Leicester’s title-winning squad was assembled for approximately £57m

Everton have appointed Leicester City joint assistant manager and head of recruitment Steve Walsh as their new director of football.

The 51-year-old had only signed a new contract with the Premier League champions in May.

Former PE teacher and Chelsea scout Walsh will work with new Toffees manager Ronald Koeman, who replaced Roberto Martinez last month.

“It feels very much like a new era at Everton,” said Walsh.

He becomes Leicester’s second key departure of the summer after midfielder N’Golo Kante joined Chelsea for £30m.

Walsh has been credited with helping discover bargain signings such as winger Riyad Mahrez and Kante for the Foxes, who last season became top-flight champions for the first time in their 132-year history.

Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year Mahrez joined from Le Havre in 2014 for £400,000, while Kante was signed from French club Caen for about £6m.

“I am genuinely excited to be here at Everton and very much looking forward to getting down to work,” said Walsh.

“I know the club well, my roots are in the north west and my brother, Mickey, was an Everton player in the Bob Latchford era and always proud of that fact.”

Dutchman Koeman added: “It is really good for the club to have someone in Steve who has shown his quality in his job at a number of clubs over many years.

“That is the experience and quality he will bring to us at a good time in the season.”

Leicester’s director of football Jon Rudkin praised Walsh’s “signification contribution to the most successful period in the club’s history” and said he had accepted the decision “with a heavy heart”.


Pat Murphy, BBC Radio 5 live:

“Arguably, Walsh became the most important figure in Leicester’s football department because he kept delivering unpolished gems from his countless scouting missions without breaking the bank.

“Although he signed a new and improved contract only in May, he has been tempted away by what he sees as a career promotion and the vision of Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

“The London-based Iranian businessman has ambitious plans for Everton, with money seemingly not an issue. Landing first Koeman as manager and now Walsh within a month is a double coup.

“Leicester will be seeking full compensation for the loss of Walsh but just as in the pursuit of Koeman, money is no longer a thorny problem at Everton.”

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Jose Mourinho (right) and Allardyce were managerial opponents in the Premier League

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has backed the appointment of Sam Allardyce as England manager.

“He is the right person,” Mourinho said of the Sunderland boss. “He is more than ready. He is a good motivator and can create a good team spirit.”

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson told BBC Sport: “Sam’s been in English football for a long time. He’s always been doing very well.”

Allardyce’s appointment is expected to be confirmed on Thursday.

Mourinho, speaking on United’s pre-season tour of China, added: “I wish him the best. I promise to try and supply him players and try to make sure the English players are always available in good condition.”

Eriksson, who led England to the quarter-finals of three major tournaments between 2001 and 2006, warned success was “not that easy”.

“What is successful for England? Is it quarter-final or semi-final? Winning?” asked the 68-year-old Swede, who now manages Shanghai SIPG in the Chinese Super League.

Allardyce, 61, was interviewed for the England job by the Football Association (FA) when Eriksson left after the 2006 World Cup.

“If the FA want an Englishman, he is one of several good names,” said Eriksson. “I wish him the best of luck. I know he is very organised. He knows all the players and he wants the job.”

Eriksson said that a result like England’s Euro 2016 last-16 defeat by Iceland, which led to Roy Hodgson’s resignation, “should not happen”.

“I know the fans and the FA are dreaming about reaching semi-finals and finals and winning a big tournament,” he said, adding that England’s World Cup triumph in 1966 was “a long time ago”.

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Kazakhstan trip poses problems – Rodgers

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers was able to joke about next week’s Champions League trek to Kazakhstan after an “excellent” display saw them beat Lincoln Red Imps 3-1 on aggregate on Wednesday.

Celtic’s first-leg defeat in Gibraltar was one of the worst in their history.

But a 3-0 home win secured a trip to Astana in the third qualifying round.

“It’s a six-hour flight, five-hour time difference, 35C+, a plastic pitch, with no water, but apart from that..!” Rodgers told BBC Scotland.

“It is another test for us and the focus now will be getting a good performance over there.”

Astana drew games against Atletico Madrid, Benfica and Galatasaray in the the group stage of last season’s Champions League.

And they will pose a much sterner test for Rodgers’ fledgling side than the part-timers from Gibraltar, with the away leg to take place next week before the return at Celtic Park the following week.

Rodgers hopes to add to his squad before then, with defensive reinforcements a priority. “Hopefully that is the case,” he said. “We would certainly like to. We will see over the coming days.”

After the ‘shock on the Rock’ in Gibraltar, Scottish champions Celtic produced some flowing attacking football to see off the Red Imps, with first-half goals from Mikael Lustig, Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts proving sufficient.

Leigh Griffiths wheels away in celebration after opening his account for the season

“It certainly wasn’t perfect by any means, but it shouldn’t be – we are only four weeks into pre-season,” Rodgers noted.

“But I thought the first half-hour was excellent. There was good intensity, good pressure, good shape in our game. We scored three and could have had a few more.

“Once tiredness started to set in in the second half, the tempo of the game slowed down a bit. But the most important thing was getting through, and I thought overall, the performance was excellent.”

Rodgers praised his players’ ability to adapt to his methods in a matter of weeks.

“There is still a long way to go but I must congratulate the players – they have taken in a lot of concepts and ideas in a short space of time about how we want to work,” he added.

The manager also saluted an “absolutely magnificent” crowd of almost 50,000 for their rousing support.

“When they are singing throughout the game like that, there are not many better stadiums in the world,” he added.

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