Tagged in: France

Real Madrid sign France phenom Camavinga amid PSG’s Mbappe saga

Real Madrid are on the verge of signing 18-year old French prodigy Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes on 5-year, €30 million ($35 million) deal, sources have told ESPN.

The midfielder, who only has one year left on his contract with the Ligue 1 club, will undergo his medical on Tuesday in Clairefontaine, where is he training with France’s Under-21 squad.

Camavinga’s transfer is expected to be made official on Tuesday. Rennes didn’t want to see the player leave as a free agent next summer and are said to be pleased with the deal.

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The deal with Rennes was agreed late on Monday night after the discussions with Paris Saint-Germain over the transfer of Kylian Mbappe stalled.

However, sources close to the Bernabeu insisted that the deal was not connected to the breakdown in talks to sign Mbappe.

Madrid have been following Camavinga for several seasons, with former manager Zinedine Zidane a longtime admirer of the player who made his Ligue 1 debut as 16-year-old.

There’s a belief at the club that he’s the right age to learn from — and eventually take over from — Toni Kroos and Luka Modric at the heart of Madrid’s midfield.

Camavinga, who was called up for France U21 by Sylvain Ripoll for the Euro 2023 qualifiers in September, also has three senior appearance for Les Bleus.

While Camavinga is not the French superstar that Real Madrid and their fans expected this summer, he was a very coveted player.

PSG, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund were all interested in him. He is a complete midfielder, excellent on the ball with great activity and energy.

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Kevin Durant signs 4-year, $198M extension with Brooklyn Nets, manager says

Kevin Durant has signed a multiyear extension with the Brooklyn Nets, the team announced Sunday morning.

The extension is for four years and worth the $198 million maximum, Durant’s longtime business manager and co-founder of Thirty Five Ventures and Boardroom, Rich Kleiman, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

Durant declined his 2022-23 player option and extended off his $42 million salary for the 2021-22 season. Durant, who led Team USA to its fourth consecutive Olympics gold with a win versus France on Saturday, was spectacular in his return to the court this season.

He missed his first season in Brooklyn while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals in Toronto while playing for the Golden State Warriors.

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He wound up playing only 35 regular-season games for Brooklyn last season due to a combination of COVID-19 absences and a hamstring injury, but Durant averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists and made his 11th All-Star appearance.

Durant then averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 12 playoff games for the Nets, including arguably the greatest performance of his legendary career — a 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist triple-double while playing all 48 minutes of a 114-108 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He then played all 53 minutes of Brooklyn’s overtime loss in Game 7, scoring another 48 points — which included a game-tying shot in the final second of regulation to force the extra session.

“Kevin is a transcendent talent who continues to drive and push this franchise and the game of basketball globally,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement Sunday. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with him for years to come.”

The Nets are currently projected to spend $296 million next season in payroll and luxury taxes, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

That is the second-biggest total in NBA history (trailing only next season’s Warriors), as the Nets try to win the franchise’s first NBA championship around Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

Irving joined Durant in Brooklyn as free agents two years ago, and the Nets executed a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets to land Harden in January.

Irving and Harden will also be eligible to sign contract extensions with Brooklyn this offseason.

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Team USA falls to France at Tokyo Games for first Olympic men’s basketball loss since 2004

Team USA’s invincibility in men’s basketball is long gone, and the journey to a fourth successive gold medal is already fraught with adversity.

France gut-punched the Americans with a brilliant finish for an 83-76 triumph to open the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. It snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 for Team USA.

The final blow came when Evan Fournier drilled a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the French the lead for good, completing their comeback after the U.S. had an eight-point lead with four minutes to play. It was the biggest of his 28 points in one of the finest games he has played in his career.

It was followed by an amazing possession in which the Americans managed to get five shots off and missed them all. The final three were wide-open 3-point attempts by Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday.

“I got to lead the team because I know these guys,” Fournier said. “It’s a hell of a win. Our country is going to be extremely proud. But it’s just one game, to be honest.”

If there was a moment in this match that best encapsulated the situation between these two teams, it came at the end, when the French calmly shook the Americans’ hands and left the floor with the same business-as-usual demeanor Fournier displayed. Two years ago at the World Cup in China, France celebrated wildly after defeating a much-less-talented Team USA.

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“There’s nothing to be surprised about,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said before launching into what has become his go-to statement after losses.

“When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed, but I don’t understand the word surprised. That sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we’re supposed to beat them by 30 or something. That’s a hell of a team.”

The French won the bronze at that World Cup, but their talent does not compare to that of the Americans.

And it does not explain how a U.S. team built for scoring and shooting went an unexplainable four and a half minutes without a basket down the stretch.

Fatigue was a factor. Three players didn’t get to the team hotel until 1 a.m. on gameday, an unusual set of circumstances. But one of them, Jrue Holiday, was masterful in the fourth quarter as he scored 12 of his 18 points and contributed several other energy plays to help the U.S. build a lead.

The Americans then had a host of stars to lean on such as Durant, Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard. But they failed as the French ran an execution clinic.

Popovich seemed annoyed by media questions about the upset, as has been his custom. He has overseen losses in five of the past eight games he has coached for the national team dating back to 2019. There were some who admitted the loss was a disappointment, however.

“I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it’s not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start,” stated Lillard, who shot just 3-of-10 and had two critical turnovers late in the game.

Popovich said he’d been thinking about this rematch for two years and daily since the game was drawn in February. But he never figured out how to slow down Fournier as he repeatedly got free for open looks on the perimeter. Even Holiday, who was brilliant in the NBA Finals, helping the Bucks clinch the title Tuesday, couldn’t stem the tide.

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Hamilton plays down blow of another loss to Verstappen

Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton played down the pain of his latest defeat by Formula One leader Max Verstappen in France on Sunday and said the race was a real reflection of Red Bull’s pace.

The Briton had won at Le Castellet in 2018 and 2019, with no race last year due to COVID-19, but his hopes of a hat-trick ended when resurgent Red Bull out-smarted the champions on strategy.

The seventh race of the season was a reversal of the Spanish Grand Prix in May when Hamilton hunted down Verstappen, who stated then that he felt like a sitting duck, in the closing laps to win.

This time it was the champion who was on the receiving end as Verstappen made a second pitstop and used his fresher tyres to make up the time and overhaul Hamilton on the penultimate lap.

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Asked how gut-wrenching the feeling had been, Hamilton — now 12 points behind his Dutch rival — said it had not been at all.

“I think we did a great job today and it just didn’t work out,” he added.

“I’m not massively disappointed. I think I did the best job I could today. Of course, there were things we could probably have done slightly better but overall they have been quicker than us all weekend.

“It’s a true reflection of the pace they have.”

Hamilton had arrived at Le Castellet having scored just seven points from the past two races won by Red Bull and lagging Verstappen by four.

The 36-year-old recognized that another chance to win had e slipped through his fingers, his tally still stuck at a record 98 career victories.

“If we look in hindsight for sure if we’d have stopped earlier, before they stopped and come out ahead and just gone onto a two stop, we probably could have won the race,” he said.

“But it would still have been very difficult. Their pace was generally very, very strong.

“If he (Verstappen) had not made a mistake in turn one, they would have just led the race all the way probably.”

Verstappen started on pole but went wide at the start, letting Hamilton to take the lead which the Mercedes driver held until the pitstops, when the Dutch driver got back in front before taking a gamble and pitting again.

“Lewis’s tyres were really worn,” Verstappen said of the closing stages. “It was a fairly easy pass.”

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PSG named French Champs as Ligue 1 called off

France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel declared Paris Saint-Germain as the 2019-20 Ligue 1 champions Thursday after the remainder of the season was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.   

“Big sporting events will not be able to take place before September. The 2019-20 season, notably for football, will not be able to resume,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe stated Tuesday.

PSG held a 12-point advantage over second-placed Marseille in the Ligue 1 table when play was halted on March 13.

It’s the third straight Ligue 1 title for the Parisians and the seventh time they’ve finished atop the standings in the past eight years. The club now has nine top-flight championships, which is one behind Marseille and Saint-Etienne for the all-time record.

PSG lost two of their first seven matches to open the 2019-20 but were virtually unstoppable from that point forward.

They ended the coronavirus-shortened campaign on a 15-match undefeated streak.

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Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe tied Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder for the Ligue 1 lead with 18 goals during the term. The Parisians’ Angel Di Maria had more assists (14) than anyone else in the league.

The French league’s decision also throws the remainder of the Champions League campaign into serious question. Both PSG, who had clinched a quarter-final berth, and Lyon were still active in the UCL.

Meanwhile, the LFP opted to move forward with promotion and relegation despite the early conclusion of the season in contrast to the Dutch Eredivisie, which cancelled the remainder of its term last week.

Amiens and Toulouse will be relegated to Ligue 2 with Lorient and Lens promoted, although Amiens informed that they would be opening legal proceedings over their premature relegation from the top division. 

PSG, Marseille and Rennes will claim the league’s Champions League spots for next campaign.

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France beats Australia 3-2 to capture Fed Cup

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic combined to defeat Ash Barty and Sam Stosur to conquer the 2019 Fed Cup title for France.

With scores locked at 2-2 after Ajla Tomljanovic’s singles victory and the tie requiring a decisive doubles rubber, the Frenchwomen defeat the Aussies 6-4 6-3 at RAC Arena to seal victory.

It is France’s first Fed Cup title since 2003, while Australia’s wait for a trophy in the team competition extends to a 46th year.

Mladenovic was the star of the French team, winning both her singles rubbers — including a stunning defeat of world No.1 Barty earlier on Sunday — and the doubles to go a perfect 3-0 in Perth.

For Garcia, it was redemption after being trounced 6-0 6-0 by Barty on the opening day of the tie. “I’m the proudest man on the planet right now. I’m so proud of my girls and the team — they deserve it because they fought for a long time for this title,” said French captain Julien Benneteau.

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“It’s a dream for me — I tried to imagine that at the beginning of the year when I knew that I could have the best team with me on the court.

“Eight months later, here we are.”

Barty and Stosur broke the Frenchwomen right away and held in the next game to establish a 2-0 lead.

Yet despite a slow start, Garcia and Mladenovic quickly settled into the contest, communicating brilliantly and frequently defeating the Aussies with pace.

Barty and Stosur were unable to combine as effectively, often slow and reactive as Garcia and Mladenovic pulled off a succession of winners from both the back of the court and at the net.

The French pairing, Roland Garros champions in 2016, pocketed the first set and surged ahead 2-0 in the second.

Despite the Aussies earning two break points at 15-40, Garcia erased them both with scorching passing shot winners.

Stosur served to keep the Australians alive, and together she and Barty staved off two match points and eventually held for 3-5. But with the ultra-confident Mladenovic stepping up to the line to serve for the title, the French were in safe hands.

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