EPL

Chelsea agree deal for Ecuadorian teenager Kendry Paez

By Sports Desk June 05, 2023

Chelsea have agreed a deal to sign midfielder Kendry Paez from Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle with the teenager joining the club when he turns 18 – in 2025.

Paez has just six senior appearances to his name and became the youngest debutant and goalscorer in the Ecuadorian top flight having found the net when he made his bow in February.

Paez also made his Copa Libertadores debut in a win over Corinthians at the start of last month.

The 16-year-old captained his country at the Under-17 Copa America and registered a goal and three assists as he started all four of Ecuador’s recent Under-20 World Cup matches.

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    Brazil began their Copa America campaign with a frustrating goalless draw against Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium.

    The Selecao dominated large periods of the Group D clash. Marquinhos saw a goal ruled out following a VAR review, while Lucas Paqueta rattled the woodwork from distance.

    Yet despite enjoying just under three-quarters of the possession and registering 19 shots to their opponents' two, they could not find the breakthrough and failed to win their opening match in the competition for the first time since 2016.

    Dorival Junior's side subsequently lost early ground on Group D leaders Colombia, who beat Paraguay 2-1 earlier in the day.

    Brazil quickly asserted their authority on proceedings in California as they sought the game's opening goal.

    Rodrygo steered a shot wide following a jinking run into the penalty area, while Raphinha was denied by Patrick Sequeira after latching onto a diagonal ball over the top of the Costa Rica defence.

    The Selecao thought they had broken the deadlock on the half-hour mark when Marquinhos applied the finishing touch after Rodrygo glanced Raphinha's free-kick towards the far post, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside following a VAR review. 

    Rodrygo fired narrowly over in first-half stoppage time and, then on 63 minutes, Lucas Paqueta saw his ferocious 25-yard drive crash against Sequeira's left upright.

    Dorival withdrew the quiet Vinicius Junior in favour of Endrick and Savinho for the final 20 minutes, and both looked dangerous upon their introductions.

    The latter's cross almost saw Costa Rica defender Haxzel Quiros head into his own net with his blushes spared by Sequeira, who then beat away Guilherme Arana's fierce volley.

    Savinho was involved again in stoppage time as he teed up one final opportunity for Bruno Guimaraes, who bent his first-time shot narrowly wide to compound a frustrating start to the tournament for the nine-time winners.

    Selecao stutter on return to States

    It is fair to say Brazil do not boost particularly fond recent memories of playing in the United States in recent years.

    After all, the Selecao crashed out in the group stages when the Copa America was last held in this nation eight years ago.

    Neymar, who was part of that side, watched on from the stands having been ruled out of this tournament through injury.

    Try as they may, his team-mates just could not break down their opponents and turn their dominance into the elusive goal, with just three of their 19 attempts on target.

    Fresh from playing a starring role in Real Madrid’s LaLiga and Champions League double, Vinicius Junior was unable to inspire his nation – his tallies of 45 touches and 23 passes were the lowest recorded by any of Brazil’s outfield starters.

    On a brighter note, Marquinhos made his 16th Copa America appearance – with only Dani Alves (19) and Thiago Silva (18) playing more times for the Selecao in the competition since 2000 – though a VAR review prevented him from marking the occasion with a goal.

    Another clean sheet for repellent Costa Rica

    Costa Rica were heavy underdogs on their return to the Copa America for the first time in eight years.

    Not since 2004 have Los Ticos progressed from the group stages of this competition, but they certainly know what it takes to claim a scalp on the big stage.

    Exactly 10 years ago, they beat Uruguay and Italy to top Group D, which also featured England, on the way to reaching the World Cup quarter-finals.

    Fast forward a decade and Joel Campbell, who was part of that side, came off the bench for his 140th cap as his nation halted a run of nine successive defeats by Brazil. 

    More impressively, Costa Rica have kept clean sheets in each of their last four competitive games.

    Their failure to record a single shot on target for the first time in a Copa America match since 2011 will be a slight concern, but that defensive stubbornness will stand them in good stead as they look to progress in this tournament.

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    Barnabas Varga has undergone successful surgery and will leave hospital on Wednesday, after suffering a facial fracture during Hungary's dramatic 1-0 win over Scotland at Euro 2024.

