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Chelsea agree to deal with Real Madrid for Alvaro Morata

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Chelsea have gone all out and they’ve got their man.

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The reigning Premier League champions have confirmed they’ve agreed to sign Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid, with reports stating the fee agreed is $97 million.

This deal is the biggest in club history, and the Blues released the following statement on Wednesday.

Chelsea Football Club and Real Madrid have agreed terms for the transfer of Alvaro Morata to Stamford Bridge. The move is now subject to him agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.

Morata, 24, is a Spanish international forward, and helped Real to lift a second successive Champions League last season.

It is believed Morata will arrive in London on Thursday to have a medical and discuss personal terms, with the Spaniard currently on Real Madrid’s preseason tour of the U.S.

For most of the summer it seemed like Morata would end up at Manchester United but the Red Devils plumped for Romelu Lukaku, pipping Chelsea to his signature in a $96.5 million deal. Now the Spanish international striker (who has nine goals in 20 international appearances) is heading to west London.

Morata will link up with his former manager at Juventus, Antonio Conte, as the clinical forward will become Chelsea’s main striker with Diego Costa now expected to leave Stamford Bridge for Atletico Madrid as his feud with Conte has reached the end game.

Back to Morata, this is a massive moment for Conte and Chelsea in taking the next step in their progression to challenge on the European stage. The Italian coach signed a new and improved two-year deal on Tuesday and this signing must have been a big part in him agreeing to stay on and try to improve on his title-winning campaign in his debut season in England last year.

Last season Morata spent plenty of time behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, but still scored 20 goals as he returned to the Santiago Bernabeu following two fruitful years at Juventus.

Conte had taken Morata to Turin in 2014 and the predatory forward excelled in Serie A, scoring 27 goals in 93 games in all competitions. Overall he has netted 25 goals in 63 La Liga appearances for Real Madrid over the years with most of his appearances coming off the bench.

With Conte telling Chelsea’s leading goalscorer from last season, Costa, that he was no longer needed, the Blues badly needed someone to replace his goals and now they have their man after an exhaustive search which also saw them linked with Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Andrea Belotti.

Both Costa and Nemanja Matic are likely to leave Chelsea this summer, but all of a sudden the reigning champs are looking strong with a new spine following the addition of Tiemoue Bakayoko in midfield, Antonio Rudiger in defense and Morata’s impending arrival up top.

Chelsea’s fans will be licking their chops at the prospect of Morata swiveling to head or volley home a cross from Pedro, Eden Hazard and/or Willian this season and beyond.

He has proven himself at two of Europe’s biggest clubs and now Morata is ready to lead Chelsea’s charge.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

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Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET