Strikers on the move
As every club knows, goals are a crucial commodity in football. You need to score them to win games, and to do that you need gifted strikers wearing your colours. It makes total sense, then, that the comings-and-goings of the game's deadliest marksmen dominates headlines whenever the transfer window opens, and this summer has been no different. Bayern Munich got the ball rolling by capturing Luca Toni and Frank Ribery, closely followed by Juventus in their swoop for Vincenzo Iaquinta, and over the past two weeks that trickle has developed into a fully-fledged stream as more and more teams look to bolster their forward line.
Barcelona pulled off perhaps the biggest coup of all by recruiting French star Thierry Henry. As Arsenal's record goalscorer, superseding Gunners legend Ian Wright, 'Titi' leaves north London after eight spectacular years of loyal service, highlighted by two Premiership titles (2002 and 2004), three FA Cups (2002, 2003 and 2005) and a runners-up spot in the UEFA Champions League (2006). His former employers memorably lost last year's European showdown to none other than his new club, and with Lionel Messi, Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho also on the Catalan outfit's books, the continent's defenders will certainly have their hands full again next season. "When you look at the names of each player in the team, mine included, it's just frightening," announced the 1998 FIFA World Cup™-winner as he was presented to the press.
In the same way that Henry epitomised Arsenal, Fernando Torres was the heart and soul of Atletico Madrid, and the 24-year-old has decided to further his career by travelling in the opposite direction. Signed by Liverpool, El Niño quit the Spanish capital after five seasons and 75 goals in 174 matches. But although he will be greatly missed, the Colchoneros have already taken steps to fill the void - not least with 2005 European champion Luis Garcia making the switch from Merseyside as part of the deal. In addition, Atletico have also brought on board Uruguay's Diego Forlan, the Spanish league's Pichichi in 2005 and scorer of 19 goals last term.
Bent joins Spurs armada
In the race to succeed Didier Drogba at the top of the English scoring charts next season, new Tottenham striker Darren Bent will be hoping he can have his say. His 14 strikes were insufficient to save Charlton from the drop last time out and the English international has crossed the capital to take up residence at White Hart Lane, where it will be intriguing to see how he fits in alongside Bulgarian talent Dimitar Berbatov, Ireland's Robbie Keane and fellow countryman Jermain Defoe.
With Henry gone, Tottenham's arch rivals Arsenal have also been in the market for an attacker, snapping up Brazilian-born Croatian Eduardo da Silva. Having already notched up eight goals in just 14 appearances for his adopted homeland, the 24-year-old enjoys a burgeoning reputation on the international scene. His 73 efforts in 104 games for Dinamo Zagreb speak for themselves as well, and Arsenal fans will be keen to see if he can take over where their departed hero left off.
Further north, Blackburn trumped a selection of big clubs by securing the signature of NAC Breda prodigy Maceo Rigters, who finished top scorer as his native Netherlands triumphed at the recent UEFA European U-21 Championship. He makes the trip to the British Isles along with another Eredivisie forward, DaMarcus Beasley, with the recent Gold Cup-winning USA international joining Glasgow Rangers from PSV Eindhoven, after a year on loan at Manchester City. Leaving Scotland, on the other hand, is Celtic's Craig Beattie, who has elected to help out West Bromwich Albion in England's second tier.
Bayern make another splash
As elsewhere, strikers are all the rage in Germany too, mostly thanks to Bayern's decision to renew their strike department. Having earlier bid farewell to Claudio Pizarro (Chelsea), Hassan Salihamidzic (Juventus) and Ali Karimi (Qatar Sports Club), the Bundesliga heavyweights have now offloaded Roy Makaay to Feyenoord Rotterdam, ten years after the Dutch veteran left his homeland.
His successor is adidas Golden Shoe winner at the last FIFA World Cup, Miroslav Klose, captured from Werder Bremen following ten months of discussions. The instinctive finisher wasted no time in impressing his new employers either as he found the back of the net in his first outing in a friendly against Sao Paulo, just a few days after the ink dried on his signature. Particularly effective for Germany, his impending link-up with Mannschaft partner Lukas Podolski is eagerly-awaited by Bayern supporters.
Another German international packing his bags is Benjamin Lauth, who has left Hamburg SV for Hannover 96, after a six-month loan stint with VfB Stuttgart. Borussia Dortmund have been busy as well, responding to Ghanaian Matthew Amoah's move to NAC Breda by agreeing terms with experienced Argentinian predator Diego Klimowicz. The 32-year-old joins boasting a tally of 62 strikes in 160 matches for Wolfsburg.
Quagliarella opts for Udinese
In Italy, the first real drama of the summer transfer merry-go-round starred Honduran goal-getter David Suazo. Originally set for Internazionale, the former Cagliari forward then stunned everyone by announcing his intention to join their city rivals AC Milan - only to perform yet another volte-face at the last minute. As a result, he will be wearing the Nerazzurro shirt next season after all.
New Italian international Fabio Quagliarella also wrestled with a few doubts before making a decision on his future. Co-owned by Udinese and Sampdoria and attracting admiring glances from Manchester United, the Azzurri sensation ultimately plumped for a permanent deal with Udinese, for whom he has yet to feature in Serie A. Reputed for his spectacular strikes, the 23-year-old will attempt to replace Juventus-bound Vincenzo Iaquinta, while the man charged with filling his own boots at Sampdoria is Palermo's Andrea Caracciolo. Elsewhere, Mauro Esposito has left Cagliari for AS Roma, having registered 58 goals in 198 Serie A encounters.
Giants make their moves
The big three usually dominate transfer activity in Portugal and, of that leading trio, Benfica struck first by ensnaring Oscar Cardozo, the former Newell's Old Boys forward currently starring for his native Paraguay in the Copa America. Not to be left out, Lisbon neighbours Sporting responded by signing up a player well-known to both their closest rivals in Brazil's Derlei, who turned out for FC Porto between 2002 and 2005 and spent the first half of 2007 at Benfica. For their part, champions FC Porto have welcomed Brazil's Edgar from Beira Mar, Uruguayan Luis Aguiar from Liverpool Montevideo and Argentinian Mario Ariel Bolatti from Belgrano.Of course, strikers are not the only ones in demand or changing their horizons as the transfer market rages on.
Defenders are also getting their taste of the action and Lyon left-back Eric Abidal has just made the switch to Barcelona, where he will be asked to take over from Giovanni van Bronckhorst, with the Dutchman back at Feyenoord. Likewise, Brazilian Juan will be plying his trade for Roma next term after quitting Bayer Leverkusen and Cameroon's Geremi has departed Chelsea for Newcastle.While those players settle in to new environments, many more are destined to make similarly life-changing decisions between now and 31 August, when the transfer window finally slams shut. You know the routine by now, so make sure to stay connected to FIFA.com for the next instalment of the summer transfer saga!