Ahead of the coming U.S. national team calendar closer, the Nov. 14 contest at Russia, manager Jurgen Klinsmann spent 45 minutes in a fairly wide-ranging discussion with national media members.
Nothing to be marked “sensational” came out, although the next lines of discussion on Landon Donovan deserve mention. Otherwise, Klinsmann did dangle a few interesting morsels.
(We’ll have more discussion later on some of these points … We’ll call these the following bullet points “starters.”):
- The discussion started with Donovan, of course, based on his comments from Wednesday’s ESPN interviews on potentially damaged relationships. Klinsmann doesn’t sound a bit bothered by any of this – or “damaged” in any way, for that matter.
(MORE: Donovan on potentially damaged relationships)
- Bottom line for the program and the efforts to reach Word Cup 2014, Klinsmann said he “absolutely” expects Donovan to be involved in final round World Cup qualifying (which begins early next year). “We hope so, absolutely,” the manager said. “Things can change overnight in our environment. What will happen over next couple of months, we will always adjust, we will always bring in the strongest team we have into our games.”
- The coach said every player, Donovan and the other 45 who have performed under Klinsmann in his 15 months in charge, are individuals. He explained that he understands each needs to be approached and dealt with in different ways. And he doesn’t sound a bit put out by it. (He’s easy going that way. Always has been.)
- On Donovan’s comments about being hurt because some teammates or staff may have felt like he was exaggerating or even faking injuries, Klinsmann said he hasn’t noticed any of it. “From our end, there is absolutely no problem at all.”
- Klinsmann said discussions with his staff and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati over January camp plans were ongoing. Details are being planned, he explained.
- There was some question about whether he would even have such a January camp as the calendar turned. Thursday, it sounds more like he wants to do it – the next Geoff Cameron-type “discovery” is out there, you know – but needs to determine the optimum camp structure and dates as it relates to a Feb. 6 contest that has yet to be assigned.
- That Feb. 6 match could be in the United States or could be on the road.
- Klinsmann has not made up his mind on whether to fold Jozy Altidore back into the mix.
Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.
[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]
Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.
The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.
Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.
Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.
Like the move for Newcastle?
Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.
[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]
Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.
The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.
From The Players’ Tribune:
There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.
Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.
West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.
[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]
Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.
Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.
Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.
“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”
In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.
[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]
There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.
Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.