Harry Kane

Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images

Digging into the ramifications of a Ronaldo move

Leave a comment

If — and it’s a massive, world-bending if — Cristiano Ronaldo really were to leave Real Madrid, fueled by anger at more tax evasion talk, what would follow?

The ramifications are almost too much to comprehend. Players of his caliber don’t often swap clubs while still in their primes. Granted Ronaldo is nearing the end of his unless he has Jaromir Jagr DNA, but there’s little questioning that he’s still performing at an outstanding level and is one of the greatest players of all time.

The money — Cristiano Ronaldo has a buyout clause of reportedly $1.1 billion. It’s difficult to imagine that any team would meet that nor that Madrid would enforce it if their top player demanded to leave the country, but it’s possible.

Yet even if Ronaldo brought in half that fee, Real would unsettle any number of clubs in the world by offering incredible wages to land their best players. The transfer record that fell courtesy of Ronaldo’s sale may even be tempted as Real chased players like Eden Hazard, Robert Lewandowski, Alexis Sanchez, Harry Kane, Dele Alli, et cetera.

The trickle down of that, should those players leave for Madrid, could shake some of the top clubs to their core (at least in the short term).

The destination — The landing spots for Ronaldo are limited thanks to his wages and renown. Where could he go?

  1. Manchester United — An Old Trafford return has been rumored for years. Any club would gain a lot of dough from the sale of Ronaldo gear, but United would instantly have the top selling everything in the world. It’s difficult to imagine Ronaldo joining any other Premier League club.
  2. Paris Saint-Germain — Les Parisiens would make plenty of sense given their first year without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had massive success in Ligue 1 at the same age and freak of nature style as Ronaldo. Their accomplishments have yet to meet their ambition. Ronaldo would help.
  3. Bayern Munich — The Bavarians could offer several significant assets to help offset any move, and Ronaldo has spoken of his desire to work with Carlo Ancelotti again at some point in his career.
  4. Chinese Super League — China’s aim to build a global power in soccer knows no bounds, and it would not be shocking to see a world record offer which could stand for a decade should Ronaldo have interest in leaving Europe. The idea of his agents wanting him outside Europe is a little unrealistic, but money does talk.

And who are they getting?

Int’l friendly roundup: 10-man France beat England; Brazil, Argentina rout

AP Photo/Francois Mori
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Tuesday’s action in international friendlies…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Monday | Sunday ]

France 3-2 England

England enjoyed a man advantage for nearly an entire half, but it would matter very little as les Bleus topped the Three Lions on a late winner from Ousmane Dembele. Raphael Varane was sent off after giving away a penalty when the Real Madrid defender fouled Dele Alli in the 47th minute. Referee Davide Massa then sought a second opinion, that of the video assistant referee. The two officials came to the conclusion, after about 60 seconds of deliberation, that Varane should be shown a red card.

France had already overcome an early 1-0 deficit, which came courtesy of Harry Kane‘s opening goal in the 9th minute, as Samuel Umtiti (22nd minute) and Djibril Sidibe (43rd) put the home side ahead before halftime. Not long after that, Varane was off and Kane was converting from the penalty spot to make it 2-2. The two sides would remain level another 30 minutes before Dembele hammered a right-footed strike past Jack Butland in the 78th minute.

[ MORE: England, France walk out to “Don’t Look Back in Anger” ]

Australia 0-4 Brazil

Brazil were without the likes of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino, but it mattered very little in the Seleçao‘s 4-0 rout of Australia. Diego Souza bagged his first goal for Brazil after 11 seconds; it was only the 31-year-old’s sixth career appearance for his country, and he would go on to score a second goal, in the 90th minute. Thiago Silva (62nd) and Taison (75th) provided the goals in between Souza’s bookends.

Singapore 0-6 Argentina

Similarly, Argentina were without the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, and it mattered even less than Brazil’s missing superstars. Fedrico Fazio opened the scoring in the 25th minute, and the floodgates were opened. Joaquin Correa made it 2-0 just six minutes later. Alejandro Gomez (60th) and Leandro Paredes (74th) made it 3-0 and 4-0, and Lucas Alario and Angel Di Maria both scored in the 90th minute for 5-0 and 6-0.

Elsewhere in international friendlies

Cameroon 0-4 Colombia
Romania 3-2 Chile
Norway 1-1 Sweden
South Africa 1-2 Zambia
Canada vs. Curacao — 7:30 p.m. ET
Ecuador vs. El Salvador — 8 p.m. ET
Peru vs. Jamaica — 8:30 p.m. ET

Deschamps warns France to up its game against English

Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) France coach Didier Deschamps warned his players they are fighting for their places in the friendly against England on Tuesday.

The match follows France’s 2-1 loss at Sweden on Friday in a World Cup qualifier. The loss, gifted to Sweden in the last seconds, dropped France to second place in Europe Group A and allowed the Netherlands – the next opponent in qualifying – to close within three points.

Deschamps guided France to the European Championship final last year with a settled side, but results since then have been inconsistent, and he thinks some players must raise their game.

[ MORE: Newcastle chased by Chinese investors ]

“No one has any guarantees,” Deschamps said at a news conference on Monday. “It can happen that you’re not in good form for one or two games. But there are quality alternatives available.”

Although Olivier Giroud maintained his fine form with another goal against Sweden, the rest of the forward line – Dimitri Payet, Antoine Griezmann and Moussa Sissoko – was poor.

