More stories

  • in

    Six wonderkids of South American football heading to Europe’s top clubs soon, like Andrey Santos and Gino Infantino

    ENZO Fernandez is the most high profile – and by far the most expensive – of the new Premier League input of South American central midfielders.It is an interesting trend. Fernandez shone brightly in his brief spell with Benfica – one of the explanations for the size of the price tag. But he is something of an exception.
    Argentina star Enzo Fernandez became England’s most expensive footballerCredit: Getty
    While Brazil’s Bruno Guimaraes has been a hit at Newcastle UtdCredit: Getty
    Many central midfielders from South America have found it tough to adapt to top class European football, where the game is so much faster and there is less time to decide what to do with the ball.
    Even Bruno Guimaraes, such an important part of the Newcastle challenge, had some difficult times settling in at Lyon. 
    Other big Brazilian hopes, such as Arthur and Mathias Henrique, have yet to live up to expectations. 
    A few years back there was plenty of hype around Lucas Silva, a league winner in Brazil with Cruzeiro and seen as a Xabi Alonso of the future.
    Real Madrid got nothing from him though, and there was precious little in Marseilles either. All but forgotten, the player moved back to Brazil.
    It is interesting, then, to see that Premier League clubs have been willing to take the risk.
    From Argentina Carlos Alcaraz has joined Southampton and Mexi Perrone has gone to Manchester City.
    From Brazil, Danilo has joined Nottingham Forest, Joao Gomes has gone to Wolves and Chelsea have invested in Andrey Santos.
    Most read in Football
    These are the future stars of South America.
    Andre, Fluminense
    It could be that the best player in South America is still at home.
    Andre of Fluminense was one of the stand outs of the last Brazilian season, helping balance out an attack minded side.
    He made the team of the year in the opinion of most media organisations and led the statistics in terms of passes, tackles and interceptions. 
    He came closer than the others to a place in Brazil’s World Cup squad, and he could have moved in this window.
    He opted to stay – in the hope that, at 21, he can consolidate himself still further this year, and he will certainly be one to watch during the next domestic campaign and in South America’s Champions League, the Copa Libertadores.
    Andre of Fluminense was the best player in Brazil last termCredit: Getty
    Gino Infantino, Rosario Central
    In Colombia, the South American Under-20 Championships is currently in full force.
    A couple of the recent acquisitions have been in action, including Perrone who showed some bright touches, but disappointed along with most of his colleagues in an Argentina side that lost three of its four group matches and crashed out early.
    However, another central midfielder, the left footed Gino Infantino of Rosario Central was one of the more interesting players on show.
    An attacking player – the 19-year-old trialled at Real Madrid when he was a youth and trained with Villarreal, before settling in Argentina.
    Argentina’s Gino Infantino was one of their bright lights at the South America U20 ChampionshipsCredit: AP
    Andrey Santos, Chelsea
    Andre Santos, meanwhile, has done extremely well, especially considering that his professional experience is restricted to Brazil’s second division for Vasco de Gama.
    Strongly built, he is a midfield powerhouse, organising the play from the back, breaking up the play in the middle and always ready for a surge on goal. 
    He has scored five times in the competition – and has shown why Chelsea paid £18million for him in January.
    The Blues may have pulled off a masterstroke signing the 18-year-old before he impressed in Colombia.
    Brazil’s Andrey Santos is one of the most promising players in the continentCredit: AFP
    Chelsea have paid £18m to buy SantosCredit: Getty
    Marlon Gomes, Vasco de Gama
    Alongside him, former Vasco da Gama team-mate Marlon Gomes, 19, is a mobile and intelligent talent who is quick to spot a passing opportunity.
    In his quiet way, he too has been one of the stars of the competition.
    Gomes has represented Brazil at U16 level and U20.
    While he has also appeared 18 times for his club in Brazil’s second tier.
    Clever midfielder Marlon Gomes, right, is a mobile and intelligent playerCredit: AP
    Fabricio Diaz, Liverpool Montevideo
    Uruguay captain Diaz, 20, has stamped his authority on proceedings.
    Already a well established player with Liverpool – the Uruguayan version – he takes responsibility for running the game from the centre of the field.
    His right foot is a subtle weapon, and he is a consistent threat from set pieces.
    Like Santos he too has five goals in six games in the U20 South American Championships.
    And he’s not afraid to put his foot in – earning three yellow cards in the tournament so far.
    Uruguay’s Fabricio Diaz runs the game from the centre of midfieldCredit: AP
    Gustavo Puerta, Bayer Leverkusen
    Colombia’s captain Gustavo Puerta, 19, carries out a similar role in a more gut busting manner.
    He, too, is the organiser and leader, with a rocket in his right boot that has chalked up two sensational long range goals. 
    And he, like Diaz, Infantino and Marlon Gomes, is a name to look out for in future transfer windows.
    Read More on The Sun
    He began his career at second division Bogota, before moving to Bayer Leverkusen in this past January window.
    They have loaned him out to Nurnberg, where he will gain vital experience in a European League.
    Colombia’s Gustavo Puerta has begun his European adventure at Bayer LeverkusenCredit: AFP More

  • in

    Man Utd star Rashford’s goal celebration is spreading across the world of sport – but what does ‘the point’ mean?

