Wolverhampton Wanderers have completed the permanent signings of Leo Bonatini and Ruben Vinagre, triggering options in the loan contracts of both players.
Bonatini, who scored 12 goals in 26 Championship appearances last season, signs from Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal and has penned a four-year deal, while Vinagre, who played in nine league games, has been rewarded with a five-year deal after leaving Monaco.
— Wolves (@Wolves) June 30, 2018
Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell told the club’s website: “We are delighted to secure the services of two players we rate very highly, and we believe can play a huge part in our plans for our first season back in the Premier League and beyond.
“Both players have been part of this group for a season, and that means they can hit the ground running and won’t need any additional time to adjust to Nuno and his coaching staff’s high standards of preparation and training.
“Leo Bonatini was unstoppable for a long stretch last season – his goals played a huge part in our promotion – and we have no doubt he can reproduce that kind of goalscoring form in the Premier League.
“Ruben Vinagre is a hugely exciting prospect, and we are really looking forward to him developing further under Nuno’s tutelage.”
Wolves have already signed Portugal international Rui Patricio, former Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe, who was then loaned to Stoke City and will be sold permanently in January 2019, defender Willy Boly and Diogo Jota this summer.
2010 World Cup champions Spain are set to face off against host nation Russia in the third round of sixteen match up on Sunday afternoon.
This one promises to be an intriguing clash and will be serious test for Russia, who will be looking to rise on the wave of optimism which is currently spreading across the country. They will be coming up against a side which is packed full of talent in Spain, but the fact that both sides are on the ‘easier’ side of the knockout bracket will come as further motivation to win.
Russia will have to be at their best if they are to cause a serious upset, but given the upsets that have already taken place at this year’s tournament, just about anything is possible.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Group Stage Performance
Spain will be the first to admit that their performances so far have been well below what was expected of them prior to the tournament. La Rojas were held to an enthralling 3-3 draw in their opening match. They played reasonably well, particularly in midfield, but were undone by a spectacular Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.
They seemed to be reeling from that draw and in their second match against Iran, they looked as though they were going to be left frustrated once again until Diego Costa managed to bundle home a fortunate goal.
In their final match against Morocco, they were disappointing again. Isco and Iago Aspas bailed them out of an embarrassing defeat, with the game finishing 2-2.
Russia on the other hand began their World Cup campaign with a bang. An emphatic 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia kicked off proceedings, before they dispatched what looked to be their biggest group rivals, Egypt, 3-1.
They were brought back down to earth in their final group match against Uruguay however, as Luis Suarez and co tore the Russian defence apart.
The two sides faced each other twice during Euro 2008, once in the group stages and then in the semi-final. The second encounter saw Spain reach their first European championship final since 1984, courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 win.
Russia were coming off of the back of a superb display against the heavily favoured Netherlands, but they were left powerless against Spain.
Las Rojas put in a performance that epitomised their dominance of world football in the late 2000’s, and left Russia with no opportunity to get any sort of foothold in the match.
Goals from Xavi, Daniel Guiza and David Silva proved to be the difference and sent Russia packing. Since then, Russia have failed to reach a knockout round at any major tournament until now.
Spain haven’t got going yet, but it is unlikely that they will make any changes ahead of their match against Russia. They have no reported injuries or suspensions so they will have a full contingent to choose from.
They very rarely waver from their preferred 4-3-3 system, with Sergio Busquets dropping deep to provide a screen for his defence. He is currently on a yellow card, but his importance to the Spain side is well documented, so it is unlikely that he will sit out.
Russia rested a few of their key players such as Aleksandar Golovin and Mario Fernandes against Uruguay, but they will be expected to come back into the side.
It was unlikely that he would have started anyway, but Igor Smolnikov is suspended after being sent off in their last match. However, Russia will be boyued by the fact that one of their key midfielders, Alan Dzagoev, may be back after picking up an injury in their first match against Saudi Arabia.
Spain (4-3-3): De Gea, Carvajal, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Thiago, Iniesta, Isco, Silva, Costa
Russia (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Gazinksky, Zobnin, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba
If we were going off of form alone, then this one would be difficult to call. Russia cruised their first two matches against inferior opposition before being soundly beaten in their third, whilst Spain showed flashes of brilliance in amongst three average performances.
But we have the knowledge of knowing what Spain are capable of achieving, if they put their mind to it. Isco and David Silva should have no problems in breaking down the Russian defence whilst Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta are likely to boss possession the centre of the park.
