Aston Villa have signed Douglas Luiz from Manchester City for a reported £15million.

The 21-year-old midfielder's move is subject to the provision of a work permit, something that prevented him from making a single competitive appearance for Premier League champions City.

Newly promoted Villa, however, are said to be confident authorities will approve their application.

A Brazil youth international, Douglas Luiz spent the past two seasons on loan at Spanish side Girona, featuring 38 times in LaLiga.

Villa boss Dean Smith said: "Douglas is an extremely talented young player with an outstanding pedigree who I am sure will fit nicely into our style and system of play."

The former Vasco da Gama player becomes Villa's 10th signing of the close season.

Borussia Monchengladbach have announced Christoph Kramer has suffered a serious ankle injury.

The 28-year-old Germany international is likely to miss several months of action after rupturing a ligament.

Gladbach revealed the news in a short statement posted on social media on Wednesday, saying Kramer "will be out for the next while".

Last season Kramer made 18 Bundesliga appearances for Gladbach, who finished fifth.

Patrick Kluivert has been appointed director of youth football at Barcelona on a two-year contract.

The role marks a return for the former Netherlands international to the club where he spent six seasons as a player.

Kluivert will be responsible for overseeing the famed La Masia academy, which produced Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets.

"I am very happy to be back home and looking forward to this new era, with the challenge of keeping Barca among the top teams in the world," Kluivert said.

"I grew up at the Ajax academy, which is very similar to La Masia, and I think I can do a lot for the development of young Barca players."

The announcement comes just over a week after the 43-year-old was dismissed by Cameroon.

Head coach Clarence Seedorf and assistant Kluivert had their contracts terminated after failing to guide the Indomitable Lions beyond the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Since retiring from playing in 2008, Kluivert has been involved at various Eredivisie clubs and was part of Louis van Gaal's coaching staff when Netherlands finished third at the 2014 World Cup.

He was briefly at the helm of the Curacao national team and spent a season as director of football at Paris Saint-Germain.

Niklas Sule believes he is ready to become a leader in his third season at an increasingly youthful Bayern Munich.

Bundesliga champions Bayern have been drained of experience since the end of last term, having lost Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Rafinha and Mats Hummels.

The latter's departure for Borussia Dortmund is set to place even more expectation upon centre-back Sule's shoulders.

Used more often than Hummels and Jerome Boateng last season, the 23-year-old will begin the new campaign as a first-choice in his position and with the responsibility of building a new defence alongside Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez.

The Germany international views the changes around him as an opportunity, not a burden.

"I want to take more responsibility, play better, and make even fewer mistakes," Sule told Sport Bild.

"I really want to take the next step.

"I'm not a big speaker in terms of my personality. I want to work my way into the role, to lead the younger players, push them and take responsibility.

"I've gained experience over my two years at Bayern and also in the national team. I want to use that more."

Sule moved to the Allianz Arena from Hoffenheim in 2017 and has won 20 caps for Germany.

Bayern's pre-season schedule concludes with a friendly against Fenerbahce in Munich on Tuesday.

Former Barcelona star Xavi hailed Neymar as "spectacular" as the Brazilian continues to be linked with a return to the LaLiga club.

Neymar, 27, is said to want a move back to Camp Nou after two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain.

His head coach, Thomas Tuchel, admitted to knowing about the forward's desire before the Copa America began over a month ago.

Barca have reportedly made contact with PSG about executing a deal for the player who is revered by club favourite Xavi, a team-mate of Neymar's for two seasons.

"In terms of football, he is a bomb, he is spectacular," Xavi said.

"I consider him a good guy, humble, a hard worker that gave his best at Barcelona.

"But it is Barcelona who need to make that decision. I want the best for Barca. If someone can guarantee that Neymar will have success at Barca again, I would be the first to want him to come back.

"But you never know. It all depends on Barcelona and their decisions."

While uncertainty surrounds Neymar's future, Barca have already secured one top target in Antoine Griezmann.

The France forward made his debut alongside Frenkie de Jong as Ernesto Valverde's men suffered a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea this week.

Xavi has been impressed with Netherlands international De Jong, a fellow midfielder, and also believes the experienced Arturo Vidal still has a role to play for the LaLiga champions.

"Both are good," said former Spain international Xavi, who now coaches Qatari side Al Sadd.

"Arturo Vidal gives you so many things like intensity, he gives you timing, sacrifice, he steals balls, he doesn't lose them easily. I think he is a complete footballer.

