Malanda played against Everton twice in the Europa League this season
Wolfsburg’s Junior Malanda has died aged 20 in a car crash in Germany.
The Belgium Under-21 midfielder had made 15 appearances for the German Bundesliga side this season, including against Everton in the Europa League.
He was linked to Fulham and Crystal Palace when he left Zulte Waregem in 2013 but instead joined Wolfsburg, before going back on loan to the Belgian side.
His last game was a 2-1 win over Cologne on 20 December.
Wolfsburg police confirmed the crash happened near the German city of Bielefeld.

Kevin de Bruyne tweeted a picture of himself and Junior Malanda
Wolfsburg team-mate Kevin de Bruyne tweeted: (external)”So strange to hear your friend in the morning and then hear this news. Lost a great friend way too early. RIP my friend. You will always be around.”
Another team-mate, Nicklas Bendtner, said on Instagram: (external)”Not only a great player, but a great person. My thoughts and prayers will always be with you and your family brother. Your kind heart was rare and special. You will always be remembered.”
Chelsea’s Thorgan Hazard, who played with Malanda at Zulte Waregem, said: “Whyyyyy??? I love you brooo.”
Everton and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku said: “I love you my brother.”
Malanda’s fellow Belgian Thibaut Courtois, the Chelsea goalkeeper, said: “RIP @JuniorMalanda!! We lose a huge talent and a great person!!”
The Royal Belgian Football Association tweeted: “The world of football has lost a great talent today. URBSFA sends its condolences to his family & friends #ripmalanda.”
Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Mario Gotze said: “RIP Junior #Malanda – sooo sad! My thoughts are with your family and friends…!”
Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and Paris St-Germain left-back Lucas Digne ‏were also among the other players to tweet their condolences

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Messi only at Barcelona because he promised Vilanova, says Ten Cate

Messi only at Barcelona because he promised Vilanova, says Ten Cate

The Dutchman claims a transfer would be in the best interests of all parties despite the Argentine’s commitment to the former coach

Former Barcelona assistant coach Henk Ten Cate believes Lionel Messi would already have left the club were it not for a promise he made to Tito Vilanova.

Speculation has resurfaced that Messi is considering his future at Camp Nou due to a clash with head coach Luis Enrique and a turbulent few days for the club, which has seen Andoni Zubizarreta and Carles Puyol leave and the presidential elections brought forward to this summer.

The Argentina international enjoyed a close relationship with Vilanova – who passed away in April 2014 after a long battle against cancer – and Ten Cate has claims Messi is only still at Camp Nou after he told his old boss he would stay.

Nevertheless, the Dutchman feels it would be in everybody’s best interest if Messi left the club.

“As far as I know, these problems all started about two years ago. Messi is only still at Barcelona because he promised it to Tito Vilanova at his deathbed,” Ten Cate told De Telegraaf.

“But I think a transfer would be in everybody’s best interest. Lionel has been at Barcelona for quite a while and he needs a new challenge. He’s still worth a lot of money now, but his value will only go down from here on.

“I really want to be supportive, because he has been on another level for 10 years. But I’m not sure he will get back to his best.

“It isn’t normal to shine for 10 years like he has done. Most of the big names can only keep it up for seven or eight years. And to be honest, he wasn’t at his best either last season, even if his statistics were still great.”

Ten Cate was Frank Rijkaard’s assistant at the Catalans when Messi made his debut in the 2004-05 season.

Yaya Toure wins fourth African Player of the Year title in a row

Yaya Toure (right) with Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini lifting the Premier Legue trophy

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has become the first player to be named Confederation of African Football African Footballer of the Year four years in a row.

Toure, 31, was nominated after playing a pivotal role in winning the Premier League and League Cup.

He also helped Ivory Coast qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Toure beat off the challenge of Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

Midfielder Toure scored 20 goals in City’s title-winning campaign and also netted the equaliser in the 3-1 Capital One Cup final victory over Sunderland at Wembley last March.

He has nine goals in 26 appearances for City in all competitions so far this season, including six goals in his last nine outings.

Toure also made the Fifa shortlist for the 2014 Ballon D’Or prize in October.

However, he has also had to contend with the disappointment of being part of an Ivory Coast side that lost two out of their three World Cup games. He was given the news of his brother Ibrahim’s death only hours after the team lost their second World Cup match 2-1 to Colombia.

He also hit the headlines in May as a row over a birthday cake threatened to bring an end to his Manchester City career.

Everton striker Samuel Eto’o is the only other player to win the African Footballer of the Year award four times but his achievement was not in successive years.

Full list of winners:

  • African Player of the Year: Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast and Manchester City)
  • African Player of the Year – Based in Africa: Firmin Mubele Ndombe (DR Congo and AS Vita)
  • Women’s Player of the Year: Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria and River Angels)
  • Youth Player of the Year: Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria and River Angels)
  • Most Promising Talent: Yacine Brahimi (Algeria and Porto)
  • Coach of the Year: Kheireddine Madoui (Entente Setif)
  • National Team of the Year: Algeria
  • Women’s National Team of the Year: Nigeria
  • Club of the Year: Entente Setif (Algeria)
  • Referee of the Year: Papa Bakary Gassama (Gambia)
  • Football Leader of the Year: Moise Katumbi – President of TP Mazembe (DR Congo)
  • African Legend award: Oryx Club (Cameroon) – winners of the maiden edition of CAF Champions League 1964 and Stade Malien (Mali) – runner up of the maiden edition of CAF Champion’s League 1964
  • Platinum Award: Dr Kwame Nkrumah (First President of Ghana) and His Excellency Goodluck Jonthan (President of Nigeria)
  • CAF team of the 2014: Goalkeeper: Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria) Defenders: Jean Kasulula (DR Congo), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco), Stephane Mbia (Cameroon), Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana) Midfielders: Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Yacine Brahimi (Algeria), Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Tunisia), Ahmed Musa (Nigeria) Forwards: Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) Substitutes: Raïs M’Bolhi (Algeria), Firmin Mubele Ndombe (DR Congo), Ferdjani Sassi (Tunisia), Gervinho (Ivory Coast), Abdelrahman Fetori (Libya), Akram Djahnit (Algeria), Roger Assalé (Ivory Coast)

Barcelona 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Messi, Neymar & Suarez seal top spot for Blaugrana

Barcelona 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Messi, Neymar & Suarez seal top spot for Blaugrana

Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the French titleholders ahead but the Blaugrana’s all-star attack turned the game on its head to ensure that the Catalans will be seeded in the last 16.

Barcelona beat Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in Champions League Group F by coming storming back from a goal down to triumph 3-1 at Camp Nou.

The Catalans came into the Camp Nou clash a point adrift of the French champions, but first-half goals from Lionel Messi and Neymar – Barca’s scorers in a 3-2 defeat in Paris in September – negated Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s earlier effort.

Luis Suarez rounded off the scoring after the interval to subject PSG to their first defeat of the season in all competitions.

Ibrahimovic stunned the home crowd on his return to the club where he spent the 2009-10 campaign – driving home a left-footed effort from 12 yards after 15 minutes.

Barca hit back when Messi met a Suarez cross in the six-yard box four minutes later, and Neymar completed the turnaround before half-time with a delightful curling strike.

PSG’s hopes of claiming a point were effectively dashed as Suarez reacted quickest to a Salvatore Sirigu parry 13 minutes from time.

The result sees Barca earn a seeding for the last 16, ensuring they avoid the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich, while PSG will be bracing themselves for a tricky draw.

Despite needing a win to top the group, Luis Enrique elected to make five changes to his starting XI, compared to Laurent Blanc’s six, but it was Barca who made the brighter start – Messi curling a 20-yard free-kick over the crossbar.

The Barca boss may have been questioning his selection when Ibrahimovic, who had not beaten his former club in five previous attempts, broke the deadlock.

Lucas Moura sent a low cross into the penalty area, where Blaise Matuidi laid the ball off for an unmarked Ibrahimovic to drill home. PSG’s lead was to last just four minutes, though.

A Javier Mascherano ball from deep found Suarez approaching the byline, and the Uruguayan picked out an advancing Messi with a superb first-time cross to tee up his team-mate for a 75th Champions League goal.

Barca continued to live dangerously at the back, and Lucas should have done better when he guided wide from a Matuidi cross, before a completely unmarked Edinson Cavani drew a save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a strike from just outside the area.

The hosts began to show glimpses of their attacking talent in the closing stages of the opening half and took the lead through Neymar in the 41st minute – the Brazilian tearing through the PSG half before dispatching a terrific curling effort from 20 yards.

Pedro miscued a cross when Barca looked dangerous at the beginning of the second period, and he was almost made to pay as PSG failed to make the most of a goalmouth scramble at the other end.

Suarez had the ball in the back of the net 10 minutes after the restart, but the whistle had already blown for handball against the former Liverpool man.

Both sides struggled to carve out clear-cut chances thereafter, but Sirigu could only push a first-time shot from Neymar into the path of Suarez in the 77th minute and the striker made no mistake in putting a gloss on the victory with his second Barca goal.

Mikel Obi nets first Champions League goal

Mikel Obi nets first Champions League goal

The Nigerian capped a beautiful display to score his first Uefa Champions League goal in his side’s win against Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday

Super Eagles midfielder John Obi Mikel scored his first Uefa Champions League goal in Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat of Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday at the Stamford Bridge.

Fabregas swung in a free kick from the left hand side that was flicked towards goal by Cahill. Mikel and Matic were fighting for the ball at the back post but it was the Nigerian who got the final touch to increase the lead for the Blues.

Cesc Fabregas had opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Filipe Luis was brought down by Ricardo Esgaio inside the first ten minutes.

Andre Schurrle added a second shortly after, with a fierce shot from the edge of the box following good work by Nemanja Matic.

Sporting clawed a goal back in the second half through Jonathan Silva, but John Obi Mikel restored the home side’s advantage and secured all three points, while Schalke’s victory over Maribor meant the Lisbon side did not qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.

Champions League Wednesday: Who needs to do what?