    IT is a sight we are seeing the plenty of this season.The moment in-form Man Utd forward Marcus Rashford scores for his club, he runs towards the crowd and points with his index finger to his temple.
    Marcus Rashford performs his now trademark goal celebration after scoringCredit: Getty
    The England star, 25, is going through a real renaissance – and has scored 18 goals across all competitions.
    His most recent – a stunning solo effort against Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg – helped the Red Devils reach the final of the competition.
    Again, he pulled out that famous celebration that has seemingly caught on in the sporting world and inspired others to follow Rashford’s lead.
    But, what does it mean?
    read more Man Utd news
    Mental health
    No one knows entirely for sure.
    However, popular opinion believes by pointing to his mind – Rashford is highlighting mental health.
    The free school dinners hero has been open about his battles mentally – admitting it hindered him during the 2021-22 season.
    He told Sky Sports after scoring against West Ham in October: “”I was struggling at times with more mental things.
    Most read in Football
    “It wasn’t really my own performance but other things off the pitch. That’s the biggest difference from last season.
    “Too often last season, I wasn’t in the right headspace for games. I wasn’t surprised by some of the stuff that was happening.”
    That goal against the Hammers was his 100th for United – and how he has continued in this rich vein of form shows he is over mental woes.
    Another theory is Rashford has regularly suffered with the noise and pressure leading the line at Old Trafford.
    Closing his eyes while pointing to his head could also be about shutting out external distractions and unwanted criticism.
    This allows him to do what he does best; score goals.
    Rashford has been open about his mental health issues in the pastCredit: Getty
    England star Bukayo Saka copies Rashford’s celebration against Man UtdCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun
    It’s catching
    Rashford’s temple point is trending in football, with many stars of the beautiful game themselves have adopted it.
    Three Lions team-mate Bukayo Saka copied the celebration against United after scoring for Arsenal – in the same game Rashford also found the net and pointed to his skull.
    Bayern Munich superstar Joshua Kimmich followed suit, following a dramatic late strike against Cologne.
    Chesterfield’s Armando Dobra also copied Rashford’s move in a FA Cup third round tie against West Brom.
    Incredibly, the celebration has transcended football now too.
    A late strike against Cologne saw Joshua Kimmich of Bayern Munich show off the Rashford celebrationCredit: AFP
    After winning the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic also copied the celebrationCredit: Getty
    England fast bowler and Man Utd fan Jofra Archer points to his temple to celebrate a wicket in South AfricaCredit: Rex
    Upon winning his 10th Australian Open, and 22nd Grand Slam title, tennis superstar Novak Djokovic pointed towards the side of his head.
    And when England and Sussex fast bowler Jofra Archer, a massive Man Utd fan, got a wicket in South Africa’s SA20 competition – he did the same.
    Is it pioneering?
    Although it appears to have been a current trend – there’s argument online that it wasn’t even Rashford who invented the celebration.
    While you can’t argue he has inspired others in recent times, these stars will lay claim to have been more pioneering.
    Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal was seen drowning out the haters in a goal celebration similar that goes back as far as 2011.
    Read More on The Sun

    Ex-Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner might have pioneered the celebration – pictured here in 2011 performing it
    Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves also can lay claim to being a pioneer with this in the Championship in a 2018 game
    While Ruben Neves of Wolves can lay claim to performing it in 2018, when his club were gunning for promotion from the Championship.
    Either way, now it’s crossed over to other sports – expect to see more sports stars embrace the point to the temple celebration. More

  • in

    Roy Keane’s beard over the years, from Man Utd legend’s bushy caveman to handlebar moustache – and how they rate

