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Refugee-friendly German club forgoes sponsor for cause

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BERLIN (AP) German soccer club Babelsberg is mixing sport with politics again.

The fourth-tier club is forgoing a main jersey sponsor for the coming season to carry the logo of Seebrucke (Sea-bridge), a group campaigning for safe routes for refugees to reach Europe.

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Babelsberg, which previously generated headlines for its refugee-friendly stance and an ongoing campaign against Nazis, is donating 5 euros ($5.60) from every jersey sold to the organization.

“The club wants to support Seebrucke’s political engagement for the right to flee and against the criminalization of civilian sea rescues. We opted for Seebrucke because it is a Europe-wide movement that is not only committed to the rescue of refugees, but also to a fundamental rethink in the areas of flight and migration with the focus on the rights of refugees,” the club says on its website.

“With this step, Babelsberg 03 commits itself to the basic principals of humanity and a solidarity-based welcome culture, and sends a signal against the deter-and-repel politics of the European Union.”

Babelsberg was in a position to support Seebrucke after the end of its previous sponsorship agreement with Lonsdale. Main sponsors Oatly, an oat-milk manufacturer, and EWP, a local energy company, both said they were happy just to support the club and leave the jersey free for another sponsor or political message.

“For us, only Seebrucke came into question. We were always engaged in favor of humanitarian issues so it was a natural fit,” Babelsberg spokesman Thoralf Hontze told The Associated Press on Thursday.

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The new jerseys have been selling well with fans eager to support the cause. The club’s first batch was sold out within 24 hours. The club is also offering fans a “solidarity membership” with 50% of the proceeds going to Seebrucke.

Babelsberg is the biggest soccer club in Potsdam, just to the southwest of Berlin and capital of the state of Brandenburg. The team lost its first game of the new season in Germany’s northeastern league at rival Dynamo Berlin 3-1 on Sunday, but the club’s sporting achievements have long been eclipsed by its political activity.

In 2014, Babelsberg formed Germany’s first team of refugees, Welcome United 03, which entered the country’s lowest league the following year, while last year it refused to pay a heavy fine from the Northeast German Soccer Federation after its fans chanted “Nazi pigs out” at Energie Cottbus supporters in response to right-wing chants and Nazi salutes.

Babelsberg eventually paid the fine after a compromise was reached where half went toward its measures against racism and the other half was to be used by the federation for similar measures.

The affair prompted Babelsberg to step up its “Nazis out of the stadiums” campaign, since joined by many other high-profile clubs including Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen and St. Pauli.

Babelsberg’s next game is at Chemie Leipzig on Saturday, when the team will wear the Seebrucke jerseys for the first time.

Jean-Michael Seri joins Galatasaray on loan from Fulham

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One of the most lauded transfers one year ago turned into one of the most disappointing failures in recent Premier League memory as Fulham flop Jean-Michael Seri leaves the relegated Whites to join Galatasaray on loan.

Tracked by the likes of Barcelona and Arsenal, it seemed a coup when Fulham announced the midfielder’s capture from French side Nice for around $32 million. He started Premier League play in excellent form, hitting the ground running with smooth passing, solid link-up play, and what turned out to be Fulham’s goal of the season against Burnley early on.

That goal turned out to be his high-water mark, as the Ivorian’s form dipped sharply with Fulham’s loss total rising higher and higher. Eventually, Seri found himself on the bench behind the likes of Kevin McDonald and Calum Chambers as the season dragged on.

Seri’s loan to Galatasaray reportedly comes with a meager $1.6 million loan fee with an unreported option to buy tacked on. He will link back up with Ryan Babel who joined Fulham on a short-term contract in January and looked bright on the wing before his deal ran out and he moved to the Turkish club as a free agent.

Fulham is making wholesale changes this summer, with the departure of Babel and Seri offset by the arrival of Ivan Cavaliero and Martell Taylor-Crosswell, with more moves rumored. The Whites have been linked with Anthony Knockaert of Brighton.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Alderweireld to Roma, Haller to West Ham

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According to Sky Sports, Roma sporting director Franco Baldini is in London to discuss a move for Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld. The 30-year-old was a regular for Spurs along the back line last season, but reportedly has a clause in his contract where he can leave for a bargain price of $31 million. That clause reportedly expires July 25, leaving clubs with little time to take advantage of such a steal.

Still, Roma seems determined to lower this price even further, hoping to convince Spurs that Alderweireld could leave next summer for free with many bigger clubs scared away by his large wage demands and advanced age. Alderweireld rejected a contract offer from Spurs hoping to secure a bigger payday elsewhere, and if reports from Italy are to be believed, the offer from Roma are not exactly the massive windfall he may have hoped for.

