هات بت : Brighton’s rapid rise from brink of collapse to European run

Brighton's rapid rise from brink of collapse to European run

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There’s something melancholic about an English seaside town in winter. Whether it’s the shuttered shop fronts rusted by the salty air, the sickly green waves crashing against the vacant shoreline, or the wind buffeting rows of empty beach huts, there’s often a sense of stoicism, a need for hibernation and a yearning for better times.

However, for the residents of Brighton and Hove on England’s south coast, this year will be different. Those familiar doldrums will be shaken off as the city and its football club prepare for the team’s first European campaign in its 122-year history — a result of an incredible sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season that handed them a spot in the UEFA Europa League.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

It has been a long time coming, as Brighton fans have had to endure heartache over the years: From relegation from the top flight in 1983, the same year they lost an FA Cup final to Manchester United, to almost being relegated to the Football Conference and liquidated in 1997, to repeated failure in the Championship playoffs — they lost three times between 2012-2016, before finally achieving promotion to the Premier League in 2016-17.

Now things are different. Amid worldwide acclaim for their transfer business and tactical style under exciting head coach Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton’s rise to playing in Europe is quite a story.

The city relies on the summer “holiday season,” when its population swells as thousands of Londoners — or DFLs (“Down From London”) as the locals call them — take the roughly 50-mile trip to the seaside. On Thursday, it will welcome fans of Greece’s AEK Athens for the first group-stage game, before supporters from the Netherlands’ Ajax Amsterdam and France’s Marseille make the journey in October and December.

Brighton have always maintained a strong community ethos — CEO Paul Barber personally sent a letter of thanks to the 41 devotees who travelled to every home and away fixture in their first season in the Premier League — so as soon as the Europa League draw was made in Monaco earlier this month, supporters began organising flights and hotel rooms, determined to make the most of the opportunity to attend matches in Europe for the first time.

“It’s a tough group but I’m really happy with it,” Brighton local Kim Strudwick tells ESPN. “You want to play teams that you know and it’s going to be amazing to watch Athens and Marseille. We’ve booked flights for Amsterdam as well. It’s going to be a great experience. I want to make sure I live it and say I’ve been.”

Brighton’s existence threatened

Seeing De Zerbi and his team take on European heavyweights is a fitting reward for the fans who have stuck by the club through thick and thin — most notably when it came within 28 minutes of relegation from the Football League in 1997.

Financially crippled from years of mismanagement, the club was left homeless and even came close to liquidation, with the board selling the Goldstone Ground to pay off debts. Seemingly doomed to the drop — it was 13 points adrift at the bottom of Division Three at one stage — the club rallied and faced what was effectively a one-match playoff against Hereford United in the final game of the season to determine who would be relegated to the Conference. In the end, a 62nd-minute equaliser from forward Robbie Reinelt secured the point Brighton needed to survive and keep the debt collectors at arm’s length.

“It was just one knockback after another at that time,” Kim’s father, and fellow Brighton fan, Steve Strudwick remembers. “You thought that Brighton could go out of existence. It would have been that way. Especially if we got relegated from the Football League. We were that close to being a semi-professional club.”

Knight in shining armour; Brighton Bloom

Four months later, on Sept. 2, 1997, local businessperson and dedicated supporter, Dick Knight — the man behind the infamous “Wonderbra” advertisement — led a consortium that took full control of Brighton from previous owner Greg Stanley and chairman Bill Archer for just £100.

The club, though, was still without a permanent home and, after two years sharing a ground at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium, relocated to the Withdean — an athletics stadium that had once been the site of the local zoo. It was there that the supporters, who watched on from rickety temporary stands, saw the first signs of the team’s growth as the Seagulls won back-to-back promotions after the turn of the Millenium.

“Seeing us play at Gillingham for a couple of years when we were towards the bottom of the old Tier Four … We were awful then,” Steve says. “We had to go 70-odd miles or so to get there every other Saturday. It was miserable and more often than not we’d lose anyway! I remember getting soaked at the Withdean on many occasions. The stand we sat in was in the open so there was no protection. You were also a long way from the pitch because of the running track.”

Brighton’s nomadism was brought to an end in 2009 with the takeover by local entrepreneur and sports betting magnate, Tony Bloom. Fresh investment was badly needed to push through plans for a new stadium in Falmer, on the edge of the South Downs National Park, and he has put in over £400 million of his own money. Those “Bloom or bust” years even spawned the charity single ‘We Want Falmer’ that raised awareness of the fans’ wish for a new home — it reached No. 17 in the UK singles charts. But with his takeover completed in 2009 and £93m finally secured for their first permanent home in 14 years — the American Express Community Stadium — Brighton’s new owner and chairman set about creating the modern-day incarnation of the football club.

“He [Bloom] is just a hero, he’s the man,” season-ticket holder Steven Meachin says. “I would say behind Dick Knight he’s the most important person in Brighton’s history, or at least the last 50 years or so. If we didn’t have Tony Bloom then we wouldn’t be going to Marseille next month, that’s for sure.”

Rise to the Premier League

In many ways, Bloom is the embodiment of the city of his birth, continually finding appeal in the niche and the under-appreciated. It’s an ethos he has ingrained into the club.

Brighton found success under Uruguay legend Gus Poyet to gain promotion to the Championship in 2010-11 and, after a few years of playoff heartache, eventually sealed their place back in the top flight for the first time in 34 years under Chris Hughton in 2016-17. Since then, the club’s player recruitment department, and their ability to see potential in traditionally overlooked and undervalued regions of the world, has set them apart from their competitors.

“They seem to be spotting gems in random leagues all over the place,” Brighton fan Ryan Newington says. “The way I sort of imagine it to be is like Football Manager [the video game], with some very intelligent data scientists going through various South American second divisions and seeing what they look like.”

It’s a process that has produced Premier League stars such as Mali’s Yves Bissouma [£30m, to Tottenham], Argentina’s Alexis Mac Allister [£35m, to Liverpool], Ecuador’s Moisés Caicedo [£100m, to Chelsea] and, most recently, the Republic of Ireland’s 18-year-old striker Evan Ferguson. But the accepted hierarchy of modern football means that for clubs like Brighton, it’s not just finding the right players; it’s about replacing them when the richer teams inevitably take them away. It’s something they seem to do better than any other club, but do the fans still get nervous whenever one of their heroes is moved on for a huge profit?

“I trust the board and I think lots of other Brighton fans feel that way,” Newington continues. “Yes, we’ll recruit players and yes, we’ll move them on for a profit and that is part of the system, but I feel like the money is reinvested well. Over the past two or three seasons it feels like the recruitment has got even better. You can’t be anything but happy with it.

“I have immense trust in the club’s leaders, Tony Bloom and Paul Barber. I suppose it’s because they’ve just made right decision after right decision after right decision for 10 years. Tony Bloom is a lifelong Brighton fan, he’s invested a lot of his own money. It’s all purely out of love.”

As a former professional gambler, Brighton’s owner is understandably secretive about how he consistency beats the odds, and the inner workings of his sports betting and analytics company, Starlizard, are shrouded in mystery.

Bloom’s secrecy extends to his football team. If you drive down the busy Old Shoreham Road into Worthing you’d be forgiven for overlooking the fact that Brighton’s training ground is nestled just out of view, hidden in the residential area to your left. There are remarkably few signs that mark its presence.

