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Newcastle sign Lejuene; Mesa to Swansea; Ince to Huddersfield

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This is more like it.

With plenty of Premier League clubs returning for preseason this week, managers are starting to make additions to their squads with Tuesday a very busy day for deals in the PL.

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And there’s a big La Liga to Premier League theme going on.

Leicester City agreed a fee for Sevilla’s captain Vicente Iborra and that was followed up by Newcastle signing French center back Florian Lejuene from Spanish club Eibar, Swansea City agreeing a deal with Las Palmas for playmaker Roque Mesa and Tom Ince arriving at Huddersfield Town.

Newcastle’s new addition Lejuene, 26, cost $11.7 million and will strengthen the Magpies defense.

The Frenchman, a former Manchester City player, played a key role in Eibar finishing in 10th place last season. Newcastle’s other central defense options include captain Jamaal Lascelles, Chancel Mbemba, Grant Hanley, Ciaran Clark and utility man Paul Dummett.

Lejuene was praised by Rafael Benitez for his calm defending and added: “If he settles well into English football then I am sure he will be a success.”


Swansea are close to signing Mesa with Las Palmas saying a fee has been agreed, believed to be around $14.2 million, with the Spaniard flying to Swansea on Wednesday for his medical.

Mesa, 28, was a key man in Las Palmas’ midfield last season with the holding midfielder confident and comfortable on the ball as he had a pass success rate of 91.4 percent and was a calming influence as the Canary Island club finished in 14th place after returning to La Liga.

The signing could be sealed within the next 24 hours ahead of Swansea heading out to the United States of America for their preseason tour.

Paul Clement has also signed Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham on loan after the youngster excelled at Bristol City in the Championship last season with 26 goals in 48 appearances.


Huddersfield Town have signed attacker Tom Ince from Derby County for a fee which could rise to $14.2 million.

Ince, 25, has agreed a three-year deal with the Terriers who will compete in their first-ever Premier League season in 2017-18.

The former Blackpool, Hull City and Crystal Palace winger scored 14 goals for Derby last season in England’s second-tier and has 72 goals in 257 appearances in all competitions during his nomadic career to date.

Huddersfield’s head coach David Wagner was delighted to sign a player of Ince’s experience, despite his young age, and believes his wing-play can be a vital weapon for the Terriers.

“I have spoken to Tom and he has a massive desire to come to Huddersfield Town and play in the Premier League,” Wagner said. “He has had a taste of the division for two short spells and he is desperate to show everyone that he belongs in the top division. I think he can be a big player for us.”

As Wagner mentioned, Ince has played for both Palace and Hull City in the PL both failed to break through as a regular on both occasions.

Low: Germany survived “a thriller full of emotion”

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At 1-0 down, they were headed for elimination in the group stage (with a game still to play); once level at 1-1, they faced yet a steep hill to climb on the final day of the group stage; after Toni Kroos scored his stunning 94th-minute winner, Joachim Low could finally exhale and imagine himself managing the German national team for another day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sweden at the 2018 World Cup was, for most intents and purposes, a worrying performance for the defending world champions. Fortunately for Low and Co., the one place in which their comeback dramatic victory was a raging success is the only one that matters: the Group F table, where Die Mannschaft currently (somehow) sit second and control their own destiny — quotes from the BBC:

“This was a thriller, full of emotion, right up until the final whistle. Brandt hit the goal post just three minutes before the end too. We took out a defensive player and brought on an attacking player because we knew had to bring on everything we had to turn it round.

“We had a couple of great chances — Mario Gomez’s header being one of them. The last couple of minutes were full of drama but those matches exist in football. We’ve had these situations in other tournaments as well. For the viewers that’s part of the attractiveness of football.”

“Something I did appreciate today was that we didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t panic after going a goal down. We kept a level head and said we needed to make quick passes and tire the Swedes out to open up spaces.

“We didn’t score a couple of good chances but we never lost hope we could win the match and I think the goal scored in stoppage time had a bit of luck involved but it did show the belief we had in ourselves.”

There’s still plenty of work to do for one of the most popular pre-tournament favorites — there’s a little matter of needing to beat, or at the very least, best Sweden’s result against Mexico — but that can wait until tomorrow, because Saturday unexpectedly became all about survival.

Germany snatches late win over Sweden to avoid elimination

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Germany dodged a fatal bullet on Saturday, coming back from a goal down to Sweden to steal a 2-1 victory at the 2018 World Cup and keep their world title defense alive… barely.

For all of 16 minutes — plus halftime — the Germans were in line to be eliminated with one Group F game still to play, but ultimately, Ola Toivonen‘s unlikely opener was canceled out by Marco Reus in very short order after the restart, and Toni Kroos broke Swedish hearts in the 94th.

Put another way, Joachim Loew survives to manage another day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Sweden felt massively aggrieved to have not been awarded a penalty kick in the 17th minute, when Jerome Boateng took out the legs of Marcus Berg as he bore down on an out-rushing Manuel Neuer. The combination of leg-to-leg contact and a strong push in the back appeared an obvious error for the video-assistant referee to right a wrong, but the call never came.

The opening goal was the direct result of a careless giveaway by Kroos near the center circle, and needed just three touches and two passes to cut through the German defense and spring Toivonen behind Antonio Rudiger. The finish, a perfectly weighted dink — perhaps aided by the slightest of deflections by Rudiger — left Neuer with no chance (WATCH HERE).

Then, with the final touch of the first half, Berg glanced a header from a free kick that was destined to his the inside netting at the far post, but Neuer redefined the phrase “at full stretch” to keep the scoreline 1-1.

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

That save proved invaluable for Joachim Loew’s side, as Marco Reus pulled the defending world champions level less than three minutes into the second half. Timo Werner dribbled to the endline and cut the ball back toward the penalty spot, and Reus got on the end of the deflected cross and struck it home with his knee. A semblance of order restored.

Bedlam ensued in the final 15 minutes, as Boateng was sent off for a second yellow card and Neuer lost his footing while scrambling across the face of goal to make a save, only narrowly preserving the 1-1 scoreline. Robin Olsen one-upped Neuer in the 88th minute, rising to his crossbar to punch Mario Gomez’s header just over.

In the fourth of five minutes of second-half stoppage time, Kroos became the hero. From a nearly impossible angle on the left side of the penalty area, Kroos rolled the ball forward to Reus on the restart, creating an ever so slightly wider angle from which to curl his shot toward the far post. It worked to perfection.

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Germany (3 points) will finish group play against fourth-place South Korea (0 points) on Wednesday, while Sweden (3 points) will face Mexico (6 points), who had clinched their place in the knockout rounds until Germany’s late winner.

VIDEO: Toivonen chips Neuer; Germany on brink of elimination

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Germany, the defending world champions, have their backs firmly pressed against the wall, less than an hour away from elimination, in just their second game of Group F play at the 2018 World Cup. As of this moment, they’re set to be eliminated with one game still to play.

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

After losing to Mexico in the opener, Joachim Loew’s side now trails Sweden in game no. 2, just shy of 45 minutes on the clock. As of right now, Mexico and Sweden (six points each) would go through to the knockout rounds, and Germany and South Korea (zero points) would go home.

Die Mannschaft were utterly dominant for the game’s first 30 minutes, holding more than 75 percent of possession, until Ola Toivonen, who scored all of two goals for Ligue 1 side Toulouse this season, got in behind the German backline and dinked the ball over the head of Manuel Neuer for the game’s opening goal.

Report: Player “coup” has Sampaoli on the outs at Argentina

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The Argentina men’s national team has been a mess for some time, with Lionel Messi retiring the last time controversy reared its ugly ahead, but this is something else.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Reports out of Argentina say manager Jorge Sampaoli has lost the team, who is now making decisions on their own ahead of their World Cup group stage finale against Nigeria.

Argentina drew Iceland in its opener before being embarrassed in a 3-0 defeat to Croatia in the second match, one in which Sampaoli’s lineup choice, tactics, and in-match decisions were skewered in the media.

Sergio Aguero was among the players to bristle at talk of the coach after the game.

This just hours after Sampaoli’s lineup to face Nigeria was “leaked” via training ground photos on Saturday.

More to come…