Suarez to exit Liverpool?

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As the campaign approaches its climax and the realization that qualification to the big dance known as the UEFA Champions League is nothing more than a dream for yet another season, thoughts of greener pastures enter many players heads.

Liverpool’s Uruguayan talisman, Luis Suarez is no exception and with a skill set of the highest order, it’s almost criminal that we won’t be seeing him in the world’s best club competition for possibly another year unless of course, he rips up his freshly signed deal that keeps him at Anfield until 2017.

Already rumors are working their way out of Merseyside thanks to the Liverpool Echo that Suarez given the opportunity would jump at the chance to play for a club in the Champions League.

Disturbing news if you’re a die-hard Red but never fear, Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s CEO has jumped to the rescue saying that he is 100% certain that Suarez will be on the Brendan Rodgers team sheet for next season.

“He has a four-year contract. We hope he will see it through.”

“We have no desire to sell Luis. He is a fantastic player and a great contributor to our team,” he added. “We have been honest with him and he has been honest with us and there will always be instances, particularly leading up to the summer, where people are quoted or asked these questions, but we are very pleased to have Luis and long may that continue.” he told BBC radio.

Meanwhile Suarez was reported to have said, “If another team comes around with more prospects of competing in international club competition games, which is willing to have [me], they are welcome. We would talk to the club, and we would see if I want to go [or] if I don’t want to go.

Ayre’s described those comments by saying ‘they may have lost something in translation.’

I’m no translator myself but they seemed to say that if a club is playing Champions League football and the offer is right, I’m off.

There is no doubt that Champions League football is one almighty carrot and if a player really wants to test himself, there is the only place they can do it.

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.