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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?

Newcastle makes pivotal goalkeeper’s loan move permanent

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Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez was reportedly chasing a new goalkeeper all last summer, finally getting a starting caliber backstop on loan in January.

That keeper was 29-year-old Martin Dubravka, and that loan from Sparta Prague had an option to buy.

[ MORE: Lewandowski wants to leave Bayern ]

Newcastle has purchased Dubravka and signed him through 2021-22 after an outstanding 12-match stint between the sticks.

Dubravka kept three clean sheets and allowed just one total goal in a trio of wins over Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea.

Here’s Benitez, from NUFC.co.uk:

“Ever since he arrived with us on loan he has shown a fantastic attitude and great work ethic, and of course we have been very impressed with his performances for us on the pitch last season.

“This was one of the key positions we had identified we needed to strengthen and had been concerned about, so it is excellent news that we are able now to sign him on a permanent basis.”

That one fix was as important as any in Newcastle’s second half revival, with Kenedy‘s loan from Chelsea another revelation. A clinical striker, something they’ve lacked in Premier League play dating back to Demba Ba, Loic Remy, and Papiss Cisse‘s early days, would catapult them into a higher table discussion.

West Ham promises manager with “proven record both in Premier League and Europe”

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West Ham is readying its successor to David Moyes, and making lofty claims about its work.

With current Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez seemingly on the lips on anyone naming candidates for the gig, a press release which includes quotes from West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan has described some handsome characteristics on their next boss.

[ MORE: France’s loaded World Cup squad ]

West Ham United would like to assure supporters that the Board are extremely confident of appointing a high-calibre first-team manager, who has a proven record both in the Premier League and European football.”

Benitez has been often mentioned for the gig, but Manuel Pellegrini and recently available Claudio Ranieri also fit the bill (if we’re talking “both”).

“This is an exciting time for our football club. We are preparing to appoint a manager who has a proven record of success at the highest level of the game,” Sullivan said.

That sure sounds like they have their man. Benitez is rumored to have a release clause in his Newcastle deal.

Newcastle United smash listless Chelsea, finish 10th

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  • Chelsea winless in last 5 at St. James’ Park
  • Newcastle has won four of those
  • Perez scores twice
  • Gayle opens scoring

Ayoze Perez’s two-goal day led Newcastle United past listless Chelsea as the Magpies clinched a top-half finish with a 3-0 win at St. James’ Park on Championship Sunday.

Dwight Gayle also scored for the Magpies, who finish 10th with 44 points. Chelsea will end the season fifth with 70 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Newcastle’s fifth minute free kick came from a promising angle, but Chelsea cleared the effort with a powerful header.

Jonjo Shelvey stung a ninth minute effort at Thibaut Courtois, but the Belgian parried for Cesar Azpilicueta’s clearance.

And Mo Diame forced a similar save, though his rip appeared to be going wide of the goal. A short corner was sent away, but Newcastle came back.

Newcastle indeed opened the scoring, with Jacob Murphy‘s intense pressure forcing Courtois to slap the ball onto the path of Gayle for 1-0. And Shelvey sent a shot just wide moments later!

Joselu took Gayle’s place early in the second half. It was Chelsea who got its first shot on target of the match when Olivier Giroud forced Martin Dubravka into an outstanding tip save.

Shelvey’s long drive was deflected in by Perez to make it 2-0, and Newcastle made it 3-0 (!!!) on a free kick. Florian Lejeune headed to the back post to square for Perez’s tap-in.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Benitez non-committal on Newcastle future, saying team needs to buy

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Rafa Benitez has earned some chatter as a Premier League Manager of the Year candidate after guiding Newcastle United to safety one years after leading them back from the Championship.

Many thought he wouldn’t follow the team down a division after rallying Newcastle but falling two points shy of safety in 2015-16, but the Magpies won the Championship and are now in position to fight for a top half finish in this season’s Premier League.

[ MORE: Mourinho rips forwards after loss ]

But owner Mike Ashley hasn’t inspired confidence in his club in some time, and struck a confusing figure when big Benitez fan Amanda Staveley tried to buy the club late last year with the aim of leading the Magpies back into the European conversation.

Now the toast of the town, Benitez holds a lot of the momentum when it comes to his position at St. James’ Park. He’s not sure what’s coming next, even with the two sides discussing a new deal, and here’s what he said when asked whether he wants to stay next season.

“That is a tricky question. I said in an interview the other day I decided to stay because of the potential, the fans and the city. Then we have to do what we have to do.”

“But if you want to go to another level, you need more quality.”

Ashley has sold many of Newcastle’s best assets dating back to James Milner and including Yohan Cabaye, Andy Carroll, and Georginio Wijnaldum.

Benitez arguably would’ve had Newcastle competing for seventh if Ashley had sanctioned a striker purchase greater than the $6 million Joselu buy in August, then Islam Slimani on loan in January.

He’s coaxed career seasons out of Mohamed Diame, DeAndre Yedlin, Paul Dummett, and Kenedy (the last name on loan from Chelsea). It would be interesting to see what he’d be able to do with a nice transfer kitty.