Transfer market remains bullish
The new league season is about to commence in Europe, while the action is already well under way in North and South America. More than enough reason then for clubs on both sides of the Atlantic to continue their frenetic recruitment drives. FIFA.com rounds up the major transfer deals finalised in the last seven days.
No sooner had Real Madrid parted company with local heroes Raul and Guti than they began their latest rebuilding programme. The first new face at the Bernabeu is German midfielder Sami Khedira, who joins the Spanish giants from Stuttgart. A Bundesliga winner in 2007, the young international earned plaudits at the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010™ and scored the goal that secured third place for Germany.
Liga rivals Barcelona have said goodbye to central-defensive stalwart Rafael Marquez, who has opted to join former Barça team-mate Thierry Henry at New York Red Bulls. Across the city Espanyol bade farewell to talismanic goalgetter Raul Tamudo, who, at the age of 33 and after scoring more goals and playing more games for Los Periquitos than anyone else, has joined newly promoted Real Sociedad. Also leaving the Estadio Cornella is Argentinian defender Nicolas Pareja, whose next port of call is Russian club Spartak Moscow, where he will doubtless come up against Portugal central-defender Bruno Alves, sold by Porto to Zenit St Petersburg for a tidy fee of €22m.
Midfielder Miguel Veloso, an international team-mate of Alves’s, has departed Sporting Lisbon for Serie A side Genoa, where he will link up with Brazilian full-back Rafinha, who is hoping to put a problematic season at Schalke 04 behind him. Uruguayan midfielder Carlos Grossmuller is also leaving the Gelsenkirchen outfit for Italy. Loaned out to Montevideo outfit Danubio last season, Grossmuller has sealed a deal with Lecce. Schalke coach Felix Magath has also been busy bringing new players in, persuading young Murcia hopeful Sergio Escudero to ignore the advances of a clutch of Liga sides to team up with Raul at the club.
Another hot prospect is Moroccan goal machine Mounir El Hamdaoui, the scorer of 67 goals in 84 games for AZ Alkmaar in the last three seasons. Winning the race to his signature was Eredivisie rivals Ajax Amsterdam, while Twente right-back Ron Stam is leaving the Dutch league for English Premier League side Wigan Athletic. Last season’s English champions Chelsea have bolstered their midfield by luring Ramires, an impressive performer for Brazil at South Africa 2010, away from Portuguese big guns Benfica.
Stamford Bridge old boy Tal Ben Haim is back in London with West Ham United, the Israeli international returning for another stint in England following earlier spells at Manchester City, Sunderland and latterly at Portsmouth. One man heading out of the country is Spanish left-back Javier Garrido, a new recruit at Lazio after three seasons at Man City.
The relative lack of activity in France, meanwhile, is all the more surprising given the fact the league starts this weekend. Arriving just in time for the big kick-off is defender Sebastien Puygrenier, who has left Zenit St Petersburg for a loan spell at Monaco, where he will be joined by Congolese striker Dieumerci Mbokani, in scintillating form for Standard Liege over the last three years. Les Rouges have attempted to fill the void by recruiting Belgian front man Luigi Pieroni, who failed to make much of an impact at Auxerre, Nantes and Lens and spent the last six months of last season on the bench at Gent.
There has been a good deal more business in Argentina, where the start of the season is also days away. Versatile Estudiantes left-back Clemente Rodriguez has signed on the dotted line for the third time for Boca Juniors, while San Lorenzo have snapped up Uruguayan striker Sebastian Balsas from Nacional, and goalkeeper Damian Albil, a finalist at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 with Estudiantes. Elsewhere, Independiente have reluctantly allowed forward Leonel Nunez to leave for Bursaspor, the reigning Turkish champions.
Finally, news of two old timers who have no intention of hanging up their boots just yet. Former Sweden international Fredrik Ljungberg has left Seattle Sounders for fellow MLS side Chicago Fire, while Greece’s Skoda Xanthi have acquired the services of 35-year-old Dutch midfielder George Boateng, formerly with Feyenoord, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.