Kovacic ready to leave Real

Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic has confirmed that he will seek a move away from Real Madrid this summer in search of more regular first-team action.

The 24-year-old, who has featured as a substitute for the Vatreni in both of their opening two games at World Cup 2018, has been at the Bernabeu since the summer of 2015, but has made just 37 league starts in three seasons.

And the former Inter Milan schemer is keen to try his luck elsewhere and prove that he is worth a more regal starting role.

He told Marca: "I understand the situation, but because of that I believe the best thing for me would be to go to another club where I'd have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter.

"I think I can have this opportunity and it's one I want right now. Of course I am not happy when I don't play.

"I have really enjoyed these three years in Madrid, alongside some incredible team-mates and winning trophies, but I haven't been completely happy because my contribution to all of this hasn't been complete and this is something I want to change."

Real Madrid won a third straight Champions League title last season, but could only finish in third place in La Liga, ending some 17 points adrift of champions Barcelona.

Real can be backed at 6/1 to win the Champions League again next season, with Barca available at 6/1 and Bayern Munich 7/1.

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Deulofeu signs for Hornets

Gerard Deulofeu has signed a permanent deal with Watford after spending part of last season at Vicarage Road.

The 24-year-old Spanish international was on loan with the Premier League club during the latter half of the 2017-18 season, making seven appearances.

Now the club have acted to bring him back to the club and he has signed permanently from Barcelona.

Watford chairman Scott Duxbury said: "We are very pleased to welcome Gerard back to Vicarage Road and thank FC Barcelona for their part in concluding this deal.

"Our ambition to succeed and grow in the Premier League remains as strong as ever."

The forward graduated from Barcelona's La Masia Academy and made his debut for the senior team at the age of just 17.

He made over 20 appearances for the Spanish club but has had several loans spells away, with Sevilla, AC Milan and two spells at Everton.

He has four caps for Spain, his most recent appearance for his country coming in 2017 in a World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.

He will join a club who finished 14th in the Premier League last term. They had an excellent start to the season, losing just one of their first eight matches.

However, they then endured a poor run which cost Marco Silva his job. Javi Gracia took over and he remains and hopes to add other new faces in the coming days and weeks with reports that the club have agreed a fee with Bologna to sign left-back Adam Masina.

The Hornets plans for pre-season include matches against Stevenage and Brentford before the new Premier League season begins on 11th August.

Watford are 5/1 to finish in the top half of the Premier League while they are 2/1 to be relegated with Huddersfield at 6/5 to go down.

Everton are 6/1 to finish in the top six.

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Fresh Off the Press: Delusional Ramos, Cold Curry, Griezmann to Barca?

Knowledge is power, and what you know can win you big in betting! In order to thrive in the coming weeks of spectacular betting, it pays to know your sporting news. And today’s share of us news will definitely make your future betting decisions a lot more interesting!

Sergio Ramos is in the middle of a media firestorm in today’s sporting highlights! He is already embroiled in a battle with two nations way before any football has been kicked in the FIFA World Cup! It’s not hard to imagine that the barbs being thrown through the media will affect the form of the parties involved when the big games start next week.

Of course, the pre-World Cup tension isn’t the only thing us Blog is serving up! We’ve got some interesting NBA news to share with you now that the Golden State Warriors are a win away from sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Antoine Griezmann may also make an interesting destination change once Russia draws to a close! Will he leave Madrid for Catalonia?

Rude Ramos draws ire for Salah, Karius comments

us Blog: Did Sergio Ramos cross the line for comments on injured Liverpool players?

Egypt coach Hector Cuper reacts to Sergio Ramos’ ‘rude comments’ on injured Liverpool players

There’s no question that Real Madrid and Spain is drawing flak from at least two legions of supporters after the uncalled-for physicality he implemented in the Champions League final against Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Loris Karius.

However, he has come out and said that Egypt’s talisman could have returned to the match “if he got an injection for the second half”. He also denied that the collision he had with the disgraced German keeper was not intentional.

“I see the play well, he grabs my arm first and I fell to the other side, the injury happened to the other arm and they said that I gave him a judo hold,” the Real Madrid strongman convinced the press. “After that the goalkeeper said I dazed him with a clash.

“I don’t know if it is because you are at Madrid for so long and win for so long that people look at it a different way.”

Egypt boss Hector Cuper called him out on his judgment, saying that Salah is the type of player who will return from an injury if he can play through it.

“I don’t have any doubt that if he could keep playing he would do it, because a Champions League final is extraordinary.

