Kevin De Bruyne

Chelsea keeping Kevin de Bruyne waiting and waiting and waiting …

1 Comment

When you’re an up-and-coming 20 year old who finally gets that ‘big club’ contract, you’re juiced. It’s the break you’ve been waiting for, the time when you’re finally on the verge of stepping into the limelight and becoming a household commodity in world football. Fourteen months after signing with Chelsea, midfielder Kevin de Bruyne is still waiting for that to happen.

The Belgian international came to Stamford Bridge in January 2012 when Chelsea purchased him from Genk – a surging feeder club that has produced the likes of Christian Benteke, Thibaut Courtois and Anthony Vanden Borre. Yet after a year in the fold, few football lovers would recognize de Bruyne if he was standing next to them at a bar sipping a shandy while wearing his Belgian kit. That’s because – surprise, surprise – immediately after signing with the Blues he was loaned back to Genk for the remainder of the spring before spending the entire 2012-13 campaign at German side Werder Bremen.

Credit to the winger, he hasn’t let the demotion effect him on the pitch. In 26 Bundesliga appearances, de Bruyne has banged home six goals and served as provider on eight occasions. Despite the heroics Bremen has struggled and sits 14th in the table, a mere 6 points from the drop zone.

de Bruyne’s football has been equally tasty on the international level where he’s scored twice and assisted twice in five World Cup Qualifying appearances. The fact that he’s accomplished this for the new darling of every footie bro (‘dude, Belgian’s roster is sooo sick, definitely a dark horse to win World Cup 2014‘), only adds to the player’s intrigue.

On Friday, it was de Bruyne who opened the scoring for the Diables Rouges in their 2-0 win over Macedonia. The blonde ambition was played the ball on the right side of the pitch, cut inside and skinned defender Alexander Lazevski before slamming a near post rip past the utterly confused Macedonia netminder, Tome Pacovski. Determined, technically precise, and full of guile, the goal was a feat to behold.

So with his stock rising on both club and international stages, de Bruyne was asked whether he still had aspirations to play at Stamford Bridge. “That’s the reason that I signed there last year,” he said with a pained look of obviousness and desperation.

“I want to show everyone at Chelsea that I can play there. But at the moment I don’t know what Chelsea want to do with me, so it’s difficult to say what’s going to happen with me in the next year, or years. I have to just wait.”

What Chelsea want to do with you, my dear Kevin, is keep you on ice. Maintain you as part of the inventory at the Stamford Bridge warehouse. Keep working hard and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be recalled this summer for the pre-season firecracker against the mighty Singha Thailand All-Star XI. Now wouldn’t that be fun?

If it sounds harsh, sorry kiddo, but this is life at Chelsea, where attacking midfielders are all the rage. The typical front three of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Haaaaathaarrrrrrr clearly have the starting roles on lockdown. After the tiny trio, guys like Victor Moses and Marko Marin sit quietly on Rafa Benitez’ bench, frothing at the mouth to enter a match in the final three minutes and somehow impress. Making matters worse, the do-it-all Ramires is always happy to oblige in any position throughout the midfield.

It’s a dirty game, but not one without lessons, mainly, know the ‘big club’ club you’re signing for before you go searching for that limelight.

West Ham extend Payet’s contract in “enormous show of faith”

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring while soap bubbles are blown during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Newcastle at Boleyn Ground in London, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
1 Comment

West Ham United hope Dimitri Payet is going absolutely nowhere after the club announced on Thursday the 28-year-old Frenchman has signed a contract extension through the summer of 2021.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Payet’s current contract was scheduled to keep him at the Premier League club through the summer of 2020, but a series of standout performances (6 goals, 4 assists so far this season, mostly during the season’s opening three months) and rumors of interest from “bigger” clubs meant tacking on another year — and plenty more cash — was the best way to keep Payet in east London for the foreseeable future. The club confirmed earlier this week that negotiations over an extension were underway.

“He’s the best player I’ve signed in 25 years,” said West Ham co-owner David Sullivan. “He’s a [$43 million] player. He’s a supreme footballer. He makes every player in our side play better. On his day, he’s world class, he’s unstoppable.”

Payet, who’s been at West Ham just eight months after signing last summer, could still depart in the summer should he finish the current season strong and/or show up and show out at the European Championship, which kicks off in June. In that event, West Ham would now bag a much heftier transfer fee than they would have done prior to the extension.

VIDEO: Dele Alli’s magnificent juggling goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon

Leave a comment

Remember that Dele Alli goal? No, not that one… that one. Of course you remember it. How could you not?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

How often does a player receive the ball out of the air, flick it over his head, spin 180 degrees and hit an inch-perfect volley from 20 yards out to secure all three points for his team? The answer is, of course, not very often.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal

Thus, a goal such as Alli’s stunning winner against Crystal Palace last month has been, and will continue to be, immortalized through numerous recreations in this Digital Age. Above is Alli’s goal recreated in hand-drawn crayon.

Watch Live: Guatemala vs. T&T; Canada vs. Guyana in Olympic qualifying

Canadian players wave to fans after a 2-1 loss to England in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup soccer tournament, Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Group B is set to kick off Thursday night at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, as Canada, third-place finishers at the 2012 Olympics, begin their quest to qualify for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago is up first (6 p.m. ET) from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tex, followed by the Canadians, who will take on Guyana (8:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap.

[ WATCH LIVE: Guatemala vs. T&T live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

[ WATCH LIVE: Canada vs. Guyana live on line on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The U.S. women’s national began its Olympic qualifying campaign in impressive fashion on Wednesday with a 5-0 victory over Costa Rica, while Mexico jumped to the top of Group A with a 6-0 victory over Puerto Rico.

Sunderland terminate Adam Johnson’s contract after guilty pleas in sex case

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson arrives at Bradford Crown Court, England, Wednesday Feb. 10, 2016. Johnson has pleaded guilty in court to one count of sexual activity with a child and another of grooming. The 28-year-old Johnson, who has made 12 appearances for England, denies two charges of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE
Peter Byrne/PA via AP
1 Comment

SUNDERLAND, England (AP) Sunderland has fired winger Adam Johnson after he pleaded guilty to grooming and sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl at the start of his trial.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Johnson, who has played 12 times for England, continues to deny two further counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sunderland dismissed Johnson ahead of his trial resuming on Friday at Bradford Crown Court.

[ MORE: Top 5 Premier League storylines — Sunday’s top-four battle royal ]

In a statement, Sunderland announced Thursday that “in light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

The former Manchester City player joined Sunderland in 2012 for 10 million pounds (now about $14.5 million).