Jamaica international Michael Hector will once again be on the hunt for a new club come the end of the next month when he is expected to leave recently promoted Fulham.

The 29-year-old defender has been with the club since 2019 and was a part of the successful promotion-chasing team in the 2020 season.   The Cottagers will once again be heading back to the topflight after winning the league championship a few weeks ago.

This time around, however, the player found playing time hard to come by and accumulated just seven starts in all competitions for the Cottagers last season.  In preparing for life in the top flight again the club recently announced that it would part ways with as many as 14 players with the Jamaican international among them.

Hector has enjoyed a nomadic experience in the English Leagues to date having played for some 18 clubs, including Reading (twice) and Hull City.  For Jamaica, he has made 35 appearances, last representing the team in July of last year.

 

 

 

 

Liverpool have announced the signing of teenage forward Fabio Carvalho from Fulham.

The 19-year-old was close to joining the Reds on deadline day in January after agreeing personal terms and completing a medical, only for a move to fall through.

However, the Reds confirmed on Monday that an agreement is now in place to sign Carvalho on July 1.

Liverpool are reported to have paid an initial £5million for Carvalho and handed the Portugal Under-21 international, who previously represented England at youth level, a five-year deal.

He scored 10 goals and provided eight assists in 36 games as Fulham won the Championship title en route to Premier League promotion in the 2021-22 campaign.

Lisbon-born Carvalho came through the youth ranks at Fulham and made 44 appearances for the club in total, including four top-flight outings two seasons ago.

In a message to Fulham supporters posted on the club's official website, Carvalho said: "I just want to say thank you for everything they’ve done for me, on and off the pitch. 

"On the pitch, they've been singing my name and cheering me on, and off the pitch they're always greeting me. 

"Even my family have fans going up to them, saying hello, which makes me happy. 

"There's obviously been ups and downs this season, but I’ve had some great messages from great fans. 

"I just want to say a big thank you to all the Fulham fans, as without them I wouldn’t be in the position I am today, so thank you so much."

Liverpool rounded off their Premier League season with a 3-1 win over Wolves on Sunday, though that was not enough to pip Manchester City to the title on a dramatic final day.

Jurgen Klopp's side face Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris next Saturday, with the aim of adding to the EFL Cup and FA Cup trophies already won this season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic was "practically begged" to stay at Fulham by vice-chairman Tony Khan prior to his record-breaking Championship season.

The Serbia striker scored twice as Fulham battered Luton Town 7-0 on Monday to clinch the title, taking him to 43 league goals for the campaign.

That tally represents a new benchmark for the division, beating Guy Whittingham's 42 registered in the 1992-1993 season.

However, Khan revealed those incredible exploits almost did not happen with Mitrovic having asked to depart after a campaign that saw him score only three times in 27 Premier League appearances and resulted in the Cottagers being relegated.

"He told me he was leaving," Khan said in quotes reported by the Athletic. "He said, 'I cannot come back, I just can't do it.' He didn't play last year. The team were relegated and I don't think it's any secret that he wasn't happy with how the season went. He believed he could have contributed more. He didn't want to come back. I practically begged him to keep an open mind.

"I'm really happy for him. I really like Mitro, as a player and as a person. I'm really proud, too, because when he called me last summer he was very frustrated. 

"He didn't want to come back. It's amazing how, 10 months on, so much has changed and everything has fallen into such a perfect place. It's like a storybook."

For his part, Mitrovic conceded the prospect of breaking the record had been on his mind even if he was not openly speaking about the target.

"I know I've always tried to say I've not thought about the record," he said.

"But when you're that close and everybody starts talking about it, so of course I wanted to break it - and now it's happened. 

"It was special in a big win. So, I think we finished the season like we dreamed, like we wanted with a big win at home in front of our crowd and I broke the record - everything was perfect."

Fulham have now been either promoted or relegated in each of the past five seasons. Khan had a rather amusing way of displaying his hope the club can buck that trend.

