Frank Lampard's appointment as Chelsea head coach was widely heralded by the club's fanbase, who were desperate for a returning hero to succeed in the dugout.

Just 18 months later and Lampard – the club's record all-time leading goalscorer who won 11 major honours at Stamford Bridge – has been sacked.

The Blues have proven in the past there is little time for sentimentality or to dwell on past successes and not even a player with the stature Lampard holds at the club has been granted extra time.

Lampard's first season in charge brought a top-four finish and an FA Cup final but a run of just two wins in eight league matches saw Chelsea wield the axe with the team ninth and 11 points off top.

A huge close-season recruitment drive that saw the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell arrive perhaps gave the Blues hierarchy itchy feet and brought about the end for Lampard.

With that in mind, we have looked at some hits and misses when players have returned to a club as boss.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping down in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint, though a slump this term has left his long-term future shrouded in doubt.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Conte is now battling to end the Bianconeri's domestic dominance as head coach of Inter.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try to save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a relegation play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

JURY'S OUT

Mikel Arteta

Arteta served Arsenal with distinction as a player between 2011 and 2016, captaining the club and winning the FA Cup twice. Success in football's oldest cup competition followed last term, with Arteta having replaced Unai Emery in December 2019. After finishing eighth, Arsenal defeated Liverpool on penalties to win the Community Shield but eight defeats from 19 league games in this campaign have left Arsenal 11th and 13 points off top spot.

Andrea Pirlo

Lampard's opportunity at Chelsea arrived when Maurizio Sarri departed for Juventus, but his stint in charge at the Bianconeri lasted just one season despite winning the Serie A title. Pirlo won four Scudetti, the Supercoppa Italiana twice and the Coppa Italia during a four-year stint as a player in Turin and was appointed head coach just a week after being installed as Under-23 boss. So far it has been a mixed bag in Juve's hunt for a 10th straight title, with six draws and two defeats in 18 matches leaving them seven points back of league leaders Milan – albeit they do have a game in hand. Pirlo also collected a first trophy courtesy of victory over Napoli in the Supercoppa Italiana last week.

Jack Wilshere will resume his career at Bournemouth after rejoining the Championship side on a deal until the end of the season.

The former Arsenal and England midfielder was a free agent after his West Ham contract was terminated last October.

Wilshere spent the 2016-17 season on loan with the Cherries and has been handed a contract, having been invited to train with Jason Tindall's promotion hopefuls.

The 29-year-old, who has been badly blighted by injuries in his career, told afcbTV: "It feels great to be back and I can't wait to get started.

"From the minute I walked through the door three weeks ago, it felt natural and like I had never been away.

"I know a lot of the players and staff here and I'm pleased they allowed me to train initially, and then it just went from there.

"I've been impressed by the coaching staff, the way they work and the ambitions of the club to get back in the Premier League.

"We all share the same ambitions and I'm looking forward to playing my part in helping achieve those."

Bournemouth are third in the Championship, eight points adrift of leaders Norwich City after being relegated from the Premier League last season.

Alex Ferguson says Wayne Rooney has a "presence about him" and is hopeful the legendary forward will succeed in management after announcing his retirement from playing.

Rooney was officially named as Derby County boss on Friday, two months after replacing Phillip Cocu as interim coach.

The 35-year-old enjoyed an incredible playing career that spanned nearly two decades, during which time he won 16 trophies at Manchester United, the majority of those under Ferguson.

He retires as United and England's all-time leading goalscorer and while Ferguson believes that will be an advantage for Rooney, he warned the former forward results were all that mattered as a coach.

"He is England’s top goalscorer, he is Manchester United’s top goalscorer and he has had a fantastic career as a player and it will give him a starting point," Ferguson said on the 'A Team Talk With Legends' panel on Friday.

"But like anyone else it is a results industry and you need to get results. He will know that better than anyone.

"He has had a good start… and he has knowledge of the game, a presence about him and I hope he does well.

