Connect with us


Defender linked with Liverpool transfer names two Virgil van Dijk qualities he tries to mimic



Defender linked with Liverpool transfer names two Virgil van Dijk qualities he tries to mimic

Ronald Araujo has started every Barcelona game when fully fit to help secure a first La Liga title in four years

Barcelona stalwart Ronald Araujo has named Virgil van Dijk as his biggest influence in football.

Like many La Masia academy products, Araujo is a South American who was poached for the Catalonian outfit’s world-famous youth setup at an early age. The Uruguayan has come of age over the last two years to become an integral part of Xavi’s resurgent Barca side.

Winning a first La Liga title in four years was a landmark event for the club and Araujo more than played his part, starting 22 games as the Catalans won the title with four games to spare. Only injuries have kept the centre-back – still just 24 – on the sidelines this season.

At the same age, Liverpool veteran Van Dijk was plying his trade at Glasgow giants Celtic. It was not until a Premier League move, first with Southampton before joining the Reds five years ago, that the Dutchman became a European household name.

Speaking to The Athletic, Araujo has named Van Dijk as a role model for how he aims to develop his game. The Barcelona defender said: “There are various players I watch and I try to take the best from each of them. These days it’s Van Dijk.

“Manchester City’s defenders as well are playing at a good level this season. I analyse a bit from all of them. The movements they make, how they move the ball, trying to learn.”

Ironically, Liverpool were among a host of Premier League clubs reportedly considering a move for Araujo earlier this year. Manchester United and Chelsea also found themselves linked with a potential £60million deal – but the Uruguayan has insisted he is happy in Spain, recently penning a contract extension until 2026.

“I showed with my renewal that I’m happy and I want to be here,” Araujo added. “Nothing more. I think these are things that get resolved. I rejected very important offers; in various cases, even more than they gave me here.

“I’m happy here. We live in a world in which money is very important but, for me, it’s not the most important thing. I was doing well here, the people love me, and I feel at home. That’s the most important thing.”


Match of the Day Top 10 podcast: FA Cup finals

This article was first published on 10 May 2021

FA Cup finalDate: Saturday, 3 June Kick-off: 15:00 BST Venue: Wembley Stadium Coverage: Live on BBC One, iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 Live

On Saturday Manchester City face Manchester United in what promises to be an FA Cup final for the ages.

One club is looking to take another step towards the Treble, the other hoping to complete a domestic cup double – and, of course, scupper their arch-rivals in the process.

In an episode first released on 10 May 2021, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards discussed the very best FA Cup finals of yesteryear on the Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast.

Now seemed a good time to revisit their list – and you can rank your favourite finals at the bottom of the page too.

Listen to Match of the Day Top 10: FA Cup finals2001: Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool (Richards: 10th, Shearer: 7th)

This was the first FA Cup final to take place outside of England due to Wembley’s reconstruction. Freddie Ljungberg put a dominant Arsenal side in front after 72 minutes at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, before Michael Owen scored two late goals to give Liverpool victory. It was the Reds’ second trophy of the season, after winning the League Cup, and they went on to win the Uefa Cup four days later. This is the last time Arsenal lost an FA Cup final – they’ve won seven since!

Richards: Arsenal battered them and you expected them to go and win it. I played with Owen for England but he wasn’t at his best then. It was around 2006 and he was just a goalscorer, you knew he would put it in.

The game that comes to mind is the Manchester derby in 2009 when he scored the last-minute winner. I was playing right-back but I was having a stinker and Shaun Wright-Phillips was pulled and Owen was through on goal. It was totally my fault but Wright-Phillips got the blame for it. He didn’t have that blistering pace but his movement was still good, he coasted in beside us and it was a brilliant goal.

1998: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle; & 1999: Man Utd 2-0 Newcastle (Richards: 7th, Shearer: 10th)’Thanks very much Ole!’ – Solskjaer teases Shearer about FA Cup final defeat

These were the two FA Cup finals that Shearer played in. Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka scored for Arsenal in 1998 as the Gunners won their seventh FA Cup and their first of seven under Arsene Wenger. A year later Newcastle were in the final again, but lost by the same scoreline to Manchester United. Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes scored the goals as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side completed the Treble with their Champions League triumph four days later.

Shearer: It is not your dream to play in a cup final, it is your dream to win it. Wembley is no place for losing – if you’re on the losing team it’s horrific. I hit the post in the Arsenal game at 1-0 and I can remember thinking it would hit the post and go in but it didn’t – it was horrific.

You have to stay and be respectful and clap the winning team, you don’t know what to do when you have 40,000 of your fans and they just want to get out of the stadium as quickly as possible – they’re all devastated. You say thanks to them and go round and congratulate everyone but you just want to get out of there. We didn’t play well – United were much better than us in 1999. We were better against Arsenal but it wasn’t to be.

