Tom Brady said on Monday he has yet to decide whether or not he will retire from the NFL before next season.

It was reported by ESPN on Saturday that the record seven-time Super Bowl champion would bow out of the game after 22 seasons, although his agent, Don Yee, later insisted that nothing was certain until Brady himself made an announcement.

Rumours emerged prior to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Divisional Round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams that the 44-year-old was non-committal about playing beyond the 2021 season.

The New England Patriots great previously expressed a desire to play to age 45 and was open to the idea of continuing until he turned 50, although he admitted after the defeat to the Rams that his family had become a priority when it came to his future plans.

Brady has now made it clear that he will not rush into any decision as he considers his next move.

"I'm still going through the process that I said I was going through," Brady said on the Let's Go! podcast. "Sometimes it takes some time to really evaluate how you feel, what you want to do and I think when the time is right I'll be ready to make a decision one way or the other.

"It's always a good line that I'm responsible for what I say and do, and not responsible for what others say or do. I think one thing I've learned about sports is that you control what you can control, and what you can't, you leave to others.

"We're in such an era of information and people want to be in front of the news often and I totally understand that. I understand that's the environment we're in. But I think for me, it's literally day-to-day with me. I'm just trying to do the best I can every day, evaluate things as they come, and I'm trying to make a great decision for me and my family.

"Like I've always said, I'm very blessed to play as long as I have. As things have gone on in the later parts of my career, whether that was five years ago or even this year, there's a lot of interest in when I'm going to stop playing. I understand that. It's not that I don't recognise that. When I know, I'll know. When I don't know, I don't know. I'm not going to race to some conclusion about that."

It was put to Brady that the reports around his supposed retirement could rekindle a desire to keep playing in 2022, but he said: "I think my motivation for playing football is to win and be successful and maybe there's little parts of motivation that comes from different places or what people may say or think, but I'm mostly motivated from inside and wanting to be the best for my team-mates and my coaches and my organisations.

"That's kind of where my motivation has been for a long time."

Everton have completed the signing of Dele Alli from Tottenham, with the England midfielder becoming Frank Lampard's second acquisition as Toffees manager.

Lampard was only officially confirmed as Everton's manager on Monday, though the club have moved quickly to back the former Chelsea boss, whose initial task is to guide the Merseysiders away from the Premier League relegation scrap.

Donny van de Beek came in as Lampard's first signing, with the Netherlands midfielder joining on loan from Manchester United for the rest of the season.

And Everton have further bolstered their midfield options by bringing in Alli, who has endured another frustrating season at Tottenham.

The transfer was not confirmed until more than an hour after the 23:00 GMT cut-off point for deals to go through in the Premier League, with Everton being granted extra time to finalise a deal after requesting permission.

It has been reported that the 25-year-old, who has agreed to a two-and-a-half-year deal at Goodison Park, could cost Everton up to £40million should various clauses be triggered.

"I'm delighted to have signed for Everton, a huge club with a great fanbase and history," Alli said. "I'm eager to get started and can't wait for my first game in an Everton shirt.

"I'm looking forward to helping the team and the opportunity to work with the new manager Frank Lampard."

One of the brightest talents in the Premier League when he burst onto the scene under Mauricio Pochettino in 2015-16, Alli's influence at Spurs has faded in recent seasons.

Alli scored 10 top-flight goals in his first season at Spurs, and improved that tally to 18 in 2016-17. He has not managed double figures in the league since, however, and went the entirety of last season without finding the net in the competition.

He was utilised in a three-man midfield by Nuno Espirito Santo at the start of the season, and scored from the penalty spot in a win over Wolves in August, though that is the only league goal he has managed in 657 minutes of action, and he has not featured regularly under Antonio Conte.

Yet Lampard is seemingly confident he can reinvigorate the former MK Dons player, who has also lost his place in Gareth Southgate's England set up in recent seasons.