"It is a big step for him. He is quite a wealthy young man now with his career in football, so he probably doesn't need to go into management to look after his family, but he wants to do it and that is important.

"There is no point being a manager because someone asks you to be. He went there as a player-coach, he then become player-manager and now he has the manager's job and that's what he wanted. Hopefully he does well.”

England manager Gareth Southgate was also pleased to see Rooney take the helm at Derby.

Rooney joins former England team-mates Steven Gerrard (Rangers), Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Scott Parker (Fulham) in management.

"He has had an incredible career. I am pleased we have the likes of Wayne, Steven, Frank and Scott Parker – we don't want too many [Jamie] Carraghers sitting on the sofa because those good football brains are gone from the game," Southgate said.

"What you want from an England perspective is young English managers and ex-players to come in and add to the game and help develop young players.

"Those lads have brilliant experiences and it will be a huge challenge of course, but Wayne loves football, has a fantastic brain for football and I wish I had the chance to manage him five years earlier – not be the one to leave him out of the England squad, I'd rather be the one picking him at his peak."

Wayne Rooney called time on one of the greatest playing careers in English football on Friday, vowing: "I wouldn't change a thing."

Since springing to prominence with a stunning goal as a 16-year-old for Everton against Arsenal in 2002, Rooney has achieved feat after feat in the game.

He retires as the record scorer for both Manchester United and England, having won 120 caps and captained his country, and will focus on his new full-time job as manager of Derby County.

Gary Lineker, third on England's all-time goalscoring list behind Rooney and Bobby Charlton, said the new Rams boss had enjoyed "a truly wonderful career on the field".

What is clear is that the 35-year-old Rooney is relishing a career in management, and he has shown impressive early aptitude, with Derby conceding only four goals and losing just twice in their nine league matches under his caretaker leadership.

"For me, to try and help the club get back to its glory days is a massive opportunity," Rooney said.

"My future is in management. I’ve had a great career with a few ups and a few downs, but I wouldn't change anything. But now, I'd like to write some history in my managerial career.

"My whole life has been playing football, so I'm fortunate that I'm still part of it. It's a new chapter for me.

"Will I miss playing? Of course. But, time doesn't stop. I've had my time, it's time for the younger generation to have their time and for me to guide them."

Former England team-mate Steven Gerrard, who is now managing title-chasing Rangers in Scotland, said it had been an "honour" to play alongside Rooney and wished him "good luck" at Derby.

Rooney, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Championship club, is close to lifting Derby out of the relegation zone having taken over at a time when they sat rooted to the foot of the table.

His last competitive match as a player, assuming there is no U-turn, will have been the 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on November 25.

He won five Premier League titles with United, along with a Champions League and FA Cup and EFL Cup successes, and in the 2009-10 season he was named PFA Player of the Year.

During his Old Trafford career, which ran from 2004 to 2017, he scored 253 goals, while he netted 53 for England.

Wayne Rooney has been appointed the new Derby County manager after impressing as interim boss.

The former Manchester United and England captain has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with the Championship club.

Rooney, 35, has overseen three wins and four draws in nine games since taking temporary charge back in November after Phillip Cocu was sacked with the Rams bottom of the table. They are now 22nd and only in the relegation zone due to goal difference.

The decision to take over as full-time boss means Rooney has officially brought his illustrious playing career to an end.

"When I first arrived back in the United Kingdom I was completely blown away by the potential of Derby County Football Club," Rooney said in a statement. "The stadium, training ground, the quality of the playing staff and the young players coming through and of course the fan base that has remained loyal and supportive.

"Despite other offers I knew instinctively Derby County was the place for me.

"To be given the opportunity to follow the likes of Brian Clough, Jim Smith, Frank Lampard and Phillip Cocu is such an honour and I can promise everyone in involved in the club and all our fans, my staff and I will leave no stone unturned in achieving the potential I have witnessed over the last 12 months of this historic football club."

