OFFICIAL: ARSENAL SIGNS Ramsdale on a long-term contract from Sheffield United

The 23-year-old, who was part of England’s Euro 2020 squad, has represented England at all levels from Under-18 to Under-21 and was Sheffield United’s player of the year last season.

Ramsdale started his career with the youth set-up at Bolton Wanderers before moving to Sheffield United in 2013, progressing through their Academy. 

In 2017, Ramsdale signed for then Premier League side Bournemouth spending three years at the south coast club, during which time he had loan spells firstly with Chesterfield and then AFC Wimbledon, where he won the club’s young player of the season award, helping the side retain their League One status in 2018/19, having been 10 points from safety in the February of that season.

Ramsdale returned to Sheffield United in 2020 and started every Premier League match for the Blades last season. 

Aaron will wear the number 32 shirt.

The transfer is subject to the completion of regulatory processes, at which point Aaron will be available for Sunday’s match against Chelsea.

Nigeria: Introducing Super Eagles’ to their Afcon opponents

While there are arguments for and against the changed format — an increase to 24 teams from 16 nations — ardent followers of the beautiful game will probably just relish the return of the showpiece after a prolonged absence.

The upshot of the changed format means four third-placed sides still make it out of the group, essentially diminishing the intrigue of group stage encounters.

Nigeria were drawn with Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau in Group D, and Gernot Rohr’s men will look to start well after stuttering against Madagascar in 2019.

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On paper, Nigeria seems to have one of the strongest sides, particularly in attack where so many options are available to Gernot Rohr.

The Super Eagles ended with a bronze medal last time out after beating Tunisia in the third-place encounter having been eliminated by a Riyad Mahrez stunning free-kick at the death in the semis.

The West African nation will look to lean on the finishing prowess of Victor Osimhen — joint-top scorer in qualifying with five strikes — and Kelechi Iheanacho, the guile of Alex Iwobi, the direct running of Samuel Chukwueze and the midfield enforcer that is Wilfred Ndidi.

Theoretically, Rohr’s men look to have a solid group, but all-round performances under the German tactician have dipped in recent years.

It remains to be seen if the experienced boss leads Nigeria to a fourth African title in the New Year.

Mohamed Salah is the spearhead of an Egypt side that disappointingly underwhelmed as hosts under Javier Aguirre in 2019, exiting early against South Africa at the Round of 16.

Along with Trezeguet, Mohamed Elneny, Akram Tawfik, Ahmed Hegazi and Mohamed El Shenawy, Hossam El Badry has a strong side capable of hurting the West Africans.

Nigeria have suffered some damaging defeats against North African countries in the past and might need to pick up a victory against the Pharaohs in their opening game of the group to avoid a potentially tough draw in the Round of 16 if they end second in Group D.

The country from Northeast Africa haven’t played at the Afcon since 2012 and will hope they claim a scalp or two in Cameroon.

Sudan ended second in their group in qualifying on 12 points after four wins and two defeats, finishing behind Ghana but notably thwarting South Africa’s chances of playing in next year’s tournament.

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Having said that, Nigeria ought to claim three points against the fallen giants in their second fixture.

Depending on the events preceding the Super Eagles’ final game of Group D against a side featuring in their third successive Afcon, Nigeria’s encounter vs Guinea-Bissau could be make-or-break.

The nations will be facing off for the first time at the continental showpiece and Rohr’s side will back themselves to claim all three points against a nation that remain winless at the hallowed competition.

Failure to top Group D will possibly bring Nigeria face-to-face with Algeria — currently on a 27-game unbeaten run — in the Round of 16, likely to end the West African giants’ journey knowing their mixed run against North African sides.

While football tends to throw up unexpected results from time to time, there’s an expectation that Egypt or the Super Eagles will top the group.

The Pharaohs won the last meeting between the sides in 2010, but Rohr’s team will believe they have what it takes to silence Liverpool star Salah to secure the needed triumph required to avoid a problematic Algeria clash.

However, we expect the three-time African champions to start slowly yet again and face a mouth-watering encounter against Mahrez’s defending champions.

OFFICIAL: Pedro joins Lazio from AS Roma on a free transfer

The forward makes the rare switch after Roma released him for free, according to Gazzetta.

His contract with the Giallorossi wasn’t set to expire until 2023 but the 34-year-old has agreed a two-year deal worth €2m (£1.7m) a year with Lazio.

The exchange is one of convenience for both clubs, in particular for Roma who will save considerably in the wake of Pedro’s exit.

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Roma are in need of balancing their books after becoming burgeoned with debt and the former Chelsea striker would have cost the Giallorossi another £6.8million over the next two seasons.

Pedro also waived his month’s wages owed by Roma for August.

The Giallorossi were unwilling to sell or loan Pedro abroad as they would lose tax breaks with the cost potentially amounting to €3.5m (almost £3m).

The low-cost transfer also works in Lazio’s favour as the Biancocelesti haven’t been able to register new players unless President Claudio Lotito pumps £8.5m into the club.

The Spaniard only joined Roma last summer after his Chelsea contract expired but has been deemed surplus to requirements since Mourinho’s arrival at the Stadio Olimpico.

Pedro had been a regular starter under Paulo Fonseca, making 40 appearances in all competitions, registering six goals and seven assists.

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