Kolo Toure could prove to be a cheeky buy for Liverpool

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Shocking report out of Anfield where Liverpool are lining up a move for Manchester City defender Kolo Toure.

Toure’s contract expires this summer and the Ivorian has fallen out of favor with the Citizens after playing in 15 league matches this season as captain Vincent Kompany and newboy Matija Nastasic were the center-back duo of choice.

Since arriving at the Etihad from Arsenal in the summer of 2009 the defender has seen his role reduced from 31 league matches in 2009-10, to 22 contests the following year, to 14 league matches in the title-winning season of 2011-12.

So why are Liverpool interested the 32 year old?

Toure provides great value.

While he’s no longer one of the best defenders in the league, Torre will arrive at Anfield on a free transfer as he’s out of contract this summer. That means the Moneyball-loving, Financial Fair Play-weary, Fenway Sports Group sees this deal as a no-brainer. All they have to pay is salary. Toure currently makes £90,000 a week at City so expect Liverpool to offer him a one to two year deal somewhere in the neighborhood of £40,000-£60,000 a week.

Toure provides experience and leadership.

Toure will come into Anfield and take over the role of the departing Jamie Carragher. Like the Liverpool legend, Toure has enjoyed a long career in the Premiership, tallying eight years for Arsenal and four years for City. During that tenure he’s proven himself to be a leader, captaining both the Gunners and the Citizens, as well as Cote d’Ivoire.

The importance of leadership is something that Liverpool has always valued but has become especially important this season with the contributions of Carragher. With Martin Skrtel fading and Sebastian Coates failing to develop, the 35 year old Carragher stepped up in a massive way, anchoring the back four with Daniel Agger. Now, that duty will fall to Toure.

Toure can still get the job done.

Has he slowed a step? Yes. But Toure makes up for it with brilliant positioning, sharp anticipation and above-average ball skills. Plus, while 32 years old is no spring chicken, Toure could foreseeably play two or three more season at the top level.

So while there’s little doubt Brendan Rodgers will continue to scour the transfer market for defensive options, Kolo Toure could be a cheeky buy for Liverpool.

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.