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[FM22] Sophara United v2.0


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Webb looks good, work on that stamina and develop him a bit and you have a great deep lying midfielder there. I would actually be tempted to play McHale up top rather than the wing. Pace can be very effective in FM22 and he has good heading on top of that!

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10 minutes ago, deez0r said:

Webb looks good, work on that stamina and develop him a bit and you have a great deep lying midfielder there. I would actually be tempted to play McHale up top rather than the wing. Pace can be very effective in FM22 and he has good heading on top of that!

Im going to turn Webb into a DC - I think he'll do great there. 

You are 100% spot on with McHale - I already have him training as an Advanced Forward. 

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NxGN 50 2030

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WINNER

RICARDO AZOFEIFA, (COSTA RICA: 17 Caps/2 Goals), SC – Toluca (MEX), 19-years-old (Previous: Unranked)

The 2030 NxGn 50 winner is part of a wave of Costa Rican youth that is taking the world by storm….Was dominant in the Costa Rican Premier League with his boyhood club of Alajuelense, scoring 44 Goals in 81 Games over three years as a teenager….He was bought by Mexican First Division champions Toluca this season for £875K in what is surely going to be a great steal for the club….He has scored 8 Goals in 22 Appearances for Toluca in his first season in Mexico….First started getting international attention in 2029, when he was the 2028/29 North American Champions League Top Goalscorer award Runner-Up with 6 Goals from 6 Appearances….Was a surprising winner but the talent is undeniable.

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2ND PLACE

MARIO GRASSO (Argentina: Capped at U20), AMR/SC – Banfield (ARG), 19-years-old (Previous: Unranked)

Another new entry to the NxGn Top 50, Mario Grasso is the Banfield’s youth academy’s latest protégé….Has been labeled potentially the ‘Next Gabriel Batistuta’ – high praise in Argentina….He scored 11 Goals in 35 Appearances for the club last season, coming in 3rd Place in the Copa Sudamericana with 6 Goals….Many believe that his move to Europe will come this summer, and his rise up the NxGn Top 50 list seems to validate that belief….A fantastic dribbler of the ball who fancies the right side of the pitch….His speed also helps, although he will never really be a threat in the air….He has become a popular figure in Argentina, so a call-up to the national team might be close.

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3RD PLACE

MEHMET NECMI ISAOGULLARI (Turkey: Capped at U19), DC – Gaziantep FK (TUR), 19-years-old (Previous: Unranked)

Yet another formerly unranked player – making all of the top three unranked last season – Mehmet Isaogullari’s accomplishments in a tough Turkish Super League have not gone unnoticed….He has become a starter, playing in 20 Games and registering 1.41 T/90 and 7.02 AR….The media-friendly star has become Turkey’s latest sensation thanks to his charisma….Born in Gazientep in southern Turkey near the Syrian border, he was brought up through the hometown club’s youth system.

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OTHER NOTABLES

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THE SOPHARA JOURNAL

SEASON REVIEW 2029/2030

 

TEAM REVIEW

A decade ago, the Sophara United Lions were a team of teenagers formed under a strange concept with its foundation based on the SYA – the Sophara Youth Academy. Since then, the club has won the League Two and One titles, has completed its fourth season in the Premier League without getting involved a relegation battle, and now has branches of the SYA in Ghana and in France. The group of teenagers that captivated the nation are now household names in the world’s most competitive league. A generation of young fans have grown up with the names of Sheppard, Reardon, Kozic, Horgan, etc., embedded in their childhood memories. The group that has become known as the First Generation, the one that barreled the club up the leagues and forced themselves onto the Premier League – where they have now proven they belong in every respect.

Yes, the 12th Place finish was the lowest yet of the club’s four years in the Premier League, but in many ways it felt like an improvement over last year’s 11th Placed team. It starts at the back – defensively, the team looked more confident and comfortable than in years past. This led to a record-low 67 Goals Conceded since joining the Premier League, finishing with 49 Points, the same amount as last year. The team improved from being 15th to 13th best in the league defensively, and a lot had to do with the installation of the new No.1 Darren Allen instead of legend – but the less talented – Elvis Kozic. The offense’s 66 Goals were the lowest in three years, finishing as the 9th best offense in the PL, down from 5th last season. Turkish star Bekir Celik took home his second PL Young Player of the Year award in what was a redemption season, as his 26 Goals was amongst the highest in the league. The team felt more cohesive and has finally started showing signs of being veterans of their craft as they enter their prime years. The First Generation has shown determination and resilience, as well as sheer professionalism, that has become the hallmark of the club, a culture that focuses on going hard for the full 90 minutes and respect and ethics off of the pitch.

So now going forward, what is reasonable to expect from this batch? Is European qualification a step too far for them? Or are they primed to make a run for the top seven and earn their right to European glory? Either way, the finances have never been healthier, and with the investment in facilities over the years the club now has world-leading training and youth facilities that are built to maximize the potential and ability of every player that goes through their halls. Will the maturation of Darren Allen – who has the looks of a future England No.1 – and the betterment in form for players such as Jakub Berkovec and Bekir Celik be enough to propel the First Generation into even further heights? The 2020s and their stories are over – this season was the start of the 2030s and all the future success, hopefully, it holds.

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GOALKEEPERS

DARREN ALLEN (England: 8 U21 Caps) – Age: 18 ('28 Youth Class) – Position: GK

Perhaps a season or two earlier than expected, Allen took over the No.1 jersey from First Generation legend Elvis Kozic this season and did well. The difference in talent is clear and there is no one who is not convinced Allen is a better player than the Swede – a difficult decision made by manager Abul Ezz but one that had to be done. In his first season as starter, Allen played in 33 Games, registering 1.70 Con/90, 9 Clean Sheets, 2 PoMs, and 7.11 AR. He was named in the PL Team of the Week three times, intriguing a nation that witnessed an 18-year-old not only man a notoriously difficult and fickle position, but do so well enough to be considered amongst the better GKs in the league overall. Now the hope is that he can develop into a future England GK, as he carries a 4+/5 PA rating and is known for his shot-stopping abilities. The eyes will be on him next season – the price to pay for being so good at such a young age.

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ELVIS KOZIC (Sweden: 7 U21 Caps) – Age: 26 – Position: GK

It cannot have been easy for the First Generation and club legend Elvis Kozic to watch from the sidelines. The Swede has been the only No.1 the club has known in its entire history, but the talent difference between Allen and Kozic could no longer be denied. As such, it was a strange sight to see the team lineup with him, but one that ultimately did see the team improve noticeably defensively. This is no slight on Kozic – without him, the road would have been so much more difficult. He has already proven, over the course of the last four years, that he is capable of being a good GK in this league. He played in 5 Games, registering 7.12 AR – he had 7.02 AR last season, his last as the club’s starter.

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FULLBACKS

PATRICK BOLA (France: 15 U21 Caps) – Age: 21 ('25 Youth Class) – Position: DL

The jury is out on what Bola’s ceiling is – there are a few that have said he has the potential to represent France while most seem on the fence about just how good he can still get. In his current form, he is a decent Premier League left-back who has problems with consistency as he battles back from a major injury. No one really questions about whether he will still improve – the consensus is that he will still improve significantly – but it is more of just how much? His comeback from his ligament injury – which ruled him out for more than half the year for a total of almost eight months – has so far shown no signs of having a lingering effect. In 16 Games, he registered 3 Assists, 1.81 T/90, 93% Passes Completed, and 6.78 AR, which was down from 6.85 AR last season. The good news is, based on his form and performances, the injury is not expected to be recurring or have any long-term effects. As for Bola, he remains the club’s start at DL without prejudice – there simply is no other player on the roster that has his type of talent.

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MOHAMMED ADU (England: 4 U21 Caps) – Age: 18 – Position: DR (DC)

An experiment that has – so far – turned out good, the young English/Ghanaian has been converted into a right-back. He was expectedly inconsistent and seemingly overwhelmed at times – a combination of playing in an unfamiliar position ad his young age – but there are enough signs of positivity and optimism from his general form to expect a positive conclusion for this Abul Ezz experiment. In 29 Games, he registered 1.95 T/90, 91% Passes Completed, a team-high 52 Tackles Won, and 6.77 AR. This represented a significant improvement over Ger Lennon’s 6.57 AR last season, who delivered form so bad he motivated his manager to think outside the box just so he didn’t have to start him again. Adu was also one of the primary reasons why the defense improved in general over last season, giving a sort of stability to a position that was a huge liability throughout the past few years. He carries a 4+/5 PA rating and is considered to be one of the youngsters to watch in England.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

The full-back positions have become the first, along with GK, to no longer have a starter from the First Generation….Ger Lennon (33 Apps, 6.69 AR) covered at DL for the first part of the season until Bola came back, but he lost his starting position at DR to Adu after an atrocious season….He’ll remain on as cover for both full-back positions but if Adu and Bola develop as expected, his days as a starter are likely to be over….Both positions are generally lacking in young talent – there are a few prospects but none that have turned any heads.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

TOM HORGAN (Ireland: 1 Cap) – Age: 26 – Position: DC

Tom Horgan has developed a reputation as one of the strongest defenders in the air in the Premier League, having topped the league in several key aerial and heading statistics over the past four years. This season, in 35 Games, he registered 64.14 P/90 (1st on the team), 11 Key Tackles (5th in PL), 36 Key Headers (11th), 413 Clearances (1st in PL), 26 Shots Blocked (3rd), and 6.94 AR – a bit down from 6.99 AR of last season. The fans love him, his teammates love him, and his manager loves him – Horgan embodies what the club is all about. He works hard, he always shows up for the big occasion, and represents himself and the club with class and dignity on the pitch and off it. He is a club legend and one of its long-time leaders, and is often called the heart of the First Generation.

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AKIM LAWRENCE (England: 24 U21 Caps) – Age: 22 (’23 Youth Class) – Position: DC

Akim Lawrence continues to get better and continues to make a case for himself when it comes to the English national team. He has his best season yet – in 37 Games, he led the Premie League with 158 Interceptions, 61 Blocks, and 40 Shots Blocked, along with 41 Key Headers (8th in PL), 393 Clearances (3rd), 60.76 PC/90. 97% Passes Completed, and 7.13 AR, which was a career-high. His 542 Possessions Won was the second most in the Premier League. Valued at more than £80M now, the durable and reliable Lawrence has already taken the crown of most talented defender the SYA has ever turned out. He is clearly amongst the league leaders in several key defensive statistics, with his defensive talents considered top-notch. He isn’t the best athlete nor is he the best with the ball at his feet, but he keeps things simple and uncomplicated and plays with poise and maturity. His timing and decision-making are indicators of his high football IQ, and he is generally considered one of the smartest players in the league. He has now made 270 League Appearances for the club, and despite his public complaints ever now and then about thinking of going to a bigger club, no one expects him to follow-through on that decision, although he has proven strong-willed and tough to tackle after holding out on resigning past his rookie contract until the end of it – something that cost him millions.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

With Mohammed Adu becoming the club’s starting DR and Ger Lennon covering both full-back positions, James Burgess (29 Apps (9 Starts), 1.20 T/90, 92% Passes Completed, 7.06 AR) focused on covering the DC positions this season, displaying his versatility and proving his importance to the team….The ‘Model Professional’ had his best career since the club’s first season in the Championship seven years ago….Although there are a few intriguing talents like Gerard Lynch (4+/5 PA), there is no other capable DC in the rotation or in the first team, making it an especially worrisome position in terms of depth.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

JOE SHEPPARD (England: 10 U21 Caps/1 Goal) – Age: 26 – Position: MC

The 2022 and 2029 Sophara United Player of the Year, he delivered almost the exact season this year as last. He played the same amount of Games (33), and registered the same amount of Goals (14), Assists (9), and the 7.30 AR. He also had 90 Key Passes (10th in PL) and 25 Clear-Cut Chances (5th). He was named in the PL Team of the Week five times and once again his shirt was the most sold out of any player on the team. His 356 League Games are a club record and his 107 League Games are the third-most in club history. He has become a member of the 100+ Goals/100+ Assists club, as he now has 105 Assists for his career. His importance on and off the pitch for the team is immeasurable – on the pitch, he is the spark the sets the offense in motion, and off the pitch he is a complete model and leader to the entire team.

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RONNIE FLOOD (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 26 – Position: MC

Perhaps the most reliable and consistent player on the team, Ronnie Flood lived up to his reputation yet again this season. In 32 Games, he registered 4 Assists and 6.96 AR – in his four years in the PL, he has registered between 6.94 and 6.97 AR in each one. When asked recently who his favorite people were on the team, he mentioned two names: his manager Abul Ezz, and his MC teammate since day one, Joe Sheppard. The support system Sheppard needs in order to be his creative best, Flood is considered – like Lawrence – to be one of the smartest players in the Premier League. While has had to make room for Tommy Sullivan in the rotation, Flood remains the undisputed starter alongside Sheppard in the middle of the pitch, and he remains of his Ezz’s favorite players.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Now a regular for the Irish national team, Tommy Sullivan (’24 Youth Class - 31 Apps (18 Starts), 3 Asts, 6.84 AR) has earned 11 Caps and is still only 21….Not many will dispute that he is more talented than Flood, but he has not yet reached a level where he can break into the starting lineup….He is getting harder to ignore, however, and Ezz suggested that he might use him in a change of pace as a playmaker next season….Making his debut this season was 17-year-old rookie Nyren Minton-Collis (’29 Youth Class), playing in 2 Games….He carries 4+/5 PA rating and has shown good passing ability and has earned U20 Caps for England….He should play more next season as Ezz has suggested he against the youngster going on loan as he wants to monitor his growth himself.

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WINGERS

JAKUB BERKOVEC (Czech Republic: 15 Caps/1 Goal) – Age: 21 (’25 Youth Class) – Position: AMR

The only player on the team valued at over £100M, his season ended in early May after hurting his knee in training – he is racing to be ready for the World Cup at Spain 2030, however. He played in 33 Games, registering 3 Goals and 10 Assists while leading the league with 99 Dribbles and coming in 3rd in the PL with 3.39 D/90. His 6.96 AR, while respectable, was a drop from a career-high 7.03 AR last season, but few doubt that he is capable of so much better. A star in his home of the Czech Republic, he is probably the team’s best known figure and has publicly stated his need to play for a bigger club at a bigger stage. That being said, he loves the club and he loves his manager and is the only player other than Akim Lawrence to carry a 4.5/5 CA rating on the team. Sheppard and Reardon are the only other players that can rival him in popularity, winning the PL Young Player of the Month for April just before going down with his injury. His contract is up at the end of the 2031/32 season, so his manager has two years to figure out how to make the player with perhaps the highest ceiling of any on the team sign a new one that will keep him in London through his prime years.

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STAN DRUMMOND (England: 2 U21 Caps/1 Goal) – Age: 26 – Position: AMR (AML)

Still listed as the team’s official start at LW, this is likely to be Drummond’s last. He played in 36 Games (18 Starts), registering a career-low 2 Goals, 5 Assists, and 6.73 AR. His form has made the debate on whether to promote Ahmed Razak a much more interesting one, and he is not leaving his manager with a lot of options despite being one of his favorite players. A huge part of the First Generation, especially during their epic climb up the leagues, he has found the Premier League more challenging than fun, although he did have a decent year last season, registering 6.99 AR. He signed a new contract at the end of the season which will pay him £41k per week for the next five years, reaffirming just how important Ezz believes the volatile personality to be to the team.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

It is looking like Ahmed Razak (’27 Youth Class – 30 Apps, 3 Asts, 6.62 AR) will start the 2030/31 season as the team’s starter at LW despite underwhelming form over the past couple of seasons….Still only 18, he has shown impressive growth in his abilities, but that has yet to transform into consistent form on the pitch….He has a 4+/5 PA and is considered one of the hottest prospects on the team, with his speed of particular note.

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FORWARDS

JOE REARDON (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 26 – Position: SC (MC)

If Tom Horgan is the heart of the First Generation and Joe Sheppard its brain, then Joe Reardon is most definitely its soul. The club’s all-time leading goalscorer at 172 Goals for his career, he can comfortably lay claim to being the club’s best player in the 2020s. This season, he played in 33 Games, registering 15 Goals, 5 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 7.11 AR, down from 7.22 AR last season. He is efficient, and he is a club ‘Icon’ – the only player in the club’s history to win its Player of the Year award four times. He has been an excellent tutor and role model for Bekir Celik, but his days alongside Andy Holland in the club’s first few years will always be a standing memory with the fans who witnessed it. He is the standard on which all attackers on the team are measured, and like those in the First Generation, embodies the club’s culture.

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BEKIR CELIK (Turkey: 13 Caps/7 Goals) – Age: 20 (’25 Youth Class) – Position: SC

What a bounce-back, revenge-soaked season for the young Turkish striker, who took home his second PL Young Player of the Year award in the last three years. After an epic 2027/28 season where he scored 29 Goals, last season turned out to be a disappointment as Celik struggled to find the kind of form that had made him a sensation in the Premier League and his home nation of Turkey. There were questions about whether he had peaked too early in his career, and whether the supposed lack of progress in terms of his abilities were a sign that the season he had was an exception and the 2028/29 season closer to the norm. There are no more questions being asked, however, as the newly crowned Sophara United Player of the Year delivered a fine season – in 37 Games, he registered 26 Goals, 4 Assists, 6 PoMs, and 7.31 AR, up from 6.98 AR but down from his career-best of 7.40 AR. He is ruthless up front and has the ability to rack up goals real quick. Strong and fast, his dribbling ability has become fantastic with his manager encouraging him to run with the ball more often. He has become a star in Turkey and won the 2029 Footballer of the Year in Turkey award, the second time he has taken it home. He will be going to the World Cup at Spain 2030 with his nation, with eyes on him to see if he can continue proving he is the real deal.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Andy Holland (32 Apps (6 Starts), 2 Gls, 6.81 AR) had a career-low 2 Goals as the Premier League has been a difficult adjustment for him….Still, he has his manager and the team’s faith, and always leaves it out on the pitch for the club….Will continue to have a role to play thanks to his ability to also cover the left wing, but there is potential he could see playing time taken away as Ezz plans to bring in Aaron Woodward (’29 Youth Class) into the rotation….This was his rookie year, playing in 3 Games and scoring 1 Goal with a 7.05 AR….His speed is already fantastic and his development has been noticeable physically….He only turns 17 this summer.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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MAJOR LEAGUES REVIEW 2029/30

 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Winner: MANCHESTER UNITED

Winning their first title in 22 years, Manchester United defeated a fitting enemy to overcome in Bayern Munich, the best team in the world in the 2020s….It was seemingly destiny as Man United’s home ground of Old Trafford played host to the Champions League Finals this year, a game the English squad won 3-2 in extra-time and in dramatic fashion….Last year, Man United were knocked by English Premier League champions Manchester City in the semi-finals, but Man City were knocked out by Villarreal in the Second Round….Bayern Munich took out Real Madrid in the semi-finals, ending Kylian Mbappe’s (11 Apps, 13 Gls) run….Mbappe, who has still yet to win a CL trophy, was the competition’s best player this season.

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Winner: MANCHESTER CITY

The record keeps growing and it now stands at 6 in a row for Manchester City, who are riding the unprecedented and completely epic career of Erling Haaland (34 Apps, 57 Gls, 7 Asts. 15 PoMs, 8.31 AR)….The Norwegian megastar striker broke his own PL record by hitting 57 Goals (!!!) and registering 8.31 AR this season….The unquestionable GOAT of the EPL, the 29-year-old now has 399 League Goals in only 437 Games….Arsenal (2nd) retook the Runners-Up spot after giving it up to newly crowned Champions League winners Manchester United (3rd) for a year….They were led by Victor Osimhen (34 Apps, 38 Gls, 10 Asts, 9 PoMs, 7.73 AR), who is the only player other than Haaland to score over 35 Goals in Premier League history….Liverpool (4th) will be back in the Champions League for the first time in five years after grabbing the last spot.

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SPANISH LA LIGA

Winner: REAL MADRID

It is now five in a row for Kylian Mbappe (38 Apps, 23 Gls, 10 PoMs, 7.55 AR) and Real Madrid….Voted the second strongest league in the world after the English Premier League, the La Liga has been dominated by Real Madrid throughout the 2020s….Also for the fifth time in a row, Barcelona (2nd) finishing behind their rivals in 2nd Place….Real Sociedad (3rd) and Atletico Madrid (4th) have been interchanging those two positions throughout the past decade, and they both grabbed the other two Champions League spots.

