John Terry willing to end international retirement, Hodgson should pass

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Chelsea’s John Terry is willing to end his hasty international retirement, an offer that should have England manager Roy Hodgson browsing for “Thanks, but no thanks” cards. Though England have proved thin at center half since Terry quit the Three Lions in September, there’s little good that can come from reintegrating the former captain into the current squad.

According to Dominic Fifield at the Guardian, Terry has his sights set on Brazil 2014, a change of heart partially motivated by impending changes at the top of The FA. David Bernstein, the current chairman of England’s federation, is set to step own later this year, and as we learned last week, Terry still resents Bernstein’s part in last year’s suspension for racial abuse.

When he retired from international duty, Terry called his position within the England national team “untenable.” Rather than represent a federation that was willing to ban him four games after he’d been cleared in a court of law, the Chelsea captain chose to walk away. At the time, it looked like a principled stand. Rather than persist in squad in which he was arguably still a starter, Terry was willing to call it an early day on a 78-cap career.

Now, with Terry’s potential comeback coinciding with Bernstein’s upcoming departure, his September retirement seems like a unsuccessful power play. That, or retirement seems more political than we may have originally thought. If I’m going to be suspended, I’ll just retire. Oh, nobody’s rallying to the cause? Um …

While there will always be a faction of onlookers who ascribe cynical motives to Terry, there was previously reason to believe his decision stemmed from a desire to eliminate a negative from his life. And there’s still reason to believe those were his thoughts, at the time. But now, with this willingness to make a quick about face that coincides with his snub of Bernstein? It casts that hasty retirement in another light.

You hate to say that if Terry’s simply had a change of heart. It’s entirely possible that he retired, regrets his decision, and now wants to rejoin his national team, a realization you wouldn’t begrudge anybody. Yet that indecisiveness only adds to the baggage Terry carries back into the national team, a history Hodgson need not engage when Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, and Chris Smalling (and perhaps even Rio Ferdinand) are all viable options.

Although Terry’s post-prime decline has been exaggerated, he is no longer an improvement over that array of decent if unspectacular options, meaning there’s little incentive to bring him back into the team. The volatility that accompanies him is unlikely to be matched by an increased chance of success in Brazil. Though you never want to close a door when, should his center backs against become depleted, Hodgson could use Terry, the England boss may want to steer clear of Terry.

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.