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Newcastle United snapped up goalkeeper Matz Sels for a reported fee of £4.5 million (5.4 million euros) from Belgian side Gent on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old, voted goalkeeper of the year last season in Belgium, signed a five-year contract and becomes Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez’s first summer signing, as the Spaniard looks to freshen up his squad after relegation from the Premier League.

“I am really pleased to welcome Matz to the club,” Benitez said. “He’s a fantastic goalkeeper and many top clubs have been interested in signing him.

“Obviously we have injuries to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot which could be difficult for us in the first part of the season so it was important to strengthen in this area to be sure we can make a strong start in the Championship.”

Sels joined Gent from Lierse in January 2014 and made 106 appearances in all competitions for the club.

 

 

The three-day sale of memorabilia belonging to world football icon Pele ended in London on Thursday with the artefacts sold for the princely total of £3.4million ($5million, 4.4million euros).

The final day of the sale -- held in London but under the banner of Los Angeles based auction house Julien's -- was lit up by the sale of the 75-year-old Brazilian's third and final World Cup winners medal from 1970 which fetched £346,000.

To put that price into context, the ones from 1958, when he was just a teenager, and 1962 had sold collectively on Wednesday for £340,000.

"It was a white glove auction where 100% of all the lots sold," Darren Julien, Chief Executive of Julien's auctions told AFP.

Julien's had extra reason to be happy as they had placed an original total estimate of £3million on the memorabilia.

Another Pele item to make big money on Thursday was his 1000th game crown which eventually went for £162,000.

 

England captain Alastair Cook said on Wednesday he wants all cricketers found guilty of match-fixing to be banned for life, but that he would be prepared to face Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir.

Left-arm quick Amir is in line for a Test return -- having already made his comeback in white-ball international cricket -- in the series opener against England at Lord’s next month.

It was during a Lord’s Test against England six years ago that Amir and two Pakistan team-mates were involved in the deliberate bowling of no-balls -- the trio having been lured into a newspaper ‘sting’ operation to demonstrate their willingness to take part in spot-fixing.

A teenager at the time and one of world cricket’s undoubted rising stars, Amir was sent to jail by an English court and banned from all cricket worldwide for five years.

 

 

The three-day sale of more than 2,000 items from world football icon Pele’s personal memorabilia kicked off on Tuesday, with shirts, souvenirs and medals all going under the hammer.

The Brazil legend’s collection of items from his extraordinary career, being sold in London by Los Angeles-based Julien’s Auctions, is expected to fetch some £3 million ($4.4 million, 3.8 million euros).

The 75-year-old is the only player to have won the World Cup three times and the standout item is a replica awarded to him of the Jules Rimet winners’ trophy, which is estimated to fetch up to £410,000.

His World Cup winners’ medals from 1958, 1962 and 1970 are expected to net up to £140,000 each.

The sale began Tuesday with a yellow 2015 Brazil national football team jersey presented to Pele, bearing his name and the number 10 on the back.

It sold for £725, surpassing its estimate of £280 to £420.

 

 

Gareth Bale believes Wales have it in them to cause an upset at the forthcoming European Championship in France by topping a group that also includes England.

The main aim for Wales, appearing in their first major tournament finals since the 1958 World Cup, will be to get out of a group that also includes Slovakia and Russia and into the knockout stage.

But Real Madrid star Bale, set to feature in Wales’ final warm-up match against Sweden in Stockholm on Sunday, wants the team to aim higher.

“We’re not going there just to make up the numbers,” Bale told a BBC Wales documentary entitled, “Gareth Bale: Euro Star.”

“We want to win every game that we play, we want to win the group and give ourselves the best chance.

“No matter who we play we feel confident in our abilities we can win.

 

 

Manchester United were locked in a second day of talks with Jose Mourinho’s agents on Wednesday, hammering out a deal to sweep the controversial Portuguese boss into Old Trafford.

The former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager has agreed personal terms on a three-year deal with a likely annual salary of at least £10 million ($15 million, 13 million euros) but issues remain over image rights, Sky News television reported.