Alli joins an Everton side sitting in 16th place, just four points above the relegation places. Like Van de Beek, he is cup-tied for Lampard's first match in charge against Brentford in the FA Cup on Saturday, but his debut could come against fellow strugglers Newcastle United on February 8.

Mauricio Pochettino was made to rue Paris Saint-Germain's lack of creativity during their Coupe de France exit to Nice.

The holders crashed out of the competition as they lost 6-5 on penalties following a goalless draw at Parc des Princes.

PSG loanee Marcin Bulka was the hero during the shoot-out, saving penalties from Leandro Paredes and Xavi Simons to end his parent club's 14-match unbeaten streak in the competition.

Despite registering 10 attempts and 68.2 per cent of possession, Pochettino's side failed to score in the competition for the first time since defeat by Lille in the 2011 showpiece.

Pochettino urged his players to switch focus to their domestic and continental endeavours after a disappointing result.

"We were better than Nice overall," he said. "We didn't create enough chances to score goals and win this game before the penalties. 

"We should have been more efficient in the last few metres. Then, it's a lottery.

"Even though we were better, we didn't do what was necessary to win the game. 

"We must remain optimistic: we still have Ligue 1 and the Champions League as objectives."

Pochettino also defended his decision to start Kylian Mbappe on the bench, before introducing the France international in the 64th minute.

"Kylian Mbappe had physical discomfort in the last days few days," he added.

"With the advice of the medical staff, the agreement was that he would not start the match. If he needed to do 30 or 35 minutes in the game, he could do them."

Arsenal have agreed a deal to sign Colorado Rapids defender Auston Trusty.

The United States Under-20 international, who has made 41 appearances for the Rapids, will remain on loan with the MLS club until July 17.

Arsenal then intend to loan the 23-year-old out to a European team for the 2022-23 campaign to further his development.

The transfer, which remains subject to the completion of regulatory processes, was confirmed by Arsenal and Colorado – both owned by Stan Kroenke – on Monday.

Trusty made 33 appearances for the Rapids during the 2021 regular season and led the team for minutes played with 2,970.

The tall centre-back chipped in with one goal and three assists, while also ranking joint-fifth for interceptions in MLS last season with 59.

He played a part in 12 clean sheets to help the Rapids finish top of the Western Conference, but they were beaten by the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup playoffs.

While he has yet to represent USA at senior level, the Pennsylvania-born defender was part of their roster for this month's training camp in Phoenix.

Colorado general manager Padraig Smith told the club's official website: "Auston is coming off an exceptional season in 2021 in which he played a vital role in helping us finish atop the Western Conference for the first time in our history.

"We remain committed to bringing through the top young players from Colorado and across the United States and to providing them with a platform to flourish, achieve success in MLS and earn the chance to make a move to Europe. 

"Auston's outstanding performances caught the eye of several European clubs over the past 12 months and we are privileged to be part of an organisation with the reach and scale of Kroenke Sports Entertainment that allows us to help a player of Auston's potential further his development and career aspirations in Europe."

Arsenal are closing in on another player from MLS, meanwhile, with New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena confirming last week that the Gunners are in advanced talks to sign goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Turner was voted MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021 after helping the Revs to Supporters' Shield success and has been capped 15 times by USA at senior level.

Paris Saint-Germain crashed out of the Coupe de France as they were beaten 6-5 on penalties by Nice after a 0-0 draw at Parc des Princes.

Marcin Bulka was the hero as he denied Leandro Paredes and Xavi Simons in the shoot-out to send the visitors through to the quarter-finals.

The PSG loanee ended the holders' 14-match winning run in the competition, while halting their quest for a third straight triumph.

Mauricio Pochettino's side also failed to score in a Coupe de France tie for the first time since losing 1-0 to Lille in the 2011 final.

Unbeaten in their eight previous meetings with Nice in all competitions, PSG welcomed Lionel Messi back into the starting line-up for the first time in a month.

The Argentina skipper was involved in the hosts' best chance of the first half as he combined with Ander Herrera to tee up Marco Verratti, who swept a shot just wide of the far post.

