Transfer talk turns to action
As clubs the world over resume their national leagues and continental tournaments, time for bolstering squads is swiftly running out. Acutely aware of the fast-approaching deadline, many clubs have been working around the clock to bring their transfer activity to a close. FIFA.com reviews the main movers and shakers of the week gone by.
According to Real Madrid's Sporting Director, Jorge Valdano, the club will not be making any further forays into the transfer market after securing the signature of Mesut Ozil. Los Merengues were especially pleased to have won the race for the German wunderkind, as arch-rivals Barcelona were also reported to have been in the running. Ozil will find a familiar face at the Bernabeu, his international colleague Sami Khedira having joined Real earlier in the summer. Both will cross paths with another former Bundesliga player this season, namely Paraguayan forward Nelson Valdez, recently transferred from Borussia Dortmund to Hercules Alicante, back in Spain’s top flight after a 13-year absence.
Other new arrivals in La Liga include Greek defensive midfielder Alexandros Tziolis, who, following his move from Siena, will doubtless add some steel to Racing Santander’s starting XI, as well as Portuguese international Tiago, loaned out once more to Atletico Madrid from Juventus. The versatile midfield man will hope to enjoy the same level of success as he did last season, when he picked up a UEFA Europa League winners medal with Los Colchoneros. Last but not least, Espanyol will be able to call on the services of Sergio Garcia, part of Spain’s 2008 UEFA European Championship-winning squad, who spent last season playing in the country’s second division with Real Betis.
Italy also witnessed its fair share of transfer activity this week. While it initially appeared that Genoa had pulled off a coup by bringing in the Ghanaian international Kevin-Prince Boateng, Il Grifoni then promptly sent the former Portsmouth midfielder out on loan to AC Milan. Another to be leaving Genoa is young striker Robert Acquafresca, who has found it difficult to establish himself in the first team since joining from Cagliari in 2009. After a season spent on loan with Atalanta, he returns to the Sardinian club, also on a loan basis. The promising Swedish U-21 international Albin Ekdal finds himself in a similar situation at Juventus, where he has been unable to break into the first-team set-up. After being farmed out to Siena last year, he will spend the 2010/11 season in Bologna, where he will rub shoulders with the Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez, newly arrived from Penarol.
Although the season is already under way in England, there has been no let-up in transfer dealings, as demonstrated by the number of high-profile moves completed during this past week. As well as signing the troubled yet supremely talented Mario Balotelli from Inter Milan, Manchester City have also brought in winger James Milner from Aston Villa, who will be charged with laying on the goals for the team’s accomplished front line. It is a team in which Irishman Stephen Ireland will no longer feature, following his move in the opposite direction from Milner in search of regular first-team football. In derby clashes later this season, the midfielder could find himself coming up against Matt Derbyshire, Birmingham City’s recent capture from Olympiacos.
Liverpool have not been idle either, relieving Middlesbrough of their Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones, whereas Blackburn and Fulham have looked further afield to bolster their attacking options. Rovers have brought in the Bulgarian Ivelin Popov, scorer of 32 goals in 100 matches for Litex Lovech, while the London outfit have put their faith in Belgian front man Moussa Dembele, winner of the Dutch league with AZ Alkmaar in 2009. Blackpool, newly promoted from the country's second tier, will require a strong defence to remain in the Premier League, and they are hoping that new Israeli recruit Dekil Keinan, signed from Maccabi Haifa, can help them to achieve that goal. Tottenham’s ambitions are somewhat loftier, as proven by their acquisition of 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder Sandro, who already has 95 appearances for Internacional to his name.
North of Hadrian’s wall, the Scottish Premier League title is likely to once again be fought over by Glasgow’s eternal rivals, Rangers and Celtic. The former’s hopes of defending their crown were boosted this week with the signings of James Beattie and Nikica Jelavic, aquired from Stoke City and Rapid Vienna respectively. Keen to regain the title, Celtic have been equally busy, swooping for Swedish defender Daniel Majstorovic and Honduran international Emilio Izaguirre. Neither of these players will have the pleasure of lining up alongside the skilful Aiden McGeady, however, with the Irish winger having finally joined Spartak Moscow in a £10 million deal.
In France, the market had a forward thrust to it this week, with numerous attackers moving on to pastures new. Reigning champions Marseille have added Loic Remy to their squad; the twice-capped France international will serve as a replacement for Fenerbahce-bound Senegalese striker Mamadou Niang and Malian attacker Mamadou Samassa, who has joined Valenciennes definitively after having spent last season there on loan. Promoted to Ligue 1 at the end of last season, Arles-Avignon’s transfer activity has been considerable. Their 15th and 16th recruits of the year could certainly not be described as complete unknowns, given that one – Angelos Basinas – took the corner that was promptly headed into the net by the other – Angelos Charisteas – for Greece’s winning goal in the final of Euro 2004. Basinas has signed from Portsmouth; Charisteas from Bayer Leverkusen. And as one goalscorer leaves Germany, another arrives, namely the Norwegian Mohammed Abdellaoue, who has departed Vaalerenga for Hanover.
Across the other side of the Atlantic, two Argentinian veterans have offered themselves one final challenge. Midfield maestro Marcello Gallardo, 34, will get a taste of football in a fourth country, following his time in Argentina, France, and the USA, as he leaves River Plate in favour of Uruguayan side Nacional. Thirteen days younger than Gallardo, Claudio Graf has already plied his trade in six different national championships throughout his career, and has decided to return home to turn out for Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata after three years spent playing in Turkey, Mexico, Ecuador and Chile.
Finally, it is woth noting that, one year on from being involved in the most expensive transfer in football history, that of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid have shown they are capable of dealing at the opposite end of the market, selling their midfielder Marcos Tebar to second division Girona for the princely sum of 100 Euros...