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Daniel Sturridge signs for Trabzonspor

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Free agent Daniel Sturridge has signed a three-year contract with Turkish side Trabzonspor.

Sturridge, 29, has been out of contract since leaving Liverpool at the end of last season after seven years at Anfield.

Trabzonspor announced his signing on Wednesday, with Sturridge signing a three-year contract for wages reportedly worth up to $3.2 million per season, including bonuses.

Several clubs across the globe were interested in signing Sturridge, who has struggled for playing time over the last few seasons.

The England international has made just 73 PL appearances over the past five seasons, with several injuries curtailing his progress, plus the emergence of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino not helping his cause. He did pop up and scored a crucial goal at Chelsea last season, but he scored just four times in 27 appearances, most of which were cameo displays off the bench.

During his time at Liverpool he ended up winning the UEFA Champions League trophy, as he played in seven UCL games last season but didn’t feature in the final against Tottenham Hotspur.

There will always be a feeling of ‘what might have been?’ for Sturridge at Liverpool, as he never managed to replicated his incredible 2013-14 campaign alongside Luis Suarez. He scored 21 goals in 29 appearances that season but has since struggled for form and fitness and he never really suited Jurgen Klopp‘s style of play.

It will be interesting to see how he fares in Turkey, and it is also intriguing that he decided against joining one of the giants of Istanbul in Besiktas, Galatasaray or Fenerbache. Sturridge reportedly had offers in Spain, the Middle East and from MLS, but it was clear that plenty of PL clubs were put off by his injury issues and the fact that in July he was handed a six week ban (four of which were suspended) for breaching the FA’s betting rules.

Trabzonspor are currently in the UEFA Europa League playoff round, where they face AEK Athens over two legs for a place in the group stage this season. The Turkish Super Lig season started last weekend, as they drew 1-1 at Kasimpasa. Former Chelsea star John Obi Mikel plays in midfield for the Turkish side, while Crystal Palace’s Alexander Sorloth is on loan and will battle for minutes with Sturridge up top.

Villa lines up moves for Trezeguet, Man City’s Luiz

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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is not messing around with his side’s fate in the Premier League.

The Villans have added a wealth of talent this summer while holding onto Jack Grealish, and now have two more notable names in the frame.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

One looks like a near certainty, with The Birmingham Mail reporting that Douglas Luiz of Man City is already with Villa in the United States ahead of a $20 million move.

The 21-year-old Luiz has spent the last two seasons on loan at Girona, and improved in playing time and performance in the second season.

The same outlet says Egyptian star Mahmoud “Trezeguet” Hassan is nearing a move to Villa Park. Trezeguet is 24, has 41 caps for Egypt and is currently on the books for Turkish side Kasımpaşa.

Trezeguet’s four shots per game was second in the Turkish Super Lig last season, and he piled up nine goals and nine assists before adding another goal and assist for Egypt in its ill-fated hosting run at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Luiz would be more of an eye toward the future, even at almost double the cost of Trezeguet (though Sky Sports says the incentives could eventually take the total through the roof). The latter could be an immediate and significant contributor to Villa’s fight to reestablish itself as a PL mainstay.

Transfer rumor roundup: Maddison to Manchester, Sane price ‘insane’

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We begin the week’s transfer rumors with a signal of no movement.

Bayern Munich chairman Uli Hoeness says it’s unlikely his side will be able to add Leroy Sane of Manchester City due to the big fee requested by the Premier League side.

“It’s about sums, they’re insane,” Hoeness said of the deal.

[ MORE: Liverpool looks to lock up Klopp ]

The Sky Sports report says City remains ready to sign the 23-year-old to a new deal.

Manchester United still have hope of landing Matthijs de Ligt, according to the Manchester Evening News, even with Barcelona hopeful of reuniting the Ajax center back with Frenkie de Jong:

Barcelona are favourites to land the defender but despite the club’s stance the report believes the club do believe they can land De Ligt and that they have been working hard to get a deal over the line. Sources close to the player have reportedly told The Telegraph a move to United appeals to De Ligt because they’re going through a similar rebuild process that Ajax did two years ago.

United is now said to be in the lead to pry James Maddison away from Leicester City.

One of the stars of the Foxes campaign, Maddison is tagged at close to $77 million having thought to cost one-third of that last summer after two seasons at Norwich City.

Maddison, 22, rung up seven goals with as many assists for Leicester. Would the Coventry-born midfielder choose United over Liverpool and Arsenal?

Finally, West Ham is looking to Turkey for its next left back. Hasan Ali Kaldirim is the name, and he’s Fenerbahce’s captain.

The 29-year-old has been with Fener since 2012, and is 30-times capped by the Turkish national team. He’s got a release clause of around $6 million.

Kaldirim averaged two tackles and an interception per game with Fener, scoring twice with three assists as the side finished sixth.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Which national leagues are sending the most players to World Cup?

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Nineteen MLS players are headed to the World Cup in Russia, but how high does that place the American top-flight on the list of national leagues sending outside players to the tournament?

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

By outside, we are not counting English club players on England, or Tunisian club players on Tunisia, etc. It’s important to note that we are not using individual leagues (i.e. Premier League, Championship, and League One players all qualify as England, while Swansea City players go to Wales, and Vancouver Whitecaps players to Canada).