At the other end, Amine Gouiri tried his luck with an ambitious effort from distance, but it flew straight into the arms of Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The Italy international was also called into action just after the restart, producing smart reflexes to deny Justin Kluivert from a tight angle.

Having watched his side register just a single shot on target, Pochettino introduced Kylian Mbappe in the 63rd minute for his 200th PSG appearance.

But it was the visitors who went close to snatching a dramatic winner, Danilo Pereira blocking Kluivert with five minutes remaining, while Jean-Clair Todibo got in the way of Messi's goalbound effort at the other end.

The first five kicks of the subsequent shoot-out were successful before Bulka kept out Paredes' tame effort, although Donnarumma immediately denied Andy Delort in return.

Dante's timely Panenka put Nice in control as it went into sudden death, before Simons' attempt was beaten away by Bulka.

Tom Brady may or may not retire. Despite the backlash at seemingly premature reports of the end of his career, there is a strong chance the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be looking to replace the greatest of all time this offseason.

The Buccaneers do have an in-house option but, if head coach Bruce Arians stays on board as expected, it is likely he will want a quarterback who can help an extremely talented team, albeit one that could lose some of that talent in free agency, contend for further Super Bowls.

So who could be in line to take the reins under center from Brady?

Stats Perform looks at the young gun who may have the substantial challenge of stepping into Brady's shoes and, with free agent options thin on the ground, three players they could target in a trade to run the offense.

 

Kyle Trask

The Buccaneers selected Trask, a Heisman Trophy finalist in his final year at Florida in 2020, in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Tampa Bay probably would have liked him to have another year of seasoning before throwing him in at the deep end, but they may now have to consider whether he is ready to make the leap to the starting role in the pros.

Trask led the FBS in passing touchdowns with 43 in his final season with the Gators and, though there should be cause for concern over an elongated throwing motion and his decision-making, his play under pressure in college in 2020 was encouraging.

Indeed, Trask delivered a well-thrown ball on 74.56 of his pass attempts when under pressure – only three Power 5 quarterbacks (min. 50 attempts under pressure) fared better.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo is almost certain to be on the trade market after he crumbled in the fourth quarter of the San Francisco 49ers' NFC Championship Game defeat to the Los Angeles Rams. 

With Trey Lance waiting in the wings, the Niners will likely look to recoup what they can for a quarterback who helped them reach Super Bowl LIV in the 2019 season.

Despite his 31-14 record in the regular season with the 49ers, the Buccaneers may be reticent to strike a deal for a quarterback whose skill set would not appear to mesh well with Arians' aggressive downfield passing attack.

Garoppolo averaged just 7.51 air yards per attempt in 2021, the eighth-fewest among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.

Russell Wilson

If you want downfield aggressiveness, look no further than Wilson.

Only Justin Fields (10.02) averaged more air yards per attempt than Wilson (10) in 2021, while another rookie, Davis Mills (114.6) was the sole quarterback to have a higher passer rating on attempts of 21 air yards or more (114.0) among signal-callers with at least 25 attempts of that distance.

The stylistic fit is obvious, and the Buccaneers critically have the offensive line to satisfy Wilson's main issue with the Seattle Seahawks, a lack of pass protection.

But, with an aging core, it is debatable at best whether the Bucs would consider mortgaging their future in a blockbuster trade for Wilson, and it's still not clear whether Seattle would even come to the table.

Aaron Rodgers

The potential biggest prize out there on the trade market seems like the largest long shot for the Bucs.

Rodgers would no doubt be able to adapt to Arians' offense and, if the Bucs keep hold of Chris Godwin, he would be thrilled with the receiving corps he would have at his disposal.

Yet there are signs of an improving relationship between Rodgers and the Packers' brass and perhaps a willingness to give it another go even after this season's playoff failure.

If Rodgers does decide he wants to go elsewhere, the Denver Broncos would be the favourites to land him having hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach. The Bucs may have to give it the hard sell to land Rodgers.

