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Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton add Digne, Crystal Palace nearing Meyer, and more

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Following more than a decade with Leighton Baines as an irreplaceable fixture in Everton’s starting eleven, the club has signed its left back of the future.

Everton announced Wednesday that it had signed France international Lucas Digne on a five-year contract. Digne joins from Barcelona on for a reported $23.6 million transfer fee.

After a strong season on-loan with AS Roma from Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona signed the now 25-year-old left back, but he failed to live up to his potential, and eventually lost his place in the French National Team to Lucas Hernandez.

“Everton is a big club with a great history. I want to play games, win games and excite the fans with the quality of our football,” Digne said after signing his new contract. “I played good football in Rome and I played well, too, in Barcelona. I progressed a lot as a player and as a person by playing with the best players in the world.”

Here are some more news and notes from across the Premier League and Europe:

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Man City sign Mahrez for club-record fee

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City has signed Riyad Mahrez for a club-record $80 million as it further strengthens its team after winning the Premier League title.

[ MORE: France advance to World Cup final | England vs. Croatia preview ]

The 27-year-old Algeria winger was an integral part of Leicester’s astonishing run to the title in 2016, but has been pushing to leave the central England club for a year.

Pep Guardiola’s City, which won the league by 19 points in May, confirmed Tuesday evening that Mahrez has signed a five-year contract.

Mahrez will go down as one of the bargains of the Premier League era, having joined Leicester for a reported $530,000 from French club Le Havre in 2014.

Scoring 17 goals in Leicester’s title-winning campaign saw Mahrez voted as player of the year in England in 2016.

[ MORE: England “building belief” beyond World Cup ]

“I am so pleased to have joined City, a side playing great football under Pep Guardiola. They’re redefining the English game and I wanted to be a part of it,” Mahrez said on City’s website.

“Watching them from afar has been a pleasure. Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is a perfect for me, and City’s performances last season were outstanding … I believe my own game can develop under Pep’s management.”

City director of football Txiki Begiristain said Mahrez “beats defenders and creates space … We’re sure he will bring additional attacking quality to our squad.”

Mahrez helped Leicester to a shock league title, and then played a major role in the club reaching the Champions League quarterfinals the following season.

He made 180 appearances for Leicester, scoring 48 goals.

Reports: Juventus could announce Ronaldo signing on Tuesday

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What began as a laughable, implausible rumor could become reality in just a few hours.

Multiple reports in Italy claim that Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo met with Juventus president Andrea Agnelli in Southern Greece, where Ronaldo is vacationing after a long season and World Cup. In addition, other reports state that Ronaldo spoke with Juventus coach Max Allegri, while reports out of Spain state that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez would absolutely accept Juventus’ transfer offer of $117 million.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

The latest reports , whether true or not, give more credence to the idea that Ronaldo’s time at Real Madrid is actually coming to an end after nine incredible seasons. Ronaldo’s become Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer with 416 goals in all competitions. He’s delivered countless assists, taking off his shirt countless times celebrating goals, and moodily sulked away after defeats.

But overall, he goes down as a member of Real Madrid’s Mount Rushmore, potentially being remembered as the club’s greatest player.

In a way, leaving now is good timing for Ronaldo, before fans really see him begin to decline. He’s lost the pace he had when he was a hot-shot young winger a decade ago, but his finishing ability is second to none (Messi included) and he’s leaving after a season in which he still managed 45 goals in all competitions.

At 33, now may be the best time for a change of scenery for Ronaldo, going to a league where it’s played at a bit of a slower pace, and he can take advantage of his quick movements in the box to find space to finish.

Paulinho leaves Barca after one year to rejoin Guangzhou

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He came, he saw, he conquered (La Liga and Copa del Rey), and now Paulinho is leaving Barcelona after just one season to return to the club from which he came, Guangzhou Evergrande.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

Paulinho’s move to Barcelona was already quite a curious one when it happened last summer: he was already 29 years old, had left Tottenham Hotspur two years earlier after an infamously poor spell in the Premier League, and was making (presumably) far more money playing in the Chinese Super League than he could just about anywhere else in the world. In defense of the transfer and coaching staffs, he proved a totally competent replacement-level player for a side that won two major trophies, at a cost of $47 million.

Of course, Paulinho would have wanted to showcase himself at a higher level ahead of the 2018 World Cup, with his place in the Brazil squad very much still up in the air fewer than 12 months ago. In a sense, it’s a deal that largely worked out for all parties involved.

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Now, comes the truly strange — perhaps, unsavory — part: the transfer which Guangzhou announced on Sunday is a one-year loan deal with an already-agreed future fee for a permanent transfer. According to reports, that future fee will be considerably larger than the amount Barcelona paid last summer, for a player who will, in 12 months’ time, be two years older at 32.

Essentially, Barcelona will have rented the player for a season, and made a profited — perhaps in the neighborhood of $10 million — on the back-and-forth transaction, rather having paid a rental fee themselves.

USMNT’s Ream signs new deal with PL-bound Fulham

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Fulham are headed to the Premier League, and U.S. men’s national team defender Tim Ream is going with them after signing a new two-year contract with the club on Friday.

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Ream, 30, had just one year remaining on his previous contract — at a presumably less wage than his new deal, given the Cottagers spent the last four seasons in the Championship — thus there was serious doubt over whether or not he would make the first-division jump with the west London club this summer.

The St. Louis, Mo., native was named Fulham’s Player of the Season in 2017-18, a season in which he made 47 of a possible 51 league appearances (including the promotion playoffs) and was an ever-present anchor for a side that finished with the sixth-best defensive record in England’s second division.

There was even talk of a return to MLS, where he started his career with the New York Red Bulls, in 2010, before making the jump overseas a year later. Ream’s new contract also includes an option for the 2020-21 season.