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Who’s in the running for Premier League Player of the Year?

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The Premier League Player of the Year is missing its easy winner this go-round.

There’s no Mohamed Salah running away with the scoring record, no Eden Hazard or N'Golo Kante as the clear best player on the champion.

[ MORE: Key games left in the PL season ]

So let’s take a look at where the race stands heading into the final international break of the season.

The contenders

Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool: Like N’Golo Kante before him, there’s a massive underdog status to a non-striker winning the Premier League’s Player of the Year (and you might want to argue that Kante deserved a Ballon d’Or finalist position). Flub against Fulham aside, few Premier League defenders have made their case in the past as well as Van Dijk has this season. Due to his status on a team who has a lot of the ball, it’s difficult to find super gaudy defensive numbers to make his case. Still, when taking into account Premier League center backs to play more than half their teams’ matches this season, no one on advanced stats site WhoScored is close to VVD. He also doesn’t have a “times dribbled past” per-match average on the site.

Eden Hazard, Chelsea: For years, Chelsea has gone as Eden Hazard. The Belgian is unquestionably one of the most talented players in the world, and is effervescent in attack. Sure, Chelsea’s also suffered through periods of head-scratching results and effort — nothing new at Stamford Bridge and he’s one of the only players to be a part of the downfalls of Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, and presumably Maurizio Sarri — but his 13 goals and 11 assists make him the only player to reach double figures in both categories this season. And imagine how high that assist total could be with Alvaro Morata or Gonzalo Higuain finishing at an average or above-average clip.

Raheem Sterling, Man City: At Liverpool a few years ago, it would’ve been accurate to call Sterling, “the kid with the abysmal second touch.” But the Englishman has become better and better by the season, and he’s actually the most economical star in the running for the PL’s Golden Boot; His 2.1 shots per game is less than Sergio Aguero (3.7), Mohamed Salah (3.4), Harry Kane (3.6), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2.6), Hazard (2.6), and Sadio Mane (2.4). Only Hazard and Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser have more assists.

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool: His average second-half of the season is going to make it difficult for him to repeat as PL Player of the Year, especially considering he has just one goal with no assists in eight matches since Jan. 30 (and four of those were 0-0 or 1-1 draws). Yet it’d be wrong to discount his 17 goals and six assists through 24 matches, and a strong finish could make him a Golden Boot, Premier League, and Champions League winner. That’s not crazy.

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City: Eighteen goals and six assists make him one of four players to combine for 24 goals of production this season, and the 30-year-old may be get sympathetic votes given his surprising lack of honors during a torrential tenure in the Premier League. His three hat tricks should live in the memory of some voters, too, especially since two came against Arsenal and Chelsea. He’s there when you need him, that’s for sure.

Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur: Right in the Golden Boot race despite missing four matches with torn ankle ligaments, Kane has 17 goals and four assists for Spurs this season. Not that the League Cup should come into play in a PL season vote, but Spurs’ star could well be holding silverware in voters’ minds if he hadn’t been hurt before the second leg against Chelsea. Three matches against Pep Guardiola and Man City in the next few weeks will either help or hurt his argument (again, only one of those comes in league play).

FINALLY, “THE WILD CARD” — He’s not going to win this award, and probably won’t be on any short lists besides this post, but spare a though for Raul Jimenez of Wolves. The Mexican striker has been a part of 18 league markers for Nuno Espirito Santo (12 goals, six assists) during his first ever Premier League season.

He’s scored against Chelsea twice, Spurs twice, and assisted versus Manchester United, and Arsenal. Wolves are 10W-4D-2L when he gets a goal or an assist, and 2W-3D-9L when he doesn’t produce magic.

And let’s be honest: Is one of the key players above leading their team to a title as impressive as what Jimenez has done keeping his newly-promoted side in the race for a Europa League place (even given what Wolves spent around him)?

Honestly, he’s in my Top Three with Sterling and Van Dijk. Hazard is probably fourth, with Kane, Aguero, and Salah a bit behind.

Watch Live: Copa America — Day 5

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Brazil and Venezuela meet with a knockout round berth up for grabs with the Copa America continues Tuesday in South America.

The Brazilians smashed Bolivia while Venezuela drew Peru, with the hosts again heavy favorites against a Venezuelan side who beat up the USMNT last week.

Bolivia and Peru start things off in Rio at 5:30 p.m. ET, both in dire need of a win.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

Salvador is the spot for the host nation’s meeting with Venezuela three hours later.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

2019 Copa America schedule

Group A: Bolivia v. Peru – 5:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group A: Brazil v. Venezuela – 8:30 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Reports: Mata agrees to stay with Manchester United

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Manchester United and Juan Mata are going to stay an item.

The 31-year-old has reportedly found common ground with United just days before his contract expired at Old Trafford, having been linked with Barcelona and Newcastle United should he have reached free agent status.

[ MORE: Latest on Rodri, Man City ]

Mata, 31, may be a key piece for a United team which is set for massive turnover this season, and had six goals and four assists in just under 1800 minutes last season.