Tyrann Mathieu is hopeful he can re-sign with the Kansas City Chiefs following their agonising AFC Championship defeat by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The safety is now a free agent following the expiration of his contract after three years at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs were denied a third successive Super Bowl appearance on Sunday after suffering a 27-24 overtime defeat against the Bengals, despite leading 21-3 during the second quarter.

That signalled the end of Mathieu's stint in Missouri, where both parties failed to agree on extending his contract ahead of the 2021 season.

Despite the disappointment, the 29-year-old applauded the efforts of his team-mates and hopes a deal for him to remain with the franchise can be struck.

"I hope so," he said. "Ever since I came here, I just try to be the right kind of team-mate; I try to play my part. 

"It's always that feeling that you could make more plays for your team, but I'm hoping it works out. I don't have any control over that. 

"I feel like everything that is within my control – I tried my best to handle it and do it with a smile. I love this team; I love this locker room. There are a lot of coaches I have great relationships with. I am hoping.

"We still feel like we are the best team in the NFL. The best team doesn't always win; it's the team that plays well and makes the plays that day. 

"I am just extremely proud to come to work with these guys."

West Indies Under-19s secured an eight-wicket win over Zimbabwe Under-19s to finish 11th in the ICC Men’s Under-19 Cricket World Cup on Monday.

In the match played at the Diego Martin Sports Complex in Trinidad and Tobago, Zimbabwe Under-19s won the toss and elected to bat first.

This proved to be a good decision as they batted well to amass 256-4 off their 50 overs thanks to half-centuries from David Bennett who made 77 not out off 105 balls and Brian Bennett, who made 62 off 84 balls. Connor Mitchell provided the Zimbabweans with an important late innings push with 42 not out off 26 balls.

Johann Layne took 2-44 off seven overs for the West Indies.

A pair of stunning innings from Kevin Wickham and Teddy Bishop ensured the West Indies chased their target without much trouble.

Wickham scored a well-played 104 off 116 balls with 17 fours.

The 18-year-old Barbadian, who was originally one of the reserves for the squad, got his third score of 50 or more in four matches in the tournament after getting 56 against Sri Lanka and 61 against Papua New Guinea.

Bishop got the second hundred of the innings and third for the West Indies in the tournament with a brilliant 112 not out off 121 balls with 11 fours and one six.

Rivaldo Clarke got 28 not out and was at the crease with Bishop when the young Windies eventually got to 262-2 off 49.2 overs to seal the win.

Wickham, with 243 runs in four innings including one hundred and two fifties, was the West Indies leading runs scorer while pace bowler Shiva Sankar was the team’s leading wicket-taker with nine scalps in six matches.

Donny van de Beek is expecting "to learn a lot" from new Everton boss Frank Lampard after completing a loan switch to Goodison Park from Manchester United.

The Netherlands international has been given an opportunity to kick-start his career with Everton in the second half of 2021-22 following a frustrating time at United.

Van de Beek failed to start a single Premier League game for the Red Devils this term and has started just 19 games in all competitions since joining from Ajax in September 2020.

To put that into context, 19 others have started more games for United over that period, with Bruno Fernandes leading the way (76).

Indeed, only once has Van de Beek started back-to-back games for the Red Devils in all competitions – against Istanbul Basaksehir and Southampton in November 2020.

But the 24-year-old believes he can enhance his game by playing under Lampard, who was officially appointed as Rafael Benitez's successor earlier on Monday.

Lampard is the highest-scoring midfielder in Premier League history with 177 goals and is fourth overall in the competition for assists with 102.

"I had a really positive meeting with the new coach. We have the same ideas about football and he had a lot of influence on my decision," Van de Beek told Everton TV.

"I played against him when I was at Ajax, and he was at Chelsea [as head coach], so he knows me as a player. He thinks I have qualities that can help the team.

"I can learn a lot from him because he was a little bit in the same position – a midfield player who scored a lot of goals. He can help me a lot, so I think I'm in a good spot.

"I want to improve with Everton. There are always things that can be better and I work hard every day to do that."

