Real return down Galáctico route

Just as the transfer market was beginning to pick up steam, the announcement that Real Madrid had shelled out €67m to sign Kaka and had also had a €94m offer for Cristiano Ronaldo accepted by Manchester United was truly a bolt from the blue, and may have indirectly sparked a flurry of transfer activity. now takes a look back at the comings and goings on the market over the past two weeks.

Florentino Perez, now back at the helm of Real Madrid, had announced that he wanted another team of Galácticos, just as he did during his first stint as club president, when he brought in the likes of Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Ronaldo. And the new man at La Casa Blanca (The White House) was as good as his word, promptly snapping up Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, the last two winners of the FIFA World Player of the Year award.

Although these two high-profile moves were for attack-minded players, the early trends in this summer's transfer window have been more towards shoring up defences. Porto signed Portuguese international goalkeeper Beto from Leixoes on a four-year deal, while newly-promoted English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers swooped for experienced 37-year-old American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann. In defence, French left-back Jeremy Mathieu moved from Toulouse to Valencia, while Suriname-born Dutch international Edson Braafheid's transfer to Bayern Munich, on a four-year deal, was the club's seventh signing of the transfer window.

Elsewhere, 20-year-old Brazilian centre-back Maicon, on loan at Nacional Madeira, signed a five-year contract with Porto, and Inter Milan gave a one-year extension to Marco Materazzi. Capped 41 times for Italy, the 35-year-old made only eight Serie A appearances for I Nerazzurri in the 2008/09 campaign, in what was his eighth season at the club.

Midfielders have also been in high demand this summer. Xavi Torres, who learnt his craft at Barcelona but was competing against the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergi Busquets and Yaya Toure, has moved to Malaga for more regular first-team football. Serbian Nenad Milijas, who shone for Crvena Zvezda, will be another new face at Wolves next season. At the age of 30, Australian international Mile Sterjovski has decided to return home after nine years in Europe, heading to Perth Glory after spells in France, Switzerland, Turkey and England, where he finished his career in Europe with Derby County.

Other notable midfield transfers include the move of the promising Slovak Dusan Svento from Slavia Prague to Red Bull Salzburg, Bolton Wanderers' 23-year-old Swiss youngster Blerim Dzemaili to Torino and Germany's Michael Fink from Eintracht Frankfurt to Turkish champions Besiktas. Meanwhile, Portuguese champions Porto maintained their shrewd policy of recruiting South Americans, the latest being Uruguayan international Alvaro Pereira, who has earned three national-team caps, from Cluj. Lastly, the Brazilian Juca, out of contract at Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade, has completed a two-year switch to Deportivo La Coruna, while compatriot and free-kick maestro Juninho Pernambucano has departed Lyon on a free transfer to finish his career at Al Gharafa in Qatar.

Little action in attack
On the attacking front, there is as yet little market activity, one of the exceptions being Aris Salonika's signing of Uruguayan journeyman Sebastian Abreu, who at the age of 33 is taking on a new challenge, having failed to help Real Sociedad regain promotion to the top flight. And one forward who will most definitely be in the spotlight next season is 17-year-old Alessandro Riedle, son of ex-German international Karl-Heinz Riedle, who has switched from Grasshoppers to Stuttgart.

Finally, away from the big-money deals, the transfer market can sometimes throw up stories with fairytale, or nightmare, endings. Such was the case for 22-year-old French defender Aly Cissokho, who was set to continue his meteoric rise through the ranks from the French second division to AC Milan in barely one season, via Vitoria Setubal and then Porto, with whom he played a UEFA Champions League quarter-final. But destiny decided otherwise, and I Rossoneri finally cancelled the switch, with Cissokho having already packed his bags for the San Siro.