The banged-up New York Mets got much-needed reinforcements on Monday, activating three key players from the injured list, including Kevin Pillar, who is returning just two weeks after being hit in the face by a 94 mph fastball.
Besides Pillar, the Mets activated first baseman Pete Alonso and right-handed setup man Seth Lugo. The Mets also recalled outfielder Mason Williams, who was hitting .373 at Triple-A Syracuse. Pillar was not in the starting lineup for the Mets’ game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Monday night. Alonso is scheduled to hit third, while Williams is starting in center field and batting eighth.
Pillar had been out since being hit in the face by a pitch from Braves reliever Jacob Webb on May 17 that left him bloodied with multiple nasal fractures that required surgery.
Pillar told reporters Monday that his goal is to return to the starting lineup on Wednesday. He said the bones in his nose won’t be fully healed for four-to-six weeks, so he will wear a mask while playing the field or when he’s on the bases but not when he’s batting. He said he will now have a C-Flap on his helmet to provide him a sense of security when he’s batting.
Alonso, who leads the Mets with six home runs and 19 RBIs, was placed on the IL on May 21 with a sprained right hand, while Lugo has been sidelined since undergoing elbow surgery in the offseason.
The Mets have been besieged by injuries this season, with the number reaching as high as 17 players on the IL at one point. Despite the injuries, the Mets (25-20 entering Monday’s games) are in first place in the National League East thanks to the contributions of several bench players thrust into the starting lineup.
Pillar was one of those bench players making major contributions while filling in for injured center fielder Brandon Nimmo. Other Mets starting position players still on the injured list include right fielder Michael Conforto, second baseman Jeff McNeil and third baseman J.D. Davis.
Brazil on Monday stepped in to host the Copa America football tournament, despite suffering one of the world’s worst coronavirus crises and facing a third wave of the disease. The announcement came after previous co-hosts Argentina and Colombia pulled out. The competition is due to begin within weeks.
UK investment in machinery and in information and communications technology rose 3.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the last quarter of 2019 — the last three-month period before the pandemic hit, according to Office for National Statistics data. Overall investment over the same period fell 4.8 per cent.
India’s economy expanded 1.6 per cent year on year between January and March, in a sign economic activity was recovering steadily before the country was battered by a second wave of coronavirus infections in April. The expansion followed 0.5 per cent year-on-year growth between October and December.
The OECD said global output would rise 5.8 per cent this year in a significant upgrade from the forecast of 4.2 per cent made in December. Growth of 4.4 per cent the following year would bring most of the world back to pre-pandemic levels of activity, it added. However, the OECD also warned that the recovery would be uneven.
Australia’s Qantas Airways is touting cheaper airfares and the prospect of unlimited flights to customers who have taken Covid-19 jabs. Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, said on Monday that the airline would offer discounts, frequent-flyer points, flight vouchers and “mega prizes” to people who have been vaccinated.
The vaccine developed by Oxford university and produced by AstraZeneca had once looked like the silver bullet in the fight against Covid-19: cheap, effective and easy to transport. But now there are doubts, with rare fatal side-effects and, relative to competitors, lower efficacy against new variants from India and South Africa.
The UK government is close to striking a £1bn rescue deal for Transport for London — its fourth in a year — under which it will have to accept a further, immediate budget cut and identify new money-raising schemes. If it is signed, the transport authority will have received £4.9bn in emergency funding since the start of the pandemic.
The European Medicines Agency has authorised the use of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine in adolescents aged between 12 and 15, paving the way for EU countries to start vaccinating school-age children. The approval widens the EU’s authorisation of the German-US vaccine and applies across the bloc.
Though there were no fans allowed inside the Court Philippe Chatrier stadium Monday night, due to the 9 p.m. Paris curfew aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19, Williams lit up a warm early summer’s evening with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, the world No. 74.
“I have to say it was pretty cool to be able to play the first night session ever here at Roland Garros,” she said afterward. “That was something I thoroughly enjoyed.”
The 23-time Grand Slam champion had to work for it, saving two set points in the first-set tiebreak, but she pulled away in the second to reach the second round.
Initially, there were rumors that the French Tennis Federation had planned to fill the 10 night sessions with a men’s match each night, though that was denied by Roland Garros tournament director Guy Forget.
Forget told ESPN on Monday that Williams was the perfect fit to showcase the new time slot.
“When we made the program, several options were available to us,” Forget said. “This one seemed to us symbolically the strongest and most interesting to initiate this first evening session. We are happy to welcome Serena for this historic occasion.”
