Who should be the Player of the Year?

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Players play for trophies and a by-product of winning silverware is individual awards. The two gongs that are most treasured by professionals in England are the Football Writers and Player’s Player awards.

The writer’s is awarded by members of the press while the players player is voted by their peers. It is rare that one player wins both awards.

The front-runners this year are Tottenham’s welsh wizard, Gareth Bale, Liverpool’s mercurial Luis Suarez and Manchester United’s goal machine, Robin van Persie.

The case for all three is compelling and there wouldn’t be a great deal of surprise if the awards were split or if one player made off with the lot.

If asked, RVP would probably say he deserved the award as he’s the one player guaranteed to win something. The Premiership title is all but locked up thanks to his 19 league goals.

The difference he has made to the United attack has been sensational and without him the Red Devils would not be 15 points clear. Three matching winning goals translates into nine extra points and the title race would be far different.

Liverpool won’t be winning anything this year however the fact that they remain in contention for a place in Europe next season is solely down to the Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.

Simply put, he has carried the Reds to the tune of 22 goals however it’s more than goals that have caught the eye. He is playing in a team that is a work in progress and barely functions unless Suarez is producing his usual box-of-tricks. At times he has been unplayable and a defenders nightmare.

A defenders nightmare perfectly sums up Gareth Bale who has been transformed from a left back, a left wing-back, a left winger to a marauding center forward capable of popping up anywhere.

His pace, dynamism, aerial ability and all-round game have made him one of Europe’s most sort-after targets in the summer transfer market.

I see Bale getting the Writers award and RVP the players.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images
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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE