André Schürrle joins Chelsea for $27 million

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José Mourinho has finally made the first signing of his second spell at Chelsea, as German international forward André Schürrle has joined from Bayer Leverkusen.

The 22-year-old striker has been sorting out the formalities of his switch to Stamford Bridge since June 13 when the two clubs agreed a fee, but now he’s crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s Schürrle can begin to look forward to life as a Chelsea player.

Last season he scored 11 times in 34 appearances for Leverkusen, with the promising youngster also excelling for the German national team over the past few seasons. He has been handed a five-year contract for the London club and will wear the No.14 shirt.

And the blonde attacker can’t wait to get started at his new team. “I am so happy now I have signed and it is an honor for me to play for this club, with this team and for these great fans,” Schürrle said. “I am really looking forward to it.”

Schürrle will link up with his new teammates in the coming days, as Mourinho’s men start preseason.

The German star is adaptable and can play up front as a lone forward or on the wing, while his considerable size should allow him to adapt very quickly to the power and physicality of the EPL.

(MORE: Schürrle becomes Mourinho’s first signing of the summer)

Having scored seven goals in 24 appearances for the German national team, Schürrle will be keen to kick on and become a regular in the Chelsea team. That in turn will spark his chances of making the starting lineup for during Germany’s 2014 World Cup campaign.

But first and foremost, Schürrle will find it hard to get into the Chelsea side.

With the likes of Juan Mata, Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Ramires, Marko Marin and Fernando Torres all in his way, Schürrle will have to hit the ground running in preseason.But good, healthy competition never did anybody any harm.

Mourinho is by no means finished with his summer shopping but it has been a rather subdued scene at Stamford Bridge since he returned. No interviews, no real drama and not much movement. What is going on here? “This isn’t the Jose we remember,” is the thought going through the minds of most Chelsea fans.

But don’t despair, this man won’t disappoint. Schürrle will be the first of many new faces as Mourinho will undoubtedly wield the axe ruthlessly this summer.

If Chelsea can’t secure Edinson Cavani’s signature is it right to pile all their hopes on the youngster from Ludwigshafen? (Sorry, had to get the name of his hometown in here somewhere, just awesome.)

Only time will tell. But Schürrle’s arrival could be a signal that the floodgates are about to open at Chelsea. Expect plenty more activity in West London this summer.

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.