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Chelsea, Real Madrid agree to Hazard transfer

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Eden Hazard is heading to Real Madrid.

Reports from multiple outlets says that Chelsea and Real Madrid have made a breakthrough in negotiations on Thursday, as Real officials have been in London talking to the Premier League club about buying Hazard.

The 28-year-old, who has just one year left on his current contract at Chelsea, will join Real for an initial fee of $112 million, as multiple add-ons now agreed could take the deal to over $165 million.

Yes, Chelsea are losing their influential playmaker, but this deal is as good as they could have got.

It is expected that Real are making plans to make an announcement as soon as early next week as Hazard is currently on international duty with Belgium.

Hazard has pretty much already said his goodbyes to Chelsea after he starred in their UEFA Europa League final victory against Arsenal on May 29.

In the past seven seasons at Chelsea he has won the Premier League title twice, the FA Cup, League Cups and two Europa League trophies.

Hazard is a long-time admirer of Zinedine Zidane, and ever since the French legend returned to take charge of Real Madrid this move was all but a done deal.

Real have had to pay a huge fee for a player who they could sign for free from January 2020 and play for them from July 2020, but given the ground they lost to both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid over the 2018-19 season — Real finished third in La Liga and were dumped out of the UEFA Champions League by Ajax at the Round of 16 stage — they just couldn’t wait to start their rebuild.

After signing striker Luka Jovic, defender Eder Militao and forward Rodrygo, this deal for Hazard means that Real have already spent close to $300 million this summer.

Hazard will be key to the new-look Real side and he has handled this situation in the correct manner. He has never told Chelsea fans he is definitely staying and has never dropped his levels in both effort and quality on the pitch.

Chelsea have also got a pretty phenomenal deal all things considered, but there is now extra pressure on USMNT star Christian Pulisic who will be Chelsea’s only new arrival until July 2020 due to their current transfer ban from FIFA. The Blues are currently appealing that ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but as things stand, Pulisic will be the main to try and fill the void left by Hazard. No pressure…

As for Hazard’s new club, the Belgian wizard will grace the Santiago Bernabeu with ease and will take over the mantle as the star man who will lead the charge against Barcelona and Lionel Messi.

Losing Hazard is a blow for the Premier League and Chelsea, and for Real Madrid it’s the first piece of the jigsaw in a much-needed rebuild under Zidane.

Red-hot Rebić scores again as AC Milan tops Torino

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MILAN (AP) Ante Rebić kept up his scoring form to lead AC Milan to a 1-0 win over struggling Torino in Serie A on Monday.

The Croatia international beat his marker to redirect a cross from the center of the area midway through the first half at the San Siro.

The score raised Rebić’s tally to six goals and an assist in eight matches since he earned his starting spot – a move that coincided with Zlatan Ibrahimović’s return to the Rossoneri.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Bouncing back from a derby loss, Milan moved up to eighth and just beyond the Europa League places. The seven-time European champion is hoping to return to continental competition after voluntary withdrawing from this season’s Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches.

Torino, meanwhile, lost its fifth straight, with new coach Moreno Longo still unable to turn things around in his second match in charge.

Ibrahimović narrowly missed a curling shot shortly after the break.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Simeone: Liverpool intensity “makes me admire it as a rival”

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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

CONCACAF Champions League preview: Five MLS sides eye history

CONCACAF Champions League preview
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Once the Premier League and La Liga had taken their final bows of the day on Saturday, there felt was a particular absence, one soon-to-be filled by domestic soccer.

Yes, MLS is coming soon, and the CONCACAF Champions League is even closer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Five MLS sides begin their Round of 16 ties over the next three evenings, some with easier paths than others to elusive CCL glory.

The competition may not have burned itself onto the mainstream, lagging behind continental competitions in Europe and South America, but those who’ve embraced it (hint: this guy) love the thing.

For all the progress Major League Soccer has made in its quarter-century, it’s yet to find much success in dealing with Liga MX powers in the fight to qualify for the Club World Cup.

MLS sides have not won the competition since it was rebranded the CCL. Only three MLS sides have made the CCL final this decade, with Real Salt Lake (2011), Montreal Impact (2015), and Toronto FC (2017) all coming up short at the last step.

The CCL provides everything you love and hate about World Cup qualifying, and those dicey pitches with sometimes worse lighting mean the favorites aren’t guaranteed much.

The top half of the bracket sees three MLS teams — Montreal, Seattle, and NYCFC — and just one Liga MX side, while the bottom half gives us a Liga MX v. MLS match-up straight away.

That’s Leon v. LAFC, and it begins Tuesday night in Mexico. That tie carries the added intrigue of MLS superstar Carlos Vela bringing his act back to his home country for the first time… ever.

Bracket

Saprissa (Costa Rica) v. Montreal — 8 p.m. ET Weds.
Olimpia (Honduras) v. Seattle — 10 p.m. ET Thurs.

San Carlos (Costa Rica) v. NYCFC — 8 p.m. ET Thurs.
Alianza (El Salvador) v. UANL Tigres — 8 p.m. ET Weds.

Leon v. LAFC — 10 p.m. ET Tues.
Portmore United (Jamaica) v. Cruz Azul — 8 p.m. ET Tues.

Comunicaciones (Guatemala) v. Club America — 10 p.m. ET Weds.
Montagua (Honduras) v. Atlanta United — 10 p.m. ET Tues.

The 2 Robbies podcast: VAR carnage at Stamford Bridge

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle dissect a crazy game at Stamford Bridge that saw Chelsea on the wrong side of several VAR decisions (00:45).

The gents also recap the big moments from the weekend; Liverpool beat Norwich (18:30), Son’s late winner against Aston Villa (24:45) and Arteta‘s attackers thrash Newcastle United (30:15).

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow them on Twitter @The2RobbiesNBC here.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]