Match of the Day Top 10: Alan Shearer on Newcastle’s parade after losing two FA Cup finals

We did an open-top bus parade after both and you just think how stupid is this? The last time Newcastle won the FA Cup was in 1955 and the bus was all arranged and we couldn’t get out of it. It just showed how desperate the fans were for success because there were hundreds of thousands of fans, it was unbelievable. We had to go say thanks at the civic centre and it was like, what are we doing? Embarrassing.

1986: Liverpool 3-1 Everton (Richards: 6th, Shearer 6th)

This was the first Merseyside derby FA Cup final and took place seven days after Liverpool had won the league, with Everton runners-up. Lineker put Everton ahead before a double from Ian Rush and a Craig Johnston strike gave the Reds their third FA Cup success.

Lineker: I played in this one and had the heartbreaking experience of putting Everton ahead and thinking maybe I’ll score the winning goal in a cup final – and then that happened.

My overriding memory of that final is not the final itself but having to do an open-top bus tour through Liverpool with them. It was decided beforehand that the two teams would go back to the city and have two buses and one would follow the other. No Everton fans came out because we’d lost 3-1 and there were tens of thousands of Liverpool fans. Peter Reid stormed off and didn’t get on the bus. I wish I had done the same. In the end we all just sat downstairs.

We were the better side all season and somehow we ended up winning nothing and they ended up with the Double. We went ahead in the cup final and were cruising, Liverpool were arguing among themselves.

1987: Coventry City 3-2 Tottenham AET (Richards: 8th, Shearer: 2nd)

This was Coventry’s first domestic cup final. They fell behind after two minutes through Clive Allen but midfielder Dave Bennett equalised seven minutes later. Centre-back Gary Mabbutt put Spurs back in front before Keith Houchen forced extra-time. Six minutes into the extra half-hour Mabbutt scored an unfortunate own goal, and the game is widely regarded as one of the best finals with BBC TV commentator John Motson calling it “the finest cup final I’ve had the pleasure of commentating on” at the time.

Shearer: I can remember Houchen’s diving header, the cross came in from the right and he flung himself at that diving header, that’s what I remember about that cup final. Mabbutt scored an own goal – it’s bad enough losing in a final but then scoring an own goal…

Lineker: Mabbutt was a great guy, one of the most remarkable people I ever played with, super bright. He had diabetes so injected himself three or four times a day.

I roomed with him all three years at Spurs and he had a couple of episodes where his blood sugar dropped alarmingly. We were on tour in Scandinavia and he got out of his bed and started lifting all the sheets up and then went to the wardrobe flinging all the stuff around and singing a song.

We’d just got in but hadn’t had a drink and he was behaving like he was drunk, it was weird, and then he got really funny and I realised it must be low blood sugar. I phoned the club doctor who gave him a bar of chocolate and he was right as rain. Mabbutt said to me ‘that does happen sometimes’ and I thought, well you could’ve told me.

What a man though – to get through what he went through. When he was first diagnosed they said it would be the end of his career, he was such a gritty player and a really good one, he’d play anywhere.

1991: Nottingham Forest 1-2 Tottenham AET (Richards: 2nd, Shearer: 8th)

Left-back Stuart Pearce gave Nottingham Forest the lead, before a Paul Stewart goal 10 minutes after the break forced extra-time. A Des Walker own goal, four minutes into the extra half-hour, gave Spurs a then-record eighth title.

Lineker: I missed a penalty that day. Like in 1986 with Everton, when I scored the goal and we lost I felt gutted in that way, but we won and it didn’t matter. I hadn’t won much in my career.

Gazza was so hyped. He was kicking balls at the marching band in the warm-up, trying to knock the trumpets out of their hands. He was the same in the semi-final but he had an early free-kick and got it out of his system. He made two crazy challenges in the final and ruined his cruciate and it looked grim for us then.

He was unbelievable in the FA Cup that year – he dragged us to the final. We all took the cup to him in the hospital. It must’ve been a traumatic day for him, serious injury, missing out on playing in the cup final and going up the steps to collect it. He did get a medal, but he was never quite the same after that injury.

Shearer: I can imagine Gazza being loopy on a cup final day – genius with a ball though.

2013: Man City 0-1 Wigan (Richards: 9th, Shearer: 1st)

One of the greatest shocks in recent history? Wigan won the cup with an injury-time Ben Watson header, after Pablo Zabaleta had been sent off for Manchester City. Wigan were relegated from the Premier League after the final and became the first side to do that double. City boss Roberto Mancini was sacked two days later…

Richards: I was there – but it wasn’t the same feeling because we had already won one – there wasn’t as much pressure. We didn’t have as much urgency – we had the better chances and we probably should’ve won the game but Wigan were good and they were our bogey team, even in the league. We knew that was it because the goal was late. There were no excuses from us.

