Watford have appointed Slaven Bilic as head coach after sacking Rob Edwards just 10 Championship matches into his reign.

Edwards only took over at Vicarage Road at the end of last season, leaving Forest Green Rovers to replace Roy Hodgson following the Hornets' relegation from the Premier League.

Watford relieved Edwards and his assistant Richie Kyle of their duties on Monday and swiftly confirmed Bilic had taken the hot seat, signing an 18-month contract – subject to securing a work permit.

The former Croatia defender had been out of work since leaving Beijing Guoan in January but will be the Championship club's fifth boss in less than a year.

Bilic, who was promoted with West Brom in 2019-20, takes over a side 10th in the table, just one point off the play-offs.

"As with all decisions taken by the board, I believe this change to be in the best interests of the club," said Watford owner Gino Pozzo.

"We felt Rob had enough time to show us the identity of his team; however, performances haven't reflected our hopes and ambitions.

"Now we must move forward, and, in Slaven Bilic, we have secured the services of an experienced coach who has recent experience of promotion to the Premier League."

Claudio Ranieri and Hodgson had spells in charge of Watford last season after Xisco Munoz was fired in October.

 

 

Bundesliga sensation Jude Bellingham has a long list of admirers back in England.

The Three Lions midfielder's contract at Borussia Dortmund runs until 2025.

Bellingham left England when he moved from Birmingham City for Dortmund in 2020.

TOP STORY – REDS LEADING BELLINGHAM PURSUIT

Liverpool are leading the race to sign teenager Bellingham from Dortmund, reports The Telegraph.

Manchester United are also interested in the 19-year-old, who has started all nine of Dortmund's games this season.

Bellingham may be allowed to leave Dortmund in 2023, and the German club are expecting a bid from the Reds.

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– The Mirror claims Liverpool are also mulling over a move for new Wolves signing Matheus Nunes as an alternative to Bellingham, should they miss out.

– Rafael Leao has attracted interest from Chelsea and Manchester City but will snub both to stay with Milan on a new long-term deal, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

– Sport claims Barcelona are keeping an eye on Monaco's Brazilian left-back Caio Henrique.

– Free agent Danny Rose has verbally agreed to join AEK Athens, reports The Sun. The ex-Tottenham defender left Watford earlier this month.

Former England and Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster has announced his retirement from football despite an offer from Newcastle United.

The 39-year-old goalkeeper made the announcement via YouTube where he has become a sensation with The Cycling GK.

Foster's career, which dates back to 2000, ends after playing for clubs including Manchester United, West Brom, Birmingham City and, most recently, Watford. He managed eight caps for England, including being part of their 2014 World Cup squad.

"I've got an announcement to make, it's a big one. The time has finally come for me to announce my retirement," Foster said.

"I know for a fact if I'd have gone there I'd have had an amazing time, the lads would have been absolutely brilliant and I'd have buzzed off the stadium, the fans, all that kind of stuff, but the overriding sinking feeling was 'I don't want to do this.'"

Foster revealed he had been offered a deal by Newcastle in light of Karl Darlow's injury as understudy to Nick Pope, but opted to hang up the gloves for family reasons.

"I was just eating my dinner and I thought 'no, I’m not doing it'," he said.

"I've got to be happy and comfortable and I wouldn’t be able to do that so far away from my family. It would kill me.

"If I'm in an apartment in Newcastle away from my family by myself, I don't think people can understand, that's really hard to do. Especially at the age I am and everything I've got going on."

Deadline day has seen major transfers aplenty, with clubs across Europe pushing to complete final pieces of business before the window slams shut until 2023.

Barcelona have terminated Martin Braithwaite's contract, the forward widely expected to join Espanyol, while in France, Abdou Diallo completed a switch to RB Leipzig to begin an exodus from Paris Saint-Germain.

Further deals for both clubs are also on the cards, with a frantic end to the window expected in the final hours.

Premier League's power push

PSG's exodus was of benefit to English sides, Fulham signing Layvin Kurzawa on loan and Everton bringing Idrissa Gueye back to Merseyside three years after he left for the French capital. Gueye said: "There is no better feeling than coming back home. I've followed the team every week and watched how they play. For me, there is no better place than Everton so that's why I chose to come back here."

Fulham have also signed former Chelsea and Arsenal playmaker Willian on a free transfer.

Nottingham Forest hit number 19 for the window, drafting in Willy Boly from Wolves, while Southampton saw Jack Stephens move across the south coast to join Bournemouth on loan.

Arsenal's quest for a new midfielder has seen attention turn to Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz, though the Gunners face a stern test with bids reportedly rebuffed from the side they defeated 2-1 on Wednesday.

Chelsea look set to bring one of the long-running sagas of the window to a close, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang poised to join from Barcelona. Marcos Alonso is expected to move to Camp Nou as part of that deal and the Blues may sell Billy Gilmour to Brighton and Hove Albion.

One player not on the move, however, was Joao Pedro as he confirmed he would remain at Watford amid reported interest from Newcastle United and Everton.

Europe's eye for business

On the continent, Julian Weigl moved to Borussia Monchengladbach on loan from Benfica. 

Free agent Florian Grillitsch has joined Ajax, who are said to have turned down approaches from Chelsea and Everton for Edson Alvarez and Mohammed Kudus respectively.

Krzysztof Piatek also departed Germany, leaving Hertha Berlin for Serie A side Salertina, and was followed to Italy by Aster Vranckx, joining Milan on loan from Wolfsburg.

The Serie A champions are not yet finished, with an announcement confirming the capture of Sergino Dest from Barcelona expected imminently.

In Spain, Luca Zidane, son of Zinedine Zidane, joined second-tier outfit Eibar on a free transfer following his exit from Rayo Vallecano and Ilaix Moriba joined Valencia on loan from Leipzig, with Gennaro Gattuso's side also closing in on signing Justin Kluivert from Roma following the collapse of a proposed move to the Premier League.

Real Sociedad were also in on the late action, landing forward Umar Sadiq from Tenerife, the Nigerian likely to be a replacement for Alexander Isak.

Manchester United have been offered the chance to add some more talent from Real Madrid, with Marco Asensio reportedly being put on the table.

The two teams recently agreed to a deal that sent Casemiro to Old Trafford, and their discussions must not have finished with the 30-year-old defensive midfielder, with 26-year-old Asensio also being made available.

Asensio is coming off a season where he netted 10 goals in 31 LaLiga appearances, but has found himself relegated to a bench role this campaign, playing a total of seven minutes from Madrid's first two league fixtures.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED LOOK TO MADRID FOR FURTHER REINFORCEMENTS

According to the Telegraph, United have been told Asensio will cost €30million, and Arsenal are also interested in the Spain international as he searches for playing time ahead of the World Cup.

However, further reporting from ESPN claims United will not pull the trigger on any move for Asensio until they figure out if Ajax winger Antony is attainable, with that move being their priority, and a price tag said to be in the range of €100m.

Ajax have been firm on their desire to retain the services of their 22-year-old Brazilian up until this point, and if they remain that way, Asensio would be a more-than-adequate contingency plan – if he wants to go there.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Times reports that Paris Saint-Germain had a £59m bid for Bernardo Silva turned down by Manchester City.

– According to AS Roma Live, Jose Mourinho views Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga as a potential replacement at Roma for the injured Georginio Wijnaldum.

Cristiano Ronaldo's agent has reportedly made contact with Napoli, who would only be able to bring in the 37-year-old if they part ways with promising young striker Victor Osimhen, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

– Foot Mercato is reporting Nottingham Forest have secured yet another signing, with former Villarreal full-back Serge Aurier agreeing to terms on a free transfer.

– According to the Telegraph, Newcastle United have moved on from their chase of Watford forward Joao Pedro, and are now hoping to bring in Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher on loan.

Manchester United have been offered the chance to add some more talent from Real Madrid, with Marco Asensio reportedly being put on the table.

The two teams recently agreed to a deal that sent Casemiro to Old Trafford, and their discussions must not have finished with the 30-year-old defensive midfielder, with 26-year-old Asensio also being made available.

Asensio is coming off a season where he netted 10 goals in 31 LaLiga appearances, but has found himself relegated to a bench role this campaign, playing a total of seven minutes from Madrid's first two league fixtures.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED LOOK TO MADRID FOR FURTHER REINFORCEMENTS

According to the Telegraph, United have been told Asensio will cost €30million, and Arsenal are also interested in the Spanish international as he searches for playing time ahead of the World Cup.

However, further reporting from ESPN claims United will not pull the trigger on any move for Asensio until they figure out if Ajax winger Antony is attainable, with that move being their priority, and a price tag said to be in the range of €100m.

Ajax have been firm on their desire to retain the services of their 22-year-old Brazilian up until this point, and if they remain that way, Asensio would be a more-than-adequate contingency plan – if he wants to go there.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Times is reporting Paris Saint-Germain had a £59m bid for Bernardo Silva turned down by Manchester City.

