Premier League teams set to fight for Alexis Sánchez

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His World Cup dream may have ended on Saturday, but the summer might just be beginning for Alexis Sánchez. The forward missed a penalty in the shootout with Brazil, one of three Chile players to do so, meaning he’s now on his way home. But rumor has it that things are just starting to heat up for Sánchez.

Barcelona paid €26m ($35.5m) for Sánchez in summer 2011, after the young forward had helped Italian side Udinese secure a Champions League spot. Udinese went on to quickly crash out of the tournament, while Barcelona kept their new investment on the bench much of the time. He finally found more playing time last season, but it seems his club are still prepared to let him leave.

Which is surprising, considering just how much Sánchez impressed in four games at the World Cup – although that will, of course, be a factor in the amount Barcelona are able to extract from interested parties. And yes, there is definite interest in the forward.

Liverpool and Arsenal are meant to be leading the race to sign the 25-year-old. The Reds interest may come as a surprise, considering they scored 101 goals last season, but of course they’re going to need to replace the 31 scored by Luis Suárez, whose ban will extend much further into the season this time around.

Arsenal, who scored just 68 goals last season, finishing fourth once again, would seem to have a bigger need for another attacking threat. But while the Gunners were willing to break the bank for Mesut Özil last summer, that’s not usually the way Arsène Wenger operates. Is this really a likely move?

Even if both Liverpool and Arsenal do decide to pursue Sánchez, they’ll have to outbid Manchester United, who seem intent on rebuilding their side, to the point where money just may not be a factor. And, of course, there’s Juventus, who’ve been keen on Sánchez since his Udinese days. Juve are also not normally ones to break the bank, but if an unbeatable offer comes in for either Paul Pogba or Sánchez’s compatriot Arturo Vidal, they could have money to spend.

Where do you think Alexis Sánchez will be playing next season?

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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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