    MAN UTD legend Roy Keane is certainly not afraid of sporting new bearded looks.Through the years, the former midfield hardman has experimented with his facial hair.
    Roy Keane’s facial hair has divided opinion – but what style looks best?
    From designer stubble to full-on caveman, the Sky Sports pundit has experiments with plenty of different styles.
    But, which one is the best?
    We have rated Keano’s beards out of 10 – starting off with a fan favourite.
    Quite a few times on punditry duty, we’ve been treated to Keano embracing his inner caveman.
    Read more football news
    This unkempt, bushy beard shows of a bit of grey and hints at Captain Birdseye.
    SunSport says: Unkempt, and a nod to the packaging on the fish fingers we loved as kids, it definitely accentuates Keane’s masculinity. But, it is a little untidy.
    Beard Rating : 7/10
    Aye aye Captain Birseye: Roy Keane appears on ITV with a bushy beardCredit: ITV
    Wyatt Earp
    It’s a handlebar tasche that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the wild west, or the Village People.
    Most read in Football
    The ex-Red Devils captain showed he wasn’t afraid to experiment with this facial style.
    SunSport says: Very few men can pull off this type of tasche – and sadly, for us at least, Keane isn’t one of them.
    Beard rating: 3/10
    Roy Keane shows off his handlebar moustache
    There’s no doubt about it, when Keane goes for a full shave it knocks the years off.
    Here, on duty for Sky Sports, he goes hirsute. But does he look better with a bit of stubble?
    SunSport says: Oddly enough, having absolutely no facial hair on Keane’s face looks a bit strange now, even if he does look younger.
    Beard rating: 5/10
    A clean-cut Roy Keane reports for Sky Sports duty
    Billy Connolly
    As comedians go, none have been funnier than Billy Connolly.
    Fans on Twitter went wild when Keane showed off a moustache and soul patch combo akin to the Big Yin during ITV’s World Cup coverage in Qatar.
    SunSport says: As funny as Keane can be when it comes to his pundit work, leave the comedy tasche and stork to the professionals.
    Beard rating: 2/10
    Is it Roy Keane or Billy Connolly?
    The Goat-ee
    Keane bossed the midfield when he played for United in the nineties and noughties.
    But, as he lined up for a Champions League game against Fiorentina in 1999, he showed off an impressive goatee that must have inspired Ricky Gervais when it came to David Brent and The Office.
    SunSport says: A goatee that has outgrown the rest of the beard takes effort and grooming – and Keane has pulled it off here.
    Beard rating: 8/10
    Roy Keane can lay claim to being the GOAT-ee
    Roy sometimes like to keep his beard, but has it groomed and clipped to keep it under control.
    However he doesn’t seem the type to splash out on hipster paraphernalia like beard shampoo, and balm.
    SunSport says: Gives Roy a rugged look, without looking like a gnarly old sea dog.
    Beard rating: 7/10
    Credit: Getty
    Designer stubble
    It’s the beard choice for many an action hero – think Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger – who all rocked designer stubble.
    Keane does it with some aplomb – signing autographs for fans and getting a kiss from a female admirer.
    Read More on The Sun
    SunSport says: The proof is in the pudding – designer stubble has won him an admirer. The best of the bunch.
    Beard rating: 9/10
    Designer stubble made Keane a favourite with the ladies More

  • in

    Ebanie Bridges’ sexiest pictures on Instagram, from topless Santa hat shoot to glam secretary OnlyFans tease

    IT is fair to say stunning Ebanie Bridges has transcended the world of boxing.Sure, she has conquered the sport – and is currently the holder of the IBF bantamweight title.
    Stunning Ebanie Bridges has become a favourite among boxing fans and social media usersCredit: PA
    Famous for her sexy lingerie weigh-in outfits, Bridges is the IBF bantamweight championCredit: Reuters
    But she is also renowned for her legendary weigh-in outfits that leave little to the imagination.
    Bridges, 36, dazzles in sexy lingerie before she looks her opponents in the eye ahead of a blockbuster fight.
    Recently, she launched an OnlyFans page – where she shows of exclusive content to her die-hard fans.
    While her Instagram, which has over 700,000 followers, is still the go-to place to see what the Bronze Bomber is up to in her life.
    read more Ebanie bridges news
    And she’s not shy to live up to her glam image on that platform either.
    SunSport looks at Ebanie’s sexiest Instagram posts – and how many likes they got at time of publishing.
    10. Footy fan
    Stunning Ebanie is a devout Leeds United fan, who regularly tweets her love for the Whites.
    She revealed her love obsession began with the club when fellow Aussies Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka turned out for the Yorkshire outfit.
    Most read in Boxing
    And the boxing superstar regularly makes the pilgrimage to Elland Road to cheer on her team.
    Sometimes she does it wearing a full kit, as she posted here.
    Likes: 28,076
    Ebanie Bridges shows off her love for Leeds UtdCredit: Instagram @ebanie_bridges
    9. Sexy secretary
    A tease for her OnlyFans account, Ebanie dressed up as a sexy secretary for this share.
    Lent over a desk, wearing lingerie she lured fans in with a simple comment.
    “Let me teach you a thing or two on my @onlyfans,” she captioned the image.
    Likes: 22,538

