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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Nainggolan to Man Utd, Costa to Atleti

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With the transfer window officially open, Manchester United is being linked with basically every single player in all of Europe. It’s up to fans and media to parse out what deals seem more likely and what appears to be nothing but chatter.

The one that may have legs is a rumor connecting the Red Devils with Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan. The 29-year-old Belgian has been a solid box-to-box presence for Roma since arriving from Cagliari in 2014. Still, he may have reached his ceiling with the Italian club and could look elsewhere.

Nainggolan had been linked to Chelsea but the Blues have appeared to turn their attention towards Monaco’s Tiemoue Bakayoko, and that deal looks to be nearing completion.

Still, the Nainggolan rumor hasn’t made it much past the tabloids, with Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport the most adamant of its eventual completion at a rate around $48 million. Whether this comes to fruition or not, it’s clear Jose Mourinho wants another holding midfielder, as United has also linked heavily with Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic. It’s also important to remember that Nainggolan is saying all the right things, admitting a month ago he’d be happy to stay at Roma.


Another, more recent Manchester United rumor is a bit more surprising. With the future of goalkeeper David De Gea still up in the air as Real Madrid links refuse to go away, Mourinho could be weighing up his options between the sticks.

According to a number of reports, the Red Devils boss could turn to Manchester City’s Joe Hart. The England starter has admitted he is nervous about finding a new club this summer, with his City career likely over. Obviously this hinges on the potential departure of de Gea, but if the Spaniard were to head back home, could Mourinho give Hart a lifeline?


Diego Costa could be on his way out of Chelsea, leaving Antonio Conte with work to do up front. The Spanish international has been linked with a return to Atletico Madrid for some time now, but their transfer ban complicates matters.

According to a report by Spanish publication AS, the capital club would not loan Costa out for the first half of the season, instead keeping him in the reserves until they are able to register him on January 2nd. That would leave the 28-year-old on the sidelines for four months until he’s able to play again.

With Antoine Griezmann already back on board, plus the other strike options in Kevin Gameiro and Fernando Torres, adding Costa would further gluttonize the front line as Atletico Madrid opens play in The Olympic Stadium in Madrid next season. However, with such competition and only a half-season to ply his trade, Costa would likely find playing time at his old club hard to come by.


Monaco’s midfielder Fabinho has been linked with a number of Premier League targets, but it appears now his heaviest suitor comes from France.

According to reports in a pair of French outlets, L’Equipe and So Foot, Paris Saint-Germain has made a $51 million bid for the 23-year-old Brazilian, but Monaco rejected the approach in hopes of keeping Fabinho on board. Even if they do sell Fabinho, it’s likely that Monaco would hope to avoid sending him to a direct Ligue 1 rival. Nevertheless, Goal.com reporter Loic Tanzi states that Fabinho has already agreed to personal terms with PSG, and the Parisians only need to convince Monaco to sell for the deal to be completed.

With Bernardo Silva already gone, the future of Kylian Mbappe up in the air, and Thomas Lemar also drawing heavy interest, Monaco will do well to keep any of these young men at the Stade Louis II next season.


With Watford and Southampton both signing players on Saturday, Middlesbrough could be next as they have reportedly won the signature of Norwich midfielder Jonny Howson.

According to The Mirror’s print version, the 29-year-old has picked the Premier League side over his former club Leeds United. Middlesbrough will reportedly pay $6.5 million for Howson, who has one cap for the England national team.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 5 — England, Belgium enter the fray

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The weekend might be all but over, but that doesn’t mean that 2018 World Cup action is slowing down anytime soon.

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Monday, in fact, will be quite the opposite, as Group G giants — and a pair of popular dark horse picks — Belgium and England make their debut in Russia, taking on Panama and Tunisia, respectively.

Following Germany’s 1-0 loss to Mexico on Sunday, Group F is currently turned upside down on its head. Sweden and South Korea, who’ll face off in the day’s opener, are even more hopeful now than prior to the start of the tournament.

Below is Monday’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 – Monday, June 18

Group F
Sweden vs. South Korea: Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Panama: Sochi, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Tunisia vs. England: Volgograd, 2 p.m. ET –LIVE COVERAGE

Petkovic: Time to “take Switzerland seriously” after Brazil draw

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While much of the talk about Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Brazil and Switzerland will focus on the former, the Swiss would like their share of credit for frustrating — and matching — one of a handful of favorites to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic is chief among those who believe it’s time those on the outside “start taking notice of us and taking us seriously.” As for the insinuations that his side roughed up Neymar, who suffered 10 of the 19 fouls committed by Switzerland, most of them were “very clean” — quotes from the BBC:

“Sometimes if there is a lack of recognition that is a pity because we have played very well. We showed and demonstrated that this team always believes in itself and can achieve results.

“Most of the duels (with Neymar) were won in a very clean way. It was one of the key ingredients to neutralize Neymar.”

“I’m very proud and pleased with the discipline with the way we played. We worked collectively and cohesively.”

“When we are able to play forward and press higher up we were able to do it well and it is an excellent starting position for the rest of our group matches.

“We had real difficulties in the first 40 minutes, I said ‘let’s remain calm, focused and believe in ourselves, push up higher up the pitch and create opportunities to score.'”

Having secured a point in far and away their toughest group game, Switzerland now have eminently winnable games against Serbia (Friday) and Costa Rica (Wednesday, June 27) remaining. Four points from those two games would just about guarantee progression to the knockout rounds.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 2

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Layla Anna-Lee has a new show and, well, it’s unbiased. At least occasionally…

In the second episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, Layla Anna-Lee looks at the best moments from the first set of matches in the 2018 World Cup.

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There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.

Brazil waste Coutinho’s stunner, draw Switzerland in opener

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Brazil started brilliantly and raced out to an early lead, but the five-time World Cup winners — and one of a handful of favorites in 2018 — disappointed in the end as they settled for a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in the two sides’ Group E opener.

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Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring after 20 minutes, turning home a stunning strike from distance, off the inside of the post, to settle any early nerves and give Tite’s Selecao a 1-0 lead (WATCH HERE).

It wasn’t Brazil’s first golden scoring chance of the game, though, as Coutinho and Neymar combined down the left wing to send the latter into space inside the penalty area. Neymar played a first-time cross into the six-yard box, but Paulinho‘s scuffed effort from close range was tipped around the post by Yann Sommer.

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

A bit of complacency and real lack of urgency washed over Brazil as soon as they went ahead, affording Switzerland every opportunity to get back in the game.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side needed just five second-half minutes to draw level, thanks to some shoddy set-piece defending by Brazil. Steven Zuber took up a spot at the near post, virtually unmarked inside the six-yard box, and headed past Alisson.

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The game’s most controversial moment came just after the 70-minute mark, when Gabriel Jesus was bear-hugged inside the penalty area. Wrapped up from behind, the Manchester City forward was blatantly prevented from getting to the ball after a quick passage of smooth build-up, but referee Cesar Arturo Ramos Palazuelos was unmoved and no video review was enacted.

By the full-time whistle, Brazil had piled up 21 shots (just four on target) compared to just six from Switzerland (two). Despite on-target efforts from Neymar and Renato Augusto inside the game’s final five minutes, a winner wasn’t on the cards and the sides were forced to split the points.

Up next for Brazil is a clash with Costa Rica on Friday, while Switzerland will face Serbia the same day. The Serbs topped the Costa Ricans in Sunday’s first game, putting them top of the group after after the first of three rounds in Group E.