Heavyweights keep a low profile
Habitually in the thick of the summer transfer market, the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan have left most of the wheeling and dealing to Europe’s smaller clubs in recent weeks.
FIFA.com looks at who has gone where in the last fortnight, with the supporting cast in England’s Premier League proving more active than most.
Reigning champions Manchester United have bade farewell to midfielder Gabriel Obertan, who has become the fifth Frenchman to join Newcastle United this summer after Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux, Demba Ba and Mehdi Abeid. Similarly, Liverpool have sold Serbian international Milan Jovanovic to Anderlecht, while Chelsea have offloaded Yury Zhirkov to Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala. In fact, the only member of the so-called Big Four to bolster their ranks in the last two weeks are Arsenal with the signing of Southampton’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the son of former England international winger Mark Chamberlain.
In contrast, the Premier League’s new boys have been busy recruiting in a bid to rival their more established opponents. Play-off winners Swansea City have snapped up Netherlands international goalkeeper Michel Vorm from Utrecht and English striker Leroy Lita from Middlesbrough. Another front man, DJ Campbell joins Queens Park Rangers from relegated Blackpool, while Republic of Ireland forward Shane Long has left Reading for West Bromwich Albion, who are looking to extend their stay in the English top flight.
Out of contract at West Ham United, England centre-half Matthew Upson has made an immediate return to the Premier League with Stoke City. While Scottish goal-getter David Goodwillie has been lured south of the border, signing on the dotted line for Blackburn Rovers from Dundee United, Steed Malbranque has left English shores for France after ten years in the country, latterly with Sunderland.
Paris spend big
Malbranque’s latest port of call is Saint-Etienne, just down the road from Lyon, where he began his career. Though Les Gones have been surprisingly reluctant to venture into the market, Les Verts have been particularly active, acquiring the services of Fabien Lemoine from Rennes and Jean-Pascal Mignot from Auxerre, the sixth and seventh signings of a busy close season. The only Ligue 1 club to have outdone them so far is Paris Saint-Germain, whose eighth summertime recruit is none other than the exciting Argentinian Javier Pastore, purchased for a €42m fee, the highest ever paid by a French side.
Released by Marseille, Brazilian defender Vitorino Hilton has made the short journey along the Mediterranean coast to Montpellier. Further north, Brest have brought 33-year-old former France defender Jonathan Zebina back home from Juventus following a 13-year exile in Italy, and Bordeaux have dispensed with the services of Brazilian attacking midfielder Wendel, who has agreed terms with Saudi outfit Al Ittihad.
Joining him in Saudi Arabia is Cameroonian midfielder Achille Emana, who has left Spain’s Real Betis for Al Hilal. La Liga’s big two have also been offloading talent. Barcelona have sold Jeffren to Sporting Lisbon, while Argentinian centre-half Gabriel Milito has returned to his roots by joining Independiente, the club where he learned his trade, eight years after his departure. Likewise, Real Madrid have sent Sergio Canales, currently starring for Spain at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011, on loan to Valencia.
Staying in La Liga, Atletico Madrid have paid Galatasaray €12m for Turkey midfielder Arda Turan, the most expensive transfer deal in Turkish history. Taking his leave of Spain is Cameroon international Pierre Webo, who has swapped Mallorca for Istanbul club Buyuksehir. Spanish goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez Gago has returned home, however, moving to Real Zaragoza after spending a season at Benfica.
The call of the Gulf
In response to their goalkeeping crisis, which has seen Rene Adler struck down with a knee injury that will keep him out until October at the earliest, and understudies David Yelldell and Fabian Giefer both sidelined for long spells in the space of a week, Bayer Leverkusen have brought Stuttgart third-choice custodian Bernd Leno in on loan. Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Werder Bremen have swooped for Serbian midfielder Aleksandar Ignjovski, formerly with OFK Belgrade.
Italy has been no exception to the latest market trends. Aside from Juventus, who have strengthened their front line with the acquisition of Montenegrin sharpshooter Mirko Vucinic from Roma, Serie A’s biggest names have been keeping out of the transfer headlines. In what few moves there have been, Brescia have loaned Alessandro Diamanti to Bologna, and Argentinian defender Matias Silvestre has decamped from Catania to Sicilian rivals Palermo. And after a four-year stint with Palermo and a season at Lazio, Australia midfielder Marco Bresciano has made the move to Dubai, where he will run out for Al Nasr.
Algeria centre-half Madjid Bougherra has succumbed to the lure of the Qatari league, departing Glasgow Rangers for Lakhwiya. Fellow countryman El Harbi Hillel Soudani, the top scorer in Algerian league with ASO Chlef last season, will be stepping out in Europe for the first time with Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes, while veteran South African striker Benni McCarthy has returned home, joining Orlando Pirates after 14 years on the old continent.