Chelsea blocks Ballack crisis talks

English Premier League leaders Chelsea have refused to allow Michael Ballack to travel to Germany to meet coach Joachim Löw for crisis talks which could determine the famed football player’s international future.

Chelsea blocks Ballack crisis talks
Photo: DPA

The London club’s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said that with Ballack still recovering from surgery on his feet, he will stay in England to continue his fight for fitness.

“Ballack plays for Chelsea. If Löw wants to talk to Ballack I invite the coach to come here and stay with us for one or two days and talk to him,” said Scolari.

“But it’s impossible for Ballack to travel now. He is in recovery and is with the doctors. It is not good for Ballack or the Germans.”

“I hope it will not come to a measure which none of us want,” the president of the German football federation DFB, Theo Zwanziger, told TV station Premiere on Friday, alluding to a possible exclusion of Ballack from the national side.

Löw wants to meet Ballack after the Germany skipper claimed the coach did not show enough respect and loyalty to his senior players.

Earlier Friday, Bayern Munich coach Jürgen Klinsmann told Ballack to apologise for his damning criticism of Löw.

“The situation is very simple. Michael must apologise for his comments on the coach and the players,” Klinsmann said.

Löw had demanded that Ballack return to Germany to explain his outburst, with both men speaking to each other on the phone Thursday evening.

“What will become of Michael is ‘Jogi’s’ business. He is the boss, he decides for himself,” said Klinsmann, who took Germany to the World Cup semi-finals in 2006.

The incident began earlier in the week after Ballack told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that: “Experienced national players deserve at least some respect and loyalty.”


Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.