West Ham agrees big fee for Pachuca, World Cup star Enner Valencia

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With one transfer swoop, West Ham United may have gone from goal-starved to a feeding frenzy.

West Ham and Pachuca have agreed to a fee for Ecuadorian star forward Enner Valencia. After starring for La Tricolor at the World Cup, the 25-year-old will now head to the Premier League pending a physical.

The money is believed to be close to $25 million, which is about what West Ham paid to bring Andy Carroll over from Liverpool.

A strike force of Carroll and Valencia could be major trouble for opponents, which would be a major shift from 2013/14. The Hammers only scored 40 goals last season and were shut out in 15 of 38 Premier League contests, with an injury to Carroll hurting the offense.

From West Ham’s site:

The Hammers fought off competition from a host of Europe’s leading clubs to secure the services of the 25-year-old from Mexican side Pachuca.

Valencia, who impressed hugely in scoring three goals for his country at the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil, will join West Ham on a five-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

Prior to his eye-catching World Cup performances, Valencia came to the attention of English football fans when he headed Ecuador in front in their pre-tournament draw with Roy Hodgson’s side in Miami.

In Brazil, he picked up where he had left off by opening the scoring in Ecuador’s first group-stage fixture against Switzerland. He then netted both goals as the South Americans defeated Honduras 2-1, taking his tally to seven in 13 internationals.

Valencia becomes West Ham’s fifth summer signing following the captures of Argentine forward Mauro Zarate, Senegalese midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, left-back Aaron Cresswell and promising youngster Diego Poyet.

It’s a big coup for the Hammers, who struggled to survive the Premier League schedule last season. Pachuca will be hard-pressed to replace the reigning Liga MX goal leader, as Valencia’s 12 goals were three higher than anyone else in the Clausura.

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