    8. Vegas, baby!
    Fight night in Nevada last September brought the greats Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin together for a classic bout.
    Ebanie was there to see all the action unfold, as the Mexican reigned supreme.
    Stunning in a figure-hugging red dress and high-heels, she showed off her look for a photo at the T-Mobile Arena.
    Likes: 40,009
    Fight night in Nevada and Ebanie Bridges glows in a red dressCredit: Instagram @ebanie_bridges
    7. Glam selfie
    Ebanie is not shy when it comes to showing off her cleavage.
    Her Instagram is filled with amazing selfies that have wowed fans across the globe.
    None better this one, as she wrote “Felt cute” alongside the snap.
    Likes: 25,320
    ‘Felt cut’ Ebanie Bridges declared with this stunning selfieCredit: Instagram @ebanie_bridges
    6. Red carpet ready
    When the occasion calls for it, Ebanie can mix it with the best of them.
    Here she is at a posh event – looking amazing in a shimmering silver dress.
    And she had a lovely message too. “Confidence and a kind heart are the most beautiful things you can posses,” she wrote with the pic.
    At a glam event, Ebanie Bridges looked like an A-lister in a stunning dressCredit: Instagram @ebanie_bridges
    Likes: 17,828
    5. ‘Boobs and belts’
    Being the champ is a reason to be celebrated.
    So, putting aside her all-round gorgeousness, SunSport were delighted she celebrated holding the IBF bantamweight belt in such fashion.
    Wearing another stunning dress, she captioned the saucy snap: “B**bs and belts! See what’s behind the belt on my OnlyFans…”
    Likes: 49,111
    The champ Ebanie Bridges shows off her IBF bantamweight beltCredit: Instagram @ebanie_bridges
    4. The one that got removed
    Famous for celebrating her body in sexy lingerie and her skills in the rings, we at SunSport never knew Ebanie had a musical side too.
    Well, at least that is what a post shared during the Christmas holidays suggested.
    Resting her breasts on the keys of a piano in a tasteful bra and thong, Ebanie’s tattoos are also on display.
    However, there’s no likes for this one because Instagram decided it was too racy and pulled it down.
    Instagram could not handle Ebanie Bridges and her piano snapCredit: INSTAGRAM
    3. Cooking up a storm
    “Might start a saucy cooking series on my @onlyfans, what do you think?” Ebanie suggested with this amazing photoshoot.
    Wearing all white, you would hope she wears an apron not to stain her snug negligee.
    But, on a serious note, when can SunSport come round for dinner?
    Likes: 66,303

    2. Stage outfit
    Never neglecting her fighting ability, sexy stage outfits are Ebanie’s thing.
    She’s the best in the business at it and has started off a series of copycats who are looking to emulate her.
    Back in March, 2022 – before her fight against María Cecilia Román that won her the IBF belt – she teased what she was wearing at her weigh-in. It went down a storm on Insta.
    Likes: 63,018
    Ebanie Bridges is famous for her tasteful lingerie sets she shows off at her weigh-insCredit: Instagram @ebanie_bridges
    1. Stocking filler
    As saucy as Ebanie has ever got.
    Topless, but covering her modesty with a Santa hat, the beautiful blonde was in a playful mood.
    Read More on The Sun
    She captioned the photo: “White Christmas’ all around on my OnlyFans tonight 😏😉❄️💦”
    Likes: 43,765
    Ebanie Bridges celebrated Christmas by sharing a topless snap with her followers More

  • in

    Meet the new Wags joining the Premier League, including a twerking champion, a reality TV star and a soap actress

