Kasper Dolberg

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Nice fires player for stealing teammate’s watch

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NICE, France (AP) French soccer club Nice says it has fired one of its players for stealing the watch of a teammate from the locker room.

Nice says the contract of 18-year-old foward Lamine Diaby Fadiga was canceled on Tuesday with immediate effect “following the theft of Kasper Dolberg’s watch from the professional first team’s changing room.”

The club says “above and beyond all sporting and financial consideration, Nice cannot and will not accept such behavior that betrays the confidence that unites all the club’s employees and all the members of the Rouge et Noir family.”

Diaby Fadiga, who has played for France’s youth teams, was in his third season with Nice’s senior side.

Dolberg, a striker from Denmark, joined Nice from Dutch club Ajax in the offseason.

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Watford downed late by Ajax in preseason friendly

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Watford went toe-to-toe with Champions League semifinalists Ajax for most of the match, but capitulated late as Dutch youth international Jurrien Timber scored an 89th minute winner in a 2-1 win for the Eredivisie side in Austria.

Andre Gray put the Hornets up from the penalty spot six minutes before the break as American youth international Sergino Dest was called for an unlucky handball in the box. Abdoulaye Doucoure danced through the box and as he looked to skip the ball past Dest, it popped up and caught the American’s arm. Gray delivered and put Watford 1-0 up at the break.

The lead would only last until the 51st minute when Dusan Tadic found himself on the ball at the end line on the right, and he cut back to Donny van de Beek through the dummy of Kasper Dolberg on the penalty spot for an easy low finish and a 1-1 scoreline. It would stay that way until one minute to go in regulation as Carel Eiting sent a ball into the box where the 18-year-old Timber lept with his back to goal and clipped the ball off the top of his head for the winner, burying the chance inside the far post.

Both teams featured strong lineups, as Watford ran out stars like Gray, Tom Cleverley, Adrian Mariappa, and former Eredivisie veteran Daryl Janmaat while Nathan Chalobah, Gerard Deulofeu, and Jose Holebas came off the bench. Ajax saw van de Beek, Tadic, Dolberg, and Daley Blind all make the starting lineup.

Next for Watford is a match against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, also taking place in Austria.

Ajax tells clubs to back off their young Dutch stars

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In the past, Dutch giants Ajax have looked to make a profit developing strong Dutch talent from the youth level and selling them to big clubs all across Europe. Today, Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars has told clubs not to bother inquiring about their rising young stars.

“We have now reached a point where we simply say that we are not selling these players,” Overmars told Dutch publication De Telegraaf.

While Overmars did suggest they could reconsider in a year’s time, for now, young stars like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs De Ligt are Ajax players now and for the future.

“He [De Jong] is not for sale, and I have communicated this to all parties involved,” Overmars said. “It is the same for Matthijs. Clubs that are interested are free to come back next year. Of course, Davinson Sanchez’s move [to Tottenham] last year showed that it is not always easy to stand firm.

“They are still only 19, 20 years old. I have told these players and their agents that a transfer after this season could be an option if the right offer comes in. Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt are not for sale as far as we are concerned, not even for an insane amount. They should play about 40 games for Ajax first in 2018-19.”

De Ligt, now 18, is the most well-known name of the group, having made headlines when he because the youngest Dutch international since 1931, making his debut at just 17 years old. Meanwhile, a 21-year-old box-to-box midfielder, De Jong is often considered the most talented young star with the highest ceiling.

Finally, others that Ajax could see develop into special talent include 21-year-old wide player Donny van de Beek, 21-year-old right winger David Neres, 20-year-old striker Kasper Dolberg, 20-year-old defender Max Wober, 20-year-old defensive midfielder Carel Eiting, and 20-year-old Noussair Mazraoui among many others who received playing time towards the end of last season.

Ajax has been on the hunt this summer, not only keeping the youth talent to itself, but also spending on incoming stars Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind, both of whom return to the club after spells in the Premier League.

Ajax holds on for dear life to reach UEL Final

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Kasper Dolberg scored a first half goal to give Ajax a four-goal edge on Lyon, but that did anything but make things academic at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

Alexandre Lacazette scored twice before halftime before Rachid Ghazzal pulled Lyon to within a goal of Ajax with nine minutes remaining in regulation.

But Lyon could only muster a 3-1 second leg win, sending Ajax to the May 24 final against Manchester United in Solna, Sweden, with a 5-4 advantage on aggregate.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The 19-year-old Dolberg had scored in the first leg, and scooped up a valuable away goal 27 minutes into the second.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

But Lyon wasn’t going away without a fight, turning to its star striker Lacazette.

The 25-year-old converted a penalty kick in the 45th minute and added one from the run of play in the first minute of stoppage time as Ajax bungled a touch atop its 18 and Lacazette was waiting on the left to provide the end product of Nabil Fekir’s work on the right.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ghazzal netted in the 81st minute to move Lyon to within a goal of extra time but Ajax, somehow, held on.

Danish teen Dolberg scores hat-trick as Ajax goes top of Eredivisie

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After four straight Eredivisie titles from 2011-2014, Ajax has finished a distant second the last two seasons and has disappointed in European play. Their famous academy, however, can still kick it.

19-year-old Kasper Dolberg, brought over from Denmark two years ago and brought through the youth ranks, has been a sensation this season. The club has lost just once in league play: the only game in which Dolberg rode the bench. He had five goals in eleven league appearances coming into Sunday’s 5-0 trouncing of struggling NEC Nijmegen. Now he has many more.

A first-half hat-trick for Dolberg saw Ajax go top of the table, and should Feyenoord drop points later Sunday against 12th-placed PEC Zwolle, Ajax would end a matchweek on top for the first time this season.

Dolberg has a knack for the sensational. He scored on his professional debut, a vital goal in a 1-1 draw with PAOK in Champoins League qualification that would lead to the club advancing. He scored the only goal in a Europa League win over Belgian giants Standard Liege. In the same competition, he scored the first of Ajax’s triple in a dramatic 3-2 win over Celta Vigo just two weeks ago. Dolberg has scored eight goals in Eredivisie play off 16 shots on target, an outstanding 50% conversion rate. Of those eight goals, three have given the club the lead. He has two braces and a hat-trick.

Not surprisingly, Dolberg was linked with Manchester United just after the win over Celta Vigo. Chelsea has been seen scouting him. Expect to see much more of that as the global press begins to hear of his successes.