Nordin Amrabat signs for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr from Watford

Nordin Amrabat has signed a three-year contract with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr from Watford.

The 31-year-old joined the Hornets in January 2016 and made 48 appearances across all competitions.

However, last season, he was on loan to Spanish La Liga side Leganes and helped them avoid relegation.

The versatile forward was a prominent figure for Morocco at the 2018 World Cup as they exited in the group stage of the tournament.

The King Fahd Stadium outfit confirmed the capture of the former Galatasaray player on Monday.

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“Al-Nassr signed a three-year contract with Moroccan midfielder Nordin Amrabat, congratulations,” Al-Nassr tweeted.

Amrabat could make his debut for his new club when they clash with Al Jazira in Arab Club Champions Cup tie on August 7.


Man Utd and Ajax agree £14m Blind fee as defender nears exit

Manchester United and Ajax have come to an agreement over a fee for Daley Blind, the clubs have announced.

The Red Devils will receive £14 million (€16m/$19m) for the Netherlands international, with add ons possibly bringing the fee up to £18m (€20.5m/$24m).

Blind is expected to sign a contract with Ajax that will run until 2022.

The 28-year-old versatile defender and midfielder joined United in 2014 after impressing with Netherlands at the World Cup under Louis van Gaal, who was behind his €18.3m move to Old Trafford.

His versatility made him a dependable asset for Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho afterwards, playing in a variety of positions including centre-back, left-back and defensive midfield.

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But, since Mourinho’s arrival, Blind has seen his playing time substantially decrease with the Portuguese coach seeming unsure as to his best position.

After making 35 league appearances, all starts, in Van Gaal’s final year at the helm in 2015-16, he would play just 23 Premier League games under Mourinho in 2016-17.

That was reduced to just seven appearances for United in the Premier League last season as a result of injuries and being out of favour, with four of those appearances coming from the start.

United kept clean sheets in all of his starts, but with just one year left to run on his contract, a sale had been mooted for several months.

A former Ajax youth academy prospect, Blind made his debut with the Eredivisie side in 2008 and went on to play 143 times with the club. He was part of four title winning teams with Ajax.

While Blind’s time at Old Trafford did not see any league titles, he was part of sides that won the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup.

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Ajax chief executive Edwin van der Sar said told Omnisport on Sunday that he was excited about the imminent arrival of the fan favourite.

“I think Daley is a fantastic player,” he said.

“He’s multi-functional, can be a left-back, centre-half and a defensive midfielder. For Netherlands and for Manchester United, he played many good games… it would be a great addition for Ajax to have a player with the quality of Daley to fit in the team.”


Boga nears Sassuolo move as £3.5m fee agreed with Chelsea

Chelsea and Sassuolo have agreed a £3.5 million fee for Jeremie Boga, as the midfielder nears a Stamford Bridge exit.

Boga has been looking for a move away from the Blues, which Chelsea hoped would be another loan after he spent last season with Birmingham City in the Championship.

It was Boga’s third straight year on loan having spent the previous two seasons with Rennes of Ligue 1 and Granada of La Liga.

Boga still loves the club and would prefer to remain if he could feature in the first team.

However, he would rather not spend a fourth straight year on loan and believes a permanent switch would be best for his career.

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Boga told Goal while on loan last season that he was frustrated with his development, believing he needed to do more at his age.

While an agreement between Chelsea and Sassuolo, which includes a buy-back option for the Blues, has been reached, Boga must still come to terms with Sassuolo over a contract.

That leaves the door open for the 21-year-old to possibly find a home elsewhere if he cannot agree a deal, with Goal previously reporting Lille, Celta Vigo and Real Betis among the clubs vying with Sassuolo over the winger.

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Boga joined the Blues after signing from an amateur club in Marseille at age 16. He has only made one senior appearance for Chelsea – the Blues’ 2017-18 Premier League opener against Burnley.

The youngster started but only went 18 minutes in the 3-2 defeat after Gary Cahill’s early red card forced a tactical change from Antonio Conte.

He would go on to a loan at Birmingham City, where he played in 31 games in the Championship, making 24 starts. He scored twice and added three assists for the club, who finished 19th in the league.


Torres: Iniesta encouraged me to make Japan move

Fernando Torres says Andres Iniesta encouraged him to move to Japan and join Sagan Tosu.

