New pastures for big names

There has been plenty of activity on planet football since the curtain came down on the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, not least in the transfer market. With clubs across the globe busy strengthening their squads for the domestic challenges ahead, rounds up the latest arrivals and departures.

After being sidelined for several months at Barcelona, 32-year-old France star Thierry Henry has decided to try his luck in Major League Soccer, signing on the dotted line for New York Red Bulls. Another veteran looking for one last challenge in his career is the tireless Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Five years Henry’s senior and a member of the Mexico side that put Les Bleus to the sword at South Africa 2010, Temo has left Veracruz for Irapuato of the Mexican second division.

Two of Blanco’s international team-mates have profited from El Tri’s fine performances in the world finals by making moves to the British Isles. Pumas duo Efrain Juarez and Pablo Barrera are the pair in question, the former joining Scottish giants Celtic and the latter English Premier League outfit West Ham United, where he will be joined by Lyon loanee Frederic Piquionne, who spent last season at relegated Portsmouth.

Like the Hammers, domestic rivals Liverpool have also welcomed two new arrivals, namely England international Joe Cole, formerly with Chelsea, and 18-year-old central defender Danny Wilson, who broke into the Rangers first team only last season. Two players taking their leave of Anfield are Spanish midfielder Albert Riera and Argentinian full-back Emiliano Insua, who have decamped to Olympiacos of Greece and Serie A side Fiorentina respectively.

La Viola are not the only Italian outfit who have been busy this summer. Now coached by Rafa Benitez, Inter Milan have been building for the future, snapping up the latest star to emerge from Brazil, teenage sensation Philippe Coutinho. Elsewhere, pint-sized Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Dario Gomez has left San Lorenzo for Catania and fellow countryman German Denis has swapped Napoli for Udinese, with the southerners drafting in Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani from Palermo as his replacement. Not to be outdone, AC Milan have strengthened their backline with the acquisition of Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Genoa.

Over in France, meanwhile, midfielder Stephane Dalmat has signed for Rennes from Sochaux, with the Breton club selling American defender Carlos Bocanegra on to Saint-Etienne, where he will team up with former Toulouse defender Albin Ebondo. Leaving Ligue 1 for Turkey are Senegalese forward Issiar Dia, who has switched Nancy for Fenerbahce, and Colombian midfielder Juan Pablo Pino, a new signing for Galatasaray from Monaco. Making his departure from Gala is Argentinian goalkeeper Leo Franco, who returns to La Liga with Real Zaragoza.

Elsewhere in Spain things have been relatively calm, although Real Madrid managed to persuade Getafe to part with gifted midfielder Pedro Leon. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have also bolstered their squads with the respective acquisitions of Sevilla left-wingback Adriano and flying Brazilian Filipe Luis from Deportivo La Coruna. And following David Villa’s move to Barça, Valencia have sought to allay their fans’ fears by splashing out on Aritz Aduriz, previously with Mallorca.

Making the move to Germany is Croatia and Dynamo Zagreb forward Mario Mandzukic, who has signed a four-year deal with Wolfsburg, where his job will be to replace Obafemi Martins, now with Russian club Rubin Kazan. Schalke defender and captain Heiko Westermann has departed Gelsenkirchen for Hamburg, while Brazilian Maicosuel has left Hoffenheim for Brazil, where he will run out for Botafogo along with defensive midfielder Marcelo Mattos, who joined from Corinthians.

Among a posse of strikers on the move was Croatia international Eduardo, now running out for Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk after several seasons with Arsenal. Aleksand Bukharov, meanwhile, has left Rubin Kazan for Russian rivals Zenit. Finally, Brazilian finisher Walter will be causing a problem or two for defenders in Portugal after leaving Internacional for Porto.