Hornets swoop in for Gray
Watford have completed the signing of striker Andre Gray after he turned down the offer of a new extended contract with Burnley. The 26-year-old has signed a five-year contract at Vicarage Road, joining the Hornets for a club record fee which is reported to be in the region of £18million. Gray moved to Turf Moor two year ago and scored 32 goals in 73 league appearances for the Clarets, helping the win the Championship title at the end of the 2015/16 campaign. Last term he netted nine Premier League goals in 32 appearances as Burnley finished in 16th place in the table – six points clear of the relegation places.
A statement from the Clarets confirmed: “Burnley can confirm the sale of striker Andre Gray to Watford for an undisclosed fee that ranks as one of the biggest in the club’s history. “The Clarets gave Gray the chance to extend his stay at Turf Moor with the offer of a substantially improved new contract earlier this summer. “However, he made it clear he would not be looking to renew a deal which had just 12 months still to run. “Burnley therefore took the decision to accept an offer from Watford and move forward with their own plans going into the new Premier League season.”
The Clarets open their league campaign on Saturday afternoon with a tough trip to reigning champions Chelsea. Meanwhile, Watford play host to Liverpool in the lunchtime kick-off and are 5/1 with Bet365 to claim a victory, with the draw available at 3/1, while Gray can be backed at 3/1 to score at any time.
Sanchez faces short lay-off
Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Chile international Alexis Sanchez will miss the first two games of Arsenal’s Premier League season. The Gunners star will miss Friday’s home match against Leicester City, which Wenger’s side are 1/2 to win, and the game at Stoke City on 19th August. Wenger hopes Sanchez, who continues to be linked with a transfer this summer, will be fit enough to feature in the game at Liverpool on 27th August.
“Sanchez will not be available,” he said ahead of the game against the Foxes. “He had a little abdominal strain that he caught on Sunday morning in training. “He had the scan two days ago. He’s out for two weeks. He will not play against Stoke.”
Sanchez recently reiterated his desire to play in the Champions League this season – Arsenal will be involved in the Europa League after finishing fifth in the Premier League last term – with Manchester City and Paris St-Germain interested in snapping him up.
Howe upbeat over Defoe injury
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe remains hopeful summer signing Jermain Defoe will be fit to feature in their
Premier League opener against West Brom. The 34-year-old England striker missed the pre-season friendly against Napoli at the weekend due to a groin problem, but Howe expects Defoe to be available to face the Baggies on Saturday afternoon. He told the Daily Echo: “Jermain just felt some tightness in his groin after the Valencia game. He hasn’t trained since, but we are confident he will be fit for West Brom.”
Defoe scored 15 goals for Sunderland in each of the last two Premier League seasons and with Bet365 is 4/7 to be top goalscorer in the top-flight for the Cherries this term, with Joshua King priced at 5/2 and Callum Wilson 7/1.
Meanwhile, Jordon Ibe is determined to improve on a poor first season at Dean Court, with the former Liverpool winger having failed to score in 23 appearances for Bournemouth last term, following his £15million arrival from Liverpool. He told The Sun: “Last season I was poor and didn’t even get a goal. It’s time for me to buck up my ideas, because I want to help the team and get some goals. “I know Eddie Howe put a lot of trust in bringing me here for that price tag. I have a lot to prove to this club and, hopefully, I can be ten times better than last season. “I don’t know why it’s happened. I don’t really have an answer for that, I just know it wasn’t as good as it should have been.”