Transfer action continues apace
Transfer windows will soon be open in most of the world’s major football leagues, allowing the transactions carried out in recent weeks to be made official. With qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and the action at UEFA EURO 2012 currently taking up most of the sport's attention, some of the more recent deals may have slipped under the radar. Join FIFA.com as we round up the most notable moves confirmed over the past couple of weeks.
Chelsea succeeded where Manchester United, Manchester City and leading clubs from Italy and Spain have all failed for the past two years. Indeed, the European champions secured the signature of Eden Hazard, who joins from Lille after finishing as the Ligue 1 player of the year for the last two seasons.
“Why Chelsea? Because I wanted to go to England,” said the Belgian attacking midfielder. “There was a struggle between Chelsea and United. I think that Chelsea have the best project. My priority is to play, and I think I’ll have a better chance of doing it there. They challenge at the top and, if I play well, I can win my place in the team.”
Manchester United certainly wasted no time in finding an alternative after missing out on Hazard. In place of the 2010/11 French title winner, the Red Devils signed Japan international and two-time Bundesliga winner Shinji Kagawa, one of the driving forces behind Borussia Dortmund’s back-to-back titles in 2010/11 and 2011/12. Also leaving Die Schwarzgelben are American forward Terrence Boyd and goalkeeper Johannes Focher, the reserve team duo moving to Austria to join Rapid Vienna and Sturm Graz respectively.
For Bundesliga runners-up Bayern Munich, the priority was to find a deputy for first-choice striker Mario Gomez. Their signing of Claudio Pizarro represents a triple coup: the Peruvian was out of contract with Werder Bremen, already knows the club having played there from 2001 to '07, and, above all, is the Bundesliga’s all-time leading foreign marksman.
The German top flight welcomes another attacking talent in the shape of Dutch striker Bas Dost, top scorer in the Eredivisie this past season, who joins Wolfsburg from Heerenveen. Among his new team-mates will be Czech international Vaclav Pilar, formerly of Viktoria Plzen, who has scored in both of his country’s outings at EURO 2012 so far. Newly promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf, meanwhile, have signed experienced Bundesliga campaigner Cha Du-Ri. The Korea Republic defender has spent the past two seasons with Celtic, but completed eight campaigns in Germany prior to his move to Scotland.
Netherlands international Dirk Kuyt, for his part, is preparing for an entirely new experience. The forward’s goals and workrate for Liverpool after his arrival in 2006 made him a popular figure at the club, and he will be hoping to be embraced in similar fashion by the ebullient fans of his new employers, Fenerbahce.
Kuyt will not have the precision passing of Emre Belozoglu to feed off, however, as he has left the Asian side of Istanbul to provide service for Atletico Madrid’s frontmen. Alongside him will be Uruguay’s Cristian Rodríguez, who moves to Madrid after a five-year stay in Portugal with Benfica and, most recently, Porto.
His compatriot Gonzalo 'Chori' Castro, a three-time Uruguayan champion with Nacional, leaves Mallorca after five years to join Real Sociedad, where he will be tasked with replacing Mikel Aranburu. Aranburu retired recently after a 15-year career with the Basque outfit. Mexico’s Andres Guardado, whose five-year spell with Deportivo looks short in comparison, leaves Galicia to sign for Valencia. Dutch defender Hedwiges Maduro, meanwhile, heads in the other direction, vacating the Che dressing room to pursue his Spanish adventure with Sevilla.
In France, Lille's outgoing players have attracted much of the attention, but the club has also made an astute signing with the recruitment of attacking midfielder Marvin Martin. The former Sochaux man is currently on international duty with Les Bleus in Poland/Ukraine.
With Paris Saint-Germain yet to make their first moves of the summer, Ligue 1’s newly promoted sides have been hard at work in the transfer market. Troyes re-signed the experienced Benjamin Nivet, 35, who enjoyed a previous spell in the Champagne region between 2002 and '07 before spending five years with Caen. It has been a busy time in the region on the transfer front, with Troyes’ fellow promotees Reims signing Poland international defensive midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak from Bordeaux and Malian centre-back Mohamed Fofana from Toulouse.
Another former Toulouse defender from Africa, Cameroon’s Dany Nounkeu, is also on the move. He joins Galatasaray, having caught the eye of the reigning Turkish champions with his performances since joining Gaziantepspor in 2010. Brazilian forward Bobo, formerly of Galatasaray’s local rivals Besiktas, returns to Turkey to join Kayserispor after a brief ten-game spell back in his homeland with Cruzeiro.
The move means he will not be involved in the next Belo Horizonte derby against Atletico Mineiro and Ronaldinho, who joined the club after terminating his contract with Flamengo. “I’m very happy to be doing what I love and to feel important,” said the 2002 world champion after his first game for O Galo. “I’ve joined a group that has welcomed me with open arms, and even though the club hasn’t won anything for a long time, the fans are friendly and passionate and I feel touched. I’m happy and I want to express that on the pitch.”
In the weeks to come, when the transfer market is in full swing, players and clubs will for the most part be expressing themselves in meetings rather than on the field of play, as yet more deals are negotiated and contracts signed.