Cardiff City sign England international Steven Caulker, in club record deal

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The Bluebirds have been pretty quiet in the transfer market so far this summer.

But they’ve made everyone sit up and take notice with this signing. Tottenham Hotspur defender Steven Caulker has joined for a fee of over $13 million and will marshal the Welsh sides defense, as they prepare for their first-ever season in the Premier League.

Caulker, 21, is no stranger to Wales after spending the 2011-12 season on loan at Swansea City and winning rave reviews. The composed central defender then returned to parent club Tottenham and played 28 times for the White Hart Lane outfit last season.

Cardiff’s new defender captained England’s U-21 side this summer and played for the full national team in November 2012, scoring on his debut as England lost to Sweden in a friendly. He is powerful, dominate in the air and possesses tremendous pace.

This is a seriously good bit of business by Cardiff.

They’ve managed to snap up a 21-year-old defender who has already racked up two full seasons in the Premier League, the Europa League and has international experience. Guys like that are hard to come by. And the transfer fee of $13 million shows they mean business.

(MORE: Premier League TV schedule for NBC Sports Group released)

Owner Vincent Tan recently spoke out after Cardiff missed out on signing the likes of Victor Wanyama and many more. He assured fans the club would be patient and wait for the right deals to come along. So far Tan is a man of his word.

Caulker’s arrival adds to the signing of Danish international striker Andreas Cornelius for $13 million and suddenly Cardiff City are setting themselves up quite nicely for their first-time in the top flight. Add in the quality of fiery Welsh attacker Craig Bellamy, their amazing new stadium and hugely passionate fans, then you have a recipe for success in the PL.

Today’s signing of Caulker really sends out a statement to the rest of the Premier League. Cardiff are here to stay. So it certainly helps to have one of the most promising young defenders in the English game at the heart of your defense.

Great addition. Now Cardiff’s fans will be saying “pwy sydd nesaf?” Well, the ones who speak Welsh anyway.

VIDEO: Pedro scores stunning goal for Chelsea

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Not a bad way to start the Premier League weekend…

12 minutes into the first game of Matchweek 9, Chelsea’s Pedro curled home a stunning effort into the far corner and off the far post after a corner was played short to him.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A simply stunning goal from the Spaniard which you can watch in the video above.

Watch Live: Chelsea v. Watford in top five clash

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Chelsea host Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as fifth and fourth clash.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea are without a win in three games in all competitions and some pressure is starting to build on the Blues as they’ve fallen further behind the two Manchester clubs atop the PL table.

As for Watford, Marco Silva‘s men are in fourth place and aiming to keep up their impressive away form in the PL this season with three of their four wins coming on the road.

In team news Chelsea’s injuries are piling up with Victor Moses and N'Golo Kante missing but Alvaro Morata does start after recovering from his hamstring injury, while Watford start Troy Deeney up top after his impressive cameo against Arsenal last week.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Courtois; Rudiger, David Luiz, Cahill; Azpilicueta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro, Morata, Hazard. Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Ampadu, Zappacosta, Musonda, Willian, Batshuayi

Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenia, Cleverley, Doucoure, Holebas; Pereyra, Deeney, Richarlison. Subs:

Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr named NWSL league MVP for 2017

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CHICAGO (AP) Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr has been named the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player for this season.

Kerr, a standout on the Australian national team, had a league-record 17 goals and became the league’s fifth Golden Boot winner to also be named MVP.

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

She became the first NWSL player to score four goals in a game on Aug. 19 against the Seattle Reign. Kerr rallied Sky Blue from a 3-goal deficit to beat the Reign 5-4.

Kerr’s award was announced Friday. The league had earlier announced the season’s other award winners: North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper was named Defender of the Year, teammate Ashley Hatch was named Rookie of the Year, Portland’s Adrianna Franch was named Goalkeeper of the Year and the Thorns’ Mark Parsons was named Coach of the Year.

The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

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Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!