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Everton adds 21-year-old Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic

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Muhamed Besic played every minute for his team at this summer’s World Cup, and while that adventure didn’t meet with a happy end for Bosnia and Herzegovina, it did serve as a platform for the team’s 21-year-old midfielder. Completing his move to England today, Besic has made the most of that launching pad, signing with Everton on Thursday.

The defensive midfielder will joint his team in Thailand, where the Toffees are preparing to face newly-promoted Leicester City this weekend.

“I am looking forward to introducing him to the Everton fans …,” manager Roberto Martínez said on the club’s website, having acquired the German-born midfielder from Hungary’s Ferencváros. Unconfirmed reports estimate the transfer fee at $6.8 million.

Ferencváros was Besic’s second club, having joined the Green Eagles from Hamburg in the summer of 2012. Previously declining to play for Germany at youth level, Besic had only made three Bundesliga appearances with HSV before moving on.

In two years in Hungary, the defensive midfielder made 47 league appearances, helping his team win the 2012-13 Hungarian Cup. By the end of his time with Ferencváros, Besic has collected 12 caps with his national team, helping Bosnia and Herzegovina qualify for their first World Cup.

With Everton, Besic adds depth to a midfield that depends on Gareth Barry and James McCarthy to support attacking midfielder Ross Barkley. Besic also gives Everton a chance to play a more defensive-minded midfield, should Martínez elect to sacrifice a more attack-minded player in favorite of fortifying the middle.

Thanks to the Toffees’ fifth place finish in last season’s Premier League, Martínez will also have to balance Europa League responsibilities with his quest to secure a top-four spot. While he may not start immediately, Besic should get sufficient playing time being rotated into the middle.

The leap, however, will be a big one. Not only is Besic inexperienced, but the jump from Hungary to England represents a steep slope. Though he played 270 minutes in Brazil, the rigors of a full English season will require an adjustment.

At 21, however, this is clearly a long-term signing, one which gives Martínez a chance to mold an international-caliber player. He may not be ready to replace Gareth Barry now, but with today’s deal, he’s set up to be the heir apparent.

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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