“My opinion is that Salah has an important injury, there is a recovering [process] that we can see, and we are optimistic about the chances he has to play in the World Cup.

Brazil international and Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino had choice words for the Madrid man: “It’s OK, [Ramos] is a champion. But I think it’s an idiot thing of him to say.”

Curry struggles after playing historic Game 2

NBA News: Stephen Curry wasn't even a shadow of his Game 2 self in Game 3

Stephen Curry surpassed Ray Allen in NBA Finals 3 points made and duplicated his next game struggle, too.

The Bay got served up with some red-hot Stephen Curry after the Golden State guard played a historic night of basketball in Game 2 of their yearly NBA Finals date with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He delighted the Bay Area with his nine three-pointers, with five of them scored in the final frame of the game. He now holds the record for most three-point field goals in an NBA Finals game, with the previous holder being Ray Allen.

However, his shooting hand seemed to have frozen during the travel time from sunny California to Cleveland, OH. No 30 had a nightmare game, going 1-for-10 from long range and 3-for-16 overall. He wasn’t able to find his rhythm against the Cavaliers.

Thankfully, Kevin Durant was an unstoppable scoring machine and led the Dubs to a commanding 3-0 lead that seems impossible to get out of. It’s also important to note that Allen also went cold after setting the then Finals three-point record.

After all, it’d be unfair if they still had hot hands after that.

Blaugrana love Griezmann to Barca!

us Blog: Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona? Messi and co want him

Barcelona players make it known how they like to play alongside Antoine Griezmann

Barcelona just won the La Liga this season, but the club is not delusional that they are the best in Europe. Their disappointing Champions League run demands change from the club, and the response to the call may seem surprising: Antoine Griezmann.

Barcelona are looking to acquire the 27-year-old France international from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid and are willing to pay the huge €100 million price tag attached to his net. Lionel Messi is understood to have expressed his support for the decision, and it is expected that the rest of the club will be pushing for this deal to push through as well.

“He’s a great player and we would understand each other,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo about the possibility of playing with him.

“He’s going through an exceptional moment in his career. It’s not yet one hundred per cent, but the more quality we have, the better.”

Fellow France international Ousmane Dembele also thinks that the move for his World Cup team-mate is “exceptional”.

“We haven’t talked much about this [transfer] with Antoine,” Dembele said. “If Antoine comes to Barca, it would be something exceptional.

“He’s a great player, a great striker, I think he’ll help us be better.”

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Umtiti eyes up further success

Barcelona central defender Samuel Umtiti is happy to have sorted his long-term future and is eager to help the club challenge for further honours next season.

The 24-year-old, who moved to the Camp Nou from Lyon in the summer of 2016, has signed a new five-year contract with Barca, having helped the Catalans to a domestic double in the season just ended.

And Umtiti, who is preparing to feature for France at the World Cup finals in Russia, says he never had any doubts about where his future lay beyond the summer.

He told reporters: "I'm very happy and proud to be able to renew with Barcelona, my dream was to be with the best. Since the first day, I've felt at home at the club and I want to stay here.

"My priority was always to renew with Barca. I never saw myself in another team. This club has been in my heart since I was a kid, and it is a dream to play here with players like (Lionel) Messi.

"I'm staying at Barcelona because this is the best team in the world. I'm not here because of money. That's important, but I'm here to win titles, which is the most important thing.

"Next season I hope we're going to fight for all the titles. That's why I've signed."

Barcelona are available at 4/5 to win La Liga again next season, with Real Madrid priced at 5/4 and Atletico Madrid 14/1.

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The Rise, Peak & End: NBA Rooks, Messi’s Golden Shoe and Radja’s Retirement

For an athlete, there are three stages in his or her career: the rise, the peak and the end. And we’ve witnessed all that in recent days throughout the sports world.

The NBA has named its top three finalists for the Rookie of the Year award, and the season certainly couldn’t get any better for those selected.

Meanwhile, we’ve seen Barcelona great Lionel Messi at his best again, this time conquering Europe for the prestigious Golden Shoe award.

Then there’s Radja Nainggolan who, despite his spectacular performance for Roma, retired from international football after being left out of the Belgium squad for the upcoming World Cup 2018 in Russia.

For today’s sports news and updates, us provides you with more details about the hottest stories in sports.

Mitchell, Simmons, Tatum named finalists for 2018 NBA ROY

The Rookie of the Year race is still one of the top sports news in the NBA today

It’s still up for debate on who will be crowned this year’s top NBA rookie

The NBA Rookie of the Year battle is now down to Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Boston’s Jayson Tatum.