"He is a footballer with a very good level, like De Jong. We saw the other day [De Jong] is a footballer who can mark an era in Barcelona.

"He is able to dominate the game, he sees it easily and doesn't lose the ball.

"He also makes sacrifices to work defensively. I think they are top-level players, very good for Barca."

Axel Witsel believes Borussia Dortmund have no room to hide in the Bundesliga title fight after forming a squad capable of challenging Bayern Munich.

Dortmund have strengthened considerably in the close season, recruiting established performers Thorgan Hazard, Nico Schulz and Julian Brandt, along with the vastly experienced Mats Hummels.

The latter has rejoined the club from Bayern Munich, who capitalised on Dortmund's collapse to win the title by two points on the final day last season.

Lucien Favre's side had been the clear frontrunners until February and midfielder Witsel says there can be no excuses come the start of the new campaign.

"I want to win titles with this team," Witsel told Kicker.

"A club like Borussia Dortmund must have that as a goal.

"I think we are stronger than last season. The championship is therefore a realistic goal. We must not hide.

"But we still have to prove we are stronger. You have to play at a top level all the time and you need courage. Otherwise, don't bother trying."

The return of World Cup winner and five-time Bundesliga champion Hummels after three successful seasons in Bavaria could prove especially useful in guarding against ill-timed stumbles.

"As far as I can tell it's as if he has never been away," Witsel said.

"It's easy for me to share the pitch with him. He's technically very good, I can give him the ball in any situation

"He's a leader - we can use another one of those guys - and he'll feel the impact he has on training right from the start.

"The more leaders the better."

Ademola Lookman has joined RB Leipzig from Everton in a deal that could rise to be worth €25million (£22.5m).

England Under-21 international Lookman spent the second half of 2017-18 on loan at Leipzig and willl return permanently on a five-year contract.

The attacker looked set to make the switch prior to the 2018-19 campaign, but Everton rebuffed numerous offers from the Bundesliga side as Marco Silva insisted he saw him as a key member of his squad.

However, Lookman failed to establish himself during Silva's first season at Goodison Park, scoring one goal in 24 appearances across all competitions.

"I am very happy to be back here and would like to continue where I left off in the second half of 2017-18 for RB Leipzig," the 21-year-old said.

 "Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing my team-mates again and would like to help the team to continue to celebrate great successes."

Lookman's arrival follows Leipzig's signing of Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu on loan for the upcoming campaign.

Everton, meanwhile, have been linked with numerous wide players throughout the off-season, with Lyon forward Bertrand Traore, Barcelona winger Malcom, Lille star Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace all reported targets, although the Toffees look set to lose Idrissa Gueye to Paris Saint-Germain.

Ademola Lookman has joined RB Leipzig from Everton in a deal that could rise to be worth €25million (£22.5m).

England Under-21 international Lookman spent the second half of 2017-18 on loan at Leipzig and willl return permanently on a five-year contract.

The attacker looked set to make the switch prior to the 2018-19 campaign, but Everton rebuffed numerous offers from the Bundesliga side as Marco Silva insisted he saw him as a key member of his squad.

However, Lookman failed to establish himself during Silva's first season at Goodison Park, scoring one goal in 24 appearances across all competitions.

"I am very happy to be back here and would like to continue where I left off in the second half of 2018 for RB Leipzig," the 21-year-old said.

 "Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing my team-mates again and would like to help the team to continue to celebrate great successes."

After two consecutive windows without a signing, Tottenham are keen to make a splash in the transfer market.

Tottenham purchased Tanguy Ndombele in a club-record deal, while Spurs are also reportedly interested in Real Betis star Giovani Lo Celso.

Now Tottenham could break the bank to prise an Argentina forward from Turin…

 

TOP STORY – SPURS EYE DYBALA

Tottenham have approached Juventus over the possibility of signing star Paulo Dybala.

That is according to the Evening Standard and reports in United Kingdom as Dybala faces an uncertain future at the Serie A champions.

Spurs have already spent £55million on Ndombele and the Champions League runners-up would need to break their transfer record again to sign the £80m (€90m)-rated Dybala, who has also been linked to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus are eyeing Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves as part of a possible exchange deal involving striker Moise Kean, says Sky Sport Italia. Wolves are also reportedly in talks for Juve veteran Sami Khedira, who is not wanted by Maurizio Sarri.

