Clubs make final moves as new season approaches
© AFP

With just two weeks to go until the transfer window closes, FIFA.com runs the rule over the most noteworthy signings completed over the past two weeks.

The big-money deals
At the end of his contract with Ligue 2-bound Ajaccio, Mexico international goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was not short on suitors after his efforts at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, where a fine performance in his country’s scoreless draw with Brazil catapulted him into the global spotlight.

On the lookout for a shot-stopper following the departure of Argentinian custodian Willy Caballero for Manchester City, Malaga finally won the race, acquiring the Guadalajara native’s services for the next three seasons.

Another ’keeper whose stock rose remarkably at Brazil 2014 was Keylor Navas. The Costa Rica No1 played a huge part in Los Ticos’ surprise run to the quarter-finals, piquing the interest of Real Madrid, who subsequently temped him to make the move west from Valencia-based Levante.

Navas’ arrival at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu also had the additional knock-on effect of persuading Diego Lopez to swap Los Blancos for AC Milan.

The World Cup effect
Navas and Ochoa are not the only players to secure a move off the back of a successful summer in South America. Centre-back Shkodran Mustafi, part of the German squad that emerged victorious at the tournament, has left Sampdoria for Valencia, while French winger Mathieu Valbuena has opted to try his luck further afield, moving to Dinamo Moscow from Marseille.

Pepe Reina, who spent last term on loan to Napoli from Liverpool and who made one appearance in Brazil, has put pen to paper with Bayern Munich, where he will be faced with the mountainous task of challenging adidas Golden Glove award recipient Manuel Neuer for the No1 jersey.

Of the other 736 players who starred on football’s greatest stage, Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen has been transferred to Barcelona from Arsenal, Chilean centre-half Gary Medel has signed for Inter Milan from Cardiff City, and Mexican forward Raul Jimenez has exported his goalscoring talents to Atletico Madrid from Club America.

Other high-profile moves include that of Ghanaian wide man Christian Atsu from Chelsea to Everton on a season-long loan, and Colombian international Pablo Armero from Udinese to AC Milan. The pacey left-back had already spent half of the previous campaign on loan at West Ham United. Armero's Colombian team-mate Carlos Sanchez also switched clubs, agreeing to join Aston Villa from Spanish side Elche.

The stat
8 – The number of players brought in by Liverpool since the opening of the transfer window. Keen to plug the gap left by the exit of Luis Suarez, who will defend the colours of Barcelona this coming season, the Reds have been considerably active in the market.

Recent acquisitions include Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo from Sevilla and Atletico Madrid respectively, while Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren and Divock Origi had all previously committed themselves to the Anfield club.

The globetrotter
French outfit Rennes have announced the arrival of Swiss international Gelson Fernandes, who spent last season in the Bundesliga with Freiburg. The 27-year-old appeared at the last two World Cups with La Nati, scoring the winning goal against eventual winners Spain in the group phase of South Africa 2010.

Although the Cape Verde-born defensive midfielder has agreed to a four-year deal with the Breton team, he has rarely remained in one place for longer than a season, his stay at Manchester City between 2007 and 2009 being the exception to the rule. Rennes will be his eighth different club in four years.

Back to their roots
“This is my home, a place where I feel comfortable and where I learned my football,” said Robinho upon his return to Santos, with whom he turned professional in 2002. The skilful Brazilian, loaned out by AC Milan for one year, had plied his trade in Italy since 2010, having previously pulled on the jerseys of Real Madrid and Manchester City.

His compatriot Michel Bastos has also gone back to Brazil, joining Sao Paulo eight years after leaving the country for Europe, where he performed admirably for Lille, Lyon, Schalke and Roma.

Another player returning to his origins is Belgian Steven Defour. The 26-year-old former Standard Liege midfielder, who boasts 44 caps for Les Diables Rouges, has signed a five-year contract with Anderlecht, following a three-year spell with Porto.

Frank Lampard, meanwhile, has embarked on a more calculated homecoming: a few days after coming to an agreement with newly formed MLS side New York City FC, he was promptly loaned out to Manchester City for match practice.

“Frank will start working with New York in January, as the season starts in March. From next Wednesday he will start training with us and will play for us until then,” explained his new coach, Manuel Pellegrini.

Heading in the opposite direction is Mexican centre-back Rafael Marquez. While not returning to his roots as such, the robust 35-year-old has retraced his steps to Europe, where he spent the majority of his career.

The ex-Monaco and Barcelona star will spend this upcoming campaign attempting to shore up the defence of Serie A outfit Hellas Verona, having enjoyed tremendous recent success at Leon, where he earned two Mexican League winners’ medals. Marquez also played for New York Red Bulls between 2010 and 2012.

Player to watch
Manchester City have captured French international Eliaquim Mangala from Porto for a record transfer fee of €53m. At that price, the confident defender, who was included in Didier Deschamps’ 23-man World Cup squad but was not given any playing time during the competition, is likely to be put under an intense spotlight by English fans and media alike.

What they said
“I haven’t yet decided what’s best for me, but I would like to keep playing, as it’s my passion. I know that I won’t be able to last 90 minutes, but I still think that I’m in good enough shape to manage one more year,” Alessandro Del Piero, on the hunt for new employers.