The results, however, are clear to see – the club have scored more goals than anyone else in the Premier League so far this season (15) after registering a £74m net profit from the summer transfer window and have even signed Lionel Messi’s one-time heir at Barcelona, Ansu Fati, on a season-long loan.

“When you compare where we are now to those days [at Gillingham and the Withdean] I do think it gives you genuine pride,” Newington adds. “With where we are now and the success of qualifying for the Europa League you’re like: ‘oh my God, we’re actually good!'”



Will Ansu Fati find success at Brighton?

Alejandro Moreno breaks down what he expects from Ansu Fati while he is on loan at Brighton.

De Zerbi leads European charge

Supporters, though, are keen to stress that they’re not getting too ahead of themselves as the club makes its first foray into Europe this week.

“I think from the fans’ point of view there’ll be no pressure at all,” Meachin says. “I think everyone expects us to get through the group, but worst-case scenario, finish third, and get in the [Europa] Conference League. Brighton fans don’t expect a lot. Most fans are kind of just kind of happy with going on the ride at the moment.”

The lack of ruthlessness that saw Brighton suffer so badly when faced with the intensity of Championship playoff games was a feature that De Zerbi quickly rectified after taking over from Graham Potter [who joined Chelsea] in September last year.

Potter was derided for the way in which his team consistently underperformed against their Expected Goals (xG) — in three games towards the end of February 2021, the team had a total xG of 7.79 but scored only once. Under De Zerbi this season, Brighton have scored 15 goals from an xG of 12.16. But the Italian hasn’t just improved his team in front of goal, many Brighton fans feel as though his influence on the club has been underappreciated from the outside.

“De Zerbi has changed more than what people give him credit for,” Meachin claims. “He is a different level but I can’t see him staying around for more than another year or two [because a bigger team will hire him]. I mean Potter did well, but I think De Zerbi is just a clear step up.”

“A lot of people don’t realise what it was like up until the March of the season before he [Potter] went. There were still a lot of question marks with the fanbase. We lost at home to Wolves in December of 2021 and a lot of people were saying ‘he’s got to go, we’re not progressing.’ It wasn’t until that March when we won at Tottenham that it started to properly come together.”

Even Bloom has admitted to being surprised by De Zerbi’s influence.

“I didn’t quite realise the impact he would have when he came in,” Bloom told BBC Radio Sussex Sport. “He has been hugely influential for so many players. He is so good at improving them. The quality of the play and the risk taking at the right times to create opportunities for the players to create chances and his tactical abilities are superb.”

Brighton have come such a long way in a short space of time. When they kick off against AEK Athens on Thursday night, you can guarantee that everyone associated with the club will take a moment to contemplate just how much they’ve achieved. Twenty-six years after Reinelt’s goal kept Brighton alive, they’re heading off to Europe in search of the good life.

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هات بت : Ten Hag: ‘Don’t know’ if Sancho will play for Man United again

Ten Hag: 'Don't know' if Sancho will play for Man United again

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Erik ten Hag has admitted there is doubt about whether Jadon Sancho has a future at Manchester United.

The 23-year-old is training alone following his public row with Ten Hag in the aftermath of the 3-1 defeat to Arsenal before the international break.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Sources have told ESPN that Sancho has not apologised for his role in the spat and, speaking at a news conference on Friday, the United manager refused to say whether the England international remains part of his long-term plans at Old Trafford.

“I don’t know,” said Ten Hag, when asked whether Sancho will play for United again.

“I prepare my team the best I can, I put all my effort into the players who are available. He is not available, so in this moment, he is not important, because he can’t contribute.”

Sancho has been banished from first-team training after publicly challenging Ten Hag’s reasons for dropping him for the game at Arsenal.

Ten Hag said it was because of poor training performances, before Sancho issued a post on social media to say the comments were “completely untrue” and that he had been “made a scapegoat for a long time.”

Sancho is unavailable for Brighton’s visit to Old Trafford on Saturday but Ten Hag insists the rest of his players are focused.

“With fans it’s the talk, with you [the media] it’s the talk, but with the players it is not the talk,” he added.

“They want to perform. For players who didn’t have so much opportunities, they get their opportunity, so this is their chance to come into the team.

“So, as I said, we had a really good spirit, everyone is focusing on this game, and the coming games.”

Sancho is currently training alone with club staff and there is no timeframe for his return to the squad.

Ten Hag is also without Antony, who has been given a leave of absence amid allegations of abusive behaviour towards multiple women. Raphaël Varane, Mason Mount, Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia and new signing Sofyan Amrabat are all out injured leaving United short of options, but Ten Hag insists he had no choice but to take a tough stance on Sancho.

“It’s in favour of the team,” he said.

“That is what my decision is based on. That is not about me, and to be strict. No. This is in favour of the team.”

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هات بت : England’s Southgate labels Maguire treatment ‘ridiculous’

England's Southgate labels Maguire treatment 'ridiculous'

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Gareth Southgate has labelled criticism of Harry Maguire as a “a joke” and claimed the “ridiculous treatment” of the Manchester United defender is “beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

Maguire came on for the second half of Tuesday’s 3-1 friendly win over Scotland at Hampden Park and was jeered throughout by the home supporters.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

England were leading 2-0 through strikes from Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham before Maguire scored a 67th-minute own goal to prompt further ironic cheers.

Harry Kane settled the contest with his 59th international goal nine minutes from time as England supporters continued to chant Maguire’s name in response to sustained abuse.

Maguire was also cheered by Arsenal fans when appearing as a substitute for Manchester United at Emirates Stadium earlier this month and Southgate believes the negativity is the product of unfair coverage.

“From a Scotland fan’s point of view, I get it and I have absolutely no complaints with what they did,” began Southgate. “It is a consequence of ridiculous treatment of him for a long period of time, frankly. I think our fans recognised ‘OK, there might be a bit of heat from our own supporters but we’re not going to have it from others getting into him.’

“But it’s a joke. I’ve never known a player treated like he is, not by the Scottish fans but by our own commentators, pundits whatever it is. They’ve created something beyond anything I’ve ever seen. He’s been an absolute stalwart in the second most successful England team in decades.

“He’s been an absolutely key part of that. I’ve talked about the importance of our senior players, he’s been crucial amongst that. Every time he goes on the field, the resilience he shows, the balls he shows is absolutely incredible. He’s a top player, we are all with him and our fans were brilliant with him tonight.”

Asked how Maguire was, Southgate continued: “He’s good, he’s great. We’ve had a good win. He’s been a big part of that. He’s gone and spoken with the media because that’s the sort of lad he is. He’s fronted up as he always does. Enormous credit to his character.”

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هات بت : Man United players fed up with Jadon Sancho – source

Man United players fed up with Jadon Sancho - source

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Jadon Sancho is facing a battle to regain the support of his Manchester United teammates as well as manager Erik ten Hag following his angry reaction to being dropped for the Premier League defeat at Arsenal, a source has told ESPN.

Sancho, 23, posted a strongly worded social media rebuttal of Ten Hag’s postmatch claims that he had been omitted from the squad at the Emirates due to unsatisfactory training performances, with the England international rejecting the “completely untrue” comments and saying on his X account that he had been a “scapegoat for a long time.”

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

But one source has told ESPN that there is little sympathy for Sancho inside the United dressing room, saying, “The players have had enough of him.”