Van de Beek has scored just two goals and assisted the same number across 50 appearances for United in all competitions.

He has shown glimpses of his quality when used, though, with Fernandes (0.66) the only United regular to create more big chances per 90 minutes than Van de Beek (0.34).

And with an opportunity to showcase the talent that made him one of Europe's top properties when at Ajax, Van de Beek is relishing the chance to get going for Everton.

"I hope to bring my football qualities, my passing, and, of course, scoring goals," he said.

"It is a big part of my game to score and give assists and I will try to do that again. And it is not only offensive, you have to defend as a midfielder and I can do that as well.

"I want to show my qualities, my strengths, to the people in England – but especially the fans from Everton. The most important thing is we win games and go up the table. 

"We have good players in the team and the talent and ability to go up in the league. But, for that, we need to work hard and I want to be part of this.

"Everton is a big club, with big players, the history and amazing fans. The club has everything to go up and be higher in the table.

"I played at Goodison twice last season without fans… it will be lovely to see the stadium full."

Van de Beek, who could make his debut in next Tuesday's Premier League visit to Newcastle United, added: "I'm fit. I train a lot for myself and I was training a lot with the team at United. 

"I have a few days to train fully and I'm sure I'll be there [ready for Newcastle]."

It's not how you start, it's how you finish. The old adage rang true for the victorious defenses on Conference Championship weekend.

A stunning upset pulled off by the Cincinnati Bengals appeared extremely unlikely when they fell 21-3 behind to the Kansas City Chiefs.

But the Chiefs scored just three points across the second half and overtime, with Patrick Mahomes intercepted twice as the Bengals fought back to claim an improbable 27-24 win.

Similarly, the Los Angeles Rams looked to be on the ropes at 17-7 down to the San Francisco 49ers when Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle for a 16-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

Yet the Rams outscored the Niners 13-0 in the fourth, Garoppolo and the San Francisco attack collapsing when the pressure was at its highest.

So how did both the Bengals and the Rams stymie their opponents when it mattered most and punch their tickets to Super Bowl LVI?

The name's Hubbard, Sam Hubbard

Arguably as important to stopping Mahomes through the air was the move the Bengals made to prevent him from doing damage with his legs.

The Bengals deployed defensive end Sam Hubbard as a de-facto spy of Mahomes, protecting against him rolling out and making throws on the move, as he did twice for touchdowns in the first half, or picking up yardage on the ground.

That meant relying on their coverage to hold up while sending only three-man rushes up front. The Bengals rushed three on 23.9 per cent of their defensive snaps, and the results speak for themselves.

Mahomes attempted just six passes on the move and had five scrambles for an average of just one yard per carry. In other words, when there was not a clear option for Mahomes when operating from the pocket, the possibility to escape and extend the play was taken away.

Travis Kelce had 10 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown while Tyreek Hill registered seven catches for 78 yards and a score. However, Hill did not have a catch after the first half and Kelce only had one across that second half and overtime that went for double-digit yardage, the Bengals' ploy of sporadically bracketing both working perfectly.

The combination of Hubbard's deployment in an unfamiliar role and the attention paid to both Kelce and Hill led to the sight of a quarterback who was unstoppable in the Divisional Round running backwards as the pocket collapsed in a vain effort to produce explosive plays that were not there.

Mahomes had done an excellent job down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs of being patient and taking what the defense gave him. In the second half against Cincinnati, the Bengals afforded him no options, and that patience ran out.

Rams give no room to run

The Rams did not need to lure Garoppolo into the bad decision, as Los Angeles knew that, with enough pressure on the much-maligned 49ers quarterback, a mistake is always on the horizon.

Los Angeles only pressured Garoppolo 12 times, but the pass rush came at the ideal time in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter as Aaron Donald and Co. took advantage of a banged-up offensive line when it mattered most.

The level of joy the Rams enjoyed late on was in part a result of their success in defending the run.

