ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays:

Real Salt Lake up-and-comer Luis Gil turns 19. Yes, just 19.

Former MLS man, Honduran international and current Leeds United midfielder Ramon Nunez turns 27.

Belgian international and Arsenal center back Thomas Vermaelen also turns 27. The Ajax-trained defender is among the reasons why this current Belgian crop may actually get to the World Cup and ruffle some Brazilian feathers over there.

Longtime England international goalkeeper Chris Woods turns 53. His long career included a stop at Colorado for Major League Soccer’s inaugural season.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

United States national team finishes its 2012 season with a friendly against Russia, now directed by former England manager Fabio Capello, in Krasnodar, Russia (pictured).

It’s an early match (10 a.m. ET kickoff on ESPN2), so we’ll have plenty of time for discussion afterward.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day:  Cindy Parlow

*Ahead on the blog today:

It’s mostly an international day, which includes (but certainly is not limited to) …

Talk about the U.S-Russia result; talk about any other interesting result on the big menu of international matches from around the world, and; talk about any U.S. women’s national team player who may be in the news lately.

Twitter daps:

source:

What you should watch on TV today:

There are lots of choices, but it’s got to start with the United States and Russia at 10 a.m. ET.

Background noise while blogging today:  What, are you kidding? Have you seen the peachy schedule of international matches on today. In fact, here’s the precise plan of action on this end.

We’ll leave you with this:  Remember the golden rule of friendlies when it comes to personnel: It’s difficult to completely play your way into the manager’s good graces through performance in a friendly. The lack of any real, meaningful pressure prevents it. On the other hand, the selections can certainly play their way out of future considerations.  That’s the real value of these friendlies, for the winnowing effect.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
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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?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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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 signs club record center back from Toulouse

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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.

From WHUFC.com:

“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.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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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.