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GERMAN BUNDESLIGA

Winner: BAYERN MUNICH

Eighteen and counting for the ‘Team of the 2020s’ as Bayern Munich continue to dominate the German Bundesliga….They have a new star in the making as Patrick Weissmann (34 Apps, 10 Gls, 13 Asts, 6 PoMs, 7.63 AR) won the 2030 German Bundesliga Player of the Year, its youngest ever recipient at just 20….Leipzig (2nd) finished as Runners-Up for the third straight season and the 8th time in the past 10 years….Wolfsburg (3rd) and Borussia Monchengladbach (4th) beat out disappointing Borussia Dortmund (5th) for the last two Champions League spots….Bayern Munich were also attempting to win their second CL title in a row but fell to Man United in the Finals at Old Trafford.

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ITALIAN SERIE A

Winner: JUVENTUS

By the slimmest of margins, AC Milan captured their first title in nine years, beating their rivals Inter Milan (2nd) thanks to a tie-breaker….The former champions Juventus (3rd) needs to find a solution to replacing its reliance on its legend Frederico Chiesa if it is to hope to remain competing for title they made their own in the 2020s….Lazio (4th) took the last Champions League spot, ahead of Atalanta (5th) and Roma (6th)….The Italian teams have been competitive in Europe the past few years – AC Milan and Inter Milan both won the Europa League in 2025 and 2026, respectively, while Juventus reached the Champions League Finals in 2026 and were semi-finalists this year.

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FRENCH LIGUE 1

Winner: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

One of the legends of the 2020s, Ansu Fati (33 Apps, 15 Gls, 9 Asts, 7 PoMs, 7.80 AR) led Paris Saint-Germain to their 9th consecutive title, of which he has been a part of six….Monaco (2nd) and tycoon-owned Rennes (3rd) grabbed the other two Champions League spots….The story of the season remains Fatu and PSG, however – the 27-year-old Spanish striker became a PSG legend when he led them to their first ever Champions League title in 2028….They won the Europa League this season, defeating Southampton 4-2 in the Finals in Frankfurt.

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SPAIN 2030 – WORLD CUP

INTRO/GROUP STAGES

Hosted in Spain for the second time ever (the first being 1982 where Italy won its 3rd title), the World Cup came from North America where Portugal lifted the title for the first time ever four years ago….This year’s edition started off with a bang – in the first match, the hosts destroyed first time participants Vanuatu 11-0, while Switzerland defeated Curacao 7-1 in the second match….Kylian Mbappe made it three hat-tricks by different players in the first two days as France defeated Syria 3-1….In a highly anticipated Matchday One game, Serbia and Brazil duked it out to a 2-2 draw, while England were held 1-1 by a strong Colombian side….Bekir Celik’s Turkey came out 4-1 winners against Ecuador by the Sophara United striker did not play, while Tommy Sullivan’s Ireland lost 1-0 to the USA….Jakub Berkovec’s Czech Republic were held to a 0-0 draw by Morocco.

Matchday Two started with Switzerland winning 3-0 against Japan, with 30-year-old Feyenoord striker Andi Zeqiri scoring his second hat-trick in a row and bringing his total to 6 Goals in just 2 Games….The Swiss joined Saudi Arabia, Spain, and South Korea as the first teams to qualify to the Second Round….Tommy Sullivan and Ireland defeated Iran 3-0, with the Sophara midfielder getting a 6.8 Rating….A number of teams sealed their qualification to the Second Round on Matchday Two, with no real surprises.

The Czech Republic were the first real surprise exit, with Morocco joining Saudi Arabia out of Group C and leaving the pre-tournament favorites to top the group out of the picture….Costa Rica joined Norway out of Group D, with the wave of young Costa Rican talent keeping knocking Nigeria out….Germany sealed their qualification to the Second Round with a big 7-0 win over Uzbekistan….Ghana joined the defending champions to qualify out of Group K, leaving behind Canada….Mexico and Turkey joined the Second Round out of Group O, and it was Colombia that beat out South Africa to qualify alongside England in Group P.

 

 

SECOND ROUND

So much was expected out of 2026 semi-finalists Norway and the biggest star in the world of football Erling Haaland, but they were knocked out by Saudi Arabia after the Middle Eastern team won 3-2 in extra-time in the first match of the Second Round…..30-year-old Inter Milan striker Ferran Torres hit a hat-trick for the hosts Spain as they defeated Japan 3-0 to advance…..Switzerland had an unbelievable three players sent off and South Korea still could not put them away after 120 minutes, with the match ending 0-0 before going to penalties. It was almost an impossible fight for the Swiss but they came so close to winning, losing out at the final stage to a lackluster South Korean team…..Costa Rica’s band of youngsters have already captivated the hearts of fans, advancing to the Third Round after defeating Morocco on penalties following the match ending 0-0 after 120 minutes.

Day Two of the Second Round started with France needing penalties to push past Ireland after the match ended 1-1…..Austria hit two goals in extra-time to win 3-1 against 2026 quarter-finalists Jamaica. The Jamaicans themselves had equalized in the dying seconds of the game before Austria took the game in the next 30 minutes…..Holland kept their calmness about them as they quietly moved past Australia 3-1. The Dutch went down a goal before turning up the heat in the last 20 minutes of the game…..The USA advanced past Cameroon 1-0 in a relatively drama-free affair in the last game of the day.

Day Three was one of big results, starting with the defending champions Portugal defeating Denmark on penalties after the match ended 2-2 with the Danes having a player sent off…..Italy destroyed Uzbekistan 9-0 with 30-year-old Inter Milan striker Giacomo Raspadori (31 Apps, 19 Gls) scoring four on his own…..Germany continued the show versus Thailand, defeating the Asian nation 6-1 as 28-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker Karim Adeyemi (33 Apps, 13 Gls) scored a hat-trick….The final match of the day saw Argentina take out Ghana 4-0 in convincing fashion as all the African nations were now knocked out of the tournament.

Day Four started with England defeating Bekir Celik’s Turkey 2-0. The 20-year-old Sophara striker did not have the best first World Cup experience, playing in only 2 Games and registering no Goals and 6.65 AR…..The neutral’s favorite and the popular darkhorse pick Serbia got the job done against Uruguay, taking a tough 2-1 win. The Euro 2028 Finalists have not been to the World Cup in 12 years and were proving they belonged…..Brazil escaped a shocking upset after pulling away to a 2-1 victory over Poland. They had lost to Turkey in 2026 at this stage, so they were grateful to push past it…..Colombia took a strong 2-1 victory over a tough Mexican team in the last match of the Second Round. The last they had made it past the Second Round was at Brazil 2014, where they lost to the hosts in the quarter-finals.

 

THIRD ROUND

Ansu Fati took his tally to 4 Goals in the tournament so far after scoring a brace as the hosts Spain defeated Saudi Arabia 3-0 in strong fashion. In their four games so far, Spain had yet to concede a single goal and had scored 20 Goals, including 11 against Vanuatu…..The Costa Rican adventure came to an end against a resurgence South Korea as they were defeated 3-1 by the Asian nation. The South Koreans had barely squeaked by a Swiss team down three men in the previous round, so this victory put the confidence back in the team…..Two late goals from 27-year-old Wolfburg striker Emanuel Emegha led Holland to a 3-2 win over the USA. Emegha brought his total to 3 Goals and 8.37 AR, the best player on a strong Dutch team…..Kylian Mbappe brought his total to 6 Goals in 4 Games as France ended Day Two of the Third Round with a confident 2-0 victory over Austria.

Day Three of the Third Round featured perhaps the two most anticipated matchups of the stage…..The defending champions Portugal were underdogs against the Germans, but they proved they had the heart of a champion and took the match on penalties after it ended with a 1-1 draw. The Germans equalized in the 89th minute, spending most of the match trying to equalize against a resilient Portuguese defense…..The other highly dramatic match that saw two reds cards, Italy defeated Argentina 1-0 after a 4th minute penalty was awarded. Both teams had a player sent off in the first half…..Day Four delivered the shock of the round as Colombia destroyed Brazil 3-0 in perhaps their biggest victory this century. The Brazilians were left shocked by the Colombian resolve and their relentless counter-attacks…..England ended Serbia’s run in the Third Round’s final match, taking a 2-1 victory. This lined up the English against the defending champions in the quarter-finals.

 

QUARTER-FINALS

SPAIN vs. HOLLAND: This was the stage that Holland saw their exit for years ago at the hands of England, while World Cup 2026 beaten Finalists Spain were trying to make a repeat trip to the top of the totem pole, this time in front of their home fans. It would be the same result for the Dutch as Spain continued being the stingiest defense at the tournament, defeating Holland 1-0 in another strong showing. In all of Spain’s five games in front of their home fans, they had yet to concede a single goal. They advance to the semi-finals where they were to face the winner of Portugal vs. England. RESULT: Spain 1 - 0 Holland

SOUTH KOREA vs. FRANCE: Having last won the title at Russia 2018, Mbappe and the French had already advanced past their 2026 stage, when they were beaten by Jamaica in a shocking result in the Third Round. The South Koreans had gotten here once before – at South Korea/Japan 2002 when they reached the semi-finals. France had their own plans already made, however, and they were not going to let anyone stop it. They came away from this match 6-2 winners, with Mbappe scoring another hat-trick to bring his total to a tournament-leading 9 Goals. RESULT: France 6 – 2 South Korea

ITALY vs. COLOMBIA: An Italian team that had not gotten past the quarter-final stage of the World Cup in 24 years – when they last lifted the trophy at Germany 2006 – went up against a powerful Colombian squad that had ended Brazil’s run in the previous round in dominant fashion. Giacomo Raspadori continued to stir up memories of Ciro Immobile at Qatar 2022, scoring a brace as Italy took a dominant 4-1 victory. This brought his total to 8 Goals going into the semi-finals, a number bettered only by Kylian Mbappe. RESULT: Italy 4 – 1 Colombia

PORTUGAL vs. ENGLAND: The defending champions were up against 2026 semi-finalists and one of the remaining favorites to lift the title in England. Both teams defeated tough teams in the previous round – England beating Serbia and Portugal moving past Germany. The defending champions ran into the English wall, however, and the World Cup was going to have a new winner. England defeated Portugal 2-0 with a goal in each half, setting up a mouth-watering tie with Spain in the semi-finals – a repeat of 2026 in every way.  RESULT: England 2 – 0 Portugal

 

SEMI-FINALS

ENGLAND vs. SPAIN: This was the third straight World Cup where these two giants of football faced off, with Spain winning both times – at Qatar 2022 in the quarter-finals, and at USA/Canada/Mexico 2026 at this stage. The hosts would make it three in a row, as they pulled off another 1-0 win and making it six straight games without conceding a goal. Their best player so far this tournament, Man City’s 30-year-old winger Pedro Porro, was the goal scorer as he brought his total to 2 Goals, 2 PoMs, and a team-leading 8.00 AR. The English did not have a stand out performer this time around, and were disappointed this was not the time they would get over the stranglehold the Spanish team has had on them the past decade or so. As for the hosts, they were advancing to their 3rd straight Finals, a feat only the Brazilian team of the 1990s and 2000s managed to accomplish, making three straight from 1994 to 2002. RESULT: Spain 1 – 0 England

FRANCE vs. ITALY: Neither team had been to the Semi-Finals in the past 12 years, when France lifted the trophy on the back of a young Mbappe at Russia 2018. The defending two-time European Championship winners faced off against Italy at the Euro 2024 Finals in Germany, winning the match 1-0. There was no mercy from the French as they took the match in empathic fashion, winning 4-0 as Mbappe scored a brace and brought his total to 11 Goals, 2 off the record set by fellow countryman Just Fontaine in 1958. France would face the hosts Spain in a monstrous Finals showdown, with Kylian Mbappe looking to throw the Haaland vs. Mbappe debate back in his favor by taking his second ever World Cup – an ever so rare accomplishment.  RESULT: France 4 – 0 Italy

 

FINALS

FRANCE vs. SPAIN: Spain won its second World Cup trophy at Qatar 2022 but lost to Portugal at this stage on penalties in 2026. This was the third time a row the Spanish team had advanced to the Finals, a feat accomplished only by Brazil from 1994 to 2002. As for France, they were two-time European Championship defending champions and were led by the tournament’s – and possibly the world’s – best player in Kylian Mbappe, who was 2 Goals away from equaling Just Fontaine’s record of 13 Goals set in 1958. Spain had not conceded a single goal the entire tournament, and France was just coming off a strong 4-0 win against the Italians. The Spanish wall would remain intact, however, as the match finished 0-0 after 120 minutes. The hosts had made it the entire tournament without conceding a single goal, and to top it off, they won the match on penalties. Lifting their second World Cup trophy in three consecutive tries, Spain held Mbappe to his 11 Goals and frustrated the star, who remained the tournament’s best player despite losing in the Finals. Led by stars such as Ansu Fati and Pedri, this Spanish dynasty has now gone to three World Cup Finals and lifted the trophy twice. RESULT: Spain 0 (p) – 0 France

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AWARDS

BEST PLAYER – Kylian Mbappe (France)

There could only be Mbappe, as he had no equal at Spain 2030….He scored an incredible 11 Goals along with 8.37 AR in his 7 Games, second only to Just Fontaine’s 13 Goals in 1958….Unfortunately, could not get France past Spain in the Finals, as the 2018 winner could not join a rare club of players that have lifted the trophy twice….The 31-year-old showed just how incredible he was as a footballer, carrying the French squad – who are current two-time defending European champions – through the knockout stages that included a 4-0 victory over Italy to the Finals.

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BEST YOUNG PLAYER – Patrick Weissmann (Germany)

Generally recognized as the best player in world under the age of 21, Weissmann registered 2 Goals and 7.78 AR in his 4 Games….His vision and flair were on full display for the world to see as he participated in the first of what is sure to be a few World Cup tournaments….Germany were knocked out in the Third Round by Portugal, but on a team full of stars, it was Weissmann who was the team’s best player….The 20-year-old Bayern Munich star is the current Bundesliga Player of the Year.

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BEST GOALKEEPER – Alvaro Fernandez (Spain)

There is only one choice here – the Spanish GK kept 7 Clean Sheets in all 7 of his Games, registering a league-high 7.50 AR for the GK position….The Lorient player has not been a starter for the national team for too long, but his performances at Spain 2030 has ushered him of his place in his country’s history….Formerly with Atalanta before being bought by Lorient two years ago, he was not part of the squad that had made the previous two Finals.

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GOLDEN BOOT – Kylian Mbappe (France): 11 Goals

See Kylian Mbappe under Best Player.

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SUMMER 2030

 

EURO U19 CHAMPIONSHIP – Spain Wins Title as Baptiste Flamant Turns Heads

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NOTABLE TRANSFERS

PEDRI, 27 (Spain: 110 Caps/23 Goals) - £125M (£149M) from Barcelona to Bayern Munich: The transfer that no one wanted to see happen but everyone knew was coming….Bayern Munich is a fitting replacement to Barcelona, where Pedri has become a legend amongst the several legends….Was Qatar 2022’s Best Player as himself and Ansu Fati led Spain to two World Cup trophies and three Finals over the past decade….The four-time and current Spanish La Liga Player of the Year, Pedri ends his Barcelona career high on personal accolades but low on titles – he led them to only one La Liga title in 2024 and could not lead them to a Champions League title….A legend for the Spanish national team having been one of the leaders that has created an international dynasty, Pedri now has 100 Goals and 114 Assists for his career, with 70 PoMs and 7.57 AR, as well….He joins what continues to be the most talented team in the world in Bayern Munich, a midfield that includes the likes of Patrick Weissmann, Joao Felix, and Kai Havertz.

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BOBBI RISTOVSKI, 23 (Macedonia: 62 Caps/14 Goals) - £91M from Southampton to Manchester United: First popping onto the international scene a number of years ago as a teenager, Ristovski has made his big money move this summer….He spent four underwhelming seasons with Southampton after being acquired from Panathinaikos for £7M in 2026….His potential is unquestionable, however, which is the reason Man United paid as much as they did for the young midfielder….His passing ability is special and is what initially got him attention as a teenager….Might be Macedonia’s best player of all-time, but he will finally have to prove he can perform on the big stage with his new club.

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ADHEMAR ARNEIRO, 24 (Brazil: 1 U21 Cap) - £77M from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea: After three years with Borussia Dortmund, the Brazilian DC moves to English Premier League contenders Chelsea….The ‘Elite Centre-Back’ is a uniquely strong player, carrying superior strength and quickness….That gives him a sizable edge in battles with incoming attackers, and the Brazilian media has now begun making noise about giving the powerful defender a shot with the national team….He will be relied on by his new manager to lead what has usually been a strong backline but was a bit leaky last season.

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JAMES MADUKA, 21 (England: 10 Caps/5 Goals) - £75M from Aston Villa to Chelsea: The London club’s second big signing of the summer, Maduka comes off a spectacular season in which he scored 29 Goals….Aston Villa acquired him only two years from Norwich for £16M, turning a nice profit on his contract….Came up through the Preson youth academy before moving to Norwich….The current European Golden Boy award winner, he was voted Aston Villa’s Player of the Year….Was part of the England team that reached the semi-finals of Spain 2030.

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VICTOR PEREZ, 23 (Spain: 6 Caps) - £60M from Atletico Bilbao to Southampton: The Ristovski money bought Southampton one of Spain’s hottest players under the age of 25….The former Atletico Bilbao winger won the Euro U21 title with his nation and got named in the competition’s Dream Team last summer….Equally proficient playing at left-back as he is at left-wing, the speedy Bilbao-born player can even play at DC if asked.

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GOAL 50 2030

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WINNER

ERLING HAALAND (Norway: 103 Caps/65 Goals) – Manchester City, 30-years-old, SC (Previous: Winner)

The ‘Legendary Striker’ and English Premier League’s GOAT, Erling Haaland captured the Goal 50 award for a record 6th time and 4th time in a row….Much was expected of him and Norway at Spain 2030, but they got knocked out in the Second Round….Still, Haaland remains the world’s biggest football star having dismantled EPL record after record over the past few years….Man City have also captured 6 titles in a row because of Haaland, who set a new EPL record with an unfathomable 57 Goals last season….Was designated the ‘Player of the 2020s’, beating out Kylian Mbappe for it….Has no equal in the game today, and will almost certainly go down as one of the absolute top legends in the history of football when he calls it a day.

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2ND PLACE

JAMAL MUSIALA (Germany: 111 Caps/29 Goals) – Manchester City, 27-years-old, Attacking Midfielder (Previous: 4th)

For the first time in eight years, someone other than Haaland or Mbappe takes 2nd Place….The German ‘Elite Attacking Midfielder’ is currently in his third season with Manchester City, moving to England from Bayern Munich in 2028 for £157M….He scored a career-high 27 Goals for his new club last season, his second with them….A champion everywhere he goes, he has lifted the Bundesliga, Premier League, and Champions League titles….An essential member of Bayern Munich’s epic 2020s run (that has extended into the early 2030s)….An incredible player with no weakness in his game, he is primed to compete for the world’s best footballer title in the next few years.

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3RD PLACE

KYLIAN MBAPPE (France: 139 Caps/80 Goals) – Real Madrid, 31-years-old, Forward (Previous: 2nd)

A player that became known as the world’s best footballer in the 2020s, Mbappe’s incredible physical abilities are going to start waning in the upcoming few years and how he adjusts will speak volumes on how incredible of a player he is….The only player to give Haaland a run for his money, there are many who will argue that Mbappe is actually the greater of the two….Described as a ‘Legendary Striker’, he nearly led France to the World Cup title at Spain 2030, scoring an incredible 11 Goals and winning its Best Player award as he carried the French team to the Finals….Incredibly, the Champions League still eludes him, as he continues to battle to bring the title back to one of its spiritual homes in Madrid.

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MID-SEASON UPDATE 2030/31

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WORLD GOLDEN BALL/PLAYER OF THE YEAR

ERLING HAALAND (Norway: 97 Caps/62 Goals) – Manchester City, 29-years-old

Five in a row for Haaland, breaking Lionel Messi’s record of most awards won in a row….Please see report under GOAL 50 AWARDS above.

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WORLD GOLDEN GLOVE/GK OF THE YEAR

GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA (Italy: 137 Caps) – Paris-Saint Germain, 31-years-old

Gianluigi Donnarumma wins the awards for the 3rd time in past four years….He wins them back from Diogo Costa after delivering an exceptional 2029/30 season in which he registered a career-high 7.73 AR and being part of the Italian team that took 3rd Place at Spain 2030….A Champions League winner with PSG in 2028, the Italian was part of the Italian team that won Euro 2021, his only international title….That being said, the 2020s generally had three names when it came to the GK position: Ederson, Donnarumma, and Courtois, with the PSG GK still in the prime of his career.

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WORLD U21 FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR

PATRICK WEISSMANN (Germany: 35 Caps/5 Goals) – Bayern Munich, 21-years-old

Patrick Weissmann is only the second player after former teammate Jamal Musiala to win the World U21 Footballer of the Year award three times in a row….He was named in the World Team of the Year for the second straight season and is probably the world’s biggest star 21 years and under….The midfielder is currently having the best season of his career so far – in 23 Games, he has registered 8 Goals, 10 Assists, 4 PoMs, and 7.81 AR….He came in 3rd Place in the World Golden Ball/World Player of the Year awards….The German midfielder is considered one of the finest passers of the ball in the world today.

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WORLD TEAM OF THE YEAR 2029

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AFRICAN NATIONS CUP 2031 – Senegal Wins in Eq. Guinea

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NxGN 50 2031

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WINNER

JOAN ALIAGA, (Spain: 7 U21 Caps/5 U21 Goals), Midfielder - Espanyol, 19-years-old (Previous: 4th)

Ranked 4th in the 2030 NxGn Top 50, Joan Aliaga takes the 2031 NxGn award after delivering another excellent season for his club in the Spanish La Liga….In 28 Games, he has registered 6 Goals, 5 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 7.35 AR while leading Espanyol to 5th in the La Liga table….He has actually been part of the first team rotation for the past four seasons, but this season and last are the ones that have brought on the attention….The most recent recipient of the European Golden Boy award, Aliaga has the eyes of some of the world’s biggest clubs.

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2ND PLACE

GERARDO CASAS (Mexico: 2 Caps), Defender/Midfielder – Pachuca (MEX), 19-years-old (Previous: Unranked)

The 19-year-old Mexican international is as versatile as they come, but his most natural position is DR….He will be making his move to Europe soon it seems, with several clubs lining up transfer bids….This was his first season at Pachuca, moving from Atlas for £6.5M….He played in 34 Games, registering 2 Goals and 6.91 AR….As with so many Central and even South American youngsters in recent years, Casas has made a name for himself in the Mexican league.

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3RD PLACE

ANATOLY MALYGIN (Russia: 18 U21 Caps/5 U21 Goals), Attacking Midfielder – Krasnodar (RUS) 19-years-old (Previous: 32nd)

Already on the list last year, Malygin has only improved his standing in world football since then….He took 3rd Place in the Russian Young Player of the Year award, playing in 22 Games and registering 6 Goals and 7.04 AR….His club is currently 3rd in the Russian Premier League in large part to Malygin’s form….He is the highest ranked Russian player on the NxGn list in the last ten years at least.

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OTHER NOTABLES

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THE SOPHARA JOURNAL

SEASON REVIEW 2030/2031

 

TEAM REVIEW

The talent of football coming out of the Sophara United Youth Academy has seemingly plateaued at the Premier League mid-table level – it has been five years now in the EPL and it has been five mid-table finishes. With the 2020s now behind us, the First Generation’s epic run up the leagues – its defining quality – is now being replaced with the 2030s mission of fighting for a spot in Europe. They improved this year as they pushed back to 9th Place, the highest they have ever finished in the Premier League. This was a good improvement from 12th Place and has further instilled in the culture of the club that they belong amongst the world’s best. One of manager Abul Ezz’s main focus over the past few seasons has been to improve the defense, and it has worked so far. They finished a team record 9th Best in the PL this season, behind strong seasons from GK Darren Allen and DC Akim Lawrence. The offense remained amongst the better in the league, finishing as the 6th highest scoring team, up from 9th but with the same 66 Goals. They missed out on European qualification and never really challenged for it, but the main goal of not being dragged into a relegation battle was taken care of. The Cups continued to be a disaster for the club, however – it was a Third Round knockout to Huddersfield in the FA Cup and a Fourth Round exit to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.

The Sophara Youth Academy set up its third subsidiary this season in Brunswick, Germany, in collaboration with Eintracht Braunschweig in the Bundesliga 2. This makes it the 4th branch of the SYA – the first being the HQ in London, then SYA Ghana and SYA France. Abul Ezz stated he continues to push towards setting one up in South America as he wanted to tap into the talent and potential of the continent. The training and youth facilities have both been given ‘State-of-the-Art’ tags and are ranked amongst the best in the world. The SYA Youth Program – ensuring every player gets a full university education – has attracted some of the country’s best young talent and they are beginning to seep through into the first team. This was the first year ever that the majority of the starting eleven were not members of the First Generation. Some of the biggest legends of the 2020s such as Elvis Kozic and Stan Drummond are now bench players who continue to see dwindling playing time in the rotation. Still, there are those that have risen to the stage and have performed wonders, such as Joe Sheppard and Joe Reardon. The Finances exceeded £200M for the first time, and the entire situation and atmosphere surrounding the club is nothing but positive. There is optimism that European glory is not that far off.

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GOALKEEPERS

DARREN ALLEN (England: 10 U21 Caps) – Age: 19 ('28 Youth Class) – Position: GK

Darren Allen continued his strong form and his consistency earned him praise from the media this season. After an impressive first season in the Premier League as an 18-year-old, he followed up with an equally (almost) strong season, showing that it was no fluke. In 32 Appearances, he registered 1.78 Con/90, 4 Clean Sheets (down from 9), and 7.03 AR, down from 7.11 AR last season. He was named to the PL Team of the Week twice this season, but there was drama with the man he has replaced in the starting lineup, Elvis Kozic. He signed a new contract that pays him £48k per week and has shown ‘Major’ improvement in all key attributes in his scouting report. One must not forget he still has not turned 20 and carries a 4+/5 PA that is justified thus far.

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ELVIS KOZIC (Sweden: 7 U21 Caps) – Age: 27 – Position: GK

A bust up with Darren Allen could leave Kozic out of the picture completely, and if it is decided that he no longer has a place with the club, there will be no shortage of takers. He played in 6 Games this season, and had a Clean Sheet in an incredible 5 of them, registering 7.35 AR. If he wanted to prove a point, he certainly did but such issues are not that simple, especially when considering the development of Allen and its importance. Still, the First Generation legend continues to publicly support the team and his manager, and some suggest he has no problem being the No.2 as long as he stays on the team.

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FULLBACKS

PATRICK BOLA (France: 22 U21 Caps) – Age: 22 ('25 Youth Class) – Position: DL

This was his bounce-back year from his injury-played 2029/30 season, and one can safely say his is back to pre-injury form. In 33 Games, he registered 3 Assists, 60.99 PC/90, 92% Passes Completed, 2.39 T/90, 75 Tackles Won, 111 Interceptions, and 6.85 AR – the same as the 2028/29 season. His 92% Tackles Won was the 2nd best in the Premier League, and his 53 Blocks was 4th best. He still has consistency issues and is never going to be great with the ball at his feet, but with his passing being so efficient he is not a liability in that respect. His value is north of £50M now, and he is starting to get mentions when it comes to the French national team setup.

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MOHAMMED ADU (England: 10 U21 Caps) – Age: 19 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: DR (DC)

Mohammed Adu continues to improve in his newly adopted position of DR – this is the second season he starts for the team at right-back. In 29 Games, he registered 1.26 T/90, 89% Passes Completed, 104 Intereptions, and 6.83 AR, which was a career-high. His natural position of DC remains where he is most comfortable playing but as it stands, Adu has a firm lock on the DR starting spot. He carries a 4+/5 PA so the consensus on him is that he has the potential to still get a lot better and be a good PL-level DR in the future. The Ghanaian/English defender – like Patrick Bola – needs to deliver more consistent form and he is still prone to having some really bad days, but the improvement is noticeable and the talent is there. He will be expected to continue showing improvement going into next season as the team goal shifts to trying to qualify for Europe.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

There is a general agreement in the Sophara United ranks that Ger Lennon (25 Apps (17 Starts), 1.69 T/90, 93% Passes Completed, 6.73 AR) is more useful to the team coming off the bench and part of the rotation than as its starter at DR….His 6.73 AR was his highest in the five years the team has spent in the Premier League….There still is no real prospects capable of breaking into the first team – Mark Mardsen (’26 Youth Class) did not impress in his limited showing.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

TOM HORGAN (Ireland: 1 Cap) – Age: 27 – Position: DC

In what was Tom Horgan’s first injury-plagued season of his career, it was the first time in his career he plays less than 30 League Games. In his 26 Appearances, the Irish DC registered 2 Goals, 93% Passes Completed, and 6.87 AR, the lowest of his career. The ‘Model Professional’ has his doubters and they were out in full force this season, claiming that he simply is not talented enough to be a Premier League DC. The numbers speak differently, however, as Sophara United improved from 13th to 9th Best defense in the PL, even with Horgan’s off season. And that was what his manager proclaimed – this was an off season and not the first sign of Horgan’s imminent demise. The newly appointed club vice-captain, the First Generation legend has the full trust of his manager.

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AKIM LAWRENCE (England: 24 U21 Caps) – Age: 23 (’23 Youth Class) – Position: DC

For the third consecutive season, Akim Lawrence set a career-high in AR, registering 7.14 AR which was slightly up from the 7.13 AR from last season. His career average is now at 7.07 AR and he has to start wondering what else he can do to get himself in the English national team set-up. His season started off eventfully as he was declared the new team Captain by his manager, and then went on to deliver his best season of his career to date, earning three callups to the PL Team of the Week. The contract drama is now a few seasons behind the club and is long-forgotten – in fact, no one really expects Lawrence to move anywhere as it is rumored that he is close to signing a new one that will pay him £160k per week, the richest in team history. If he does, no one can say he does not deserve it as he continues to be the best player on an improving defense and one of the club’s most important players. He is considered one of the gems of the SYA.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

James Burgess (26 Apps (15 Starts), 94% Passes Completed, 7.00 AR) knows his job and does it well, covering the DC and DR positions as well as anyone can hope….The 27-year-old is as reliable as they come, and has now appeared in 356 League Games, one of the most of any player in club history….There continues to be a lack of defensive talent coming out of the SYA in recent years, which means Burgess continues to have zero competition for his place in the rotation.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

JOE SHEPPARD (England: 10 U21 Caps/1 Goal) – Age: 27 – Position: MC

It is tough to believe but this was only the third time out of Joe Sheppard’s 11 seasons that he registered 10+ Goals and Assists. In 36 Appearances, he recorded 10 Goals, 11 Assists, 3 PoMs, 24 Clear-Cut Chances, 91 Key Passes, and 7.17 AR. He is consistent if he is anything, as he continues to rank towards the top of the league in a number of key passing statistics. One of three players on the history of the club that has won its Player of the Year award twice (2022, ’29), his 392 League Appearances for his career is currently a club record. His 117 Goals for his career is the 3rd most in the history of Sophara United, behind only Joe Reardon and Andy Holland. His jersey remains the most popular one out of any of the squad’s players, unquestionably one of the fans’ favorites. Whether looking at this past season or his career in general, his important to the team cannot be quantified in numbers, which are great in their own respect. A club legend who continues to play the best football of his career and do well in the Premier League.

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RONNIE FLOOD (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 27 – Position: MC

Time and time again, Abul Ezz finds himself calling onto Flood when he feels the team needs to maintain poise and composure on the pitch. The MC delivered his finest season of his career this year – in 32 Appearances, he registered 2 Assists, 84% Passes Completed, 61.06 PC/90 (Best on the team), 0.96 D/90, and a career-best 7.02 AR. The ‘Model Professional’ is most likely never going to be called up to the English national team and risks never being recognized for just how important he is, but he is not the type to care in any case. There is a good amount of talent the MC position coming from the SYA, but Flood remains his manager’s go-to player when the going gets tough.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Tommy Sullivan (’24 Youth Class - 28 Apps (10 Starts), 2 Gls, 4 Asts, 6.81 AR) went to Spain 2030 with the Irish national team last summer and now has 23 Caps….It was more of the same from Sullivan, who has yet to find a way to push Flood out of the starting lineup….Still, his role in the rotation is important, judging by the amount of playing time he is getting….He has phenomenal passing talent but has not really utilized it in games yet….Nyren Minton-Collis (’29 Youth Class) played in 7 Games in his second season, improving to 6.62 AR from 6.45 AR….Has not shown the kind of progress that has generated excitement, but he is still 18 and how a lot of growth in front of him.

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WINGERS

JAKUB BERKOVEC (Czech Republic: 22 Caps/1 Goal) – Age: 22 (’25 Youth Class) – Position: AMR

A participant with the underwhelming Czech Republic team at Spain 2030, Jakub Berkovec continues to play hard-ball with his new contract as he insists he would like to move to a bigger club. In the meantime, he delivered his finest season in his career yet – in 38 Appearances, he registered 3 Goals, 13 Assists (career-high), 4 PoMs, 3.62 D/90 (3rd in PL), 128 Dribbles Made (2nd), and 7.10 AR. He has become known as one of the most dynamic wingers in the game today, with a value that has maintained over £100M. He was named in the PL Team of the Week 5 times and was also named the PL Young Player of the Month for December. This was his 4th straight season of 10 or more Assists, and his 7.10 AR was a career-high. Chelsea have been the main name in his transfer talk, but Abul Ezz has refused to entertain it. He is the only player on the team with a true 5/5 PA after already carrying a team-high 4.5/5 CA. His 35 Clear-Cut Chances and 115 Key Passes were the most on the team as he has slowly become its primary creator as opposed to Joe Sheppard. The hope remains is that he does what Akim Lawrence did years ago – finally put his signature on a new contract that guarantees the star stays with the team for the foreseeable future.

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AHMED RAZAK (England: 6 U21 Caps/5 U21 Goals) – Age:19 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: AML (AMR)

It was only a matter of time and it happened this season, with Razak officially replacing Drummond the starting eleven lineup at left winger. He did decent – in 32 Appearances, he registered 3 Goals, 9 Assists, 1.50 T/90, 81% Passes Completed, 3.08 D/90, and a career-high 6.86 AR. Labeled an ‘Enthusiastic Winger’, he has shown considerable improvement in his ball control and dribbling abilities, and although the focus will likely be down with the right flank with Berkovec in the immediate future at least, Razak has shown himself becoming more capable of developing as a decent weapon down the left wing. He has good speed and works well with the team – it is unlikely that he will develop into a world-class player (still possible), but he definitely has the look of a good PL-level winger.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Another First Generation legend gets relegated to the bench as Stan Drummond (31 Apps (5 Starts), 3 Gls, 3 Asts, 6.84 AR) finished his first season as a non-starter in his 11 year career….He actually did a lot better than last season (6.73 to 6.84 AR) and this is still a player who has 111 Assists in his career, and he won the PL Goal of the Month for November after scoring a scorcher against Southampton.

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FORWARDS

JOE REARDON (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 27 – Position: SC

For the second time in his Premier League career (five seasons), Joe Reardon scored at least 20 Goals. In 37 Games, he also registered 7 Assists, 5 PoMs, 1.28 D/90, 52% Shot Target, and a PL-high 7.24 AR, winning a club record 5th Sophara United Player of the Year award. Without question the team’s best player of the 2020s, he continues to deliver important goal after another as we move into the early 2030s era. An ‘Icon’ of the club, Reardon’s 192 League Goals are also a club record. He was named in the PL Team of the Week twice this season, bringing stability to a position thrown back by Celik’s inconsistent form. An absolute fans’ favorite and a legend amongst them, Reardon is confident and outspoken, endearing himself to the masses. He has been described as the ‘soul’ of the First Generation.

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BEKIR CELIK (Turkey: 21 Caps/11 Goals) – Age: 21 (’25 Youth Class) – Position: SC

Despite being one of the most popular football figures in Turkey, Celik played a bit part at Spain 2030 much to the dismay of everyone. The former PL Young Player of the Year was twice named the PL Young Player of the Month this season (February, April), but like the season that followed his first break-out year, he had a down season. His Goals dropped from 26 to 15, his 7.31 AR to 7.13 AR. Granted, it was not as dramatic as his first down season but it was still a noticeable drop in form. There were some bad games in there, and the general complaint about his form this season was the inconsistency. Was he still capable of brilliance? Of course – he proved as much when he netted two goals after the 90th minute against Brentford to give Sophara United the win. Is there any doubt from the Sophara coaching staff that he is capable of returning to his 20+ Goals ways? Absolutely zero doubt.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Andy Holland (25 Apps (4 Starts), 2 Gls, 6.74 AR) remained the first choice striker off the bench for the squad despite some interesting young talent coming up through the ranks….Only the club’s early fans will remember how prolific he was pre-Premier League, nostalgic surely about his partnership with Reardon that delivered the League Two and One titles….Aaron Woodward (’29 Youth Class – 12 Apps, 3 Gls, 6.72 AR) has started taking a more prominent role in the rotation, building his skills foundation on his impressive speed….The 17-year-old also has good technique and despite some questionable decisions on the pitch, he has the capability of delivering some great play.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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MAJOR LEAGUES REVIEW 2030/31

 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Winner: ARSENAL

For the first time in a long while – possibly since Porto won it in 2004 – has a team with so little chance given to them to win the tournament actually win….Arsenal might have finished in 5th in the English Premier League but they surprisingly won their first ever Champions League title after defeating Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid in the Finals in Dortmund….Arsenal was the dominant team at every stage in the knockout rounds, starting with Monaco then running through PSG and AC Milan on the way to the Finals….This looked like it could be Mbappe’s year to win his first ever CL title, but it was not to be – he is now 0-5 in the CL Finals, once with PSG and four times with Real Madrid….The Spanish La Liga champions were the only repeat semi-finalists from the previous year….Bayern Munich saw a Second Round exit at the hands of PSG, the first they have been knocked out before the Semi-Finals in 10 years….Barcelona were back in the semi-finals for the first time in 10 years….Arsenal make it the second straight EPL team to be crowned CL champions.

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Winner: TOTTENHAM

In a season of surprises, it was Tottenham who ended Manchester City (2nd) streak 6 straight titles….A team that has finished as high as 4th Place just once over the past 10 years, Tottenham shocked the nation and beat out the defending champions by just one Point on the final matchday….Manchester United (3rd) and Chelsea (4th) rounded up the top four, but because Arsenal (5th) were crowned CL champions for the first time, their London rivals are set to miss out on the Champions League to give way for the competition’s title holders a chance to defend their title….Tottenham were led by 24-year-old German winger Valentin Elm (37 Apps, 14 Gls, 9 Asts, 6 PoMs, 7.28 AR), who was the best player on a team that showed quality all season….Man City’s record shattering 6 titles in a row put the EPL under siege for much of the 2020s, and the expectation is that they will be favorites to lift it next year, too….Pep Guardiola won his 5th PL Manager of the Year award, and his first with Tottenham, whom he transformed completely in his first season in charge….Many will argue that he is second only to Alex Ferguson when it comes to greatest PL managers of all-time.

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SPANISH LA LIGA

Winner: REAL MADRID

Six titles in a row for Real Madrid, and six Spanish La Liga Manager of the Year awards for their manager Zinedine Zidane….This was the 7th time he has won the award, a new La Liga record….For the 5th time in his career, Kylian Mbappe (38 Apps, 27 Gls, 10 Asts, 13 PoMs, 7.96 AR) captured the Spanish La Liga Player of the Year award after delivering his fourth 20 Gls/10 Asts/10 PoMs season, otherwise known as the triple-double season….Barcelona (2nd) finished in a familiar position despite having sold their legend and best player in the 2020s Pedri to Bayern Munich….Atletico Madrid (3rd) and Real Sociedad (4th) continued their rotation of the last two Champions League spots….The CL title still eludes Mbappe, who led Real Madrid to the Finals this season but lost to surprising Arsenal….This makes it 0-5 in the CL Finals for Mbappe, as the 32-year-old legend is running out of time to clear that final hurdle of his career.

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GERMAN BUNDESLIGA

Winner: BAYERN MUNICH

Nineteen straight for Bayern Munich and it was not even close….A career year from Kai Havertz (32 Apps, 20 Gls, 10 Asts, 3 PoMs, 7.71 AR) won him his first German Bundesliga Player of the Year award, earning his title as the world’s most expensive footballer of all-time at £214M….They disappointingly crashed out of the Champions League in the second round despite being considered the most talented team in the world….Leipzig (2nd) finished as Runners-Up again, ahead of Wolfsburg (3rd) and Borussia Dortmund (4th)….There are adults in Germany that have never lived in a time where Bayern Munich was not champion – that’s how dominant the ‘Team of the 2020s’ has been.

