Transfer action hots up
While the action at UEFA EURO 2012 has kept the world of football on the edge of its seat for the last three weeks, clubs have been busy venturing into the transfer market in preparation for the coming season. FIFA.com rounds up the some of the biggest summer moves.
Although the name of the country that have earned the right to call themselves European champions will not be known for another few days, at club level that crown has already been conferred. Chelsea won the UEFA Champions League on penalties, and it was Didier Drogba’s winning kick that secured the trophy for the London outfit.
Now 34 years of age, the Ivoirian will no longer be terrorising defences across Europe, as he has put pen to paper with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua. Under the guidance of Argentinian coach Sergio Batista, he will form part of a fearsome attacking triumvirate alongside his former team-mate at Stamford Bridge, Nicolas Anelka, and Colombian international Giovanni Moreno, brought in from Racing Club.
Other new faces in the constantly improving Chinese Super League include Nigerian forward Yakubu, who has left relegated Blackburn Rovers to sign for Guangzhou R&F, and Isaac Chansa, part of Zambia’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations-winning team earlier this year, who has joined Henang Construction from Orlando Pirates.
A little further west, in Russia, Lokomotiv Moscow have acquired the services of Croatian defender Vedran Corluka, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, who spent the last six months of last season on loan at Bayer Leverkusen.
Corluka’s international team-mate Mario Mandzukic not only caught the eye of fans at EURO 2012, but also seemingly impressed the backroom staff at Bayern Munich, who have persuaded the imposing striker to head south from Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg.
Other players whose performances in Ukraine and Poland were sufficient to persuade clubs to make a move for them include Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, who has left Slovan Liberec for Werder Bremen, and Danish defensive midfielder Jakob Poulsen, who has exchanged a Midtjylland jersey for a Monaco one.
Former France international Bernard Mendy has also departed Danish shores, leaving Odense, the Superliga club he joined in February 2011, to defend the colours of Ligue 1 side Brest.
In Brittany the right-back will share a dressing room with Geoffrey Dernis, who picked up a league winners’ medal with Montpellier last season. The reigning Ligue 1 champions have also lost striker Olivier Giroud, top scorer in the French league last season, who will hope to demonstrate the same effectiveness in front of goal with new employers Arsenal.
Montpellier have not been idle in terms of signings, however; the two departures will be compensated by the arrival of attacking midfielder Anthony Mounier from Nice and defender Daniel Congre from Toulouse. Congre’s replacement at Stadium Municipal will be Jonathan Zebina, who spent the previous campaign with Brest, after having had successful spells with Roma and Juventus at the peak of his career.
The Turin club have been active in the transfer market themselves, landing Sebastian Giovinco, who originally came through La Vecchia Signora’s youth system. Due to limited playing opportunities, the attack-minded Italian international had moved to Parma, where he enjoyed a highly successful 2011/12 season.
Recent runners-up to Juventus in Serie A, AC Milan have also kept their recruitment efforts within Italy’s borders, bringing in Kevin Constant, Genoa’s Guinean attacking midfielder, and centre-back Francesco Acerbi from Chievo Verona.
While Clarence Seedorf appears to be on the point of teaming up with Botafogo, former Brazil cap Cicinho has already returned to his homeland. The ex-Real Madrid defender, who won the FIFA Confederations Cup with A Seleção in 2005, will be looking to relaunch his career at Sport Recife, following a season in which he made just two appearances for Roma.
Also returning home is young Mexican winger Pablo Barrera, after a stint at West Ham and a loan spell with Real Zaragoza. A product of Pumas’ youth academy, he is now set to sport the colours of rivals Cruz Azul.
During the coming season, he will likely cross paths with another former Liga player, Spanish forward Raul Tamudo, who was picked up by Pachuca from Rayo Vallecano. Back in Spain, Argentinian centre-half Daniel ‘Cata’ Diaz, has parted company with Atletico Madrid, but will remain in the capital to represent Getafe, where he will fill the gap left by the departure of Alvaro Dominguez for Borussia Monchengladbach.
Other moves in Spain saw Aritz Aduriz rejoin Athletic Bilbao, the club at which he made his professional debut, following stints with numerous Liga outfits, including Valladolid, Mallorca and Valencia, and Argentinian defender Diego Colotto commit himself to Espanyol, after playing an important part in Deportivo La Coruna’s successful promotion campaign. Meanwhile, Barcelona have strengthened their defence and found a replacement for Eric Abidal by sealing an agreement with Valencia to sign the Spain full-back Jordi Alba on a five-year contract.
Last but not least, Wembley FC have secured five signings that would have made them the talk of world football, had they been secured ten years ago. Ray Parlour, Martin Keown, Graeme Le Saux, Claudio Caniggia and Brian McBride, all of whom are now in their 40s, have come out of retirement to sign for the London-based club, who play in the ninth tier of English football. The former internationals will perform in Wembley’s FA Cup campaign this season.