Rooney's impressive impact upon results has come despite turmoil around the club, including a wage delay, a protracted takeover by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan and a coronavirus outbreak that forced the closure of the training ground.

Derby kept five clean sheets, conceded only four goals and lost just twice in their first nine matches under Rooney. No side conceded fewer goals in that time and only Brentford suffered fewer defeats (zero).

Rooney initially joined Derby in a player-coach role in January 2020 after spending two years in MLS with DC United.

England and Manchester United's all-time record goalscorer played 35 times for the Rams, the last of which was in a 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on November 25.

Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker will all stay on in Rooney's backroom team, with Rosenior named assistant manager. Former England boss Steve McClaren will continue as technical director.

After nine and a half years, three first-team appearances and loan spells at seven different clubs, Lucas Piazon's time at Chelsea has finally come to an end.

Piazon, 26, on Thursday put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year contract with Primeira Liga side Braga, whose coach Carlos Carvalhal he played under at Rio Ave last season.

His name has been linked to Chelsea for so long, since signing as a promising 17-year-old in 2011, but few fans could tell you what he has done during his career.

With the help of Opta data, we look back at Piazon's loan spells to analyse an unusual career that finally appears set for some normality.

MALAGA

Piazon's first loan switch saw him head to Malaga in January 2013 and he began well, setting up two goals across his first three starts. However, he only started one more game and did not register another goal involvement.

VITESSE

Things ramped up a few gears the next season at Vitesse, where Piazon found the back of the net 11 times in his first 1,331 minutes for Vitesse. He scored or assisted a goal every 73 minutes before the mid-season break but did not have a single goal involvement in 727 minutes across the second half of the season as they slipped from second – level on points with leaders Ajax – to a sixth-place finish.

EINTRACHT FRANKFURT

Piazon spent the 2014-15 season with Frankfurt and only scored twice, though one was an incredible free-kick winner against Hamburg, across 22 appearances and 11 starts in the Bundesliga. However, he created 1.7 chances per 90 minutes in Germany's top flight, second only to Takashi Inui (2.3) among Frankfurt players.

READING

A return to England followed and the first of three years in the Championship. Piazon had three goals and two assists in 23 league appearances for Reading. Among players to feature for the club at least 10 times, he ranked second for passing accuracy (84.3 per cent) and fifth for chances created per 90 (1.9).

FULHAM

Piazon spent the next two seasons down the road from Stamford Bridge at Craven Cottage. In his first season with Fulham he had 2.2 chances created per 90 minutes, behind only Tom Cairney (2.7) and Stefan Johansen (2.3) among players to feature at least 10 times.

In 2017-18 he scored five goals and four assists as the Cottagers secured promotion to the top flight. His 18 goal involvements (10 goals, eight assists) across his two seasons with Fulham was the fifth most for the club during that time frame.

CHIEVO

A first venture in Serie A followed in the second half of 2018-19, but Piazon only played 81 minutes across four appearances for Chievo. He created one chance and hit the target with his only shot.

RIO AVE

Piazon became an important squad player during an 18-month loan at Rio Ave, contributing two goals and an assist as they qualified for the preliminary stages of the Europa League by finishing fifth in the 2019-20 Primeira Liga. His two goals from seven shots (including blocks) in the top flight this season gave him a team-high conversion rate of 28.57. Among Primeira Liga players to have taken at least as many shots as Piazon this season, only five have a better conversion rate.

Will Paul Pogba return to Turin?

Pogba's future at Manchester United is in doubt, with the World Cup-winning Frenchman reportedly looking to leave the Theatre of Dreams.

Juventus are keen to re-sign Pogba – who initially left United for the Italian giants in 2012 before returning to Manchester four years later.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE WANT POGBA REUNION

Signing Manchester United star Paul Pogba remains the dream for Juventus, according to Calciomercato.