Sancho’s performances in training and on matchday, as well as his demeanour around the club, have led to the £73 million ($91m) signing from Borussia Dortmund becoming a peripheral figure with Ten Hag and his coaching staff becoming exasperated by the former Manchester City youngster.

Despite Sancho’s swift reaction to Ten Hag’s comments in the postmatch news conference at Arsenal — Sancho has not deleted his post and it remains pinned at the top of his X account — sources have said that the United manager has felt no need to clarify or tone down his remarks.

Ten Hag criticised Cristiano Ronaldo on two occasions for his conduct prior to the forward’s departure following a mutually agreed contract cancellation last November, while the former Ajax coach also publicly confirmed that Marcus Rashford was dropped for last season’s Premier League game at Wolves due to him missing a team meeting.

Sources have said that the players accept and respect Ten Hag’s firm approach because it applies without exceptions to squad members, regardless of their status, and that Sancho’s reaction has gone down badly within the dressing room, although a source has said that it was not greeted with surprise.

Sources have told ESPN that Sancho and Ten Hag are set for talks before United’s game against Brighton on Sept. 16 to decide the forward’s future.

United, according to sources, held preliminary talks with Al Ettifaq FC — managed by Steven Gerrard — about a possible loan on Thursday but a deal was never close before the Saudi Pro League transfer window closed.

It leaves Ten Hag with a decision to make about whether Sancho will be part of the squad for the first half of the season.

Since signing for United on a five-year contract in the summer of 2021, Sancho has scored 12 goals in 82 first-team appearances and registered six assists. In his final season with Borussia Dortmund, he scored 16 goals and provided 20 assists in 38 games in all competitions.

ESPN’s Rob Dawson contributed to this report.

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هات بت : £105m Rice Arsenal’s difference-maker against Man United

£105m Rice Arsenal's difference-maker against Man United

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LONDON — Arsenal paid the big bucks to sign Declan Rice for a reason.

In truth, it wasn’t primarily for his goal scoring, but then again, the £105 million man has made it a personal mission to improve his end product, and Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United was quite a spectacular way to start.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Rice’s first Gunners goal came in the sixth minute of added time with the score level at 1-1, squeezing a deflected shot inside André Onana’s near post to spark Emirates Stadium euphoria. The game had been on a knife edge after Martin Odegaard cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s first-half opener for United with substitute Alejandro Garnacho denied what could have been the winning goal by a marginal — but correct — VAR review for offside in the 88th minute.

Yet Rice turned the game decisively in Arsenal’s favour before Gabriel Jesus added a third even deeper into added-on time to spark the sort of jubilation associated with a title run, rather than in early September. Arsenal are often criticised for over-celebrating, but the explanation here is simple. Of course, the opponent — an old adversary — makes winning sweeter but of more immediate pertinence is the need to maintain pace with Manchester City, an admittedly absurd premise at first glance given the Premier League season is only four games old.

Arsenal reached 50 points at the halfway stage last season and failed to win the title — City have raised the bar to the extent the margin for error is smaller than ever, and entering the first international break with 10 points from a possible 12 — two behind City — is a significant boost for Arsenal’s self-belief.

Rice was acquired at great expense from West Ham to bridge the gap, and his all-round display ultimately proved a match-winning contribution. Could this be the first of many goals from their new midfield man?

“For sure, when you see the technical ability that he has and how he executed in this these moments,” said Gunners boss Mikel Arteta. “His range when shooting from accuracy and the power he generates with no space, that’s with both legs, he can do it with both feet. He’s got the timing as well to arrive in the box. The position will dictate that a lot because it’s about how you arrive in the box. But he’s got the ability to do that, that’s for sure.

“When you look at how a holding midfielder needs to dominate his area, how he needs to break up play, how he glided the team together when they were stretched a bit. Then he produced a magic moment to win us the game, so, really happy with him.”

It was also Rice’s drive forward that led to Kai Havertz, generally subdued once again, going down in the box for a penalty overturned on VAR review, as he sought to alter an unusually cautious first half from the home side.

Arsenal had just 45 percent possession in the first half. They usually dominate opponents on their own turf — aside from Brighton’s deserved win here in May, when they took control of proceedings in impressive fashion — and no team had enjoyed more of the ball in the opening 45 minutes since January 2022. The opposition that day was also United, a clear sign that Arteta is inherently wary of the counterattacking threat Rashford once again ruthlessly demonstrated on Sunday.

“The first goal that we gave away we talked about it, if you lose the ball inside the first two passes after regaining it, you are kaput,” Arteta said. “We did it again.”

Rice won four of his five duels and all three aerial challenges, recovering the ball five times in all. But more than that, he helped Arsenal play more on the front foot in the second period — ending with 55 percent possession overall but more significantly, creating good chances with Bukayo Saka guilty of missing the best of them when clean through nine minutes from the end.

United will rue the fine margin of Garnacho’s disallowed goal and failing to capitalise on a promising cameo by their own big-money summer signing, £72m Rasmus Hojlund, who gave the visitors a more potent threat than Anthony Martial will probably ever be when introduced on 67 minutes. There will be plenty more to come from him, but it was a damning indictment of United’s summer window that they ended this game with 35-year-old Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire at centre-back, while Sofyan Amrabat was not ready to feature at all.

In mitigation, United have suffered badly with injuries at centre-back with Lisandro Martínez and Victor Lindelöf forced off here to join Raphaël Varane and Luke Shaw on the sidelines. Yet re-signing Evans and using Maguire, who they were desperate to offload all summer and was actually cheered by Arsenal fans upon his introduction, underlines the lack of prudent squad planning, as does acquiring Amrabat so late in the window, when he had been ready to leave Fiorentina in July if the clubs could agree a fee.

Already, it once again appears United are some considerable distance away from closing the gap to City, an aim both of these teams harbour but that Arsenal look much more equipped to take on. They are yet to be entirely convincing in any game this season, it must be said, but the Gunners have found a way to win three of their four games, and on Sunday, the club-record buy made the difference.

As Arteta put it: “Big matches are for big players, and Rice was tremendous.”

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هات بت : Who could move on transfer deadline day: Salah, Amrabat, more

Who could move on transfer deadline day: Salah, Amrabat, more

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The transfer window has entered its final stages as the clock ticks down to Friday’s deadline. The Premier League is set to close for business at 6 p.m. ET / 11 p.m. BST (find out when other leagues close here), but despite time running out for deals to do be done, there are still lots of club and players around Europe aiming to get moves over the line.

Some will get done, others will fizzle out before the deadline, while there are players who will be linked over the next 24 hours who are highly unlikely to join a new team.

Here are some deals that could happen on Friday.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Mohamed Salah: Liverpool to Al Ittihad

File this one in the “highly unlikely” category, but because of the sums reported to be involved in terms of potential transfer fee (£118m) and wages (£65m per year), Al Ittihad’s interest in the Liverpool forward must be taken seriously. Liverpool insist Salah is going nowhere, while the Saudi window is open until Sept. 20, but it’s still one to watch.

Sofyan Amrabat: Fiorentina to Manchester United

Manchester United have held a summerlong interest in the Morocco midfielder, but financial restrictions at Old Trafford mean they can only structure a loan move. United’s initial offer was rejected by the Serie A club, but the player is keen to sign, so this one should get done.

Eric Dier: Tottenham Hotspur to Bayern Munich or Fulham

The versatile Tottenham defender is the subject of interest from Fulham and Bayern Munich, while he has been told he can leave Spurs by coach Ange Postecoglou. It’s a straight choice: stay in London with Fulham or hook up with close friend and former Spurs teammate Harry Kane at Bayern. Though Bayern are also tracking Fulham’s João Palhinha, so that could make an impact on where he ends up.



Hislop urges Maguire to leave Man United

Shaka Hislop believes Harry Maguire should leave Manchester United if he wants to further develop his career.

Harry Maguire: Man United to West Ham United

Man United boss Erik ten Hag is happy to offload the world’s most expensive defender (£80m), and West Ham are prepared to strike a £30m deal to sign him, but despite a lack of opportunities at Old Trafford, Maguire is resisting a move. Deadline day may prompt a late U-turn by the England international.

Ansu Fati: Barcelona to Brighton

Brighton have moved ahead of Tottenham in the race to sign the Barcelona forward on a season-long loan. The prospect of European football at the Amex and Brighton’s reputation as a club that dramatically improves players is likely to swing the deal in Brighton’s favour. As a result, Barca could land João Félix on loan from Atletico Madrid as a replacement.

Jesse Lingard to West Ham

The former Manchester United midfielder is a free agent after seeing out a 12-month deal at Nottingham Forest. The 30-year-old has seen interest from Saudi Arabian clubs, but West Ham are frontrunners after opening talks to re-sign a player who impressed during a loan spell at the London Stadium in 2021.



Laurens: Chelsea would drive Cucurella to Man United themselves

Julien Laurens explains why he doesn’t feel a loan move for Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella makes sense for Manchester United.

Marc Cucurella: Chelsea to Man United

Just 12 months after sealing a £63m move from Brighton to Chelsea, Cucurella is on the way out at Stamford Bridge with Manchester United close to agreeing a loan deal to solve their injury crisis at left-back after injuries to Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia.

Ryan Gravenberch: Bayern to Manchester United or Liverpool

Liverpool and Manchester United are both interested in signing the Bayern Munich midfielder, but with United focusing their attention on Amrabat, the path is clear for Liverpool to seal a loan deal for the 21-year-old, who only signed from Ajax last summer for €18m.

Randal Kolo Muani: Eintracht Frankfurt to Paris Saint-Germain

The Eintracht Frankfurt forward is holding out for an €80m move to Paris Saint-Germain and is refusing to train with the Bundesliga club in an effort to force the transfer to go ahead. PSG need a forward, so expect this one to happen, with Hugo Ekitike possibly moving the other way as part of the deal.



Burley: This Tottenham squad is not good or deep enough

Craig Burley gives his thoughts on Tottenham’s exit from the Carabao Cup in the second round.

Brennan Johnson: Nottingham Forest to Tottenham or Brentford

Tottenham are pushing hard to sign the Wales forward as they attempt to reinvest the £88m received from Bayern Munich for Harry Kane. Forest want at least £50m from clubs keen on Johnson and, with Spurs set to miss out on Ansu Fati to Brighton, Postecoglou could move for him. Brentford are also reportedly in the battle and have had a £43m bid rejected.

Donny van de Beek: Man United to Lorient or Galatasaray

French club Lorient and Turkish side Galatasaray are both in talks with Manchester United over a move for the former Ajax midfielder. Van de Beek, who signed for €45m from Ajax in 2020, has endured a miserable three years at Old Trafford and has no prospect of game time, so a deal with either club is likely.

João Cancelo: Man City to Barcelona

Barcelona want to sign the Portugal defender from Manchester City, and a loan deal is likely. But the LaLiga champions must offload a number of players to enable them to register him with the league to comply with their salary cap regulations.

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هات بت : Transfer Talk: Chelsea, Roma on verge of Lukaku loan deal

Transfer Talk: Chelsea, Roma on verge of Lukaku loan deal

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The summer transfer window in Europe enters its final week, but there’s plenty of gossip still swirling around. Transfer Talk brings you all the latest buzz on rumours, comings, goings and, of course, done deals!

TOP STORY: Chelsea, Roma on verge of Lukaku deal

Chelsea and AS Roma have reached an agreement over a deal involving striker Romelu Lukaku, according to Calciomercato.

The clubs are said to have agreed on a straight loan until the end of the season for a fee of €5 million, with no clauses included that would enable the Serie A side to make the move become permanent.

The 30-year-old is reported to have accepted a salary worth €7.5m-per-season to make the switch to the Stadio Olimpico, where he will return to Italy’s top flight after last season’s loan stint at Internazionale.

Inter were keen to bring Lukaku back but withdrew their interest after he was linked with a move to rivals Juventus. That proposal fell through following sources told ESPN last week that Lukaku became frustrated at the amount of time it took Juventus to negotiate with Chelsea.

Speaking to Belgian newspaper HLN on Saturday while at his son’s first youth game for Anderlecht, Lukaku said: “Tomorrow, I will fly to Rome to sign.”

It is believed that the Belgium international is set to arrive on Monday to undertake his medical before the move can be announced by manager Jose Mourinho’s side.

Lukaku’s impressive record in the Serie A has seen him contribute to 76 goals in 97 appearances for Inter, where he played in three seasons across two loan spells.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)


– Manchester City have proposed a new deal for Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Matheus Nunes, according to Fabrizio Romano. City’s second approach for the 25-year-old’s signature is believed to be worth a total of €60 million, with growing optimism from the club hierarchy that they can get a deal over the line. It is said that personal terms have already been agreed with him.

– Bayern Munich are interested in a loan move for Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, reports Bild. Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel is believed to be keen on the 26-year-old, and amid ongoing talks, it is reported that the Bundesliga champions could also be open to a player exchange deal that involves midfielder Ryan Gravenberch. The 21-year-old Netherlands international has also been linked with Liverpool as uncertainty over his future at the Allianz Arena continues to grow.

– West Ham United technical director Tim Steidten has traveled to Brazil to undergo talks with Corinthians over a move for Yuri Alberto, reveals Sky Sports. The 22-year-old winger, who has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs this summer, is reported to be keen on the switch to the Hammers, and it looks as though they have stepped up their approach to sign him before the transfer window closes. He has contributed to six goals in 19 Brazilian league games this season.

– Nottingham Forest are set to propose an offer for Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, according to Fabrizio Romano. Personal terms are reported to have already been agreed with the 26-year-old, leaving just an agreement over a fee required before he can undertake his medical. Ndidi, a Nigeria international, is said to be the Premier League side’s priority option as they look to acquire a defensive midfielder.

– Manchester United have made an enquiry to Barcelona over wing-back Marcos Alonso, writes Bild’s Christian Falk. The 32-year-old, who arrived at the La Liga side from Chelsea, has one year remaining on his contract at the club, but talks are now said to be ongoing over a potential return to the Premier League.

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هات بت : 230824 SOCCER Cincinnati- Miami Follow Live

Manchester City 1-2 Atletico Madrid (30 Jul, 2023) Game Analysis

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Inter Miami are looking to reach the second final in club history after winning the Leagues Cup on penalties on Saturday vs. Nashville SC. FC Cincinnati are looking to make the first final appearance, but this is their second appearance in a U.S. Open Cup semi; they lost to New Red Bulls in the 2017 semfinals, as a USL club.
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هات بت : Mitrovic ‘forced’ transfer from Fulham to Al Hilal – Silva

Mitrovic 'forced' transfer from Fulham to Al Hilal - Silva

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Serbia forward Aleksandar Mitrovic has joined Saudi side Al Hilal from Fulham, the two clubs announced on Saturday.