Manuel Pellegrini

Who has qualified?

Winners Runners-up
Group A Atletico Madrid Juventus
Group B Real Madrid Basel
Group C Monaco Bayer Leverkusen
Group D Borussia Dortmund Arsenal
Group E Bayern Munich Manchester City, Roma or CSKA Moscow
Group F PSG or Barcelona PSG or Barcelona
Group G Chelsea Schalke or Sporting Lisbon
Group H Porto Shakhtar Donetsk

After Liverpool exited at the group stages, here’s what City and the rest need to do to ensure they don’t join Brendan Rodgers’ men.

Group E

Manchester City will progress to the last 16 if they beat Roma in Italy and CSKA Moscow fail to defeat group winners Bayern Munich in Germany.

Premier League champions City can still progress if they secure a score draw and CSKA Moscow lose to Bayern.

However, if both games end in a draw, then Roma progress.

CSKA Moscow must beat Bayern, and hope Roma do not beat City, to qualify. If CSKA and City both win then the Russians will qualify because of their superior head-to-head record.

Any of the bottom three sides could finish in the Europa League.

As it stands

Played Won Drawn Lost GD Points
Bayern Munich 5 4 0 1 +9 12
Roma 5 1 2 2 -4 5
CSKA Moscow 5 1 2 2 -4 5
Manchester City 5 1 2 2 -1 5

Group F

Barcelona and Paris St-Germain are already assured of their place in the knockout phase.

The pair meet at Barcelona’s Nou Camp in their final match to decide who will finish as group winners.

A win or draw will see the French champions finish top, but a home win will see five-time European champions Barca overtake them.

Dutch champions Ajax know they will finish third with a win or draw against Apoel Nicosia at the Amsterdam Arena and qualify for the Europa League. But the Cypriot side will overtake them with a win.

As it stands

Played Won Drawn Lost GD Points
Paris SG 5 4 1 0 +5 13
Barcelona 5 4 0 1 +8 12
Ajax 5 0 2 3 -6 2
Apoel 5 0 1 4 -7 1

Group G

Premier League leaders Chelsea booked their place in the last 16 with a comfortable 5-0 win at German side Schalke in their penultimate group game.

That means third-placed Schalke must beat Maribor, and hope Sporting Lisbon lose at Chelsea, to progress.

If Schalke win and Sporting draw, then the Portuguese side will qualify courtesy of their superior head-to-head record.

Maribor cannot finish in the top two, but would finish third and clinch a Europa League place by beating Schalke.

As it stands

Played Won Drawn Lost GD Points
Chelsea 5 3 2 0 +12 11
Sporting 5 2 1 2 +2 7
Schalke 5 1 2 2 -6 5
Maribor 5 0 3 2 -8 3

Group H

Qualification for the knockout phase has already been settled, with Porto finishing as group winners and Shakhtar Donetsk claiming second place.

So the attention turns to the battle for third place. Athletic Bilbao will move into the Europa League if they win or draw their home match against BATE Borisov, who have to win to leapfrog their opponents.

As it stands

Played Won Drawn Lost GD Points
Porto 5 4 1 0 +12 13
Shakhtar 5 2 2 1 +11 8
Athletic Bilbao 5 1 1 3 -3 4
BATE Borisov 5 1 0 4 -20 3

Pistorius case: Judge rules prosecutors can appeal

South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius being escorted to a police van after his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria - 21 October  2014

A South African judge has ruled that prosecutors can appeal against the “culpable homicide” conviction of Paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius.

The double amputee was jailed for five years in October for shooting dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his home last year.

Judge Thokozile Masipa said prosecutors could not challenge the length of the sentence given to Pistorius.

Pistorius’s lawyers had opposed the appeal request.

Prosecutors are seeking a murder conviction and the case will now go before South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal.

They have argued that Judge Thokozile Masipa misinterpreted the law when she ruled that Pistorius did not intentionally shoot Ms Steenkamp.

Judge Masipa announced the ruling in a Pretoria court on Wednesday.

“I cannot say… that the prospect of success at the Supreme Court of Appeal is remote,” she said.

Judge Thokozile Masipa  in court in Pretoria, South Africa, on 9 December 2014Judge Masipa ruled in October that Pistorius did not intend to kill

“The application therefore in respect of count one is decided in favour of the applicant.

“The application for leave to appeal against the sentence is dismissed.”

Outlining his case on Tuesday, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the sentence was “shockingly inappropriate and does not fit the crime and the accused”.

The sprinter had been charged by the prosecution with the premeditated murder of Ms Steenkamp, a model and law graduate.

He was also acquitted of the lesser murder charge of dolus eventualis – also known as common-law murder – by Judge Masipa, who ruled that he did not intend to kill.

The prosecution had called for the maximum 15-year sentence for culpable homicide, or manslaughter.

Ms Steenkamp was shot dead at Pistorius’ home in Pretoria in the early hours of Valentine’s Day last year. He said he feared there was an intruder.

Pistorius is serving the sentence in the hospital wing of Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

Correspondents say the appeal is likely to take place next year.