Pogba is eyeing an Old Trafford exit amid growing links to former club Juve and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

Juve are keen on reuniting with Pogba, though Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli, Lyon star Houssem Aouar, Udinese midfielder Rodrigo De Paul and Roma sensation Nicolo Zaniolo are alternatives.

 

ROUND-UP

Millwall have described themselves as "dismayed and saddened" after supporters at The Den jeered a demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter prior to Saturday's game against Derby County.

Fans are coming back to stadiums in some parts of England - including London - this week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But their return for the Championship clash between Millwall and Wayne Rooney's Derby was marred by the loud boos that met the players' now customary anti-discrimination display as they took the knee.

The act, popularised in the United States by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has remained part of elite competition across the world since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May.

Players are demonstrating in support of BLM and against racial injustice and police brutality, but these protests have taken place behind closed doors in English football until now.

A statement from Millwall, who lost 1-0, read: "Millwall Football Club was dismayed and saddened by events which marred Saturday's game against Derby County at The Den.

"The club has worked tirelessly in recent months to prepare for the return of supporters and what should have been a positive and exciting occasion was completely overshadowed, much to the immense disappointment and upset of those who have contributed to those efforts.

"The impact of such incidents is felt not just by the players and management, but by those who work throughout the club and in its Academy and Community Trust, where so many staff and volunteers continue passionate endeavours to enhance Millwall's reputation day after day, year after year.

"The club will not allow their fine work to be in vain.

"The players are continuing to use the biggest platform they have to support the drive for change, not just in football but in society generally.

"There is much work to be done and at Millwall everyone is committed to doing all that is possible, both individually and collectively, to be a force for good and to ensure that the club remains at the forefront of football's anti-discrimination efforts.

"Over the coming days, club, Academy and Community Trust staff will meet with Kick It Out and representatives from other appropriate bodies in an attempt to use Saturday's events as a catalyst for more rapid solutions which have an impact both in the short and long term."

A Football Association spokesperson said on Saturday: "The FA supports all players and staff that wish to take a stand against discrimination in a respectful manner, which includes taking of the knee, and strongly condemns the behaviours of any spectators that actively voice their opposition to such activities."

The Premier League and English Football League (EFL) have agreed a £250million rescue package to help clubs overcome the financial challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Championship clubs will have access to a £200m pool of interest-free loan funds, while a £50m grant will be made available for those in League One and Two.

Loans to second-tier clubs will be capped at £8.33m and would have to be repaid by June 2024.

EFL chairman Rick Parry welcomed the resolution after lengthy discussions.

"Our over-arching aim throughout this process has been to ensure that all EFL clubs survive the financial impact of the pandemic," he said.

"I am pleased that we have now reached a resolution on behalf of our clubs and as we have maintained throughout this will provide much-needed support and clarity following months of uncertainty."

Fans returned to some Football League grounds this week after England's national lockdown was replaced by a tier system.

However, with attendances limited by social-distancing measures, clubs are unlikely to profit from staging matches under such circumstances.

It is hoped that the deal agreed on Thursday will prevent the worst-case scenario of clubs going out of business.

The Football Association (FA), Premier League and English Football League (EFL) have revealed the revised entry requirements for overseas players that will come into effect after Brexit.

The United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on December 31, 2020 will end freedom of movement between EU countries and the UK, while curtailing the rights of individuals from members states to work in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As such, the football's governing bodies England were required to submit a proposal to the government over how they might manage the flow of overseas players.

And their plans for the implementation of a new points-based system have since been approved by the Home Office.

Clubs must now secure a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) in order to sign a player from the EU, which will be awarded on the basis of three main criteria: Senior and youth international appearances; quality of the selling club, based on the league they are in, league position and progression in continental competition; club appearances, based on domestic league and continental competition minutes

An Exceptions Panel will also consider applications for players who fall short of those requirements.

English clubs will be banned from signing overseas players under the age of 18, and also limited to six under-21 signings per season, with three of those allowed in the January window.

Despite some concessions being forced upon the Premier League, chief executive Richard Masters reflected positively on changes that will still allow for the signing of superstar foreign players.

He said: “The Premier League has worked with the FA to come to an agreement to ensure no part of Brexit should damage the success of the Premier League, or the prospects of the England teams. We welcome the news that the Home Office has approved the Governing Body Endorsement plan for the January 2021 transfer window.

"Continuing to be able to recruit the best players will see the Premier League remain competitive and compelling and the solution will complement our player development philosophy of the best foreign talent alongside the best homegrown players. Following the January transfer window, we look forward to reviewing the agreement with the FA."

Frank Lampard believes John Terry could be the ideal man to lift Derby County from the doldrums.

Although Wayne Rooney is in interim charge at Pride Park, there is no guarantee the former Manchester United striker will become permanent manager of the Championship club.

Now 39-year-old Terry, who is assistant manager at Aston Villa, is being linked with the job.

It would be a first experience of being manager of a club for the former Chelsea and England captain, a team-mate of Lampard with club and country.

But with Lampard having spent a year as Derby boss before being handed the Stamford Bridge top job, he sees it as an ideal club for Terry.

"I think John is destined to be a manager. He is obviously working very well alongside Dean Smith over the last few years at Aston Villa, so would have been learning a lot," Lampard said.

"But what John knows and his experiences in the game as a player will be huge, I know that from playing alongside him so long what he has to offer.

"I think it is a great opportunity potentially for him if true and for Derby."

Former England manager Steve McClaren has been helping out Rooney, but it remains to be seen if the club's owners wish to retain that partnership.

Terry may be seen as a man with not only the passion but the right kind of coaching experience to step in and lift the club off the foot of the table.

Speaking in a Chelsea news conference on Tuesday, Lampard added: "John will be a hungry, ambitious manager, whether it's Derby or whatever other opportunities come his way as he goes along.

"I don't know anything [about the Derby link] but John is going to be a fantastic coach in my opinion."

Former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney will be in sole charge of Derby County this weekend as he takes his first steps in management.

Rooney, a player-coach at Derby, has shared responsibility of the first team since Phillip Cocu was sacked earlier this month.

The veteran forward was joined by Liam Rosenior, Shay Given and Justin Walker in the coaching set-up, but the Rams lost at both Bristol City and Middlesbrough without scoring.

Hindered by a points deduction, Derby are bottom of the Championship table, six points shy of safety and winless in nine.

With a takeover imminent, the club have made a change, promoting Rooney in a decision the new interim coach hopes will provide "clarity".

Rooney, who will not play at home against Wycombe on Saturday, revealed technical director and former England boss Steve McClaren - returning to Derby this week - was "part of that conversation".

"For the two previous games, the four of us did it together, preparing the team and picking the team together," Rooney said.

"We felt that it needed one voice, one person to do that and make the decisions on the team, the starting team and obviously the subs coming into the game.

"We felt I felt I was the right man for that. That's where we're at.

"It's obviously exciting for me to do that. Management is something I've always said I wanted to go into. It's an opportunity for me to try to pick the right team to get us a positive result."

Despite his eagerness to kickstart his coaching career, Rooney refused to look beyond Saturday's match.

"Tomorrow is so important to us that we have to focus on tomorrow," he said. "We can't focus on what happens in the long term just yet.

"There will be conversations, obviously, but we have to focus on tomorrow and can't look too far ahead. It wouldn't be fair on the players to be looking at what happens in the next few weeks.

"We have to solely focus on tomorrow's game and then the new owners will be in, I'm sure, in the next few days. Once that's complete, there will conversations and we'll see where that goes.

"I wouldn't sit here and say I'm auditioning myself for the job. This football club deserves better than that. It deserves better than someone saying they're having an audition."

Rooney believes he could not juggle the new role with playing - at least for now.