Mitchell and Simmons have long been favoured to win the award, with most fans believing that it’s just a two-horse race between the two youngsters.

The 21-year-old Mitchell made a strong case for the award, thanks in large part to his eye-popping campaign with the Jazz. He averaged 20.5 points per game in the regular season, making him the first rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since Carmelo Anthony did it for the Denver Nuggets in the 2003-04 season.

Meanwhile, Simmons has impressed with his all-around ability. He was red-shirted for a year—leading to some arguments that he’s not a true rookie and that he has the advantage of being more NBA-ready—but there’s no doubt he has been phenomenal.

He led all other rookies in rebounds, assists and steals while finishing second in scoring. He was also pivotal in helping the Sixers make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Tatum, meanwhile, has been a consistent contributor for Boston. However, his averages of 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game don’t quite hold up on the level of Mitchell and Simmons.

Moreover, although the 20-year-old forward has been playing well for the Celtics in the playoffs—even helping them reach the Eastern Conference Finals—it should be noted that the voters made their picks before the postseason.

The NBA awards night is scheduled on June 26 at 9:00 a.m. (GMT+8).

Messi bags European Golden Shoe for fifth time

Lionel Messi makes it to yet another sports news headline as he wins the fifth Golden Shoe of his career

Lionel Messi beats Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane to win his fifth Golden Shoe award

Lionel Messi showed European football fans once again why he is the best scorer in the continent.

The Barcelona star claimed the European Golden Shoe after finishing the La Liga season with 34 goals, leaving him well ahead of nearest challengers Mo Salah (32 goals) and Harry Kane (30 goals).

Messi’s goal tally translated to a Golden Shoe score of 68 points based on the league’s coefficient, while Salah ended with 64 and Kane at 60.

The Argentine was trailing Salah in April, but he scored eight goals in their last six league games to finish two ahead of the Egyptian King.

Salah, in contrast, failed to maintain his scoring form and scored just four goals for Liverpool after the end of March.

It’s Messi’s fifth time winning the award, more than any other player in history. He claimed the Golden Shoe last year, as well as in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished second in scoring in La Liga with 26 goals, is now behind Messi in the award tally. The Portuguese talisman has won it four times, in 2008 with Manchester United and in 2011, 2014 and 2015 with Los Blancos.

Nainggolan quits on international football after Belgium snub

Radja Nainggolan headlines sports news as he has been left out of Belgium's World Cup squad

AS Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan retires from international football following World Cup snub

Radja Nainggolan is done playing for Belgium.

The Roma midfielder announced his retirement from international football in the wake of his omission from the Red Devils’ squad that will be sent to Russia for this summer’s FIFA World Cup 2018.

Nainggolan helped Roma finish third in the Serie A and reach the Champions League semi-final, but his performance this season was not enough to convince Belgium coach Roberto Martinez that he is a right fit for the team.

Martinez, however, explained that the decision to leave Nainggolan is for “tactical reasons” and even went on to say that he visited and talked with the 30-year-old in Rome.

“Over the last two years, we have worked in a very attacking way, a very specific system and manner, and other players had those roles. Radja has a very important role in his club, and I don’t feel we can give him that in the national team. He’s not a player to be used in a small role,” Martinez added.

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Kings of the World: LeBron, Messi and the World Cup Giants!

LeBron James and Lionel Messi are the biggest names in the world of sports, and they continue to impress as they cement their legacy in their respective fields.

James is currently aiming to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to another NBA Finals appearance, while Messi recently got the job done as he catapulted Barcelona to the La Liga title—in record-breaking fashion.

For today’s sports news and updates, us takes a look at some interesting statistics about the two “Kings.” In preparation for the upcoming World Cup 2018, we also take a trip down memory lane and feature the tournament’s biggest winners.

LeBron James leaning on history to beat Celtics

LeBron James keeps on creating sports news as he eyes to seal an NBA Final slot for the Cavaliers

Eastern Conference Final Game 4 looks exciting with LeBron James leading Cleveland Cavaliers for another victory

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are now down 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals; and while that doesn’t look like a good thing, history suggests otherwise.The Cavaliers recently blow out the Boston Celtics by 30 points, thanks to LeBron’s double-double and a better offensive effort from the rest of the Wine and Gold crew. With the victory, the Cavs cut the Celts’ series lead to just one heading to Game 4.

While Boston still have the advantage, LeBron’s record when down 2-1 gives the Cavs some hope. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the King and his teams have won in the last three Eastern Conference playoff series that they faced the same deficit.

Most recently is their first-round victory over the Indiana Pacers which ended in full seven games. The Cavs were always the ones trailing in the series before taking the lead in Game 7—when it mattered most.

The other two times that it happened were in 2015 and 2012. In the 2015 Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Cavs went down 2-1 to the Chicago Bulls before winning the next three games. The exact same thing happened in 2012 when LeBron helped the Miami Heat overcome the Paul George-led Pacers in six games.

It remains to be seen if LeBron can power the Cavs to replicate that feat. However, they have a good chance of doing so as they play Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Lionel Messi finishes La Liga in style, hits another 30-goal season

Lionel Messi makes it to the headline of most sports news sites after finishing another record-breaking La Liga season

Lionel Messi’s La Liga 2017/18 season in numbers

Lionel Messi is a giant in the football world—perhaps the biggest of them all—and that’s in no way a slight on his diminutive stature that earned him the nickname of La Pulga.

The Barcelona star proved to fans once again why he is considered the best, finishing as La Liga’s top scorer with 34 goals while also leading the league in most categories when it comes to offence.

Interestingly, Messi is the first player in La Liga history to score 30-plus goals in seven different seasons. He did it from 2010 to 2013 and from 2015 to 2017. In 2014, the year that he failed to reach the 30-goal mark, he scored 27 league goals.

Furthermore, his 12 assists this year is the most in the league, a clear proof that he’s not onl

y a remarkable scorer but also a terrific distributor. His assist tally is tied with Barca teammate Luis Suarez and Villarreal’s Pablo Fornals.

Messi’s season-long brilliance helped the Catalans reclaim the La Liga title comfortably, finishing 14 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid and 17 up of defending champions Real Madrid.

He also led Barca to a 36-game undefeated streak in the league this season and 43 overall, dating back to last season.

Germany, Brazil look to extend World Cup glory

Brazil and Germany remain to be on top of sports news sites favourites to win the World Cup 2018

Brazil and Germany both eye to add another silverware under their name by winning the World Cup 2018

Germany and Brazil are the winningest nations in World Cup history, and they will look to extend their record in the World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Defending champions Germany, who are looking for their fifth title, will have their hopes up considering that they are the top-ranked team in the world.  They went 10 for 10 in the European qualifiers and are one of the early favourites to lift the trophy in Moscow.

In fact, according to a World Cup simulation from UBS, the Germans are predicted to win the big event, with Brazil and Spain some distance behind.

Sure enough, the Brazilians will be keen to prove otherwise. After all, they are hungry for victory following their humiliating 7-1 semi-final loss to Germany—of all teams—in 2014.

The Selecao have already won the tournament five times, and there’s no better way to erase the bitter aftertaste of their home embarrassment than with a sixth trophy.

Fortunately, they have a strong supporter in footballing legend Pele, who is considered one of the best players of all time. In a recent statement, the 77-year-old insisted that the arrival of Tite makes the Brazilians sure-fire winners in the tournament.

Argentina and Uruguay are the other two nations to have won the World Cup multiple times, and they will be confident to add more to their trophy cabinet. Meanwhile, four-time winners Italy are set to miss the event after failing to qualify.

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Valverde hails ‘magic’ man Iniesta

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde accepts it will be difficult to replace departing club great Andres Iniesta, who he describes as a 'player with a special type of magic'.

Iniesta bowed out at Barca during a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad, with the 34-year-old attacking midfielder having made 674 appearances for the club, helping them to a huge haul of trophies during his 16 years in the first team.

Iniesta has won nine league titles, six Copa del Reys, three UEFA Super Cups, three FIFA Club World Cups, seven Supercopa de Espana and four Champions league crowns with Barca.

He has also helped Spain to triumphs at the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, as well as the 2010 World Cup, where he scored the extra-time winner against the Netherlands in the final.

And Valverde accepts that there is no chance of finding a like-for-like replacement for such a figure and says he will have to work on his options to try and pug the gap.

Valverde said after an emotional evening in the Camp Nou: "He's a player with a special type of magic. He makes easy what we all find difficult and this is the essence of his football.

"I feel privileged to have coached Iniesta like all the others before me. We're talking about a unique, one-of-a-kind player.

"There will never be another player like him and I had the good luck to coach him.