The Spanish striker left Atletico Madrid at the end of last season after winning the Europa League title and announced last week that he has signed for the J1 League side.

Torres is the second big-name player to move from La Liga to Japan, following in the footsteps of Barcelona icon Iniesta, who moved to Vissel Kobe in May.

And former Liverpool and Chelsea forward Torres says he spoke to his fellow World Cup winner before choosing a switch to Japan over a country in Europe.

“We are playing against each other on the penultimate day of the season! I spoke with Iniesta when the possibility came up for him,” Torres told Goal. “He told me the idea he had. Then everything went as he expected and it became official.

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“He was also aware of my option and encouraged me to go there. The references he had to the league and the country were very similar to the ones I was given.”

Although he is looking forward to playing against his old national team-mate, Torres hopes he can convince Iniesta to join his side eventually.

“We have had parallel lives: we debuted together in Spain Under-15, we have achieved the greatest successes with the national team as main players and now we finish the same year at our clubs to go to the same league.

“It will be a pleasure to play against Iniesta. I wish it was with him, but we can make him a place in Sagan Tosu whenever he wants!”

Torres expects to settle in well in the Japanese top flight because of the pace and time on the ball he will have.

“It’s a very fast football, very dynamic, with very explosive players in short distances,” he said. “We had the chance to see [Takashi] Inui here in La Liga and it is that profile of an electric player, who attacks the spaces very well.

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“From what I’ve seen of the Sagan Tosu matches that have been sent to me, it’s a very fun type of football. I am going to have fun, I will have space, I will have time to be on the ball, options to attack and defend. I was looking for that fun football, back and forth, with a lot of rhythm. We’ll see if I’m ready and if I’m up to the challenge, but of course I’m really looking forward to it.

“I was looking for a competitive league that would make me feel like I have a challenge ahead of me. And I’m thinking 100% about football, about being a football player, about doing my best, like a hard-working player, a team player. I’m available to the team for anything.

“I want to be important, to make myself important, to become a reference for my teammates, for the club, and to ensure that when I finish my time in Japan, they can remember me only with good words, as has happened in all the places I’ve been before. It’s my goal, and that’s what I’m going to try to achieve.”

Torres has already had his taste of Japanese pop culture, having been influenced as a child by the iconic manga and anime series Captain Tsubasa, known in Spain as ‘Campeones: Oliver y Benji’.

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“Yes! I started to like football because of Oliver and Benji,” he added. “I was between five and seven years old and I had not touched a ball in my life when they started to put Oliver and Benji on TV.

“I remember that you had to turn the wheel on the television to find the channel. And I stayed glued to the television watching Oliver and Benji. I promise.

“In fact, once when the president of Sagan Tosu visited Madrid, he brought us a picture of Oliver and Benji where I was one of the characters with the Atlético shirt, and the painting was signed by the author. They found out that I liked it, and they brought this kind of gift.”


Juventus director reveals how ‘crazy’ Ronaldo move happened

Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici said his club got the idea to sign Cristiano Ronaldo after his stunning bicycle kick against them in April. 

The then-Real Madrid star lit up the Champions League quarter-final first leg in Turin with two goals, including a sensational overhead kick in the second half. 

Ronaldo’s strike was so stunning that it even caused fans at the Allianz Stadium to stand up and applaud the visiting player’s effort. 

In addition, Paratici has revealed it was the moment that set the move in motion.

“The crazy idea started after the crazy goal he scored against us,” Paratici told Sky Italia.

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“(Ronaldo’s agent) Jorge Mendes told us that Cristiano was stunned by the attention he received, he said that one day he would like to come to Juventus.”

That vision became a reality earlier this month, when Ronaldo signed for Juve in a deal worth €100 million (£88m/$117m).

Ronaldo was officially unveiled on Monday, when Paratici revealed more details of the transfer.

“I asked Mendes about Cristiano when we closed the deal for [Joao] Cancelo,” Paratici said of a transfer completed at the end of June. 

“[Mendes] explained the situation to me,” Paratici continued. “I talked to our president, Andrea Agnelli. In the first place, the figures were the most difficult thing.

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“Agnelli took a few hours, he told me to go ahead and see if there was really an opportunity.

“Cristiano is the strongest player in the world and the negotiations were done between two big clubs like Juventus and Real Madrid.

“It’s easier to do business and make transfers with a great player like him and a great agent like Mendes.”