It got announced that Mancini was going the morning after, but I respected him and got on well with him. He was too emotional at times, he would argue with Vincent Kompany all the time. They got on but when they disagreed, it became personal. We lost to Everton while Yaya Toure was at the Africa Cup of Nations and he came into the dressing room and said ‘you’re all rubbish without Yaya’, and the dressing room just erupted. He was brutally honest and it worked for some but not others.

2011: Man City 1-0 Stoke City (Richards: 1st, Shearer: 9th)Yaya Toure wins 2011 FA Cup for Man City against Stoke

After beating Manchester United in the semi-finals, Manchester City went into this game as resounding favourites. Mancini’s side dominated the game and got their winner in the 74th minute when Toure drilled home after the ball broke loose in the penalty area. The win ended a 35-year wait for a trophy for the Blues…

Richards: I was brilliant – nothing got down my side, you shall not pass! I never really get nervous except for maybe derbies, but before this I couldn’t sleep, I must have had an hour’s sleep. I was playing out what I was going to do in the game, I was thinking about scoring and then thinking ‘no just do your job’.

I thought Toure was arrogant at the start – but he’s actually one of the nicest guys and very funny.

I’m not a massive drinker, but I was on the beer, sambuca, the lot. The party didn’t just last for one day, it was for weeks. Mario Balotelli got man of the match and the party was great. Joe Hart, he’s a character, a great bloke. I took him out in Manchester when he first joined City and I said to him ‘we live like kings here’.

2006: Liverpool 3-3 West Ham AET; Liverpool won 3-1 on pens (Richards: 4th, Shearer: 5th)FA Cup Archive: Liverpool 3-3 West Ham (2006)

The Steven Gerrard final. The Hammers went 2-0 up through a Jamie Carragher own goal and Dean Ashton before Djibril Cisse and Gerrard pulled Liverpool level. Paul Konchesky put Alan Pardew’s side back in front before Gerrard equalised in injury time with a long-range strike. He also scored in the shootout as the Reds won the last final in Cardiff, before we moved back to Wembley. They won last year’s final against Chelsea on penalties too after a goalless draw.

Shearer: That final epitomises what Gerrard was all about. When his club were in the mire and you need someone to come and get you out, what a captain. His strike was just wow, the timing was ridiculous and how he was able to get that accuracy and power.

Imagine doing penalties in the FA Cup, bad enough taking penalties as it is.

Richards: Only Gerrard could do that – I think he’s the greatest player I’ve ever played with, he had absolutely everything. I couldn’t see a weakness in his game and I wasn’t surprised by what he did because he just had so much talent.

1988: Liverpool 0-1 Wimbledon (Richards: 5th, Shearer: 3rd)

One of the biggest shocks of all time? Wimbledon had only been a Football League club for 11 years, and a First Division side for two, when they won this final. Midfielder Lawrie Sanchez got the winner in the first half, while keeper Dave Beasant became the first to save a penalty in an FA Cup final.

Shearer: Some probably won’t like this cup final because it wasn’t a great game, but to others it’s what the competition was all about. Where Wimbledon came from, it’s the big boys going up against the minnows. That Wimbledon team had been thrown together, they weren’t a great team. For them to go against the might of Liverpool and some of the names they had – and for them to win that game, that’s what it’s all about.

I think Vinnie Jones got booked after about 30 seconds for going after Steve McMahon straight away and that set the tone. For right or wrong reasons, people will remember that cup final.

Lineker: I love a story of an underdog but I couldn’t bear Wimbledon or the way they went about things. It would be impossible to play the way they did now.

1990: Crystal Palace 3-3 Man Utd AET; Man Utd won replay 1-0 (Richards: 3rd, Shearer: 4th)

This was the first trophy Sir Alex Ferguson won at Manchester United. He went on to claim another 21 major domestic trophies and six continental trophies. The game itself saw Gary O’Reilly put Palace ahead, before goals from Bryan Robson and Mark Hughes saw United lead. Ian Wright – who missed the semi-final recovering from a broken leg – forced extra time, before putting Palace back in front. Hughes forced a replay, which United won – thanks to a Lee Martin goal – to win a then record-equalling seventh FA Cup.

Lineker: Ferguson would not have kept his job for that long if they hadn’t won this final – his first few seasons he didn’t finish very well, I think about 11th. It’s amazing because a United manager wouldn’t have a chance of surviving now. In the third round everyone was saying Ferguson would lose his job but Mark Robins came on and scored the winner at Nottingham Forest and basically saved his job – history would’ve been very different.

Richards: And now he’s got 13 league titles and five FA Cups? This just shows the importance of the first trophy, it gives you that confidence. It’s massive because once you win it, you go on to do other things.

Snowfall is back: Hard-hitting drama about the crack epidemic in 1980s LA streaming nowHow Gen Z is learning to adapt and thrive: Young entrepreneurs find new ways to make money in Covid times

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *