Gestede can be as effective as Carew for Villa, says Agbonlahor

Aston Villa striker, Gabriel Agbonlahor
Rudy Gestede, celebrating a goal for Aston Villa against Bournemouth

Aston Villa striker, Gabriel Agbonlahor, praised new signing Rudy Gestede’s aerial presence and said the burly forward reminds him of Lions great, John Carew. Carew, who scored 37 Premier League goals for Villa between 2007 and 2011, was a towering presence up front and Agbonlahor felt the equally imposing Gestede, who signed from Championship side Blackburn Rovers during the close season, can have the same sort of impact.

“Rudy reminds me of John Carew with his presence,” the 28-year-old Agbonlahor told the club’s website. “I don’t think there are many defenders that are going to be able to jump with him. He’s that good. He’s probably the best I’ve seen and played with in terms of aerial presence.” Gestede opened his Premier League account by scoring in Villa’s 1-0 away win over Bournemouth in their Premier League opener and Agbonlahor is relishing the chance to play alongside the striker.

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Manager Flores a key factor in Watford switch, says Ake

Nathan Ake, holding up his Watford shirt
Nathan Ake, wearing his Chelsea colours

Nathan Ake, who moved to newly promoted Watford on loan from Premier League champions Chelsea, has said that Quique Flores’ management of youth players convinced him to join the Hornets. The Netherlands under-21 international, who signed a five-year deal with Chelsea before joining Watford, was on loan at Championship side Reading last season and said he was eager to get a taste of first-team Premier League football.

“He’s a big manager and he has managed big clubs,” the 20-year-old told the club’s website. “He told me he had young players when he was at other clubs, like Koke at Atletico Madrid, and he said age doesn’t matter to him, he’ll play you if you’re ready. I was really impressed with him, we had a good chat and he made me feel welcome straight away,” Ake added. “I’m really excited because I’ve been waiting for this, to get on-loan and play a lot of games, and Watford has given me this opportunity.”

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Baggies reject Tottenham’s offer for Saido Berahino

The West Brom chairman, Jeremy Peace
Saido Berahino of West Bromwich Albion and Etienne Capoue of Watford compete for the ball

West Brom have rejected an offer from Tottenham for striker, Saido Berahino. Spurs have been linked with Berahino for much of the summer and has finally made their opening move for the England Under-21 international. The bid, reported to be £15 million, was swiftly turned down with Albion chairman Jeremy Peace insisting the club have ‘no interest’ in selling the 22-year-old.

Despite the recent club-record arrival of Salomon Rondon, for £12 million from Zenit St Petersburg, West Brom remain keen to keep one of the country’s top English talents. “We have no interest in selling Saido which is what I have told the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy,'” Peace said in a statement on the club’s official website.

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Arsenal still confident they will sign Benzema

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid
Karim Benzema playing for France

Arsenal are confident they will be able to sign Karim Benzema and have continued to work on his transfer, according to the national newspapers. Real Madrid have made it clear that they are willing to sell Benzema, and although Arsene Wenger may have said that he isn’t chasing the striker, the feeling is that it’s not true. He has only said ‘no’ out of respect for Real. He wants to bring the striker to the Emirates and the Gunners believe they will do just that.

The Benzema saga has been a strange one. There was no reason for Real Madrid to place him on the transfer list except for Rafa Benitez’s insane insistence that both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will become strikers. It makes sense for Arsenal to sign him, but they are always a bit strange with big signings. So if you’re trying to predict how this will go and are in any way confident, you’re probably full of it.

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Manchester City agree €45 million deal to sign Nicolas Otamendi

Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi
Manchester City playing against Arsenal

Manchester City have agreed to sign Valencia centre-back, Nicolas Otamendi, according to recent press reports. The Spanish daily sports newspaper, AS, reported that the long-term Manchester United target, Otamendi was set to move to cross-town rivals City after they agreed a fee of €45 million (£31.7 million) with Valencia.

“Barring any last-minute surprises, the deal is almost done and Otamendi will move to City for €45m,” read a report on the AS website. Respected Spanish journalist Guillem Balague had earlier taken to Twitter to report that City had wrapped up a deal for the Argentine defender. It had previously been reported that Eliaquim Mangala would move to Valencia on loan as part of the deal, but it will now be a straight cash one after the France defender voiced his objections to such an arrangement.

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Wolverhampton’s goalkeeper, Ikeme, gets Nigeria call-up

Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme
Sunday Oliseh, the new Nigeria coach

Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, was called up by Nigeria for the first time in an 18-man list of foreign-based players selected for next month’s African Nations Cup qualifier in Tanzania. English-born Ikeme, 29, is joined by fellow newcomers Russian-based Izunna Ernest Uzochukwu, and strikers Emem Eduok and Sylvester Igboun, as new coach Sunday Oliseh showed his hand ahead of his debut match.

However, players from Nigerian clubs must still be added to the squad for the match in Dar-es-Salaam on September 5. Oliseh, who has taken over from Stephen Keshi, left out the Chelsea pair of John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses, to underline a promise that he would select only players who were showing form at club level and getting regular game time.

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PL riches poisoning the Championship, Europe's most exciting football league

Chelsea's captain. John Terry, holding the Premier League trophy
Tom Ince impressed while on loan at Derby last season

Jacob Powley worries about the effect the influx of Premier League money this summer will have on the entertaining Championship. With a new TV deal about to come into effect, Premier League clubs are spending even more ridiculous amounts than before. Fees north of £40 million are being talked about for players such as Raheem Sterling. It is often discussed how this will affect the top teams, but how will the even more extravagant spending impact on the Championship and other leagues beneath the top division?

Since 1992, absurd amounts of money have been poured into the Premier League brand, with interest in English football stretching across the globe. The Championship, often labelled as the ‘most exciting in Europe,’ is loved for its unpredictably and the fact that ‘anyone can beat anyone’ in this league.
Every year, 24 clubs begin the season with the goal of reaching the Premier League and gain the riches that go with it. And as more money is poured in, more risks are being taken by owners to ensure that they are among the lucky three who will reach the elite.

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Real Madrid named the world’s most valuable sports team by Forbes

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Sergio Ramos
The Forbes Top 10 list of world's most valuable teams

Real Madrid have topped Forbes’ list of the world’s most valuable sports teams for a third straight year. The Spainish giants head the world rankings with a value of $3.26 billion (£2.08 billion), ahead of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees - both valued at $3.20 billion (£2.04 billion). Manchester United has fallen from third in 2014 to fifth, but will remain England’s most valuable club at $3.10 billion (£1.98 billion).

This place United clear of Manchester City ($1.39 billion or (£890 million) who are 29th overall, Chelsea ($1.37 billion or (£877 million) who sit in 31st position, and the 36th placed Arsenal $1.31 billion or (£839 million). Fourth placed Barcelona ($3.16 billion or £2.02billion) complete the top five while American sports dominate the rest of the top 10. German champions Bayern Munich narrowly miss out on the top 10. They are positioned at No 11 in the list with a value of $2.35 billion.

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Carlos Tevez’s Boca Juniors unveiling third biggest in football history

Tevez and his children being welcomed by fans
Carlos Tevez at Jeventus

Carlos Tevez has entered football’s hall of fame after it was revealed that his recent Boca Juniors unveiling is the third biggest in football history. An estimated 60,000 people packed into the La Bombonera to welcome Tevez home from a decade abroad playing for the likes of West Ham, Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus.

The tenacious Argentine striker will wear the number 10 shirt that was previously worn by (hand of God) Diego Maradona. However, it was confirmed after his unveiling that the ceremony was the third biggest in football history, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and the aforementioned Maradona. Over 60,000 people turned out to welcome Tevez home to Argentina, and Boca Juniors.

Here are the top 10 football player unveilings:

1.   Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2009: 80,000 people
2.   Diego Maradona to Napoli in 1984: 75,000
3.   Carlos Tevez to Boca in 2015: 60,000
4.   Kaka to Real Madrid in 2009: 50,000
5.   James Rodriguez to Real Madrid in 2014: 45,000
6.   Fernando Torres to Atletico Madrid in 2015: 45,000
7.   Neymar to Barcelona in 2013: 40,000
8.   Ronaldinho to AC Milan in 2008: 35,000
9.   Thierry Henry to Barcelona in 2007: 30,000
10. Gareth Bale to Real Madrid in 2013: 25,000

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City to spend £100 million as FFP restrictions are lifted

Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba
Kevin de Bruyne

Manchester City are targeting a quartet of midfield stars after UEFA have lifted the Financial Fair Play (FFP) transfer restrictions on the club. City want Pogba, De Bruyne, Sterling and Delph in £100 million midfield revamp. City had their spending capped at £49 million last season but that has now been relaxed. A midfield revamp is clearly the priority for Manuel Pellegrini’s side after James Milner and Frank Lampard left earlier in the summer.

Juventus’ Paul Pogba, Wolfsburg’s Kevin De Bruyne, and Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph are all desired, as well as the club planning another bid for Liverpool winger, Raheem Sterling. Liverpool are adamant they will not sell the England international for less that £50 million and it’s thought that Wolfsburg will demand a similar fee for Belgium star De Bruyne. Paul Pogba could cost considerably more than that, at around £70 million, while Fabian Delph is believed to be available for a bargain at £8 million, due to a release clause in his contract.

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Jamaican player takes ‘selfie’ with Lionel Messi

Jamaican player Brown, takes selfie with Messi
Brown puts his hand on Messi's back

Jamaica forward, DeShorn Brown, found the perfect way to console himself after his nation’s 1-0 defeat to Argentina at the Copa America, by snagging a ‘selfie’ with Lionel Messi. Brown, who was substituted on 78 minutes, is a big fan of the Argentinian playmaker, and snatched his phone off the bench at the full-time whistle and ushered the Barcelona star towards him. Messi, who earned his 100th international cap during the game, looked slightly puzzled as Brown lined up the perfect snap.

