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Sanchez deal 'so close'; Wenger waits

Transfers
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Monaco complete signing of winger Keita Balde from Lazio

Keita Balde Diao
Keita Balde will move to Ligue 1 with Monaco.

Monaco have completed the signing of Senegal winger Keita Balde from Lazio on a five-year deal.

The Ligue 1 champions were busy on Tuesday while anticipating the impending departure of Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain. Monaco also signed Stevan Jovetic from Inter earlier in the day.

Monaco said Balde will wear the No. 14 shirt, but they did not announce Jovetic's number -- perhaps tellingly as purportedly leaked photos on Monday showed him wearing Mbappe's No. 10.

The Balde move could clear the way for Monaco to sell Thomas Lemar, after reports said Liverpool had lodged a club record £55.5 million offer for the France international, and the Liverpool Echo said they could try again at £75m (€80m).

Balde, a former Barcelona youth product, had 16 goals and three assists in 31 Serie A appearances last season at Lazio, where he has played since debuting as an 18-year-old in 2013.

Monaco pipped Inter Milan to Balde's signature, while Juventus previously had an offer for the 22-year-old rejected. Lazio had been reportedly demanding more than €30m, though no transfer fee was confirmed.

"I'm very happy to be signing for AS Monaco, a club with a great history. I'm very pleased to be here and can't wait to start playing," Balde said in a statement.

"A lot of players and friends have said good things to me about the club, the spirit in the squad and the team. When you get the chance to come here, you accept straight away.

"It's the ideal project for me. I'm very happy to be joining a strong squad, with big players who had a brilliant season last year."

Only a day earlier, Lazio sporting director Igli Tare had said that neither Monaco nor Inter were close to matching their valuation of the player, but the principality club have now moved quickly to strike a deal.

"We are delighted to welcome Keita Balde to AS Monaco," Monaco CEO Vadim Vasilyev said. "He is a young forward who already has over 100 appearances in Serie A and also has experience of European competition.

"He's a player we've been monitoring for some time, who has already shown a lot of quality and in whom we have a lot of faith to continue building a strong side this season."

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