Done Deal: Transfer market action from August 28

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Every day between now and the end of the European transfer window, we’ll detail the day’s notable transfer activity in our Done Deal report. On Wednesday, there were no significant move, though the increase in finalized deals as opposed to pure loans hints activity’s picking up before Monday’s transfer deadline:

ENGLAND

Chelsea – It finally happened. Willian’s transfer, previously thought to be in the hands of Tottenham, was finalized by long-time pursuers Chelsea. The final cost? A reported €35 million. Quite a fee for somebody who’s unlikely to crack José Mourinho’s first choice XI.

Fulham – Ever heard of Marcus Bettinelli? Accrington Stanley fans have, now. As of Wednesday, the 21-year-old goalkeeper is on loan to the League Two side.

Manchester United – Angelo Henriquez, much-discussed when he was bought from Universidad de Chile in January, will spend the year at Real Zaragoza in Spain after his loan deal was confirmed today.

SPAIN

Espanyol – Whether Wakazo Mubarek is a steal or a bust in all in his hands. Or, at his feet. The Ghanianan international has the talent to become a star for Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan, having been loaned from Espanyol on Wednesday. At 23- years old, Mubarek could also fail to adjust, but after playing regularly for Espanyol last season, Mubarek should find regular playing time in Tatarstan.

GERMANY

Braunschweig – After making only one appearance in the 2.Bundesliga last year, midfielder Björn Kluft was loaned back to the second division, set to spend this year at Sandhausen.

ITALY

Atalanta – Luca Milesi, a 20-year-old defender who failed to make a league appearance for the club last year, was loaned out to Benevento, set to complete the season in the Italian third division.

FRANCE

Rennes – The club secured two loan deals on Wednesday, both sending players away from the club. 22-year-old attacker Frank Julienne, who spent last season at third-tier side Vannes, will spend 2013-14 at Lyon-Duhcère in the fourth division. Also, Dmitri Foulquier, a 20-year-old defender who made 17 league appearances over the last two seasons, has been loaned to Granada, giving the French U-17 and U-19 international experience in Spain’s top flight.

Khedira laughs off Swedish reporter’s offer of tickets home

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Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira brushed off a gesture from a Swedish reporter, trading a bit of banter ahead of Germany’s big World Cup match against Sweden on Saturday.

Germany fell 1-0 to Mexico in its opener while Sweden beat South Korea, leading a playful Swede to hand Khedira boarding passes for a flight home to Germany.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Khedira’s reply? He joked that Sweden won’t be a problem and he’ll use the tickets after the World Cup Final.

From Goal.com:

“After this bad start, we know that it’s super difficult, but we know that we are a strong team. We analysed the game, we saw Sweden play and we are sure that we are winning this game.

“I think we’ll need them [plane tickets] on the 16th of July.”

Report: Newcastle’s Clark knocked out on Spanish dance floor

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A wild story out of Spain says an Englishman knocked Newcastle United defender Ciaran Clark unconscious at a night club.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

Clark was on vacation in Spain, where he was spending time at Crystal’s Bar in Punta Ballena, Magaluf very early Sunday morning.

Clark and a man “in his 30s” got into an argument that saw the Irish defender knocked out, according to the BBC.

Clark was left unconscious and taken to hospital after an argument between him and the suspect broke out on the dance floor.

The 28-year-old suffered cuts and bruises to his face.

Clark, 28, scored twice in 20 Premier League appearances this season, his second at St. James’ Park.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 9 — Iceland’s next step, Brazilian bounce back?

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Brazil is one of the favorites of the 2018 World Cup, while Iceland is the smallest nation to qualify for the world’s biggest tournament.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

On Friday, both enter their second match days feeling quite different after 1-1 draws.

They won’t face each other, of course, but the contrast is striking nevertheless.

Brazil opens the day’s action when it squares off with Costa Rica, who fell to Serbia in the opener. For Serbia, a dark horse of the tournament, it will be a meeting with Switzerland.

Then there’s Iceland’s bid to climb into the Group D driver’s seat by knocking off Nigeria. A win from Iceland would make Lionel Messi and Argentina’s task of qualifying for the knockout rounds extremely unlikely.

Below is Friday’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 D
Nigeria vs. Iceland: Volgograd, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group E
Brazil vs. Costa Rica: Saint Petersburg, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Serbia vs. Switzerland: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Sampaoli defends Messi, blasts Argentina

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Jorge Sampaoli is lambasting his team after a 3-0 loss put Argentina on the edge of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup’s knockout rounds.

“The reality of the Argentina squad clouds Lionel Messi’s brilliance,” Sampaoli said. “The team doesn’t gel as well as it should.”

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Sampaoli said his players could not find a way to get the ball to Messi, and that the introduction of Boca Juniors youngster Cristian Pavón was aimed at opening up the field a little bit.

And Sampaoli is not shying away from the long-discussed comparison between Messi and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. From the BBC:

“Cristiano is a great player and he has achieved a lot with club and country. Right now it is hard to compare these two players because of the ability in the Argentinian squad clouds the judgment. Leo is in a difficult position because the squad doesn’t gel with him. As coach I have to accept that. I don’t feel shame but I definitely feel pain. It has been a long time since I have gone through this experience as a coach and obviously it is more painful when I’m wearing the colours of my country.

“We have no alternative but to give it our all in the final match. We have not performed at the level the country expects. We were ambitious ahead of the game but now it is harder for us as a group. We did think this would be the match we can take off as a team, but it wasn’t in the end. I think this is an excellent squad but we didn’t gel or come together. We need to take advantage of the next match, when the pressure will be on, and hope to progress.”

Now, of course Sampaoli is going to defend Messi, but Argentina’s team is not chopped liver. The side certainly isn’t as deep or solid as Croatia, but 1-1 with Iceland preceded this one.

That said, Argentina’s performance once Croatia essentially decided to surround Messi was unacceptable. If favored Nigeria doesn’t handle its business against Iceland, the World Cup finalists won’t have a prayer of going back.