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Romelu Lukaku joins Man United for $96.5 million

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Romelu Lukaku has officially joined Manchester United.

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The Belgian striker has signed a five-year contract with the Red Devils and although no transfer fee was listed, it is believed an initial sum of $96 million was paid to Everton for the 24-year-old.

Speaking to United’s website after securing the deal, Lukaku revealed his delight at joining Jose Mourinho’s men.

“I would like to start by thanking Everton and the fans for the last four wonderful seasons, I have made some special friends and we have shared some amazing moments,” Lukaku said. “However, when Manchester United and Jose Mourinho come knocking at the door it is an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I could not turn down.

“You could see the fight, determination and the spirit in this team during the Europa League final and I want to become a part of that. I cannot wait to run out at Old Trafford in front of 75,000 fans but before that pre-season is where the hard work starts and I am looking forward to that first training session.”

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His new manager had the following to say about adding a key man to his forward line, with Lukaku expected to play in United’s second game of their tour against Real Salt Lake in Utah on July 17.

“Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United. He is a big personality and a big player,” Mourinho said. “It is only natural that he wants to develop his career at the biggest club. He will be a great addition to the group and I know they will make him very welcome. I am really looking forward to working with him again.”

Lukaku has linked up with United during their preseason tour of the U.S. as he is currently in Los Angeles, and by coincidence that’s where United will be based throughout their U.S. tour.
The Red Devils have acquired a player who scored 25 goals in the Premier League last season with only Harry Kane scoring more. After leaving Chelsea permanently for Everton back in 2014, Lukaku became the main man at Goodison scoring 71 goals in 133 games in all competitions. That came after he spent a year on loan at Everton in 2013-14, scoring 16 goals just 12 months after he had scored 17 on loan at West Brom.
Mourinho loaned him out from Chelsea to Everton and then sold him to the Toffees with many suggesting the two didn’t get along, but now Mourinho is ready to put his trust in Lukaku, and vice versa, following Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s knee injury which all but ended the chances of the Swedish international staying on at Old Trafford for another season.
Lukaku will start in a central role for United with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba supporting him from attacking midfield.

Zouma signs new Chelsea contract, is immediately loaned to Stoke City

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Kurt Zouma‘s long-term future is secure at Chelsea, but his short-term future will be away from Stamford Bridge.

The France international centerback signed a new six-year contract with Chelsea and was promptly sent out on a season-long loan to Stoke City. Zouma made just three starts and nine total appearances last season as he came back from a torn ACL suffered in February 2016.

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“It is fantastic Kurt has chosen to commit his future to Chelsea,” Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said in a statement. “He has shown his talent since joining us three years ago, and has returned from a serious injury with a fantastic attitude.

“Now he has the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and we will be monitoring his progress closely while he is at Stoke.”

The move to Stoke will give Zouma a new experience, playing for a mid-table side in the Premier League, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in at centerback, battling with American Geoff Cameron and Englishman Ryan Shawcross.

Even with John Terry leaving the club, Zouma was likely to be second-choice in the back three for Chelsea and if he wants to make France’s squad for the 2018 World Cup, he’ll have to play regularly.

 

 

 

Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea

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Chelsea FC will have another Spanish international leading the front line, with Diego Costa likely on his way out of town.

The club announced that Alvaro Morata has completed a transfer from Real Madrid, signing a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. The BBC reports the transfer fee at nearly $78 million.

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“I am so happy to be here,” Morata said in a statement. “It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club. I am looking to work hard, score as many goals as I can and to win as many trophies as possible.”

Morata emerged as an option to replace Costa after Romelu Lukaku decided on joining Manchester United over his former club Chelsea. Morata, who was a Manchester United target at first, then turned his sights on London after becoming disillusioned in Madrid, playing second-fiddle to Karim Benzema.

Despite not being first-choice up top, Morata scored 15 goals in 26 La Liga games and another three in the UEFA Champions League, which Real Madrid went on to win over Morata’s former club Juventus. Morata started for Juventus the last time the club had been in the Champions League final.

Despite being just 24, Morata is emerging as one of the world’s top forwards. He has nine goals in 19 games for the Spanish National Team and now is the right time for him to experience the challenge of the Premier League, where the games come thick and fast and the pace of the game is a step up from what he’s experienced in Spain and Italy.

However, the tactical knowledge he’s learned in both places should help him in England, where he can position himself between the opposing centerbacks.

 

Report: Neymar tells Barcelona teammates he’s off to PSG

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Brazilian star Neymar isn’t keeping his future plans under wraps, at least when it comes to his current club teammates.

According to a report in French newspaper Le Parisien, Neymar has started telling his Barcelona teammates that he’s intends to join Paris Saint-Germain. Spanish publication Marca meanwhile is reporting that Neymar’s teammates are trying to persuade him to stay in Catalonia for the season.

The Le Parisien report adds that certain officials at Barcelona believe the transfer is imminent and are resigned to losing one of their stars this summer. The report also said that it was a “decisive step” that Neymar was on board with the deal, going along with his father and agent.

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Rumors intensified over the past few days as reports emerged in Spain that Neymar had agreed on a contract with PSG, and all that was awaiting was PSG exercising Neymar’s release clause, worth nearly $260 million (€222 million). On paper, PSG’s Qatari owners can probably afford that tremendous sum but it still remains to be seen whether PSG will see this move over the line.

Should Neymar move, it would break transfer records for the price of the deal as well as shock the world, as Neymar seemed settled and happy in Barcelona playing alongside the likes of fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Neymar and Barcelona are currently in New York training ahead of the club’s friendly match in the International Champions Cup against Juventus Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Liverpool complete signing of Hull’s Robertson

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Liverpool has added to its defensive depth with the signing of one of Scotland’s bright young stars.

The club announced the signing of left back Andy Robertson for a reported $10.4 million, which can rise to $13 million with add-on clauses.

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Robertson made 33 appearances for Hull City last season in the Premier League, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. While Robertson is joining Liverpool, midfielder Kevin Stewart is heading the opposite direction, joining the Championship club for a reported $5.2 million.

Robertson will likely compete with Alberto Moreno for the starting left back position, and with Liverpool competing in the Premier League plus three cup competitions, depth at every position will be crucial when injuries and fatigue sets in.