The Week in Quotes

"I would like to play with Messi, it would be amazing. He is the best in the world, the one who makes more differences. Ronaldo? He is the most dangerous player at Real. It is hard to stop him, like Messi, because both score a lot of goals and you never know what is going to be the next thing they will invent for scoring. In my time there were more players than today challenging for being the best in the world. I remember Figo, Del Piero or Totti, now you always hear about the same players and I am pretty sure I could challenge with Messi and Ronaldo because football was harder in my times. I am not here for controversy, I'll just say that both are very good players. However, in my time you could find more quality players than today, in which you only hear about Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar." 2002 FIFA World Cup winner Rivaldo on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, in conversation with Betfair

"Signing for Real Madrid and winning titles is a dream come true. There are not many players who have managed to retire whilst playing for such a team but let's see what happens. That is my real aim. I also need to win something with Croatia." Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric discusses his future aspirations with Codere 

"I don't look at the table before a Clasico. These games are different and have nothing to do with the way in which one team or the other is playing beforehand. We know what is at stake and we will try to take an important step to win La Liga." Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta speaks with Marca ahead of Saturday’s El Clasico

Danish international Mathias Jorgensen, commonly known as 'Zanka', spreads some festive cheer by offering to buy a drink for all Huddersfield Town fans making the trip to Southampton for their English Premier League meeting

"You know, before that tournament, I was just a fan of Neymar, like everybody else. He's an incredible footballer, which everyone knows. But getting to really know him during that time… it was so special, because of the kind of person he is. The way that he treats everybody surprised me a lot — because even in the short amount of time that I've lived in football, I've seen so many guys who are not even amazing players, who haven't won anything, being mascarado. This means a person who wears a mask. They're one way to the public, and another in the dressing room. But with Neymar, he treated everybody like his brother. He was a huge reason that we were able to come together and ignore the pressure and play for one another." **Gabriel Jesus on Neymar and the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016, in conversation with the Players’ Tribune

"I first fell in love with football when I was a kid, around seven or eight years old. I remember watching the Champions League all the time and then trying to be like the Brazilian Ronaldo, Zidane and Totti when playing out in the street with my friends. I loved those kinds of players, players who played with magic." Egypt international Mohamed Salah tells Liverpool FC’s official website about his childhood footballing heroes

"Tite has been able to introduce quality to this Brazil team. Looking at how they have been playing, at everything that has been achieved, there are expectations again now with Brazil playing so well. Now comes a World Cup, however, and a World Cup is a very difficult thing, I participated in two and there are a lot of difficulties to overcome, but this Seleção is prepared. I do not like to say that Brazil are the favourite. Are we the favourite? No. We are a favourite. There are other teams that are also doing well. Germany, Spain, and I would say Portugal too. There are some very good players in the Belgium team and you always have to keep an eye on France. But I do think Brazil have set their sights on the title." 1994 World Cup winner Ricardo Rocha discusses Brazil’s chances at Russia 2018 with Goal

"The difference is hard to explain, but I think I'm more experienced, more wise, more 'cascudo', as we say in Brazil. This is because I had many experiences, I participated in a World Cup where we lost and I think I'll be more prepared for the next one, because I know what it's like to be in a World Cup, I can be better prepared. So the Neymar in 2018 is better than the Neymar in 2014." Brazil's Neymar explains the differences between himself now compared to when the forward was starring for the host nation at Brazil 2014

"It’s amazing, something I’m very proud of. It’s been a crazy journey. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the next few months. I’m just really excited about starting the new year. I think I’m ready to make another step, and hopefully some success will come with that." Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic on being named USA men’s player of the year, the youngest player to receive the award, speaking to viewers on a Facebook live cast on US Soccer's official page

"Of course we got lucky with the Draw. There are no easy matches at this level, but we could have got much stronger opponents and it could have been much harder for us to qualify for the next round. Make no doubt, Russia will be a success at the World Cup. We just need the whole country to get behind us." Russia forward Fedor Smolov reflects on the host nation's World Cup draw

"This is my role here. To teach the young players who have a good potential to grow. The only thing they need is someone to guide them in the right direction. One thing is to play in your country but if you go outside you get out of your comfort zone. Hopefully one day, young Indian players here can go to Europe. If you want to test yourself, you want to play against the best. It is the fourth year for this league now. It is so early, you can only grow from here. It is going to be a long road. As long as you try to do the right thing, everything will be fine. It will be good to see someone from India play in a big club in Europe." Speaking to the media, Kerala Blasters' forward Dimitar Berbatov talks football in India

"I’ve heard it said that I’m silencing the critics so many times but it’s not that: I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I don’t play for the critics, I play for my team-mates. For three, four years I haven’t listened to anything. People always talk and always will. ‘He’s good now because he’s at Barça’, ‘He was only good then because he was in China’, blah, blah, blah. When I was at Bragantino and I went to Corinthians it was the same; it was the same at Tottenham and in China. I’ve had that since the beginning." Barcelona midfielder Paulinho talks about silencing any of his critics, speaking with The Guardian

"I didn't know what to do. I wanted to run and celebrate with the lads but I couldn't do that. He (the ball boy) was the only one there. It was great to see him because I needed to celebrate with somebody and it just so happened it was the ball boy." Bristol City manager Lee Johnson on celebrating with a ball boy after the Robins’ late winner against giants Manchester United In the English League Cup

"I watched Gabriel Jesus play three years ago. I watched Mbappe for a year. I was watching them with the scout and it was a no-brainer. It was just like, 'Get them.' It would have been £5 million or something -- get them, loan them back -- and that's where the recruitment could have been better."

Ryan Giggs tells The Times that he tried to get Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal to sign Kylian Mbappe and Gabriel Jesus during his time as assistant coach*

Neymar takes Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe out for a spin during the French club's tour of Qatar