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ITALIAN SERIE A

Winner: AC MILAN

AC Milan has made it two in a row, finishing ahead of Juventus (2nd) as they establish themselves as the early team of the 2030s….Led by Portuguese striker and World Cup winner Rafael Leao (31 Apps, 16 Gls, 6 Asts, 6 PoMs, 7.57 AR) and 34-year-old Colombian Luis Diaz (29 Apps, 10 Gls, 7 Asts, 6 PoMs, 7.55 AR), the Milan team continues to be the team to beat….The 2031 Serie A Player of the Year was Juventus midfielder Dejan Kulusevski (34 Apps, 13 Gls, 14 Asts, 13 PoMs, 7.70 AR), who won the award for the 3rd time….He has an incredible triple-double season, although it is not considered his finest….Roma (3rd) and Inter Milan (4th) grabbed the other two Champions League spots.

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FRENCH LIGUE 1

Winner: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

It is now a record 10th title in a row for Paris Saint-Germain, who had no equal in the league today….Rennes (2nd) and Monaco (3rd) continue to be the French Ligue 1’s representatives in the Champions League along with PSG….They beat out Lyon (5th) and Lille (4th), who will participate in the Europa League….PSG manager Jean-Luc Vasseur has continued the legacy handed over to him by Mauricio Pochettino, winning his second Manager of the Year award in a row.

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SUMMER 2031

 

U20 WORLD CUP – Spain Wins First Ever Title as Mexico Hosts for First Time

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EURO U21 CHAMPIONSHIP 2031 – France Wins in Turkey

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NOTABLE TRANSFERS

JAKUB BERKOVEC, 22 (Czech Republic: 24 Caps/2 Goals) - £94M from Sophara United to Chelsea: The summer’s worst kept secret was the love affair between Berkovec and Chelsea….The story finally came to an end when Chelsea activated his Minimum Release Clause of £94M one year before his contract expires….The ‘Elite Winger’ was coming off his finest season yet, registering 3 Goals, 13 Assists, 4 PoMs, 3.62 D/90, and 7.10 AR while playing in all 38 Games….His former manager Abul Ezz displayed dismay at losing the Czech star, saying he had hoped until the last minute that Berkovec would stay on and see his career through with Sophara United….Berkovec will get to play in Europe for the first time in his career, a step he said he needed to make.  

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GIANLUCA BONVICINI, 25 (Italy: 26 Caps/11 Goals) - £90M (£109M) from Juventus to Paris Saint-Germain: Just two years after joining Juventus, Bonvicini has made another big move, this time to the French capital to join the Ligue 1 elite….The deal could go to close to £110M if all the clauses are met, so he did not come cheap….He did well in his two years with Juventus, although he failed to win an Italian Serie A trophy….Was part of the Italian squad that took 3rd Place at Spain 2030….Played in all 38 Games and scored 11 Goals while also registering 5 Assists, 6 PoMs, 89% Passes Completed, and 7.45 AR with Juventus coming in second to AC Milan in the league….The ‘Elite Attacking Midfielder’ joins one of the most talented teams on the planet in PSG.

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MARKO ILIC, 24 (Serbia: 42 Caps/20 Goals) - £87M (£105M) from Tottenham to Manchester City: The Serbian star has been an integral part of the national team’s rise to prominence over the past few years, including their Euro 2028 run to the Finals in Italy….Since then, he has captured the Europa League (2029) and – more importantly – won the English Premier League title in a shocking season from Tottenham as they unseated six time champions Man City….He becomes the most expensive Serbian ever after a good season with the new EPL champions, registering 11 Goals, 10 Assists, 5 PoMs, and 7.17 AR in 35 Appearances….The 2030 Serbian Player of the Year will now get to play with the team he helped dethrone, made easier by his £250k per week contract.

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ANGELO, 26 (Brazil: 15 Caps/6 Goals) - £75M from Rennes to Barcelona: Three years after moving to France for £98M, Rennes sold him at a loss after failing to deliver up to expectations despite playing well….He becomes Rennes’ record sale after becoming (at the time) their record transfer in….Considered an ‘Elite Winger’ and one of the stars of the Brazilian national team, Barcelona will be paying him £450k per week with his new five year contract….He has a career average of 7.29 AR and 87 Goals in 345 League Games….Born in Brasilia, he came up through the Santos (BRA) youth system before moving to Roma in 2025.

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NIALL MCMAHON, 25 (Northern Ireland: 44 Caps) - £63M from Aston Villa to Bayern Munich: This was not a typical Bayern Munich transfer, as Niall McMahon is not the kind of star that they usually chase after….Aston Villa did not let him go cheaply, either, as the Northern Irish striker heads to Germany to join the greatest team in the world today….The midfielder registered 3 Goals, 3 Assists, and 7.07 AR in 33 Games for his former club – McMahon actually came up through the Aston Villa youth academy before debuting for the club in the mid-2020s….He was voted the Aston Villa 2031 Player of the Year after leading the team Europa Conference Finals, where they lost to Rangers in Manchester.

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JORGE GOMEZ, 25 (Paraguay: 42 Caps/3 Caps) - £60M from Manchester United to Tottenham: Bought from Libertad (PAR) for £775K in 2025 by Manchester United, he made the switch to London despite never really getting it together with the former Champions League winners….Last year, he played in 28 Games and registered 6.77 AR, not showing the kind of form that has a £60M price-tag on it….Still, maybe a change of scenery is what he needs as the talent is obviously there….He is a star back in Paraguay as he is easily the highest valued and most well-known player from the country today.

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GOAL 50 2031

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WINNER

KYLIAN MBAPPE (France: 165 Caps/99 Goals) – Real Madrid, 32-years-old, Forward (Previous: 3rd)

Ending Haaland’s streak at four Goal 50 awards in a row, Mbappe takes his 4th of his career and his first in 5 years….Led Real Madrid to the Champions League Finals, but again fell short – this time against surprise winners Arsenal….Has been in exceptional form so far this season, scoring 8 Goals and registering 8.30 AR in his 11 Games….He was voted the 2031 Best Player in Europe, winning that award for the 3rd time….His new contract is the richest in the world, paying him £600k per week, but it expires end of the season….That leads to the big question – what is Mbappe going to do? Is he going to commit the rest of his career to Real Madrid? Or will he seek glory – perhaps Champions League glory – elsewhere?

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2ND PLACE

ERLING HAALAND (Norway: 103 Caps/65 Goals) – Manchester City, 31-years-old, Forward (Previous: Winner)

After a disappointing Spain 2030 campaign, Haaland shocked the footballing world and retired from international football….The ‘Best Player of the 2020s’ left the international scene with best accomplishment coming at the World Cup 2026, where he and Martin Odegaard led Norway to the semi-finals of the competition….He has scored 40+ Goals for 5 straight seasons in the English Premier League, including 57 Goals during the 2029/30 season….He has scored 341 League Goals for Man City in 319 Appearances, a ridiculous average of over a goal a game….He is still at it, scoring 12 Goals in 8 Appearances so far this season….The Premier League’s best player of all-time, unquestionably, he will also go down as one of the greatest goalscorers the game has ever known with a strong argument for being the absolute best.

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3RD PLACE

KAI HAVERTZ (Germany: 142 Caps/52 Goals) – Bayern Munich, 32-years-old, Midfielder (Previous: 4th)

Despite their early exit from the 2030/31 Champions League competition (Second Round knockout), Havertz delivered what was his best personal season of his career….He equaled his career-high with 20 Goals, and also registered 10 Assists, 3 PoMs, and a career-high 7.71 AR as he won his third straight Bundesliga title….He won the 2031 Bundesliga Player of the Year and also took home the 2031 Bundesliga Top Goalscorer award….Now in his 4th season with Bayern Munich, he has endeared himself to the fans so quickly that he is already considered an ‘Icon’ of the club….The most expensive transfer of all-time at £216M, when he left Chelsea and joined his current club during the summer of 2028.

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OTHER NOTABLES

Moving up from 49th to 4th Place is new Paris Saint-Germain signing Gianluca Bonvicini, who moved from Juventus to the French capital this past summer for a deal that could be worth £109M. The 25-year-old ‘Elite Attacking Midfielder’ has propelled himself to the top echelon of the game after delivering a strong season for Juventus last year, getting a big money move, and being one of PSG’s best players this season….Patrick Weissmann (5th) has been a global star since his teenage years, and now the 21-year-old ‘Elite Midfielder’ has become one of the games undisputed finest players. The Bayern Munich star is possibly the finest passer in football today….Making his debut is English ‘Elite Midfielder’ Adam Bell (24th), with the 24-year-old Tottenham player showing a fantastic touch….The highest ranked player to ever come out of the SYA, Jakub Berkovec (33rd) is now with Chelsea after they triggered his £94M recent clause. The ‘Elite Winger’ is only 22 and is already adjusting well to his new club.

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NxGN 50 2032

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WINNER

RAUL CRUZ, (Mexico: Capped at U23), Left Winger – America (MEX), 18-years-old (Previous: 14th)

Up thirteen spots from last year’s list, the pacy winger wins the award after delivering two solid seasons for his boyhood club….He was America’s 2031 Player of the Year and led them to a Runners-Up position in the 2031/32 opening stage….He has 3 Goals, 3 Assists, and 7.00 AR in 26 Games this season….It is unlikely he will stay in Mexico too long – rumors have already started circulating about where he might end up in Europe….Born in Cuernavaca just south of Mexico City, Cruz has come up through the America youth system and is looking primed to become a Mexico international soon.

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2ND PLACE

MARTIN TOMASIN (Argentina:5 U20 Caps), Goalkeeper – River Plate (ARG), 19-years-old (Previous: 29th)

The starting GK for River Plate – one of the biggest clubs in Argentina – the past two seasons, and is primed for the big-time soon….A lot is expected of him – he is the highest-ranked GK in the NxGn Top 50 list in a while….Has been dubbed the ‘New Sergio Goycochea’ – the Argentine GK who played a key role in the nation reaching the 1990 World Cup Finals….There is no world-class Argentine GK talent currently, so his pathway to the national team could be shorter than usual….No word on a move to Europe yet, but given the potential talent, it would not be surprising to hear of a big club being interested.

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3RD PLACE

ANTONIS ADAM (Greece: 4 Caps), Defender – Vitesse, 19-years-old (Previous: Unranked)

After two years in the Greek Pro Leagues with his boyhood club of Levadeiakos, Antonis Adam moved on Free Transfer to Chelsea last summer….He was loaned out to Eredivisie club Vitesse to get some playing time, and he has done very well….Playing in one of Europe’s top leagues, Adam has registered 2 Assists, 2 PoMs, 1.76 T/90, 91% Passes Completed, and 6.93 AR in 25 Appearances….He is already a Greek international and the media is approving of his call-up….A level-headed person, he still has some work to do on his defensive instincts but has the physical build and speed to help make the journey a bit easier.

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OTHER NOTABLES

Cracking the top five is 16-year-old Turkish right winger Ayhan Gevgin (5th), who is currently in the midst of a fantastic rookie season for his boyhood club of Brondby….Born in Bursa, Turkey, he was scouted by the Brondby team and signed on as a youth in 2027, cracking the first team in 2031 with his rookie season being 2031/32….In 22 Games, he has registered 4 Goals, 4 Assists, 2 PoMs, and 7.08 AR, breaking the Danish 3F Superliga’s and club record of youngest player to score in a match at the age of 16 years and 26 days….Richie Hunter (8th) of Sophara United – their only representative this year – also debuts on the list as a 16-year-old….He has played in 5 Games this season in the world’s most competitive league, doing well and registering 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 86% Passes Completed, and 7.18 AR….He was named the PL Young Player of the Month for November, a few months after scoring the winning goal in the Finals for the English team that lifted the Euro U19 Championship trophy….The Sophara staff are big fans of the young midfielder, as is his manager….Luka De Meyer (15th) is yet another 16-year-old that has gotten global attention this season, this time for the Belgian Pro League with RWDM….The striker has netted an amazing 15 Goals in 26 Games, registering 1.31 D/90 and 6.94 AR….He has been inconsistent, but when he has been on he has scored incredibly well….He is very fast, he is a good finisher, and he dribbles the ball well, making for a strong combination that is surely going to make him one of the most in-demand strikers in Europe soon….Kevin Ostegaard (18th) drops six spots despite moving from boyhood club Brondby in Denmark to German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen….He has done well in his first year in Germany – in 28 Games, he has registered 4 Goals, 3 Assists, 87% Passes Completed, 2.42 D/90, and 7.03 AR….The German club bought him for £7M this past summer, and since then the ‘Wonderkid’ left winger has made his debut for Denmark, as well.

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THE SOPHARA JOURNAL

SEASON REVIEW 2031/2032

 

TEAM REVIEW

This was a more emotionally charged and intense year than most, especially with the £94M sale of Jakub Berkovec. The Czech winger made his much-hyped move to Chelsea after the club met his Minimum Release Clause one year before the end of his contract after it became clear that Abul Ezz was going to let it play it out and potentially lose him on a free. There was tension in the locker-room with Elvis Kozic talking publicly about his bust-up with Darrell Allen and his feeling of lack of respect from the club manager. Throughout it all, however, the players held it together and ended up with their best finish of all time, improving from 9th to 7th Place as they got one step closer to their dreams of Europe becoming a reality – just one spot off. The team registered club best in the Premier League with 76 Goals Scored (5th in PL) and 55 Goals Conceded (10th), playing their best-ever offense and defense since joining the world’s most competitive league. Bekir Celik won his third EPL Young Player of the Year award to silence the doubters again. In the Cups, they reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup before falling to Ipswich on penalties while it was a Fourth Round knockout in the Carabao Cup to Arsenal.

As the 2030s start forming their own identity away from the 2020s, so has the first team of Sophara United. Only four starters remain from the First Generation, an era which has officially been considered over. It was a generation whose identity was resilience, shock, and class – storming up the leagues like bulls but in suits. The upcoming generation – whenever it happens – has yet to form an identity and still feels like loosely tied strings with continuous looks elsewhere. Berkovec already left, and Celik continues to stall on signing on a new contract. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as the SYA set up its third branch in Germany. SYA Germany has already delivered a German prospect, albeit not one who looks to have any future with the club. The finances have gone north of £350M as plans to expand the Sophara United Stadium ramp up. This is also a team that just finished one spot off of going to Europe.

Abul Ezz has stayed true to the culture of the club and has not brought on a single player from outside the SYA. The First Generation is in its prime years, but the SYA has done a good job of bringing in and developing enough talent that have exceeded the First Generation in talent. The 2020s will forever been associated with the First Generation’s rise to the Premier League and subsequently being competitive in it. The 2030s – at least the early part of it – has been all about the first batch of stars that came through the SYA (Berkovec, Lawrence, Celik) and their rise to global fame and the decisions they have taken. The manager has said he wants the 2030s to be about Sophara United’s first days in Europe, but that has yet to unfold. If the club continues to improve, however, the next step will be that dream becoming a reality.

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GOALKEEPERS

DARREN ALLEN (England: 11 U21 Caps) – Age: 20 ('28 Youth Class) – Position: GK

This was the best season of Darren Allen’s career thus far. He played in all 38 Games for the first time in his career, registering career-highs of 1.45 Con/90, 9 Clean Sheets, and 7.19 AR. He was named in the PL Team of the Week four times as his value shot up past £35M. The drama with Kozic has been put behind him and his manager has taken a firm stance with Allen – it is possibly the reason Ezz did not play Kozic in a single game this year. In any case, Allen continues to be under the watchful eye of England manager Andreas Herzog, who took over from John Coleman in August of 2030. He carries 4+/5 PA and has mountains of experience for a player his age, having already played in 119 League Games for the club. A hugely important member of the first team.

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FULLBACKS

PATRICK BOLA (France: 22 U21 Caps) – Age: 23 ('25 Youth Class) – Position: DL

He’s nothing if he isn’t consistent – for the third time in four years, he registered 6.85 AR for the season. In 32 Appearances, he also registered 2 Assists, 58.94 PC/90, 91% Passes Completed, 1.92 T/90, 61 Tackles Won, 64 Blocks (2nd in PL), and 107 Interceptions. In other words, solid if unspectacular numbers. The French/Congolese full-back has seemingly reached his ceiling – a decent Premier League-level DL who gets the job done. Is he the best in the league at his position? No, but he doesn’t need to be. There are some who expected him to be better by now than he really is – some thought he could have potentially been a French international – but even though the hype on him has died down, he still remains an integral part of the starting eleven.

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MOHAMMED ADU (England: 16 U21 Caps) – Age: 20 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: DR (DC)

The improvement over the last few years has been noticeable and constant, and it continued this year as the transformation of Adu into becoming a Premier League-level DR get closer to completion. He had his best season yet – in 31 Games, he registered 1.33 T/90, 39 Tackles Won, 125 Interceptions (2nd on team), and a career-high 6.92 AR. He still has 4+/5 PA rating and has continued to play for the English U21 team. He is known to be a smart player with good defensive abilities, a mature character both on and off the pitch. The English/Ghanaian is a product of SYA Ghana, a fantastic setup that has already provided the first team with two players in Adu and Razak. This was the first season of his career he played in over 30 Games.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Ger Lennon (26 Apps (15 Starts), 1.90 T/90, 93% Passes Completed, 6.73 AR) delivered pretty much a replica of last season….His best days in the Premier League have been part of the rotation but not being an official starter….He is still prone to some bad games but at least he has proven somewhat reliable….Chris Bolland (’32 Youth Class) will be one to watch over the next few years – he has yet to make his debut and its unclear if he will next season, but the rookie just came up from the SYA and carries a 4.5/5 PA….He might be small in stature, but his defensive skills – especially his tackling ability – has already gotten him noticed by the staff.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

TOM HORGAN (Ireland: 1 Cap) – Age: 28 – Position: DC

A core representation of the First Generation, the club vice-captain is generally known as the ‘Heart of the First Generation’ – clear evidence as to just how meaningful Horgan is to the club. He had his finest season in his six in the Premier League so far – in 34 Appearances, he registered 64.20 PC/90 (Best on team), 95% Passes Completed, 93 Interceptions, and 7.06 AR. His manager’s proclamations at the end of last season, where he said this was an off-season for the defender and signs of regression, have wrong true as the Irish DC bounced back from his first injury-plagued season to deliver his finest in the past six. One of the strongest defenders in the air in the English Premier League today.

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AKIM LAWRENCE (England: 24 U21 Caps) – Age: 24 (’23 Youth Class) – Position: DC

Despite not having a single Cap to his name, Lawrence was rewarded for another strong season by getting called up to the English squad for the Euros at Holland/Belgium 2032. In 36 Games, he registered 2 PoMs, 61.77 PC/90, 97% Passes Completed, 1.31 T/90, 47 Tackles Won, 138 Interceptions, and 7.12 AR. He was named to the PL Team of the Week twice this season as he has embraced being the club captain, leading the Premier League with 513 Possessions Won. Part of the late 2020s core that also featured Bekir Celik and the now sold Jakub Berkovec, like the other he has made some noise about wanting to play at a bigger stage. Berkovec got his move to Chelsea but Lawrence has shown some signs of being open to remaining, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out for the greatest defender the SYA has ever produced.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

James Burgess (15 Apps (4 Starts), 95% Passes Completed, 6.73 AR) played in a career-low number of games and had a the second worst AR of his career….He has suggested to the media that a fresh challenge would be welcome, although his manager has not taken any official stance on the matter….Judging by his reduced playing time, however, it seems like his manager is already attempting to adjust to life after Burgess in the rotation….There quite a few DC prospects coming in as rookies next season so the assumption is that we are going to see at least one or two of them.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

JOE SHEPPARD (England: 10 U21 Caps/1 Goal) – Age: 28 – Position: MC

Officially, the club only has one legend and that is manager/owner Abul Ezz. It does have three ‘Icons’, however – Joe Reardon, Bekir Celik, and Joe Sheppard. The latter is arguably the most popular player in the history of the club and is known as the ‘Brains of the First Generation’, whereas Tom Horgan is the heart and Reardon is the soul. The creative juices on the team definitely flow through Sheppard, however, whose influence in controlling the tempo of the attack has been one of Sophara United’s strongest points in the Premier League. He was at it again this season – in 37 Games, he registered 14 Goals, 12 Assists (2nd in PL), 91 Key Passes (8th), 25 Clear-Cut Chances (1st), 81% Passes Completed, and 7.24 AR. Evidence on just how hard he works in the middle? He led the Premier League with 509km Distance Covered. His 429 League Appearances is a club record as he also has 131 Goals and 128 Assists – approaching the rare company of the 150+Goals/150+Assists club.

