Welcome aboard on Valentine's Day. Or any other day. You have reached the destination where nobody feels alone. Remember your favourite childhood memory. And you feel good vibes. Remember your best day doing something you love. And you feel uplifted. Here is the place for sunshine and rainbows. For strawberries and cream. And of course, for the cream of football's crop.
There exists a common myth that football is the antithesis of love. "You have time for football, but not for me!" Valentine's Day is synonymous to Champions League knockouts. Big game and goals. Tackles and blocks. Aggression and intensity. And the Champions League may have knocked a few relationships out. But everything in football is not opposed to love. In fact, football is akin to love. Very close to love. Some might even call it the very manifestation of love.
The graceful glide. An eye-catching dribble. The romantic through ball. Then the magnetic strike. And like a postage-stamped love letter, the football meets the net. You could even add the power of red roses and precision of scented candles to the mix. It is your happy place. Football is everybody's happy place. And it is the happy place of togetherness. Not just for those who glue themselves in front of televisions, laptops, tabs and phones. Those who steal a glance during meetings and conferences. It is the place of togetherness for the footballers themselves. Iniesta and Xavi have probably spent more time with each other than their significant others. And so we pay these good people a small tribute. Here are the current top football duos on Valentine's Day 2021.
Valentine's Day best partners - Paul Pogba & Mino Raiola
Look, not everything has to be according to everyone's taste.
Paul and Mino are good for each other. And if they are happy, who are we to say anything. Well, you could be a Manchester United fan and feel hard done. But, this one is for good vibes. So, remember the good Pogba times. Fulham and Burnley. Second half against Manchester City at Etihad once upon a time and Solskjaer's honeymoon period.
Mino and Paul's partnership has been going strong for a decade now. Like most successful associations, theirs has been mutually beneficial. Back in 2012, a young Paul needed playing time and Mino executed a perfect Italian job. The Frenchman landed in Turin and quickly ascended football's echelons. In 2016, Paul paid Mino back in cash. Manchester United came calling and a world-record transfer fee meant Mino got a heavy payoff.
Since then, Mino has stirred plenty of pots to keep Paul happy. Sometimes, they have been the wrong ones. But Paul has been loyal and we expect this one to last the distance.
Valentine's Day best partners - Harry Kane & Son Heung-min
Kane and Son. Chef and sous-chef as they are often called on this platform.
Protagonists in London and almost protagonists in Europe during Pochettino's heyday. The duo has combined to bring many glory days at Tottenham. The trophy has been missing but goals have been in abundance. Their story began in 2015 when Son exchanged Leverkusen to make London his abode.
In the last 6 years, their relationship has been a personification of fire and ice. Yet, strangely, none of them is fire and none ice. It is just their association. A concoction of control and combustion. An explosion to tear through defences. A dagger through opposition hearts. Then ice cold composure to convert chances to goals and consequent jubilation. In a gist, through measure and bust, their love story has blossomed.
This mutual association has been fruitful for their next of kin. Jose Mourinho rode their blossoming relationship earlier this season to Premier League title challenge. Both men have received temptations. And there are plenty of suitors waiting to make the most of any slip ups.
Valentine's Day best partners - Neymar & Kylian Mbappe
This duo is borne out of cash. Expensive front men assembled to lead their assembler to a different dimension of success. Theirs is a strange relationship. Both are fine men individually. In fact, their attributes are quite complementary too. The Brazilian is a creator and a showman. Neymar has guile, guise, poise and tricks to bambzoole. He has the ability to conjure and set up. Mbappe is a finisher and a showman. He has pace, power, strength and finishing to delight.
However, the little problem in the relationship could be the showman bit. Both are showmen; front men. And there can be only one. Neymar and Mbappe have together conquered the French league. But they were put together to win the Champions League. That is still pending. Whether they win it together or separately, will depend on how intent Real Madrid is on a new acquisition.
Valentine's Day best partners - Fred & Scott McTominay
Finally something to smile about for Manchester United fans.
One mention of United just does not seem enough. They are football's most clickbait name. Extremely marketable for the untouchable excitement and divide they are able to generate. Co-incidentally, exciting and divide are two words that describe this pair as closely as any other.
They are probably the only truly inseparable duo in this list. One seems lost without the other and truly empowered when together. Neither are truly spectacular or dazzling. There is very little to catch the eye or slack the jaw. Yet, they have been synonymous to red excitement. Remember Etihad and Manchester United's epic Hollywood daring. Remember Bruno's introduction to the Premier League. Or those nights in Paris and even the one against Leipzig at home. Their mutual industry, ground coverage, determination and work rate makes it possible for the exciting front four to express themselves.
Yet, Fred and McTominay divide. Not spectacular and not dazzling in their best days. And on their other days, a pendulum swinging from ordinary to placid.
Valentine's Day best partners - Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo
It just had to be them. Messi and Ronaldo are two of the greatest footballers of this generation. Perhaps of all generations and that would not be an eulogy. This one is a love story driven by competition, mutual respect and footballing ego. For 13 years now, these two have been together on the summit of the world's most popular game.
And theirs is a bond that has grown stronger with time. The arc of this relationship is like that of high-school love ageing into mature understanding. There was dissention at first. Then, one moved closer to the other. They achieved everything together. Shared the top trophies and almost made it their personal property. Finally, one moved to explore other pastures. But, when they meet today, the glances are filled with smiles of fond remembrance. In their minds they probably tip a glass to one another. There has even been the promise of a dinner some day.
And they have given us so many days!
Valentine's Day best partners - Zlatan and fantasy
And if you are single this Valentine's Day, channel your Zlatan state of mind. Take time for yourself and watch the beautiful game. Fall in love with the subtle movements, the elastic body feints, the mazy runs and the thrill of live football. And if you so fancy a partner after all, try your hand at fantasy football. Download the Real Fantasy Teams mobile application and feel fulfilled. It is available of App Store and Play Store.