Aston Villa have signed Netherlands international Anwat El Ghazi on a permanent transfer after he dazzled during a loan spell in their promotion push last season.
El Ghazi, 24, spent last season on loan from French side Lille and the winger scored in the Championship playoff final as Villa beat Derby County 2-1 at Wembley and were promoted back to the Premier League after a three-season absence.
It is believed the transfer fee for El Ghazi is round $10 million and before a permanent deal had been done, El Ghazi professed his love for Villa: “I love the club and I love the fans. This club is amazing.”
His mixture of pace, trickery and superb crosses made El Ghazi an instant fans favorite at Villa Park and along with Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish he provided plenty of service for on-loan striker and top goalscorer Tammy Abraham.
“Anwar proved to everybody at Wembley how good a player he can be for Aston Villa,” Villa boss Dean Smith said. “He’s ready for the step up to the Premier League and he’s a young player who has an awful lot of potential. It’s now my job and the job of the coaching staff and Anwar himself to fulfil the potential that he undoubtedly has. He’ll be a great addition to the squad for next season.”
El Ghazi came through Ajax’s famed academy but has been a little bit of a late bloomer in his career. He now has the platform to kick on and become a regular in the PL with Villa and his flowing style of play suits Smith’s philosophy, and the players around him, perfectly.
Villa will now be working hard to sign their other loan stars from last season, Abraham, Tyrone Mings, Kortney Hause and Axel Tuanzebe on permanent deals as they aim to keep their exciting young squad together in the top-flight.
Poetic justice, put it in a Song.
Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.
[ ROUNDUPS: AFCON | Copa America ]
Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.
An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.
The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.
Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.
The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.
[ MORE: Copa America roundup ]
Mali 4-1 Mauritania
Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.
Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.
Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa
There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.
Tunisia 1-1 Angola
A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.
Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.
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And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.
Ecuador 1-1 Japan
There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.
Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.
Chile 0-1 Uruguay
Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.
Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.
Knockout round schedule
Brazil v. Paraguay
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile
Uruguay v. Peru
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru
Third place playoff
Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.
Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.
[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]
Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.
Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.
Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:
“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.
“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”
Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.