Mitrovic, Fulham’s top scorer in four of the last five seasons, did not play in the Premier League club’s 3-0 loss to Brentford on Saturday after being injured in the opening game of the season at Everton last weekend.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

Fulham manager Marco Silva later acknowledged that they had reluctantly agreed to let the 28-year-old leave.

“I got information before the match and now the confirmation from the club after the match too that he’s on his way to leave the club,” the Portuguese told reporters at Craven Cottage.

“Both clubs they got an agreement and now is the moment to finish the era of Mitrovic in our club.

“He forced everything to leave the club, he wanted to leave the club,” he added. “In the end they reached an agreement and now is the moment for us to keep playing and working without him.”

Silva did not provide any details about the deal.

Mitrovic has three years left on his contract and Fulham last month rejected multiple offers from Al Hilal, who have also signed Brazil’s Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

ESPN reported that Riyadh-based Al Hilal had since come back with an improved offer of £46 million ($58m), which was believed to be close to Fulham’s asking price.

Silva said Fulham would seek to replace Mitrovic within the transfer window but it would not be easy.

“Unfortunately for me as manager we have four or five players to sign in 15 days. The striker position and striker market is not an easy one,” he said.

“Many clubs are looking for the same. We are going to do our best to do it.

“We have to find the right player to replace him. If not we’re going to face the Premier League with the players we have here.”

Information from ESPN’s James Olley contributed to this report.

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هات بت : Summer transfer window: Grading big signings in men’s soccer

Summer transfer window: Grading big signings in men's soccer

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Once again, in spite of a global financial crisis, the men’s soccer clubs around Europe spent an incredible amount of money to sign players in January, and this summer might not be any different.

Indeed, clubs spent a record $1.57 billion (£1.27bn) on transfers in the January transfer window, according to FIFA, with the Premier League doing most of the heavy lifting at 57.3% of the total. But with two giants of the game in Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nassr) and Lionel Messi (Inter Miami) now taking their careers outside of Europe, who will step up?

Here are grades for all the major summer transfers in the men’s game, with each day’s moves listed in order of highest fee.

All fees are reported unless confirmed with an asterisk (*).

Aug. 15

Brentford: B+
Arsenal: C+

With a contract that expires in 2024, Raya had the cards in his favour over a move. Brentford did well to get an initial £3m loan fee and £27m obligatory fee next summer, designed to help Arsenal with financial fair play concerns.

I’ll be honest, I don’t get it. Aaron Ramsdale is No. 1 and has been one of the main reasons for the club’s success. Raya could push him, and it’s good to have competition, but even though he has arrived on loan, spending £27m to sign a backup goalkeeper is silly. It probably won’t end well for one of them.

Aug. 14

Brighton: A+
Chelsea: A

Brighton are so good at this. They signed the Ecuador international for around £4m in 2021 and have made a huge profit. They held on to their midfield star amid interest from Chelsea and Arsenal in January, then managed to get what could turn out to be a British transfer record for his services. Wow.

Chelsea had to pay more than they wanted, which was around £80m, as Liverpool made a bid of £111m. They were lucky the player wanted to move to Stamford Bridge, and once again they’ve landed one of the top young players in world football. He could be a world-class addition.

Chelsea: D
Real Madrid: B+

Chelsea signed a new No. 1 in Robert Sanchez, but sending the world’s most expensive goalkeeper out on loan isn’t a good look. He could have stayed and fought for his place, but Mauricio Pochettino clearly didn’t rate him. What a waste of €80m.

Signing David de Gea on a free transfer seemed like an easy win for Real Madrid, but Kepa will do a job while Thibaut Courtois recovers from his ACL injury. His form has been patchy over recent years, so they will hope he lands on his feet.



Harry Kane’s farewell message to Tottenham fans

Harry Kane says his goodbye to Tottenham supporters through a video on his social media channels, as the England striker announces his move to Bayern.

Aug. 12

€100m (£86.4m, $110m)

Tottenham: A-
Bayern: A

Backed into a corner by the fact Kane’s contract was expiring next year, Tottenham had to let him go. They didn’t want to, but picking up €100m, with another possible €20m in add-ons, is pretty good for a 30-year-old.

Finally, Bayern have replaced Robert Lewandowski with a world-class striker. The club aren’t usually ones to pay over the odds, but the England international is worth every penny and should thrive in the Bundesliga.

Barcelona: C-

Barca were forced to act as they had to agree to this low release clause when he signed his contract. A fee of €50m is super low for Dembele, and Barca were caught out. Although they will gladly take the money and might look back on his questionable injury record for comfort.

PSG are planning for the future and made use of the clause before it doubled to €100m. Well done to them, and it’s a surprise other clubs didn’t try the same. The France international can flourish in Paris, but he will need to show he can overcome his previous injury issues.

Aug. 9

Arsenal: B
Nottingham Forest: B+

Turner served as backup to Aaron Ramsdale and made just seven appearances — all in cup competitions — so it’s no surprise to see him leave. The Gunners signed him for £5m and moved him on for £10m a year later, so it’s decent business.

Forest needed a new No. 1, and Turner cemented his position as the first-choice goalkeeper for the USMNT even though he wasn’t really playing at the Emirates. He should get a chance to show what he’s capable of.

Aug. 8

Wolfsburg: B+
Tottenham: B

The German club have made a ten-fold profit on the young defender, a €4m signing from Volendam in 2021. They will miss him, but that kind of money will go a long way to rebuilding the squad.

Almost a midfielder disguised as a defender, with strong passing, dribbling and running skills, Van de Ven could be key to starting Spurs’ attacks from the back. He’s flown somewhat under the radar during his career, so €40m seems a lot, but he’s shown that he has some potential.

Southampton: B+
Newcastle: B

After Livramento failed to make a breakthrough at Chelsea, Southampton snapped him up for £5m in 2021 and have made a big profit given he missed over a year of football with a knee injury.

The right-back has only one full season under his belt, so Newcastle are gambling on his potential. It’s a huge fee for a 20-year-old with a questionable injury record, and it may come back to bite them. But he can learn from Kieran Trippier and is highly rated by those who have watched him play for years.

Aug. 7

Benfica: D

When you put a release clause of €120m into a player’s contract, you should only really accept offers that come close to it. And allowing your guy to move on loan first, that’s just silly. An option to sign permanently for €65m, plus €15m in add-ons, makes the total fee a potential €80m, but the 22-year-old should be worth more in this market and certainly shouldn’t be leaving on loan.

Ramos is the goal scorer whom PSG need and a versatile attacker who could help replace Kylian Mbappe in the long term. How PSG managed to negotiate a loan first to help with their financial fair play issues is incredible, and if they do opt to sign him permanently, then it’s a decent price for one of the top young forwards in Europe. He should do well in Ligue 1.



Why Josko Gvardiol will be a ‘very good’ signing for Man City

Frank Leboeuf reacts to Josko Gvardiol’s proposed transfer to Manchester City from RB Leipzig.

Aug. 5

RB Leipzig: A+
Man City: A+

How do they keep doing it? Leipzig landed the Croatia international for just €19m from Dinamo Zagreb in 2021. Now his transfer is worth five times that amount. It helped that he had a good World Cup, but the club can just find another young star and do the same.

City have signed arguably the best young central defender in the world. At 21, he has room to grow and can slot in at left-back as well. It’s a lot to spend, almost a world-record amount for a defender, but he’s worth it. And there are no add-ons to pay either.

Atalanta: B+
Man United: C+

Financially, this doesn’t feel like a good deal for either team. Atalanta wanted €100m and got €75m, albeit with €10m in add-ons potentially arriving. And Man United are overpaying for an unproven 20-year-old.

The step up to the Premier League might be too quick for Hojlund, given he is just starting his career. But United are gambling on a lot of potential and it could backfire.

Brighton: A-
Chelsea: B-

A £25m fee for a backup goalkeeper? Brighton have done it again, and have already signed his replacement in Bart Verbruggen.

It doesn’t feel like a very “Chelsea” signing right now. For starters, Sanchez is 25 and not 18. They’ve signed a new No. 1 goalkeeper for a cheap fee given that Kepa is going to go out on loan, but he might find himself replaced soon.

Aug. 4

Monaco: B+
Chelsea: B

The France international defender, who can play at centre-back or right-back, had been tracked by Man United and Newcastle. Monaco got the fee they wanted, so all credit to them.

You have to hope that Chelsea didn’t sign Disasi just because Wesley Fofana was ruled out for an extended period. He will face plenty of competition for his place in the side and surely the move spells the end of Trevoh Chalobah’s career at the club.

Valencia: C+
AC Milan: B

Valencia signed Musah as a youth player in 2019 from Arsenal, so it’s all profit. But you have to feel that a 20-year-old with such obvious growth potential should have fetched a little more in terms of transfer fee. The club wanted €25m, but had to negotiate down.

Having signed Christian Pulisic already, the addition of his USMNT teammate is an interesting one. Milan needed to replace Sandro Tonali and did so with a couple of players, so maybe it will work out. And if it doesn’t, then they haven’t spent much to sign Musah.

Aug. 1

Bayern Munich: C+
Al Nassr: A+

Yes, Bayern recouped virtually what they paid Liverpool to sign Mane a year ago. But there’s an embarrassment factor here. The German champions would not have wanted things to end this way. They were just afforded the best option to move on.

Al Nassr made waves when signing Cristiano Ronaldo, but Mane could have just as much impact. He’s 31 and has signed a four-year deal. Of all the players to move to Saudi Arabia outside Ronaldo, he could be the best.

July 25

Wolves: C-
Fulham: B

With a huge €38m fee back in 2019, the move didn’t reach expectations despite the Mexico international scoring 57 goals in 166 games. Wolves could have picked up a bigger fee, but it feels like they have been planning for life without the Jiménez for while.

At Fulham, Jiménez will look to revive the attacking form that has been severely impacted by a life-threatening head injury suffered in late 2020. He’s 32, so he doesn’t have long left in his career, but for such a cheap fee he seems a good replacement for Aleksandar Mitrovic.

July 24

Bayern: C+
Dortmund: B-

A free transfer signing from RB Leipzig, the Austria international managed only two goals in 54 competitive appearances for Bayern, as he couldn’t cement his place in the first XI. A loan to Man United last season didn’t do much either, so Bayern did well to get a decent fee.

He’s no replacement for Jude Bellingham, but he has all the tools to be a success in the Bundesliga if he can recapture some of his old form. It’s relatively rare to see a player move the other way from Bayern to Dortmund, but it made sense.

July 22

Bayern Leverkusen: A-
Aston Villa: A

With 49 goals and 48 assists from 173 games, Diaby has been a real star for the German side. He will be hard to replace, but €60m was too much to turn down.

Villa broke their club record — previously £33m to sign Emiliano Buendia from Norwich in 2021 — and it’s money well spent. Diaby is a class act and his skills down the wing should bring an extra dimension to the attack. Alongside the £31.5m signing of Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, Villa are spending quite a bit this summer.

July 21

Inter Milan: B-
Man United: A

It’s a decent fee, but Onana has been key to Inter’s success in recent years and letting him go near his prime isn’t super smart given he has a contract until 2027. But they need the money and could get another €4m in add-ons.

Man United needed a goalkeeper who is good with the ball at his feet and they don’t come much better than Onana. His issues with Cameroon at the World Cup aside, United have signed a dependable and top quality No. 1 for the next five years at least.

July 19

€8m ($9m)

Girona: B
Barcelona: B

It’s a decent amount of money for a 31-year-old and Girona also get Barca midfielder Pablo Torre, 20, on a season-long loan as part of the deal.

Romeu returns to the club where he spent seven years as a youth-team player before moving to Chelsea in 2011. Make no mistake, if Barca had any money at all they would have looked elsewhere, but the need to fill the defensive midfield vacancy left by Sergio Busquets, coupled with his fine performances with Girona last season and his knowledge of the club, made it happen.

July 18

Napoli: A-
Bayern: B+

One of the best defenders in Serie A last season as Napoli ended their long wait for the Scudetto, Kim was signed from Fenerbahce for €18m a year ago. Napoli wanted his €50m release clause and they got it.

Bayern love to spend big on a centre-back. Having splashed out on Lucas Hernandez (€80m), Dayot Upamecano (€42m) and Matthijs de Ligt (€77m) in recent years, the German champions have done it again. Kim will replace Hernandez, who is likely to move to PSG, so it’s a decent move.

July 16

Inter Miami: A+

The MLS secondary window opened on July 5, and Messi was finally announced as an Inter Miami player weeks later. It seems incredible, but the 36-year-old GOAT made it clear why he didn’t want to return to Barcelona or head to Saudi Arabia after leaving PSG this summer. America is a new challenge and one he will relish. It was a complex deal to pull off, but David Beckham-owned Miami did it, with a little help!

Inter Miami: A-

Not content with just signing Messi, the MLS side also bagged his former Barcelona teammate Busquets, 34. He negotiated with Saudi sides Al Nassr and Al Hilal but had always wanted to play in the United States. A rare breed of midfielder, Miami won’t see the best of him at his age, but he should still show his class.



Laurens: Declan Rice takes Arsenal to the next level

Julien Laurens explains why Declan Rice was Mikel Arteta’s #1 transfer target this summer.

July 15

West Ham: A+
Arsenal: A

Arsenal offered £75m plus £15m add-ons. West Ham said they wanted £100m up front. Man City bid £80m plus £10m add-ons. West Ham said they wanted £100m. Fair play. They got the price they wanted. They’ll miss Rice, but £100m goes a long way to adding depth to their squad and they kept their word in letting him go.

Arsenal had to spend big to land their top target, and they did (plus another £5m in add-ons). Rice, 24, is a player who can do everything in midfield and will only get better. It’s a super deal.

July 14

Ajax: B+
Arsenal: B+

As usual, Ajax take a youngster and turn him into a superstar. It’s pure profit on the deal, and while the club will lose one of their best players, they are used to dealing with this. Ajax held out for a bigger fee and they got it, plus a potential €5m in add-ons.

Timber is not the tallest defender (at 5-foot-10), but he’s quick and versatile enough to cover a number of positions. Squad depth is key for the Gunners, and his signing will help them a lot.

July 13

Chelsea: C-
AC Milan: B+

Signing the U.S. international for €62m in 2019, it’s clear Chelsea would have expected more, and they’ve taken a big loss. The move to London didn’t work out for him. Still, even though the club are targeting younger players now, he could have brought some valuable experience if he had stayed and extended his contract.

Milan were able to negotiate down from Chelsea’s demands for €25m (although they could pay an extra €2m in add-ons) and have landed a 24-year-old who can make a difference in the final third. He won’t be able to play on his favoured left wing, given Rafael Leao is there, but he can do well as either a No. 10 or a right winger in Serie A.



Laurens: Declan Rice takes Arsenal to the next level

Julien Laurens explains why Declan Rice was Mikel Arteta’s #1 transfer target this summer.

July 12

Lazio: C-
Al- Hilal: A+

The Serbia midfielder has been linked with a move away from Lazio every single year for ages, but the club always wanted at least €100m. They did not get that, as his contract was expiring next summer, but they will regret not accepting one of the many offers they’ve had.

The likes of Arsenal, PSG, Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester United have been linked with Milinkovic-Savic recently, so Al-Hilal have done incredibly well to persuade him to move to Saudi Arabia. He’s 28, so is still in his prime. This transfer came out of the blue and is a real statement.

July 9

Bayern: C+

An €80m signing from Atletico in 2019, Hernandez is being allowed to leave for just over half that amount. His injury history and the fact his contract expired in 2024 played a part, but Bayern could have managed things better. Though they have agreed to sign his replacement, Kim Min-Jae, already.

PSG’s fans might not be too pleased, given his links to rivals Marseille, but Hernandez should strengthen the side. If he can stay fit then his versatility will certainly help them; if not, it’s a big-money gamble.

July 7

Sporting CP: A

Ugarte signed for Sporting for €6.5m (for half of his economic rights) in 2021, and he’s gone on to repay that tenfold. The club did what they do best, which is to sign a young player and move him on a few years later for a massive profit. He had a €60m release clause, so they got what they wanted.

A tough defensive midfielder who impressed for Uruguay at the World Cup, Ugarte is exactly what PSG need. A ball winner who can hold on to possession and pick a pass, he has plenty of potential to develop. The French champions may have overpaid, but he’s an exciting talent.

FC Augsburg: C
PSV Eindhoven: B

This was a bad move by Augsburg, who landed Pepi for €16m in January 2022 and, when he didn’t impress, then sent him on loan to FC Groningen where he scored 13 goals in 31 appearances in all competitions last season. They took a gamble and had to let him go for less.

For PSV, the gamble is still there. But the USMNT striker has already shown he can score in the Eredivisie and at 20 years old has time on his side. It’s not a huge fee, so they they aren’t taking too much of a risk.

July 6

Fenerbahce: D
Real Madrid: B+

You don’t let one of the best young players to come through the academy leave for such a low fee. The fact it was a release clause suggests that the Turkish side didn’t consider that big clubs might come in for him so soon. Big mistake.

A possible generational talent, if you believe the hype. It will be a steep learning curve for the 18-year-old midfielder, but Guler seems to be worth the trouble. It’s not a massive outlay, and the rewards for Madrid could be huge if he delivers on his potential.

Real Madrid: D+

Once considered the future of Real Madrid, Asensio’s stock has dropped in recent years and he decided to leave in search of more regular first-team football. But he still played 51 times last season, scoring 12 times, so will be missed. And Madrid shouldn’t allow a player of his class to leave for nothing.

Another great move for PSG as they took advantage of his contract situation to snap the 27-year-old up for free. He’s not a replacement for Lionel Messi, but will contribute plenty to the cause and is still yet to reach his full potential.

Inter Milan: D

Inter didn’t want him to leave and they don’t get a transfer fee to ease their financial issues, so it’s a bad grade given they spent around €20m bringing him in from Sampdoria in 2017. The only thing in their favour is that he suffered with injuries last season.

Gosh PSG are good at landing players on free transfers. Skriniar is a fine defender and will add some great depth if he can stay fit.



Pulisic reveals pride in Italian roots after AC Milan transfer

Christian Pulisic opens up about how proud his grandmother would have been of him after signing for AC Milan.

July 5

Chelsea: B
Man United: A

Chelsea wanted at least £70m, so they have compromised in order to get a deal done and help balance the books, but £55m is still a large amount for a player whose contract expires in a year. Still, he joined Chelsea as a six-year-old so this departure will hurt.

A great move for United as the England international’s versatility will boost their attack no end. At 24, Mount has the quality to add depth and can provide rotation options alongside Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes in midfield.

July 3

AC Milan: C+
Newcastle: A

For an initial outlay of €25m in signing him from Brescia in 2021, Milan have made a huge profit in moving on the 23-year-old. It feels slightly odd as he seemed destined to become a club legend and the fans are upset, but money talks.

Newcastle have landed themselves one of the top young midfielders in Europe. Tonali has plenty of time to develop and will relish playing in the Premier League. A statement signing to kick off the new season!

July 2

RB Leipzig: A
Liverpool: A-

Leipzig continue to own the transfer market as they signed Szoboszlai for €20m in 2020 and have made a huge profit. They will miss him, but you get the feeling that they have another youngster ready to step in.

Liverpool paid the Hungary captain’s release clause and it is a lot of money. But he’s capable of playing in a number of positions across the forward line, is 22 years old, and is a set-piece specialist. If he can steer clear of injury then he will improve the side a lot.



How Jude Bellingham makes Real Madrid ‘play more comfortable’

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti speaks on Jude Bellingham’s LaLiga debut and Éder Militão’s injury as Los Blancos win at Athletic Bilbao.

July 1

Dortmund: C+
Real Madrid: A+

OK, Dortmund signed him for €30m and have made a huge profit in three years as he has become one of the best midfielders around. But the fee still seems on the small side for a 19-year-old with such potential. A 30% add-on clause makes the total outlay only €134m, which puts him fifth in the all-time list. Dortmund surely could have got at least a baseline fee of around €120m, with add-ons up to €150m.

A wonderful deal for Madrid, who beat out Man City, Liverpool and every other top club in Europe. Their midfield is set up for the next decade, and they’ve landed a generational talent who will surely become a world star in LaLiga.

RB Leipzig: B+
Chelsea: A-

Leipzig did what they do best: sign a player for a cheap fee and move them on for a huge profit. Nkunku reportedly had a release clause in his contract, so that’s the fee Leipzig got. But they signed him for a mere €13m from PSG in 2019 and turned him into a superstar.

Nkunku is not the No. 9 striker that Chelsea sorely need, but he is a fine operator up front who can fill a number of positions. His 23 goals in 36 games last season show he can hit the back of the net and he’s a more than capable replacement for Kai Havertz if he departs for Arsenal. Though this deal was agreed on as early as last September.

€45m (£39.5m, $48.7m)

Sporting CP: A
Tottenham: B+

Sporting triggered Porro’s release clause of €8.5m after a two-year loan from Man City last summer and have now made a huge profit, as they held out for his new release clause of €45m. It’s classic good business from one of the best clubs in the transfer market.

Tottenham have spent big to sign the 23-year-old right-wing-back, having had him on loan since January, but a bit more forward planning could have seen them avoid such a big outlay. Still, he impressed as the season wore on and he should do well under Ange Postecoglou.