"We've done the first part to get promoted," Khan said. "Now we want to do the other part. 

"We definitely need to put together a great season and do everything we can to stay up. We've been focused on building a more sustainable team and I think we can do it. 

"I don't want us to be seen that way [as a yo-yo club]. From now on, I just want us to be a yo club."

Fulham sealed the Championship title with a thumping 7-0 win over Luton Town, as Aleksandar Mitrovic set a new goalscoring record for a 46-game season.

Having wrapped up an immediate promotion back to the Premier League by beating Preston North End last week, Marco Silva's Whites confirmed their status as second-tier Champions with a win that sent several records tumbling at Craven Cottage.

Mitrovic, who was recently crowned Championship player of the season after an incredible individual campaign, beat Guy Whittingham's long-standing record of 42 goals in a 46-game English league season, set in Portsmouth's 1992-93 campaign, also in the second-tier.

The Serbia international scored Fulham's fourth and seventh goals to take his tally to 43 in 43 appearances this season, with the Cottagers having one league game still to play.

Although Mitrovic's tally is some way behind the all-time second-tier record (Middlesbrough's George Camsell hit 59 goals in 1927-28), he has now outscored this season's second-highest goalscorer – Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke – by 14 strikes, as Fulham reached 106 league goals for the campaign.

In doing so, Silva's side became the first to score 100 goals in a single second-tier season since Manchester City reached 108 in 2001-02, a tally they could yet better when they visit Sheffield United on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fulham also became the first team since Tottenham's 1960-61 double winners to score 50 goals both home and away in a single league campaign across the top four tiers of English football. 

Remarkably, Luton, who could yet join Fulham in the Premier League via the play-offs as they sit sixth with one game remaining, are also the third team to lose 7-0 to Fulham this season, after Blackburn Rovers in November and Reading in January.

That means three of the five biggest margins of victory recorded in English league football this season have been set by Silva's men, who will hope to break their reputation as a 'yo-yo' club on their return to the top flight next term.

Fulham earned a third promotion to the Premier League in five seasons with their 3-0 win over Preston North End on Tuesday.

All three goals came in the first half at Craven Cottage in what became a routine game, with Aleksandar Mitrovic opening the scoring in only the ninth minute. 

Fabio Carvalho doubled the margin, before Mitrovic added another before half-time.

The Cottagers have earned a 'yo-yo' reputation for bouncing between the Premier League and Championship in recent years.

They were promoted in 2018 and swiftly relegated, before going up again in 2020 and coming straight back down once more.

Now the elite ranks beckon again, with Marco Silva's team aiming to sustain top-flight status this time around.

Fulham had a 13-season spell in the elite from 2001 to 2014, which was the last time they enjoyed consecutive seasons at the top level.

Their campaign this season has been fuelled by a remarkable goal output from Mitrovic, who has now scored 40 times in the league.

Head coach Silva was appointed before the season got under way, replacing Scott Parker who moved on to join Bournemouth.

The Portuguese has previous Premier League experience from his time with Hull City, Everton and Watford.

Jamaica International striker Bobby Decordova-Reid’s Fulham FC will be playing Premier League football in the 2022-23 season after securing promotion to the top flight with a 3-0 victory over Preston North End in the EFL Championship at Craven Cottage on Tuesday.

Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic got goals in the 9th and 41st minutes to continue a prolific EFL Championship season that has so far seen him score 40 goals in 40 games.

Portuguese midfielder Fabio Carvalho got a goal in the 31st minute before he was replaced by Reid 15 minutes before full-time.

With 86 points from 42 matches, Fulham secured their return to the highest level of English football with four games to spare.

The London-based club will be eager to improve their performance from their last Premier League season where they finished 18th in 2020-21.  

Reid has seven goals and seven assists so far this season for the Cottagers and two goals in 16 appearances for the Reggae Boyz since making his debut in 2019.

Kylian Mbappe is widely expected to join Real Madrid at the end of this season.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract and has not renewed with the French giants.

