Robin van Persie could miss Netherlands’ World Cup semifinal vs. Argentina

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Robin van Persie is in a race against time to be fit for the Netherlands’ World Cup semifinal showdown against Argentina on Wednesday.

The Dutch captain has picked up a stomach virus which is threatening to keep him out of the crunch clash with Lionel Messi and the Albiceleste in Sao Paulo.

[ RELATED: Who will replace Di Maria? ]

RVP, 30, has led the line for Holland throughout the tournament and has scored three goals in four games. Those strikes came in the opening two matches against Spain and Australia but since then the Manchester United forward has looked a little jaded.

This illness could be a reason for that, as Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal revealed in his pre-match press ocnference on Tuesday that Van Persie is struggling to be fit for the semifinal.

 “He has a stomach problem, an intestinal problem. I don’t know, ” Van Gaal said. “I will decide. Van Persie is our captain so he is very important to us. In principle my captain always plays, but he has to be fit.”

Van Gaal was pictured having a stern chat with RVP on the training ground on Tuesday and it seems as though this issue is putting his involvement against Argentina in serious jeopardy.

What other options will LVG have if RVP is out?

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has proved a great alternative off the bench and if RVP isn’t ready to go then the Schalke striker, who came on against Mexico and turned the game in Holland’s favor, will be a more than suitable replacement. With Argentina likely to sit back and soak up Dutch pressure, Huntelaar is difficult to mark and incredibly good in the air. His hold up play could be key if the Dutch work off his touches and the likes of Memphis Depay and Arjen Robben can get into the box.

For now, Holland would love to have their skipper and star striker Van Persie fit. If he isn’t, it’s not the end of the world but it would be a big blow.

Then again, when I think about van Gaal’s antics by bringing on sub goalkeeper Tim Krul for Holland’s World Cup quarterfinal penalty shootout and some of his other tricks over the years, this couldn’t be gamesmanship in trying to psyche out the Argentine defense… Could it?

Reports: Alli unlikely to play in England’s second Group G match

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
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The Three Lions may not have taken all good news away from the team’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

[ MORE: Russia races past Egypt, likely en route to next round ]

Several reports are suggesting that England will likely be without Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli in their second Group G match against Panama on Sunday.

Alli was forced out of England’s opener with a thigh strain, which gave manager Gareth Southgate the decision to put in Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There isn’t a timetable for the 22-year-old’s return to the pitch, but his absence will definitely present a major question for Southgate heading into the rest of group play.

Without Alli in the starting XI, it’ll likely be between Loftus-Cheek and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard to fill the role where Alli normally sits.

In the case of Lingard, who started against Tunisia, the England boss would have to bring in another starter if Southgate opts to have the Red Devils attacker sit in as the number 10.

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.”