Liverpool ensure Steven Gerrard’s status as a one-club footballer

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Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has ensured his status as a one-club footballer by signing a contract extension that will keep him at Anfield for at least the next two seasons.

Gerrard signed the new deal at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground Monday morning and expressed his delight over remaining a Red.

“I think everyone knows what it means to me,” said Gerrard. “I’ve been here that long and so, to extend, it’s a big day for me and I’m really happy for myself and my family. It’s great news.”

The 33 year old midfielder has spent his entire career at Liverpool, making his debut for Liverpool in 1998. He has since made 630 appearances, scored 159 goals and won the Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup (twice) and League Cup (three times) during his time at the club.

In the Premier League this kind of one-club dedication is a dying breed. This past spring saw the retirement of two of world football’s greatest one-club footballers.

Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher put in 17 loyal seasons at Anfield and epitomized what it means to be a grinder. The Scouser was considered to be decently talented early in his career for the Reds but as time went on his legend grew with Carra repeatedly putting his body on the line and developing into one of the most iconic center-backs in the club’s history.

Speaking of grit, that’s the trait perhaps best defined the career of Manchester United’s Paul Scholes. But alongside that grit came prescient vision and an array of passes that could set a jailed man free. After 18 years the man Pep Guardiola famously called “[the] best midfielder of his generation” took his final bow in last year’s title run.

There is, however, one current Premier League player with an even more impressive single-club stint: Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs.

The Welsh midfielder, who turns 40 years old this November, has been gracing the pitch at Old Trafford since 1990, two years before the formation of the Premier League. With 941 total appearances for the club, this season will be Giggs’ 23rd season at Old Trafford.

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.