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RONNIE FLOOD (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 28 – Position: MC

Try as they might, there just has been no replacing Ronnie Flood in the starting lineup. In a position that has a number of young prospects trying to earn playing time, Flood delivered perhaps the best season of his career so far. In 31 Appearances (19 Starts), he registered 2 Goals, 5 Assists, 81% Passes Completed, 1.41 D/90, and 7.03 AR which was the highest of his career in the Premier League. He has developed a fantastic relationship with Joe Sheppard over the years and the connection is obvious when they are on the pitch together. An underrated member of the First Generation, he is a favorite of the hardcore section of the fanbase.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

There are three prospects fighting for playing time, with almost all of the minutes having to come from Flood’s position….The most established of the three is Irish international Tommy Sullivan (’24 Youth Class - 14 Appearances (3 Starts), 6.74 AR), who has played in 32 Caps for his national team….He played in the lowest number of games since making his debut during the 2025/26 season, a frustrating situation for a talented player….He has publicly stated he wanted to move clubs for better playing time, although his manager has said he will work on making the player happy….The second prospect is Nyren Minton-Collis (’29 Youth Class - 15 Apps (8 Starts), 1 Goal, 1 PoM, 6.82 AR), who continues to show significant improvement in training and during games….His 6.82 AR is a career-high, as was his 15 Games….He has strong passing ability but it is still unclear how good he will be….The third prospect is Abul Ezz’s favorite, 16-year-old rookie Richie Hunter (’31 Youth Class – 10 Apps, 1 Goal, 2 Asts, 86% PC, 7.12 AR) who impressed mightily….He has already made 2 U21 Caps for England, with many suggesting Hunter could be pushed to the front of the rotation as Ezz is keen to give the youngster experience.

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WINGERS

AARON WOODWARD (England: Capped at U20) – Age: 18 (’29 Youth Class) – Position: AMR (SC)

When Chelsea triggered Jakub Berkovec’s Minimum Release Clause of £94M, it led to a frantic few days in the build-up to the start of the Premier League season. Abul Ezz already knew who he was going to thrust into the starting lineup if Berkovec left, however, and Woodward was ready. In 36 Appearances, he registered 4 Goals, 11 Assists, 1.73 T/90, 82% Passes Completed, 3.18 D/90, and 6.92 AR. There were some struggles, but Woodward is only 18 and the positives were far more common than the negatives. His speed is fantastic and despite his 1.70m height, he has adequate strength to handle himself on the pitch. Probably better suited a striker, he might find more of a challenge for playing time next season as rookie Ted Baah is looking good.

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AHMED RAZAK (England: 12 U21 Caps/11 U21 Goals) – Age: 20 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: AML (AMR)

The ‘Enthusiastic Winger’ continues to battle injuries, a constant theme in his young career thus far. Despite being the starter, he played in only 27 Games, registering 3 Goals, 6 Assists, 1.90 T/90, 83% Passes Completed, 2.92 D/90, and a career-high 6.89 AR. He injured his knee ligaments at the end of the April after having to deal with hamstring and ankle injuries this season, as well. He has shown decent improvement, and although it is unlikely he develops into a top tier winger, the resolute player looks like he belongs in the Premier League.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Stan Drummond (31 Apps (10 Starts), 2 Gls, 2.50 D/90, 6.71 AR) continues to cover both wings as he was not considered for getting his starting ring winger position back after Berkovec left….A lack of talent at the winger positions will leave Drummond as the only viable option of the bench at least for next season….The only other player that might crack some part of the rotation is 16-year-old incoming rookie right winger Ted Baah (’31 Youth Class), who has already made his debut and has been impressive.   

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 FORWARDS

JOE REARDON (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 28 – Position: SC

The club’s GOAT continues to get better – in 35 Appearances, he registered 15 Goals, 9 Assists, 4 PoMs, 1.15 D/90, and 7.27 AR. Although his goals were down, his overall AR was up as he made the PL Team of the Week 7 times this season. The ‘Soul of the First Generation’ has 209 League Goals, a club record, but also has 86 Assists, meaning that in the next couple of seasons he should join the special 200+Goals/100+Assists club. He has never registered below 7.10 AR in any season, including the six out of eleven total he has spent in the Premier League. An ‘Icon’ of the club, he owns the club record with 5 Sophara United Player of the Year awards.

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BEKIR CELIK (Turkey: 26 Caps/12 Goals) – Age: 22 (’25 Youth Class) – Position: SC

The departure of Jakub Berkovec has many questioning whether the club will be able to hang on to Bekir Celik, its highest profile player left. The Turkish star won his 3rd EPL Young Player of the Year award, the first player to ever do that in the league’s history. He did so on the back of his second comeback season – if that makes any sense – in which he played in 37 Games and registered 23 Goals, 10 Assists (career-high), 4 PoMs, 1.22 D/90, 61% Shot Target, and 7.35 AR. He also took his 3rd Sophara United Player of the Year award – only Joe Reardon has won the award more than Celik now. He was named in the PL Team of the Week five times and won the PL Young Player of the Month for March and April. He heads to Holland/Belgium 2032 with Turkey to compete at the Euros two years after his first international tournament at the World Cup at Spain 2030. When his manager was asked what he would like to see from the striker next season, he said for him to score 20+ Goals in consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. Challenge issued.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Andy Holland (31 Apps (10 Starts), 8 Gls, 3 Asts, 6.91 AR) scored his most goals in the past five seasons as he experienced a renaissance of sorts….The 28-year-old striker brought his total to 160 Goals for his career, and his 6,91 AR was the highest he has recorded in the Premier League….Making his debut this season for the club was 19-year-old Ian Poulter (’29 Youth Class - 2 Apps, 1 Goal, 6.95 AR), who spent last season on loan at St. Pat’s Athletic in the Irish Premier League, scoring 16 Goals and registering 7.10 AR in 33 Games….The striker needs to work his shooting ability, but otherwise he looks capable of contributing.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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MAJOR LEAGUES REVIEW 2030/31

 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Winner: MANCHESTER UNITED

Unbelievably, Arsenal made the Champions League Finals for the second straight year, but this time they ran into newly crowned Premier League champions and rival Manchester United, who won the match 2-0 in Paris, France….This was Man United’s second title in the past three years, doing so on the back of strong defensive and midfield efforts….The two stars (Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood) are talked about in more detail below….Man United defeated their bitter rivals Manchester City in the semi-finals, with Arsenal taking out AC Milan on penalties….Arsenal had defeated the Italians last year at the same stage, as well, although it was not nearly as close as this season….Real Madrid and Barcelona – last year’s other two semi-finalists – both were knocked out in the Second Round….Erling Haaland (12 Apps, 10 Gls) won the CL Golden Boot award for the 4th time, and is now 3rd only to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for most times won.

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Winner: MANCHESTER UNITED

The memory of Manchester City’s (3rd) dominance over the English Premier League is beginning to fade as the 2020s get further away….Last season, Tottenham (4th) shocked the nation and won their first PL title since 1961 – 70 years – while this season, Manchester United have won everything in front of them, taking their first PL title in 10 years and their 2nd CL title in the past 3 years….The highlight falls on two Man United and England legends in Mason Greenwood (30 Apps, 21 Gls, 6 Asts, 4 PoMs, 7.51 AR) and Marcus Rashford (32 Apps, 22 Gls, 8 Asts, 5 PoMs, 7.32 AR), who had gone under the radar for far too long….The two forwards have been responsible for bringing 2 Premier League (2023, ’32) and 2 Champions League (2030, ’32) titles to the club in an era of complete dominance by Manchester City and Bayern Munich….This was Greenwood’s 3rd 20+ Goals season and Rashford’s 22 Goals were a career-high….The defending champions grabbed the last Champions League spot with Chelsea (2nd) and Manchester City (3rd) also joining the party. There were no surprises as Erling Haaland (34 Apps, 33 Gls, 11 Asts, 12 PoMs, 7.83 AR) won his 7th straight EPL Player of the Year – and his 8th of all-time – although this was his first season in the past six that he failed to score at least 40 Goals….Sophara United (7th), led by now three-time EPL Young Player of the Year recipient Bekir Celik (37 Apps, 23 Gls, 10 Asts, 7.35 AR), just missed out on qualifying for Europe but continue their impressive run.

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SPANISH LA LIGA

Winner: REAL MADRID

Seven and counting for Real Madrid, as they won the Spanish La Liga title again….And again it was Kylian Mbappe (33 Apps, 21 Gls, 13 Asts, 10 PoMs, 8.09 AR) who was the star, winning his 6th SLL Player of the Year and a record 9th Top Goalscorer award….Barcelona (2nd), (Atletico Madrid (3rd), and Real Sociedad (4th) all finished in the same spots as the previous season….Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid) took home his 7th consecutive La Liga Manager of the Year award and his 8th of all-time, also a league record….The first two decades of the 21st century belonged to Barcelona, but the 2020s and now 2030s are proving to be Real Madrid’s playground.

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GERMAN BUNDESLIGA

Winner: BAYERN MUNICH

Twenty straight for Bayern Munich but barely….This was the closest battle they’ve had in over a decade, with Leipzig (2nd) coming within only 2 Points of snatching the trophy away from the Bavarian club….Still, it is going to be tough to beat a team that has now two-time Bundesliga Player of the Year Patrick Weissmann (34 Apps, 8 Gls, 10 Asts, 5 PoMs, 88% PC, 7.63 AR) and Bundesliga Top Goalscorer for the first time Dusan Vlahovic (23 Apps, 21 Gls, 5 PoMs, 7.76 AR)….Borussia Dortmund (3rd) and Bayer Leverkusen (4th) took home the final two Champions League spots, finishing ahead of Hoffenheim (5th) and Wolfsburg (6th) despite strong play from both teams.

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ITALIAN SERIE A

Winner: JUVENTUS

Winning back the title for the first time in four years were Juventus, who were led by 2032 Serie A Top Goalscorer Felipe Rojas (36 Apps, 24 Gls, 5 Asts, 7.32 AR)….The 24-year-old Chilean striker joined Juventus in 2026 for £2.2M, but the tall striker has a value north of £120M now….The former champions AC Milan (3rd) and their rivals Inter Milan (2nd) were joined by Roma (4th) in next year’s Champions League….AC Milan have been knocked out by Arsenal in the semi-finals the past two years in the CL….Juventus had an exceptional season from its GK, 32-year-old French international Illan Meslier (37 Apps, 0.51 Con/90, 25 Clean Sheets, 7.49 AR), who broke the Serie A record for most Clean Sheets with 25 and the club record with 30, setting a new career-high with 7.49 AR.

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FRENCH LIGUE 1

Winner: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Utter dominance by Paris Saint-Germain, who finished 27 Points ahead of Rennes (2nd)….Led by legends Ansu Fati (28 Apps, 16 Gls, 9 Asts, 7.68 AR) and GK Gianluigi Donnarumma (32 Apps, 0.41 Con/90, 22 Clean Sheets, league-leading 7.72 AR) – who won PSG’s Player of the Year award for the second time and the Ligue 1 Best Player award for the first time – the club continued to display strength only Bayern Munich has over its domestic rivals….Monaco (3rd) grabbed the last Champions League spot, with Lyon (4th), Saint-Etienne (5th), and Lille (6th) qualifying to Europe, as well.

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SUMMER 2032

 

EURO 2032 – Holland & Belgium Play Host as Germany Lifts 4th Title

Amsterdam was the host to an epic Germany vs. Italy showdown at the Euro 2032 Finals….On one side, starts such as Patrick Weissmann, Lars Schefczyk, Jamal Musiala, and Valentin Elm – on the other, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Gianluca Bonvicini, Giacomo Raspadori, and Federico Chiesa….It would be the second Finals in the last three tournaments that the Italians would lose, and it would not be close….Valentin Elm scored a brace as Germany took a 3-0 victory, proving without a doubt that the current generation is the best footballing team on the continent….Lars Schefczyk (5 Apps, 2 Gls, 7.84 AR) won the Euro 2032 Best Player award, while 22-year-old teammate Patrick Weissmann (7 Apps, 1 Goal, 3 Asts, 7.51 AR) won the tournament’s Best Young Player….World champions Spain lost in the semi-finals to Italy on penalties, while Holland fell victim to the eventual winners Germany….The former two-time defending champions France were knocked out early in the Second Round by Croatia, while Holland took out England at the same stage….The Germans had lost to France in the quarter-finals Italy 2028.

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COPA AMERICA 2032 – Argentina Lifts First Trophy in 11 Years at Chile 2032

Having last won the Copa America title at Brazil 2021, Argentina – led by 31-year-old Chelsea GK Joaquin Blazquez (7 Apps, 3 GC, 4 CS, 7.71 AR) who became the first GK to ever win the competition’s Best Player award – defeated Brazil at the Finals in Santiago, winning the match 2-1 in extra-time….The Brazilians last lifted the trophy in 2024, where they defeated Argentina in the Finals in Quito, Ecuador….2028 Finalists Uruguay fell to the eventual champions in the Semi-Finals, while Mexico – who would collect the bronze – lost to Brazil in the other matchup….The former defending champions Venezuela did not make it to the Knockout Rounds, doing nothing to dispel the talk that they were a one hit wonder….This was Argentina’s 16th Copa America title, a new record.

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NOTABLE TRANSFERS

SANTI CARRASCOSA, 25 (Spain: 52 Caps/4 Goals) - £86M (£106M) from Barcelona to Manchester City: A starter for Barcelona for the past five years, Santi Carrascosa has developed into one of the world’s premier DCs….An ‘Elite Centre-Back’ with no weakness in his game, he was a member of Spain’s World Cup winning 2030 campaign….Made the Spanish La Liga Team of the Season (the second time in his career) after playing in 33 Games and registering 4 Goals, 5 PoMs, and 7.45 AR….A product of the Toledo youth system, Barcelona bought him for just £475K in January 2024….One of the world’s best at his position.

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GIAMPIETRO PATRIZI, 25 (Italy: 2 Caps) - £69M (£83M) from Eintracht Frankfurt to Tottenham: Never cracked it at Juventus, but the move he made to Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt two years ago changed his career around….Moved for £6.75M during the January 2031 window and never looked back, becoming an instant success….He captured Frankfurt’s Player of the Year award of playing in 30 Games and registering 9 Goals, 8 Assists, 7 PoMs, 3.26 D/90, and 7.50 AR in the German Bundesliga….The right winger becomes Frankfurt’s most expensive sale of all-time as the ‘Elite Winger’ will now try to help Tottenham win the EPL title back.

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JEAN-LOUIS MATHIEU, 24 (France: 23 Caps/9 Goals) - £67M from Saint Etienne to Chelsea: The 24-year-old French Striker was born in Lyon, but came up through the Saint Etienne youth system, which was also not too far from his neighborhood of Oullins in Lyon….Mathieu has been known in France since his teenage years – he won his first U21 Cap as a 15-year-old and was part of the U21 squad that went to two consecutive Euro U21 Championship Finals, winning it in 2027….He has been Saint Etienne’s Player of the Year for three of the past four seasons (’29, ’31, ’32) and was the French Ligue 1’s Top Goalsocrer in 2031….The ‘Elite Striker’ has been a big deal in France so his move to Chelsea and the EPL will be watched with great interest.

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JORDI CESAR, 24 (Spain: 5 Caps) - £62M from Chelsea to Barcelona: Investing in a left-back, Barcelona have splashed the cash for Jordi Cesar even after struggling for two years at Chelsea….The London club bought him from Club Brugge for £31.5M in January 2031, but he had come up through the Valencia youth system….Won the Europa League with Chelsea this past year and was voted in the Europa League Team of the Season….He was named the 2030 Belgian Pro League’s Rookie of the Season….Prior to making a new for himself in Belgium, he had spent five years with Young Boys of Switzerland….Is being paid an incredible £625k per week with his new club.

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GOAL 50 2032

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WINNER

KYLIAN MBAPPE (France: 176 Caps/104 Goals) – Real Madrid, 33-years-old, Forward (Previous: Winner)

Two in a row for Kylian Mbappe, who is proving more relevant in his 30s than his rival Erling Haaland….This was the 5th time the French megastar has won the Goal 50 award, with the first being in 2023….He has won the Spanish La Liga title 8 times, but the Champions League title continues to elude him….Carries around the 0-5 record – 5 CL Finals with 0 Wins….Has been one of the game’s all-time winners at every other stage, however – he has twice gotten to the World Cup Finals and has won it once, he is a two-time European Championship winner, he was even a winner in his younger days with Paris Saint-Germain….The ‘Legendary Striker’ has also been known as the more skilled between himself and Haaland, although Haaland was declared the ‘Player of the 2020s’….By the end of the 2032/33 season, Mbappe will like have joined an exclusive club – the 300+Goals/100+Assists/100+PoMs club.

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2ND PLACE

PATRICK WEISSMANN (Germany: 61 Caps/11 Goals) – Bayern Munich, 22-years-old, Midfielder (Previous: 5th)

His career has been followed closely since his days at Stuttgart, but it is safe to say Weissmann has exceeded all expectations no matter how high they were….Along with Lars Schefczyk, led Germany to their first Euro title since 1996 at Holland/Belgium 2032, erasing the disappointment of losing to Portugal in the Third Round at the World Cup at Spain 2030….He was named the 2032 Euro Best Young Player, just over a month after being named the German Bundesliga’s Player of the Year….The ‘Elite Midfielder’ is a unique player, equally strong defensively as he is on attack, and incredible passing ability….The most shocking part? He is somehow only 22….He can now add an important international trophy to his Bundesliga and 2029 Champions League trophies.

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3RD PLACE

JAMAL MUSIALA (Germany: 136 Caps/40 Goals) – Manchester City, 29-years-old, Midfielder (Previous: 7th)

The German legend has completed four full seasons with Manchester City since moving from Bayern Munich, costing the club £157M total….There is no doubt he has been worth the price, however, as he has been one of the English club’s most important players….Was part of the German national team that won the Euro 2032 title, getting called up to the 2032 European Championship Dream Team….Has 170 Goals and 7.46 AR in 411 Appearances for his career.

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OTHER NOTABLES

This was the first time in 11 years that Erling Haaland (4th) was not in the top three of the Goal 50 list….The 32-year-old Norwegian ‘Legendary Striker’ – who has been named as Player of the 2020s – is still destroying things in the Premier League although he is retired from international football with his pinnacle coming at the World Cup 2026….The most expensive player of all-time at £216M, Kai Havertz (8th) continues to prove why he has been one the world’s top players over the past several years….Is now an international trophy winner after taking the Euro 2032 title….Pedri (9th) probably wishes he remained at Barcelona instead of moving to Bayern Munich….While he has been playing good football, he is no longer the shining star he was in Catalonia….Ansu Fati (13th) quietly continues to be one of the legends of the game – along with Pedri, he has now led Spain to 2 World Cup titles, not to mention his countless Ligue 1 titles and his 2028 Champions League trophy….He has never blown anyone away with his numbers, but ever so constant he knows how to win – a lot….At 37, Joshua Kimmich (18th) is not supposed to still be one of the world’s best players….He now has 192 Caps for Germany and remains an integral part of the Bayern Munich rotation….The unsung hero of Manchester United’s recent conquests, Florian Wirtz (19th) has been one of Man United’s most important players since moving to the club for £80M from Bayer Leverkusen in 2025….Has won the English Premier League, Champions League, and European Championship titles in the past year….Valentin Elm (28th) is the highest-valued player in the world at over £300M, with the 26-year-old Tottenham winger having a great tournament at Holland/Belgium 2032….The ‘Elite Winger’ was a core reason for Tottenham’s surprising 2031 English Premier League title-winning campaign.

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NxGN 50 2033

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WINNER

OLAUS ROMUNDSTAD, (Norway: 14 U21 Caps/1 U21 Goals), Midfielder – PSV Eindhoven, 19-years-old (Previous: Unranked)

The Norwegian midfielder popped up on the radar last season after PSV Eindhoven purchased him from Norwegian club Ranheim for £2.1M….He has been fantastic this season – his second with the Dutch club – playing in 27 Games and registering 7 Goals, 3 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 7.26 AR….He won the 2032 Norwegian Young Player of the Year award as he gets closer to making his Norway debut….Although his passing abilities still need work, he has good speed and stamina which serves him well in the middle of the pitch….His value has already exceeded £13M, making him a good piece of business for the Dutch club.

