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De Ligt reveals Ronaldo asked about Juve transfer

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Matthijs de Ligt is a man in demand and he has revealed the lengths some clubs are going to in order for him to join them this summer.

The 19-year-old center back played for the Netherlands in their 1-0 defeat to Portugal in the UEFA Nations League final on Sunday, and immediately after the game Portugal’s captain Cristiano Ronaldo had a little word with De Ligt.

Barcelona, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and now apparently Juventus are in the running for the powerful defender who led Ajax to the domestic treble and the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.

De Ligt told Netherlands’ NOS television after the game that he didn’t expect Juventus star Ronaldo to ask him about a move to Turin.

“I didn’t understand him at first. I was a little shocked, so I laughed. But I didn’t say anything,” De Ligt said. “So soon after the game you are not at all concerned with it. You are disappointed that you have lost and that is the only thing you are thinking about.”

The Ajax defender revealed he will now go away on vacation and then decide his future in the weeks ahead.

Where would be the best fit for him?

Long-term Barcelona seems like the best solution, as Gerard Pique is in the twilight of his career and it is clear the Catalan club need serious help defensively. They should break the bank, if they can, to get De Ligt.

Manchester United are in the midst of a huge rebuild and De Ligt would be the main man at Old Trafford, but given the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to be targeting young British players and United aren’t in the Champions League next season, they are outsiders.

Juve is an interesting option, with their usually staunch defense opened up by Ajax as they crashed out of the UCL at the quarterfinal stage. Ronaldo will be pushing hard for De Ligt to sign as he knows Juve’s defense must improve if they’re going to seriously challenge for the European title next season.

Then, there’s PSG. Like Juve, they know they have the attacking talent but their dramatic collapse against United in the UCL proves they need a top-class center back to balance their lineup and De Ligt fits the bill.

Simply put, Ajax know they have the most in-demand player in Europe right now and we are likely to see the world record transfer fee for a defender — Virgil Van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton for $100 million in January 2018 — shattered as De Ligt’s age, leadership ability and incredible talent is clear for all to see.

Haiti stuns Costa Rica to claim Group B at Gold Cup

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Poetic justice, put it in a Song.

Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.

[ ROUNDUPS: AFCON | Copa America ]

Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.

Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.

An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.

The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.

Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.

AFCON wrap: Diaby’s sensational rip highlights trio of matches

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The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.

[ MORE: Copa America roundup ]


Mali 4-1 Mauritania

Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.

Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.

Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa

There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.

Tunisia 1-1 Angola

A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.

Copa America roundup: Uruguay tops Chile; Full knockout bracket

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Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.

Ecuador 1-1 Japan

There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.

Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.

Chile 0-1 Uruguay

Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.

Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.

Knockout round schedule

June 27
Brazil v. Paraguay

June 28
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile

June 29
Uruguay v. Peru

July 2
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru

July 6
Third place playoff

July 7
Final

Norwich City adds Switzerland international Drmic on free transfer

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Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.

Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.

Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.

Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:

“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.

“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.