Julian Green: Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t guarantee a spot in U.S.’s World Cup squad

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Julian Green has spoken for the first time about why he switched international soccer affiliation to the United States, and while his answers to Ole Pongratz and FOX Soccer doesn’t reveal very much new information, it does address lingering suspicions about the 18-year-old’s involvement at this summer’s World Cup. While some will still wonder whether Jurgen Klinsmann has guaranteed the Bayern Munich prospect a spot in Brazil, the Tampa, Fla.-born attacker said “Guarantees never exist” while explaining his club affiliation could help his case.

In an interview posted late Thursday, Green said he had been in touch with the German soccer federation before making his final decision, contact that included getting an assessment on his future from national team assistant Hansi Flick. Green ultimately chose to play for the U.S. after establishing a comfort level with Klinsmann, explaining that his decision was “not a decision against Germany, but a decision for the USA.”

From FOX’s post, on whether Green was told he’d be going to Brazil:

OP: What are the chances of jumping onto the USA World Cup roster? We understand Klinsmann did not guarantee you a slot, correct?

JG: Guarantees never exist. No, I just want to perform, show my stuff, and if I’m there, I am there. I just want to step on the gas and in the end, we’ll see.

There’s more in FOX Soccer’s brief Q-and-A with the U.S. hopeful, much of which affirms what we already knew: Green trained with the U.S., developed a level of comfort with the team, then switched after discussions with Klinsmann and the DFB. He’ll be in camp ahead of the Apr. 2 Mexico friendly, expects to play, and he hopes to go to the World Cup.

Perhaps the interview doesn’t shed much light on the move, but it does address the idea that Green’s international affiliation came with a guarantee of a spot in Brazil. Whether that convinces skeptics is another discussion entirely.

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.