FC Salzburg: B
RB Leipzig: A-

Salzburg are a feeder club; they sign young talent, then move them to Leipzig for a bigger fee when they impress. Sesko’s 18 goals in 41 games have shown what the teenage striker is capable of and he has the potential to go far.

Leipzig ensured they had this deal wrapped up last year, as Man United and others were sniffing around. It’s a good move and the 20-year-old should settle well given the similarities between the two clubs.

Lille: B
Juventus: B-

Weah joined Lille from Paris Saint-Germain for €10m in June 2019 and contributed eight goals and eight assists in 107 games. Not a stellar record, but at least they made a minor profit on the deal.

There will be high expectations in Italy for the United States winger, who is a son of AC Milan legend George Weah. But he’s unlikely to have the same impact as Angel Di Maria, the man he is replacing.

Espanyol: D-
Real Madrid: A

For some reason Espanyol included a clause in Joselu’s contract that allowed him to move on loan to another club if they were relegated. Then they were relegated. Now they’ve lost their top scorer and have no transfer fee to compensate for his departure.

The 33-year-old striker played for Real Madrid Castilla from 2010 to 2012, so this is a dream move for him. Having scored 16 times in LaLiga last season, he will help fill the void left by the departures of Mariano and Karim Benzema without any financial outlay. A great deal for a man in form, and Madrid have an option to make it permanent.

Al Ittihad: A+

Wow. Nobody expected the 35-year-old Benzema to leave Real Madrid on a free transfer and head to Saudi Arabia. But money talks, and his two-year deal worth €400m was clearly a major factor. Cristiano Ronaldo moving to the league at 37 was one thing, but Benzema is the Ballon d’Or holder. This is huge!

Al Ittihad: A-

With wages around the €100m-a-year range, it’s easy to see why Kante chose to move to Saudi Arabia. The 32-year-old’s career has been blighted by injury in recent years and he hasn’t been the force he once was in midfield, so the club aren’t getting a player in his prime. Chelsea offered him a new deal, but Al Ittihad’s money made the difference. You just have to wonder what one of the most down to earth people on the planet is going to spend it on.



Why it made sense for Gundogan to leave Man City for Barcelona

Julien Laurens and Nedum Onuoha discuss Ilkay Gundogan’s decision to join Barcelona on a free transfer.

Barcelona: A

Man City are foolish to let Gundogan, their captain and leader, leave for nothing. Just look at the impact he had from midfield, scoring crucial goals in the final weeks of the season to help them win the treble. Barcelona need goals and experience from the centre of the pitch, and right now there are few better players in that position in world football. Yes, he’s 32, but the Germany international will have a big impact in LaLiga over the next few years and will strengthen the Barca dressing room too.

Inter Milan: B+

Poor from Gladbach to let one of their top stars depart for nothing, but Inter snapped him up, and they should be pleased. The 25-year-old has scored 44 goals and registered 29 assists in 134 appearances, so he knows how to make an impact in the final third, and his versatility will come in handy for sure.

Aston Villa: B+

Given the number of top clubs linked with the Belgium international as soon as Leicester went down, Villa have done very well to snap him up. At 26, Tielemans still has some development potential and was one of Leicester’s best players before he struggled this season. Villa are a good club for him to continue his career.

June 30

Villarreal: A-
Chelsea: B+

With 12 goals from 26 games in his breakthrough season in LaLiga, Jackson has quickly risen to prominence. Villarreal can be pleased with the fee for the 22-year-old Senegal international and can use it to rebuild.

Chelsea have been looking for a No. 9 striker, and now they have one who can hold up the ball and run in behind defenders. He is still learning the game, so don’t expect fireworks immediately, but the Blues are used to gambling on potential.

June 28

Chelsea: A-
Arsenal: B

Chelsea have all but made their money back on the fee they paid Leverkusen to sign Havertz in 2020. That’s pretty good business considering they have already signed his replacement in Christopher Nkunku for €60m.

This one is tough. On the face of it, Arsenal’s need for a player like Havertz isn’t clear. He’s not really a striker, and the Gunners have plenty of quality attacking midfielders already. But coach Mikel Arteta clearly has a plan, and the Germany international’s versatility will help. Still, it’s an awful lot of money (plus another £5m in add-ons) to spend on a guy with just 32 goals in 139 games.

Leicester: B
Tottenham: A-

His 10 goals and nine assists from 30 games last season, despite Leicester’s relegation, marked him out as one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League. But Leicester could have picked up an extra £10m if they’d let him join Newcastle a year ago.

It’s a fair transfer fee for the 26-year-old England international, who can offer a lot going forward. His style of play should be a good fit under manager Ange Postecoglou, and he can hit the ground running.

June 27

Chelsea: C-
Man City: A

Chelsea were forced to accept a lower fee in order to get the deal done by June 30 and therefore make it count towards the first full tax year and help comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. Otherwise they’d have held out for £35m or more. The Blues have lost a quality player on the cheap.

City have done well to snap him up for £25m, with another £5m possible in add-ons. The Croatia international is experienced, at 29, and has the quality to bolster Pep Guardiola’s squad depth. A solid replacement for Gundogan.

June 25

Chelsea: D+
Al Hilal: B+

Chelsea spent £32m to sign the Senegal international from Napoli last summer, and it didn’t work out. The 32-year-old was brought in as a replacement for Antonio Rudiger but struggled as the Blues suffered their worst season since 1994. They had to take a massive loss to move him on and were lucky to find a Saudi suitor.

Koulibaly will be a class addition to the backline and should have no trouble dealing with the quality of opposition he’ll face on a weekly basis, but you can’t help feel that Al Hilal could have spent their money elsewhere. He’s not going to sell many tickets but should help them keep clean sheets.

June 23

Wolves: A+
Al Hilal: A

Given that it was clear Neves was going to depart, Wolves did incredible business by persuading the Saudi club to shell out £47m. There’s no chance any club in Europe (especially not Barcelona, who were most linked) would have paid even half that.

At 26, Neves represents a different age of player to be tempted by the Saudi millions. It’s not quite a coup of the level of Bernardo Silva (if a club manages to pull that off) but the Portugal international is a quality player and is young enough to run the show for years.



Robson: Mac Allister can do everything in Liverpool’s midfield

Stewart Robson explains why Alexis Mac Allister’s move to Liverpool is a win for all involved.

June 14

Brighton: C-
Liverpool: B+

If you believed a lot of the reports after the World Cup, Brighton weren’t going to let the Argentina midfielder depart for less than £80m. However, it appears he had a release clause in his contract. Though Brighton may net another £20m in add-ons, it’s a very cheap way to lose one of their best players.

Liverpool have netted themselves a bargain and can rebuild their midfield with Mac Allister. The 24-year-old was one of the best midfielders in the Premier League last season and should bring a lot to Jurgen Klopp’s side with his passing, creativity and pressing.

Watford: B-
Brighton: B

The Brazilian forward scored 11 goals in 35 Championship games last season, but it wasn’t enough to help Watford to promotion. Could the club have held out for more money from a side like Newcastle? Possibly. But Watford needed to let him go.

Brighton are transfer market gurus, so when they make a move it usually works out. This time, though, they have splashed out a club-record fee. The 21-year-old is certainly an exciting prospect and his transfer could be worth twice that amount in a couple of years if he succeeds on the south coast.

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