Danny Williams finally undergoes knee surgery, will miss start of Reading’s season

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Danny Williams was originally expected to have knee surgery this spring, but in a last dash effort to make the United States’ World Cup squad, the midfielder played through his injury, albeit without earning a trip to Brazil. Now, two months after Jurgen Klinsmann picked his final squad, the former Freiburg and Hoffenheim player has finally gone under the knife, undergoing a procedure that will sideline him for the start of Reading’s Championship season.

According to Major League Soccer’s website, Williams underwent the procedure on Monday, after it became clear the problem would not resolve itself without surgery. The delay has left manager Nigel Adkins frustrated at what he intimated was an unnecessary loss.

Adkins, from the Reading Post:

“Obviously losing Danny Williams this week is not ideal.

“He was advised to have an operation in the summer by the club.

“He was planned for surgery but obviously he’s then gone over to his national team and, to be fair to the player, he still harboured aspirations of going to the World Cup.

“He was with the national set-up for a bit and there was a lot of advice sought and given.

“The last thing you want to do is have surgery. The fact of the matter is he’s had it now, he’s going to be out for several weeks and we’ll just have to deal with that.

“We’ve just got to get him back as soon as we can.”

If Adkins’ timeline remains true, Williams’ loss could prove minor. Though the opening to the Championship’s season is 11 days away, the league’s 46-game season is a long one, rendering a few games here or there almost irrelevant.

Williams may miss the opener at Wigan, and the team’s first match at the Madejski against Ipswich could be a stretch, but if the U.S. international can return by the time Reading visits Nottingham Forest (Aug. 23), the effect of his absence should be minimal.

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.