    THE transfer window has officially slammed shut – with clubs spending a whopping £2.8billion during the 2022-23 season.And for their money, Premier League sides are bringing the world’s top talent to our shores as they gear up for the second half of the season.
    Claudia Kowalczyk is one of many new Wags who have joined the Premier League eliteCredit: Instagram / @claudia.redheaded_babe
    Kowalczyk is the girlfriend of Jakub KiwiorCredit: claudia.redheaded_babe/instagram
    Kowalczyk is a twerking championCredit: Instagram
    Accompanying these superstars for the journey are their gorgeous Wags.
    From a twerking champion to a reality TV star, these new additions are sure to turn heads in the stands.
    Claudia Kowalczyk
    Stunning blonde Claudia, 30, is the flamboyant twerking girlfriend of Arsenal new boy Jakub Kiwior.
    She goes under the stage name Redheaded, and has her own clothing label aimed at dancers.
    Read more football news
    Kowalczyk is a competing twerker –  and won the Queen of Twerking Competition in Germany in 2017, and was a semi-finalist in the European Twerk Champions in 2018.
    She was spotted in the stands alongside her beau taking in the Gunners 3-2 win over Man Utd in the stands.
    Katja Kuhne
    The leggy 36-year-old is some nine years older than new Man Utd loan signing Marcel Sabitzer.
    Ukraine bombshell Katja rose to fame starring in the German version of reality TV show The Bachelor.
    Most read in Football
    She got together with the Austrian footballer in 2017 and they got engaged three years later, when Sabitzer got down on one knee in the romantic setting of the Maldives.
    The pair share daughter, Mary Lou who arrived in 2019.
    Katja Kuhne appeared on the German version of reality TV hit The Bachelor
    Marcel Sabitzer and Kuhne cut a glam pairCredit: Getty
    Margarida Corceiro
    Soap actress Margarida, 20, dates Chelsea new boy Joao Felix.
    They reportedly began their romance in 2019, after being introduced by pals on social media.
    Corceiro has also appeared in the Portuguese version of Strictly Come Dancing.
    She was once wrongly accused of having an affair with Tottenham new boy Pedro Porro.
    Margarida Corceiro is a Portuguese soap actress
    Margarida Corceiro with boyfriend Joao Felix
    Andrea Salas
    Costa Rican swimwear model Amanda won’t be getting her bikini out in Nottingham any time soon – given our current climate.
    But, the beauty, 38, was crowned Miss Hawaiian Tropic in 2006, where she showed off her amazing curves.
    She married Nottingham Forest new boy Keylor Navas in 2009.
    They have two children together, Mateo and Thiago – with Amanda having daughter Daniela from a previous marriage.
    Model Andrea Salas was once a Miss Hawaiian Tropic winner in 2006Credit:
    Salas has been married to Keylor Navas since 2009Credit: Instagram @andreasalasb
    Valentina Cervantes
    Cervantes, 22, can boast that her partner is the most expensive player in British football history.
    Her other half Enzo Fernandez completed a dramatic deadline day transfer worth a staggering £106million in the final moments of Tuesday.
    English teacher Valentina began dating the ex-Benfica midfielder in 2019.
    They welcomed a daughter Olivia in 2020.
    Argie beauty Valentina Cervantes can boast her beau is the most expensive player in Premier League history
    Cervantes dates Chelsea new boy Enzo Fernandez
    Noa van der Bij
    Cody Gakpo’s stunning model girlfriend will, no doubt, be settling to life already in the north since his £37million move to Liverpool.
    Noa has been working as a junior booker for Cachet Models ever since completing her studies in management at Avans University of Applied Sciences.
    The blonde, 23, is busy on social media and boasts over 17,000 followers on Instagram.
    And she appears to be very much into the high life as she has posted photos of her in various exotic places, such as Monaco, Ibiza, Saint Tropez and Curacao.
    Gorgeous Dutch beauty Noa van der Bij works as a model bookerCredit: @noavdbij
    Liverpool signing Cody Gakpo with girlfriend NoaCredit: noavdbij/instagram
    Catherine Harding
    Strictly not a new addition to the Premier League, however, she will be new to the boxes at the Emirates.
    Singer Catherine, 32, is the girlfriend of Arsenal’s deadline day signing, Jorginho.
    She famously appeared on The Voice – where she was mentored by Ollie Murs.
    Harding also had a romance with Jude Law, fathering a daughter called Ada with the Hollywood star.
    Singer Catherine Harding had a child with Hollywood star Jude LawCredit: Instagram / @cat_cavelli_
    Since 2020, she has dated Arsenal signingCredit: Instagram / @cat_cavelli_
    Liberty Litchfield
    Scottish mental health nurse Liberty is the missus of Leicester City new boy, Harry Souttar.
    She lives the life of a typical Wag – and enjoys travelling to exotic locations, recently supporting her beau in Qatar, as Souttar played for Australia.
    Music fan Liberty likes a festival – sharing pics at Creamfields on social media.
    She is also a fan of high-end fashion, including Dior.
    Liberty Litchfield is a mental health nurseCredit:
    Liberty Litchfield will be helping Harry Souttar settle at Leicester CityCredit:
    Angelina Zabarnyi
    Joining her beau Illya Zabarnyi on the south coast at Bournemouth is another Ukrainian beauty – who will surely love the Sandbanks.
    She is fiercely proud of her country – stating “Glory to Ukraine” on her Instagram bio in reference to the war with Russia.
    Read More on The Sun
    They have been dating for three years, and got engaged at the turn of the year.
    She studied philology at Kyiv University, and is much more than a pretty face.
    Ukrainian beauty Angelina is the fiancee of Illia Zabarnyi,Credit:
    Angelina and Zabarnyi will be hoping life in Bournemouth serves them wellCredit: More

  • in

    Meet Chelsea signing Enzo Fernandez’s stunning Wag Valentina, loving mum to his daughter who’s his biggest supporter

