Four thoughts from Manchester City vs. AC Milan (including Balotelli’s on-field selfie!)

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Pittsburgh, PA — Manchester City beat AC Milan 5-1 at a stormy Heinz Field on Sunday as Manuel Pellegrini’s side won their first Guinness International Champions Cup match in style.

[VIDEO: Balotelli takes selfie with pitch invaders]

City were rampant going forward and could have hit double figures in a dominant performance. As for AC Milan, you could tell they were way behind the Citizens in their preseason preparations.

Here are four quick thoughts live from the Steel City as City cranked their preseason preparations up a notch.

1. Jovetic, Navas, Sinclair stake claims
Stevan Jovetic scored twice, Jesus Navas and Scott Sinclair both bagged a goal each and all three staked their claims to become regulars for Manchester City this season. Jovetic endured an injury hit campaign following his move from Fiorentina last year. Sinclair was also on the sidelines last year but the former Swansea City winger looked fit and sharp out wide. Navas’ speed and vision set up Jovetic, then the tiny Spaniard scored one himself. If those three continue their impressive preseason form past August then Manuel Pellegrini’s squad will look even stronger this season.

2. Slick and sharp City
The Citizens have hit the ground running this preseason. In a big way. On a conference call on Saturday with reporters Pellegrini stated that City intend to win the ICC tournament this summer and that his side are on course to win back-to-back Premier League titles. After the impressive interplay of their forwards, the three aforementioned attackers in particular, City are in a good spot. While Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United continue to sign players galore, City have continuity plus top class attackers Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo still to return. There were a few dodgy moments at the back for City but they were far from full strength in defense. Overall, hugely encouraging.

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Source, Twitter: @NA_B27

3. Balotelli. Seflie. Sublime.
Playing against his old side for the first time since he left in 2013, Balotelli arrived at half time and made an instant impact. When his name was announced on the public address system as an incoming sub one of the biggest cheers of the day arrived from the Heinz Field crowd. Balotelli stropped around the pitch, got clattered by his old teammates a few times, had a goal disallowed and was generally the pest we know and love. His star power is alive and well in the Steel City. Towards the end of the game two fans ran up to him and took a selfie with the Italian superstar. Naturally, Balotelli posed before the fans were carted away by police. Majestic.

4. Rain, rain go away
The setting was sublime. Downtown Pittsburgh in the background, two of Europe’s best teams slugging it out and then the storm started. Lightning, thunder, heavy rain and tornado warnings… Heinz Field had it all. It was a reminder that scheduling a preseason friendly towards the American Midwest in the summer is a tricky affair. After an hour-long half time break, the players returned to the pitch and the second half played out in beautiful conditions. Lovely stuff. Well, for City’s fans anyway.

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.