- According to the Daily Mail, Everton are ready to hijack Arsenal's move for Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha. The Toffees are reportedly ready to offer £50m.

- Sportitalia claims Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez has been offered to AC Milan for €42m. Napoli only want to sign James on an initial loan deal, with Atletico Madrid now favourites to sign the Colombia international. However, agent Jorge Mendes has reportedly proposed James to Milan.

Manchester United have been asked to be kept updated on Christian Eriksen's future as they eye a move for the Tottenham midfielder, reports the Daily Mail. Eriksen – who is out of contract at the end of 2019-20 – has been linked to Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

- Staying at Old Trafford and as Manchester United reportedly pursue Leicester City defender Harry Maguire, Red Devils centre-back Eric Bailly fears for his future. The Metro claims Bailly feels he could be sacrificed should United sign Maguire.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Inter have reopened talks with Manchester United for Romelu Lukaku.

Former Italy international Alessandro Diamanti has joined Western United in a coup for the A-League newcomers.

Diamanti, 36, has joined the A-League club on a one-year marquee deal, it was confirmed on Thursday.

The playmaker, who made 17 appearances for Italy between 2010 and 2013, enjoyed a fine season with Livorno in Serie B in 2018-19, scoring 10 goals and providing seven assists in 32 games.

"I have played all around the world, with world-class clubs and team-mates and Western United stood out to me after speaking with the coaches and staff and hearing how they plan on having an impact in their first season in the A-League," Diamanti said.

"It's exciting to join a club in a country where the popularity of football is growing so quickly."

Diamanti joins former Bologna team-mate Panagiotis Kone as Western United's star signings ahead of their first season in the A-League.

The attacking midfielder has previously played for the likes of Fiorentina, West Ham and Watford.

Caio's 93rd-minute winner lifted Benfica to a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina at the International Champions Cup on Wednesday.

Penalties were on the horizon amid a deadlock after Haris Seferovic's ninth-minute opener was cancelled out by Dusan Vlahovic prior to half-time in Harrison, New Jersey.

But substitute Caio ensured spot-kicks were not required courtesy of a thunderous half-volley with the last kick of the match at Red Bull Arena.

Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa was named on the bench again for Vincenzo Montella's men amid ongoing links with Serie A champions Juventus.

And Fiorentina started slowly as Seferovic put Benfica ahead in the ninth minute after some fine work from new signing Raul de Tomas.

Signed from Real Madrid following Joao Felix's big-money move to Atletico Madrid, De Tomas created some space on the edge of the area and slid in a ball to Seferovic, who stepped in front of his opponent and poked home past Pietro Terracciano.

De Tomas almost made it 2-0 in the 24th minute but the Spanish forward's volley forced Fiorentina goalkeeper Terracciano into a great finger-tip save.

Benfica looked the more likely to score, however, Fiorentina managed to equalise five minutes later thanks to Vlahovic.

After impressing against Guadalajara, the 19-year-old drifted onto his left foot and fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the net from the top of the penalty box.

An unbelievable chance went begging for Fiorentina – who introduced Chiesa at half-time – when Vlahovic hit the post and Marco Benassi somehow skied the ball over the crossbar with an empty net at his mercy in the 49th minute.

Benfica went close to restoring their lead nine minutes into the second half, but Rafa Silva's curling effort was just inches wide of the post.

The Portuguese champions did get their second goal as they won it at the death thanks to Caio, who found himself unmarked at the back post and fired a ferocious shot into the roof of the net.

Carlo Ancelotti said he has always had great strikers as Napoli continue to be linked with Inter outcast Mauro Icardi.

Icardi – absent from Inter's pre-season tour – is not wanted by new head coach Antonio Conte as the Serie A club try to sell their former captain.

Napoli and Italian champions Juventus are reportedly vying for Icardi's signature ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Asked about Icardi as Napoli also try to negotiate a deal with Real Madrid for James Rodriguez, Ancelotti told TV Luna following Wednesday's 3-3 draw against Cremonese: "A player in the James role can certainly help us in our finishing or in through balls for the strikers.

"I always had great centre-forwards in my career, from Pippo Inzaghi to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Icardi is a great centre-forward, as is Arkadiusz Milik.

"The Pole is perhaps a more complete player, even if the Argentine is a stronger finisher in the box.

"Talking about Icardi now would be undermining Milik's qualities, but I am sure we'll all be happy with the squad at our disposal come August 31."

It has been a busy off-season for Napoli, who finished second behind Juve in the race for the Scudetto last term.

