Carlo Ancelotti denies Zlatan Ibrahimovic pursuing a PSG exit

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Paris Saint-Germain closed out their season with a 3-1 win at Lorient on Sunday, a result you probably didn’t hear much about. Most people have long moved on from France, Ligue 1’s circuit joining the litany of European league with a runaway winter.

After Sunday’s 38th match day, PSG held a 12-point lead on second place Marseille, the inevitability of their third title managing the remarkable feat of meeting the league’s sanguine preseason expectations. Nobody was expected to keep up with PSG, and that’s exactly what happened.

Against Lorient, Zlatan Ibrahimovic added his 30th goal of the season and PSG had a man sent off late, but the day’s real action came after the game. That’s when the press corps got to speak with PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti, who has been linked with the open job at Real Madrid. Having just completed his first full season in Paris, Ancelotti’s told PSG management he would like to succeed José Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu.

To his credit, Ancelotti didn’t deny his desire to move, though he did admit, “I don’t know if it was my last game.” PSG has denied Real Madrid’s request to speak to Ancelotti, ostensibly insistent the Italian see out the last year on his deal.

But thanks to a report earlier in the day from Sky Italia, Ancelotti’s prospective move to the southwest was only part of the drama. Ibrahimovic, according to reports, had told Paris Saint-Germain  he wanted to leave should Ancelotti depart. It was a rumor Ancelotti was quick to put to rest.

“Ibrahimovic has not asked to leave the club,” Ancelotti said, going on to tell reporters the Swedish attacker’s future was not linked to his. Coming of indecisive talks on Saturday with club president Nasser Al Khelaifi, the head coach’s future still isn’t clear enough to have hangers-on.

All reason says Ancelotti will end up at Real Madrid by next season, and with PSG’s 2012-13 having just finished, it’s too early to see these types of denials as hold much weight. Ancelotti’s implicitly acknowledged his desire to move. The middling media-speak does little to change that.

The Ibrahimovic news, however, is just denial fighting rumor. Though Sky Italia’s reporting Ibrahimovic might want to move, PSG (through Ancelotti) are saying they know nothing about it.

It’s all the same contradicting paper talk we read every summer. This year, silly season’s off to a quick start.

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

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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