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Augsburg confirm Baba’s transfer to Chelsea

Germany's Augsburg confirmed on Sunday they have sold Ghana international defender Abdul Rahman Baba to Premier League champions Chelsea for a reported fee of €19.8 million.

Augsburg confirm Baba's transfer to Chelsea
Abdul Rahman Baba. Photo: DPA.

With bonuses, the deal could exceed €30 million — more than Augsburg's budget for the season.

The 21-year-old cost just €2.5 million when he joined Augsburg last year from German second-division club Greuther Fuerth, who are now set to get a 25 percent share from his sale to Chelsea.

“Abdul Baba Rahman has developed enormously is his one year with us and made a giant leap,” said Augsburg's chief executive Stefan Reuter.

“It's not just a reward for his performances, but also for our work, if an international giant like Chelsea shows interest.”

Baba passed a medical on Saturday and is off to battle for the Blues' left-back berth following the departure of Brazil defender Filipe Luis back to Atletico Madrid after only one season at Stamford Bridge.

“I have to take this opportunity to play at a top club in England, even if I had planned on a long-term stay at Augsburg only a year ago,” said Baba.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho welcomed the news. 

“It is important because he is a left-back, so he can compete with (Cesar) Azpilicueta,” said Mourinho after his team's 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.

“At the same time, Azpilicueta can compete with (Branislav) Ivanovic for the right-back position, so he replaces Filipe Luis in the balance of the squad.”

Rahman has made 13 appearances for the Black Stars and played in the African Cup of Nations defeat to the Ivory Coast on penalties in the final in January.

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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