Romelu Lukaku will not be going out on loan

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Looks like Romelu Lukaku will be playing at Chelsea this season after claiming that “at the moment” he would not consider a loan move.

Lukaku, signed by Chelsea from Belgian side Anderlecht in August 2011, spent the 2012-13 Premier League season at West Bromwich Albion. It was at The Hawthorns where the Belgian striker developed into one of the Premier League’s most dominant strikers, scoring 17 goals and notching 4 assists in 35 contests.

Despite the prolific form, question marks have surrounded Lukaku’s chances of leading the line at Stamford Bridge. Some feel the 20 year old would be better served by another year of development at a mid-range club where Lukaku can be the focal point of the attack. Others believe he’s ready to assume that very role for Chelsea right now.

Following his landmark season, Lukaku spoke modestly of his potential to play for Chelsea this coming August. “I am a realist,” he said. “I still need to grow and for that I need to have time to play during the next season.”

A few weeks later, he upped his confidence, noting he was “determined to succeed with Chelsea next season” and that he “want[ed] to prove [him]self.”

And now, by revealing that he won’t consider a loan move in the upcoming season, Lukaku has taken the next step in securing the striker role at Chelsea. It’s a role that he recently discussed with Blues manager Jose Mourinho.

“Yeah we spoke and I want to keep it private because when you have confidential talks with the manager, it has to stay between you and him,” Lukaku told Sky Sports News. “We had a good talk and now it’s up to me.”

For now, Lukaku’s competition up top consists of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. And while many believe the Belgian striker deserves the nod ahead of both Torres and Ba, things could get quite complicated if Mourinho decides to act on the transfer speculation linking the Blue in a move for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.

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

Adam Davy/PA via AP
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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