United States to host Copa America Centenario in June 2016

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CONCACAF and CONMEBOL have confirmed that the United States will host the 45th edition of the Copa America Centenario in the summer of 2016.

The tournament, marking the 100th anniversary of the inaugural 1916 tournament, will run from June 3rd through 26th and will mark the first time the Copa America is played outside of South America.

As reported by Pro Soccer Talk’s Nicholas Mendola last month and again last Monday via MLSSoccer.com, this “historic announcement” will feature 10 nations of CONMEBOL (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) plus the United States, Mexico and four other CONCACAF nations.

The two CONCACAF nations joining the USMNT and El Tri will be decided by two of the four semifinalists from the 2015 Gold Cup. The Copa America will also run in 2015 with Chile hosting, and 2019 with Brazil hosting. The 2016 tournament will serve as a special off-year edition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event.

According to the Miami Herald venues being considered are the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida and Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. The competition is not yet on the FIFA calendar, which would provide a hurdle to securing clubs’ top players for the tournament. It is also going to overlap significantly with Euro 2016, which runs from June 10-July 10.

A few hurdles need to be cleared between now and the 2016 Copa America, chiefly getting this tournament on FIFA’s schedule, which will help secure top players’ availability for the tournament. In addition, the timing of the tournament abuts a number of potential conflicts including the 2016 Summer Olympics, World Cup qualifying matches, the Major League Soccer schedule and Euro 2016.

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.