Espanyol fans upset with Barca shirt on the statute of Christopher Columbus

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Controversy out of Barcelona today where fans of RCD Espanyol are livid over the city’s decision to adorn the famous statue of Christopher Columbus with a giant replica of the team’s new shirt design.

The two sides meet this weekend in El Derbi Barceloní. With the Blaugrana already having clinched the La Liga title, the Champions are now setting their sites on equaling Real Madrid’s record mark of 100 points, which the capital side achieved last season. To reach the feet Barca will need to defeat Espanyol at Cornella-El Prat and Malaga at Camp Nou on June 1st.

For 11th place Espanyol, this weekend’s match afforded them little to play for until their neighbors decided to inflame the rivalry. Barcelona’s city council permitted the statute after receiving money from the club as part of a publicity stunt. As part of the deal, the shirt was signed by some of the Barcelona players and is set to remain in place from until June 9th.

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The city’s decision to permit Columbus to wear the kit chafes the fans of Los Periquitos, who believe Barca receives far more than their fair share of support from local institutions. Espanyol fan groups, through an official statement, have already said that as a result of the statute they plan to turn their backs and whistle when their team perform the traditional guard of honour to welcome the newly crowned champions on to the pitch.

One Espanyol fan group in particular, @PERICOZ, went so far as to send a Tweet of encouragement to the pigeons of Barcelona to “do what you have to do” on the shoulders of Columbus.

So what do you guys think? Are Espanyol fans serious with this complaint? If so, do they have legitimate beef or is it just sour grapes?

One thing is for sure, it can’t be easy to share a city with the likes of the Catalan giants.

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.