"We can't sign a replica because we won't find one. We'll have to readjust to another reality because the profile (of his replacement) will naturally be different."

Meanwhile, Spain are 6/1 to win the World Cup this summer, with France priced at 13/2 and holders Germany available at 9/2.

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Pep inks City extension

Pep Guardiola has signed a new three-year contract extension that ties him to Manchester City until 2021.

The Spaniard had only one year left to run on his previous deal which he signed upon arrival from Bayern Munich in June 2016.

The newly crowned Premier League champions have not wasted any time securing the long-term future of the former Barcelona boss.

The new deal could take Guardiola's total reign at City to five years – one more than his stint at the Nou Camp.

Guardiola ended his second season in English football having won the Carabao Cup and the Premier League title, with a record points haul. His first year at City had ended without silverware.

The contract extension means his deal with City is the longest commitment Guardiola has made to a club since starting his managerial career in 2008, and he says he is very excited to be hanging around at the Etihad Stadium.

"I am so happy and excited. It's a pleasure to work here," he said.

"I enjoy working with our players every day and we will try to do our best together in the coming years. As a manager, you have to feel good to be with the players – and I feel good."

Man City are 4/6 to retain their title in next season's Premier League, with neighbours Man United 6/1 and Liverpool now 5/1.

Guardiola is eager to keep improving City's fortunes.

"I will focus on the desire of my players to become a better team and every day that's what I will try to do – to improve on the pitch and improve our players," added Guardiola.

"We have a young squad with an average age of 23 and we want to keep taking steps forward and maintain the levels we've achieved this season."

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What a Football Gambling Shock for Barca Fans!

Wow! What about that? La Liga Champions Barcelona were stunned in Valencia as they lost 5-4 to Levante, and the Catalan’s season of invincibility is over.

Barca put on a defensive display of mind-boggling generosity, and live betting markets went wild, as Levante roared into a 5-1 lead. What betting odds would you have had on Emmanuel Boateng scoring a hat-trick? But the Levante star did just that to spark a game to remember for the home fans. A double from Ennis

Bardhi made it five, but Barca roared back as Philippe Coutinho scored his own hat-trick and Luis Suarez added a penalty before the hosts held out for an historic win.

It wasn’t bad entertainment at the Bernabeu either where Gareth Bale put in a classy performance as Real Madrid hammered Celta Vigo 6-0 to stay in the hunt for second place, and send a warning to Liverpool. Whether this result will have an impact on Champions League betting patterns is open to debate, but you can bet your bottom dollar Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will have noticed!

Bale scored the first two in Real Madrid’s destruction of Celta, the second a super strike into the top corner, to put himself in contention for a Champions League final place. Isco made it three, before the promising Achraf Hakimi added a fourth and Toni Kroos rounded off the scoring after an own goal had stretched the lead. Meanwhile, an eighth minute goal from Koke was enough to keep second-placed Atletico Madrid three points ahead of their rivals with a 0-1 win against Getafe, though Jan Oblak had to save a second half penalty from Faycal Fajr to secure the points.

Valencia had a 0-1 win away to Girona, thanks to Luciano Vietto, to stay in fourth, while Samu Castillejo scored twice as fifth placed Villarreal beat relegated Deportivo La Coruna 4-2. Real Betis qualified for the Europa League thanks to a 2-2 draw away to Sevilla, and elsewhere, there were wins for Espanyol, Real Sociedad, Alaves and Eibar, in the penultimate round of the season.

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Atleti ‘fed-up’ with Barca

Atletico Madrid have admitted they are now 'fed-up' with Barcelona's public courting of striker Antoine Griezmann.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu this week said he had met with Griezmann's agent earlier this season.

Atletico reported Barcelona to Fifa over an alleged illegal approach for their forward earlier this season.

Atletico chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin says they have now grown tired of Barcelona's approach, which the club feel lacks respect.

"We're fed up with Barcelona's attitude," said Marin, as Diego Simeone and his players countdown towards the Europa League final with Marseille on 16th May.

Early in the New Year, Barcelona were forced to deny reports they had already agreed a deal to sign Griezmann this summer.

The French international forward is under contract in the Spanish capital until 2022 and Atletico have no desire to see the player leave.

"Atletico Madrid's stance is very clear and has been made public on numerous occasions – not once have we negotiated for Griezmann nor do we have any intention to do so," said Marin.

Atletico are 11/20 to win the Europa League final next week, while Marseille are 11/2 and the draw is priced at 14/5 for the showpiece game in Lyon.

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