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Leicester sign Ward from Liverpool; Boufal out on loan

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LONDON (AP) — Leicester signed Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward from Liverpool on a four-year contract on Friday.

Ward dropped in the pecking order at Anfield following the arrival of Brazil goalie Alisson.

Leicester’s fourth signing of the offseason will offer competition to Kasper Schmeichel and Eldin Jakupovic.

Ward will join the team on Monday for a training camp in Austria.

“I’ve come here to develop my allround game and hopefully help deliver some more success,” he said.


Southampton winger Sofiane Boufal was sent to Spanish club Celta Vigo on a season-long loan.

Boufal came to Southampton in 2016 from Lille, and made 59 appearances, scoring four times.

The Moroccan fell out of favor with manager Mark Hughes at the end of last season.

Southampton sign exciting midfielder Armstrong

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Southampton have made their first signing of the summer with Stuart Armstrong arriving from Scottish champions Celtic.

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Armstrong, 26, joins Saints on a four-year deal for a fee reported to be worth $9.2 million with the Scottish international expected to slot into the No.10 role with Dusan Tadic on the verge of leaving for Ajax. 

Speaking about his arrival at St Mary’s, Armstrong can’t wait to get going as he’s a player the South Coast club have been tracking for quite some time.

“Southampton seems a really good fit for me. Watching from afar, I really enjoy the attractive football that they play and I’m very happy to be here,” Armstrong said. “Every season, I put demands on myself to create and score goals. I hope going forwards from here that it will be the same this term at St Mary’s. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and I’m very excited to get started. It’s a four-year contract; there will be a lot to learn and I want to hit the ground running.”

Armstrong has experience in the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League, plus has won the domestic treble with Celtic and four league titles and two League Cups and Scottish Cups in total.

2016-17 was his best season to date as he scored 15 goals in 31 appearances in the Scottish Premiership, while last season he struggled with injuries and made just 27 appearances in the league.

Saints manager Mark Hughes had the following to say about Armstrong’s arrival.

“Our research tells us he is an excellent young man, intelligent, and a strong team player, and clearly having another really good character in our group is part of what we want here at Southampton,” Hughes said. “He has shown tremendous drive to improve and has also displayed a great desire to be a part of what we are trying to achieve here, and I believe he will be a real asset to the squad in the years ahead.”

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

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Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.

Lambert leaves Stoke City by mutual consent

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Stoke City is heading in a new direction when the squad reconvenes for League Championship preseason training.

Stoke announced that manager Paul Lambert has left the club by mutual consent, after he was unable to avoid relegation. Lambert joined the club in the middle of January on a two and a half year contract but won just two of his 15 games in charge.

“The Club would like to thank Paul for his work over the past four months and wish him well for the future,” Stoke City said in a statement. “Whilst he was unable to guide us to Premier League safety after being appointed in January, it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort, professionalism and dedication on his part.

“The Club will appoint a replacement as soon as possible in order to give the new manager time to prepare for the challenge of the 2018/19 season in the Championship.”

Stoke City is now looking for its third manager in a year, after Mark Hughes was sacked in January and Lambert has followed him out the door. The relegation ended a 10-year run in the Premier League for Stoke City, where the side earned a reputation for being hard as nails and a difficult team to beat, both at home and away.

But the club couldn’t find the back of the net regularly enough this season, scoring just 35 goals in 38 games, dooming the Potters to the Championship.

Revisiting PST’s preseason Premier League predictions

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Back in August, we asked our staff to pick its 1-20 table and answer a bevy of roundtable questions.

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The crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear.

The table

— Five of six writers had Manchester City lifting the Premier League trophy, with Nick Mendola’s (me) audacious 90-point total the closest to City’s actual 100 points. Kyle Bonn picked Manchester United to win the league.

–Nick Mendola’s (me) equally audacious prediction that Burnley would finish 20th with 18 total points has had him apologizing on this page for months. Way to go, numbskull.

— No one called more than one relegated team correctly. Swansea had three people pick it for the drop, while I was the lone one to tab West Brom. JPW and Andy Edwards failed to name a single relegated team.

— Who had a team finishing the most spots higher than they did? JPW and Andy Edwards had 16th place Southampton finishing 8th. I had eventually relegated Stoke in 11th, while JPW had them 10th, and Andy Edwards had them 7th!

— Chelsea’s fifth place finish was a surprise to everyone; Only JPW had them finishing lower than second… in third.

— Surprised Arsenal finished in sixth? Kyle Bonn, Andy Edwards, and Matt Reed aren’t.

The roundtable

— We asked who’d go the further in the Champions League, and JPW was the only one to name Liverpool (although he hedged in a bit by saying the Reds and Man City).

— We asked who’d score the most league goals between Romelu LukakuHarry Kane, Alvaro Morata, Alexandre Lacazette, or Sergio Aguero? Four correctly went with Kane, with Kyle Bonn wrong with Lukaku and this humble writer wrong with Lacazette.

— We asked which Premier League player would feel worst about his decision to leave his previous PL club, and we were all wrong (except perhaps JPW’s choice of Wayne Rooney, but that’s debatable). Dan Karell said Virgil Van Dijk, Matt Reed said Nemanja Matic, and I said Kyle Walker. All are probably quite happy with the manner of their seasons.

— We asked who’d fare better between manager Marco Silva, Frank De Boer, or Mauricio Pellegrino. They were all fired, though Silva’s departure was least his fault. So JPW wins again.

— We predicted who’d get fired first. The winner was Frank De Boer, but we all named men who’d get the sack. Craig Shakespeare (JPW), Paul Clement (me), Marco Silva (Matt Reed and Kyle Bonn), and Mark Hughes (Dan Karell).

— We asked which newly-promoted club will finish higher. Four of the five said Newcastle, with someone trying to hide his bias by saying Brighton.

— We asked who’d finish highest and lowest of this group: Southampton, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Leicester City.

Leicester finished highest and West Brom finished 20th. Dan and I correctly tabbed Leicester, while four of us correctly pegged the Baggies as the lowest.

— As for who would get promoted from the Championship, so far we’re 1/12. That could move to three if Dan and Kyle are correct in picking Fulham. Matt tabbed Cardiff City.

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