He’s an extremely consistent player, scoring 50 Premier League goals with 60 assists between the Blues and Red Devils. He’s won the FA Cup and Europa League with both clubs, winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the League Cup with United.

Mata also has a Copa del Rey from his time with Valencia, and is a World Cup and EURO winner with Spain.

At least this way, Mata can be almost completely sure he won’t face a third stint under Jose Mourinho. Mata was sold by Chelsea after Mourinho lost interest in the midfielder, only to see United hire the Portuguese manager.

Watch Live: 2019 Women’s World Cup – Group C finale

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The 2019 Women’s World Cup continues on Tuesday, as the final two games take place in Group C with some heavyweight nations still not assured of a last 16 spot.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup news

Italy have won both of their games so far in Group C, and a point against Brazil in Valenciennes will see them top the group and set up a more favorable path through the knockout rounds. After they let a 2-0 lead slip to lose to Australia last time out, Brazil really need a big win to set them up for the knockout rounds and to guarantee their place in the last 16 but a point will be enough.

Australia are heavily favored against Jamaica but the CONCACAF nation have shown plenty of spirit so far in their debut tournament as they’ve dug deep defensively. The Matildas know a draw will guarantee their spot in the last 16 of the tournament but a morale-boosting win for Sam Kerr and Co. is what the doctor ordered.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

[ LIVE: Watch every single 2019 Women’s World Cup game ]

Here is your full schedule for Tuesday, June 18 at the Women’s World Cup.


2019 Women’s World Cup schedule

Group C: Jamaica v. Australia – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group C: Italy v. Brazil – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Transfer rumors: Bale will not be loaned; Justin to Villa, Leicester; RSL winger to PL

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The transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL and Europe…


Gareth Bale‘s agent has said his client is not going out on loan, after reports linked him with a temporary move to Bayern Munich for the 2019-20 campaign.

Speaking to Sky Sports News from Royal Ascot as he took in the horse racing, Jonathan Barnett had the following to say when asked if Bale, 29, would leave Real on loan this summer.

“There’s more chance of me winning at Ascot than him going out on loan. A loan move is not going to happen,” Barnett said. “I don’t think he wants to go out on loan. He’s got a lovely life and home in Spain. I think it would take something exceptional for him to leave and loans are not on the menu. Obviously, Gareth’s situation at Real hasn’t improved.”

Barnett added that Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Bale around but didn’t rule out the possibility of him staying at Real beyond this summer and although he didn’t shut down talk of a move to Man United when asked, it doesn’t seem likely to happen given United’s new transfer policy of buying young talent.

“He could fit in there. I think he could do very well – he is still one of the best players in the world. But it is very unlikely,” Barnett added.

Back to the drawing board for Barnett and Bale as they try and figure out a good solution for him for next season, as the player who has won four UEFA Champions League titles with Real in his six seasons in the Spanish capital is far from a fans favorite at the Santiago Bernabeu. With Eden Hazard and others arriving this summer, Bale is being nudged towards the exit door at Real.

Having three years left on his $700,000 per week contract is the major sticking point in any move, as Bale is in no hurry to be forced away to take a huge pay cut.


Aston Villa and Leicester City are battling to sign Luton Town’s James Justin, according to the Daily Star.

The 19-year-old right back was sensational in Luton’s 2018-19 campaign as the won the English third-tier title and promotion to the Championship. Per the report, Villa and Leicester are willing to pay $13 million for Justin with Villa saying he would be challenging for a starting spot right away but the Foxes see him as a player for the future.

A versatile attacking full back who can play across midfield and defense, Justin came through Luton’s academy and made his debut in an EFL Cup win against Aston Villa back in 2016. There are plenty of gems across the lower leagues of English soccer, as the likes of Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Harry Maguire have proven in recent years.

Taking a punt on an exciting full back for $13 million is the way to go for teams like Villa and Leicester who have smaller squads and are more than willing to take the time to develop young talent.


A report from our partners at Sky Sports says that West Ham and Newcastle United are interested in signing Real Salt Lake star Jefferson Savarino.

Savarino, 22, is currently on Copa America duty with Venezuela and the report states that he could be available for as little as $8 million. Per the report, both the Hammers and Magpies have sent scouts to watch him play against Brazil at the Copa America on Wednesday.

Savarino has had a decent start to this season with RSL, scoring three times and adding an assist in 13 appearances. He scored for Venezuela against the USMNT in their 3-0 friendly win in Cincinnati on June 9 and given the relative success of Miguel Almiron after his move from MLS to Newcastle, North America’s top-flight is being looked at more regularly by PL clubs.

Is Savarino ready for that step up? He has steadily improved since joining RSL from Zulia in 2017 and has scored six and seven goals in his two previous MLS campaigns. With a transfer fee so low, if he plays well for a dangerous Venezuelan side at the Copa America he could edge close to a move to Europe and it would be tough for RSL to stand in his way.