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2ND PLACE

ALDIN HRUSTANOVIC (Bosnia: 13 Caps/1 Goal), Right Winger – Real Sociedad, 18-years-old (Previous: 4th)

Aldin Hrustanovic’s career has been watched with great interest both in Bosnia – where he has already been called up to the national team – and the Czech Republic, where he came up through the Czech First Division club Bohemians’ youth system….Recruited by Bohemians at the age of 11, He made his debut at the age of 16 for the club….Captivating a nation, the 16-year-old was called up to the Bosnian U21 team just months later….It took only a year before he made his international debut with the main team for his nation at 17, in the midst of his second season with Bohemians….He was a phenomenon during the 2031/32 season with the Czech club, breaking the club record with 8 PoMs and winning its 2032 Player of the Year award….In 35 Games, he registered 5 Goals, 7 Assists, 7 PoMs, and 7.29 AR….The continent has taken notice, and he was snapped up by Real Sociedad for £6.25M last summer….So far, he has made 18 Appearances – all as a substitute – and registered 1 Assist and 6.78 AR, so he has not taken off yet….Still, much is made about him in Bosnia and the Czech Republic, and his career continues to be followed with great interest as he takes on the Spanish La Liga.

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3RD PLACE

STEPHANE KONE (Ivory Coast: 9 Caps), Defender – Nice, 19-years-old (Previous: Unranked)

Born in Abidjan, Stephane Kone’s short journey so far has been remarkable….He got his start with Abidjan club ASEC Mimosas, making his debut in 2030….He played well and earned his first call-up to the national team, developing as one of the most prominent Ivorian left-backs in the world….Nice took notice and acquired him for £190K this past summer, and he has been a starter for the French Ligue 1 club throughout the season registering 6.83 AR….Was part of the Ivorian team that won the AFCON title at Tunisia 2032, becoming the first Ivorian team to win it since 2015….The ‘Wonderkid’ is quick, strong, and works hard, always putting a stamp on the game.

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OTHER NOTABLES

The next ‘Hakan Sukur’ is high praise in Turkey but that is what they have labeled Umut Demirci (5th) in the Turkish media….The Trabzonspor 17-year-old forward is all hype for now as he has yet to score his first professional goal….He has already made his international debut for Turkey as his star seemingly grows by the day….The Espanyol youth academy has been turning it out midfielders like no one else the past few years – first Joan Aliaga and now Roger Puig (9th), who has already made his debut for the club….The 17-year-old has much talked about passing ability, with a preference for the fancy….Luke De Meyer (11th) might be the most dynamic player on the list….The 17-year-old Belgian striker already have two seasons under his belt in the Belgian Pro League, scoring 17 Goals his rookie year and 14 Goals so far this season….Has all the makings of a future star, and has been dubbed the ‘New Erwin Vendenbergh’ – generally considered the best Belgian striker of all-time….Anyone labeled the ‘Next Kylian Mbappe’ is going to get attention, but that is what they are calling 18-year-old French forward Francois-Joseph Gabutti (20th)….The Borussia Dortmund product has been on loan with Bundesliga 2 side Holstein Kiel, where he has scored 13 Goals in 22 Appearances….Last season, he scored 19 Goals in 33 Appearances for the Borussia Dortmund II side, registering 9 Assists, 6 PoMs, and 7.51 AR….Gabutti is generally unproven but the talent is undeniable, so much so that he being labeled potentially the next Mbappe.

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THE SOPHARA JOURNAL

SEASON REVIEW 2032/2033

 

TEAM REVIEW

On April 18th, 2033, an era was officially marked over – the First Generation era came to a close as for the first time in club history, not a single player from the First Generation featured in a Sophara United starting eleven. To go further, the team won the match against Everton 3-2, with Sean Travis setting a new English Premier League record for youngest goalscorer of all-time. It was indicative of the direction of the club – the remnants of the First Generation linger and have a strong presence, but it is clear to everyone that the future has no place for them. The talent that the Sophara Youth Academy has produced over the last few years – especially attacking talent – is no joke, as it has produced players like Jakub Berkovec and Bekir Celik who have become stars in their respective nations of Czech Republic and Turkey. Tommy Sullivan is one of the highest profile names on the Irish national squad and Patrick Bola recently represented the DRC at AFCON 2032. All that, and none of it done by First Generation players. This is not to discredit them – on the contrary, what they accomplished storming up the leagues and into the Premier League was historic, unprecedented, and will forever etch their place in the history of the game. They were teenage talent that was capable of becoming Premier League level players, and Abul Ezz made sure the right environment was created to maximize their potential. In the end, their development was so impressive they were Premier League level players still playing in the lower leagues. But their level has been mid-table Premier League for the past few years, and if the club has ambitions to push past that and into Europe, changes had to be made. It has been a project that has been on-going over the past few years, with several landmarks being set, but never before had no member of the First Generation not come out in the starting eleven. The talent is there, and it is real. How good this current and upcoming batch of players can be is yet to be determined. The early 2030s has been defined by the names Akim Lawrence, Jakub Berkovec, and Bekir Celik, but no where near the same effect as the 2020s version in Tom Horgan, Joe Sheppard, and Joe Reardon – all three are still starters.

Yes, they finished in 11th Place – a drop of 4 spots from last season – and yes, the defense regressed from the10th best back to 16th best in the English Premier League. There were signs of immaturity unfathomable during the First Generation days, which brought with it inconsistent form and more temperament than usual. But they were also the 3rd best offense in the PL – they were a team whose reputation continued that of their predecessors, that of bravery, hard work, and professionalism. By the numbers, this season was a regression in almost every way. But what the numbers don’t account for is for the First Generation’s ceiling as compared to this new batch’s ceiling. Without challenging the youngsters, the experience needed to develop and maximize their potential would not come, and Ezz has stuck true to his philosophy. The First Generation peaked at 7th Place with the help of several non-First Generation players – the hope is that the current/upcoming one has the potential to best that. This is the first Sophara United team to get to the Quarter-Finals of the Carabao Cup, doing so this year before losing to Everton. Their FA Cup adventures were predictably miserable – a Third Round exit to Watford.

The Sophara United Stadium has been expanded to now seat 31,550 people and is the top stadium technologically in the league, making watching a Sophara match an event in itself. The SYA has started seeing results from its France setup, with three incoming prospects all coming through SYA France. The finances remain extremely healthy, with over £300M in the bank and plans to continue expanding the SYA setup. They SYA product Jakub Berkovec became the first one to be worth over £200M. Its safe to say, the experimental concept has succeeded. The finest youth setup in the world with a question, it will be interesting to see where Sophara will set up next as it continues its battle to qualify for Europe.

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GOALKEEPERS

DARREN ALLEN (England: 11 U21 Caps) – Age: 21 ('28 Youth Class) – Position: GK

This was the first season Darren Allen started the season with Elvis Kozic and his distractions, and he was exponentially happier. The former Sweden U21 international left to Brighton for £2.4M last summer – one of the final nails in the First Generation era’s coffin – taking with him the tension he had caused over the last two seasons when Allen took his starting spot. The result? Allen captured the Premier League Young Player of the Year award, replacing his teammate Bekir Celik as its recipient. It was not necessarily that he had a better season – the number suggest he did not – but the fact that this was his fourth season starting despite his terrifyingly young age for the GK position and playing well has started to get him noticed. He played in all 38 Games for the second straight season, registering 1.87 Con/90 (1.45 last season), 6 Clean Sheets, and 7.16 AR. He has developed into a well-rounded GK with no real weakness, with his best quality being his direct shot-stopping ability. Talent wise, there is a huge gap between him and Kozic and he is the best GK the SYA has ever produced.

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FULLBACKS

PATRICK BOLA (DRC: 9 Caps) – Age: 24 ('25 Youth Class) – Position: DL

Switching his national allegiances to DRC and playing at AFCON 2032 in Tunisia where his birth nation made it to the Quarter-Finals before falling to the eventual champions Ivory Coast, Patrick Bola had a memorable season. The consistency is remarkable – for the 3rd straight season (and 4th in the last 5), Bola registered 6.85 AR as he played in 32 Games and also recorded 3 Assists, 2.04 T/90, 92% PC, and 106 Interceptions. Tireless and hard-working, Bola has become a silent leader and one of the club’s most influential players. He is a true professional and continues to be a great role model for the younger players.

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MOHAMMED ADU (England: 23 U21 Caps) – Age: 21 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: DR (DC)

Mohammed Adu has developed into a strong DR and had another strong season to prove it. In 31 Appearances, he registered 2 Assists, 24 Key Passes, 90% PC, 1.75 T/90, 51 Tackles Won, 132 Interceptions, and 6.89 AR. He was active, he was involved, and he continued to prove he was one of the best defenders on the team. Whether he is good enough to make the English national team remains to be seen, but if he decides to go a route similar to Bola’s, Ghana would snap him up in an instance. Although his ball handling ability has not developed much, his defensive skills have gotten noticeably better. Of course, he has grown bigger and stronger, making him more adept at dealing with the challenges of his position, but his maturity has also been evident. His value is now above £50M as he tries to make a case for the English national team.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Signs of talent at the full-back positions are beginning to seep through the SYA….They might not be world-beaters, but at least they make the position a little deeper past Ger Lennon (9 Apps, 6.44 AR), who has been the only viable option backing up both positions….Joseph Doumbia (’29 Youth Class - 5 Apps, 2.04 T/90, 91% PC, 6.70 AR), the 20-year-old French DL, had spent the last couple of years out on loan but made his debut for the club this season….He is probably never going to be of Premier League level, but his pace makes him serviceable….The other prospect is 16-year-old rookie DR Chris Bolland (’32 Youth Class), who currently carries a 3.5+/5 PA rating….He made his debut this season – his rookie season – but only played in one game, so the jury is still totally out on him although the word out of the Sophara camp is that he is talented and there is real potential.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

TOM HORGAN (Ireland: 1 Cap) – Age: 29 – Position: DC

A remnant of the 2020s and the First Generation era, Horgan continues to maintain his place alongside Lawrence in the starting eleven. Truthfully, he is one of Ezz’s most trusted soldiers and has never let his manager or the team down. In 30 Games, he registered 1.16 T/90, 93% PC, 64.42 PC/90 (Best on team), 95 Interceptions, and 7.00 AR, and has now played in 439 League Games for the club, third-most of all-time in club history. The ‘Model Professional’ might not be a starter for the club forever, but he will forever be known as the ‘Heart of the First Generation’ – one of its three core players.

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AKIM LAWRENCE (England: 24 U21 Caps) – Age: 25 (’23 Youth Class) – Position: DC

The Club Captain has yet to make his debut for the English national team, despite being called up to the Euro 2032 squad last summer. He continued doing what he has been known to do – solid, strong, consistent defensive work. Playing in 32 Games, he registered 96% PC and 7.12 AR, in line with his work over the past few years. The debate on whether he deserves a Cap or not rages on – some say his leadership and smartness make him a great DC and others believe he is overhyped. Whatever the case is outside, within Sophara United Stadium he is loved as he is the SYA’s own and the first Premier League prospect that recommitted to the club and put his trust in the vision. Part of the early 2030s big three with Jakub Berkovec and Bekir Celik, he is the best defensive talent the SYA has ever produced.  

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

James Burgess (22 Apps (9 Starts), 1.32 T/90, 6.92 AR) might have played his last season with Sophara United as his contract is up this summer and he has shown no interest in renewing….The 29-year-old is a remnant of the First Generation, playing in 22 Games and playing well this past season….He has stated he is looking for a new challenge and perhaps more playing time….Like the full-back positions, there is finally some potential coming through the SYA….Two rookies made an impression this season, marking their debuts in their rookie years….George Adamu (’32 Youth Class – 2 Apps, 2.00 T/90, 6.90 AR) has already earned 3 U20 Caps for Nigeria and has been labeled by the media there as the ‘Next Stephen Keshi’ – one of Nigeria’s most capped players and one of its finest defenders ever….The 17-year-old has some work to do when it comes to passing the ball, but he has displayed the kind of characteristics that cannot be taught….Welsh U21 international and 16-year-old DC Alfie Williams (’32 Youth Class – 2 Apps, 7.00 AR) also made his debut for the club during his rookie season….The hot-headed defender is 1.89m, so he is naturally a weapon in the air for the club….A throwback defender – physical and leaves it all out on the pitch….Will fight with Adamu to fill the playing time that will potentially open up with Burgess moves on from the club.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

JOE SHEPPARD (England: 10 U21 Caps/1 Goal) – Age: 28 – Position: MC

One of the hallmarks of the First Generation – also known as the ‘Brain of the First Generation’ – has been Joe Sheppard’s forward drives from inside the team’s half. That’s how it all started – Flood to Sheppard and then the magic happens. Those days inevitable end seems to be coming soon but the maestro in the middle stayed at it this season – in 31 Games, he registered 8 Goals, 11 Assists, 2 PoMs, and 7.07 AR, which was down from 7.24 AR last season. He’s had a fantastic career thus far, but this season was the first a while where his shirt was not one of the top two selling at the club. He is just 11 Goals and 11 Assists from joining the 150+Goals/150+ Assists club, but he is already a legend at Sophara United.

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RICHIE HUNTER (England: 9 U21 Caps) – Age: 17 – Position: MC

It was a difficult year for the youngster – in 30 Games, he registered 85% PC and 6.72 AR, his first as a starter and his sophomore season overall. Still, the talent is obvious, and Hunter looks primed to become an outstanding midfielder if his development keeps up at this pace. He already has the green light to make his mistakes from his manager, who has favored him out of all the potential talent at the MC position, including long-time starter Ronnie Flood. He is defensive-minded and likes to get involved in the mix and is already considered a Premier League-level player. His career has been eventful thus far – he won the Euro U19 Championship in 2031 after scoring the winning goal in the Finals against Spain and he has had two years in the EPL despite being only 17.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Tommy Sullivan (30 Apps (10 Starts), 4 Gls, 2 Asts, 6.96 AR) will likely join James Burgess this summer to become two of the highest profiles departures in Sophara United history….His 6.96 AR was a career-high and his manager was on his case daily about signing a new contract, but Sullivan has had his mind made up from last summer….The main beneficiary of the open playing time will likely be Nyren Minton-Collis (18 Apps (6 Starts), 56.79 PC/90, 6.76 AR)….The 20-year-old midfielder has had the hype around him die out and no one really expects him to be a top tier MC anymore, but he still can be serviceable and a strong part of a rotation….Ronnie Flood (6 Apps, 6.85 AR) went from starter to after-thought this season as Abul Ezz – who has been one of Flood’s biggest fans – prioritized developing the next generations of MCs on the squad….Sullivan is likely to leave, which means Flood will have a chance to earn some playing time, but Ezz is leaning pretty heavily on the development of Hunter so a return to the starting lineup looks difficult.

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WINGERS

AARON WOODWARD (England: Capped at U20) – Age: 19 (’29 Youth Class) – Position: AMR (SC)

The 19-year-old Woodward scored a career-high 10 Goals in 34 Games along with 2 PoMs, 2.50 D/90, and 6.85 AR as the starting right winger for a club that still has fresh memories of Jakub Berkovec. He is no where near the same level, but he was at least a scoring threat down the right. The speedy striker turned winger had only 1 Assist after recording 11 last season, but he upped his Goals from 4 to 10. He still has a 4+/5 PA but it is unclear just how much Woodward will still develop. This was his second season as a starter for the team and has now played in 85 League Games in his young career.

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AHMED RAZAK (England: 17 U21 Caps/11 U21 Goals) – Age: 21 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: AML (AMR)

Ahmed Razak set career-highs with 5 Goals and 10 Assists this season, also registering 6.85 AR and 2.68 D/90 in 31 Games. Injuries seem to follow him, however – he had to deal with a torn back muscle at the beginning of the season that ruled him out for nearly two months. Voted the PL Young Player of the Month for March, the ‘Enthusiastic Winger’ needs to turn his game up one more notch and he will be a great Premier League left winger for the team. This was his 4th season as the club’s starter at left wing.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Stan Drummond (20 Apps, 3 Gls, 3 Asts, 1.49 D/90, 6.82 AR) remains the squad’s primary cover at both winger positions….The 29-year-old winger is a First Generation legend, picking up the monikor ‘King of Assists’ after setting League Two and One records in assists….Rookie Ted Baah (’32 Youth Class – 17 Apps, 2 Gls, 2 Asts, 2.25 D/90, 6.59 AR) had an eventful but ultimately tough rookie year, although the talent is plain to see….The potential is where things get iffy, as there seems to be a large scope as to where the right winger will end up.

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FORWARDS

JOE REARDON (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 29 – Position: SC

This was the first season since his rookie year in 2021/22 that the club’s GOAT and greatest scorer of all-time did not register at least 10 Goals – in 26 Games, he scored only 8 Goals while also registering 4 Assists, 1.27 D/90, and 7.05 AR. Of course, he spent the majority of the second half of the season injured – first with a torn abdominal muscle and then a strong ankle sprain. This was actually the most Reardon has ever been ruled out in a season because of injury, cutting into what is supposed to be his prime seasons. The ‘Soul of the First Generation’, Reardon holds the record for most times having won the Sophara United Player of the Year, having won the award 5 times over the course of his career.

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BEKIR CELIK (Turkey: 33 Caps/15 Goals) – Age: 23 (’25 Youth Class) – Position: SC

A new contract that pays him £130k per week was seemingly good enough motivation for Celik to get over a personal hump and score 20 Goals in consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. Playing in all 38 Games, he registered 20 Goals, 10 Assists, 7 PoMs (career-high), 50% ST, and 7.22 AR. The second-highest valued Turkish player in the world at just over £40M, the ‘Next Metin Oktay’ won the Footballer of the Year in Turkey award for the 3rd time in his career along with his 4th Sophara United Player of the Year. A three-time EPL Young Player of the Year winner, the Turkish striker has built up a strong reputation and has become a star in his native land.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Andy Holland (34 Apps, 5 Gls, 3 Asts, 6.80 AR) has transformed his role and his game to suit the team’s needs and has thrived….In the 2020s, he was partners with Reardon as the team barreled up the leagues, scoring as much as 35 Goals in a season….No longer possessing the required talent to be a primary scorer in the Premier League, Holland has adjusted as has become one of the best backups at left wing and striker in the league currently….To put his adjustment into perspective, he has scored less goals in the past 6 seasons than he did his rookie year….Remains of Ian Poulter (’29 Youth Class) in the rotation.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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MAJOR LEAGUES REVIEW 2032/33

 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Winner: REAL MADRID

It could not have had a more fitting ending – the story of Kylian Mbappe (11 Apps, 8 Gls, 4 PoMs, 7.58 AR) and the Champions League trophy that had eluded him finally being united after Mbappe scored the extra-time goal against Manchester City and his ultimate rival Erling Haaland in the Finals at the San Siro in Milan, Italy….This was Mbappe’s 6th trip to the CL Finals – 5 of which have come with Real Madrid – having carried the infamous 0-5 label representing his W-L in the CL Finals….That can finally show a 1 at the beginning, now 1-5 in the CL Finals….This was Real Madrid’s first title since 2018, which was also the last time a Spanish La Liga team took home the CL trophy….Real Sociedad made their first trip to the Semi-Finals, falling to the eventual champions and La Liga Rivals Real Madrid, while Man City defeated Paris Saint-Germain 5-3 in an entertaining tie….PSG obliterated the former defending champions Manchester United in the Quarter-Finals, defeating the English team 9-0 over the two legs….This was Real Madrid’s 14th Champions League win of all-time, a competition record.

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Winner: MANCHESTER UNITED

Two in a row for Manchester United, who won an English Premier League record 23rd title….It was not even close, finishing a full 13 Points ahead of Runners-Up and rivals Manchester City (2nd), whose aura of dominance that they carried in the 2020s has all but diminished….They also lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League Finals in Milan….Man City ‘Legendary Striker’ Erling Haaland (36 Apps, 38 Gls, 9 PoMs, 7.73 AR) won his 8th PL Footballer of the Year award in a row, obviously another record he has set and further enhancing the PL GOAT argument, not that it needed any strengthening….Man United manager Thomas Frank, who has been at the club since 2026, won the PL Manager of the Year award for the second consecutive season….Tottenham (3rd) and Arsenal (4th) took the last two Champions League spots….Man United have now won 2 of the 4 seasons in the 2030s – the 2020s were undisputedly the decade of Man City – arguably the most dominant PL team of all-time – but the 2030s have been Man United territory thus far.