Madrid have long admired Mbappe and attempted an audacious bid to sign him in August.

TOP STORY – PSG STEP UP MBAPPE RENEWAL BID

Paris Saint-Germain are ramping up their efforts to convince Mbappe to renew with the club, reports Marca.

Mbappe has previously hinted he will join Madrid at the end of this season when his PSG contract expires.

PSG are pulling out all the stops to persuade Mbappe, who has been with the club since 2017.

 

ROUND-UP

- MLS club LA Galaxy have enquired about PSG defender Sergio Ramos according to Footmercato. Ramos has made five appearances for PSG since his off-season move and may be available on a free transfer.

- Manchester United are not willing to match Napoli's eye-watering £100m price tag for Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen reports the Daily Star.

- Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Juventus are hopeful that they can retain Spanish forward Alvaro Morata, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

- Juventus are also in front in the race to sign Roma winger Nicolo Zaniolo, who is yet to recommit to the Giallorossi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fulham want to sign ex-Manchester City and Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli if they win promotion back to the Premier League, claims Turkish outfit Star. Balotelli currently plays his football in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, with good form prompting an Italy recall.

Aleksandar Mitrovic sensationally secured the Championship's single-season scoring record in February with his 32nd and 33rd goals of the campaign for Fulham on Wednesday.

Since England's second tier was rebranded as the Championship in 2004-05, Ivan Toney's 31 goals last season for Brentford had represented the benchmark.

However, Mitrovic's remarkable season continued in Fulham's 2-1 win over Peterborough United, his 30th appearance of 2021-22.

The Serbia international's opener from the penalty spot passed Toney's mark, before his second extended his own record and ensured the league leaders took all three points.

Mitrovic, who also played in the division for Newcastle United before joining Fulham, now has 75 Championship goals in just 116 appearances.

That compares favourably with his rather underwhelming return of 24 goals in 104 in the Premier League.

The last player to score more in the second tier was Portsmouth's Guy Whittingham, who hit 42 in 1992-93, although even that pales next to George Camsell's ludicrous 59 Middlesbrough goals all the way back in 1926-27.

Perhaps with those two now in his sights, Mitrovic said: "I've had quite a few records, but this feels nice. I broke the record with the Serbia national team as well, and now today here. I feel good, I feel great in this team."

Fulham boss Marco Silva added: "The best team on the pitch deserves the three points; congratulations for our players and now let's talk about Mitro. Congratulations for him.

"The numbers speak for themselves. I cannot say anything more. 33 goals at the end of February with 14 games to play – they are fantastic, fantastic numbers.

"What I like more from him is that he's always demanding more and more and more. He knows that from tomorrow I will demand more and more from him. The team-mates will do the same as well.

"But first we are happy, because it's not just Mitro's number, it's something more, it's something that reflects our philosophy as a club, as a staff."

Cristiano Ronaldo's future with Manchester United is uncertain amid a difficult season at Old Trafford.

The 37-year-old only joined United from Juventus in August, following interest from rivals Manchester City.

But the Red Devils are well out of the title race, with Ronaldo contributing nine league goals, in a tumultuous season that has seen Ole Gunnar Solskjaer axed as manager.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WOULD BOW TO RONALDO TRANSFER DEMANDS

Manchester United will allow five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo to depart if he demands to depart in the off-season, reports the Sunday Mirror.

The Portuguese is ready to quit the Red Devils should they miss the top four and subsequently fail to qualify for the Champions League.

The report claims that Ronaldo was expecting to transfer United into title contenders but that his presence has become a sideshow, meaning they are willing to let him go.

 

ROUND-UP

- Raphinha has caught the eye of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona but Leeds United plan to rebuff any offers him in the off-season according to The Mirror.

- The Mirror also reports that Arsenal are in the race for Napoli's Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz , joining Madrid and Barcelona.

- Liverpool target Fabio Carvalho is being pursued by Manchester United too, claims the Daily Star. The Fulham teenager came close to joining the Reds in January.

- Manchester City and Raheem Sterling are set for contract talks at the end of the season but the English leaders may sell him if he does not agree to a new deal, according to the Times.

- Fiorentina are interested in Manchester United full-back Diogo Dalot but would need to convince him to lower his wages, reports La Nazione. Dalot is in line for a new deal with United according to the Star.

- Liverpool Echo reports that Everton's Jean-Philippe Gbamin could join CSKA Moscow on loan with the Russian transfer window open until February 22.

Former Tottenham and Belgium midfielder Mousa Dembele has announced he will retire from football when his Guangzhou City contract expires later this year.

The 34-year-old spent six and a half years with Tottenham and has also previously played for Fulham, AZ, Willem II and Belgian side Germinal Beerschot.

Dembele joined Guangzhou in January 2019 and has made 47 appearances for the club in the Chinese Super League.

But the former Belgium international, who was capped 82 times and played at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, intends to call time on his career when the 2022 CSL season – set to begin in April – concludes.

"Thank you for all the nice messages," Dembele posted on his personal Instagram page on Tuesday.

"Just to be clear, I haven't stopped yet. I still have a year left on my contract, but I can already share I will stop my career after this year is finished."

Dembele is the second member of Belgium's so-called 'Golden Generation' to announce his retirement this year, with Thomas Vermaelen doing so last month following a spell with Vissel Kobe.

Sweden striker Alexander Isak's reputation continues to grow at Real Sociedad.

The 22-year-old has netted eight goals in all competitions this season after 17 strikes in LaLiga last term.

Isak is contracted with Sociedad until 2026, meaning they are under no pressure to cash him in.

However, there appears to be plenty of interest among clubs who want to test La Real's resolve to keep him.

TOP STORY – BLUES AND RED DEVILS ENTER ISAK RACE

Chelsea and Manchester United have both joined the race to sign Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak, according to The Mirror.

Arsenal have been keen on the 22-year-old Sweden international, who has a £75million buyout clause in his contract.

United are said to view Isak as an ideal replacement for veteran forward Cristiano Ronaldo whose future at Old Trafford is unclear.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus are bullish that they can beat Tottenham in the race to sign Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, claims La Gazzetta dello Sport. The Bianconeri view Zaniolo as a replacement for Paulo Dybala, whose contract is running down.

Manchester United and Liverpool have joined Real Madrid and Barcelona in keeping tabs on Serge Gnabry's contract situation at Bayern Munich, reports The Mirror. According to Sky Germany, Bayern and Gnabry are having a stand-off in discussions over an extension.

Liverpool's deal to land Fulham's Fabio Carvalho is not dead, says Football Insider, with the two parties set for new talks with a view to an off-season switch. Calciomercato claims that Milan have also reached out to Carvalho's representatives.

- The Sun reports that Premier League giants Manchester United and Chelsea are monitoring 16-year-old Blackburn Rovers defender Ashley Phillips, with Everton and Tottenham also keeping tabs on the teenager.

Riyad Mahrez must have had mixed feelings about his starring role for Manchester City against Fulham in the FA Cup, but Pep Guardiola was eager to shower him with praise.

On Sunday, the Africa Cup of Nations final sees Egypt and Senegal go head to head, vying to succeed Algeria as champions.

This time around, Algeria put up a dismal defence of their title, with captain Mahrez unable to prevent them tumbling out after the group stage with just one point from three games.

It has meant he has been available to City perhaps sooner than anticipated, and his two goals in the 4-1 win over Fulham on Saturday showed what he brings to Guardiola's team.

Mahrez fired in a second-half penalty to move City 3-1 in front, before adding the security of the hosts' fourth goal, a shot with his weaker right foot trickling in via a touch off Fulham defender Tim Ream.

Mahrez called it a "great performance", and he has now scored in his last six appearances across all competitions for City, taking his tally for the team to 15 goals this season, his best tally for the club in a single campaign.

