Real Madrid's quintet, Mayweather v McGregor and the five best sports moments of 2017

As the year reaches its conclusion, The National's sports desk select their biggest moments from the past 12 months.

The year in sports: Our biggest stories from 2017

The year in sports: Our biggest stories from 2017
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Arrogate wins Dubai World Cup

The world's highest-rated racehorse made his first appearance at the Dubai World Cup this year and was expected to blast away the field to win the $10 million (Dh36.7m) prize. In one of the most remarkable races in the event's 21-year history, Arrogate stunned viewers by getting off to a terrible start, and was still eight-and-a-half lengths off the lead heading into the final 800 metres. However, with the 500m home stretch to go, Arrogate and jockey Mike Smith put on the gas to power past their rivals and win by two-and-a-half lengths. It was a display of power and class befitting of Arrogate's reputation and status.

Neymar smashes world transfer record

Football transfer windows seem to generate almost as much interest as football itself, as speculation swirls around clubs lining up multi-million pound deals for the game's biggest stars. As football becomes increasingly awash with money, rarely a summer goes by when the transfer record is not broken.

In 2017, however, the record was smashed to smithereens. French club Paris Saint-Germain decided to activate the buyout clause in Brazilian striker Neymar's Barcelona contract to the tune of €222m (Dh961.7m), eclipsing Paul Pogba's move to Manchester United the previous year by €120m.

It took a few weeks before Neymar confirmed his switch to PSG as Barcelona and their star players, including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique, tried to convince him to stay at the Camp Nou. Neymar has started to pay back PSG's investment, scoring 17 goals in 19 games to help his new side to a nine-point lead atop Ligue 1 and into the Uefa Champions League knockout stages.

PSG welcome Neymar

PSG welcome Neymar

Mayweather and McGregor face off in Las Vegas

The biggest star in boxing - albeit recently retired - and the biggest star in Mixed Martial Arts faced off inside the square circle for one of the most highly-anticipated cross-code fights of all time. Mayweather, an undefeated boxer from 49 fights and a world champion in five weight classes, returned to the ring to face McGregor, the UFC's first two-weight world champion but a boxing novice. Rather predictably, it was Mayweather who emerged victorious with a 10th round stoppage, but it was the extravagant build-up and intrigue that made this a must-see event in 2017. Both fighters were also handsomely rewarded for their efforts. To the victor Mayweather, $300m was deposited into his account for this one fight. McGregor returned to the UFC $100m richer.

Mena nations well represented at 2018 World Cup

For our very own UAE national team, the dream of reaching the 2018 World Cup ended in the final round of qualifying, but the people of the Emirates will have plenty of friends to cheer on in Russia next summer. In both Asian and African qualifying, nations from the Middle East and North Africa booked their places at the 2018 finals, with Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco ensuring Arab nations will be well represented in Russia.

Real Madrid rule the world

Real Madrid arrived in the UAE last week on the cusp of even more history. The Spanish champions were the first side to successfully retain the European Cup in the Uefa Champions League era. Victory at the Fifa Club World Cup would therefore make Madrid the first team to successfully defend that title, too. After a battling victory over UAE champions Al Jazira in the semi-finals, a 1-0 win in the final against South American champions Gremio - courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo - ensured history was sealed by Madrid. Additionally, the Club World Cup was the fifth trophy of 2017 for Zinedine Zidane and his team - following success in the Primera Liga, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup and European Super Cup.