Watching Williams win at night is nothing new.
According to the USTA, at the US Open — where she is a six-time champion and has won a record 106 matches — Williams has played 53 official night matches and won 44 of them.
And at the Australian Open, where Williams has captured the title seven times, she has won 14 of her 15 matches played at night, across all courts, dating back to 2008, the WTA said.
“Ironically enough, night sessions are not my favorite matches, but I do have a good record at it,” she said Monday. “Clearly something about it gets me hyped.”
Compared to the electric atmosphere Williams is used to at the US Open — with the exception of 2020 — Monday’s encounter in Paris was understandably flat, the noise of the players’ support teams the only sound other than that of racquet on ball.
But Williams, dressed in lime green, with matching shoes — emblazoned with a number of messages including one in French — “je n’arreterai jamais,” which translates to “I will never give up” — made light of the lack of atmosphere. Her performance was a vast improvement on her efforts in her two warm-up events, in Rome and Parma, where she won just one match.
Though Williams has won the title in Paris on three occasions, in 2002, 2013 and 2015, clay has always been her toughest surface. It’s a surface that gives opponents the opportunity to chase down balls that might otherwise be winners on faster hard courts or grass.
She reached the final in 2016, losing to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, but since returning to the Tour in 2018 after the birth of her daughter, Williams has not been past the last 16 in Paris.
And Begu made it tough. Williams served for the opening set at 5-3 but could not close it out, and Begu won three straight games to lead 6-5, only to falter as Williams forced a tiebreak.
At 6-4 in the tiebreak, the Romanian held two set points, but it was then that the 39-year-old Williams showed her mettle, saving both, the second with a stunning drive volley. She then clinched the set two points later with another drive volley, prompting a trademark Williams roar.
Williams, who is still chasing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, then broke early in the second set and won a long sixth game before finishing things off.
The Serb pointed to his own good record in night sessions and said he was looking forward to it, although he had not known that it would be behind closed doors.
“Only thing is that I’m a little bit sad that there’s not going to be a crowd,” he said after finding out. “Playing in front of an empty stadium in a Grand Slam will not be fun. Hopefully I can win the match and then have an encounter with a crowd in the next round.”
Forget said the 10 night sessions, including a June 9 match that will be played in front of 5,000 fans, will transform the tournament.
“The night sessions are the great new feature of this year,” he said. “We will discover another Roland Garros, another face.”
Accountancy group EY is to centralise power in a new European executive team, pooling resources across the region but raising concern that any financial hit from the Wirecard scandal might also be shared.
The overhaul breaks from the federated business model of the Big Four firms in an attempt to cut management costs by half and will authorise the central team to decide on partners’ pay, according to people briefed on the plan.
Some partners fear the new structure may lead to penalties related to Wirecard being shared beyond the German team that handled the work. EY audited the payments group for a decade until it collapsed in a fraud scandal last year.
“French partners are going ballistic about it because they say ‘why should we pay now for the Wirecard mess?’,” said one person close to the firm.
Another person close to the matter said there was “not a lot of transparency” on whether any financial hit from Wirecard-related lawsuits or regulatory action will end up being shared by partners in other countries.
However, a person at EY involved in the creation of the new structure said such concerns were “unfounded”, adding that separate legal entities would be retained in each country. The Big Four have traditionally protected against liability spreading across their global businesses by using separate partnerships in each country where they operate.
EY in February announced it was creating a new Europe West region, without providing detail on the implications. The regional grouping, which includes 27,000 staff and $4.7bn in annual revenues, will include Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and 20 other western European and north African countries and is scheduled for launching on July 1. It does not include the UK, Ireland or Scandinavia.
EY and its three main rivals — Deloitte, KPMG and PwC — have been hampered by their traditional business model in which profits and resources are largely ringfenced within national member firms or small subregions, industry executives said.
Under the EY plan, business lines such as consulting and M&A advice will be run to a single income statement. The extent to which audit and tax can be merged is limited by regulations.
The integration will go further than existing payments between regions, which reflect work referred from partners in one country to another. At the moment, partners in each country also contribute a small proportion of revenues to fund shared international investments such as technology and the salaries of international executives.
European management will decide partners’ pay in each country, though there will be some consultation with local management, said the people familiar with the plans. Partners in more profitable countries are likely to continue to retain a higher share of profits.
One person close to wary partners said it was a “strange time” to align the German operations with those in other countries.
The Big Four firm is facing an avalanche of lawsuits in Germany and has lost a number of prestigious audit clients in Europe’s largest economy, including Deutsche Telekom and Commerzbank.
The EY restructuring, which is part of the “NextWave” strategy that began before Wirecard’s collapse, is intended to cut costs and to improve service for clients by reducing “silo behaviour” and allowing teams in different countries to work seamlessly, people familiar with the plan said.
International integration and sharing of personnel is particularly important in consulting.
“It’s the thing that all of these firms have been trying to crack,” said a former senior global executive at another Big Four Firm. “It’s the holy grail in a way . . . If they’re able to deliver it then it’s better for clients and it’s a competitive advantage.”
The new Europe West subregion will replace three smaller subregions, with an aim of cutting management costs by half, the person involved in the planning said.
It was an unusual season in the Premier League due to COVID-19, but we reached the finish line. Man City were crowned champions, Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea will join them in the Champions League, and Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham suffered relegation. There was also great disappointment at Arsenal and Spurs, unexpected European qualifiers in West Ham, four managerial changes and even an all-English Champions League final, won by Chelsea.
With the dust and drama now settled, Ian Darke takes a closer look at each Premier League club and grades them for their performance over the 2020-21 campaign.
Arsenal: A run of five straight wins to close the campaign can’t mask another very disappointing season for the Gunners. An eighth-place finish means no European football for the first time in 25 years, which will serve as a huge blow to the finances and reputation of the famous club. Mikel Arteta will not survive another year like this, while fans continue to hope absentee owner Stan Kroenke sells the club or finances some major signings to change the mood. Grade: D+
Aston Villa: An early 7-2 win over Liverpool served notice that Villa were a different proposition this season. Aided by Jack Grealish‘s magic and 14 goals from Ollie Watkins in his debut Premier League season, Dean Smith’s team were lively in attack and tough enough in defence for a comfortable midtable finish. Can they fight off transfer interest in Grealish again? Grade: B+
Brighton & Hove Albion: Graham Potter’s side were often a delight to watch, but still battled relegation for most of the season. A league-high 14 draws and a failure to convert chances held them back, though keeper Robert Sanchez, and defenders Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster and Ben White, made them hard to beat. Midfielder Yves Bissouma is a target for bigger clubs and they definitely need to find a goal poacher. Grade: B-
Burnley: Recovered well from a dreadful start once they got key players fit again and, despite finishing 17th, they were 11 points clear of relegation. The unquestioned highlight of the season came in January when they improbably ended Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield thanks to a late Ashley Barnes penalty. It remains to be seen if a low-key takeover will change things at a club who look to be staying afloat as long as Sean Dyche is there to keep this band of brothers together. Grade: C
Chelsea: Produced an inspired tactical performance to foil Man City in the Champions League final. It rather looks as if, for the moment at least, Thomas Tuchel has Pep Guardiola’s number: that was his third win over City in six weeks. Only an FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City blotted Tuchel’s stellar start at Stamford Bridge. Grade: A
Crystal Palace: The security and stability that the departing Roy Hodgson brought to Palace was reflected in a comfortable 14th-place finish. Wilfried Zaha scored a career-best 11 goals and new arrival Eberechi Eze added much-needed flair. With 11 players out of contract and a new boss to be appointed, it will be a very different-looking Eagles side next season. Grade: C
Everton: Started like an express train with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring every week, but nine home defeats killed their European ambitions and the season tailed off in anticlimactic fashion with a 10th-place finish. There is still a feeling that Carlo Ancelotti is taking the club in the right direction, but the pressure will intensify next season. Grade: C+
Fulham: Often looked talented enough to escape (they won at Liverpool and Leicester), but they could not score for love nor money at Craven Cottage (nine home goals is a pathetic record low). Manager Scott Parker won more friends than points, even though defender Joachim Andersen was a magnificent loan signing from Lyon. Would be no surprise to see this likable club bounce back and get promoted again after a year in the Championship. Grade: D+
Leeds United: Turbocharged football under Marcelo Bielsa made it a thrilling return for Leeds to the top flight after a 16-year absence. Their 62 goals scored was a record for a promoted team, while among English strikers, only Harry Kane scored more than Patrick Bamford‘s 17, which ranked fourth in the division. Stuart Dallas mopped up the player of the year awards for his versatility and excellence, and Bielsa has agreed to return for another season. They’re lovable Leeds now! Grade: A-
Leicester City: Despite blowing their top-four chances for a second successive season, a first-ever FA Cup win made this a season Foxes’ fans will never forget. Youri Tielemans scored one of the great Wembley goals and is assured of his place in Leicester folklore. Nine home defeats and a long injury list proved costly in the end, but Brendan Rodgers has this club in a good position. Grade: B+
Liverpool: Devastated by long-term injuries to their top three centre-backs, the champions imploded in midseason with an unheard-of six successive Anfield defeats. It is to Jurgen Klopp’s credit that he managed to salvage a third-place finish thanks to a 10-game unbeaten run at the end, highlighted by goalkeeper Alisson‘s emotional and improbable winner at West Brom. With Virgil van Dijk back, Liverpool are capable of being their old selves next season, though a couple of signings (to add to Ibrahima Konate) are needed to freshen things up. Grade: B-
Manchester City: Claimed another two trophies this season, including a runaway triumph in the Premier League. Some of their football was sublime, but they were just not themselves in the final they most wanted to win, and so the Champions League remains agonisingly beyond them. Why did Pep Guardiola change a winning formula in the final? Grade: A-
Manchester United: Defeat in the Europa League final, a game they were expected to win, will leave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & Co. with an empty, frustrated feeling. They’ve now gone four years without a trophy, and despite an encouraging second-place showing in the Premier League, United are still some way short of a return to the glory years. Should go for Harry Kane and Declan Rice. Grade: B
Newcastle United: After looking like relegation candidates for most of the season, the Toon staged a big recovery to finish 12th thanks in large to the return of attackers Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson. Steve Bruce also pulled off the loan signing of the year as relative unknown Joe Willock arrived from Arsenal and scored in seven successive games. Newcastle could be an elite club in waiting if unpopular owner Mike Ashley sells. Grade: C+
Sheffield United: Last season’s champagne turned into very flat beer as they occupied bottom place all season and sacked Chris Wilder, the manager who had guided them to the top flight and oversaw last year’s heroics. With no Bramall Lane crowds, the players could never hit the same heights and lost confidence. Young striker Rhian Brewster cost £20 million from Liverpool, but he failed to score all season. Grade: D-
Southampton: What went wrong? The Saints were flying and top of the table briefly in November, yet ultimately finished 15th. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team had to endure another 9-0 drubbing, this time to Manchester United. It is vital that they hold on to striker Danny Ings and stop mixing slick football with flaky defending. Seemed to develop the nasty habit of finding ways to lose. Grade: C-
Tottenham Hotspur: One of the worst seasons in their modern history, as Spurs finished outside the top six for the first time in 12 years. The Jose Mourinho experiment backfired and Harry Kane, Golden Boot winner for a third time, wants out. They need to make an inspired managerial appointment this summer — but with potentially no Kane and only the new Europa Conference League to offer, who will they be able to get? Grade: D-
West Bromwich Albion: Relegated from the Premier League for a fifth time. Even the arrival of Sam Allardyce, who replaced Slaven Bilic after 13 games, was to no avail. A sensational 5-2 win at Chelsea was the high point, but the Baggies conceded a league-high 76 goals. They will have a hard time holding on to their wonderful Brazilian playmaker Matheus Pereira. Grade: D-
West Ham United: The 2021 season was a comeback concert for David Moyes as he led the Hammers into Europe with an excellent sixth-place finish. Declan Rice led by example, Michail Antonio was a consistent threat when fit, and Jesse Lingard‘s brilliance on loan from Manchester United gave them an added spark. Finally, the Czech mates Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek have proven to be top signings, as has veteran defender Craig Dawson. Grade: A
Wolverhampton Wanderers: The end of an era. Fate conspired against them this time, as they had no goal threat without Diogo Jota or Raul Jimenez, who fractured his skull at Arsenal. Even the midfield axis of Joao Moutinho–Ruben Neves has started to look a little laboured. It was only a mild surprise when the club parted company with coach Nuno Espirito Santo, though he did a wonderful job in establishing the Old Gold back in the top flight. Without the sufficient spending, they might struggle next season. Grade: C-
In the aftermath of Chelsea‘s 1-0 win against Manchester City in the Champions League final on Saturday, American star Christian Pulisic was joined on the field by his parents. He was passed the trophy for a photo, and as he gripped it with both hands, his father, Mark, rotated the winners’ medal that hung from his neck around to his back.
Amid the celebration, Pulisic had pulled on a United States Soccer sweatshirt over his Chelsea jersey, and Dad’s quick thinking allowed for an unobstructed view of the U.S. crest as he hoisted the most prestigious club soccer trophy in the world above his head.
