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Barcelona adds $42m center back Lenglet from Sevilla

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Barcelona has confirmed the signing of Clement Lenglet from Sevilla for $42 million.

That was the value of the defender’s release clause, and his new one has jumped up a bit.

[ MORE: Kenedy seals loan ]

Barca is slapping a $350 million release clause on the 23-year-old French center back, who spent a year-and-a-half with Sevilla after moving from Nancy.

Lenglet has been capped by France at every level from U-16 to U-21, and played the most amount of minutes (3002) in league play for Sevilla last season.

It’s Barcelona’s second $40-million plus move this week, as its capture of Gremio’s Arthur could reach as high as $47 million.

Lenglet joins a Barca corps of backs which includes countryman Samuel Umtiti as well as Gerard Pique, Yerry Mina, and Marlon Santos.

Newcastle gets 2nd Kenedy loan, sells Merino to La Liga

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Kenedy is returning to Newcastle United.

The Chelsea man will take a second loan season with Rafa Benitez after making a strong impression on Tyneside in the second half of the 2017-18 season.

The Magpies will have the option to buy Kenedy.

[ MORE: Mourinho on England, Croatia ]

The Brazilian left-sided man can play virtually any field position besides center back, and scored two goals with two assists for the Magpies last season.

“I am so happy with this interest from Rafa Benítez, that he came back for me,” said Kenedy. “I want to keep it going, the work that I did here before, for the new season.

Meanwhile, Mikel Merino‘s whirlwind time at St. James’ Park is done after just one season.

Newcastle is selling the Spaniard to Real Sociedad. Merino burst onto the scene on loan from Borussia Dortmund, and the Magpies quickly exercised an option to buy the silky midfielder.

But Merino dropped down the depth chart, making just two starts after New Year’s Day.

Japan’s Inui gets embassy introduction from Betis

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TOKYO (AP) Japan midfielder Takashi Inui was introduced by La Liga team Real Betis at the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday after impressing at the World Cup.

The 30-year-old Inui, who played for Spanish club Eibar for three seasons, said he has a three-year contract with Betis.

“Betis’ football last season was very attractive for me,” Inui said. “I had a strong feeling that I wanted to be a part of the team.”

Inui scored two goals for Japan at the World Cup in Russia, and played a major role in helping his team reach the last 16.

Inui scored in Japan’s 2-2 draw with Senegal in the group stage of the World Cup. He got a second goal in his team’s 3-2 loss against Belgium in the knockout stage.

Real Betis says Inui will keep the No. 14 shirt he wore for the Japanese national team.

Barcelona formalizes Arthur purchase which could reach $47m

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Barcelona is making its first purchase of the summer, and it’s an exciting one (even if we’ve known it was likely for some time).

Arthur Melo is coming to the Camp Nou from Gremio in Brazil, where the 21-year-old has won the Copa Libertadores and is a box-to-box talent who can operate in defensive or attacking functions.

[ MORE: Bobby Wood staying in Bundesliga ]

You can call him just Arthur, if you like.

The cost is approximately $36 million with a potential $11 million in incentives.

Having sent Paulinho on loan to Guangzhou Evergrande and Gerard Deulofeu to Watford while losing Andres Iniesta on a free transfer to Vissel Kobe, there are openings in Barca’s set-up.

According to a Barca release:

Arthur likes playing with quick touches and short, triangulating passes involving his teammates. One of his virtues is his ability to get open, which makes him a dangerous right-footed threat near the penalty area. At 172 cm tall (5 ft 8 in), Arthur also stands for his skill at protecting the ball and his eagerness to play vertically up the field.

Arthur has been on the Brasileirao’s top-rated players for two seasons and represents an interesting piece to Barcelona’s long-term puzzle. We expect we’ll be hearing plenty from him.

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.

[ MORE: Ranking World Cup semifinalists | Schedule for semis, final ]

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.