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Villa sign Heaton, Marvelous; Bournemouth add Danjuma

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Make that 12 summer signings for Aston Villa, who are having a splendid… sorry, Marvelous time in the transfer market.

Dean Smith’s side have signed goalkeeper Tom Heaton from Burnley for $10 million, while the wonderfully named midfielder Mavelous Nakamba has joined from Club Brugge.

Just marvelous. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop now.

Villa have named signed a brand new starting lineup this summer, and Smith needed to bring in this huge number of players due to a plethora of departures due to contracts ending and loan deals coming to an end. Villa have spent a remarkable $160 million on new players so far this summer. Here’s hoping this is not another Fulham-esque situation…

Speaking about his arrival at Villa Park, Heaton is delighted to bring his experience to a young Villa side.

“There’s momentum here – you could see that from afar. This club got the ball rolling last season and it turned into a huge success story in the second half of the campaign,” Heaton said. “To gain promotion was absolutely brilliant. It’s been a busy window so far – a lot of signings. But it needed to happen with a lot of players having also left the club. The majority of the signings are young, hungry and athletic. It’s a really exciting time for Aston Villa and I’m delighted to be a part of that. Hopefully, I’ll bring a bit of experience to it.”

Heaton should become Villa’s first-choice goalkeeper now, jumping ahead of Jed Steer in the pecking order. The England international will bring a steady head to a new-look and young defensive unit, and Villa have been on the hunt for a goalkeeper for some time. Deals for Neil Etheridge and Jack Butland proved troublesome so Villa turned their attention to Heaton.

As for Marvelous Nakamba, he joins for $13.3 million on a five-year deal and alongside Douglas Luiz he will battle with Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane for a starting spot in midfield.

Nakamba, 25, will join his former Club Brugge teammates Wesley and Bjorn Engels at Villa.

“I’m looking forward to playing in the Premier League – and against the best players in the world in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world. It’s always been a dream for me to play in the Premier League and to be competing against the best players in the world,” Nakamba said. “I will be trying my best, of course – and I will give everything. I give everything for the team every time. That’s who I am. I fight for the team. I care about helping the team. You will see that.”

The Zimbabwe international is a destructive force in central midfield and he will add a little bit of balance to Villa’s engine room given the mercurial attacking talents of Grealish and McGinn. Smith describes him as being “very mobile, very good in possession and he will fit in with our style of play.”


Bournemouth have also been busy in the transfer market as they signed Dutch winger Arnaut Danjuma.

The Dutch winger, 22, has signed from Club Brugge for a fee believed to be $15.7 million and the former PSV Eindhoven and NEC Nijmegen forward will excite Cherries fans.

“Arnaut is another outstanding addition to our squad and I’m delighted that he is an AFC Bournemouth player,” chief executive Neill Blake said. “This is someone we have been tracking for a number of years, who has all the attributes to become a key player for this team. Football is about entertainment and, as a technical, attack-minded player, I’m confident Arnaut will excite our fans and they will enjoy watching him.”

With Danjuma on board, questions will pop up about the future of Ryan Fraser. The Scottish winger has been a real force for Bournemouth over the last two seasons (he scored seven goals and added 14 assists last season) but has just one year left on his current contract. Fraser has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and it is easy to understand why, as only Eden Hazard provided more PL assists than him last season.

Eddie Howe has added young talent to his squad once again this summer with Lloyd Kelly, Jack Stacey and Phillip Billing also arriving.

USL adds new team in Queens, David Villa involved

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David Villa is heading back to New York City.

This time as a club owner.

A second-tier side called Queensboro FC will begin play in the USL Championship in 2021 with Villa, 37, heading up a ownership group who are bringing the team to Queens.

In a statement to ESPN, the former NYCFC and Major League Soccer star is delighted to be part of setting up the new team which will play at York College in Queens.

“Bringing professional football to Queens’ diverse community is an exciting and unique opportunity,” Villa said. “The beautiful game already lives here, thanks to the melting pot of cultures who are so passionate about the sport. I can’t think of a better place for QBFC to grow. I’m proud to be part of this project.”

Villa spent four seasons with New York City FC and the Spanish national team legend was one of the best Designated Players in MLS history as he scored 82 goals in 130 appearances across all competitions. Villa is now heading back to the Big Apple to head up QBFC and you have to think there will be some kind of link-up with his former club in the future when it comes to giving NYCFC academy products playing minutes in a professional environment.

Jonathan Krane, CEO of New York City-based asset management company KraneShares, is leading the ownership group and Villa will be retired by 2021 (he currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan) when the team begins play, so he can take up a leading role.

Villa lived in Queens during his time playing for NYCFC and was heavily involved in the local community, setting up his own soccer academies and trying to help youngsters in Queens realize their dreams.

Queensboro FC will now be his next project as Villa’s strong connection with NYC continues.

Liverpool’s move for Ryan Fraser makes perfect sense

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Liverpool are said to be in talks with Bournemouth about signing Ryan Fraser in January.

The Scottish winger is out of contract next summer and talks over a new deal at Bournemouth have so far failed.

Fraser, 25, was a star for the Cherries last season but has only been a bit-part player so far this campaign (adding one goal and two assists) as Eddie Howe plans for a future without him and the tension surrounding his future hasn’t helped matters.

Per a report from talkSPORT in the UK, Liverpool winger Harry Wilson, who is currently on loan at Bournemouth, could make a permanent switch to the South Coast club in January in exchange for the Reds being able to sign Fraser. Per the report, it is expected Bournemouth would also want around $15 million from Liverpool, plus Wilson, for Fraser.

