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Alexander Isak: Newcastle sign striker from Real Sociedad for club-record £63m

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Newcastle United have completed the signing of striker Alexander Isak for a club-record £63m fee from Real Sociedad.

Newcastle are awaiting international clearance to have the Sweden international, who underwent a medical on Thursday, eligible for Sunday’s trip to Wolves – live on Sky Sports.

Isak travelled to Tyneside by private jet, alongside his representatives, Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth and head of recruitment Steve Nickson on Thursday morning.
Ashworth and Nickson had spent the previous 48 hours in Spain agreeing a deal with Real Sociedad.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe said at his Friday morning news conference he was keen to involve Isak as soon as possible with Callum Wilson – his other striking option – unavailable for a few weeks with a hamstring injury.

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“There’s no guarantee with these things, as it’s in other people’s hands, but hopefully,” said Howe.
“He will probably need to train with us in the next two days to be available to play….we’re very keen to see him get involved as quickly as possible.”

Howe admits while Wilson’s injury is not seen as severe, it influenced Newcastle’s decision to move for Isak.

“We are hopeful Callum will only be out for a couple of weeks,” said the Newcastle boss.

“I think we reacted slightly off that, we were always looking for an attacking player but it changed our focus slightly on the type. But we’re delighted to hopefully sign Alex.”
“This deal really did come as a shock, not just because Alexander Isak was moving but the price of £60m. It’s a really big price and it had to be in order to get Real Sociedad to pick up the phone.

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“Remember his release clause was €90m so it had to be close to that. I think it’s a lot of money for him – maybe a little too much – but he’s a player who can score goals. He’s had streaks such as in 2019/20 when he scored 12 goals in 12 games, including against Barcelona and Real Madrid.

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“Last season wasn’t so great. He only scored six goals and his xG was 10.8. He was only the second player in La Liga with a negative xG than his actual goals. He’s a streaky player but his ceiling is high. If you’ve got the money, why not?”

Alexander Isak was barely 17 years old when he signed for Borussia Dortmund after catching the eye at AIK Solna so it already feels like he has been around for a long time despite being only 22 now. Newcastle have a young talent with considerable experience.

Speaking to Magnus Wikman, his old Sweden U17 coach, at the time of that move to Dortmund, he remembered an early training camp. “There were 66 players and he was much better than everyone else his age. He was just excellent,” Wikman told Sky Sports.

He recalled a tournament in Spain and then a series of games in Croatia in which Isak excelled. “By that period he was one, two or three steps higher than before. He played with an extra self-confidence then. He was even more powerful than before.”

That power is still evident. Isak is a tall forward but his strength is on the ground rather than in the air, able to outpace most defenders. Newcastle are signing a player who looks like a target man but is more mobile than that – as Wikman identified all those years ago.

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“His technique is really good and he has an especially impressive first touch. He is good with the ball and can link up with other players but he is still not a typical No 9 striker. He is more dynamic as he enjoys moving around and looking for space in the opposition half.”

The move to Dortmund came too soon to make the breakthrough there but Isak found a home at Real Sociedad. The 2020/21 La Liga season was a standout as he scored 17 goals – ranking him among the top six goalscorers in the competition that season.

Newcastle are signing a proven scorer with lots of experience but, crucially, a player with room for development. He can contribute now but his best years are ahead of him. He is young enough – and good enough – to go on this journey with a club on the rise.

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Olise’s late strike gets Palace point against United

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Michael Olise has helped Crystal Palace get a point against Manchester United in their 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park Stadium on Wednesday night.

The midfielder’s late strike in extra-time, 91′, levelled the game against United, who had controlled the lead since the 43rd minute of the first half after Bruno Fernandes’ fine finish put the Red Devils ahead just before the break.

A relentless Olise scored from a free kick with a left-footed shot to the top right corner. The equalising goal saw United’s dream of replacing defending EPL champions City in the second place on the league table, fade away, as they remain third with 39 points, having played a game more than City.

Crystal Palace remains in 12th place with 23 points.

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Atletico Madrid head coach speaks on leaving Atletico Madrid

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Atletico Madrid head coach, Diego Simeone, has insisted that nobody has personally told him to leave the club.

Rumours have persisted that Simeone, 52, could be set to end this 11-year stay at Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

However, the Argentine has now stated that no one at the club has asked him to quit the La Liga giants.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Copa del Rey tie with Levante on Wednesday night, Simeone said when asked about reports suggesting he would leave the club at the end of the season: “No one has personally asked me to leave.”

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However, having already been eliminated from UEFA Champions League and sitting 13 points behind leaders Barcelona in the La Liga table, the Copa del Rey is Atletico Madrid’s last realistic opportunity for a trophy this season.

It has been a disappointing campaign for Simeone’s side, as they sit fourth in the league.

Simeone added, “The boys are enthusiastic to reverse this situation that we have experienced since the break and prior to the World Cup. It’s been a regular to a bad season. For me, there is growth after the break, hopefully, we will continue in that line.”

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EPL: Frank Lampard won’t run away – Shaun Wright-Phillips

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Former Chelsea player, Shaun Wright-Phillips has backed his former teammate, Frank Lampard to stay at Goodison Park and turn things around.

Wright-Phillips said his former team-mate does not run away from challenges such as Everton is facing now but would face them squarely

Lampard is in danger of being sacked any moment from now after yet another defeat on Friday.

Everton crashed out of the FA Cup on Friday after they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford

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Frank Lampard has now led Toffees to six defeats in their last seven matches and they have also crashed out of the Carabao Cup and are currently 18th in the Premier League.

“Frank Lampard has always been a player and a person that won’t run away from things not going well,” Wright-Phillips told the BBC.

“He is the type of person to try and solve it or try and make the situation a lot better…”

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