Southampton's Lambert attempts to chip the ball over Liverpool's goalkeeper Jones during their English Premier League soccer match at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton

Rickie Lambert re-ups with Southampton, a club full of ambition

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With his contract due to expire at the end of next season Southampton striker Rickie Lambert re-upped with the Saints, extending his deal until 2016.

Fresh off yet another diss from not being named to the England squad, Lambert secured his status as the fans’ favorite at St. Mary’s Stadium and his giddiness over the deal was palpable. “I’m over the moon to sign with Southampton for another three years,” he told the club’s official website.

Lambert is enjoying a fantastic season and his 13 goals make him the top English scorer in the Premier League. If the striker’s decision to re-sign with the Saints doesn’t give you pause, it ought to because something very interesting is going on at Southampton.

Saints owner Nicola Cortese has undertaken a project to take this small-town team to the top of the Premiership. It’s a lofty goal but one that you’d be foolish to laugh at. Cortese has made a concerted effort to keep his best pieces and bring in new ones that can take the team to the next level. Lambert, who some thought may fly the coup to secure that final big contract before retirement, explained his owner’s influence.

“There is a lot of ambition in this club for the next few years and that is one of the main reasons that I have signed the contract – and that is why I want to end my career here.” The striker went on to explain, “Nicola Cortese’s ambition for this club drives us all on as well, so it really helps the club with where we are now and it will help with where we want to go.”

That ambition has been everywhere recently. It’s what convinced Uruguay international Gaston Ramirez to choose the Saints over big clubs like Tottenham, Liverpool and Inter Milan. It’s what compelled the club’s prized asset, Luke Shaw, to turn down Arsenal. And it’s what made Morgan Schneiderlin (who has intercepted the most passes in the league this season), Jason (‘He went for a sh!t’) Puncheon and Kelvin Davis to all re-sign with the club.

Perhaps most significantly, this desire to be the best is what convinced Cortese to fire manager Nigel Adkins and hire the relatively unknown Mauricio Pochettino. The decision was originally panned by pundits but just two months into it and the Argentine’s suffocating offensive tactics have resulted in the scalpings of Manchester City and Liverpool.

So congrats to Rickie Lambert and congrats to Southampton, a club full of ambition that fans would do well to keep an eye on in the coming years.

Ranking the Copa America Centenario contenders

Copa America trophy — 2015 Copa America
AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo
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Sixteen teams enter next month’s Copa America Centenario tournament, and only one emerges as the champion of North, South and Central America.

Will it be Chile who continues its reign? Will Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay find revenge? Can a CONCACAF side thrive with the tourney in the United States?

[ PREVIEWS: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D ]

There a varying degrees of likelihood that a country rises above the field to win this year’s competition. In this post, we’ll rank the sides from 16 to 1, unlikeliest to likeliest.

16. Haiti — Happy to be there? Circling the Peru match on its calendar.

15. Venezuela — If Salomon Rondon can make things happen, who knows?

14. Bolivia — Lots of work to be done here.

13. Jamaica — Winfried Schaefer’s team has struggled since its strong Gold Cup.

12. Peru — Inexperience will be a problem.

11. Paraguay — Wins have been hard to come by for Los Guaraníes.

10. Panama — Are they primed for a run, or too old to outlast its group opponents?

9. Ecuador — Dangerous but inconsistent, La Tricolor has an easier group from which to advance than most.

8. Costa Rica — If the USMNT falters under the pressure of hosts, Los Ticos will be most likely to benefit in Group A.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

7. United States — Hosting is a big deal, and Jurgen Klinsmann seems ready to take a more orthodox approach to his lineups. The Yanks will run more than a few teams ragged, depending on how the chips fall.

6. Uruguay — Navigating the absence of Luis Suarez, which could last the group stage or longer, knocks them down a peg.

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

5. Mexico — It’s another golden generation for El Tri, and it’s not far-fetched to imagine Mexico makes a run at everything.

4. Colombia — James Rodriguez goes back to being the focal point of an attack, and will remind us just how good he is while under the spotlight.

3. Chile — Repeating is hard, and Chile had a lot of home cooking good fortune in its hosted run to a first title.

2. Brazil — No the side won’t be fully loaded, but Dunga has shown he knows how to run a side with or without Neymar.

  1. Argentina — This could be Lionel Messi’s year to lift hardware for club and country.

Ferdinand lauds Mourinho hiring: “This winner is now a wounded animal”

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Rio Ferdinand isn’t waiting for Manchester United to make it official, lauding the hiring of Jose Mourinho as his former club’s latest manager.

Ferdinand said Mourinho’s personality is “made for this great club”, as the longtime Red Devils defender took to Facebook to hail the Special One.

[ MORE: Five things United must do under Mourinho ]

Ferdinand, 37, made 455 appearances for United in a 19-year career that included stops at West Ham, QPR, Bournemouth and Leeds.

He says Mourinho will be a motivated and dangerous boss when he takes control in place of fired manager Louis Van Gaal.

“After his recent unsuccessful time at Chelsea in the final year, I can assure you this winner is now a wounded animal which makes him such a mouthwatering appointment. Jose went from winning the League Cup & Premier League to a season of disappointment at Chelsea and I am certain he will want to restore all of that very quickly.”

LISTEN: Copa America drops official song “Superstar” (Pitbull warning)

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Pitbull has joined forces with Becky G to make the official song of the Copa America Centenario, “Superstar”, which they will perform before the final.

I know Pitbull for liking light beer, and Becky G for going on dates with Sebastian Lletget of the L.A. Galaxy.

[ PREVIEWS: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D ]

This, in all its pop glory, has a catchy-enough hook and a stadium-like chant that hopes to catch on like “Seven Nation Army”. The kids should dig it.

That’s all I got. Enjoy the jammage.

Report: Mourinho signs deal with Manchester United

Chelsea's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 26, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS 

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Noon ET.

That’s the time Sky Sports claims that Jose Mourinho put pen to paper on a deal that makes him the latest manager of Manchester United.

[ MORE: Five things United must do under Mourinho ]

The report says Mourinho returned home with a bottle of red wine after signing the deal at a London hotel.

From Sky Sports:

Mourinho symbolically wore a black and red tie for the final stage of negotiations, and the deal is completed on the 12th anniversary of his winning the Champions League for the first time with Porto.

Now, we wait. As a publicly-traded company, there are certain constraints United faces in making announcements that other clubs don’t have to entertain.