Clubs quick off the transfer mark
While the majority of domestic competitions have come to a conclusion, and the global football community is turning its attention towards the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ next month, certain clubs have started to look even further ahead than that. FIFA.com provides a quick overview of the transfer moves already completed for next season.
Newly-crowned champions of Spain for the second consecutive year, Barcelona have already laid down the gauntlet in terms of securing a third. Dissatisfied with their total of 98 league goals this season, the Catalans have just acquired the services of David Villa, who himself found the net 21 times for Valencia. This leaves Pep Guardiola with a dilemma that most other coaches in Europe can only dream of: who to select among Villa, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bojan Krkic. While they ponder a possible replacement for their star striker, Valencia have also been doing some business in the transfer market, picking up Franco-Algerian forward Sofiane Feghouli from Grenoble and Turkish defensive midfielder Mehmet Topal from Galatasaray. And it is not just in defence that Los Che are bolstering their squad, as proved by the signing of Portuguese international defender Ricardo Costa, part of Wolfsburg’s Bundeslinga-winning side of 2008/09 and fresh from a six-month spell at Lille in France.
Over at Real Madrid, all is quiet on the arrivals front, but there has been one departure: that of German defender Christoph Metzelder, who has returned to his homeland to defend the colours of Schalke. Three years after leaving Borussia Dortmund for Spain, the centre-back now has a tempestuous Ruhr derby to look forward to, especially as his former fan club recently disbanded itself in protest at such ‘treachery’! Perhaps its ex-members can console themselves with the fact that they too have a new potential favourite to cheer on, namely Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese international, top scorer in the J. League 2 in season 2008/09, notched up six goals in ten matches in Japan’s top tier this year. Signed from Cerezo Osaka, the young midfield marvel now has his sights set on a successful UEFA Europa League campaign with his new employers.
One player Kagawa will not be coming up against in the near future is German attacker Kevin Kuranyi, who has moved to Russia to join Dinamo Moscow. “I always said that my new club had to be able to compete at every level, and Dinamo certainly fits that description,” explained the Brazil-born 28-year-old.
Kuranyi can look back on his final season at Schalke with some pride, his 18 goals having played a large part in propelling the club into next year’s UEFA Champions League. Staying with Germany, Greek striker Theofanis Gekas only netted six times during his loan period at Hertha Berlin this year, but it was enough for Eintracht Frankfurt to come in for him, clearly hopeful that he can regain the form that saw him become the Bundesliga’s leading goalscorer with Bochum in 2007.
Ben Foster, on the other hand, is usually more concerned with preventing goals than scoring them. The English keeper has had a difficult time of it recently, with his inability to oust Edwin van der Sar from the Manchester United line-up being compounded by his non-selection for Fabio Capello’s South Africa 2010 squad. In an attempt to relaunch his career, he has signed for Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City, replacing the impressive Joe Hart, who will return to Manchester City, his loan deal having expired. Both of these keepers should have yet another dangerous target man to deal with at set pieces next season, as it appears that Bordeaux’s Moroccan star Marouane Chamakh is ready to put pen to paper at Arsenal.
And he will not be the only French forward to change clubs this summer. Tahiti-born Marama Vahirua, who holds a Ligue 1 winner’s medal from his time at Nantes, has left Lorient, crossing the length of France to become a Nancy player. His former team-mate Sylvain Marchal has also decided to bid farewell to Brittany, travelling south to bring some stability to Saint-Etienne’s shaky defence. He will hope to enjoy better fortune than Greek centre-half Efstathios Tavlaridis, who, unable to break back into Les Verts’ first team for several months now, has returned home to represent the colours of Larissa next season.
Another player meeting the description of ‘prodigal son’ is Croatian legend Dario Simic, who was never quite able to rescale the heights at Monaco that he had previously reached with AC Milan, and has re-signed for his hometown club, Dinamo Zagreb, 12 years after his first spell there. His ex-employers at Milan have not been idle as far as new signings are concerned either, snapping up the Colombian defender Mario Yepes, following his two fine seasons at Chievo.
The transfer market is just beginning to stir, and outstanding performances at the forthcoming FIFA World Cup will no doubt precipitate even more frantic movement. To stay abreast of this global game of musical chairs, make sure to keep paying regular visits to FIFA.com.