Worries over Xabi Alonso’s future at Real Madrid had started to become as urgent as the Spanish international’s ongoing ear problems, with Alonso again complaining of pain in his left eardrum on Monday after 45 minutes against Celta Vigo. But whereas the midfielder seems to be making little progress with an injury suffered on Dec. 22, Alonso has turned a corner on his contract status at the Bernabéu, with club and player having agreed to an extension that will keep him in the Spanish capital.
According to Marca, the Merengues have agreed to a deal that will keep the 32-year-old in white for two additional seasons, extending a stay that began when Alonso was purchased from Liverpool four-and-a-half years ago. Since, the Basque star has made 204 all-competition appearances for Los Blancos, scoring six times while patrolling deep midfield for Primera División, Copa del Rey, and Spanish Supercopa champions (one title, each).
This season, Alonso’s been limited to 12 appearances and only eight in league, where he’s been restricted to 548 minutes. With midfield partner Sami Khedira out for the season recovering from a knee injury, Real Madrid have been forced to rely on Luka Modric and summer signing Aiser Illarremendi, with Modric set to serve as Alonso’s partner when the pair is healthy.
When Alonso will be fully fit is unclear, with Monday serving as a setback to his recovery. But with a new deal on the books, Madridistas don’t have to worry a key player missing time during his last months with the club. Those months won’t be here until 2015-16, at the earliest.
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?
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 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.
“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.”
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.