– According to AS Roma Live, Jose Mourinho views Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga as a potential replacement at Roma for Georginio Wijnaldum.

Cristiano Ronaldo's agent has reportedly made contact with Napoli, who would only be able to bring in the 37-year-old if they part ways with promising young striker Victor Osimhen, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

– Foot Mercato is reporting Nottingham Forest have secured yet another signing, with former Villarreal fullback Serge Aurier agreeing to terms on a free transfer.

– According to the Telegraph, Newcastle United have moved on from their chase of Watford forward Joao Pedro, and are now hoping to bring in Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher on loan.

Chelsea lost 3-0 to Leeds United on Sunday and it would appear that defeat has sparked the Blues into action.

New owner Todd Boehly has been keen to make his mark since arriving at Stamford Bridge, bringing in Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella among others.

But head coach Thomas Tuchel wants more. Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana is a priority target for the defence, while last week Chelsea had two bids rejected by Everton for Anthony Gordon.

Now it would appear the Blues are confident of completing the signing, while they are also reportedly in talks to land a second attacker.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA IN FOR GORDON AND LEAO

The Times reports that Chelsea will this week push ahead and match Everton's £50million asking price for winger Gordon, who scored four goals in a breakthrough Premier League season last term.

Everton boss Frank Lampard stressed the importance of Gordon to his plans, and played the 21-year-old against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but also suggested that a decision might have to be made if a bid was too good to turn down.

Gordon might also be joined in moving to Stamford Bridge by Milan star Rafael Leao. The Portugal international scored 11 times for the Rossoneri as they won Serie A last season, and the same report claims that Chelsea are in talks with the Italian champions over a move for the 23-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- Several outlets are reporting that West Ham have struck a deal with Chelsea to sign left-back Emerson Palmieri for around £13million.

- Eric Bailly is close to joining Marseille on loan from Manchester United, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- The Telegraph claims Newcastle United have been told they must pay £30million to buy striker Joao Pedro from Watford.

- Villarreal coach Unai Emery told El Larguero that Edinson Cavani could join the club, while he also said that Juan Foyth is of interest to Barcelona.

- Everton were hoping to have Idrissa Gueye and Mohammed Kudus signed but have bumped into difficulties with Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively, says The Times.

- Fabrizio Romano also reports that Fulham and Roma will hold further talks this week over Justin Kluivert.

- Barca defender Samuel Umtiti will join Lecce, says Gianluca Di Marzio.

Bernardo Silva's future at Manchester City has been the subject of speculation throughout the transfer window.

The 28-year-old has another three years remaining on his contract with the reigning Premier League champions.

Despite that, rumours about interest from elsewhere have swirled, though City manager Pep Guardiola is desperate to keep him at the club.

TOP STORY – CITY TO OFFER SILVA NEW CONTRACT TO KEEP HIM IN MANCHESTER

Manchester City are set to offer Bernardo Silva a bumper new deal to stave off rival interest, claims the Sunday Star.

Both Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the Portuguese midfielder over the past few months.

City slapped an £80million price tag on Silva to retain his services, but are now ready to offer him a new lucrative long-term deal.

ROUND UP

Real Madrid are set to use the money generated by the sale of Casemiro to fund a deal for Borussia Dortmund's English midfielder Jude Bellingham, reports Marca.

Chelsea and Everton are both weighing up a move for Brentford forward Ivan Toney, who has also been linked with Manchester United, according to The Sunday Mirror.

Christian Pulisic will not be going to United, should he leave Chelsea, as he will only move to join a club playing in the Champions League, claims the Mail.

– Fabrizio Romano says Arsenal and Nice are deep into negotiations on a loan deal for Nicolas Pepe. Sevilla have been linked with Pepe but are yet to made a bid.

Ismaila Sarr is close to a move from Watford to Aston Villa with the two clubs having a verbal agreement over a deal, according to Foot Mercato.

Nottingham Forest have continued their heavy recruitment drive with the double signing of Emmanuel Dennis and Cheikhou Kouyate.

Nigeria striker Dennis scored 10 Premier League goals for Watford last term but could not prevent the Hornets from being relegated to the Championship.

Dennis played in Watford's first two matches of the campaign but was not involved against Burnley on Friday and has now signed for Forest in a reported £20million deal.

Premier League new boys Forest later confirmed free transfer signing of Kouyate, who had been without a club since leaving Crystal Palace at the end of last season.

Kouyate brings plenty of top-flight experience to the City Ground having made 147 appearances for West Ham before joining Palace and playing 141 games for the Eagles.

Earlier this year, Kouyate helped Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory and played his part in securing qualification for this year's World Cup in Qatar.

Dennis and Kouyate became Forest's 13th and 14th signings of the transfer window, joining the likes of Dean Henderson, Jesse Lingard and Taiwo Awoniyi at the East Midlands club.

Brighton and Hove Albion striker Neal Maupay has also been linked with a switch to Forest.

Forest began their return to the Premier League with a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United last weekend and welcome West Ham on Sunday.

Manchester United are scrambling for further reinforcements after their troubling loss to open the Premier League season, with Watford's Ismaila Sarr, Atletico Madrid's Alvaro Morata and PSV's Cody Gakpo all named as potential forward solutions.

Sarr, who scored a spectacular goal from the halfway line against West Brom on Monday, slowed after a strong start in the Premier League last season.

Meanwhile, Morata is back at Atletico after two years on loan at Juventus, and Gakpo, just 23, has hit the ground running for Champions League chasers PSV in the new season.

TOP STORY – UNITED WEIGH UP HOST OF FORWARD OPTIONS

The Sun reported interest in Sarr, ESPN detailed the Morata story, and The Telegraph had the scoop on Gakpo, indicating there are plenty of moving parts behind the scenes at United, and they are casting a wide net.

While no price has been named for either Sarr or Morata, Gakpo figures to demand a fee in the range of £35million, while The Telegraph is reporting the club are also assessing the availability of Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who Corriere dello Sport suggests would cost €50m.

Milinkovic-Savic, 27, would likely fill a similar role envisioned by Erik ten Hag for Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong – who has ruled out a move to Old Trafford – and could relegate one of Scott McTominay or Fred to the bench.

ROUND-UP

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Manchester City are closing in on a transfer worth at least €10m to bring Anderlecht left-back Sergio Gomez to the Premier League. 

– According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are in discussions with Milan about acquiring 22-year-old midfielder Sandro Tonali, who the Italian club value at £46m.

– Metro claims Arsenal are also leading the race for 19-year-old winger Yeremi Pino from Villarreal, with the club said to be willing to meet the £33m asking price, while Liverpool are also interested.

– Foot Mercato is reporting Nottingham Forest are pushing to sign Villarreal's €20m Ecuadorian full-back Pervis Estupinan

Chelsea are preparing a £12m move for 19-year-old Inter midfielder Cesare Casadei, per the Evening Standard.

Barcelona have sold striker Rey Manaj to Championship side Watford, with the Catalan giants retaining the right of first refusal on any future move for the Albania striker.

Manaj, who has 30 senior international caps, will join Rob Edwards' side on a three-year deal as they bid for an immediate Premier League return after suffering relegation last season.

The 25-year-old impressed when linking up with Barca's first team for pre-season last year and has Serie A experience with the likes of Inter, Pescara and Spezia.

While Watford did not disclose the fee paid for Manaj, an official statement from Barcelona revealed the club retained first refusal on the striker and will also pocket 50 per cent of any future transfer fee.

Manaj joins the likes of Clement Lenglet and Philippe Coutinho in securing moves away from Camp Nou during the transfer window, while Adama Traore and Luuk de Jong left after their loans ended.

Dani Alves and Ousmane Dembele are both unattached after their contracts expired, though the latter is expected to sign a new deal.

Brazil star Neymar is reportedly interested in a move to the Premier League after being informed Paris Saint-Germain will not stand in his way if he wishes to depart.

ESPN is reporting that Neymar's agent has been in touch with Chelsea to gauge their interest in bringing in the 30-year-old, who scored 13 goals and added six assists in 22 Ligue 1 contests this past season.

While Neymar's talent is not in question, his health may be, having missed over two months of this campaign after suffering an ankle injury, and that is coming off a 2020-21 season where he only played 18 league games due to ankle and adductor injuries.


TOP STORY – NEYMAR WEIGHS UP CHELSEA MOVE AS PSG GIVE GREEN LIGHT

ESPN's report mentions that Neymar's agent, Pini Zahavi, believes there are only "two or three teams" that would be able to meet his wage demands, and it is thought that Chelsea are hoping to make a splash under the new ownership of Todd Boehly.

Spanish publication Sport claims Neymar activated a clause in his PSG contract as soon as he possibly could on July 1 to add one extra year to his deal – tying him to the French giants until 2027 – but that does not rule out a move happening.

