Big-name deals break transfer calm
The summer transfer market has been in something of a lull as of late, but major stories such as Sergio Aguero’s move to Manchester City, Alexis Sanchez’s arrival at Barcelona and Leonardo’s near-total overhaul at Paris Saint-Germain has helped keep things interesting. FIFA.com takes a look at some of the deals sealed over the past fortnight.
Paris Saint-Germain have been the most active club in the French transfer market this summer, particularly in the past couple of weeks. Sporting director Leonardo has been employing all of his persuasive powers to attract new recruits, focusing mainly on targets in Italy’s Serie A – a league he knows like the back of his hand. His cause has also been aided by the significant financial muscle of the club’s new Qatari owner, which has helped secure the signings of Jeremy Menez from Roma, Blaise Matuidi from Saint Etienne and Serbian defender Milan Bisevac from Valenciennes.
The other international stars Leonardo has succeeded in luring to the French capital are Malian defensive midfielder Mohamed Sissoko, who joined from Juventus, and Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. “It’s his first experience abroad,” Leonardo said of his new keeper. “He’s been very good for Palermo the last two years, to the point where he is now one of Italy’s three international keepers. He is considered as Gianluigi Buffon’s successor in Italy.” While PSG have clearly been busy in the transfer market, France’s other leading sides have been far more restrained. Marseille, Lyon and Lille all appear to be biding their time and waiting patiently for the right player to be made available.
City bound Kun
On the other side of the English Channel, Manchester City made headlines by signing Argentinian forward Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid for a cool €43 million. A transfer had been on the cards for several months, and there was no shortage of suitors for the player known as El Kun. In the end, though, he opted to join City and is already looking forward to the new season.
“I don’t think I’ll have any problems fitting in,” said Aguero. “I’ll do everything the manager tells me to do and perform to the best of my abilities. I’m convinced everything will go well.” The arrival of Aguero, the son-in-law of the great Diego Maradona, should compensate for the likely departure of his international team-mate Carlos Tevez, who has made clear his desire to leave City.
Chelsea have also delved into the Spanish market by signing 19-year-old defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu from Barcelona. New Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas described the youngster, a product of Barça’s La Masia academy, as “one of the most promising young players in his position.” Meanwhile, French winger Charles N’Zogbia left Wigan Athletic to join Aston Villa, no doubt with a view to adding to the two international caps he earned last year.
The saying goes that you should never change a winning team, but Barcelona have decided to add to their squad all the same, paying €26 million to sign Chilean international Alexis Sanchez from Udinese. The forward said he had fulfilled a childhood dream by joining the reigning Spanish and European champions, and that he is relishing the new challenge.
“I know it will be difficult for me to get a place in the team, but I’m ready to learn from Leo Messi and my other team-mates,” said Sanchez, who will wear childhood hero Ronaldo’s No9 shirt. As for Real Madrid, their squad size has in fact decreased, with Pedro Leon and Argentinian defender Ezequiel Garay agreeing loan deals with Getafe and Benfica respectively. Villarreal, meanwhile, have strengthened their squad with the addition of attacking midfielder Javier Camunas, who signed from Osasuna.
Bundesliga and Serie A calm
It has been a quiet summer on the transfer front for German champions Borussia Dortmund and their Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich. Stuttgart have strengthened their defence by signing Mexican centre-back Francisco Rodriguez from PSV Eindhoven, while Werder Bremen have brought in Greek international Socratis Papastathopoulos on loan from AC Milan. Wolfsburg, meanwhile, completed the signing of Christian Trasch, who had spent four seasons at Stuttgart.
In Italy’s Serie A, French goalkeeper Sebastien Frey left Fiorentina but opted to stay in Italy, moving to Genoa. Another custodian, Dutch international Maarten Stekelenburg, is no longer a one-club man after leaving Ajax Amsterdam to join Roma, with Brazilian keeper Doni departing the Italian capital to sign for Liverpool. Roma also snapped up Gabriel Heinze after he was released by Marseille, before moving to sign Spanish forward Bojan from Barcelona. Juventus have recruited Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, who found the net six times for Bayer Leverkusen last season before shining at the Copa America earlier this month.
Reigning Portuguese champions Porto showed that they still have a knack for unearthing South American gems by signing Brazilian youth international Alex Sandro Lobo Silva from Santos. The UEFA Europa League winners have agreed to pay around €10 million for the 20-year-old left-back. He joins former Santos team-mate Danilo Luis da Silva, who attracted interest from several other European clubs before signing for Porto for €13 million. Santos in turn have strengthened their midfield by signing Ibson, who returns to Brazil after three seasons with Spartak Moscow, and Henrique, who arrives from Cruzeiro.
This might not be the last time Santos appear in transfer news columns this summer, particularly with a certain Neymar attracting so much interest from European clubs. Whatever happens between now and the end of the transfer window at midnight on 31 August, you can be sure that FIFA.com will keep you up to date with all the biggest developments.