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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

Sesko to sign new deal with RB Leipzig

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RB Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko is set to sign a new deal with the Bundesliga side despite reported interest from a number of Premier

RB Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko is set to sign a new deal with the Bundesliga side despite reported interest from a number of Premier League clubs, BBC Sport understands.

The 21-year-old had been linked with a move to Arsenal this summer, as well as Chelsea and Manchester United.

Sesko scored 14 goals in 31 games during his first Bundesliga season and is part of the Slovenia squad for Euro 2024, where his country will face England, Denmark and Serbia.

Having agreed to join Leipzig in the summer of 2022, Sesko remained at Red Bull Salzburg for the following season before arriving in Germany on a five-year contract that contained a release clause of around £55m.

But amid interest from elsewhere, he will now sign an improved deal with a club who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season.

 

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Tottenham to break bank for Eberechi Eze ‘release clause’ emerges

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Eberechi Eze's hefty Crystal Palace release clause has come to light, giving Tottenham food for thought as they reportedly weigh up a summer

Eberechi Eze’s hefty Crystal Palace release clause has come to light, giving Tottenham food for thought as they reportedly weigh up a summer swoop. Eze’s stellar form at club level has earned him a spot in the squad Gareth Southgate selected to represent England at Euro 2024.

The 25-year-old made only his third senior international appearance in Monday’s 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, showcasing his dazzling dribbling ability from the left-hand side and breezing past players with ease.

That game, coupled with an 11-goal season at Palace, has seen him included in Southgate’s final 26-man squad while the likes of Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Marcus Rashford were left out.

Spurs are already believed to be admirers of Eze but a positive Euro 2024 will undoubtedly draw even more eyes towards the wide man. Any interested party will be forced to fork out a sizable fee.

According to The Daily Mail, the Palace contract Eze signed last November includes a £60million release clause, but any potential buyer will also need to commit to approximately £8m in add-ons, bringing the total package to a dizzying £68m.

Palace face a fight to keep both of their most influential playmakers, with Eze and Michael Olise attracting interest from top Premier League sides. It remains to be seen whether suitors for either player are prepared to cough up the necessary cash.

The Three Lions are among the favourites to win this summer’s Euro 2024 tournament and you can get your hands on the brand new Nike home and away kits before the first whistle.

Spurs are already flush with options out wide but Ange Postecoglou may be given license to sign a player of Eze’s calibre if Richarlison is sold this summer. The Brazilian is reportedly the subject of serious interest from the Saudi Pro League but he played down speculation surrounding a move last month, insisting that he expects to remain in the Premier League next campaign.

As the 2023/24 season drew to a close, Postecoglou made it clear that another squad reshuffle would be required this summer due to the differences in playing style between him and his predecessor, Antonio Conte.

 

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Lukaku: Why I was afraid to join Al-Hilal

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Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku rejected a transfer to Al-Hilal last summer but has revealed that he is now ready to make the

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku rejected a transfer to Al-Hilal last summer but has revealed that he is now ready to make the move to Saudi Arabia.

After a successful loan stint at Inter Milan, Lukaku was heavily linked with a move to Saudi Arabia, with the Pro League looking to add to their evolving collection of superstars.

Al-Hilal, who had already signed names like Neymar Jr., Ruben Neves, and Kalidou Koulibaly among others, were the front runners for the Belgian. However, the striker decided to make the loan move to Roma instead, and he has explained why he rejected the move to the Middle East.

Speaking to Belgian broadcaster VTM, Lukaku said: “Saudi Arabia wouldn’t stop me. The level will only increase to a much higher level than many people think. More and more football players will tend to play there, also because of how the fans there experience football. The infrastructure still needs to be improved, but all major European clubs know, ‘Saudi Arabia is coming’. You already see that in boxing, golf, Formula 1…”

Speaking of his proposed move to Al-Hilal last summer, he added: “That was really intense at the time. For two weeks. For two days in a row I thought, ‘Yes, I’m going’, ‘No, I’m not going’.

“Because everyone only went to Saudi Arabia after I could sign there, I was scared for a moment.”

After another successful loan spell, Lukaku will return to Chelsea but is unlikely to be a part of Enzo Maresca’s plans for his debut campaign at Stamford Bridge. As per reports, Lukaku will be available for £37 million ($47.3m) for any club to secure his services and it is possible that the Saudi Pro League might look to make a move for the Belgian, who is also a target for Paulo Fonseca at AC Milan.

The striker will now be focused on Belgium’s Euro 2024 campaign as they will look to gain some momentum heading towards the knockout stages. They will start their campaign with a clash against Slovakia on June 17.

 

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