Guardiola was particularly pleased to see Mahrez tuck away another spot-kick, convinced now he has a player who is deadly from 12 yards.

Mahrez has converted his last seven penalties for City, and that means he is the first-choice taker, ahead of Kevin De Bruyne.

"Of course, he is a guy with a mentality to score a goal," Guardiola said in his post-match news conference.

"As a player, he has a special quality. He understands how he attracts opponents to make one against two, or one against three, and afterwards pass the ball for the free men.

"Close to the box, always you have a feeling that he has to score a goal. We have struggled a lot in the last year to take and score penalties, and now he is a guarantee.

"He is scoring every penalty he is going to take and that is important for us as well, and especially under pressure.

"You take a penalty at 4-0, and it is easy, but last season in Dortmund we were 1-0 down and he scored a penalty, and this season 1-0 [behind] against Arsenal he scored - he had the personality to say, 'Give me the ball, I'm going to score', and he did it."

 

Guardiola insisted he had been impressed by Championship leaders Fulham, who took a surprise early lead through Fabio Carvalho but were soon themselves trailing, as City hit the front in the 13th minute after goals from Ilkay Gundogan, who was teed up by Mahrez, and John Stones.

"Very pleased to be in the next round," said Guardiola. "This round showed us there can be many surprises, and we won against a very top team."

Manchester United lost on penalties to Middlesbrough on Friday, but City were far more clinical against second-tier opposition than their Mancunian rivals.

Since Guardiola took charge in 2016, City have won 42 domestic cup matches across the EFL Cup (20) and FA Cup (22), which is four more than the next side – Chelsea (38).

They are now on a 12-match winning run against Fulham, so as much as Guardiola made a point of saying he rated the "positional game" of Marco Silva's team, backing them for promotion, these teams remain poles apart in terms of quality.

Riyad Mahrez scored twice as Manchester City thrashed Fulham 4-1 in the FA Cup, showing neighbours United how it should be done.

This meeting of the Premier League leaders and Championship pace-setters followed on from Manchester United's shock Old Trafford defeat to second-tier Middlesbrough on Friday night.

United spurned a host of chances in that game, but City here were ruthless, with goals from Ilkay Gundogan, John Stones and Mahrez putting paid to Fulham's hopes of an upset.

City march through to the fifth round, chasing a first appearance in the final since 2019, the year they scored a crushing 6-0 Wembley win against Watford to seal a domestic treble.

Fabio Carvalho, who nearly signed for Liverpool last week, gave Fulham a shock fourth-minute lead at the Etihad Stadium, turning in Harry Wilson's right-wing cross.

But City were level two minutes later, Gundogan finding the bottom left corner from 10 yards after the ball pinged around the Fulham penalty area.

Stones headed in a corner from Kevin De Bruyne to nudge City in front and they remained ahead at the break, with Aleksandar Mitrovic firing just wide for the lively visitors.

Jack Grealish went dancing through the Fulham defence early in the second half and was rewarded with a penalty as Joe Bryan scythed him down. Mahrez, back from a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria, smashed the spot-kick into the right corner.

Mahrez's second arrived in the 57th minute, after De Bruyne seized on a stray pass from Fulham's Harrison Reed and sprinted down the left before sliding a pass across goal. The winger's shot took a touch off Tim Ream before nestling in the back of the net.

Little went right for Fulham, who might count this as a reality check.

Pep Guardiola admitted it took him a while to work out Joao Cancelo as the Manchester City boss spoke of the "sensitive" full-back who has become a key component of his side.

Cancelo joined from Juventus in 2019, with the Portugal international initially struggling to establish himself in City's side.

Guardiola said there had been "mistakes" on his own part, and a lack of understanding from Cancelo about how City were looking for him to perform.

Both bridges were crossed long ago, and this week saw Cancelo and City agree to extend the player's contract by two years until 2027, with Guardiola saying such deals were "so important" for the team's future.