Napoli have signed star defender Kostas Manolas from Roma and Fenerbahce's Eljif Elmas, while Amadou Diawara, Marko Rog and Raul Albiol have departed.

Jurgen Klopp has ruled out a Liverpool return for Philippe Coutinho as the Reds cannot afford to re-sign the Barcelona star.

Coutinho swapped Liverpool for Barcelona in January 2018 for a fee that could reach €160million (£142m) with add-ons, however, the Brazil international has already been linked with a move away.

The 27-year-old has struggled to cement himself in Barca's starting XI amid discontent from fans at Camp Nou, where he scored just five goals in 22 LaLiga starts last term.

A return to Champions League holders Liverpool has been mooted but Reds manager Klopp dismissed the possibility as he hailed his former attacking sensation.

"In general, Phil Coutinho helps each team in the world, still – 100 per cent," Klopp told ESPN FC. "It's not about that.

"I like Phil, I think he's a fantastic footballer and all that stuff, but it would be a big, big, big, big, big, big, big, big-money signing and it's not our year for that.

"It's just not possible. As I said, having him would make each team better – us included – but I really hope that he finds his luck at Barcelona.

"Or maybe he found it there. We have contact, but not that close contact that I know exactly how he is doing, but the rest is only newspaper talk and stuff like that.

"If everything was true what newspapers write about me – wow! If it's similar to what they write about me, I would say he's completely happy at Barcelona and wants to sign a new six-year contract or whatever."

Klopp has also denied Liverpool could make a move for Real Madrid outcast Gareth Bale, claiming the Wales forward's wages would be too expensive.

Maurizio Sarri hailed Gianluigi Buffon's performance in Juventus' penalty shoot-out win over Inter, while insisting Matthijs de Ligt has no responsibility for their poor first-half display.

Buffon made three saves in a shoot-out to earn Juve a 4-3 victory on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Wednesday's International Champions Cup clash in China.

De Ligt's own goal 10 minutes into his first Bianconeri start handed Inter the lead, with the new signing turning into Juve's net from Stefano Sensi's corner.

Sarri's side were second best up until the interval but a rejuvenated second-half performance was rewarded when Cristiano Ronaldo's deflected free-kick restored parity, allowing Buffon to be the hero on penalties.

"Buffon's great strength is that he's a born fighter. He was ready when called upon and was extraordinary in the shoot-out," Sarri told Sportitalia.

"Ronaldo had the usual excellent performance. We can improve a great deal in our attacking moves and that would make it easier for him.

"We can improve, particularly on pressing high to win the ball back when defending. We must focus on defending by going forward, not allowing them to get behind us.

"It's normal that it takes a while to change that mentality. I made a mistake this morning, as I got them to have a 45-minute training session, but we felt it in this heat."

Inter coach Antonio Conte, meanwhile, claimed the Nerazzurri's new identity will soon become evident.

"I think there were improvements since the game against Manchester United [a 1-0 loss]," Conte told Inter TV. "The important thing is that the intensity gets into the minds of the players. We need to play intense football and go to press the opposition. 

"I have to consider myself very happy with the result, because I have a group of players who are working very hard. Having said that, we lost on penalties and we must always be irritated by defeat, even if it’s in a shoot-out for a friendly.

"I am starting to see glimpses of an identity and our way of taking to the field. We must continue along this path: head down, work hard. There is much to do."

Pep Guardiola has reiterated his desire to see Leroy Sane remain at Manchester City amid interest from Bayern Munich.

Sane starred in City's pre-season demolition of Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee on Wednesday, scoring twice in a 6-1 win.

Niko Kovac had labelled Sane as Bayern's "dream player" following the Bundesliga champions' 1-0 victory over AC Milan in the United States, as the saga rumbles on into the closing stages of the window.

Sane is yet to sign a new contract at City, though Guardiola has maintained the club wish to keep the former Schalke forward, who has been offered a new deal.

And, having been thrilled with Sane's display, Guardiola reaffirmed his wish for the 23-year-old to remain at City, though acknowledged it could be out of the club's control.

"He had a good game, especially in the second half," Guardiola told a press conference.

"He is a guy we appreciate, I like him a lot. I think he can be better. Two times, three times I have said that we want him to stay.

"That's why he has an offer to extend his contract. It's not in our hands.

"The agreement is good and if he wants to leave, I'll be sad. Hopefully, he stays."

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