Liverpool’s incredible season earns Brendan Rodgers long-term deal

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Brendan Rodgers has signed a new long-term deal at Liverpool, the club announced Monday, completing an incredible rise to success for the Northern Irishman.

According to a report by The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe, the contract runs through the summer of 2018.

The Liverpool release called the 41-year-old skipper “one of the brightest managerial talents in the game” and says his new long-term deal “brings further stability to the club.”

In a joint statement as part of the club announcement, Liverpool owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner said “Brendan is at the heart of what we, as an ownership group, are trying to achieve on the pitch. This season has reaffirmed everyone’s belief that we can bring football success to Liverpool and we are all committed to working together to achieve that.”

Rodgers began his managerial career recently, in 2008 at Watford, making stops at Reading and Swansea City, leading the Swans to the Premier League before joining Liverpool.

Rodgers told the club website, “I am both humbled and privileged to be offered the chance to extend my stay at this great club. I am very happy to build on the foundations we have built over the last two years and now we move onto the next phase which I believe will be as exciting, challenging and rewarding.”

This past season, Rodgers earned Liverpool a return to the Champions League after years of stagnation, and nearly won the Premier League, leading the way for much of the home stretch before faltering just before the finish line.

His best move yet as manager may be retaining striker Luis Suarez last summer, who was ready to leave after harsh treatment from fans and the media.  The boss convinced him to stay, and he ended up having an incredible season, scoring 31 goals and winning PFA Player of the Year despite missing the first six games of the season.

Video: Ronaldo scores fourth goal, gives Portugal early lead

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He has four goals in less than two matches, and Portugal is off to another flying start courtesy of their star forward.

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Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Portuguese a 1-0 lead against Morocco in the fourth minute after brilliantly heading home a corner kick.

The Real Madrid star gave Portugal a similar spark at the beginning of their 3-3 draw against Spain in their first Group B match when Ronaldo drew, and scored a penalty kick inside of the opening three minutes.

Is there anything this man cannot do?

Reports: Alli unlikely to play in England’s second Group G match

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The Three Lions may not have taken all good news away from the team’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

[ MORE: Russia races past Egypt, likely en route to next round ]

Several reports are suggesting that England will likely be without Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli in their second Group G match against Panama on Sunday.

Alli was forced out of England’s opener with a thigh strain, which gave manager Gareth Southgate the decision to put in Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There isn’t a timetable for the 22-year-old’s return to the pitch, but his absence will definitely present a major question for Southgate heading into the rest of group play.

Without Alli in the starting XI, it’ll likely be between Loftus-Cheek and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard to fill the role where Alli normally sits.

In the case of Lingard, who started against Tunisia, the England boss would have to bring in another starter if Southgate opts to have the Red Devils attacker sit in as the number 10.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.