January is traditionally a busy month in the transfer market and the first few weeks of 2011 have proved no exception, with clubs and players alike busily searching for the perfect match. FIFA.com rounds up the latest comings and goings on planet football.
No new year move has caused quite such as stir as Ronaldinho’s return to Brazil. Calling time on a successful European adventure that began in 2001 when he left Gremio for Paris Saint-Germain before joining Barcelona and then AC Milan, the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ winner has signed for Rio de Janeiro giants Flamengo.
“I’ve often thought about coming back to Brazil but I never imagined it would be as amazing as what I’ve seen today,” the Brazilian crowd-pleaser told the huge crowd that had assembled to welcome him. “I’ve never felt this motivated to do the thing I do best, and that’s play.”
Fellow countryman Alessandro Mancini has also decided to leave Italy for Brazil. Following a seven-year stay in Serie A, where he performed with distinction for Roma before signing for Inter Milan, the wing man has joined Atletico Mineiro. Julio Baptista, a compatriot and former team-mate of Mancini’s at the Stadio Olimpico, has gone back to Spain after a season and a half in Rome. Well-acquainted with La Liga after spells with Sevilla and Real Madrid, The Beast is hoping to relaunch his career at Malaga.
Italian clubs have been buying as well as selling. Milan have filled the void left by the departing Ronaldinho by recruiting Antonio Cassano, who had fallen out of favour at Sampdoria. Meanwhile, Juventus have signed FIFA World Cup-winning striker Luca Toni from Genoa as cover for the injured Fabio Quagliarella. I Rossoblu have parted with another quality player in promising defender Andrea Ranocchia, who has signed on the dotted line for Inter. Helping to make up for their loss are the Argentinian forward Mauro Boselli, who joins the Genoese after a short and luckless spell with Wigan Athletic, and his compatriot Mauro Formica, an attacking midfielder previously with Newell’s Old Boys.
Two defenders on the comeback trail are USA international Oguchi Onyewu, who has moved to Twente following an injury-ravaged stint with Milan, and ex-Real Madrid man Cicinho, a new signing for Villarreal from Roma. Released on loan by Bayern Munich, central defender Martin Demichelis is already enjoying a taste of La Liga with Malaga, having scored for them last weekend, while Netherlands midfielder Ibrahim Afellay has made a couple of appearances for Spanish champions Barcelona since jetting in from PSV Eindhoven.
Atletico Madrid have strengthened their ranks with the addition of the versatile Juanfran from Osasuna, though they have also been busy offloading players, with young hopefuls Camacho and Sergio Asenjo treading the well-beaten path to Malaga and Portugal international Simao heading to Besiktas. The Istanbul club have not stopped there, luring fellow Portuguese stars Manuel Fernandes and the free-scoring Hugo Almeida away from Valencia and Werder Bremen respectively.
Attempting to fill Almeida’s shoes at the German club will be Denni Avdic, a new recruit from Elfsborg. Among the other recent arrivals in the Bundesliga are Austrian defender Martin Stranzl, who enjoyed previous spells with Munich 1860 and Stuttgart and has now moved to Borussia Monchengladbach from Spartak Moscow. Germany front man Mike Hanke has teamed up with Stranzl after leaving Hannover, and Bayern Munich have bolstered their midfield with the acquisition of the Brazilian Luiz Gustavo, formerly with Hoffenheim.
However, the biggest transfer story in Germany was Manchester City’s swoop for Wolfsburg’s Bosnia-Herzegovina international Edin Dzeko, who was the Bundesliga’s top scorer when The Wolves won the title in 2009. Bidding farewell to the Mancunians is full-back Wayne Bridge, who has joined West Ham United on loan, while Spurs have farmed out midfielder David Bentley to struggling Birmingham City and brought in South African centre-half Bongani Khumalo from SuperSport United.
Another African player who is Premier League-bound is the Cameroonian Jean II Makoun, who has joined the ranks at Aston Villa, with Steve Sidwell leaving the Birmingham club for Fulham. North of the border, meanwhile, Glasgow Celtic have landed one-time Premier League favourite Fredrik Ljungberg. A big hit during his time at Arsenal, the Swede has spent the last two seasons in MLS, running out for Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire.
Staying on the other side of the Atlantic, Argentinian giants Boca Juniors have snapped up experienced San Lorenzo wide man Diego Rivero in a bid to restore their fortunes, with Matias Gimenez heading in the opposite direction. Gimenez will be linking up in the Ciclón front line with the Uruguayan Juan Manuel Salgueiro, who helped Estudiantes lift the Copa Libertadores in 2009 and makes his return to Argentinian football after a sojourn with Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito. Finally, eight years on from leaving Independiente to play for Recreativo Huelva, Getafe, Atletico Madrid and latterly Nacional of Montevideo, former Spain left-back Mariano Pernia has agreed terms with Tigre.