Home support will be a factor of course and expect Russia to put their heart and souls in to this one to try and pull off a shock. Ultimately though, this is where their tournament will come to an end.
Prediction: Spain 3-0 Russia
Arsenal are considering a move for Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele after talks with Lucas Torreira were put on hold until after the World Cup, according to reports.
The north London side were believed to have a £26m deal for Uruguay international Torreira all wrapped up but recent reports suggest that the move hasn’t been finalised, with the Sampdoria midfielder now believed to be focusing on his country’s chances at the World Cup.
And Lyon based publication Le Progrès claim that Arsenal’s chief negotiators Sven Mislintat, Raul Sanllehi and Ivan Gazidis are now considering a move for Ndombele – a top transfer target for bitter rivals Tottenham.
The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at the Groupama Stadium but he will complete a permanent switch to the club this summer for roughly £7m.
However, Ndombele is expected to join a number of first team players who will leave Lyon ahead of the new campaign.
Sergi Darder, Mouctar Diakhaby and Jean-Philippe Mateta have already called time on their careers with Les Gones, with 16-year-old wonderkid Willem Geubbels also leaving for £18m.
Arsenal have already seen Stephan Lichtsteiner and Bernd Leno join the club as they continue to rebuild under new manager Unai Emery. Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos is expected to be announced officially as their third signing of the summer on July 1.
But the club’s search to sign a long-term partner for Granit Xhaka, who signed an improved contract at Arsenal earlier this summer, looks set to continue until after the World Cup.
Inter have officially confirmed the signing of Matteo Politano from Sassuolo on a one-year loan with a right to buy next season.
After confirming the transfer of Radja Nainggolan from Roma earlier in the week, Inter have continued their transfer dealings with the signing of Politano, a forward who scored ten goals and contributed four assists in 36 Serie A games for Sassuolo last season.
OFFICIAL! 🙌✍🏼@MPolitano16 ⚫️🔵
— Inter (@Inter_en) June 30, 2018
An official statement on Inter’s website reads: “Matteo Politano is officially an Inter player. The Italian attacker has joined the Nerazzurri on a one-year loan with a right to buy next season.
“The 2017-18 season saw him really emerge as a top player, as he played a key role in keeping Giuseppe Iachini’s side in Serie A. He put in a solid run of impressive performances, scoring 10 league goals and one in the TIM Cup.
“This duly earned him a call-up to Roberto Mancini’s National Team, making his Azzurri debut in a friendly against Saudi Arabia on May 28th. He’s left-footed with rapid pace and smart technique.
“He’s versatile (can also play on the wings and in numerous roles across the front) and is also a threat from set-pieces.
“Luciano Spalletti will now have Matteo Politano available as an additional danger man up front. #WelcomeMatteo and best of luck ahead of your new Inter adventure!”
Politano becomes Inter’s latest signing following the acquisitions of Nainggolan from Roma, Stefan de Vrij after the defender left Lazio, and Atalanta’s Roberto Gagliardini, who was bought as part of a loan obligation.
Croatia and Denmark go head to head in the World Cup Last 16 in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, with both countries looking to progress and reach the quarter finals of the competition for the first time since 1998.
Recent Form & World Cup Record
Croatia qualified for the knockout rounds in style, one of just three teams alongside Uruguay and Belgium to win all three group games and finish with maximum points.
They were arguably the most convincing over the course of the first round, comfortably beating Nigeria and Argentina, before a heavily rotated team put in a surprisingly good performance against Iceland and snatched a late victory after dominating the game.
Croatia’s World Cup record in general has been mixed. After finishing third in their debut back in 1998, this is the first time they have been beyond the groups in the 20 years since, after falling to early exits in 2002, 2006 and 2014.
Denmark also reached the knockout rounds of this tournament unbeaten, but they were let off the hook by a missed Peruvian penalty in their first game and were less than convincing after being pegged back in a 1-1 draw against Australia in their next outing.
Ultimately, a thoroughly dull bore draw was enough to seal their place in the Last 16.
The Danes have typically had a reasonable World Cup record in years gone by, although they are hardly a nation that would be considered a regular on this stage. The cult ‘Danish Dynamite’ generation impressed en-route to the Last 16 in 1986, while there were further knockout appearances in 1998 (QF) and 2002 (L16). They went home early last time in 2010.
Head to Head
Croatia and Denmark have face each five times over the years, but not since a 2004 friendly that was won 2-1 by the former.