    The forward required urgent medical attention after colliding with Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn in the 68th minute of the crucial Group A encounter in Munich on Sunday.

    There was a lengthy stoppage in play, with Varga's team-mates forming a protective wall around him for privacy during treatment.

    The 29-year-old left the field on a stretcher and was taken to hospital, but was in a stable condition before his surgery.

    A statement from the Hungarian Football Federation read: "According to the information of the institution's doctors specialising in facial injuries, the intervention was uncomplicated, so the attacker can leave the hospital on Wednesday."

    Varga's wife Laura Skrapits also shared a picture on Instagram, accompanied by the message: "Thank you for the kind, supportive messages. Barni is over the surgery. A little rest awaits him, but everything will be fine."

    Kevin Csoboth's 100th-minute strike secured third place for Hungary in Group A, boosting their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.

    The team dedicated their victory to Varga, holding aloft his number 19 jersey as they saluted their supporters.

  • Euro 2024 social round-up: Football, eh? Italy snatch a last-16 place and England debate rolls on Euro 2024 social round-up: Football, eh? Italy snatch a last-16 place and England debate rolls on

    Gary Lineker has been at the centre of something of a storm when it comes to England at Euro 2024, and that story was plastered over social media on Monday.

    Then, the football took control, with Spain keeping up their winning run and Italy salvaging a draw against Croatia to claim a spot in the last 16.

    Here, we unpack the best of the day's social media clips from the tournament in Germany.

     

    Football, eh?

    Football... It's crazy! 

    With a minute to go, Italy - the holders - were on the brink of a possible exit, with Croatia leading 1-0 in Leipzig.

    Yet within 30 seconds, Mattia Zaccagni's maiden Azzurri goal had sent Italy through into the last 16, and it's Croatia who are on the verge of an early departure.

    Lineker responds

    There was a lot left to be desired following England's performance in their 1-1 draw with Denmark, but it is the post-match criticism that has since drawn the most attention.

    In particular, Lineker's comments were brought to the attention of Harry Kane in a recent press conference, with the England captain urging the pundits to support the squad.

    With the ball back in Lineker's court, he - along with fellow pundit Alan Shearer - had his say on the ongoing debate.

    Ferdinand chips into pundit debate

    Rio Ferdinand has done his fair share of punditry, and the former England defender had his say on the Lineker debate.

    Ferdinand said the England players shouldn't expect pundits to act as "cheerleaders" when the team aren't performing.

    Strike a pose

    With qualification for the knockout stages already complete, Portugal do not have to worry about any pressure going into their final match against Georgia.

    And while taking some time off during training, Joao Felix decided to try his hand at something a little different.

    We may even see some of his photos popping up on Portugal's official X account in the coming days.

    A family affair

    Among the travelling Spanish fans are a family of nine, who have made a 2000km journey to watch their nation at the tournament.

    After finally reaching their destination, they got to meet Ferran Torres, Marc Cucurella and Dani Vivian.

    Torres subsequently starred for Spain as La Roja stayed perfect in Group B by beating Albania, with the Barcelona forward scoring the only goal of the game.

    French cuisine 

    Ever wondered what an international footballer does at lunchtime?

    Well, fortunately for you, the French team allowed their social admins into the inner sanctum.

    Scholes backs Mainoo for big things

    More punditry relating to England, and this time it was Paul Scholes who had his say.

    Scholes thinks Kobbie Mainoo, who has had an impressive season with Manchester United, could be the player to pull the strings in midfield for the Three Lions.

    Vertonghen sees into the future

    Jan Vertonghen is playing in his sixth major tournament for Belgium, and his third Euros.

    Sitting down at Belgium's 'The Basecamp', the veteran defender was given a glimpse of what he will look like if he chooses to forgo retirement and keep playing with the help of AI.

    While Vertonghen was seemingly happy with the results, Maxim De Cuyper was not so impressed.

    The grind never stops

    Cristiano Ronaldo will make his 50th appearance at a major tournament the next time he features at Euro 2024.

    And even though Portugal are already through, the work on the training field never stops for the 39-year-old...

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