Jack Wilshere denies singling out Adnan Januzaj, insists ‘England should pick English players’

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There’s been a lot of talk about Arsenal’s star little midfielder this week, and the fact that Jack Wilshere has been having his say back has only added fuel to the fire.

You will remember earlier this week, when Wilshere apologized for being caught smoking a cigarette outside a London club.

But now the England international has waded into the deep and murky waters of nationality and which players should represent the Three Lions. Wilshere’s allowed his opinion, but many believe he’s now getting way out of his depth.

Quotes began to trickle through that the 21-year-old midfielder is all for keeping the English national team only for players born within the tiny confides of the Island nation. This was in reference to the huge debate erupting over which country Manchester United’s new 18-year-old whizkid Adnan Januzaj can represent after England contacting Untied about the Belgian born wingers eligibility.

“If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English. The only people who should play for England are English people,” Wilshere said. “If I went to Spain and lived there for five years, I’m not going to play for Spain.”

(MORE: Jack Wilshere sparks debate: Should Adnan Januzaj be allowed to play for England?)

He has a point, and despite the British media and plenty of others jumping on Wilshere’s comments as nationalistic and emanating an uncompromising attitude, the young English star spoke about what it means to be an English soccer player and how that relates to national identity.

“We have to remember what we are. We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat. We have great characters. You think of Spain and you think technical but you think of England and you think they are brave and they tackle hard. We have to remember that.”

Many took that as Wilshere talking against Januzaj’s inclusion in any forthcoming England squads, but he wasn’t. By no means is Wilshere talking out against any players who want to play for a country other than the one they’re born in. He was just trying to speak same sanity in a situation that has clearly got out of hand over the past few years, with many players changing their international allegiance without batting an eyelid.

(MORE: Wilshere watch, it’s becoming an international break tradition in England)

Let’s cut this guy some slack, he’s had a rough week and people are jumping down his throat at every opportunity. Following the ‘smoking incident’ Wilshere’s commitment is being called into question, but many are forgetting that he’s one of England’s finest talents and he should be protected, not lambasted for being outspoken and doing a few things wrong here and there. Okay, a few days after being caught smoking was probably not the best time to be having interviews… But aren’t people always yearning to have more colorful characters and opinionated individuals in soccer?

And just to prove Wilshere isn’t harboring any strong feelings against United’s Januzaj, which is ridiculous to suggest in the first place, the midfield fire-cracker Tweeting the following on Wednesday. Get over bashing WIlshere, and let his feet do the talking.

Queiroz: Iran has one “match point” left in World Cup group stage

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Iran manager Carlos Queiroz isn’t going to let his tournament be defined by one win or one loss, especially with a massive moment on the horizon.

Iran fell 1-0 to Spain on Wednesday, days after defeating Morocco in its World Cup opener. Team Melli was denied its equalizer despite VAR review thanks to an offside, and failed in several other bids to level the score.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Now Queiroz and his men need a win over Portugal to qualify for the first knockout stage in its five World Cup history.

“We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete. I felt we deserved a better result. There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but I thought we deserved more for the way we played.

“But congratulations to Fernando Hierro and Spain. We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.”

What chance do you give Iran of getting over on Portugal, who only topped a dominant Morocco side via a terrific designed play executed to perfection by Cristiano Ronaldo?

The odds are in Portugal’s favor, if only for its experience in tight games on massive stages. Well, perhaps the better “if only” would be to say if only for Ronaldo. Either way…

Spain gets win after Iran loses equalizer to VAR

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  • Spain goal: Costa (54′)
  • Iranian goal disallowed
  • Next: Spain-Morocco, Portugal-Iran

Iran had an equalizer taken away via Video Assistant Referee and Spain picked up its first win of the 2018 World Cup with a 1-0 win in Kazan on Wednesday.

Diego Costa scored Spain’s goal, as La Furia Roja joined Portugal atop Group B on four points. Iran has three, while eliminated Morocco has yet to get a result.

Team Melli lost their chance to sit atop the group when Saeid Ezatolahi rebound was ruled to have come after an offside touch from a teammate.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Spain certainly had its chances in the first half hour, capped off by an attempted overhead kick from David Silva.

Man City’s 32-year-old attacker had a great deal of chances in the contest, and would see a deflected rip bound wide of the goal during three minutes of first half stoppag time.

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

After Gerard Pique missed an in-tight chance to start the second half, Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand made an outstanding punch save on Isco before punching away the rebound bid.

Iran found its first true chance of the match in the 53rd minute, with Karim Ansarifard lashing into a shot from 15 yards that tore into the outside of the goal.

It was moments later that Spain went ahead, Costa getting a goal when a clearance bounding off his shin and into the net.

Mehdi Taremi flicked a header wide of the goal, and Iran thought it had an equalizer through Saeid Ezatolahi only for VAR to step in and call offside on the previous Iranian to touch the ball.

It was off, but only just.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Beiranvand was again on the scene for a 70th minute goal mouth scramble following a drawn-up corner kick by Spain.

Taremi pounded a header over the goal after a Vahid Amiri nutmeg of Pique led to a back post cross.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL duo eyeing Asensio and more

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The ongoing World Cup hasn’t halted the transfer talk across global soccer, and on Wednesday there are a number of potentially intriguing storylines.


Two Premier League sides are chasing Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio, including Chelsea and Manchester United, while they will have to battle Paris Saint-Germain as well.

Although Asensio is prepared to stay in Spain next season, he wants to be assured of playing time under new manager Julen Lopetegui, who recently joined the club.

The 22-year-old scored 11 goals in all competitions last season for Los Blancos.


Juventus continues to have several players at the center of transfer rumors, and Miralem Pjanic is a name that keeps popping up.

The midfielder won’t come cheap though, with Juve reportedly set to ask for $92.6 million in the event that a club wants to acquire Pjanic.

Barcelona is rumored to be seeking a move for Pjanic with Andres Iniesta now heading to Vissel Kobe in the J-League.


New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is reportedly looking to bring several of his former Napoli players to Stamford Bridge, including Belgium star Dries Mertens.

The Blues are seeking more attacking options ahead of the fall, and the veteran Mertens has become a proven commodity in front of goal over the course of his Serie A career.

Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Suarez

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The first two nations have advanced to the knockout phase out of Group A.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Uruguay reached the Round of 16 on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, who has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.

Hosts Russia will also reach the knockout rounds with the Uruguay win, thus eliminating Egypt as well.

The Barcelona striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute, after a poor read from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Suarez was given a wide-open finish at the far post off the corner kick for his first goal at the World Cup. The 31-year-old had scored a combined five goals during his last two World Cup appearances (2010 & 2014).

The Uruguyans dictated the tempo throughout much of the match, but Saudi Arabia’s back line held strong for the majority of the game.

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

Uruguay will close out group play against Group A leaders and hosts Russia on June 25, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt will tango that same day.