Messi to leave Barca if Catalonia secedes
BARCELONA • Lionel Messi could leave Barcelona without a transfer fee if Catalonia breaks away from Spain and the club did not compete in any of Europe's top four leagues, El Mundo reported yesterday, citing a clause in his new contract.
Barca's all-time top scorer signed the deal in November, seven months before his old deal expired. It runs until June 2021 and contains a €700 million (S$1.12 billion) buyout clause.
But according to the Spanish daily, it would also allow the five-time World Player of the Year to leave the club where he has spent his entire career for free - if Catalonia's independence push resulted in Barca exiting Spain's top flight and not joining either the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga or Italian Serie A.
African Player of the Year gong to Salah
ACCRA • Egypt forward Mohamed Salah was named African Footballer of the Year for 2017 on Thursday, finishing ahead of his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane of Senegal and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Salah, 25, helped Egypt reach the Africa Cup of Nations final and qualify for the World Cup.
Virat to earn biggest bucks in the IPL
NEW DELHI • Batting star Virat Kohli will pick up the Indian Premier League's largest-ever salary - US$2.7 million (S$4.85 million) - in this year's tournament.
The Indian captain's salary for featuring for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eight-team, 20-over cricket tournament spread over two months beats the US$2.5 million earned by all-rounder Yuvraj Singh with Delhi in 2015.
Smith, Khawaja chip away at England lead
SYDNEY • Steve Smith racked up another milestone as he continued to torment England, and Usman Khawaja neared a century, to put Australia in a strong position after day two of the final Ashes cricket Test in Sydney yesterday.
The Australian skipper became the second-fastest batsman to reach 6,000 Test runs in his 111th innings, second only to the legendary Don Bradman. At the close, Smith was on 44 with Khawaja reaching his highest score of the series on 91 in Australia's 193-2 in reply to England's 346 first innings.
Antetokounmpo pips James to All-Star lead
NEW YORK • Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, not LeBron James, is the leading vote-getter in the first National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star ballot update, released on Thursday.
He received 863,416 votes to edge out James (856,080) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and overall after the first 12 days of balloting.
Faris leaves Home for MSL side PKNS
SELANGOR • Singapore winger Faris Ramli has signed for Malaysia Super League (MSL) team PKNS, who are coached by former Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal.
The 25-year-old had a sterling year for Home United and was nominated for the S-League Player of the Year award as he notched 21 goals and 21 assists in all competitions last year.