A welcome opportunity for clubs to strengthen their line-ups at a crucial phase of the season, the winter transfer window also gives players the chance to make a fresh start and relaunch their careers. As FIFA.com reveals in its latest transfer-market round-up, there have been no shortage of teams and stars pursuing those very objectives over the last two weeks.
A case in point is Emmanuel Adebayor. Consigned to the Manchester City bench in recent weeks, the ex-Arsenal man has been handed the chance to get his career back on track at Real Madrid, who have called on the Togo striker to fill in for the injured Gonzalo Higuain. Roque Santa Cruz, Adebayor’s former Paraguayan team-mate at City, was himself out of favour at Eastlands following the arrivals of Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, and has rejoined previous employees Blackburn Rovers on loan. The one-time Bayern Munich man will team up at Ewood Park with another Bundesliga veteran in midfielder Jermaine Jones, who arrives from Schalke 04.
Senegalese forward Demba Ba has also swapped the German top flight for the English Premier League, leaving Hoffenheim to help West Ham United in their battle to avoid the drop. After a poor first half of the season, Aston Villa are another club with survival on their mind and have recruited proven goalscorer Darren Bent from Sunderland to aid them in their task, with Norwegian centre-forward John Carew leaving Villa Park for Stoke City. Elsewhere, Fulham have welcomed France’s Gael Kakuta, a UEFA European U-19 Championship winner, on loan from neighbours Chelsea, while fellow Londoners Tottenham Hotspur have served further notice of their ambition by snapping up South Africa international Steven Pienaar from Everton.
Two players departing England in search of more playing time are Dutch forward Ryan Babel, who is hoping to rediscover his form at Hoffenheim after a frustrating spell at Liverpool, and former Lazio man Valon Behrami, now back in Serie A with Fiorentina after his West Ham interlude. Staying in Italy, AC Milan have followed up the acquisition of Antonio Cassano by drafting in experienced Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel, increasingly surplus to requirements at Bayern Munich of late. Linking up with him at the San Siro will be compatriot Urby Emanuelson, an international defender who learned his trade with Ajax.
2006 FIFA World Cup™ winning defender Andrea Barzagli has signed on the dotted line for Juventus two years after Germany’s Wolfsburg lured him away from Palermo. Another Palermo old boy on the move is front man Massimo Maccarone, who has agreed terms with Sampdoria, while Italy goalkeeper Federico Marchetti has moved north from Cagliari to Genoa. Stationed in front of him in the Rossoblu defence will be Abdoulay Konko, who returns to the club after three seasons with Sevilla. One man to set sail from Genoa is winger Giuseppe Sculli, now plying his trade with Lazio, his eighth Italian club.
Having spent his entire career with Newell’s Old Boys, Argentinian attacking midfielder Mauro Formica has opted for a change of scene, taking his services to Monaco. The Monegasques have also swooped for Honduras international Georgie Welcome, who featured in all three of Los Catrachos’ games at South Africa 2010. After arriving in the principality only last summer, Congolese centre-forward Dieumerci Mbokani had pledged his allegiance to Wolfsburg, while Senegalese midfielder Guirane N’Daw has called time on his stay at Saint-Etienne to help Spain’s Real Zaragoza fight against relegation.
Swelling the ranks of talented South Americans plying their trade in La Liga are Chilean midfielder Gary Medel, recruited by Sevilla from Boca Juniors, and Brazilian striker Jonas, Valencia’s new signing from Gremio. After six seasons at Mallorca Fernando Cavenaghi is hoping for a more productive time with Porto Alegre’s Internacional. The Argentinian goalgetter is stepping in for Giuliano, who helped the Brazilian club win the 2010 Copa Libertadores but has now headed off for a new adventure with Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk. Among the 20-year-old’s team-mates there will be defender Samuel Inkoom, latterly with Basle and a member of the Ghana sides that won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2009 and reached the last eight of South Africa 2010.
Slovakia’s Erik Jendrisek also shone on the big stage last summer, which convinced Schalke to come in for him at the start of this season. Yet, having made only three appearances for the Gelsenkirchen outfit, the striker has now upped and left for Freiburg. Netherlands defender Edson Braafheid similarly failed to make much of an impact at Bayern Munich and has decided to try his luck at Hoffenheim.
Veteran Colombian keeper Faryd Mondragon is still going strong at the age of 39. His appetite for the game undiminished after three years at Cologne, Mondragon has given himself one last challenge by inking a deal with MLS outfit Philadelphia Union. Mexican goal poacher Omar Bravo will also be trying his luck in the States, having departed Guadalajara for Sporting Kansas City. Bravo will not be able to pit his wits against fellow countryman Nery Castillo, however, the attacking midfielder having joined Aris Salonika on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk after a year with Chicago Fire. Another well-travelled Mexican on the move is Guillermo Franco, who has crossed the Atlantic to link up with Velez Sarsfield after eight seasons in Europe, the last of them at West Ham.
Finally, news of three Brazilian players not to be confused with their more illustrious namesakes. Central-defender Kaka has left Hertha Berlin for Braga, 30-year-old midfielder Ze Roberto has joined Internacional from Vasco de Gama, and striker Romario has swapped Belenenses of Portugal for Cartagena of Spain. However, the Rivaldo who has left unfashionable Brazilian outfit Mogi Mirim for Sao Paulo is the same Rivaldo who won a FIFA World Cup winners medal in 2002 and the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1999.