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SPANISH LA LIGA

Winner: REAL MADRID

It was one for the nostalgic – not only did Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe (32 Apps, 18 Gls, 8 Asts, 8 PoMs, 7.70 AR), who captured the Spanish La Liga Player of the Year for the 3rd time in a row and 7th time overall, win their 8th La Liga title in a row, but they finally won the Champions League title….For Mbappe, it made it 1-5 in the CL Finals, while for Real Madrid, it was a competition record 14th title and their first since 2018….That is a huge question mark erased from Mbappe’s career – he has now proven himself a winner at every level, winning every meaningful competition in his career….Barcelona (2nd) finished as Runners-Up again, ahead of Real Sociedad (3rd) and Villareal (4th)….That meant that Atletico Madrid (5th) finished outside of the top four for the first time since the 2022/23 season….This was Zinedine Zidane’s 8th La Liga Manager of the Year award in a row (and 9th overall), ending his career in Spain in style as he heads to England and Chelsea.

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GERMAN BUNDESLIGA

Winner: BAYERN MUNICH

 

Twenty-one in a row for Bayern Munich, as the ‘Team of the 2020s’ continues their dominance over the German Bundesliga….Patrick Weissmann (33 Apps, 8 Gls, 17 Asts, 4 PoMs, 7.68 AR) won the Bundesliga Player of the Year award for the second straight season and third time in his career, an amazing feat considering he is only 23….The Euro 2032 winner and ‘Elite Midfielder’ is a unique player, unlike any before him with the exception of perhaps Zinedine Zidane….Borussia Dortmund (2nd) had their highest finish in 12 years, finishing ahead of Leipzig (3rd) and Bayer Leverkusen (4th), with the latter having developed a reputation for scouting and developing young talent.

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ITALIAN SERIE A

Winner: JUVENTUS

Juventus won their second title in a row, finishing 2 Points ahead of Inter Milan (2nd)….The two-time Runners-Up were led by the now two-time Serie A Player of the Year Warren Bondo (38 Apps, 4 Gls, 16 Asts, 4 PoMs, 7.51 AR), with the 29-year-old French midfielder having been the best player in Italy over the last two seasons….AC Milan (3rd) and Roma (4th) grabbed the last two Champions League spots….Juventus’ new crop are led by 25-year-old Serie A Top Goalscorer Felipe Rojas (34 Apps, 20 Gls, 7.18 AR)….The Chilean striker has been the nation’s most dangerous striker over the past two seasons.  

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FRENCH LIGUE 1

Winner: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

With each passing season, the legend of Ansu Fati (32 Apps, 18 Gls, 16 Asts, 8 PoMs, 7.99 AR) grows as he won his 4th French Ligue 1 Best Player award, something no one before him has accomplished….A two-time World Cup winner, nine-time French Ligue 1 title holder, Champions League winner, and perhaps PSG’s greatest player of all-time….The ‘Legendary Winger’ has never had eye-popping numbers but his greatness has been in his subtleties….Rennes (2nd) finished 20 Points behind the twelve-time defending champions….Lorient (3rd) surprised everyone by grabbing a Champions League spot, with the last one going to Monaco (4th).

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GOAL 50 2033

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WINNER

KYLIAN MBAPPE (France: 188 Caps/110 Goals) – Real Madrid, 34-years-old, Forward (Previous: Winner)

Three years in a row as the Goal 50 winner for Kylian Mbappe, and who can argue with it….He finally won the Champions League trophy on his 6th trip to the competition’s Finals, defeating his arch-nemesis and rival Erling Haaland and Man City at the San Siro in Milan, fittingly scoring the game’s only goal in extra-time in emphatic fashion….He led France to their 3rd European International League title, equaling England’s record, scoring a brace in their 2-0 win over Italy in the Finals….The Spanish La Liga Player of the Year for the 7th time, he also captured his 9th La Liga title and 8th in a row….Haaland might have had a greater peak than Mbappe, but it is the French legend who has had the better longevity as there is no better footballer in the world today despite his age….Has officially made an exclusive club – the 400+Goals/100+Assists/100+PoMs club, which currently has only two other members in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

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2ND PLACE

PATRICK WEISSMANN (Germany: 70 Caps/11 Goals) – Bayern Munich, 23-years-old, Midfielder (Previous: 2nd)

In a debate on a TV program recently about Weissmann and what is the closest match to him, the answer was Zinedine Zidane, the legendary player and manager who was the best on the planet on the pitch during the 1990s and early/mid-2020s….The 23-year-old German midfielder is already a legend for club and country, winning his 7th Bundesliga title and 3rd Bundesliga Player of the Year award while leading Germany to the Euro 2032 title….His passing ability is the best in the world, and despite the heavy attention to him since he was a teenager, Weissmann has handled like a professional and has thrived under the pressure….Is the world’s most complete player – whether it is defensively or offensively, he has no weakness….The Stuttgart product is one of two players to win the World U21 Player of the Year award three times, and has also won the World Cup Best Young Player award after his performances at Spain 2030….Last time around, he was a rising young superstar – at Japan 2034, he will be watched as one of the world’s greatest players.

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3RD PLACE

ANSU FATI (Spain: 132 Caps/68 Goals) – Paris Saint-Germain, 31-years-old, Forward (Previous: 13th)

There has ben a conscious effort lately to finally giving Fati his credit due, and his 3rd Place finish in this year’s Goal 50 awards is his highest ever….Fati – along with Pedri – have accomplished what no other superstar in the game has yet done, and that is reach the World Cup Finals three times and actually lift the trophy twice….He has also won the French Ligue 1 title 9 times – once in every season he has played with the club….He has been crowned the French Ligue 1 Best Player 4 times, a new league record….He set a new career-high with 16 Assists last season, and its tough not seeing him get 200+Goals/100+Assists for his career….His 7.60 AR for his career tells the full picture of just how incredible Fati has been over the course of his career.

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OTHER NOTABLES

Acquired this past summer by Bayern Munich from Manchester City for a deal that could potentially be worth £166M, Andres Ravizzoli (5th) has all the tools to be successful but has not quite taken of yet….In his seven seasons with Man City, he had only one good season in which he registered 14 Goals, 14 Assists, and 7.33 AR in 2030/31….The ‘Elite Striker’ is now 25 and the hope is that his new club will be able to unlock the potential in him….One of the greatest striker of the 2020s and the early 2030s, Dusan Vlahovic (15th) was bought by Bayern Munich for £76M from Fiorentina in 2023….He headed the front line of the ‘Team of the 2020s’ and was the best player on the Serbian team that reached the Euro 2028 Finals against France in Italy….He now has 201 League Goals for his career in 387 Games while also registering 7.47 AR….The only Sophara Youth Academy to make it on the Goal 50 list, Jakub Berkovec (49th) has started his third season with Chelsea since leaving his boyhood club for £94M….The 24-year-old Czech right winger is one of the fastest players on the planet, but has yet to deliver the form of a superstar….That is what he is in his home nation, however, as he is the country’s highest valued and most famous player.

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NxGN 50 2034

The 3 Sophara United players are Richie Hunter (8th), George Adamu (29th), and Sean Travis (34th). 

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WINNER

LEONARDO GARCIA, (Mexico: 7 Caps), Defender – Atlas (MEX), 18-years-old (Previous: 4th)

He was ranked 4th last year so he had already started making a name for himself during his rookie year, but he has elevated that this season….He might be only 1.66m but he has a hulking presence on the pitch, especially down the left flank….Born in a town in the plains east of Guadalajara, he moved to the big city and came up through the Atlas youth system….He was a starter during his rookie year (31 Apps, 6.99 AR) and has maintained that position this season….He is considered a rising star in Mexico and now that he has won the NxGn award, interest from Europe is sure to be oncoming.

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2ND PLACE

LABROS SIDERIS (Greece: 4 Caps/4 Goals), Forward – Olympiacos, 19-years-old (Previous: 29th)

It won’t be long before the Greek forward moves west, with interest coming from France, Germany, and England….In 18 Appearances, he scored 7 Goals and registered 7.09 AR, getting designated a ‘Wonderkid’ thanks to his dribbling ability and speed….Born in Athens, Sideris has been Olympiacos since he was a child but given his ability, he has probably outgrown the Greek leagues….Has certainly turned some heads this season, especially with some of his performances in the European matches.

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3RD PLACE

ALDIN HRUSTANOVIC (Bosnia: 23 Caps/3 Goals), Midfielder – Real Sociedad,19-years-old (Previous: 2nd)

Dropping one spot but still as popular as ever is Real Sociedad’s Bosnian sensation Aldin Hrustanovic….Has done better his second season in Spain (20 Apps (5 Starts), 3 Gls, 87% PC, 6.87 AR) as he started getting more comfortable with his new environment….Was voted the 2034 European International League’s Best Young Player….His quickness and speed is notable, especially for his position, and he utilizes them very well as weapons….His estimated value is now over £60M – Real Sociedad acquired him last year from Czech club Bohemians for just £6.25M.

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OTHER NOTABLES

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THE SOPHARA JOURNAL

SEASON REVIEW 2033/2034

 

TEAM REVIEW

The shift has been seismic – there has been nothing subtle about it. Since last April, when Ezz fielded a team that featured no player from the famed First Generation, the rollouts and replacing has been quick and quiet. It started at the beginning of the season with Sean Travis replacing Joe Sheppard and ended with Dougal Yule as starter up front alongside Bekir Celik instead of club GOAT Joe Reardon. The First Generation had a very evident ceiling of mid-table team, and now Abul Ezz is trying to elevate the club past that and into Europe. He would get the team as high as 8th Place this season, their second best finish ever. Like so many decisions taken before in his career, there were questions about his thought process and his heavy shifting of the starting eleven, but like almost everything before it, Ezz has – so far – been proven correct. The manager has shifted the club’s complete reliance on the First Generation and has successfully transitioned away from them with even younger talent (higher potential) without losing any of the progress. They improved from 11th Place up to 8th, the offense remained one of the top in the Premier League as it was ranked 4th best, and the defense got significantly better, up from 16th to 11th Place. Club Captain Akim Lawrence won his first Sophara United Player of the Year award as he finally earned his first Cap for England, just in time for Japan 2034. The SYA set up its 4th branch, partnering with Deportivo Pereira of Colombia in creating SYA Colombia – its first foray outside of Europe and in South America.

Sophara United have carved out a reputation as a tough team that can take a result from anyone – no matter what, it is guaranteed that Sophara will play hard and tough. In the eight years the club has spent in the Premier League, it has never been involved in a prolonged relegation battle. It has finished in the mid-table every season, between 7th and 12th Places, and have been a nuisance in the world’s most competitive domestic league since their arrival in 2026. The Sophara United Stadium is now a raucous warzone of 30k+ people every home matchday evening, with a rapid and dedicated fanbase that have bought in wholly to the concept behind the club. Europe still eludes them – it remains the holy grail – but one can feel it inching ever so closer and has developed an almost inevitable feel to it. Everyone knows it will happen, the question is when? As we flow into the mid-2030s and Sophara United has made a name for itself as a tough, skilled young team that belongs, will it be able to experience those amazing European nights sometime this decade?

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GOALKEEPERS

DARREN ALLEN (England: 18 U21 Caps) – Age: 22 ('28 Youth Class) – Position: GK

The 2033 EPL Young Player of the Year had the best season of his career, playing in 38 Games for the third season in a row and registering 1.50 Con/90, 10 Clean Sheets (career-high), 2 PoMs, and 7.21 AR, also a career-high. He was twice named the PL Young Player of the Month (October, February) and named in the PL Team of the Week four times, making a good case for himself in his battle to be named to the England squad. This was his 5th year as a starter in the Premier League – the initial buzz around him has died down a bit and any talk about Allen being potentially a world-class GK has subsided, but the fact that he can be considered a PL veteran at 22 is amazing in any respect. He is playing close to his full potential and is unlikely to develop further in terms of ability, but as it stands he is one of the squad’s most important players.

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FULLBACKS

PATRICK BOLA (DRC: 15 Caps) – Age: 25 ('25 Youth Class) – Position: DL

Life has been good for Patrick Bola since announcing his eligibility of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s national team, becoming somewhat of a star in his home country. He played at AFCON 2032 in Tunisia, has now made 15 international appearances, and also enjoyed his best season in quite a few years. In 37 Games, he registered 2 Assists, 56.73 PC/90, 36 Key Passes, 89% PC, 1.96 T/90, 72 Tackles Won, 130 Interceptions, and 6.89 AR, up from 6.85 AR last year. He was active, he was involved, he was injury-free, and he played well. Part of the ’25 Youth Class that also produced Bekir Celik and Jakub Berkovec, the DRC DL has now made 239 League Appearances for the club with a 6.83 AR for his career.

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MOHAMMED ADU (England: 23 U21 Caps) – Age: 22 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: DR (DC)

The Ghanaian/English defender had the best season of his career to date – in 35 Games, he registered 2.18 T/90 (team-high), 47.09 PC/90, 88% PC, 74 Tackles Won (team-high), 12 Key Tackles (team-high, 3rd in PL) 160 Interceptions (Best in PL), 75 Blocks (2nd in PL), 539 Possessions Won (Best in PL), and a career-high 6.97 AR. He has carved out a role for himself as a hard-working, tireless DR who tries to be active and involved all game long. His PA has been downgraded to 4/5 and he has a 3.5/5 CA, so scouts generally consider him playing close to his full potential. He is a smart player with decent strength and good speed who has learned a totally new position in a few years and now is a Premier League-level right-back who still has some room to grow.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

29-year-old Ger Lennon (14 Apps, 6.65 AR) remains the first option off the bench as cover for each full-back position….One of the First Generation members, at his peak he was one of the highest valued players on the Irish national team….Never could get it going in the Premier League, however, although he does have value for his experience as a backup….Given the health of the two starters and Ezz’s preference to stick with Lennon as cover meant there was no additional playing time for any other prospects.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

AKIM LAWRENCE (England: 2 Caps) – Age: 26 (’23 Youth Class) – Position: DC

It finally happened for the greatest defender the SYA has ever produced – he won his first Cap for England. He was teased two summers ago as he was picked for England’s Euro 2032 squad, but he did not play and it was not until this season that he got his first game. Just in time, too, as he has also been selected to play for England at the World Cup at Japan 2034. England have been buzzing since they appointed Zlatan Ibrahimovic as their manager after Euro 2032, and the Swedish legend has shown enough trust in the Sophara United captain to believe he will see action at the World Cup. As for Lawrence, he had his finest season of his career, winning his first Sophara United Player of the Year award while playing in 36 Games and registering 1.17 T/90, 461 Headers Won (1st in PL), 11 Key Tackles (4th), 48 Key Headers (4th), 129 Interceptions (5th), 50 Blocks (10th), 431 Clearances (1st), 491 Possessions Won (3rd), and a career-high 7.23 AR. He continues to make his usual noise about belonging at a bigger club, but he has recommitted to the club every time he had to make a decision and its tough to see him leave for somewhere else in two years time.

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GEORGE ADAMU (Nigeria: 3 Caps) – Age: 18 (’32 Youth Class) – Position: DC

Although Adamu has always been considered a talented prospect, no one really saw him taking on the role he did this year and stepping up. He replaced legend Tom Horgan in the starting lineup as Ezz shook the foundation of the starting eleven, but he did totally fine. In 33 Games, he registered 77.06 PC/90 (team-high), 97% PC, 96 Interceptions, and 6.98 AR as he also made his international debut for his nation of Nigeria. He has the look of a future captain – a strong, resolute personality with the right amount of heart and football IQ. It could not have been an easy decision for manager Abul Ezz to bench one of his favorite players in Tom Horgan – the ‘Heart of the First Generation’ – but it also is a testament to just how talented he thinks Adamu can be. His value is now officially north of £60M.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Tom Horgan (6 Apps, 6.87 AR) was a surprising decision in the shakeup as George Adamu was favored to the Sophara United legend….The 30-year-old DC went from making 30 Appearances to just 6….The ‘Experience Centre-Back’ and ‘Model Professional’ would certainly have no shortage of takers should he decide to move on with his career, something which he suggested is a possibility….Although there are some prospects that are of interest, none were able to make an impression on the first team this season.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

SEAN TRAVIS (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 17 (’33 Youth Class) – Position: MC

Perhaps the most controversial starting eleven selection in what has now been called ‘The Shake-Up’, the rookie Sean Travis replaced First Generation and Sophara legend Joe Sheppard – the ‘Brain of the First Generation’ – in the starting lineup. He was not impressive, struggling a lot of the time and showing worryingly little progress as a player, but Ezz insists he will push on putting his full backing behind the young MC. In 29 Games, he registered 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 1.22 T/90, 83% PC, 29 Key Passes, and 6.61 AR, only turning 17 in April. There is obvious skill there otherwise Ezz would put so much faith in his development – he is a skillful player who has a knack for the flamboyant moves but is smart about it. He became the youngest Premier League player of all-time to score in a match at the age of 16 years and 16 days and has been a talking point ever since. Although judgement on his form is still early, he will be expected to play better in his sophomore year than he did his rookie one.

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RICHIE HUNTER (England: 14 U21 Caps/1 U21 Goal) – Age: 18 (’31 Youth Class) – Position: MC

Richie Hunter’s claim to fame is still his winning goal at the Finals of the Euro U19 Championship in 2031 against Spain, but his career is developing to be about so much more. Hunter is what Ezz is hoping he can replicate with Travis – a flawed MC who he has turned into one of the most exciting prospects at his position in the world. Essentially replacing Ronnie Flood in the starting lineup last season, he struggled in a difficult year as he tried to adjust to the Premier League. He did much better this season – in 36 Games, he registered 3 Goals, 9 Assists, 2 PoMs, 57.45 PC/90, 16 Clear-Cut Chances, 53 Key Passes, 84% PC, and a career-high 7.00 AR, up from 6.72 AR last season. He placed 8th in the 2034 NxGn Top 50 list and has been given the moniker of ‘Wonderkid’ as he claimed the PL Young Player of the Month twice this season. He is only 1.67m tall but his presence on the pitch can only be described as hulking – he plays much bigger than he really is.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

It was strange seeing the starting lineup come out without Joe Sheppard (32 Apps (12 Starts), 3 Gls, 3 Asts, 6.85 AR) but more often than not this season that is what happened….The club legend, now 30, has 142 Goals and 142 Assists in 492 Games for his career….The ‘Model Professional’ has suggested that it might be time for a new challenge in his career, a sentiment shared amongst many of the First Generation players….Nyren Minton-Collis (’29 Youth Class – 10 Apps, 1 Goal, 2 Asts, 6.86 AR) continues to struggle in breaking through the rotation and putting a stable, permanent place for himself in it….Even after the departure of Tommy Sullivan, he could not put his stamp on the rotation, suggesting that perhaps he doesn’t have Abul Ezz’s trust yet….The 21-year-old has been offered a new five-year contract that will pay him £40.5k per week….The 2020s were Ronnie Flood (6 Apps, 6.75 AR) golden days, but the 2030s have proven difficult for one of the First Generation’s most important players….Flood, 30, has played in 427 League Games for the club.

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WINGERS

AARON WOODWARD (England: 1 U21 Cap) – Age: 20 (’29 Youth Class) – Position: AMR (SC)

The 20-year-old winger has had a weird career thus far, but this season was his most balanced yet. In 34 Appearances, he registered 7 Goals, 7 Assists, 2 PoMs, 3.01 D/90, and 6.89 AR, up slightly from 6.85 AR last season. He is fast and he has good technique with the ball, with a decent ability to score. He is no Jakub Berkovec, however, and it is becoming evident that he is not a long-term answer for the void the Czech star left behind down the right wing. Depending on how much more he can improve (2.5/5 CA, 3.5+/5 PA) in the next couple of years, he has enough talent to be part of the rotation at the club for a long time, especially considering he can cover the forward position, as well.

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AHMED RAZAK (England: 17 U21 Caps/11 U21 Goals) – Age: 22 (’27 Youth Class) – Position: AML (AMR)

Akim Lawrence might have won the club’s Player of the Year award, but there is a loud group that believe it should have gone to the 22-year-old left winger. He played in all 38 Games, registering career-highs of 11 Goals, 14 Assists (1st in PL), 78 Key Passes (11th), 32 Clear-Cut Chances (1st), 91 Dribbles Made (6th), and a career-high 7.05 AR, up from 6.85 AR last season. He was one of the Premier League’s best passers, leading the league in assists and clear-cut chances. The ‘Enthusiastic Winger’ might not find it easy to break into the English national team set-up, but he is eligible for Ghana and would be a star for the African nation. He was named in the PL Team of the Week three times this season and won the PL Goal of the Month award in January. He has proven to be an excellent passer from before, but this was the first season where he showed how dangerous he was as a goalscorer, as well. The left winger’s importance to the team continues to grow with each season that goes by.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Stan Drummond (21 Apps, 6.67 AR) made 21 substitute appearances this season, carrying a role much like Ger Lennon does with the full-back positions….He covers both wings, and has proven capable of adjusting from being a star in the 2020s to an impact sub in the 2030s….He has 116 Assists for his career in 432 Games….18-year-old Ted Baah (’32 Youth Class – 20 Apps, 2 Gls, 4 Asts, 2.57 D/90, 6.68 AR) did better his second season than he did during his rookie one, but the inconsistency remains a large aspect of game….Has shown good improvement as a footballer, however, especially on the technical skills side of things….Has the potential to replace Woodward in the starting lineup if he can put together a string of good games.

