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Reports say Man City close in on deals for Walker, Mendy

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Manchester City are said to be close to signing Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy with Pep Guardiola about to spend $120 million on a new right and left back.

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City need these two additions badly, but that’s a lot of cash.

Multiple reports state that Walker, 27, has agreed to join Man City from Tottenham Hotspur in a $65 million deal (that would make him the the most-expensive defender in history) with the England international set to have a medical later this week and then jet off with City on their preseason tour of the U.S. next week. After losing out on Dani Alves to Paris Saint-Germain signing Walker was a priority for City.

As for Mendy, the 22-year-old French international has an incredible engine and his displays last season in the UEFA Champions League have convinced City to spend over $55 million with reports stating City and Monaco are close to an agreement and Mendy could be a City player early next week.

Now, we all know defense was the main issue for City last season and quite frankly it’s been that way for the last five seasons.

After letting Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy leave this summer, Guardiola badly needed full backs and although he has overpaid for them, just like he did for goalkeeper Ederson earlier this summer, he’s got what he wanted.

Walker will provide pace and power from the right back slot and City finally seem to have broken Daniel Levy’s resolved as Spurs’ chairman has played this perfectly. At the end of last season Walker fell out with Mauricio Pochettino and Kieran Trippier impressed as he slotted into the team, so know Spurs already have a replacement for Walker and they’re getting $65 million.

Mendy is the latest in the mass exodus from AS Monaco as the French champions have also sold Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva to Man City earlier this summer for $55 million and are set to lose Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea while Arsenal are chasing Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe seems destined for Real Madrid.

Back to City though, and if they complete this double swoop it will be a huge upgrade on their defense from last season as ageing full backs struggled to cope with the extra demands placed on them by Guardiola, and a shaky central defense didn’t help matters with John Stones struggling and Vincent Kompany only able to play the second half of the season when he returned from injury.

Balance is everything for Guardiola and with two attack-minded full backs he now has that. Just like he did at Barcelona with Dani Alves, Maxwell and Eric Abidal, he has full backs who can keep the ball and join the attack but are also quick enough to recover and keep a solid defensive shape after a turnover.

Walker and Mendy will basically play as wing backs for City and will be asked to move inside with the ball, something Walker isn’t too comfortable doing but he has everything else needed to excel at the Etihad Stadium.

Yes, they overpaid, like they usually do for defenders, but City have addressed their needs perfectly just as their preseason kicks up a few notches with the small matter of playing both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the U.S. over the next two weeks.

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.