Barcelona strengthens squad by adding Kessie, Christensen

July 4, 2022 GMT
FILE - AC Milan's Franck Kessie celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Italian Cup quarter final match between AC Milan and Lazio at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Barcelona has boosted its midfield by signing Franck Kessie as a free agent on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)
FILE - AC Milan's Franck Kessie celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Italian Cup quarter final match between AC Milan and Lazio at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Barcelona has boosted its midfield by signing Franck Kessie as a free agent on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)
FILE - AC Milan's Franck Kessie celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Italian Cup quarter final match between AC Milan and Lazio at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Barcelona has boosted its midfield by signing Franck Kessie as a free agent on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)
FILE - AC Milan's Franck Kessie celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Italian Cup quarter final match between AC Milan and Lazio at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Barcelona has boosted its midfield by signing Franck Kessie as a free agent on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)
FILE - AC Milan's Franck Kessie celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Italian Cup quarter final match between AC Milan and Lazio at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Barcelona has boosted its midfield by signing Franck Kessie as a free agent on Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona boosted its midfield and defense by signing Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen on Monday.

The 25-year-old Kessie, who had been playing for AC Milan since 2017, arrives as a free agent on a contract until June 2026 and a buyout clause of 500 million euros ($522 million).

Christensen comes after his contract with Chelsea ended. His deal is also until 2026 and contains the same buyout clause as Kessie’s.

Kessie will be officially introduced on Wednesday. The Ivory Coast midfielder will be the second Ivorian to play for Barcelona, after Yaya Touré in the late 2000s.

The 26-year-old Christensen will be introduced on Thursday. The Danish central defender joined Chelsea’s youth teams in 2012 and had a stint with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga before returning to Chelsea.

Christensen helped Chelsea win the Champions League, the Europea League and the Club World Cup, and was on the Danish national team that reached the semifinals of the 2020 European Championship.

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Barcelona called him “strong and with great vision, a powerful center back who is excellent in the air” and “technically proficient with the ball at his feet, a perfect fit” for the Catalan club.

Kessie has 58 international appearances with his national team and played at the Tokyo Olympics as Ivory Coast reached the quarterfinals.

Kessie moved to Italy in 2014 to sign for Atalanta, where he played in the club’s youth squads before joining second-division team Cesena on a loan. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini eventually brought him back to Atalanta and he scored twice in his Serie A debut in 2016.

Kessie joined Milan on loan in 2017 and permanently signed with the club in 2019 for 33 million euros ($34.5 million). He helped AC Milan win its first title in 11 seasons this year. In his six seasons with Atalanta and Milan, Kessie scored 45 goals.

Barcelona called Kessie “the complete package” and a “strong midfielder with tactical awareness.”

“Kessie is a player who contributes in attack and in defense,” the club said. “Capable of winning the ball back in midfield, the African midfielder also has impressive stats as a goal-scorer, partly due to his ability to make runs into the penalty area.”

He will join a midfield that includes Sergio Busquets, Nico González and Frenkie de Jong.

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