There ultimately seems to be a lot more to go on this front before it becomes a reality. Daniel Levy, a known negotiator, likely won’t be spooked by letting a 31-year-old defender walk next summer after five strong seasons at the club and just $18 million spent to bring him from Ajax in 2015. The payday would be nice, but Alderweireld is still a strong starter at this point in his career and isn’t terribly valuable on the open market. Keeping him another season and letting him walk for free isn’t the worst decision Levy could make.


West Ham has been reportedly interested in Eintracht Frankfurt striker Sebastien Haller, but until recently, the player was not keen on the move. However, there’s apparently been a change of heart, and a $45 million deal may be back on.

According to L’Equipe reporter Hugo Delom, British agent Willie McKay has convinced Haller that a move would be best instead of holding out for a Champions League club. The 25-year-old scored 20 goals for Frankfurt last season across all competitions last season, including 15 in 29 Bundesliga appearances.

The Hammers need a goalscorer in the worst way. The only natural strikers on the roster are Javier Hernandez and Jordan Hugill. Chicharito is 31 and rumors are flying of an exit this summer, while Hugill spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough and struggled, scoring just six goals in 37 Championship appearances. Meanwhile, Robert Snodgrass is aging at 31 years old and Marko Arnautovic has departed for the Chinese league.


Aston Villa is reportedly in play for Brazilian U-23 captain Douglas Luiz. The 21-year-old midfielder is with Manchester City, having joined back in the summer of 2017 from Brazilian side Vasco de Gama, but he spent last season out on loan at Spanish side Girona and his pathway is still blocked by the wealth of talent in the senior squad.

According to the BBC report, a deal has been agreed upon for $19 million that would see Luiz move to the newly promoted side on a permanent basis. The Brazilian was unable to obtain a British work permit last summer, the partial reason for his loan to Girona, meaning he would have to give that another go for Villa to deploy him this coming season. The report states, however, that they feel confident he will be able to earn a work permit and be eligible to play this campaign.


According to numerous reports in England, with Telegraph reporter John Percy first on the scene, Wolves winger Ivan Cavaleiro is on his way to recently relegated side Fulham, with a medical scheduled for today and the possibility of an announcement soon after.

The reports all say that Fulham will snag the 25-year-old Portuguese international on a season-long loan and will have an option to buy at the end of the season. Cavaleiro was instrumental in Wolves’ promotion campaign two years ago, scoring nine goals and assisting 12 as Wolves won the Championship title, but he struggled to find time on the field in the Premier League last season, making just six starts all season. Wolves also offloaded fellow winger Helder Costa to Leeds United last week.

Fulham needs wingers desperately, with the departure of Ryan Babel and Andre Schurrle on his way back to Borussia Dortmund upon the club’s relegation. Cavaleiro seems a perfect capture for the Whites, as he has proven his ability in the Championship and could be an asset moving forward should they return to the top flight. The Whites are also linked this summer with Brighton winger Anthony Knockaert and Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter.


According to the Liverpool Echo, Everton has responded to an injury from RB Leipzig regarding to Ademola Lookman by setting a price of $31 million.

RB Leipzig is familiar with the 21-year-old England youth international, as the German side had Lookman on loan for the second half of the 2017/18 season. He made 11 Bundesliga appearances including seven starts, scoring five goals and improving as the loan spell went on. They attempted to sign him permanently at the end of his loan spell last summer but could not come to an agreement.

He returned to Everton and spent all of last season as a bench option, making just three starts but seeing the field 21 times, failing to find the back of the net. Lookman is with the Everton squad in Switzerland for their preseason tour.

Bargain buys: Relegated players for Premier League clubs to target

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This season, it was Ben Foster arriving at Watford from West Brom and Xherdan Shaqiri switching from Stoke City to Liverpool.

Before that, it was Harry Maguire from Hull City to Leicester, and Jordan Pickford from Sunderland to Everton. Idrissa Gana Gueye from Aston Villa to Everton before that.

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Yes nearly every year, at least one player from a relegated squad becomes a difference maker of some repute on a safe Premier League side.

So who will it be this year? Here are some candidates, though several may look to help their clubs rebound back to the top flight.

Neil Etheridge, GK, Cardiff City — The PL’s first Filipino player nearly kept the goal-starved Bluebirds in the top flight, somewhat similar to Lukasz Fabianski‘s work at Swans before moving to West Ham. Is there a spot for him somewhere in the top tier?

Philip Billing, CM, Huddersfield Town — The Swiss defensive midfielder averaged 2.7 tackles and two interceptions per game for the Terriers, and is just 22 years old.

Victor Camarasa, MF, Cardiff City — Five goals and four assists for a side that couldn’t find the back of the net shouldn’t be scoff material. At just 24, someone should take a look.

Aaron Mooy, CM, Huddersfield Town — Capable of unleashing a rocket, the former Man City pupil wasn’t as good in year two at the John Smith’s Stadium. Most weren’t.