Former USMNT player Jovan Kirovski was part of Borussia Dortmund‘s Champions League-winning team in 1997, but this moment for Pulisic was different. For many U.S. fans, it was surreal.
Not only did Pulisic feature off the bench in the final, he played an instrumental role in both Chelsea’s qualification down the stretch last season and their run through the knockout rounds this campaign. Without Pulisic, it’s fair to question whether Chelsea would have been in the competition at all or how far they would have progressed.
No American men’s player has ever played such an important role for a club at this level, and for Pulisic to do it at 22 years old points to a future of which there is no domestic peer. With that type of profile comes heightened expectations, and as the USMNT prepare for their first competitive match since 2019 on Thursday, the budding optimism about the team is only partially due to Pulisic.
What makes the U.S. intriguing as World Cup qualifying approaches in the fall is the team’s depth. Of the 23 players on the the U.S. roster for the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League Finals, 10 — including Pulisic — won at least one European trophy this year.
“It’s amazing. I can’t say enough about how proud we are for the players, no matter what competition they’re in,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said. “They’re in teams that are competing to win the titles and that’s exciting because [of what that does] for the culture of winning to the U.S. national team, and that’s what we’re looking for.
“When we step on the field and we compete to win these trophies, we want guys that really understand what it means to win, to value what it means to win, but also having the expectation that winning is what we’re looking for and anything less than that isn’t good enough. Now we have a group that can do it.”
Of the group of players who won trophies in Europe this year, the average age is 22 and skews even younger when looking strictly at outfield players, as the two oldest are goalkeepers: Manchester City’s Zack Steffen, 26, and Club Brugge‘s Ethan Horvath, 25, both of whom are primarily backups.
After helping guide the Philadelphia Union to the Supporters’ Shield in Major League Soccer, Brenden Aaronson, 20, and Mark McKenzie, 22, moved to FC Salzburg (Austria) and Genk (Belgium), respectively. Playing for American manager Jesse Marsch, Aaronson helped Salzburg to the Austrian Cup and their eighth straight domestic title, while McKenzie was part of Genk’s Belgium Cup-winning side that also reached the final qualifying round for next year’s Champions League.
After breaking through at Borussia Dortmund last year, Giovanni Reyna, 18, played a significant role for the bulk of this season and helped the club win the DFB-Pokal for the fifth time in their history. Jordan Siebatcheu, who committed to the United States in March, scored 12 goals in the Swiss Super League as his club, Young Boys, ran away with the title.
Others came close, too. DeAndre Yedlin’s Galatasaray finished tied atop the table in Turkey, only to lose out on goal differential. In Germany, Tyler Adams‘ RB Leipzig stayed close with Bayern Munich for much of the season before finishing second, while John Brooks‘ VfL Wolfsburg also received a Champions League spot with their fourth-place finish. In Belgium, Matt Miazga‘s Anderlecht finished third in the regular season. — Kyle Bonagura
For just the second time in the past nine seasons, PSG were beaten to the Ligue 1 title. A promising youth player coming through the French capital club, Weah contributed to this year’s crown, providing Lille with scoring depth necessary to outlast Les Parisiens‘ star-studded squad.
The 21-year-old sat down with ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle to talk his development as a senior player and the potential that this U.S. men’s national team possesses this summer and into the future.
Forward Timothy Weah says this young version of the USMNT is special and primed for success.
Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund — On the rise: It’s asking a lot of an 18-year-old to consistently contribute to a club with the ambition of Dortmund, but after his breakthrough in 2019-20, Reyna was expected to be the sort of supporting player who could take some of the pressure off the likes of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho. And he did that to start the season, registering 10 direct goal involvements (four goals, six assists) in his first 20 appearances. And then the production dried up. And then the minutes did, too, starting nine of 15 games from the bench between the middle of January and the start of April. He bounced back in the final six weeks of the season, starting seven of Dortmund’s final 10 matches, delivering three goals and an assist in that stretch. The U.S. will need that sort of form from the New York City FC academy product if it’s to overcome Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League, which kicks off on Thursday.
Weston McKennie, Juventus — Trending down: The Bianconeri exercised their option in March to make McKennie’s loan move from Schalke 04 permanent, but just weeks later he broke local coronavirus restrictions by hosting a party at his home alongside teammates Paulo Dybala and Arthur. As the season neared its conclusion, then-manager Andrea Pirlo questioned the 22-year-old’s professionalism, and it’s not hard to surmise that trust had been lost in the onetime FC Dallas youth prodigy: he started just seven of Juve’s final 19 games. McKennie was supposed to be the sort of energetic player who would define Pirlo’s midfield, but with him no longer in the dugout and Massimiliano Allegri returning to Turin, McKennie now faces the prospect of proving to a new manager and his club’s hierarchy that the first half of his debut season with Juventus was no illusion.
Brenden Aaronson, FC Salzburg — On the rise: Aaronson took to European competition like a duck to water. He failed to start in just six of Salzburg’s 25 matches following his midseason arrival, racking up seven goals and five assists in the process of securing an Austrian league and cup double. The 21-year-old is expected to remain with the Red Bull-backed club in 2021-22, a source tells ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, but so impactful have his performances been that there are already questions of whether the Philadelphia Union product is ready to take the next step and move into one of Europe’s Big Five leagues.
DeAndre Yedlin, Galatasaray — On the rise: Yedlin was going nowhere with Newcastle United. He made just six appearances in the club’s first 21 Premier League matches of the season. Then he packed his bags for Istanbul during the January transfer window. The 27-year-old played 11 of Galatasaray’s 13 games after his move to Turkey, discounting a three-week period that saw him miss five games with an ankle injury. The move paid off, getting him back into the national team picture at the ultra-competitive right-back position: His nine minutes in the U.S.’s 2-1 friendly defeat to Switzerland were his first for the national team since November 2019.
Scouting report: Justin Che, Bayern Munich II
Che has equipped himself well for Bayern II after being handed six consecutive starts at the tail end of the season. At just 17, he’s still to make his MLS debut for FC Dallas, but he has taken the step up to senior level while on loan in the rather demanding environment of third-tier German football with surprising ease.
Mainly featuring as a centre-back, with the odd cameo at right-back, the American looked particularly comfortable in the derby against then-promotion-chasing TSV 1860 Munich. In addition to being really smooth and “classy” on the ball — which, admittedly, is a given when Bayern are involved — Che also defends his own box well, especially impressive for an extremely young, “new generation” central defender (the type who often tend to boast more technical ability and steady passing game than traditional defensive abilities). Usually alert, allowing him to beat opponents to the ball, he’s also physically skilled and happy to step forward with the ball even when under pressure.
The one moment to forget, though, was when an uncharacteristically poor touch allowed an opposing forward to nip in to nick the ball off his foot — merely half a minute into the match against Hallescher FC in the last round of the season. The quick-thinking opponent went on to score the only goal of the game. Fortunately, by that point Che had already shown enough for Bayern to understand that this prospect is worth another look. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world of football, and while the summer transfer window will open as normal across Europe (just like the January window), this summer’s budgets for clubs are expected to be hit hard again.
Clubs spent nearly €1.5 billion less ($1.9bn) in summer 2020 than they did over the same period in 2019, according to FIFA, while Deloitte reported a 50% drop in activity across January 2021. However, there are still going to be plenty of loans, swaps, free transfers and even some permanent deals to keep an eye on.
Here are the grades for all the major summer deals. The most recent write-ups are at the top; each day is in order of highest transfer fee. If you don’t see a grade for a move that has been completed, check back later. All fees are reported unless confirmed with an asterisk (*).
With a release clause inserted into his contract, there wasn’t much that Leipzig could do to stop their star defender from departing. Upamecano is only 22 but has become one of the best young players in Europe after joining from FC Salzburg in 2017 for around €10m. The club have made their peace with letting him go and will move on.
Bayern edged themselves ahead of the rest of Europe’s top clubs to land the Frenchman and should be very pleased. He is still developing but should be a fine addition to their multitalented squad as he was one of the most coveted players of this transfer window.
Another Leipzig star with an achievable release clause inserted into his contract. Much like Upamecano, Konate wasn’t going to last long at the club before moving on to one of the top teams in Europe. Leipzig did well to get a big transfer fee and can rebuild with it.
One of the top young defenders in Europe, Upamecano took most of the headlines but Konate is equally deserving of a big move. Liverpool have struggled this season but should be set for the future if the 21-year-old can hit the ground running in England and stay free of injury.
Schalke’s relegation after a dismal season ensured this move was always going to be on the cards. His loan to Juventus in August 2020 came as something of a surprise, and the German club may regret not keeping hold of him to help their battle against the drop. Though with the payments to Schalke split over three years, they have secured their financial future and could also bag an extra €6.5m in add-ons.
Juve have managed to get the best out of the United States midfielder and he impressed enough to earn himself a deal through to June 2025. Manager Andrea Pirlo says he is now “more professional than when he arrived” and his fitness and concentration levels have improved. He will only go from strength to strength at one of Europe’s top clubs.
Man City: B RB Leipzig: B
“There is a big difference [between Man City boss Pep Guardiola and Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann]: One gave me the confidence and played me, and the other didn’t. [Guardiola] killed me. Confidence is everything for me.” That quote just about sums up Angelino‘s time at City, with the former Spain U21 international signing in 2013 but spending most of his time on loan. He left for PSV in 2018 and finally started showing his skills, but City used his buyback clause to return him to the Etihad, where he was loaned again.
Luckily, the 24-year-old had two impressive loan spells at Leipzig, which were enough to persuade them to sign him permanently. City got a decent fee, while Leipzig got a player who has shown himself to be a key part of their side. We just hope there’s no buyback clause included this time.
After failing to make the grade at the Marseille youth academy, two impressive seasons in Strasbourg’s first team as a youngster showed Simakan was ready for the step up. He is still raw and developing, but his style of defending is similar to Lilian Thuram’s, and one can’t help thinking that Strasbourg could have held out for a bit more.
Let one player depart for €42.5m and use the cash to sign his replacement for €15m; Leipzig have got the hang of transfers. The club beat out competition from AC Milan to land the highly rated Simakan, who has bags of potential and is still only 21. He is a born organiser who should help fill the void of Upamecano.
Lille: C AC Milan: B
Having won Ligue 1 this season, Lille’s exodus began with their star goalkeeper as Maignan made the move to Italy. Having built a fine reputation in France, the 6-foot-3 stopper left on the cheap as his contract was set to expire in 2022. Lille will struggle to replace him with similar quality.
Milan moved quickly when it became clear that Gianluigi Donnarumma wasn’t going to sign new terms. The 22-year-old Italy international will leave on a free transfer and Maignan is his replacement. He won’t win over the fans like Donnarumma did when he made his debut aged 15 but Maignan is a solid player who can help Milan get over the loss of their biggest young star.
Julien Laurens suggests USMNT prospect Bryan Reynolds will develop better at Roma than Juventus.
Reynolds moved to Roma on loan in January but has only played a handful of times since. He’s still only 19, so the €6.75m obligation to sign him (plus €5m in add-ons) is a lot of money and Dallas can be happy with how they brought him through to progress his career. He will be missed, but it’s better for the player that he move on.
Roma beat Juventus to the U.S. right-back, and the club will offer him a clearer path to the first team. He’s got a lot to learn and isn’t the finished article yet, but he has bags of potential, and Roma will be hoping he has a similar impact to that of U.S. star McKennie in Turin.
Estudiantes: B- Man City: B+
A small, nimble, Argentine forward, Sarmiento has had the unwelcome distraction of comparisons with the untouchable Lionel Messi to deal with in his young career to date. He was handed his Estudiantes debut as a 16-year-old in 2019 and hasn’t looked back since, impressing with his dribbling and direct running style. The club could have held on to him for a bit longer to see how he develops, but opted to take the money early.
It’s a bit of a gamble for City and you may see Sarmiento sent on loan before he makes an appearance in the City first team. But the Premier League champions have not spent a lot to sign the 18-year-old, so they may reap the rewards if he turns out to be half as good as Messi.
SERGIO AGUERO Free
With 260 goals in 389 games for Manchester City, Aguero is one of the best strikers to have ever played the game. At 32, and with a season of injury struggles behind him, he has opted for a new challenge and still has plenty to offer. If his body holds up, Barca will hope that he will have a similar impact to Luis Suarez but his arrival may be more important in persuading fellow Argentine Lionel Messi to sign a new contract.
Real Madrid: A+
Bayern will be furious that they weren’t able to persuade one of their top defenders to sign a new contract, but the 28-year-old Alaba clearly had a new challenge in mind. Madrid have got themselves a world-class player who can operate in several different positions. They are paying him a lot in wages but the lack of transfer fee makes it completely worthwhile. If Sergio Ramos or Raphael Varane leave, the club have a natural replacement.
RB Leipzig: A-
Any player who has passed through the extraordinary Ajax youth academy usually goes on to have a decent career. Brobbey’s goal scoring record at youth level saw him net 90 goals in 123 games during his time at the club, but he had grown tired of a lack of chances in the first team and opted to see out his contract before taking on a new challenge in Germany. Leipzig may have got themselves a real star if he can continue this development. They have been searching for a replacement for Timo Werner (after letting Chelsea sign him for €53m last summer) and Brobbey’s versatility gives him an extra dimension up front. At 19, the forward has all the attributes to be a success.
