"If we become champions, I will get myself a mohawk like Cabella or Menez – one side blond, brown in the middle. It will make everyone laugh!”
Louis Nicollin, Montpellier’s 68-year-old president

“I don’t consider it essential that Messi wins a World Cup to go down as the greatest in history. There was the Di Stefano era, the Pele era and the Maradona era. But now is the Messi era. To me he doesn’t seem comparable to any of the others.”
Alejandro Sabella

“It’s a run called ‘The Horse Shoe’ and it’s my nemesis. It fills me with dread. I’ll never forget when we first did it. Afterwards, Mikel [Arteta] was feeling dizzy and laid down on the floor of the dressing room. I was bent over cursing in the corner, calling him the worst manager in the league. His method is to push you to your limits in training and then the match is easy. Everyone finished the run – it’s like Army boot camp. If there was ever a time I thought, ‘I could probably shoot you today’, it was then.”
Phil Neville on one of David Moyes’s training exercises

"He is a phenomenon. I have worked with some great players, played with some great players, but nobody like Neymar. Nobody comes close. I played with people who could improvise, but he improvises on top of his improvisation. I don't think even he is aware of everything he is doing. I think Messi’s level is still a bit superior, but Neymar is among the best five in the world, easily.”
Muricy Ramalho

“When a 1.90m-tall player with blond hair makes mistakes, it is different to when a 1.70m-tall player with brown hair makes the same mistakes. To slip-up in a few games for Roma is not a final sentence.”
Walter Sabatini, Roma’s sporting director, responds to speculation the club will not take up their option to make Simon Kjaer’s loan switch from Wolfsburg permanent

"Messi is the best player I've seen in my life. I've seen Pele, Di Stefano, Maradona and Cruyff, but nobody like Messi. There is just no end to him. He is a phenomenon, an extraterrestrial.”
Jose Zaldua
, former Barcelona and Spain forward

“I’m better suited to singing songs that get the fans going. Gerard’s tried passing the ball to me a few times, but I can’t say I’m any good!”
Shakira to FIFA.com

“Ibra is on the same level as Messi and Ronaldo. But when I speak to him, I tell him, 'I am better than you'.”
Mario Balotelli

“Neuer is simply sensational. He has excellent reflexes, and his anticipation skills are fantastic. I have seen a lot of situations where it seemed as if he knew exactly what the striker would do, especially in one-on-ones. He has replaced Casillas as the best goalkeeper in the world, and will remain the best for many more years to come.”
Peter Schmeichel

“I'm looking forward to the next three or four years. In that time, I see myself on top, winning something like the World Cup in Brazil or the Ballon d'Or.”
Hatem Ben Arfa

“I don't want to be inferior to Messi. I am going to score five goals next game, but I'll need eight penalties just in case I miss a few!”
Jonas Gutierrez, the Newcastle United midfielder, on Twitter about his Argentina team-mate

“I would love to fulfil and go on to renew my contract, to become a sort of Arsene Wenger at Al Wasl. I want to fulfil a long-term contract, more than anything because of the youngsters aged 14, 16, 18 and 20, to show them that money is important for everyone but that glory cannot be bought."
Diego Maradona

"The things I have seen Reyes do I have yet to see anyone else pull off, except Messi. That kind of vertical play, of picking up the ball in his own half and taking it to the other goal. That is the Reyes everyone wants, a physical and technical genius, a football talent. Reyes is pure talent."
Joaquin Caparros, the Mallorca coach, on Sevilla attacker Jose Antonio Reyes

“This victory doesn’t just belong to Guangzhou fans, but to all Chinese football fans. China failed to reach the final stage of World Cup qualifying, so the focus of everyone in the football community turned to this club and we have proved that Chinese teams can beat South Korean teams.”
Lee Jang-Soo, Guangzhou Evergrande’s South Korean coach, on the Chinese side’s stunning 5-1 win away to last year’s finalists Jeonbuk Motors in the AFC Champions League

“[Messi] can be standing around thinking about his mother, then the ball comes to him and he'll score a goal from nothing, just like he did against Switzerland. He is a genius and stands apart from any discussion [over who is the best player in the world]. He is a goalscorer and he is quicker with the ball than without it, which is the most difficult thing. As for the rest, the best in the world for me is Iniesta. He gets forward, he tracks back when he has to, he goes out wide. There is nobody like him, he is unique.”
Juan Roman Riquelme

“With all the necessary coaches, in the next 20 years this country is going to win the World Cup."
Eric Cantona on USA

"I could never score a goal like that again – not even in a video game!”
Neymar after running 65 yards, during which time he went past four opponents and reached a top speed of 31km/h, to score his second of three against Internacional

"Ronaldo has physical attributes which other strikers do not possess. Hugo Sanchez and me, for example, we were great finishers, but we depended on our team-mates to create chances for us. Ronaldo, because of his power and speed, he can score goals alone. He can play 50 metres away from goal and it will not stop him from scoring. He is an extraordinary athlete, with enviable physical capacities which allow him to jump high and make use of his great heading skills. He is complete, more complete than Messi. Messi is also a pure genius, but I think Ronaldo is a better goalscorer.”
Santillana, Real Madrid legend