Chelsea's Brazilian centre-back and Neymar's former PSG team-mate Thiago Silva has been vocal about his desire to recruit the superstar forward, but his salary of €43million could stand in the way if the Stamford Bridge club decide they would rather use this transfer period's resources in defence.


ROUND-UP

– The Star is reporting that Manchester United are closing in on a deal with Christian Eriksen as his contract with Brentford has expired and he is available on a free transfer.

– Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is expected to leave on a free transfer, with Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich the three teams listed by Marca as his potential landing spots.

Everton are hoping to replace Richarlison with Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis after their Brazilian forward departed for Tottenham this week.

– According to The Sun, Fulham are finalising a £17million move for 26-year-old Sporting defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha.

– ESPN is reporting Fulham have offered £10m for Manchester United's Andreas Pereira as the 26-year-old returns from his loan stint with Flamengo.

Watford have cancelled a proposed friendly against the Qatar national side following complaints from supporter groups concerned about the country's human rights record.

The Championship side, who were relegated from the Premier League in May, had pencilled in a friendly against Qatar during a pre-season training camp in Austria next week.

However, news of the match was greeted with anger by fan groups the Proud Hornets and Women of Watford FC.

The groups said they were "disappointed" by the decision due to Qatar's condemned views on homosexuality, human rights and women's rights.

Qatar has also been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

In a statement released on Monday, Watford confirmed the friendly against Qatar will no longer be going ahead.

"The game was never finalised and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised," a club spokesman said.

A joint statement by Proud Hornets and Women of Watford added: "We are delighted that Watford FC has listened to our concerns and cancelled the game with Qatar.

"We look forward to continuing our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues."

Qatar will stage the World Cup from November 21 to December 18 this year.

Vincent Kompany's reign as Burnley manager will start with a difficult test on the road against Huddersfield Town.

The Championship fixtures for the 2022-23 season were released on Thursday and Kompany's first game with the Clarets, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, comes against defeated play-off finalists Huddersfield.

Burnley's relegation from the top-flight was confirmed on the final day of the season after defeat at home to Newcastle United to bring an end to a six-year spell in the Premier League, with Leeds United surviving following victory at Brentford.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, saw off Luton Town in the Championship play-off semi-finals but lost to Nottingham Forest at Wembley, denying them a return to the Premier League for the first time since the 2018-19 season.

Elsewhere, Watford's first game back in the Championship following relegation comes at home to Sheffield United, while Norwich City are on the road against Cardiff City.

Sunderland, after a four-year stint in League One, mark their return to the second tier against Coventry City, while League One champions Wigan Athletic face Preston North End.

The new season begins on July 29 with Huddersfield's hosting of Burnley and marks the start of a challenging campaign for the 24 teams in the division, who face disruption due to the World Cup in Qatar midway through the season.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly assessing his options for next season as he does not feel he fits in the aggressive press-from-the-front system expected to be implemented by incoming manager Erik ten Hag.

The 37-year-old showed he is still more than capable of contributing at the highest level in 2021-22, scoring 18 goals in 30 Premier League appearances and six in seven in the Champions League.

With one year remaining on his contract, the Portugal icon would demand a fee, but there are reportedly some familiar faces interested in acquiring his services.

TOP STORY – RONALDO SHUNS TEN HAG, WANTS OUT OF OLD TRAFFORD

Jose Mourinho is said to be enquiring about the possibility of bringing Ronaldo to Roma, with the Italian club hoping the legendary coach can move the needle and convince him to return to Serie A, according to La Repubblica.

Mourinho will reportedly have to compete with the nostalgia factor as Sporting CP have also thrown their hat in the ring, with the thought Ronaldo may want to finish his career where it began at the Primeira Liga club he called home before he was first picked up by United in 2003.

If the five-time Ballon d'Or winner truly decides his time with United is up, as the report from the Italian outlet claims, there will undoubtedly be a bevy of suitors willing to bring in one of the game's most marketable superstars.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are said to be "cautiously optimistic" of signing Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, although Sky Sports is reporting the club are hoping to pay closer to £30million, rather than the £50m asking price.

– According to The Athletic, Arsenal are also targeting Leeds United winger Raphinha and Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.

– ESPN is reporting Chelsea are investigating whether it is possible to replace Romelu Lukaku with Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski

United are expecting Barcelona to lower their asking price for Frenkie de Jong due to their financial problems, according to the Guardian.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Everton view Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis as a potential replacement for Richarlison if he leaves during this transfer window.

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