Victor Wanyama “confused” over deal with Southampton

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After dominant performances against Barcelona in the Champions League, pundits across the globe speculated on what club would be fortunate enough to sign Celtic’s Victor Wanyama.

Manchester United?

Arsenal?

Barcelona?

It seemed the biggest clubs in the world were after Kenya’s prized possession and that, come summer 2013, it would be a mad dash to his signature.

Fast forward to the present and that mad dash is in full throttle. And while the big clubs are nowhere to be found, news out of England this past week claimed that Southampton were close to signing the Celtic midfielder. The two sides had agreed on £12 million ($17.9m) transfer fee and Wanyama was set to begin his medical.

But now the deal has come to a screeching halt with the player’s personal terms cited as the deal breaker. The Saints are reportedly pushing on in their pursuit of signing the 22 year old but, according to Celtic manager Neil Lennon, the whole situation has left Wanyama confused.

“I had a chat with Victor and he’s a wee bit confused but what we gather is that Southampton have re-ignited their interest,” said Lennon. “They’ve shown an interest again and the bid is there. It’s all about the negotiations between Saints and the agent now. I’d imagine that might get the ball rolling again.”

Sensing an opportunity to find cover for the likely sale of Marouane Fellaini, Everton are now reported to be swooping in. The sticking point for the Toffees could be the £12 million fee, an amount that tight-pocketed chairman Bill Kenwright has not come close to shelling out since paying £15 million ($22.4m) for Fellaini in 2008.

If the Saints fight off Everton and complete the deal for Wanyama, he will face stiff competition from Morgan Schneiderlin. The Frenchman enjoyed a stunning 2012-13 season leading the Premier League in interceptions (3.9 per game) and coming second in tackling (4.1 per game).

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.