Portugal and netted 25 goals while Messi, in the exact same number of games just before he turned 26, had registered 35 goals.
Interestingly, since then, Ronaldo has gone onto score 44 more goals and Messi’s added another 54.
Neymar’s Confederations Cup win in 2013 is his biggest tangible trophy for Brazil while injury cruelly curtailed his brilliant 2014 World Cup campaign on home soil.
Argentine Messi (aged 20) won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games – one of which he says is his best in his trophy cabinet – while Ronaldo was a runner-up for Portugal in Euro 2004 as 19-year-old.
Big trophies on the international stage have yet to come for maestro Messi while Ronaldo had to wait a few more years to get his hands on Euro 2016.
PSG star Neymar is certainly in pole position in this category to usurp them both.