“I had thought about it before the match so that’s why I took the phone to the bench,” Brown said. And as soon as the match finished, he took the picture. But Messi said later that he found the whole episode to be rather amusing. “He surprised me,” Messi said. “On top of that I was annoyed about how the match had gone despite our win, but when I saw the phone I realised what was going on. It’s really nice when a colleague asks me for that.”

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Premiership Transfer Shorts:

Bassong signs new contract to stay at Norwich City

Sebastien Bassong has signed a new contract to remain at Norwich City until at least 2017. “I'm very happy to have signed this contract,” Bassong, who returned to Norwich’s first team under manager Alex Neil, told the club’s official website. “It’s been an enjoyable time recently, getting promoted and achieving what we wanted to achieve. It provided great satisfaction for all of us. I enjoy playing for this team. Bit by bit, it is getting better and I feel better, and the manager has played a big part in that. I owe him a lot because he gave me my chance back in the team.”

West Ham keen on signing Brenford forward, Andre Gray

West Ham are interested in landing the Brentford forward Andre Gray. Gray would join with Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll (still) injured as the third West Ham striker. Hull has also made three bids for Gray, who scored 18 goals last season as Brentford lost to Middlesbrough in the Championship play-offs. He joined Brentford from Luton for £500,000, a year ago, but Brentford are asking £7 million for the 24-year-old forward. Gray’s season has started well as he scored in a 4-2 win at Bristol City.

Borini could be on the move from Liverpool

Three clubs are interested in signing the Liverpool forward Fabio Borini, according to a number of reports in the press. Sunderland, Fiorentina and Inter Milan are all keen on the Italian Borini, who doesn’t appear to have much of a future at Anfield having scored only three goals in 38 games.

Valencia coach drop Nicolas Otamendi

The Valencia coach, Nuno, has dropped Nicolas Otamendi for their Champions League play-off first leg against Monaco amid reports the Argentinian defender is on the verge of joining Manchester City. “I understand and it’s logical that you want to ask me about Otamendi’s situation as he is in the news, but I ask you to respect this press conference as there is nothing more important that the game against Monaco,” the coach said. “For a few days now we have prepared for this game without the option of using Otamendi and the game is crucial for us. We have confidence in those that are here. Once everything is resolved, we will make decisions and the club will announce everything.”

De Guzman on verge of move to Marseille

Jonathan De Guzman’s agent confirms the Napoli midfielder could join Marseille this week, but ‘everything can still change.’ The 27-year-old joined the Partenopei last summer, but is not part of new Coach Maurizio Sarri’s plans for the new season, and is set to move to Ligue 1. “When Jonathan came to Napoli, he spoke to former Coach, Rafa Benitez, who considered him interesting for his style of play,” Fabio Parisi explained in an interview with Radio Crc. “Now, with a new Coach with new strategies, things are different and we’re working to find a solution which will be good for the player and the club.

Florian Thauvin expected to hold talks with Newcastle
Florian Thauvin, the 22 year old Marseille winger, is due in Newcastle for talks on his move to St James’ Park. He is currently valued at £13 million, and Remy Cabella could be heading in the opposite direction to join the Ligue 1 club. He could undergo a medical at the Premier League later in the afternoon, according to press reports.

No Atletico move for Motta

Atletico Madrid have abandoned their plans to bring PSG midfielder, Thiago Motta, back to the club, according to Marca. Atletico were given hope when Motta had publicly stated an interest in returning to the Ligue 1 club. PSG want Motta to stay for the final year of his contract, with Atletico apparently resigned to the player staying where he is for now.

Serie A clubs lead chase for Balotelli

Sampdoria and Lazio are two of the Serie A clubs interested in signing Mario Balotelli from Liverpool. The forward would prefer to remain in the Premier League, but only Watford has apparently declared an interest in landing the Italy forward. Italian newspaper Tuttosport claims Manchester City want Balotelli, and Corriere della Sera have had a punt on Sevilla, but it would be astonishing if either of those leading clubs would view Balotelli as someone who could enhance their attacking options.

Madrid set to offer De Gea massive fee

Real Madrid are apparently set to offer David de Gea a massive £12 million signing-on fee. He will pocket the cash if he ‘sits out’ the final year of his United contract, according to the English press. Madrid would pay £25 million to sign De Gea this summer, but United want over £35 million for him. De Gea has been dropped by United, and it will be interesting to see if he appears again for Louis van Gaal’s side this season. He is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with the Spanish club in January. But now, it only looks like a question of when he will return to the Bernabeu, not if.

Verratti keen to see Pogba join PSG

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder, Marco Verratti, has named Juventus’ Paul Pogba as the Ligue 1 side’s ideal transfer target. “As far as I’m concerned, Pogba is the ideal transfer target for PSG,” said Verratti speaking to the football press. “Right now, I really like Pogba. I know that some of the biggest clubs are keeping tabs on him. But he is an excellent midfielder, and one of the very best around in the game,” he said.

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