Friday Kickoff: Ljungberg retires, Olympic star Konate signs in Russia and more

Friday Kickoff: Ljungberg retires, Olympic star Konate signs in Russia and more

European Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Ljungberg retires, Olympic star Konate signs in Russia and more

Ljungberg (ISI)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

Former Sweden captain and MLS Designated Player Freddie Ljungberg has called it a career.

Ljungberg, who played for the Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire after a decorated career in Europe, retired Friday, capping a career that began in 1994. Ljungberg, 35, had his most notable years come at Arsenal, where he won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups between 2002-2005.

He earned MLS Best XI honors in 2009, his first season in the league with Seattle that also included an All-Star selection, but he was traded to Chicago the year after and departed the league after the 2010 season.

Ljungberg had most recently been with Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan.

Here are a few more stories to get your Friday going:

KONATE SIGNS WITH KRASNODAR

One of the Olympics' breakout stars has turned away Premier League offers for a chance to star immediately for a club in Russia.

Senegal's Moussa Konate, who scored five goals at this summer's Olympic games and helped Senegal to a surprise place in the quarterfinals, signed a three-year deal with Russian club Krasnodar on a move from Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv. Konate had reported interest from Sunderland, Stoke City and West Brom, but opted to head to a place where he figures to play right away instead. His five tallies at the Olympics were second only to Brazil's Leandro Damiao, who scored six goals.

"I waited on a lot of different clubs, but Krasnodar showed they want me and will count on me, compared to some clubs where I didn't believe I would play first-team football yet," the 19-year-old Konate told Sky Sports.

CHELSEA SIGN AZPILICUETA

Chelsea's quest to get younger and more dynamic has led to the capture of Marseille's Spanish Under-23 international Cesar Azpilicueta.

The Olympic right back signed with Chelsea from the Ligue 1 side Friday for a reported fee of £7 million. While just 22, Azpilicueta has a number of first-team matches under his belt, playing for Osasuna in the Spanish Primera from 2007-2010 before becoming the first-choice right back at Marseille. He gives Roberto Di Matteo another fullback option after the departure of Jose Bosingwa.

INTER ADD PEREIRA

Inter Milan's quest to get back to the top of the Serie A mountain continued Friday with the addition of Uruguayan left back Alvaro Pereira from Porto.

The 26-year-old Pereira has a Copa America and UEFA Europa League championship under his belt and cost Inter a reported €10 million to pry away from the Portuguese power.

FLETCHER SIGNS WITH SUNDERLAND

Steven Fletcher has moved from Wolverhampton to Sunderland, with the Scottish international making a reported £12 million move from the League Championship side back to the Premier League after a lengthy bidding process.

The 25-year-old forward is being brought in to provide a scoring boost for the Black Cats, who were held scoreless by Arsenal in the season opener and were relying on the likes of Louis Saha and Frazier Campbell to carry the attack.

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What are some of your top Ljungberg memories? Surprised to see Konate end up in Russia? Do you see Azpilicueta being able to handle the Premier League? How do you see Inter faring this season? Do you think Fletcher is worth a £12 million price tag in the transfer market? 

Share your thoughts below.

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