Before we get to the totals, here is how many nations have players on their side playing outside of their borders, with England the lowest (all 23 players are from Premier League clubs) and Senegal the highest (all 23 play outside Senegal Premier League).

(AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Argentina (22): England (5), Italy (5), Spain (3), France (2), Germany (2), Mexico (1), Netherlands (1), Portugal (1), China (1), South Korea (1)

Australia (17): England (7), Japan (2), Switzerland (2), Scotland (2), Netherlands (1), Saudi Arabia (1), Turkey (1), Belgium (1)

Belgium (22): England (11), Germany (3), Spain (2), France (2), China (2), Italy (1), Scotland (1)

Brazil (20): England (6), Spain (5), Italy (3), France (3), Ukraine (2), China (1)

Colombia (20) : Spain (6), Argentina (3), England (3), Mexico (2), Italy (2), Netherlands (1), France (1), Germany (1), Brazil (1)

Costa Rica (17) : USA (5), Spain (4), Italy (1), Portugal (1), Canada (1), England (1), Switzerland (1), Scotland (1), Colombia (1), Sweden (1)

Croatia (21): Italy (6), Spain (4), Germany (4), France (1), England (1), Turkey (1), Belgium (1), Ukraine (1), Russia (1), Austria (1)

Denmark (20) : England (7), Spain (3), Germany (3), Netherlands (3), Italy (2), France (2)

England (0)

Egypt (16): England (7), Saudi Arabia (4), USA (1), Finland (1), Turkey (1), Greece (1)

France (14): Spain (6), England (5), Germany (2), Italy (1)

Germany (8): England (3), Spain (2), France (2), Italy (1)

Iceland (22): England (5), Denmark (3), Russia (3), Germany (2), Netherlands (1), Italy (1), Scotland (1), Turkey (1), Belgium (1), Sweden (1), Norway (1), Bulgaria (1), Wales (1)

Iran (14): Russia (3), Greece (3), Netherlands (2), Qatar (2), Portugal (1), England (1), Belgium (1), Sweden (1)

Japan (15): Germany (7)England (2), Spain (2), France (2), Mexico (1), Turkey (1)

Mexico (12): Portugal (4), Spain (3), Germany (2), Netherlands (1), England (1), Belgium (1)

Morocco (21): Spain (6), Turkey (4), Netherlands (3), France (2), Germany (2), Italy (1), England (1), Belgium (1), UAE (1)

Nigeria (21): England (4), Turkey (4), Spain (2), Russia (2), Italy (2), China (2), France (1), Netherlands (1), Germany (1), Belgium (1), Israel (1)

Yoshimar Yotun, left. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Panama (21): USA (6), Guatamela (2), Chile (2), Peru (2), Spain (1), Mexico (1), Belgium (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Romania (1), Slovakia (1), Honduras (1)

Peru (15): Mexico (7), Brazil (3), Netherlands (1), Portugal (1), Colombia (1), Russia (1), Denmark (1)

Poland (19):  Italy (7), England (4), Germany (3), France (1), Belgium (1), Russia (1), Bulgaria (1), Wales (1)

Portugal (17): England (4), Turkey (3), Spain (2), Italy (2), France (2), China (1), Germany (1), Scotland (1), Russia (1)

Russia (2): Spain (1), Belgium (1)

Saudi Arabia (3): Spain (3)

Senegal (23): France (7), England (7), Italy (3), Turkey (2), Belgium (2) Germany (1), Guinea (1)

Serbia (20):  Italy (4), England (4), Germany (3), Spain (2), Portugal (1), Turkey (1), Belgium (1), Russia (1), Wales (1), Greece (1), Israel (1)

South Korea (10): Japan (5), Italy (1), England (1), Germany (1), Austria (1), Wales (1)

Spain (6): England (4), Italy (1), Germany (1)

Sweden (21): Italy (4), France (3), England (3), Germany (3), Wales (2), Spain (1), Scotland (1), Belgium (1), Russia (1), Denmark (1), UAE (1)

Switzerland (22): Germany (10), Italy (5), England (2), Spain (1), Portugal (1), France (1), Turkey (1), Croatia (1)

Tunisia (17): France (7), Saudi Arabia (5), Egypt (2), England (1), Turkey (1), Belgium (1)

Uruguay (21): Spain (5), Italy (5), Argentina (3), Mexico (2), Portugal (2), Belgium (2), France (1), Turkey (1)

(Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

So which countries are sending the most internationals to Russia?

England — 100
Spain — 64
Italy — 58
Germany — 52
France — 39
Turkey — 22
USA — 18
Belgium — 17
Netherlands — 15
Mexico — 14
Portugal — 10
Saudi Arabia — 10
China — 7
Japan — 7
Scotland — 7
Argentina — 6
Wales — 6
Denmark — 5
Greece — 5
Brazil — 4
Colombia — 3
Sweden — 3
Switzerland — 3
Ukraine — 3
Chile — 2
Egypt — 2
Guatemala — 2
Israel — 2
Peru — 2
Qatar — 2
UAE — 2
Austria – 1
Bulgaria — 1
Canada — 1
Costa Rica — 1
Croatia — 1
Finland — 1
Guinea — 1
Honduras — 1
Norway — 1
Romania — 1
Slovakia — 1
South Korea — 1