Mario Balotelli’s top moments of madness; the final Manchester City incident report

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Thank goodness for a little morning spelunking into the research files on Mario Balotelli and the bizarre forces that have always ruled his head. Because I had completely forgotten about the women’s prison incident!

For pure entertainment, how awesome was this guy?

On the serious side briefly: Manchester City officials finally saw the light, belated as it was.

Balotelli was always going to be a problem and a burden. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the man-child of Manchester was always going to be a brooding figure in the City locker room, a taught trip wire ready to create destruction on the training ground or, worse yet, in a big match. Talented as the young Italian striker surely is, the club was always going to be better without him.

At the very least, City will be a more focused bunch without Balotelli’s selfish inclinations to overcome. Reports have the Italian giant paying about $31.5 million to bring Balotelli to the San Siro, where he will sign a 4 ½ -year deal pending a medical sign-off.

ProSoccerTalk’s Richard Farley smartly assessed the ins and out here.  But (running back toward the light a little) it is worth a few minutes to look back at exactly why City is a better, more stable place today.

One story I read says Balotelli’s move to AC Milan ends a “turbulent” two and a half years at the Etihad. That’s a little like saying debate between democrats and republicans sometimes gets a “little snippy.”

This piece has a few humorous details on the women’s prison bit. Classic.

This rap sheet of wackiness from the Mirror – in fairness, the Mirror’s standard of truth goes about as high as single Thin Mint cookie, but still … – likes the unconfirmed report that his mom once dispatched Balotelli to pick up some cleaning supplies.

A few hours later, Mario’s car pulled up with a van behind – which promptly unloaded a giant trampoline, two Vespa scooters and no cleaning products whatsoever…”

She raised the kid; she’s presumably seen worse. Quite possibly on a weekly basis.

Those are the incidents that lean toward the wacky, but there were other moments where a truly darker element emerged, like his awful, potentially devastating tackle on Alex Song last spring.

The really crazy thing is this: the lists above were cobbled together at some point last year. Of Because Balotelli is nothing if not reliable, there have been additions since then, like the training ground scuffle with Mancini earlier this month.

The other crazy thing: these lists don’t share as many incidents as you might think. You see, when it comes to Mario Balotelli Moments of Madness, there’s a menu of choices that would make the freakin’ Cheesecake Factory blush.

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.