With two wins each and one draw, it is honours even, while the only time they have previously met a tournament was during Euro ’96 when Davor Suker famously lobbed Peter Schmeichel in a comfortable 3-0 win for Croatia.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic would be expected to make as many as nine changes from the side that won the final group game after resting most of his starters.
That means likely returns for Ivan Rakitic, Dejan Lovren, Mario Mandzukic, Sime Vrsaljko, Danijel Subasic and others, while defensive midfielder Milan Badelj has given the boss a selection headache after his match winning performance against Iceland.
Eight Croatian players, including Rakitic, Mandzukic and Vrsaljko are carrying yellow cards and would be suspended for the quarter final if they collect another here and Croatia get through.
Denmark coach Age Hareide may only tweak his lineup. Centre-back Mathias Jorgensen was added to the midfield for the France game for greater defensive solidity and it may be that the Huddersfield man keeps his place to limit the influence of Croatian maestro Luka Modric.
Nicolai Jorgensen is likely to return up front after being rested against France, while Yussuf Poulsen is available once more after serving a one-game suspension.
Thomas Delaney, Pione Sisto and the aforementioned Mathias Jorgensen are the Danish players still carrying yellow cards and in danger of suspension in a possible quarter final.
Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Badelj; Rebic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic
Denmark (4-3-3): Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, Kjaer, Christensen, Larsen; Delaney, M.Jorgensen, Eriksen; Poulsen, N.Jorgensen, Sisto
Although Christian Eriksen can rival the Laudrup brothers as far as all-time Danish greats are concerned, this is not a Denmark team that compares with others they’ve had in years gone by.
There simply isn’t enough depth to support Eriksen, and Croatia, who are flush with talent and grit all over the field, should have far too much quality for this to be anything other than a convincing win in their favour.
Croatia 2-0 Denmark
According to a report from Tuttosport (via Calciomercato), influential super agent Jorge Mendes could help the Serbian secure a transfer to Turin.
— CalcioMercato (En) (@CmdotCom_En) June 30, 2018
Milinkovic-Savic played in all three of Serbia’s games at the World Cup in Russia this summer, although he was unable to help his side progress to the last 16 of the competition.
Lazio are said to value their star midfielder at over €100m, a price tag that Juventus seem unlikely to pay, although Mendes could be key to getting talks underway and helping to reduce the potential fee.
Mendes recently secured his client, Joao Cancelo, a move to Juventus and is understood to be close to those who represent Milinkovic-Savic.
Portuguese agent Mendes is a highly influential figure in European football, counting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez among his list of clients.
Meanwhile, Milinkovic-Savic recently hinted at a potential move to Liverpool this summer. However, it is a move that seems unlikely due to the signings that Jurgen Klopp has already made this summer.
The German manager has already built on the squad that finished runners up in the Champions League last season, by adding RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita and Monaco midfielder Fabinho to his central midfield department.
Despite this, a conflicting report has also quoted the 23-year-old as saying that he is ‘happy’ at Lazio and is yet to think about his future beyond this summer.
Juventus are preparing to offload two up and coming strikers in Alberto Cerri and Moise Kean this summer, as they continue to overhaul their squad.
The pair have combined for just four appearances for the Old Lady, and the Italian giants are prepared to cut their loses as they seek permanent transfers for the duo.
According to GianlucaDiMarzio, Juventus have been approached by a number of clubs for both Cerri and Kean as they look to maximise their earnings, having secured the pair on free transfers.
Cerri joined the Turin side in the summer of 2015, where he was immediately sent on a loan spell with Cagliari Calcio – the first of four successive loan stints which included time with SPAL, Pescara and Perugia.
The 22-year-old impressed for Perugia in Serie B after notching 19 goals in 37 appearances, earning him serious interest from Genoa who tabled €15m before later retracting their offer.
Juventus have since been approached by Cagliari Calcio who have offered €10m for the forwards’ services – a club Cerri is reportedly eager to join.
Kean, meanwhile, spent last season on loan with Verona where he featured 20 times with a return of four goals – attracting interest from Monaco and Leganes.
The 18-year-old made his professional debut for Juventus in 2016 – where he became the first player born in the 2000s to compete in one of Europe’s top five leagues – where he then went on to score his first goal on the last matchday of the 2016/17 season.
Kean has shown enough promise to ensure Juventus are only prepared to part with the forward should an offer be received which is representative of his value.