Bale wins EPL awards, where his future lies is another matter

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After a glitzy evening in Central London on Sunday, Gareth Bale added to his already considerable collection of personal accolades by winning both the PFA Player and Young player of the year awards.

It is the first-time the same player has won both awards since Cristiano Ronaldo completed the feat in the 2006-07 season.

Less than two years later Ronaldo left the EPL to join Real Madrid… it might not take Bale that long to follow suit.

But should Bale stay with Tottenham? It depends on a few key factors.

If Spurs qualify for next seasons UEFA Champions League, the Weslh wing-wizard may stay put at White Hart Lane for at least another year. If they don’t qualify, it could be “Adios Gareth” for Andre Vilas-Boas’ men.

However, with last weeks seismic shift of European soccer power from Spain to Germany, could Bale end up anywhere but La Liga should he leave Spurs? I doubt it.

Despite his success against Italian teams in European competitions, it is unlikely that Bale will join a Serie A side. A move to either Real Madrid or Barcelona seems his most likely destination.

But has anyone considered Manchester United in all this? Sir Alex Ferguson has taken a keen interest in Bale since his days playing in the Championship for Southampton as a marauding 16-year-old left-back. The wing play of Nani, Antonio Valencia and others has disappointed this season, so Bale could be the perfect remedy for what has been a problem area for United. Now Fergie would love to help Bale swap North London for Manchester, just like RVP did to devastating effect last summer. But are United willing to pay around $100 million for him?

I know a club that are. Manchester rivals Man City could take Bale, easily. But with costs continuing to soar, players will have to move out of City before signing Bale could become a possibility. The saturation levels at City would be too much to even start with Bale regularly.

So La Liga it is. However, the underlying notion is that if Tottenham finish in the top four this season and AVB is allowed to strengthen over the summer, Bale could remain at White Hart Lane for years to come. That said, can somebody turned down the lure of the Santiago Bernabeu or Camp Nou once it comes calling? Even Gareth Bale would struggle with that one.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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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

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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