PSG’s Leonardo hospitalized after Ligue 1 celebrations

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It has emerged this morning that under-fire Paris Saint-Germain director of football, Leonardo, was rushed to hospital last night, after collapsing just hours after PSG had won the French title.

The former Brazilian international has certainly been in the news in recent weeks, after allegedly pushing a referee in the tunnel during PSG’s brutal 1-1 tie with Valenciennes on Sunday, May 5.

Paris Saint-Germain — with the help of former MLS star David Beckham — clinched their first Ligue 1 title since the 1993-94 season on Sunday night, after beating Lyon 1-0. But during the post game celebrations Leonardo was seen arguing with star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as the evening turned sour.

On top of that, other reports suggest PSG may yet be handing the coveted French title back soon, as Leonardo’s actions of pushing a match official could see the club handed a points deduction, with the trophy instead heading to their bitter rivals Marseille.

Stress, anxiety, pressure. It’s all been mounting.

If you take into account what has been a rambunctious few weeks and last few hours for Leonardo, then you can see why his health appears to be in such a poor state.

Under constant stress and pressure from the Qatari-based ownership group that run PSG, Leonardo has seen Les Parisiens limp towards the finish line and claim the league title with two games to spare.

This incident hits home just how much stress is involved in soccer today. The top clubs in Europe demand success, week in, week out. And the demands on a select few people to deliver that is, at times, incredibly unfair. Yes, they’re paid huge amounts of money to manage, dictate and organize a successful club. But many put their whole life on hold, with sporting director’s and manager forced to deliver victory at all costs.

Just this week, the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson was cited by some as premature, with many suggesting concerns about Fergie’s health as the main reason behind his decision to retire.

It seems now as if Leonardo’s health has paid the price for PSG’s title race. But early indications suggest his condition isn’t critical and he should make a full recovery.

Regardless, take a look at the video of his bust up with Ibrahimovic during last night’s celebrations. Decide for yourself if that is the face of a man celebrating PSG’s greatest triumph in almost 20 years… or a man fighting with the rigors and stress of leading an elite European club to success.

Is the stress of providing success in soccer too much to handle?

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

whufc.com
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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.