With the scoreboard turning rapidly in Los Angeles' favour, San Francisco became one-dimensional having been consistently stymied by the Rams' run defense.

The often dominant 49ers running game was held to 2.5 yards per carry, putting the emphasis on Garoppolo and his O-Line to deliver.

Niners tight end Kittle explained San Francisco's struggles running the ball were down to the Rams employing a new wrinkle in blitzing the A and B gaps when the 49ers went in motion, leading to stacked boxes.

As Kittle put it: "It's hard to run the ball when there are nine guys in the box."

After erasing the Niners' 10-point lead, the Rams' defense could go in attack mode with the ground game shut down and no reason to fear the opposing quarterback.

Given the struggles of the Bengals' offensive line, a similar approach could well be used in the Super Bowl.

Argentina midfielder Giovani Lo Celso has joined Villarreal on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season, with the Yellow Submarine having an option to buy.

The 25-year-old has struggled for game time in the 2021-22 campaign, having only made nine appearances in the Premier League, and only three substitute appearances in the league since the appointment of manager Antonio Conte.

With the deadline-day arrival of Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus adding even more competition for places, Lo Celso will spend the rest of the season in Spain to try to rediscover the form that saw Spurs spend big money to bring him to the club from Real Betis in 2019.

Lo Celso has scored eight goals in 86 appearances for Spurs and was a part of the Argentina squad that won last year's Copa America.

Villarreal are seventh in LaLiga, and travel to Lo Celso's former club Betis on Sunday.

Sportswear giant Nike are "deeply concerned" by allegations made against Mason Greenwood and have suspended their relationship with the Manchester United forward.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said on Sunday they had arrested a man in his 20s on suspicion of rape and assault after United suspended Greenwood following allegations made on social media.

United had said earlier in the day that 20-year-old England forward Greenwood "will not return to training or play matches until further notice".

Before announcing that decision, the club said they were "aware of images and allegations circulating" in relation to the player, stating they do "not condone violence of any kind".

Greenwood has not made a public response to the allegations.

In a statement on Monday, Nike confirmed they have put their relationship with the player on hold.

"We have suspended our relationship with Mason Greenwood," the statement read.

"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation."

Greenwood signed a first professional contract with United in October 2018 and agreed a new four-year deal last year, after establishing himself in the Premier League club's first-team squad.

Manchester United outcast Donny van de Beek has completed a loan switch to fellow Premier League side Everton.

Van de Beek has once again struggled for playing time this season, failing to start a single league game, and will now spend the remainder of 2021-22 at Goodison Park, becoming Frank Lampard's first signing.

The deal, which was confirmed by the two clubs on Monday, does not contain an option for Everton to purchase the midfielder at the end of the season.

Crystal Palace were also reportedly interested in signing Van de Beek on loan, while a number of clubs from abroad – namely Valencia – were said to be keen.

Van de Beek will be hoping to kick-start his career during his four months on Merseyside, having been restricted to just 19 starts since joining United from Ajax in September 2020.

To put that into context, 19 others have started more games for United over that period, with Bruno Fernandes leading the way (76).

Indeed, only once has he started back-to-back games for the Red Devils in all competitions – against Istanbul Basaksehir and Southampton in November 2020.

The Netherlands international joins an Everton side sitting 16th in the Premier League, only four points above the relegation zone.

However, Everton have backed Lampard immediately, with the midfield spotted as an area of concern. 

With Van de Beek through the door already, Everton are reportedly close to tying up a deal for Tottenham's Dele Alli.

Spain international Bryan Gil has joined Valencia on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season.

The 20-year-old signed for Spurs in July last year from Sevilla for a reported fee of around £21.6million (€25m), with Erik Lamela going the other way.

Bryan has featured 20 times for Tottenham this season, although all nine of his appearances in the Premier League have come from the substitutes' bench.

He has previously played on loan at Eibar and Leganes, and was a part of the Spain side that won silver at last year's Tokyo Olympics.

Bryan also has four caps for Spain's senior team and joins up with Los Che 10th in LaLiga.

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