Chelsea still own Mourinho’s image rights, despite his sacking last year, and the two clubs were reported to be locked in negotiations that could see United paying their rivals millions of pounds, according to press reports.

The 53-year-old is mulling a bid for Zlatan Ibrahimovic as one of his first moves in the job, according to media reports, after the star Sweden striker played his final game for French champions Paris Saint-Germain last week.

 

 

A second day of negotiations to make Jose Mourinho the next manager of Manchester United are taking place Wednesday ahead of an expected announcement that he will take the job this week.

The former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager has agreed personal terms on a three-year deal with a likely annual salary of more than £10 million (13 million euros, $15 million) but issues remain over image rights, Sky News reported.

Mourinho is mulling a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic as one of his first moves in the job, according to media reports, after the star Swedish centre-forward played his last game for Paris Saint-Germain last week.

United finally sacked Louis van Gaal on Monday, two days after the club won the FA Cup with victory against Crystal Palace.

However, the Old Trafford club’s failure to qualify for the lucrative Champions League proved fatal to the Dutchman’s hopes of survival.

As talks between Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes and the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward were set to continue, Old Trafford legend Eric Cantona questioned whether he was the right man for the job.

“I love Jose Mourinho, but in terms of the type of football he plays, I don’t think he is Manchester United,” the Frenchman told the Guardian.

 

 

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew says he feels the “weight of history” on his shoulders as he tries to lead the south London side to the first major trophy in their 111-year existence.

Palace have the chance to claim that long-awaited piece of silverware when they face Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley.

The match is a repeat of the 1990 final when a Palace side featuring then central defender Pardew were beaten by United in a replay after the first match finished 3-3 following extra-time.

“I feel the weight of the history of not winning something,” Pardew said Friday.

“We take one final which we lost into the game, so this group of players have an opportunity to put something permanent there — a first major trophy for Crystal Palace.

“One or two of these players will never play in a final again and this is an opportunity to get a winner’s medal, which is so hard.

“Like the Leicester players (who won the Premier League), winning the FA Cup would mean the same for us.”

Pardew completed an unwanted “double” in 2006 when he was manager of the West Ham side beaten in that year’s FA Cup final by Liverpool.

He has now turned to Steve Coppell and Alan Smith, Palace’s manager and assistant manager respectively back in 1990, for advice.

“Steve Coppell was here; I’ve leant on him in a couple of bits,” former Newcastle manager Pardew explained.

“I’ve spoken to Alan Smith, looked at the history of 1990 and of the history since. It’s a club with a certain DNA. It would be good for the club and for our history for us to win something.

“(There was a) great camaraderie in that (1990) group. I hope this group has that same ongoing history as we had. We’re all very close friends, it bonded us. It made this club to a degree, that cup final.

“Friendships — I’d prefer those friendships to have carried through as winners. That’s the message I’ll give to my players.”

United will start Saturday’s match as favourites and Pardew was in no doubt all the pressure was on Louis van Gaal’smen following their failure to qualify for the Champions League.

“The pressure is on them all the time,” Pardew said.

 

 

Relegated Aston Villa could be sold to a Chinese consortium by the end of the week, according to British media reports on Wednesday.

Villa crashed out of the Premier League after a miserable season that saw the Midlands club win just three of their 38 matches.

US-based owner Randy Lerner has been trying to sell Villa without success for two years, but it appears a deal is finally close to completion after he lowered his asking price.

The BBC reports Lerner, who bought Villa in 2006, is willing to sell for as little as £60 million ($86 million, 76 million euros), with the unnamed Chinese investors said to be looking over the Championship team’s financial records.

 

 

As the Olympic Games loom ever closer, Europe's best swimmers gather in London on one of the final stepping stones to Rio de Janeiro.

When the European Championships start on Monday at the London Aquatics Centre – which staged the swimming at the 2012 Olympics – there will be just 82 days before the Games start in Brazil.

Given the proximity, few who are competing in Rio will have rested before the London meet, but are instead in heavy training, eyes planted firmly on what lies ahead in August.

Two years ago in Berlin, Great Britain topped the medal table with a haul of 24.

Prominent was 19-year-old Adam Peaty, a fortnight after beating Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh to second in the 100m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.