"Obviously I played the last game, but if I'm making decisions on who plays the game and doesn't play the game and the preparation of the team, I wouldn't be able to give it my full attention and still be part of the game," he said.

"I won't be involved in the game tomorrow. I'll be focusing on getting the team right to play the game."

Asked if he would miss the opportunity to use a player of his talents on the pitch, Rooney replied: "Of course, but as I said before, this is what I want to do, this is what I see myself doing.

"As much as you'd like to carry on playing for as long as you can, there comes a point where you have to make decisions. For tomorrow, I think it's the right decision."

Gordon Taylor is set to resign as chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) at the end of the season.

The 75-year-old has held the post since 1981 and has now confirmed his plan to depart after a review into the PFA's finances was completed.

Taylor announced his intention to step down in March 2019 and will ultimately do so more than two years later when the 2020-21 campaign concludes.

"As I announced at our previous AGM, now that the Independent Review process has completed, I too will step down, by the end of the current season," Taylor wrote in a widely reported letter to members ahead of Thursday's AGM where members will vote on a new governance structure.

"A new chief executive will be elected following the recruitment procedure recommended by the Independent Review, and we have already made substantial progress in that direction. 

"I will of course be available in the future whenever needed to support the PFA."

Alen Halilovic is itching to get started at Birmingham City after the former Barcelona and Milan attacking midfielder penned a short-term deal with the Blues.

The now 24-year-old was once regarded as one of European football's brightest prospects and LaLiga giants Barca snapped him up from Dinamo Zagreb in 2014.

However, he spent most of his time with Barca's B side and was shipped on loan to Sporting Gijon before joining Hamburg two years after his arrival at Camp Nou.

The move to Germany did not work out particularly well for Halilovic but, after spending a season with Las Palmas on loan, he was signed by Serie A side Milan a couple of years ago.

Loan spells at Standard Liege and Heerenveen did little to convince the Rossoneri, though, and he was released in October.

Halilovic is now set to embark on a new venture with Championship side Birmingham in English football's second tier.

"Honoured and extremely happy to be here! Looking forward to getting started! Keep Right On!" Halilovic posted on Twitter.

Announcing the signing on their official website, Birmingham said: "[The] Blues have completed the signing of highly rated Croatian international, Alen Halilovic, on a short-term contract.

"The attacking midfielder joins until June 2021 having left Italian giants, AC Milan, when his contract expired last month.

"Halilovic will link up with fellow countryman Ivan Sunjic, having been touted as one of Croatia's most promising stars.

"At just 24 years old, the talented technician has already been snapped up by the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan, and will join Blues aiming to fulfil his undoubted potential."

Derby County have announced that a deal has been agreed "in principle" for the sale of the Championship club to a company owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family.

The Rams are currently owned by Mel Morris, who became their sole owner in September 2015, but the Derby businessman has recently been seeking to sell up to bring greater investment into the club.

Derby issued a statement on Friday which said that negotiations between Morris and Derventio Holdings, which is owned by Sheikh Khaled Zayed Bin Saquer Zayed Al Nayhan, had now reached a favourable outcome.

Sheikh Khaled is the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Derby claim his proposed takeover has been approved by the EFL.

A statement from the Rams said: "Derby County owner and executive chairman Mel Morris has been in discussion with Derventio Holdings since May in relation to taking over the ownership the club.

"These talks progressed to the point where a deal has, in principle, been agreed between the two parties. The club's submission under the owners' and directors' test for Derventio was approved by the EFL board on Thursday.

"Derventio Holdings may now proceed with the transaction, which is expected to close very soon."

Derby, who are managed by former Netherlands international Phillip Cocu and have ex-England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney in their squad, are currently 23rd in the Championship table.

The Rams have reached the Championship play-offs four times in the previous seven seasons but have missed out on promotion to the top flight on each occasion.

Derby were last in the Premier League in 2007-08 when they were relegated after just one season with a record low 11 points.

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