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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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Voodoo new to me – Waldrum

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In the aftermath of the drama that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroon during the penultimate qualifying fixture for the 2024 Olympic games, Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, says voodoo is strange to him.

There was drama at the start of the second half inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Monday after a Cameroonian player allegedly attempted to plant ‘voodoo’ inside the Falcons goal post.

Falcons’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, was in fine form as she stopped every shot in her direction to prevent the Indomitable Lionesses from scoring.

However, in the closing minutes of the game, Cameroon sent Annie Enganemben on as they were about to launch a free kick into the Nigerian box with claims that the player was sent on to touch the net in a bid to give Cameroon a saving grace as they were running out of options, and had to resort to diabolical means.

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In a video, the substitute, alongside another striker, were seen trying to run towards the Nigerian goal in an attempt to touch the net, but Asisat Oshoala took it upon herself to prevent that from happening. The drama led to the player being sent off after she hit Nnadozie in the process.

When asked by our reporter about the attempt by the Cameroonians to use voodoo during the game, Waldrum said, “Yes it is true.”

“I have never seen it before but our players wouldn’t let them in our goal to use it.”

The only goal of the two-legged tie came in the early minutes of the first half, with Esther Okoronkwo tapping home from close range after Jennifer Echegini’s clever footwork on the edge of the box.

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Liverpool Win Carabao Cup Title With Late Heroics Thrilling Against Chelsea

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In a thrilling Carabao Cup final clash at Wembley Stadium, Liverpool emerged victorious with late heroics against Chelsea, clinching the coveted title in dramatic fashiion.

The match, highly anticipated by football fans worldwide, showcased the fierce competition between two Premier League giants. Jurgen Klopp’s youthful Liverpool side faced off against Thomas Tuchel’s formidable Chelsea team in a showdown that promised excitement and tension.

Throughout the game, both teams demonstrated their skill and determination, creating numerous scoring opportunities and thrilling moments for the spectators. However, as the clock ticked down towards the end of regular time, the score remained deadlocked in a tense stalemate.

As the match entered extra time, the intensity on the field only intensified, with each side pushing for a decisive breakthrough. It was Liverpool’s star defender, Virgil van Dijk, who ultimately proved to be the hero of the night. In a heart-stopping moment, van Dijk rose above the Chelsea defense to head home a crucial goal deep into extra time.

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The Wembley Stadium erupted with cheers from Liverpool fans as van Dijk’s late header secured the victory and clinched the Carabao Cup title for Klopp’s side. It was a moment of pure jubilation for the Liverpool players, staff, and supporters, marking a memorable triumph in their footballing journey.

The match’s thrilling conclusion highlighted the unpredictable nature of football and the exhilarating drama that unfolds on the grand stage. Liverpool’s triumph with late heroics against Chelsea will be remembered as a testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit in pursuit of success.

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Boniface named among Bundesliga’s most skilful stars

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Bayer Leverkusen star Victor Boniface has secured a nomination among the most skilful players in the ongoing 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign so far.

After his move from Union SG last July, the Super Eagles striker wasted no time making an impact under the guidance of manager Xabi Alonso.

Boniface’s initial burst in Germany was nothing short of impressive, netting ten goals in 16 league matches.

However, his promising run hit an abrupt halt due to a groin injury, forcing him to miss the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast.

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Despite his current injury setback, the striker’s noteworthy performances have not gone unnoticed.

The spotlight now shines on a particular display of individual brilliance during Leverkusen’s Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig at the Bay Arena in August 2023.

In that game, Boniface executed a cunning feint, deceiving his marker into anticipating a right-footed shot, only to cleverly pass the ball with his left foot. Although he didn’t find the net, Leverkusen emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Boniface shares the skills spotlight with four other notable players: Andrej Kramaric, Jadon Sancho, Felix Nmecha, and Xavi Simons.

To participate in the voting process, fans can visit the Bundesliga’s official website and select their choice among the nominated players.

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At the time of this report, Jadon Sancho leads the polls with an impressive 75% of the votes. Xavi Simons secures the second position with 17%, while Boniface currently holds 5%. Hoffenheim’s Kramaric and Dortmund’s Nmecha trail behind with 1% and 2% of the votes, respectively.

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