Deschamps may be tempted to try something new against England, a game he says has more importance given the result in Sweden.

“I won’t say that I’m not taking that game into consideration. It was a cruel defeat and it’s important to finish the season on a high note,” he said. “Whoever starts needs to play as well as they can. Will it change things for August (against the Netherlands)? I’ll think about and analyze it afterward. A team can always be modified.”

Deschamps wants a marked improvement in defense against an England team led by striker Harry Kane, who is brimming with confidence after 29 Premier League goals. Kane grabbed a last-gasp equalizer in a 2-2 draw at Scotland in a qualifier on Saturday.

[ MORE: Fearless Arena, USMNT score big ]

“The highest level isn’t just about attacking well it’s about defending as well,” Deschamps said. “We will face an England team with a lot of attacking potential.”

Poor marking allowed Sweden to equalize, and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris – normally reliable – handed the Swedes victory by rushing out of his area and haphazardly passing to a Sweden player who then lobbed him.

Deschamps said the best thing for Lloris is to face England, to prevent him dwelling on his blunder.

“Hugo will be captain. Obviously I’ve discussed things with him,” Deschamps said. “If he’d seen things differently, I might have changed my decision. But we both thought it was the best thing for him to do, it was clear.”

Teammates have rallied around Lloris.

“When you’re playing in his position, you always pay dearly for a mistake,” center half Raphael Varane said. “The team has total confidence in him. We know that he will save us again in the future.”

England manager Gareth Southgate will rest his No. 1 Joe Hart, giving backups Tom Heaton and Jack Butland a chance to impress.

Heaton will start and Butland will play the second half, Southgate said on Monday.

Heaton helped Burnley to stay in the Premier League.

Butland recently returned from injury to play in Stoke’s last five Premier League games, keeping three clean sheets.

“We’ve got to maintain the squad environment (where) people feel involved,” Southgate said. “In the past, one or two goalkeepers have sort of given up international football because they’ve not had that chance.”

Most valuable players in Europe, Premier League revealed

Leave a comment

This list may surprise you.

[ MORE: Costa on Chelsea future ]

The extremely accurate guys over the Football Observatory (CIES) have calculated the most expensive players in Europe based purely on their transfer value in the current market.

If you are a Tottenham Hotspur fan then you will be pleased to see two of your players in the top three, but that of course means that everyone will want to sign your star men.

From a Premier League perspective Dele Alli tops the list with a value of $173.9 million, while Harry Kane comes in second with a value of $173.2 million. Paul Pogba of Manchester United is third spot with a transfer value of $150.5 million.

CIES haven’t just looked at players in the Premier League. Oh no. They’ve ranked the top 110 most expensive players in Europe.

Seven of the top 15 players in the list are from the PL, while 23 from the PL are in the top 50 and a total of 42 in the top 110. The rankings are calculated by current form, age, the length of time remaining on a players’ current contract and many other factors.

Neymar is top of the list with a whopping value of $235.4 million, due largely in part to his huge contract at Barcelona.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic is ranked as the 53rd most-expensive player in the world with a value of $67.9 million.

Below is the list of the top 10 most expensive players in the PL.

While here is the full list of the 110 most-expensive players from CIES.

UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap: Hat tricks for Jovetic, Wagner, Lewandowski

AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
Leave a comment

UEFA World Cup qualifying’s sixth set of matches continued Saturday, with goals pouring into nets around Europe.

A trio of players netted hat tricks, while three road teams scooped up wins in the race for Russia 2018.

[ MORE: Giroud scores outrageous volley ]

Poland 3-1 Romania

Robert Lewandowski scored thrice, twice from the spot, as Poland remains in pole position for an automatic World Cup spot. The Eagles lead Denmark and Montenegro by six points, and next travels to the former.

Montenegro 4-1 Armenia

A day of hat tricks continued in Podgorica, where Stevan Jovetic scored in the 28th, 54th, and 82nd minutes.

Germany 7-0 San Marino

Sandro Wagner is making up for lost time. Hoffenheim’s big 29-year-old center forward nabbed a hat trick to give him three goals in three caps as the Germans ran rout over San Marino. Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi was also among the scorers.

Norway 1-1 Czech Republic

An Alexander Soderlund penalty gave the hosts an equalizer, but Norway knew a win was a must in this home encounter. The Czechs are now four points back of second place Northern Ireland in Group C.


Lithuania 1-2 Slovakia

Vladimir Weiss and Marek Hamisk scored for a narrow road win, and Slovakia is within two points of leaders England.


Azerbaijan 0-1 Northern Ireland

Milli is a challenge, especially at home, and Northern Ireland needed 90-plus to find a winner. Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas did the trick in the second minute of stoppage time to keep NI in control of its second place destiny.

Kazakhstan 1-3 Denmark

Ajax teenage star Kasper Dolberg scored his first senior goal in stoppage time, and Spurs’ Christian Eriksen also scored as the visitors took all three points.

Scotland 2-2 EnglandRECAP

A pair of Leigh Griffiths’ free kicks gave the Scots a late 2-1 lead, but Harry Kane scored an equalizer to keep England unbeaten in qualifying. England still hosts Slovenia and Slovakia, each of whom are within a win of the Three Lions.

Slovenia 2-0 Malta

Fiorentina veteran Josip Ilicic scored the opener, and 38-year-old Milivoje Novaković closed out the keep Slovenia within sight of England in Group F.