The White Puma did it! SKC’s Jimmy Nielsen claims MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award

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CARSON, Calif. – I know, almost for a fact, that this news is going to make a couple of loyal ProSoccerTalk readers absolutely twist off in a hateful rage, but here goes …

There was never much doubt that Sporting Kansas City’s Jimmy Nielsen was going to claim MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors. Sure enough, he did.

We talked about it on the blog, never mind the crazy-good year Columbus’ Andy Gruenebaum had at Crew Stadium, or the statistically strong case that could be made for Seattle’s Michael Gspurning or even the charity case we could all make for Chivas USA’s besieged good guy of the glove Dan Kennedy. (Seriously, has somebody checked on that man lately … just to make sure he’s doing OK?)

Heck, Nick Rimando should have been folded into the conversational batter. (The dude is just too consistent for his own good; another damn solid year was largely forgotten in 2012, mostly because we all expect it from Real Salt Lake’s longtime protector.)

What cranks my engine here a little is that Nielsen was such a runaway winner in the final tally.

And what puts my journalistic shorts even more in a twist: too many of my media brethren, I am chagrinned to say, weren’t paying attention, apparently. It looks like too many just saw the White Puma’s splashy numbers, thought about his cool nickname, checked the box and moved on. They couldn’t have all been behind on the latest eps of Breaking Bad, right?

Individually, it’s fine if someone chooses Nielsen. But damn near all of us? There’s no more discussion for this thing than that?

(Then again … we did reluctantly settle on Nielsen in our ProSoccerTalk Goalkeeper of the Year award conversation.)

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

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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.