Callum Paterson, DF, Cardiff City —  Also just 24, the versatile Scot can deputize at defense, midfield, and occasionally forward for his new side.

Ryan Babel, FW, Fulham — The winger may be 32, but did he ever look quite this good on his first run through the Premier League. Five goals and three assists in 16 appearances following a mid-season transfer.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, MF, Fulham — He’s a bit of a card accumulator, but Fulham was better with him than without him. The 23-year-old was also outstanding at Marseille in the Ligue 1 club’s run to last season’s Europa League Final.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, FW, Fulham — He’s now scored and angered defenses on two offense-hungry clubs, and rang up 11 goals while nabbing an almost silly 6.5 aerial wins per match. He’s still only 24.

Best signings of Premier League season

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The 2018-19 season saw plenty of new signings play starring roles across the Premier League.

But which transfers turned out to be the best bits of business?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Below we take a look at the top new arrivals from the entire campaign.


Permanent deals

Raul Jimenez: Top goalscorer for Wolves as the Mexican striker made his loan move permanent and was a revelation in the Premier League. Proper target forward.

Alisson: Helped improve Liverpool defensively and is set to be their number one for a long time. A few dodgy moments with his feet, but Jurgen Klopp wants him to take risks.

David Brooks: Bournemouth’s Welsh winger was simply superb in his debut PL campaign. Not much was expected when he arrived from Sheffield United but he added goals and assists and his pace is scary.

Sokratis: The Greek defender has been a rock for Arsenal and even though they have still had defensive issues, Sokratis has tried to hold things together as best as he can.

Lukasz Fabianski: Under the radar signing last summer, but Fabianski has excelled at West Ham with a string of fine displays. Solid, reliable goalkeeper.

Lucas Digne: Emerged as one of the best left backs in the Premier League, the Frenchman has got better and better since his move from Barcelona. Very dangerous going forward.

James Maddison: Fantastic young talent who is fearless on the ball and created the most chances in the league. Will be key to Leicester’s hopes of European qualification in the coming years.

Lucas Torreira: A fans favorite at Arsenal already, he and Matteo Guendouzi have added extra bite to their engine room. The Uruguayan midfielder has class on the ball and wins it back so quickly. Exactly what the Gunners needed.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Gerard Deulofeu: His loan move from Barca was made permanent last summer and Deulofeu has scored some stunning goals. He drifts off the left wing with ease and is so tough to mark. He’s form was vital in Watford’s impressive season.

Richarlison: Started and ended the season really well. Had a dip in the middle, but the Brazilian is still extremely young. At his best playing off the flank and is already being linked with a big move after a really good first season at Everton.

Joao Moutinho: One of a host of new names at Wolves who excelled in their first season in England, Moutinho was calm on the ball and his set piece deliveries set up so many chances. Oozed class all season.

Ryan Babel: Arrived at Fulham in January and is set to leave in the summer, the Dutch winger was a real bright spot for the Cottagers but couldn’t help them stay in the Premier League. Can be a key contributor elsewhere in the Premier League.

Ricardo Periera: The Portuguese right back has been a revelation for Leicester and adds a real attacking threat down the flank. Good business, once again, from the Foxes.

Fabinho: Took him a while to get going, but once the penny dropped he was a key player in Liverpool’s midfielder. Defensively sound and comfortable on the ball, he is now loved by Klopp.

Fabian Schar: Very solid first season in England for the Swiss defender, who also scored a stunning goal. Newcastle got themselves a bargain.

Ben Foster: One of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. Watford snagged him from West Brom last season and Foster produced so many crucial stops.

Felipe Anderson: Arrived from Lazio for big money but proved his quality at various stages of the season. A bit up and down, but has the potential to be one of the best wingers in Europe.

Rui Patricio: The Portuguese national team goalkeeper look at home in the PL and used all of his experience in their fine season.


Loan deals

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Youri Tielemans: Arrived in January from Monaco and has been sublime in central midfield. Leicester may struggle to sign him permanently after his fine displays.

Andre Gomes: See above. Arrived from Barcelona on loan and Gomes’ quality on the ball and surprising strength mean he is a perfect fit for the PL. Huge clubs are lining up to sign him, but the Toffees are trying their best to keep him at Goodison.

Victor Camarasa: One of Cardiff’s best players, the Spaniard scored some great goals and was a driving force from midfield. Has quality and not afraid to roll up his sleeves. If Real Betis do not want him back, plenty of PL clubs will look to sign him this summer.

Kurt Zouma: In the second half of the season he really kicked on and the Chelsea defender has finally put his horrible luck with injuries behind him. Everton are keen to sign him permanently, but with Chelsea’s transfer ban they may not let him go.

Salomon Rondon: What a signing he has proven to be. Arrived on loan from West Brom last summer and the Venezuelan striker knits Newcastle’s attack together. Such a handful for opposition defenses. Newcastle may not have the cash to splash on Rondon this summer.