Returning with its latest summer transfer market round-up, FIFA.com picks out the big moves in world football over the last few days, two of which involve Chelsea legends.
The big deal
What better way for a newly created club to make its name than to recruit one of the world’s top players of the last 15 years? That is exactly what New York City FC have done in snapping up Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer Frank Lampard, who at the age of 36 has given himself a fresh challenge. He joins a club who will make their Major League Soccer debut at the start of 2015, have yet to play a single competitive match and have only five players on their books so far. With Lampard and 2010 FIFA World Cup™ winner David Villa among that quintet, however, the New Yorkers are already making plenty of headlines around the world.
The World Cup effect
While the 2014 World Cup may have been Lampard’s swansong on the international stage, it provided a springboard for many other players, who have earned moves on the back of their displays at the world finals. Antoine Griezmann, after his great season with Real Sociedad and his promising performances with France at the global finals, decided to make a step up by joining Spanish champions and UEFA Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid. A World Cup runner-up with Argentina, Jose Maria Basanta has left Monterrey for Fiorentina, while Ecuador’s Jefferson Montero has joined Swansea City from Monarcas Morelia. Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina has brought an end to his six-year association with Nice to sign for Arsenal, and Southampton and Croatia defender Dejan Lovren has headed north to Liverpool. Netherlands centre half Stefan de Vrij is also on the move, swapping Feyenoord for Lazio, while Ghana forward Jordan Ayew, tired of life on the bench at Marseille, has decamped to Lorient in search of first-team football. And, having spent last season on loan at Everton from Chelsea, Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku will be staying at Goodison Park for the foreseeable future, having put pen to paper on a £28m deal, a record outlay for The Toffees.
5 - the number of leading players Southampton have seen leave the club since the transfer window opened. The Saints are paying a high price for their success last season, when they finished eighth, with the English Premier League’s big guns moving in for their brightest talents. Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert have all joined Liverpool, Luke Shaw has gone to Manchester United and Calum Chambers to Arsenal, leaving new coach Ronald Koeman more determined than ever to hang on to the equally in-demand duo of Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez.
Greece forward Theofanis Gekas has showcased his goalscoring skills all over Europe in a career that began nearly 16 years ago. Now 34, the much-travelled Gekas has played for 12 clubs in all and has just made another move, rejoining Akhisar Belediyespor from fellow Turkish side Konyaspor. Since starting out with Larissa in 1998, the Greek goalgetter, who has struck 24 times in 76 appearances for his country, has plied his trade in Greece with Larissa, Khallitea and Panathinaikos; in Germany with Bochum, Bayer Leverkusen, Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt; in England with Portsmouth; in Spain with Levante; and in Turkey with Samsunspor, Akhisar Belediyespor and Konyaspor.
Back to their roots
Two years after bowing out at Chelsea with a UEFA Champions League winner’s medal, Didier Drogba has made his return to Stamford Bridge. “It’s amazing to be back. It’s a wonderful feeling,” said the Ivorian striker, who ran out for The Blues between 2004 and 2012 before enjoying spells with Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray. American utility man DaMarcus Beasley is also going back to his roots, heading back to the MLS ten years after leaving Chicago Fire to play in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Germany and most recently in Mexico for Puebla. A forward when he left MLS, Beasley, who has signed on the dotted line for Houston Dynamo, will return a defender. Finally, Paraguayan striker Nelson Valdez has made his way back to Germany, having distinguished himself with Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund between 2002 and 2010. Following spells in Spain, Russia, the UAE and latterly in Greece with Olympiacos, he has now signed for Eintracht Frankfurt.
Player to watch
A surprise inclusion in Marc Wilmots’ 23-man Belgium squad for Brazil 2014, Divock Origi had a big hand in Les Diables Rouges’ run to the quarter-finals, where they went out to Argentina. With his performances, the young front man turned the heads of the powers that be at Liverpool, who have succeeded in purchasing him from Lille. Still only 19, the promising Origi will remain with the French Ligue 1 club for another season however, on loan from his new employers.
What they said
“It was an easy decision to make. You just can’t say no to Jose Mourinho and Chelsea,” Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
Transfer talk on Twitter
Rene Higuita sends his congratulations to David Ospina on signing for Arsenal:
"I know you very well and you're going to do an excellent job with Arsenal. Such great news brother!"
Ronaldinho says Farewell to Atletico Mineiro:
— Jose Rene Higuita (@higuitarene) 27 Juillet 2014
Amanhã me despeço desse clube e dessa torcida. A história, o respeito e a admiração serão para sempre! Até logo! pic.twitter.com/CN30uDfLil
— Ronaldinho Gaúcho (@10Ronaldinho) 30 Juillet 2014
Divock Origi shows his pride at signing for Liverpool:
— Divock Origi #27 (@DivockOrigi) 29 Juillet 2014
Karim Benzema welcomes compatriot Antoine Griezmann in Madrid for the local derby:
"See you in the derby bro!"
Rendez-vous pour le derby fréro !!! @AntoGriezmann
— Karim Benzema (@Benzema) 29 Juillet 2014