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Bertrand Traore leaves Chelsea for Lyon

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Chelsea forward Bertrand Traore has joined Lyon for 10 million euros (£8.8m, $11.2m) on a five-year deal, the French club announced on Monday.

Chelsea will earn 15 percent of any profit from a future sale of the player and the English champions will have first refusal on Traore should he eventually move on, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said at a press conference to announce the signing.

“I was really keen to come to Lyon,” admitted the 21-year-old Burkina Faso international, who spent last season on loan at Europa League runners-up Ajax.

“We wish him well for his career in France and thank him for his contribution at Chelsea,” the London club said in a statement.

Traore, who was handed his Chelsea debut by Jose Mourinho in a Champions League game against Maccabi Tel Aviv in September 2015, is Lyon’s second summer signing following the arrival of Brazilian left-back Fernando Marçal from Benfica.

Lyon begin pre-season training on Tuesday but Traore will not join up with his new team-mates until July 10.

Meanwhile, Aulas confirmed that Lyon are in talks with Real Madrid about the potential signing of forward Mariano Diaz.

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Watford appoint Serbian Ivic as new head coach on one-year deal

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Watford have appointed Serbia’s Vladimir Ivic as their new head coach on a one-year deal with an option for a second year, the relegated club announced on Saturday.

Ivic started his managerial career with Greek side PAOK in 2013 before taking over Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2018.

The 43-year-old led them to the Israeli Premier League title twice in the last two seasons.

“First of all, from the beginning I have a big expectation of myself and of my coaching staff,” Ivic, who starts on Monday, said in a statement.

“It’s my first time in England and I need to adapt as fast as possible. To do the best for the club is very important to me.”

Watford were relegated to the second tier Championship on the final day of the 2019/2020 English Premier League (EPL) season after finishing 19th in the standings, two points from safety.

The club endured a torrid campaign, never moving higher than 16th in the standings, and had three managers over the course of the season.

They started the season with Javi Gracia who had led them to the FA Cup final last season, but he was sacked after the club failed to win their opening four games.

They re-appointed former manager Quique Sanchez Flores but he lasted less than three months after winning just one of his 10 league games.

Nigel Pearson sparked a turnaround at the club when he took over in December as the club climbed out of the relegation zone.

But the Englishman was sacked with two games left in the season, leaving Hayden Mullins in interim charge.

The new Championship season begins on Sept. 12.

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Lyon upset Manchester City to set up semi-final with Bayern Munich

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Substitute Moussa Dembele struck twice as Olympique Lyonnais stunned Manchester City with a 3-1 victory on Saturday to move into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

The effort takes the French side to a date with Bayern Munich.

Lyon took the lead in the 24th minute with a fine finish from Maxwel Cornet, who spotted Ederson off his line and beat him with a low drive from the edge of the box.

Manchester City drew level through a Kevin De Bruyne side-foot finish in the 69th minute and pushed forward in search of a winner.

But they were caught out on the break, as Dembele broke free and Ederson’s outstretched leg could not keep his shot out of the net.

Manchester City had a golden chance to draw level moments later, but Raheem Sterling somehow blasted over from close range with the goal at his mercy.

Lyon responded by taking advantage of chaos in the Manchester City defence, with Ederson pushing out a low shot from Houssem Aouar and Dembele pouncing for his second.

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Newcastle United back to square one after Saudi take-over bid fails

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Newcastle United head into the short English Premier League (EPL) close season surrounded by uncertainty.

This has come after the collapse of the proposed Saudi take-over ——-with an owner who wants to sell the club but with no viable purchaser in place.

Club owner Mike Ashley was ready to sell the club to the investment group in a deal worth more than 305 million pounds.

This group included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers.

But the take-over bid, announced in April, never emerged from the Premier League’s owners and directors test and on Thursday the consortium pulled out.

Fans, who had dreamt of big money signings and competing for European places, now face a more mundane reality for a team which finished 13th in the Premier League last season.

While there have been some reports of possible interest from potential purchasers in the US, no actual proposal has appeared.

Sources close to the Saudi consortium said they never had to deal with any rival bid.

The consortium blamed the prolonged scrutiny process and global uncertainty linked to the COVID-19 pandemic for their decision to withdraw.

Staveley has however suggested there may yet be some way to get the deal done.

Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley offered similar hope by saying Ashley, founder of retail firm Frasers Group, remains committed to the Saudi deal.

“We acknowledge yesterday’s statement. Never say never, but to be clear Mike Ashley is 100 percent committed to this deal.

“However our current focus must now be on supporting (manager) Steve Bruce in the transfer market and on the preparations for the new season,” he said.

Ashley has not taken the club off the market but his chances of finding a new buyer may be hampered by the economic uncertainty following the pandemic.

“It is genuinely unlikely at the moment. Premier League buyouts either need very deep pockets (sovereign funds, et cetera) or a high degree of borrowing,” said football finance expert Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University.

“This risk associated with the latter in an unsteady market looks unlikely. Hence, with no Saudi acquisition, it looks difficult,” he added.

Newcastle United have not featured in the UEFA Champions League since 2004.

They have not even won the English title since 1927 or the FA Cup since 1955, in spite of claiming one of the country’s largest fan bases.

One of the key problems for the bid was the continued conflict over Saudi Arabia’s response to cases of unauthorised broadcasting of Premier League games in the country.

This is part of a long-running dispute between the kingdom and neighbouring Qatar.

A source close to the bid said that PIF had offered to put together a Saudi consortium to buy the rights to broadcast the games in Saudi Arabia.

This is in view of the fact that Qatari company BeIN Sports, who owns the rights, has had its licence to broadcast in the kingdom removed.

Another source close to the deal put the blame for its collapse firmly on the Premier League.

“The problem with the deal was the intransigence of the Premier League. Everyone else was happy to proceed,” the source said.

The Premier League, who last year hired legal counsel to deal with the broadcast issues in Saudi, has declined to comment.

Former Newcastle United and England forward Alan Shearer said on Friday that disappointed fans were hoping that a new owner would yet emerge.

“There’s a lot of anger, understandably so, and a massive amount of disappointment,” he said.

“We can only hope and pray that new owners come in at some stage and take the club back to where it belongs because that’s what the fans of Newcastle United deserve.”

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