Everton adds 21-year-old Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic

1 Comment

Muhamed Besic played every minute for his team at this summer’s World Cup, and while that adventure didn’t meet with a happy end for Bosnia and Herzegovina, it did serve as a platform for the team’s 21-year-old midfielder. Completing his move to England today, Besic has made the most of that launching pad, signing with Everton on Thursday.

The defensive midfielder will joint his team in Thailand, where the Toffees are preparing to face newly-promoted Leicester City this weekend.

“I am looking forward to introducing him to the Everton fans …,” manager Roberto Martínez said on the club’s website, having acquired the German-born midfielder from Hungary’s Ferencváros. Unconfirmed reports estimate the transfer fee at $6.8 million.

Ferencváros was Besic’s second club, having joined the Green Eagles from Hamburg in the summer of 2012. Previously declining to play for Germany at youth level, Besic had only made three Bundesliga appearances with HSV before moving on.

In two years in Hungary, the defensive midfielder made 47 league appearances, helping his team win the 2012-13 Hungarian Cup. By the end of his time with Ferencváros, Besic has collected 12 caps with his national team, helping Bosnia and Herzegovina qualify for their first World Cup.

With Everton, Besic adds depth to a midfield that depends on Gareth Barry and James McCarthy to support attacking midfielder Ross Barkley. Besic also gives Everton a chance to play a more defensive-minded midfield, should Martínez elect to sacrifice a more attack-minded player in favorite of fortifying the middle.

Thanks to the Toffees’ fifth place finish in last season’s Premier League, Martínez will also have to balance Europa League responsibilities with his quest to secure a top-four spot. While he may not start immediately, Besic should get sufficient playing time being rotated into the middle.

The leap, however, will be a big one. Not only is Besic inexperienced, but the jump from Hungary to England represents a steep slope. Though he played 270 minutes in Brazil, the rigors of a full English season will require an adjustment.

At 21, however, this is clearly a long-term signing, one which gives Martínez a chance to mold an international-caliber player. He may not be ready to replace Gareth Barry now, but with today’s deal, he’s set up to be the heir apparent.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Leave a comment

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

Adam Davy/PA via AP
Leave a comment

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

Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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