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Fabinho: Liverpool midfielder joins Saudi side Al-Ittihad

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Brazil midfielder Fabinho has completed a move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad from Liverpool on a three-year deal.

The 29-year-old did not travel with the Reds to a recent training camp in Germany after the Saudi side made a £40m bid for him.

Fabinho was also left out of the club’s current trip to Singapore as the move was finalised.

Capped 29 times by his country, he joined Liverpool in July 2018 from Monaco for a fee in the region of £39m.

Fabinho said he was leaving his “home” after representing Liverpool “with the greatest honour and happiness possible” for five years.

He added: “I say this with a heart full of joy: I love this club. Thank you, Reds, for everything we’ve experienced together.”

Fabinho is Al-Ittihad’s latest high-profile signing this summer as part of a widespread influx of players into the Saudi Pro League.

Ballon d’Or winner and former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, former Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante and ex-Celtic forward Jota have all joined the club managed by ex-Wolves and Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Al-Ittihad said Fabinho’s signing is part of their effort to “reinforce the team with outstanding players, who will support their journey in the upcoming phase, which includes multiple domestic and international competitions”.

Fabinho made 219 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 11 goals.

During his time with the Reds, he helped the club win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup.

“We would like to thank Fabinho for all of his contributions to the club’s successes during the last five years,” said Liverpool.

Fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson has also left the Merseyside club to move to Saudi Arabia, with the England international joining Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq.

Liverpool have now lost five midfielders on a permanent basis this summer, with James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita also departing after their contracts expired.

Centre-back Virgil van Dijk has, meanwhile, replaced Henderson as Liverpool captain, with defender Trent Alexander-Arnold taking over as vice-captain from Milner.

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Transfers

Chelsea, Arsenal get Osimhen transfer boost

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The priority of Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen this summer is a move to the Premier League, according to transfer expert Ben Jacobs, with Chelsea, Arsenal and French giants PSG among the clubs keen to sign him this summer.

Osimhen recently signed a contract extension until June 2026 with Napoli, but the Serie A champions are prepared to part company with their star striker, who has a release clause in the region of €130m included in his new deal.

“We still can’t rule out Arsenal in the race for Osimhen,”Jacobs’ sources claim.

“It’s also true that PSG have Osimhen very, very high on their list of targets and can move in the market because they will free up money due to Kylian Mbappe’s departure,” the journalist told Givemesport.

“I’m still told by sources that Osimhen’s priority is the Premier League, which is encouraging for Chelsea and Arsenal. He would be looking for about £250,000 per week, which Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG would all be happy to pay.”

Osimhen has scored twice in two matches against Barcelona in the Champions League and Cagliari in Serie A under Francesco Calzona since returning from AFCON. He now has 10 goals in 20 games across all club competitions.

The Nigeria international joined Napoli in 2020 and has scored 69 goals in 121 matches with the Partenopei, becoming Serie A’s Capocannoniere in 2022/23, when Napoli won their first Scudetto in 33 years.

 

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Real Madrid ’99 percent’ certain to land Mbappe, says Liga boss

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Spain’s La Liga chief Javier Tebas believes it is almost certain that superstar striker Kylian Mbappe will be playing for Real Madrid next season, he told French daily L’Equipe in an interview published on Friday.

The 25-year-old France captain told his club Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month that he would leave them at the end of this season.

“Knowing that he is leaving PSG, there is a 99 percent chance that Mbappe will sign for Real. But I don’t know if he has already signed,” the La Liga president Tebas said.

Mbappe has never hidden his admiration since childhood of Real Madrid, who are favourites to land one of world football’s biggest talents.

“It’s big news for Real and for Spanish football. He is one of the best players in the world. From my point of view, (Jude) Bellingham, (Erling) Haaland and Mbappe are the three dominant players on the planet, and two are already at Real Madrid,” said Tebas.

Sources close to the matter say wage negotiations between Real and Mbappe are advanced.

Tebas also praised the way Real Madrid is run.

“Economically, they are very responsive,” he said.

“Currently their financial results are very good and they can spend much more than they do. Real were very prudent financially and prepared for the signing of Mbappe.”

 

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Don’t join Arsenal, Henry warns Osimhen

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Barcelona and Arsenal legend, Theirry Henry, has tasked Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, to be more consistent in scoring but urged the forward not to join Arsenal if he eventually made the move to the English Premier League.

The Frenchman stated this after Osimhen;s goal against Barcelona in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first-leg clash in Naples kept the Partenopei in the tie.

The Nigerian striker drew Napoli level at 1-1 with his only attempt on goal in the encounter 15 minutes after Robert Lewandowski broke the deadlock on the hour mark.

The goal was his first in as many games since rejoining Napoli after playing for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations in December.

It was also his sixth in six Champions League games for the Partenopei at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium.

He now sits behind Erling Haaland (12) and Kylian Mbappe (nine) for recent home goals scored in the competition over the last two seasons.

Furthermore, his goal against Barcelona saw him tie Napoli captain, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, and Lorenzo Insigne for goals scored in the Champions League with Napoli, and sits just behind Dries Mertens, who netted 11 in Europe’s premier club competition.

Speaking with CBS Sports Golazo, the French U-21 coach challenged the 25-year-old to prove himself outside of the Italian Serie A where he won the Scudetto and won the Capocannoniere.

“I think he needed the goal today (on Wednesday),” Henry said on the UEFA Champions League show with CBS Sports Golazo.

“At the AFCON, we saw him, he can lead the line, run into the channels, and he has excellent hold-up play.

“How good can he be? He showed last year what he could do and won the African Player of The Year along the way, winning the Scudetto with Napoli and getting to the final with Nigeria.”

Henry, a Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2009, urged the Nigerian to prove himself in other European leagues.

The 25-year-old has been linked with moves to Chelsea and PSG but Henry warned against a switch to Arsenal.

“I’d like to see him now, what he can do in the Premier League or wherever he’s going or Paris Saint-Germain. Not Arsenal, I won’t go there.

“I want to see him take the next step and be more consistent with his output, but to be able to win the title with Napoli the way he did will stay in history forever, so all the best to him in his career.”

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