New Year’s resolutions – giving up smoking perhaps, taking up a new hobby or getting more exercise – are a widely-practised custom in many cultures. Footballers also benefit from the chance of a fresh start and a renewed sense of purpose at this time of year, by opting to sign for a new club. The players in question may be hungry for regular football and desperate to chip in with more goals, shots and tackles, and the clubs generally gain by bringing in highly motivated players with a special reason to do well.
The final ten days running up to the 2009-10 winter transfer deadline, which fell at varying times in different national leagues on Monday, produced the usual crop of late deals and moves. FIFA.com brings you up to date with news of who will be playing where for the rest of the season.
Arguably the biggest name on the move this January is potent striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who has swapped Real Madrid for north German giants Hamburg. 'Van the Man', who struck an impressive 46 goals in 68 appearances for Real but has struggled with injury of late, is hoping to reproduce his best form in the Bundesliga and force his way into the Netherlands’ reckoning ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup™. "Yes, it was an important reason to move right now. I’m hoping it means I can go there," the 33-year-old confirmed. The same dream of South Africa was almost certainly the main reason behind Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger’s switch away from VfB Stuttgart to Italian cup holders Lazio.
'The Hammer' has turned his back on his home country for the time being, but Brazil goal-getter Robinho has opted for a return to his roots. The 25-year-old has gone out on a six-month loan from Manchester City to his former club Santos. Like Van Nistelrooij and Hitzlsperger, his primary goal is the FIFA World Cup, as he seeks to secure a berth in the Seleção squad. Argentina veteran Hernan Crespo is also going “home”, but not to his country of birth. The 34-year-old is rejoining Parma, where his long-running European adventure first began in a four-year stay from 1996 to 2000. The striker moves on a free transfer from Serie A rivals Genoa. "Coming back feels just unbelievable," the player was quoted as saying on the official club website. Crespo fills the gap at Parma left by Nicola Amoruso’s move to Atalanta.
Switzerland hopeful Philippe Senderos has also opted for a loan move within his current league, leaving Arsenal for a spell with Everton. On the other hand, Zoran Tosic has decided to trade the Premier League for the German Bundesliga: the midfielder has joined Cologne from English champions Manchester United. The Red Devils have acquired a player themselves, snapping up 20-year-old defender Chris Smalling from Fulham for around GBP10m (€11m). The youngster has agreed terms and the deal is done, but Smalling will see out the rest of the current season in west London. "Chris is an extremely talented young defender. He’ll be a great addition to our club," declared United supremo Sir Alex Ferguson. Sunderland are similarly hoping Matthew Kilgallon proves a great addition to their team after bringing in the centre-back from Championship (second-tier) side Sheffield United.
Still in the Premier League, Tottenham have gone for experience with the capture of former Barcelona, Monaco and Chelsea sharpshooter Eidur Gudjohnson. A player at the other end of the career spectrum, Arsenal Wunderkind Jack Wilshere, sifted through a huge array of alternatives before settling on Bolton Wanderers, where the attacking midfield talent will look for regular first-team football as the next stage in his development.
In terms of comings and goings within a single league, the German Bundesliga has been a hive of activity this winter. In the past week alone, Lewis Holtby and Halil Altintop left Schalke for Bochum (on loan) and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively, and Mickael Tavares moved on loan from Hamburg to Nuremberg. The German top flight has also seen an influx of foreign internationals, with the arrival of USA star Ricardo Clark (Frankfurt), Côte d’Ivoire’s Arouna Kone (Hanover), and China PR midfielder Hao Junmin (Schalke). Champions Wolfsburg paid a reported €5m for Gremio’s Brazilian centre-half Rever, while Portugal international Ricardo Costa has left the Wolves and signed for French outfit Lille.
Yildiray Basturk and Mehdi Mahdavikia are also leaving Germany. The 31-year-old former Turkey international has quit Stuttgart for Premier League side Blackburn Rovers, while the Iranian veteran has returned home from Frankfurt to Asin Steel Teheran. In Switzerland, Yusuf Mohamed is returning to his former club Al-Hilal Omdurman in Sudan. The Nigeria defender cited the extreme cold in Europe as one of the reasons for relocating back to his home continent.
Turkish Super Lig clubs have been busy in the transfer market this winter too. MKE Ankaragucu have taken former France international Jerome Rothen on loan. The 31-year-old defender was previously on loan from Paris St. Germain to Rangers in Scotland. Istanbul giants Galatasaray have acquired 20-year-old Mexican Giovani Dos Santos from Tottenham Hotspur, as the youngster seeks a place in his country’s South Africa 2010 squad.
Brazilian striker Keirrison is only 21, but looks set to acquire the epithet ‘much-travelled’ at a very early stage. He left Palmeiras for FIFA Club World Cup winners Barcelona last summer, but immediately went out on loan to Benfica in Lisbon. Just six months later, he has joined Italian side Fiorentina on a two-year loan. Matteo Contini is moving in the opposite direction, at least as far as the countries are concerned. The Napoli defender joins Spanish top flight outfit Real Zaragoza, who have also signed former Brazil international Edmilson from Palmeiras to assist in their relegation battle.
In the more northerly reaches of Europe, Morten 'Duncan' Rasmussen’s 52 goals in 111 appearances have earned him a terrific present to mark his 25th birthday on 31 January, namely a switch from Copenhagen side Brondby to Glasgow powerhouse Celtic. The 42-time Scottish champions also swung into action just before the transfer window slammed shut, sealing the transfers of Bayern Munich defender Edson Braafheid, Fulham's Senegalese striker Diomansy Kamara and, most spectacularly, Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane. Over in France, former international Sylvain Wiltord has emerged from a six-month period without a club and inked a deal with second division promotion hopefuls Metz.
After the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks, as clubs around the world wheel and deal in an effort to shore up title pushes or stave off the spectre of relegation, the transfer mill now winds down for a while, as the clubs’ next opportunity to bring in new players is this summer. However, the lack of an open transfer window has never stopped fans deliberating at length over which player their favourite club ought to sign next…
Have Your Say
Ruud van Nistelrooij, Robinho, Luca Toni and Hernan Crespo rate as the biggest names on the move in this season’s January sales. But which transfer do you think was the most spectacular of the lot? Tell us what you think! Click 'Add your comment' and let everyone know your opinion, remembering to keep your posts clean, respectful, on-topic and in English.