Does this move make sense for Liverpool? Absolutely.

The speedy winger was an assist machine last season, racking up 14 which was the second-highest in the Premier League. Fraser wouldn’t start ahead of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino, but he would be a great option off the bench and to play in cup competitions. His style of play is also perfectly suited to Liverpool’s high-tempo and pacy counter attacking.

With Xherdan Shaqiri currently out injured and failing to break in as a regular for Liverpool last season, Fraser would jump ahead of him in the queue for minutes after Liverpool’s attacking trio.

If this move to Liverpool doesn’t work out then Fraser can of course ‘do an Aaron Ramsey‘ and start talking to non-English clubs in January about a free transfer next summer. That’s not something Bournemouth would want, so you can understand their eagerness to at least get a little cash and a promising young player to replace Fraser.

From Liverpool’s point of view, Fraser would be a great addition on the cheap and he still has the prime years of his career ahead of him.

Sterling issues apology after Gomez row

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Raheem Sterling has been left out of the England team for their EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro on Thursday after a bust-up with Joe Gomez.

According to multiple reports the Man City winger was sat in the players’ canteen when Gomez, the first of several Liverpool players to arrive, walked in and was laughing.

Sterling then reportedly said “you’re the big man now are you?” and confronted Gomez, trying to grab him around the neck as the two were separated.

This all came after Sterling clashed with Gomez in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at Anfield on Sunday, as the England winger was booed heavily by the home fans, plus also clashed with England teammates Jordan Henderson and Trent-Alexander Arnold during the game.

England manager Gareth Southgate released a statement on Monday saying that Sterling would not be available to play against Montenegro but would remain with the squad.

“One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we’ve been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately, the emotions of yesterday’s game were still raw,” Southgate said as he referenced the fiery Liverpool v. Man City clash. “My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken. Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it’s important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night.”

Gomez and Sterling both trained for England at St. George’s Park on Tuesday.

In a statement posted on his Instagram page, Sterling issued a public apology to Gomez and apparently the matter is now sorted between the two.

“First and foremost everyone knows what that game means to me. Everyone knows that I am not that way inclined and more to the point, both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on,” Sterling said. “We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me. We move, this is why we play this sport because of our love for it. Me and Joe Gomez are good, we both understand it was a 5-10 second thing. It’s done, we move forward and not make this bigger than it is. Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday.”

Sterling will be available to play against Kosovo in England’s final EURO 2020 qualifier on Sunday.

It seems like that is that and Southgate has acted swiftly to punish Sterling for his reaction, everyone has accepted it and they’ve drawn a line under it.

These things happen in sport all the time and this is more about the principle of the matter as Southgate doesn’t want to see anything like this in his squad in the future.

The message is now clear, it isn’t acceptable. No matter if you’re one of England’s best players or a youngster who is a bit-part player, the Three Lions squad must stick together.

Borussia Dortmund hurting after heavy loss in Munich

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BERLIN (AP) Borussia Dortmund is hurting again after another heavy Bundesliga defeat in Munich.

Dortmund lost 4-0 in the “der Klassiker” against rival Bayern Munich on Saturday, being fortunate not to concede more goals.

Dortmund’s lackluster performance has been criticized following sporting director Michael Zorc’s call for a “men’s soccer” type of performance in the buildup for the game. Instead, Dortmund delivered what Kicker magazine called “scaredy-cat soccer.”

“A lot of our players just weren’t there today,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said. “That’s the biggest disappointment.”

Zorc was even more critical of the performance.

“That wasn’t football at all, to be honest,” he said. “Bayern were on top and better in every respect. Bayern completely took over after 15 minutes and we were second-best at everything. That’s why Bayern also deserved to win by this score.”

It was Dortmund’s fifth consecutive heavy defeat in Munich. It lost 5-0 in April, 6-0 last year, 4-1 in 2017 and 5-1 in 2015. In its last six games in Munich, Dortmund has been outscored 26-3.

“It was beautiful that the talk before the game was of men’s football,” said Bayern forward Thomas Muller, who set up two goals. “As I’m a bit older now, 30, I know that it gives you a bit extra inspiration. The way I see it, that’s why we are German champions seven times in a row. It’s always wonderful when the Dortmunders come to Munich and we play like we did today.”

Bayern appeared to be in crisis after firing coach Niko Kovac following the team’ 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt – its heaviest league defeat in over 10 years.

But Kovac’s dismissal seems to have come as a relief to some players, and interim coach Hansi Flick has now overseen two wins from two competitive games, with no goals conceded. Bayern reached the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday.

Bayern’s will to win on Saturday contrasted sharply with Dortmund’s, which will be under increased pressure after it appeared to have turned a corner following a series of questionable results.

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Dortmund had strung together three consecutive wins – over league leader Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Cup, previously unbeaten Wolfsburg in the league, and Inter Milan in the Champions League, when the team displayed great morale to come back from two goals down and win 3-2.

But there was none of that in Munich on Saturday, and Favre and his superiors are left wondering how to consistently get the best from the talented but fallible team.

“We expected a lot from this game,” Zorc said. “Then we delivered what is basically a non-performance. I’m disappointed. You can’t even say that it was just a lack of challenges. We were also bad when we had the ball, we gave it away and simply made it too easy for Bayern. That was a huge disappointment.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP