Thorgan Hazard joins Borussia Dortmund on a five-year deal

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Thorgan Hazard has chosen Dortmund as his next destination.

Borussia Dortmund have signed striker Thorgan Hazard from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach on a five-year deal.

The younger brother of Chelsea star Eden had been speculatively linked with a move to Stamford Bridge or Liverpool but has chosen to remain in Germany.

The 26-year-old Belgium international scored 13 goals and provided assists for 12 more in 35 matches for Moenchengladbach last season.

Hazard told the Borussia Dortmund website: “I am grateful for five great years at Borussia Moenchengladbach and very nice memories.

“This was the perfect time to take the next step in my career. I am proud to play for Borussia Dortmund, a top club with incredible fans.”

Commenting on the move, Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said: “We are delighted that Thorgan has decided to go with Borussia Dortmund in full conviction.

“He is a seasoned Bundesliga player and Belgian national player, who will help us with his pace and quality of finishing, the proof has been provided.”

Provided by Press Association Sports

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Wilfred Zaha primed to deliver at the biggest stage after his most prolific season for Crystal Palace

Nick Watkins 22/05/2019
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Wilfred Zaha is ready to make the step up from Crystal Palace.

Wilfried Zaha has told Crystal Palace he wants to leave the club this summer. That was the headline in the summer of 2017, 2018 and now 2019.

The Eagles are no strangers to speculation regarding the future of their star man given they strategically safeguarded his value with a new five-year deal with him last summer.

However, the issue facing Zaha is not that he’s been locked down by the club, but rather where does he go to in search of Champions League football?

The 26-year-old is entering his prime and is enjoying the best football of his career.

Having expressed a desire to play in Europe’s top competition it’s unlikely he’ll remain in red and blue next season.

Since returning to South London from his disastrous spell at Manchester United in 2015, the winger has been crucial in keeping the Eagles in the top flight, scoring or assisting 63 goals in 145 games for the club.

Never before has a Premier League team relied so heavily on a single player. That might sound harsh on the rest of the squad, which over the years has featured the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, yet the Eagles hadn’t won a single point in the league, stretching over two-seasons, without their star man until last December’s victory over Leicester City.

It’s no real surprise Zaha wants to leave his hometown club, with Palace never finishing higher than 10th and equalling their record points haul in 2018/19 with 49 accrued.

Palace Chairman Steve Parish is reportedly understanding of his prized asset’s desire to play Champions League football, and while he’s not exactly standing in the player’s way, he’s unwilling to listen to offers below £100 million.

That valuation exceeds pretty much every club’s estimations of Zaha, other than the Eagle’s – to whom selling him could be the difference between Premier League and Championship football.

Zaha has scored 10 goals for the first time in a single season.

Zaha has scored 10 goals for the first time in a single season.

This season he hit 10 goals for this first time in his career along with five assists. He also registered more shots (73) and more passes (1,006) than in any of his previous seasons and his skill on the ball has made him one of the most fouled players in Europe.

If evidence is require of the player Zaha how grown into, then look at his performance against Liverpool in January.

James Milner was terrorised at right-back and he was eventually sent off for two reckless fouls on Zaha. Jurgen Klopp hailed him as “world class”.

Similarly, Pep Guardiola admitted he, too is a fan of the winger, but despite the high-praise, both Manchester City and Liverpool are well stocked in attacking areas and unlikely to sign a player of Zaha’s ilk.

In England, that leaves potentially Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham as possible destinations.

The Gunners are among those strongly linked with the Ivory Coast international with cash-plus-player(s) deal reportedly being proposed.

That would of course hinge on their success in the Europa League final but no doubt the prospect of him linking up with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette entices.

Elsewhere, Chelsea may not even be in a position to sign any players given their two-window transfer ban.

And so that leaves Spurs. Zaha has the right profile for Mauricio Pochettino’s outfit but the problem for them, given they’ve only just moved into their new £1 billion stadium, is cost.

