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Fuelled by a historically lavish spending spree, the Premier League returns on Friday when Arsenal host Leicester in the opening game of the hotly-anticipated new season.

Taking advantage of astronomical broadcast contracts and lucrative sponsorship deals, England’s superpowers have been splashing the cash at an unprecedented rate.

Since the end of last season, transfer records have been shattered across the country as over one billion pounds has changed hands in a frenzy that could well set a new high for a single window.

English Premier League side Liverpool FC have rejected a bid of 100 million euros (about £90m or N45bn) from Spanish side FC Barcelona for Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho.

Barca’s second bid for the 25-year-old, which was rejected immediately, comprised an initial 85m euros (about £76.8m) plus 15m euros (about £13.5m) in add-ons.

Rattled by a chastening first season in England, Pep Guardiola has gone back to the drawing board in an attempt to fashion Manchester City into Premier League champions.

Expectations were sky-high when Guardiola alighted in Manchester after years of being courted by City, but a title challenge failed to materialise and his side did not make a mark in any of the cup competitions.

Neymar should be free to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut at Guingamp on Sunday after Barcelona confirmed on Friday the 222 million-euro ($261 million) cheque used to pay his buyout clause had cleared.

“The cheque has cleared and therefore puts in motion the process of the transfer,” said a Barcelona club source.

Barcelona must now deliver his transfer certificate to the Spanish Football Federation who will then pass it to the French Football Federation (FFF) for the Brazilian to be registered.

Serena Williams will face a difficult path ahead if she attempts to return to tennis after having a baby, Kim Clijsters has warned.

Clijsters completed the ‘Mother of all Comebacks’ when she won the US Open in 2009, just 18 months after giving birth to her first child.

The Belgian enjoyed her best days in tennis after becoming a mother, as she won three of her four Grand Slam titles before retiring at 29.

Wayde van Niekerk stormed to the first part of his golden double as he retained his world 400m title with a dominant display.

With one of his main rivals Isaac Makwala absent after being excluded controversially on medical grounds, Olympic champion and world record holder Van Niekerk left the rest of the field in his wake, underlining his status as the sport’s new superstar in the post-Bolt world.

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