Report: Didier Drogba linked with MLS move, as two teams battle for his signature

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The MLS offseason is almost over, but these crazy rumors just keep flying around.

With former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba set to line up against his former club on Wednesday whilst playing for Galatasaray, rumors are rife that he could be on his way to Major League Soccer.

Such stories have existed for quite some time, and with the 35-year-old striker out of contract in the summer, many expect him to make one last move before the Ivorian superstar retired.

According to this report from British tabloid the Daily Star, New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry wants to bring Drogba to MLS this season. With New York having one Designated Player slot open, is this possible?

But hold on a minute.

The same reports suggests the Seattle Sounders are also lining up to get some of the ‘Drog’ as some of MLS’ biggest franchises fancy getting some of his brute force and lethal finishing. But the Sounders already have three DPs in Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Osvaldo Alonso, so does that mean one of those guys are on the way out? If you had to guess someone is on the move, you’d go with Martins. Meanwhile Drogba is also attracting interest from his ex-club Chelsea, as he’s still a hero at Stamford Bridge and it is thought owner Roman Abramovich and manager Jose Mourinho would love to bring the towering striker in as a ‘forward’s coach’ for next season.

(MORE: “Drogba to MLS” chatter gains momentum)

Whatever he decides to do, there’s no doubt about it, Drogba would tear it up in MLS. Just like any league he has gone to in his illustrious career. After leaving Chelsea in 2012, when he scored the winning penalty kick in the UEFA Champions League final, Drogba has been all over the place. First he went to China, to play for the extremely wealthy Shanghai Shenhua side alongside former Chelsea star Nicholas Anelka. But that all went a bit pear shaped and Drogba returned to Europe on the hunt for a club and landed at Turkish giant Galatasaray, who he has now helped reach the Champions League knockout stages.

With one final move in the cards for the goalscoring machine, could we see the famous ‘wide arm pump’ celebration in MLS later this season?

Drogba has a World Cup date to attend with the Ivory Coast this summer, in what should be his swansong for the Elephants. But is this legendary striker set for one last fleeting flight in MLS before he calls it quits?

Perhaps this is just another tabloid rumor. Regardless, it will be interesting to see where Didier ends up this summer.

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.