Jul 262016
Joe Allen played in every game for Wales at Euro 2016

Stoke City have signed Wales midfielder Joe Allen from Liverpool for £13m.

The 26-year-old, who had a year left on his contract, was also a target for the Potters’ Premier League rivals Swansea, whom he left to join Liverpool in 2012.

“It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for me but I am delighted to have finally been able to put pen to paper,” said Allen, who has signed a five-year contract.

“I was really excited as soon as I heard of the club’s interest and it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.”

Allen was Stoke’s second signing of the day after Egyptian winger Ramadan Sobhi joined the club from Al Ahly for a fee that could rise to £5m.

Despite starting only eight league games for Liverpool last season, Allen was named in the Euro 2016 team of the tournament after helping Wales reach the semi-finals.

Liverpool rejected an £8m offer from Swansea in June but Allen will now link up with Stoke’s Welsh manager Mark Hughes.

“Joe is a player that Mark has admired for a considerable amount of time,” said the club’s chief executive Tony Scholes.

“We have had to act swiftly to conclude the deal but we are delighted that we have managed to get it over the line.”

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Allardyce ‘tough enough’ to manage England

England manager Sam Allardyce says his new job will be the “greatest challenge” of his career.

In his first news conference since taking charge of the national side, Allardyce said “man management” was his “biggest asset”.

Allardyce, who helped save Sunderland from Premier League relegation last season, succeeds Roy Hodgson after a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign.

Sammy Lee, Allardyce’s assistant at Bolton, joins the England staff.

“This will be the greatest challenge for me in my long career and hopefully I will be as successful as I have in the rest of my career,” Allardyce said.

Allardyce also said he would not make a decision on Wayne Rooney’s captaincy until he has met the players and staff.

The former Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham boss also spoke about:

  • Managing world class players despite not winning a major trophy
  • Calling for a mid-season break
  • His “pragmatic” style of management and style of play
  • Players making their potential a reality

Allardyce on achievements

“I have managed some world class players. Fernando Hierro, Youri Djorkaeff, Jay Jay Okocha, Gary Speed, Nicolas Anelka and Michael Owen. I have managed some talented players; the good thing about that is they make your life easier, they know what you want.

“Working with the England elite players will be very exciting for me because they will take on board ideas very quickly.

“In terms of winning no trophies or cups, unfortunately, as an English manager I never got to go right to the top of the Premier League.

“I saved clubs and never got relegated, and they are not the same as winning the FA Cup or League Cup, but they are big achievements.”

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Sam Allardyce right person for England – Jose Mourinho

Allardyce on what is holding England back

“No midseason break. I have been an advocate of that for 10 years or more. The demand on players is enormous.

“The Premier League is the best league in world so demand has to be on the players. It would help the Premier League and us at international level if we could try and achieve it.

“In my time when we finish at Christmas, in January and February it is always the most difficult time to get players through.”

Allardyce on one up front

“I think choosing styles of systems depends on the players available and who we are playing. My coaching technique is to try to give players the opportunity to win football matches, home or away, and make them aware of the opposition.

“I think the bonding of the team is exceptionally important and trying to create that team spirit and have some fun. I have enjoyed my life in the game, this job is the pinnacle and I want to enjoy this the most.

“My style of play has always been a tag for me that I can’t shake off but I played with Jermain Defoe down the middle on his own last year so it cannot be really associated with me after that.

“Working on people’s strengths is the main factor. People said Defoe cannot play up front on his own but that is what he did all last season and scored 18 goals.”

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Sam Allardyce: New England manager’s football philosophy

Allardyce on players standing up

“It is not potential anymore, it has to be reality and they have to stand up and be counted. The young players have a lot of experience now and some has been bitter. They don’t want to feel like that again.

“Potential is not a word I want to use, you want the quality player to produce his best performances immediately. This squad of players is very experienced and going forward hopefully will produce better.”

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BBC Sport’s Simon Stone took this picture of the Bird’s Nest stadium pitch on Monday

The pre-season game between Manchester United and Manchester City in China on Monday is off because heavy rain has left the pitch in Beijing unplayable.

The Bird’s Nest pitch was described as “bad” by United boss Jose Mourinho on Sunday, while City’s Pep Guardiola said he hoped there would be no injuries.

Both City and United said