Cancelo has developed into one of the world's leading full-backs under Guardiola, currently deployed on the left but equally comfortable on the right, yet disagreements between player and coach stymied his start to life at the club.

"Everybody knows how important Joao is with us and what he has done in the last two seasons, especially this season," Guardiola said.

"We have struggled together in the first part when he arrived. We were not agreeing on many things, in part [because] of my mistakes. Now I'm so delighted he's fully happy here and can play in this club for the next years.

"He can play in many positions, and he can play every day. His physicality is impressive and of course the skillset he has, and he's beloved in the locker room because he's so funny.

"The club has to especially work for tomorrow, for the next months and the next years, and the decisions the club has made [regarding contracts] is because the club is working for the future and has to do this."

Where manager Guardiola and Cancelo once struggled to understand each other, now they are singing from the same hymn sheet.

"We know each other much better, and every player must be treated in a different way," said Guardiola, speaking in a news conference ahead of Saturday's FA Cup clash with Fulham.

"I needed more time to know him, how sensitive he is. He's an incredible person, has a big heart, so sensitive.

"Finally, I think now I understand him a little bit more. Especially because he's an important player for us. When he arrived, we have an instructor to understand the way we want to play, and he struggled a little bit to understand what we want to do.

"That was the reason why. There were not arguments. Every player's a world, and you have to understand them as much as possible. Sometimes you need time to understand each other."

Guardiola described Cancelo's enthusiasm as that of "an amateur player", pointing to his desire to play all the time.

 

"Like Phil Foden, it's the most important thing in his life," Guardiola said.

Cancelo directly contributed to eight goals for City last season (five assists, three goals), but he is stepping up his contribution this term.

He already has eight assists and three goals in 2021-22, also helping City keep 12 clean sheets across the 30 matches he has featured in.

Cancelo has created 87 chances in the Premier League since making his debut, which ranks him eighth in terms of defenders, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (211) leading the way.

Midfield prospect James McAtee, 19, was another City player to sign a new contract this week, and Guardiola thinks the youngster could have a role to play in the closing months of the season.

"Maybe we will need him. In the future we will see," Guardiola said. "It is important he's fully committed to the club. He arrived when he was a little, little boy, and he's a Man City supporter, and he loves to be here.

"We're more than delighted with the confidence he and his family have in the club and [that] he could extend his contract to stay here with us."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Arsenal career appears to be over.

The Gabon forward was in Barcelona on Monday and it appeared a move would be finalised before the end of the transfer window.

However, the deadline ticked by without official confirmation, but the transfer is expected to go through on Tuesday.

That would make him Barca's third signing of the Xavi era, after Ferran Torres and Adama Traore.

 

TOP STORY – AUBA TO JOIN XAVI AT CAMP NOU

Widespread reports claim that Arsenal and Barca have agreed to a rather strange deal for Aubameyang.

The 32-year-old has reportedly agreed to a six-month contract at Barca, with the option for a further year, with Arsenal seemingly agreeing to forego a transfer fee in order to get their former captain, who has not featured since December, off the books.

Aubameyang is essentially a free agent, so that allows the deal to be completed after the deadline passed.

ROUND-UP

- Fabio Carvalho's proposed deadline day move from Fulham to Liverpool did not come off, though The Times reports that the Reds are keen to sign the youngster on a pre-contract agreement. 

- Sky Sports reported that Arsenal will save up to £25million following Aubameyang's departure, which The Express claim will be used to fund Mikel Arteta's transfer dealings in the off-season.

- Bild has reported that Real Madrid have already tabled a pre-contract agreement for Kylian Mbappe, who they are hoping to sign from Paris Saint-Germain.

- Journalist Xavi Torres believes Barcelona will attempt to terminate Ousmane Dembele's contract. The France winger is set to leave on a free at the end of the season.

- West Ham failed in a last-ditch bid to sign striker Duvan Zapata from Atalanta, according to Sky Sports.

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