    ENZO Fernandez won’t be coming alone to Chelsea after agreeing a stunning £107million British record transfer move to Stamford Bridge.Fernandez, 21, will be bringing along his glamorous girlfriend Valentina Cervantes, 22, now the Blues have landed the talented youngster from Benfica.
    Enzo Fernandez will be brining his girlfriend to Chelsea
    Valentina Cervantes has been by Benfica star Enzo Fernandez’s side since 2019
    Valentina Cervantes and Enzo Fernandez have a daughter named Olivia
    Stunning Cervantes is a year older than Fernandez at 22
    The midfielder stood out at the 2022 World Cup as he helped Argentina win the title and earned the tournament’s Best Young Player award.
    That led to a raft of suitors jostling for his signature ahead of the January transfer window.
    Newcastle, Manchester United and Liverpool were all linked to the playmaker.
    However the West Londoners beat everyone to the punch – paying a whopping £107million – eclipsing the £100million Man City paid for Jack Grealish to shatter the British transfer record.

    The Blues left it late after tracking the midfielder since the start of the January window, getting their deal sheet in with minutes to spare on deadline day.
    And it takes Chelsea’s outlay over the last two windows to a colossal £602m when add-ons and loan fees are included.
    Joining him on his new journey is Argentinian beauty Valentina, who has been Fernandez’s biggest supporter since they started dating in 2019.
    Two years ago, they welcomed daughter Olivia to their lives – as their love continued to grow.
    Most read in Football
    Sassy Valentina has over 402,000 followers on Instagram
    Enzo and his family celebrate winning the World CupCredit: Getty
    Valentina and Fernandez reportedly began dating in 2019
    Gym bunny Valentina shows her stunning figure
    Valentina reportedly started studying to become an English teacher when she met the former River Plate star in Argentina.
    And together they moved to Lisbon last June when he joined Benfica.
    Valentina is very active on social media as she has over 402,000 followers on Instagram.

    She also loves sharing her travelling adventures – with her social media filled with snaps from various glamorous destinations.
    But she is mostly focused on her family as she likes to share photos of her boyfriend and daughter.
    No doubt she will bring even more glam to the King’s Road and Stamford Bridge, as she settles on our shores.
    Valentina Cervantes is very active on social media with a raft of followers
    Valentina Cervantes followed Enzo Fernandez to Lisbon when he joined Benfica
    Valentina Cervantes was studying to become an English teacher before meeting Enzo Fernandez More

  • in

    Arsenal signing Jorginho learned his football skills from his mum playing on the beach in Brazil, before winning Euros