The club had a self-imposed transfer window ban in 2018/19 and didn’t sign a single player so the idea of them meeting the asking price for Zaha is unlikely.

Perhaps, Manchester United is an option having previously work with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during his 2014 loan spell at Cardiff, the pair know each other well.

Zaha’s signature could be the start of a new era at Old Trafford as United look to rebuild a squad that finished a whopping 32 points behind champions Manchester City.

Yet, issues emerge here. United have agreed personal terms with Swansea winger Daniel James adding the Wales international to Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to their wing corps.

Not to mention Zaha himself describing his first-spell at United as “hell”. Moving abroad is an option but then his asking price and wages, his deal which runs until 2023 is worth £130,000 per week, limits his destinations.

Zaha thrives as star of the show and at Selhurst Park he’s been allowed the freedom to roam and try things on the ball without teammates, or indeed the crowd getting on his back – would he be afforded such luxury away from his boyhood club? Probably not.

Does he need to leave Palace to fulfil his potential? No question. A player of his ability deserves to be playing at the highest level and having helped the Eagles reach the Premier League, let alone stay in it, fans wouldn’t begrudge their star man a move to a bigger club.

Despite signing on the dotted line and telling fans he’s, “All Palace” less than twelve months ago, it’s clear this Eagle is ready to spread his wings… he just needs to find somewhere to fly.

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Transfer predictor: Maxi Gomez to Barcelona is a 6, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to Juventus a 7

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Struggling to figure out which transfers could happen and which seem like they’ve come straight out of Football Manager? The silly season is in full flow ahead of the summer transfer window. We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.

We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.

Today’s edition features potential signings for Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester United.

MAXI GOMEZ

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RUMOUR: Celta Vigo -> €40m -> Barcelona

The La Liga champions are considering their options after a €25m bid was rejected for Luis Suarez’s deputy at international level, according to Radio Galega.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: The ageing Suarez’s continued travails in the Champions League make signing a like-for-like substitute vital. Gomez has been a steady scorer in two seasons – 30 in 69 La Liga matches – with Celta, while boasting the “garra charrua” (fighting spirit) expected of all Uruguayans.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: A pursuit of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann could take up resources for the No9 pursuit. Tottenham have also reportedly registered their intent – and competition is likely to grow further. Barca are also exploring other options.

TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 6/10

SERGEJ MILINKOVIC-SAVIC

BeFunky-collage (3)

RUMOUR: Lazio -> €110m -> Juventus

Personal terms are agreed with the highly rated Serbia centre midfielder and now tough discussions await to secure a fee with Lazio, according to gianlucadimarzio.com.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Juve have tracked ‘SMS’ for several seasons – and now could be an apt moment to strike. The highs of 2017/18 were not replicated in 2018/19, though the Serie A champions believe the talent remains. With wages out of the way and Lazio again not qualified for the Champions League, a deal looks distinctly possible.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Can a package that goes into nine figures be justified on a player who notched just five goals and three assists from 31 Serie A appearances last term? Lazio both know Juve’s pressing need for new midfield options, plus the value of creating an auction for Milinkovic-Savic’s services.

TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 7/10

AARON WAN-BISSAKA

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RUMOUR: Crystal Palace -> £50m -> Manchester United

United have been told that a substantial £50m fee will be required to bring the England Under-21 right-back to Old Trafford, according to the Daily Mirror.

WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: The steep decline in veteran Ashley Young’s performances for United was matched by the precipitous rise of Wan-Bissaka at Palace.

The 21-year-old is a performer of huge promise, notching three assists from 35 top-flight outings and being one of Europe’s most-prolific tacklers. The price tag is a large one, but, with the Red Devils’ 2018/19 rearguard in such disarray, they should be willing to pay it.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Wan-Bissaka has already spoken of his contentment at Palace and is unlikely to desperately push for a move. Ominously, champions Manchester City are also reported to hold a firm interest.

Greater first-team opportunities are offered by becoming a red, but playing in the Champions League under Pep Guardiola is a seductive alternative.

TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 7/10

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