OMAR RICHARDS Free
The former England U21 international left-back chose to become the latest young star to move to the Bundesliga by seeing out his contract at Championship side Reading. At 23, he has plenty of room to develop, but it’s a bit of a gamble for Bayern to take. Clearly the German club were impressed by his technical skill and ability to attack from the full-back role, but he’ll have to perform exceptionally well to oust Alphonso Davies from the team.
It takes a lot of guts to swap clubs at the age of 17, but Coulibaly follows Dan-Axel Zagadou in joining Borussia Dortmund from PSG and is a left-footed centre-back. PSG were unable to offer him any first-team guarantees so, after suffering an ACL injury in training in mid-February, he opted to leave at the end of his contract. Coulibaly was helped in his development by fellow Frenchman Presnel Kimpembe and Dortmund will certainly be able to offer him the chances he needs, if he can show he is up to the challenge. “I’m grateful for my time at PSG, but there is the right step for me,” he said. “I had other offers from other club, but I knew straight away that Dortmund was the right choice for me.”
ATLANTA — Braves star Marcell Ozuna was granted a $20,000 bond Monday on charges of aggravated assault by strangulation and battery against his wife.
Ozuna was jailed Saturday after police officers in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs said they witnessed him attacking his wife, Genesis, while responding to a 911 call.
During his initial appearance in Fulton County Magistrate Court, Ozuna was ordered to have no contact with his wife. He was expected to be released from jail later Monday.
In court, attorneys said the couple was in the process of divorce. Genesis Ozuna was arrested on a domestic violence charge in Miami a year ago.
A statement from the Sandy Springs Police Department said officers entered a home where the front door was open and heard screaming from inside. Officers said they saw Ozuna grab his wife by the neck and throw her against a wall, in addition to striking her with a cast on his injured left hand.
Police said the victim had visible injuries but was not taken to the hospital.
Ozuna could face a long suspension by Major League Baseball, which plans to review the matter under the joint domestic violence policy in place between MLB and the players’ union.
He was already on the injured list and expected to be out for more than a month after dislocating two fingers on his left hand while sliding during a game at Boston last week. He was seen wearing a bright yellow cast in video of his court appearance.
Ozuna re-signed with Atlanta after a stellar first season with the Braves in 2020, agreeing to a $65 million, four-year deal. He batted .338, led the National League with 18 homers and 56 RBIs, and finished sixth in NL MVP balloting.
Bettman heard Kadri’s appeal of the suspension last Thursday. Kadri has the right under the collective bargaining agreement to now appeal to a neutral arbitrator if he chooses, but he would remain suspended during the appeal process.
Kadri has already served three games of the suspension, missing the Avalanche’s final two games in their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues and Game 1 of their second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Kadri received the suspension on May 21 for a “high, forceful check” to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the third period of Game 2 against St. Louis on May 19. After a review by the referees, Kadri was assessed a five-minute major and match penalty for an illegal check to the head.
When the NHL issued the suspension, the league called Kadri “a player with a substantial disciplinary record,” as this is the sixth suspension of his career.
This is Kadri’s third playoff suspension over the past six postseasons. He was suspended for the balance of the first round in 2019 for cross-checking, which turned out to be five games, and was suspended three games for boarding in 2018.
Each of those incidents happened with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who traded him to Colorado in the summer of 2019. Kadri had 18 points for the Avalanche in the 2020 bubble playoffs when he was able to stay out of trouble.
Kadri had 32 points in 56 games this season as Colorado won the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. He traditionally plays on the team’s second line.
OMAHA, Neb. — Arkansas was rewarded for its dominant run through the Southeastern Conference, landing the No. 1 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament Monday.
The Razorbacks (46-10) won all 10 of their SEC series and wrapped up their first conference tournament championship on Sunday. After losing three straight games in March, the Hogs never lost consecutive games.
The 64-team tournament opens Friday in 16 regionals. Winners advance to eight best-of-three super regionals. Those winners move on to the College World Series in Omaha.
The top eight national seeds are assured of hosting super regionals if they win their regionals.
The national seeds following Arkansas: Texas (42-15), Tennessee (45-16), Vanderbilt (40-15), Arizona (40-15), TCU (40-17), Mississippi State (40-15) and Texas Tech.
Vanderbilt will be going for its third national championship since 2014 after winning the title two years ago. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.