    FOOTBALL superstar Jorginho has come a long way from the sandy beaches and blue waters of Imbituba in southern Brazil.The Italian midfield maestro, now 31, has joined Arsenal after nearly five years at Chelsea for a fee in the region of £12million.
    Italian midfield maestro Jorginho boasts an impressive CV, including a Champions League winCredit: The Sun
    Jorginho, in the middle, revealed he learned his football skills from his mum, aboveCredit: Facebook / Jorghino Frello – Official /
    From a young age, Jorginho showed an aptitude and passion for footballCredit: Facebook / Jorghino Frello – Official /
    His impressive CV boasts a Champions League win with the Blues, as well as a European Championships with Italy and a third placed Ballon d’Or finish just two years ago.
    But, it’s his mum who he credits for his incredible rise in the game.
    “My mother played football so I learned a lot from her,” Jorginho revealed in 2013.
    “She still plays today and understands a lot. She would take me to the beach with a ball and I would spend the whole afternoon doing technical work in the sand.”
    read more sport features
    Mum Maria Tereza Freitas would spend most of her day working as a cleaner to put food on the table and earn enough money to buy her son boots and a ball, while taking him to play for his local team Bruscão.
    By the age of 13, Jorginho moved 112 miles from home to fulfil his football dreams in an academy financed by a businessman to produce the best young footballers in the country.
    It was the making of the teen, who would go on to become a Premier League regular and Italy hero.
    To Verona and beyond
    An exciting prospect as a boy, Jorginho was selected in a group of 50 kids selected as part of a project formed by Italian businessmen in Guabiruba to create the next wave of brilliant Brazilians.
    Most read in Football
    But these weren’t the state-of-the-art facilities youngsters today are accustomed to.
    Windowless rooms, monotonous meals and ice-cold baths made for a grim experience.
    However, two years later he was signed by Italian club Verona who played in the second tier at that time.
    Jorginho’s first deal at the club was far from lucrative, though. While the agent took £27,000 from the transaction, the emerging midfielder had just £18-a-week to live on.
    A large chunk of that went on keeping in touch with his mum, who managed to convince him to continue his football education after he threatened to quit.
    At first, the young boy struggled to fit in to his new surroundings. He couldn’t live in a boarding school with his other team-mates.
    Instead, Riccardo Prisciantelli, the former chief executive of Hellas Verona, gave Jorginho to a trusted priest and he lived in a convent among other monks.
    Jorginho played for local teams in his homeland, including Bruscão
    At 13, Jorginho was selected for a football factory among 50 other talented Brazilian boys
    Mum Maria Tereza Freitas supported her son’s dreams and talked him out of quittingCredit: Facebook / Jorghino Frello – Official /
    “I could not do anything,” he told the Daily Mail.
    “I used five euros for mobile credit, bought hygiene products, which was 15 euros, and the rest was used online to talk to my family.
    “It was like that for a year-and-a-half.
    “In the second year, I trained with the professionals and when I met the Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael Pinheiro, who is almost a brother to me, I told my story and he did not believe it.
    “From there, he did not let me miss anything.”
    The Wolf of the Future at Napoli
    Jorginho’s sheer determination to make it as a pro earned him the nickname ‘The Wolf of the Future’ among his peers at the Italian club.
    He worked hard on the pitch, and was regularly seen in the gym at the training centre – where he worked hard from dawn to dusk.
    After a successful loan spell with Serie D side Sambonifacese, Jorginho returned to Verona and excelled, making his first-team debut as an 18-year-old in September 2011.
    He was a key figure in their promotion-winning side in 2013 and earned a move to Italian giants Napoli six months later – snubbing Manchester City’s advances.
    At Napoli, Jorginho became one of the world’s top midfieldersCredit: AFP or licensors
    Jorginho found a father figure in Maurizio Sarri – who he followed to Chelsea from NapoliCredit: Getty – Contributor
    During his time at the Stadio San Paolo, Jorginho learned about the Premier League after rooming with Nathaniel Chalobah, the former Blues midfielder on loan to the Serie A side in 2015.
    For three years, Jorginho worked under former Blues boss Maurizio Sarri in Naples – and they were briefly reunited in West London.
    The Italian coach knew his qualities well.
    “Jorginho is not a physical player, he is a technical player,” Sarri said.
    “The most important quality is that he is very quick in the mind.”
    Life after Sarri
    Losing an important mentor in the game could have hindered Jorginho’s Premier League career before it had really got going.
    Sarri was sacked after a year at Stamford Bridge and replaced with Frank Lampard – who himself lasted just 18 months.
    In came Thomas Tuchel after his PSG sacking – who was known for his more pragmatic approach.
    But that didn’t stop the deep-lying playmaker from playing his best football in a Blues shirt.
    Thomas Tuchel got the best out of Jorginho at ChelseaCredit: Getty
    Jorginho was an integral part of Chelsea’s 2020-21 Champions League campaignCredit: Getty
    Months later, Jorginho celebrated a spectacular 2021 by winning the EurosCredit: EPA
    Speaking of Tuchel, Jorginho said: “He understood my characteristics.
    “The way to play with short passes when we need short passes and long balls when we need long balls.”
    In return, the German called his talisman “one of the very best midfielders in the world.”
    Together, they conquered Europe – winning the Champions League in 2021.
    Months later, he would cap off the most wonderful football season by lifting the European Championships with Italy – beating England in the final on penalties.
    Jorginho was voted third in the Ballon d’or – behind winner Lionel Messi and runner-up Robert Lewandowski for his efforts for club and country.
    Celebrity status
    Away from the pitch, the 46-cap Italy star is in a romance with singer Catherine Harding (better known as Cat Cavelli) who appeared on The Voice in 2020 and was mentored by Olly Murs.
    It was alleged Jorginho met her while still married to Italian model Natalia Leteri.
    They divorced in 2020, the same year Jorginho and Harding welcomed a son, Jax – his third child.
    Jorginho is in a romance with singer Catherine HardingCredit: Instagram / @cat_cavelli_
    Harding is a former ex and baby mama of Jude LawCredit: Instagram / @cat_cavelli_
    Harding, herself, had a daughter called Ada with Hollywood star Jude Law, after they had a brief romance in 2014.
    A-list status is not something that Jorginho is worried about embracing.
    Read More on The Sun
    But with a title charge at Arsenal for his next port of call, he will be hoping for a blockbuster end to the season. More

  • in

    Brighton’s £3m star Kaoru Mitoma snubbed football stardom for a uni degree and wrote a thesis on the art of dribbling

