With the Premier League starting on its earliest-ever date due to the impact of a World Cup scheduled mid-season, many managers still have plenty of work to do – with Leicester having not signed a single player yet.
The Foxes today announced legendary keeper Kasper Schmeichel had departed for France, but it was Chelsea’s signing of Brighton’s Marc Cucurella for a fullback record-equalling
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CHELSEA BEAT CITY! (TO A SIGNING, AT LEAST)
Chelsea have signed Spanish defender Marc Cucurella from Premier League rivals Brighton on a six-year contract, the London club announced Friday.
No fee was disclosed but British media reports have valued the deal at £60 million – the equal-highest fee for a fullback.
The 24-year-old should now be available for Chelsea’s Premier League opener away to Everton on Saturday.
“I’m really happy; it’s a big opportunity for me to join one of the best clubs in the world and I’m going to work hard to be happy here and help the team,” Cucurella told Chelsea’s website.
The Spain wing-back has now become Chelsea’s latest pre-season signing with Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling and Carney Chukwuemeka all having arrived at Stamford Bridge for a total spend of £172m.
Cucurella’s move has paved the way for young Chelsea centre-back Levi Colwill to head in the opposite direction, on loan, to Brighton.
Both Manchester City and Chelsea have been interested in Cucurella, although the Premier League champions are understood to have baulked at Brighton’s asking price.
But Chelsea, under new owner Todd Boehly’s consortium, remained interested.
“He’s young, hungry, mobile and a very intelligent player,” said Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel of Cucurella, with the German explaining the new recruit would take some of the pressure off Ben Chilwell during the England wing-back’s recovery from knee surgery.
“It helps in depth and in quality, and it helps with Ben, to escape the pressure of I have to deliver and we need you absolutely now,” Tuchel said.
“We have of course at the moment in this position Marcos Alonso, Kenedy and Emerson.
“And I think he (Cucurella) can play very well in the back three, so it’s a bit of a profile of Azpi (Azpilicueta) on the left side. He gives us many options.”
Boehly added: “Marc is an elite defender of proven Premier League quality and he further strengthens our squad going into the new season.
“We continue to work on and off the pitch, and we’re delighted Marc will be a part of the present and future at Chelsea.
ROONEY BAGS SIXTH SIGNING ALREADY
Belgian international striker Christian Benteke, who has spent the past 10 years in the Premier League, joined Wayne Rooney-coached DC United of Major League Soccer on Friday, the club announced.
United obtained the 31-year-old forward on a permanent transfer from Crystal Palace and signed him to a deal through the 2024 season with a club option for 2025.
“Christian is a top player who has played at the highest level for a long time,” former England and Manchester United star Rooney said.
“His experience and ability to score goals and help the team will be invaluable. It’s exciting for the team and myself to get him in and playing. He will make a huge difference.” United will need all the help it can get with a record of just six wins and three draws for 21 points, the second-worst in the 28-team North American league.
Benteke scored 86 goals in 280 Premier League appearances with Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Palace.
Benteke becomes the sixth player to join United since Rooney was named coach last month.
HAMMERS LAND STRIKER … AND THEY’RE NOT DONE
David Moyes has said West Ham will still be involved in the transfer market after signing Maxwel Cornet.
The Ivory Coast forward has joined the Hammers following Burnley’s relegation from the Premier League in a move worth a reported £17.5 million.
His arrival at the London Stadium ahead of the new season comes after Nayef Aguerd, Flynn Downes and Gianluca Scamacca joined the club, with goalkeeper Alphonse Areola signing a permanent deal following a loan spell.
However, defender Aguerd, who cost £30 million, is expected to be out for three months with a knee injury.
Having also lost the retired Mark Noble, and the released duo of Ryan Fredericks and Andriy Yarmolenko, from what was already a thin squad, West Ham manager Moyes is keen to sign more players.
“We’ve made good signings,” Moyes said Friday. “We’ve had one or two injuries as well, which we have to take into consideration, but we’re far from finished in that regard.
“We lost three outfield players and a goalkeeper this summer. We didn’t bring any players in during January so we need to fill these voids. We want to bring in quality players and we’re working to do that.”
Scamacca will help fill the void in West Ham’s ranks left by last year’s departure of striker Sebastien Haller.
But the £30 million signing from Sassuolo is short of match fitness and so not expected to feature in West Ham’s opener against champions Manchester City on Sunday.
SCHMEICHEL DOES NICE DEAL
Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said Friday he has “high ambitions” to replicate his success with Leicester City at new club Nice.
The 35-year-old was the mainstay of the most successful period in the English club’s history winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Community Shield in his 11-year spell.
“In football, if you have a feeling, you have to go with it,” said the former Leicester captain, who wants to turn the Riviera outfit back into the “top club” who won four Ligue 1 titles, the last in 1959.
“Leicester is a club that I love. The decision to leave family members is difficult,” Schmeichel told a press conference.
“But I am 35 years old. It was time to challenge myself, with the desire to continue to grow as a player and person — a new language, a new experience for my family.
“But the main reason was the fact that Ineos (owners) have very high ambitions for Nice. They want to make it a top club. I see similarities there with when I joined Leicester.” The son of former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel joined Leicester from Leeds in 2011 and soon became a fans’ favourite with his 479 appearances the third most in the club’s history.
Nice finished fifth in Ligue 1 last season and open their new campaign at Toulouse on Sunday.