January activity continues apace
Just a few days now remain for teams to make the final adjustments which will take them through to the end of the season, whether they are targeting reinforcements or hoping to move players on. All will have 31 January highlighted in their calendars as the deadline to strike deals, but many have opted not to wait that long, as FIFA.com now recaps in a look back at the transfers that have made headlines in the last week.
Desperate to retain their berth in the Premier League this term, promoted side Queens Park Rangers realise they need experience in their ranks to haul themselves away from their current precarious position. The 16th-placed side have thus turned to leaders Manchester City to recruit solid Nigerian-born defender Nedum Onuoha, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland. He will be adjusting to his new surroundings in west London along with Nigerian international Taye Taiwo, the left-back having struggled for playing time since joining AC Milan from Marseille last summer.
Bottom side Wigan Athletic face their own survival struggle and they are hoping for big things from Birmingham City’s Chilean midfielder Jean Beausejour as they bid to avoid relegation. Top-flight new boys Norwich City are similarly anxious to protect their Premier League status and have bolstered their squad with former Leeds United captain Jonny Howson, an ex-England Under-20 international, while Bolton Wanderers have agreed terms with New York Red Bulls for United States defender Tim Ream. Elsewhere, Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has decided to end his stay with Everton and return home, putting pen to paper on a contract with Spartak Moscow three years after leaving the club’s local rivals Lokomotiv.
However, he will not brush shoulders with Vagner Love during derby matches against CSKA Moscow as the Brazilian forward with the colourful dreadlocks has rejoined Flamengo, where he enjoyed a loan spell in 2010. In contrast, his compatriot Ilsinho has been tempted back to Europe, the midfielder reacquainting himself with Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, for whom he plundered ten goals in 56 outings between 2007 and 2010, following subsequent stints with Sao Paulo and Internacional.
Young defender Juan Jesus is now discovering the Old Continent for the first time after catching the eye of Inter Milan, though the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 winner will begin his Serie A education at promoted club Novara after being swiftly loaned out by I Nerazzurri. Italian U-21 striker Stefano Okaka Chuka could no doubt teach him a thing or two about life on loan, and the Roma striker is now making a temporary home for himself at Parma, having previously been loaned to Modena, Brescia, Fulham and Bari since joining the capital club in 2005. Former Roma midfielder Manuele Blasi has also moved on, the 31-year-old with eight Italy caps ending a difficult start to the season with Parma to return to Lecce, where he made his professional debut in 1998.
As for Blasi’s erstwhile Gialloblu colleague Amauri, he too has taken steps to improve his career prospects. Struggling for time on the pitch at Juventus, where he does not figure in the plans of coach Antonio Conte, the 31-year-old Brazilian-born marksman has packed his bags for Fiorentina, his task being to fill the gap left by Genoa-bound forward Alberto Gilardino. Serie A leaders Juve have nonetheless added to their numbers by bringing in Martin Caceres on loan from Sevilla, the Uruguayan defender having previously represented I Bianconeri in 2009/10, while Chilean forward Mauricio Pinilla has swapped Palermo for Cagliari.
Palermo have also bid farewell to Argentinian defender Mauro Cetto, who is back in France with champions Lille, six months on from departing Toulouse. Ligue 1 has likewise extended a welcome to Olivier Kapo, with the marksman commencing a second spell at Auxerre, eight years after leaving the Burgundy outfit to parade his abilities at clubs including Juventus, Monaco, Levante, Birmingham, Wigan and Celtic. Further north, Rennes have picked up Mevlut Erdinc, the Turkish striker having endured a difficult time at Paris Saint-Germain of late after signing for the capital side from Sochaux in 2009.
Bosnian forward Vedad Ibisevic endured a testing spell of his own at PSG in 2003/04, but he has since proved his worth in the Bundesliga, and his scoring feats with Hoffenheim have earned him a move to Stuttgart. The 27-year-old will no doubt cross paths with Algerian centre-back Anthar Yahia, whose strike against Egypt famously secured his country’s place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Yahia has finalised a contract with Kaiserslautern, a year after leaving Bochum for Saudi Arabian team Al Nasr, and he will boost his new side with the benefit of his previous experiences in the Bundesliga, not to mention Italy and France.
Another well-travelled player is Argentinian winger Jesus Datolo, familiar to fans of clubs like Banfield, Espanyol, Boca Juniors, Napoli and Olympiacos. His next port of call will be Internacional in Brazil, while Brazilian striker Diego Costa has made the much shorter trip from Atletico Madrid to Liga neighbours Rayo Vallecano.