    BRIGHTON’S FA Cup hero Kaoru Mitoma is, literally, a student of the game.The Japanese winger, 25, has been a sensation for the Seagulls – scoring against Arsenal and Liverpool this season.
    Brilliant Kaoru Mitoma is literally a student of the gameCredit: Instagram
    Mitoma jumps for joy as his late winner sinks Liverpool in the FA CupCredit: Reuters
    But, at the age of 19, he doubted his own ability and chose to snub a professional contract in his homeland in favour of a degree.
    He enrolled at the prestigious University of Tsukuba, where he studied physical education and learned about sports science and his body.
    It was there he starred in the college team, before writing his thesis on the art of dribbling – a skill that has served him well in the Premier League and seen him torture the likes of Ben White and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
    Not ready physically
    Mitoma began training with four-time champions Kawasaki Frontale at the age of 11.
    read more football features
    After impressing coaches, he was offered a professional contract.
    However, the teenager admirably turned it down – admitting his shortcomings.
    “I just felt I wasn’t ready physically and that I wouldn’t be in the first team immediately,” Mitoma told The Athletic.
    “I thought the best step was to get more playing time and get better.”
    Most read in Football
    Instead, he signed up to do Physical Education at the University of Tsukuba – which is consistently ranked in Japan’s top 10 universities.
    It not only gave Mitoma the opportunity to understand the human body, it also allowed him to blossom as a footballer.
    In the Far East, playing university football is recognised as a higher standard than its European equivalent.
    Mitoma was selected to represent Japan at the 2017 and 2019 Universiade tournaments, as well as the 2018 Asian Games and the 2019 Toulon Tournament with the U23 national team.
    Playing in the Kanto University Soccer League with Tsukuba, he was also named in the all-league XI in his final three seasons.
    He also celebrated winning the Denso Cup in 2019 with his team-mates.
    All this while majoring in physical education.
    Mitoma, wearing the No9 jersey, was a star for his university football team
    In Tsukuba Mitoma studied physical education and made plenty of friends
    Dribbling wizard
    Renowned for his pace and unique dribbling ability, in his final year at university Mitoma was tasked with writing his thesis.
    He chose to focus on the art of dribbling – thinking of his own skills and what makes a good dribbler.
    “It was the easiest subject for me to choose because I love football and dribbling is what I love to do,” he explained.
    “There were no rules on how much to write, but I progressed with it by analysing my team-mates that were good and not-so-good dribblers and trying to find out why that was.
    “I put cameras on the heads of my team-mates to study where and what they were looking at and how their opponents were looking at them.
    “I learned that the good players weren’t looking at the ball. They would look ahead, trap the ball without looking down at their feet. That was the difference.
    “I was one of the better dribblers at that time, but not exceptional.”
    Putting his own thesis to practice, he wrote: “I am conscious of shifting the opponent’s centre of gravity. If I can move the opponent’s body, I win.”
    He concluded: “The power of my characteristic dribbling has doubled.”
    The art of dribbling was the subject of Mitoma’s thesisCredit: Getty
    Graduation & making it pro
    In 2018, Mitoma signed pro for Kawasaki Frontale – finally making his debut in 2020 after the Covid outbreak halted the football world.
    Aged 22, in his first full debut season, he hit double figures – becoming just the fifth rookie to score as many in J-League history.
    Even more impressively, the midfielder notched 12 assists – more than anyone else in the competition.
    A meagre 18 months after he handed his dribbling thesis in – he was signed by Brighton.
    The fee – just £3million – appears to be a bargain now.
    Last season, he spent time on loan at Union SG in Belgium’s top league – where he acclimatised to European football and scored eight times in 29 games.
    This campaign, ex-boss Graham Potter thrust the talent into the first team – used initially as an impact player from the bench to bamboozle defenders with tired legs.
    The World Cup break also acted as a springboard for the wideman.
    After coming through the ranks, Mitoma shined for Japan’s national teamCredit: AFP
    Just 18 months after completing his thesis, Mitoma was signed by Brighton for £3mCredit: Rex
    Many felt Mitoma was underused by Japan in Qatar – making all his four appearances as a sub.
    But, that didn’t stop him from playing a major role in the most controversial moment of the tournament.
    His cut-back, when the ball was seemingly out against Spain, contributed to his country’s 2-1 triumph – knocking Germany out at the group stages.
    Like a Shakespeare play, there was tragedy too – when he missed a spot kick in the last-16 defeat to Croatia.
    Since then, Mitoma has returned as a man on a mission.
    He has mustered three goals in five Premier League games, including a recent stunner against Leicester City in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
    Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were also dumped out of the FA Cup by Mitoma’s quick-feet and calmness in front of goal – deep in injury time – as he volleyed home.
    Controversially, Mitoma assisted Japan’s winner against Spain in the World CupCredit: AP
    Mitoma scored against Arsenal at the Emirates in the League CupCredit: AFP
    With Brighton letting the likes of Leandro Trossard go, and the increasing likelihood of Moises Caicedo leaving one day soon too, it is almost inevitable their new talisman will command a substantial fee.
    Expect it to draw in another massive profit on the meagre £3million they paid.
    Read More on The Sun More