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FORWARDS

BEKIR CELIK (Turkey: 38 Caps/20 Goals) – Age: 24 (’25 Youth Class) – Position: SC

Bekir Celik will be headed to his second World Cup when he joins Turkey at Japan 2034, and he will hoping that this time around he will play a more prominent role than he did as a 20-year-old at Spain 2030. He has proven himself a reliable threat up front, registering his third straight 20+ Goals season in a row. In 34 Appearances, the former three-time EPL Young Player of the Year registered 21 Goals, 6 Assists, 4 PoMs, 1.13 D/90, 57% ST, and 7.11 AR, down from 7.22 AR last season. He won the 2033 Turkish Footballer of the Year, making it a record-tying 4th time he has won the award. He has been a star in Turkey since his teenage years but has now developed into one of the leaders of this Turkish generation of footballers.

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JOE REARDON (England: Capped at U19) – Age: 30 – Position: SC

If the rumors are to be believed, then Smokin’ Joe Reardon will not begin next season as a starter for the club up front. As unspeakable as it is, that might be the reality that the Sophara United GOAT will have to face come August. This was the second straight season where he only scored 8 Goals, playing in 26 Games and also registering 4 Assists, 2 PoMs, 1.33 D/90, and 7.01 AR. He is Sophara United’s record goalscorer with 223 League Goals over the course of his career, accomplished in 470 League Games while also registering 94 Assists, 53 PoMs, and 7.22 AR. Next year will be his 14th season with the club, but it will also be the first in which he will start it having already turned 30. When the story of Sophara United’s journey in the 2020s comes out, the ‘Soul of the First Generation’ is sure to be center stage as he remains the best player in the history of the club and a legend in every respect.

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HOT PROSPECTS & OTHER NOTABLES

Andy Holland (30 Apps (1 Start), 3 Gls, 6.76 AR) is another hallmark of the 2020s and the First Generation that has embraced his new role as an impact sub….The 30-year-old ‘Experience Striker’ has 168 League Goals in 462 Games over his career….The ‘Model Professional’ is a Sophara United legend….Sean Whiteside (’32 Youth Class - 7 Apps, 6.70 AR) is showing good skills but poor scoring ability thus far, as many have begun wondering whether he is a better fit in the middle of the pitch as opposed to the front….All that might be moot anyway as Ezz is reportedly enamored by incoming Scottish rookie Dougal Yule and will be looking to give him as much playing time as he can.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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MAJOR LEAGUES REVIEW 2033/34

 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Winner: JUVENTUS

The 2030s has been a decade of stories in the Champions League – the fall of Bayern Munich, the Mbappe title, and now the rise of Italian football and the vindication of Frederico Chiesa (11 Apps, 2 Gls, 4 Asts, 2 PoMs, 2.33 D/90, 7.27 AR), the 36-year-old Juventus and Italy legend who can now call himself a Champions League winner….Juventus defeated Inter Milan as the Champions League saw its first Italian champion since Inter Milan won it in 2010 and Juventus were winning their first title since 1996, their 3rd of all-time….The most dominant team in Italy currently and throughout the 2020s, Chiesa led Juventus to the CL Finals once before in 2026, falling to Erling Haaland and Man City in Madrid….The ‘Elite Winger’ has certainly taken his place amongst the legends of Italy, and it was only fitting that he scored the only goal in their 1-0 win over Inter Milan in the all-Italian CL Finals in Kiev, Ukraine….The former defending champions Real Madrid fell in the Semi-Finals to Juventus, while Inter Milan got through on penalties against Manchester City….Erling Haaland (11 Apps, 13 Gls, 7.77 AR) won the CL Top Goalscorer award with 13 Goals for the 5th time in his career….Pedri, who moved to Juventus from Bayern Munich last summer in a £58M move, finally lifted the Champions League trophy, something which had eluded him at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Winner: MANCHESTER UNITED

Are we witnessing the birth of a new dynasty or the peak of an exiting generation? Only time has the answer to that question, but Manchester United has now won three titles in a row….It is weird to imagine that EPL Footballer of the Year – for the 9th time in a row and 10th time overall – Erling Haaland (37 Apps, 38 Gls, 14 PoMs, 7.73 AR) and Manchester City (2nd) last lifted the EPL trophy four years ago – a feeling the fall of the Man City dynasty came to abruptly….Mason Greenwood (31 Apps, 23 Gls, 12 Asts, 9 PoMs, 7.66 AR), Man United’s 32-year-old ‘Legendary Striker’, has been putting his name in the mix of the all-time greats, having now led his club – the only one he has ever known – to 4 Premier League and 2 Champions League titles, with all but one PL title coming in the past five years….Tottenham (3rd) and Arsenal (4th) took the remaining CL spots, with Newcastle (5th) and Everton (6th) also going to Europe….Man United’s Thomas Frank won his third straight PL Manager of the Year.

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SPANISH LA LIGA

Winner: REAL MADRID

Nine titles in a row for Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe (34 Apps, 28 Gls, 10 Asts, 6 PoMs, 7.69 AR), who will be leading France out at Japan 2034 for his 5th World Cup….The 35-year-old won it at Russia 2018 and also took home the World Cup Best Young Player award, then led them to the Finals at Spain 2030 before falling to the hosts, winning the Top Goalscorer (11 Goals) and World Cup Best Player awards….Barcelona (2nd) finished in a familiar position, ahead of Real Sociedad (3rd) and Atletico Bilbao (4th)….Atletico Madrid (10th) are going through some hard times, falling to their lowest position in 29 years.

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GERMAN BUNDESLIGA

Winner: BAYERN MUNICH

Is the end near? Bayern Munich took a record 22nd straight Bundesliga title this year, but they only did it because they had a better Goal Difference than Borussia Dortmund (2nd), who had the same amount of points (88)….Still, there was no doubt that Bayern Munich remains the top team in Germany, even if the invincible aura of the ‘Team of the 2020s’ has all but disappeared….In a league and land known for amazing GKs, never has someone from the GK position won the Bundesliga Player of the Year until this season when Bayern Munich and Brazil GK Edgar Rodrigo Stolte (33 Apps, 13 Clean Sheets, 7.55 AR) took it home….This was the Brazlian international’s first full season with the club, taking over from Diogo Costa, after coming in from West Bromwhich for £42M during the January 2033 transfer window….The 26-year-old was a great signing alongside Argentinian ‘Elite Striker’ Andres Ravizzoli (30 Apps, 22 Gls, 8 Asts, 7.48 AR), who won the league’s Top Goalscorer award in his first season….The 25-year-old powerful forward moved for potentially £166M last summer from Man City, where he failed to live up to his vast potential….Leipzig (3rd) and Bayer Levekusen (4th) make the Champions League for the second consecutive season while in the same positions.

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ITALIAN SERIE A

Winner: JUVENTUS

The big story out of Italy this year is not Juventus’ third consecutive Serie A trophy, but the all-Italian Champions League Finals in Kiev that saw the Italian champions defeat Inter Milan (2nd) and deliver Frederico Chiesa’s (33 Apps, 4 Gls, 10 Asts, 7 PoMs, 7.62 AR) first ever CL title….It has been a fitting swansong season for the 36-year-old legend, whose physical abilities are starting to fail him….Is he the greatest Serie A player of all-time? He certainly has a good argument – he holds the record for having won the Serie A Player of the Year award 7 times and has won the Serie A title 9 times – now that he has a CL title in his trophy drawer….Roma (3rd) finished ahead of AC Milan (4th) this season, but the top four remains the same.

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FRENCH LIGUE 1

Winner: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Thirteen in a row for Paris Saint-Germain, who were led by newly crowned French Ligue 1 Best Player Gianluigi Donnarumma (32 Apps, 0.34 Con/90, 22 Clean Sheets, 7.79 AR)….The 35-year-old Italian GK has been just as important as the likes of Ansu Fati when it comes to PSG’s dominance in the French league for the past several years….Monaco (2nd) finished ahead of Lyon (3rd) and Rennes (4th)….This was Lyon’s highest finish since 2028 and Monaco’s highest in the last four years.

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JAPAN 2034 – WORLD CUP

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INTRO/GROUP STAGES

This was the second time that Japan was hosting the World Cup – the first being the co-hosts at South Kore/Japan 2002 – with Spain coming in as defending champions after defeating France in front of their home fans at Spain 2030….There were 3 Sophara United players at the World Cup – Bekir Celik with Turkey, Akim Lawrence with England, and George Adamu with Nigeria….There were also 3 former Sophara United players in Tommy Sullivan and CJ Beech (Ireland), and Jakub Berkovec (Czech Republic) at Japan 2034, as well….New Zealand kicked things off with a surprisingly dominant 3-1 win over the hosts in the first match, which was followed by Kylian Mbappe scoring a brace for France in their 4-1 victory over Nigeria and Adamu….Andres Ravizzoli showed he meant business as he scored 4 Goals in Argentina’s 8-0 win over Curacao….Uruguay ended Matchday One with a big 3-0 victory over Senegal.

Matchday Two starting with South Korea defeating Turkey 4-0, making it two games and no goals for Bekir Celik at Japan 2034 up to this point, after the Turks got three players sent off….England destroyed Thailand 7-1 while France beat Syria 5-1 after Chelsea striker Jean-Louis Mathieu scored a hat-trick….Tommy Sullivan and CJ Beech’s Ireland defeated New Zealand 4-0 as they both came off the bench….Jakub Berkovec’s Czech Republic lost 2-0 to Brazil, while Ansu Fati scored a brace to give the champions a 3-0 victory over China….Serbia shocked Argentina by taking a 2-1 win as Ravizzoli got his tournament-leading 5th Goal….Costa Rica finished off Matchday Two with a strong 0-0 draw against heavyweights Italy.

Matchday Three starting with Nigeria sealing qualification alongside France in Group B after a 3-0 win over Syria in which George Adamu had a 7.7 Rating….Cameroon joined England coming out of Group C, but unfortunately for the hosts, their journey ended early as it was Ireland and New Zealand qualifying out of Group A at Japan’s expense….Egypt became the first African team to get knocked out as Turkey and South Korea made it out of Group D….Colombia joined Portugal out of Group E at the expense of Guinea….Group F saw Jakub Berkovec and the Czech Republic get knocked out with Iran joining Brazil in the next round….Group G graduated the defending champions Spain and Ghana to the Second Round….Ivory Coast and Denmark made it out of Group H, leaving Ecuador to pack up and go home….Serbia topped Group I after beating Curacao 7-0, with Argentina joining them….Germany and Canada each had 4 Points as they made it out of Group J….Group K saw Sweden top it and South Africa join them as they surprisingly knocked out the USA….Holland and Australia made it out of Group L, knocking Chile out in the process….Group M saw the Ukrainians and the Mexicans qualify as Saudi Arabia got knocked out….2026 Quarter-Finalists Jamaica got knocked out of Group N by Paraguay and Belgium….Costa Rica were disappointingly knocked out of Group O by Italy and Morocco….Senegal became the third African team to get knocked out with Group P going to Russia and Uruguay.

 

SECOND ROUND

Bekir Celik and Turkey exited after a 2-0 loss to England, though Akim Lawrence had yet to make an appearance at the World Cup….Ireland – and former Sophara United player Tommy Sullivan and CJ Beech – destroyed Nigeria and George Adamu 5-0 to advance to the next round….France defeated New Zealand 3-1 as Kylian Mbappe had a brace to send his nation through…The final match of Day One of the Second Round saw South Korea defeat Cameroon 1-0, making the latter the second African team to get knocked out in the Second Round.

Day Two started with former champions Portugal taking a 3-1 victory against Iran….Brazil played through a tricky tie with Colombia, coming out 1-0 winners in a tough match….Spain defeated the Ivory Coast 4-2 with Ansu Fati scoring another brace….Denmark won a resounding 6-1 victory against Ghana, with 27-year-old Real Sociedad striker Asmir Goralija scoring a hat-trick….Africa was now 0-4 for qualifiers out of the Second Round with only South Africa and Morocco still alive.

In a huge Second Round matchup, Day Three started with Argentina defeating rivals Germany 1-0 as they sent one of the favorites and the Euro 2032 winners home early….Sweden advanced to the Third Round after a 3-1 win over Australia….It took extra-time but Serbia got a 1-0 win against a resilient Canadian team….South Africa ensured there would be Africa representation in the Third Round after taking a big 1-0 victory over Holland.

Day Four of the Second Round saw Morocco also join South Africa in the Third Round with a 3-1 extra-time victory over Russia….A hat-trick by 24-year-old Empoli striker gave Paraguay an extra-time win against Mexico as they came out 3-1 victors….Ukraine continued their giant-killing ways, taking out heavily favored Belgium 1-0 and advancing to the next round….In the final game of the Second Round, Italy defeated Uruguay 3-1 as they silently built their case as one of the favorites.

 

THIRD ROUND

In one of the most anticipated matches of the Third Round, England – led by Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic as manager - ended Kylian Mbappe’s dream for another World Cup trophy with a 2-0 victory over France. Akim Lawrence had yet to make an appearance, however….South Korea defeated Ireland on penalties after the match ended 3-3 after 120 minutes. Tommy Sullivan and CJ Beech, both SYA products, played for Ireland in the World Cup….There will be a new champion after Brazil defeated Spain 2-0 with two first half goals. This was to be the first Finals in the past four World Cups that Spain would not be a part of….Denmark left the drama until the dying seconds of the match, scoring the only goal and defeating Portugal 1-0 as they quickly continued to become the neutral’s favorites.

Argentina continued to show they meant business, defeating Sweden 3-0 in a strong win. They had a favorable pathway to the Semi-Finals, with South Americans facing either Ukraine or Morocco next….Serbia defeated South Africa 1-0 after an early goal set them apart. The Serbians were desperate to how they were capable of reaching the latter stages of the World Cup as they did when they reached the Finals of Euro 2028, and it was the first time reaching the World Cup Quarter-Finals since 1990….It took penalties to separate Ukraine from Morocco after the match ended in a 1-1 draw. This meant no African team would make the Quarter-Finals….Italy ultimately came away with the result needed in their 1-0 win over Paraguay. Still, there was talk about looking rattled against a tough opponent.

 

QUARTER-FINALS

ENGLAND vs. DENMARK: England had now made 5 straight Quarter-Finals in a row – in fact, the last time England did not make the Semi-Finals was at Brazil 2014. The last time Denmark had made the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup was at France 1998, having only made the Third Round once since then, losing to Wales at the World Cup 2026. It took extra-time but England finally defeated Denmark 1-0 thanks to a penalty in the 100th minute. England advanced to the Sem-Finals for the 6th time in a row. RESULT: England 1 – 0 Denmark

SOUTH KOREA vs. BRAZIL: South Korea were embarrassed by France 6-2 at Spain 2030 in the Quarter-Finals, the first time they had reached this stage since their Semi-Finals run in 2002. Brazil, the record holder with 5 titles, had not made the Semi-Finals since Brazil 2014, a full twenty years since the South American giant had been part of the top four teams in the world. That streak would continue even longer as South Korea shocked the world and advanced to the Semi-Finals for the second time in their history, defeating Brazil 2-1 after scoring two second half goals.  RESULT: South Korea 2 – 1 Brazil

ARGENTINA vs. UKRAINE: Argentina had knocked out Germany and Sweden in the previous rounds, with Andres Ravizzoli scoring 5 Goals so far. They had last made the Quarter-Finals at Qatar 2022, losing to Germany on penalties during Lionel Messi’s last World Cup run. The Ukrainians had actually defeated Argentina in the Second Round of World Cup 2026 before they lost to Holland, after which they failed to qualify to Spain 2030. It was the Ukraine who would advance to their first Semi-Finals ever, defeating heavily favored Argentina on penalties after the match ended in a 2-2 draw after 120 minutes. RESULT: Ukraine 2 (p) – 2 Argentina

SERBIA vs. ITALY: A strong team that started the tournament with a 2-1 win over Argentina, the Serbians last made it past the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup in 1962. The Euro 2028 Finalists were hoping for the best against an Italian team that lost to Serbia in the Semi-Finals of Euro 2028 and was looking to do better than the 3rd Place they took at Spain 2030. The match was a tense affair between two tough teams, but the Italians broke through in the 90th minute and defeated the Serbians 1-0 to advance to the Semi-Finals.  RESULT: Italy 1 – 0 Serbia

 

SEMI-FINALS

UKRAINE vs. SOUTH KOREA: Whoever won this game was going to the World Cup Finals for the first time. The Ukraine had won every game in the tournament thus far, including a Second Round win against Belgium and a Quarter-Finals victory against Argentina. South Korea have had a less consistent tournament but had defeated Brazil in the previous round. Either way, it was already a magnificent tournament for both teams – but it would be the Ukrainians who would enjoy it a little while further, defeating the Asian nation 3-1 with Olexandr Sakhno scoring a brace to send the Eastern European nation into raptures. RESULT: Ukraine 3 – 1 South Korea

ENGLAND vs. ITALY: This match was being billed the ‘Final before the Finals’ with England and Italy being the highest profile teams still left at Japan 2034. England had a stellar World Cup up to this point, winning all their matches including a 2-0 win over France in the Third Round. The Italians were their typical selves – taking low-key victories including a tough 1-0 win against Serbia in the previous round. England were being led by Mason Greenwood, James Maduka, and Ollie Cresswell – Italy by Gianluca Bonvinici, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Vincenzo Castiello. Two late goals in the last five minutes of the match are what set these two apart, and it was Italy that scored both of them. England had to contend with yet another Semi-Finals heartache while Italy were heading to the Finals for the first time since 2006 to face Ukraine in Tokyo.  RESULT: Italy 2 – 0 England

 

FINALS

ITALY vs. UKRAINE: For the first time since 2018, the World Cup Finals did not feature Spain. Instead, it featured first time Finalists against one of the most accomplished teams in football’s history. Led by 36-year-old Juventus and Italy legend Frederico Chiesa, the four-time champions were looking to equal Brazil’s record for having won the trophy the most times. Ukraine, just by reaching the Finals, had already exceeded their expectations, but there was a resounding feeling in the Eastern European nation that they could pull it off, the same way they did against Belgium and Argentina in the previous rounds. They were not wrong – it took extra-time but Ukraine did it one more time, defeating the Italians 2-1 and winning an improbable World Cup title. Led by Dynamo Kiev’s 24-year-old midfielder Yaroslav Artymovych (6 Apps, 1 Goal, 4 Asts, 7.45 AR) and 26-year-old Shakhtar striker Olexandr Sakhno (5 Apps, 3 Gls, 2 Asts, 7.38 AR), Ukraine hit a rich vein of form and did not let up all tournament long, playing harder than their opponents and holding nothing back. Their brash confidence took the top tier teams, who are more used to being the intimidators, by surprise. Alongside 31-year-old Southampton DC Illya Zabarnyi (5 Apps, 7.34 AR), Artymovych – who won the tournament’s Best Player – and the team’s leading goalscorer Sakhno formed a perfect storm, one that took Japan 2034 by storm and came away with perhaps the tournament’s most surprising victory of all-time.  RESULT: Ukraine 2 – 1 Italy

 

 

AWARDS

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BEST PLAYER – Yaroslav Artymovych (Ukraine)

The 24-year-old Dynamo Kiev midfielder is on top of the world, leading Ukraine to the World Cup title for the first time ever and winning the tournament’s Best Player award….Both have been the most surprising winners in the history of the World Cup – Ukraine as champions and Artymovych as Best Player, but he did deserve it….In 6 Games, he registered 1 Goal, 4 Assists, and 7.45 AR, playing fantastic in the Finals in Tokyo against Italy….He has been Dynamo Kiev’s Player of the Year for the past two seasons….Is sure to be subject of several high profile bids from some of the world’s top clubs after this summer.