The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ continues to keep fans of the beautiful game engrossed, but only a small percentage of players are still involved. Aside from the 23 members of each of the four squads through to the semi-finals, most footballers have turned their thoughts elsewhere, and not least to which club they will be representing next season. FIFA.com brings you up to date with the transfer activity over the last few weeks.
As always, performances on the global stage have given coaches and club officials a number of ideas, many of which involve reuniting international colleagues in the professional realm. Thus, Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain will be looking to bury chances created by Argentina team-mate Angel Di Maria next term after the winger completed a move from Benfica.
Together the Albiceleste duo will hope to wrench the Liga title from rivals Barcelona, who snapped up David Villa before a ball was kicked in South Africa and have now released Yaya Toure to Manchester City, where he will team up with his brother and fellow Côte d'Ivoire international Kolo. City have likewise secured the services of Valencia’s David Silva and will reacquaint him with fellow newcomer Jerome Boateng of Hamburg, with the duo set to feature on opposite sides of the FIFA World Cup semi-final between Spain and Germany.
Hamburg may have lost one influential player but they have been busy on the recruitment front too, acquiring Czech international goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny from relegated side Hertha Berlin. Wolfsburg have similarly pounced on the capital club’s woes to snare Germany defender Arne Friedrich, while their domestic rivals Schalke have brought on board Japanese international full-back Atsuto Uchida from Kashima Antlers.
The credit for the biggest transfer coup in Germany so far has to go to Bayer Leverkusen, however, with Die Werkself managing to lure back former favourite Michael Ballack after his contract with Chelsea expired. The major absentee of Germany’s sparkling side at South Africa 2010, Ballack returns to the club where he performed heroics between 1999 and 2002.
Over at Stamford Bridge, Israeli international Yossi Benayoun is the new face in the Chelsea squad as he begins the process of settling in at his third Premier League outfit following spells with West Ham and Liverpool. Benayoun’s replacement at Merseyside will be former Standard Liege forward Milan Jovanovic, who will have encouraged Reds fans with his displays for Serbia at South Africa 2010, not least when he fired his side’s winning effort against Germany.
His compatriot Nikola Zigic will be adapting to the English game too after swapping Valencia for Birmingham City, while Argentinian striker Mauro Boselli will be looking to rack up the goals for Wigan Athletic. The two-time CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores winner with Boca Juniors in 2007 and Estudiantes La Plata in 2009 has previous experience in Europe after spending the 2005/06 season in Malaga’s reserves.
In a similar vein, Boselli’s fellow Argentinian Gabriel Paletta has also secured a second tilt at life on the Old Continent, having made just three appearances during a disappointing stint with Liverpool in 2006/07. The Boca Juniors defender will aim to make more of an impact with Parma, where Bulgaria’s Valeri Bojinov will lead the line next term after making his loan deal permanent.
For their part, Juventus have opted to recruit locally, swooping for a pair of promising Italian internationals in the shape of attacking midfielder Simone Pepe and defender Leonardo Bonucci, both of whom took part in La Nazionale’s brief South African stay. They have signed from Udinese and Bari respectively, with the latter club losing one FIFA World Cup participant but gaining another by tempting Algeria’s Abdelkader Ghezzal from relegated Siena.
In France, meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain kicked off their recruitment drive by agreeing a deal for Mathieu Bodmer, despite the versatile Lyon player having spent the last few months out injured. His former club-mate Sidney Govou has also waved goodbye to the Stade de Gerland by setting sail for Panathinaïkos, and he will be replaced by French international marksman Jimmy Briand of Rennes – who will look to erstwhile Montpellier forward Victor Hugo Montano to shoulder their goalscoring duties next season.
That represents a significant loss for the southern side and Montpellier have also lost Argentinian schemer Alberto Costa to Valencia, where he may well cross paths with former Saint-Etienne midfielder Mouhamadou Dabo, now at Sevilla. Filling the void left by the Senegalese-born 23-year-old at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard will be Laurent Batlles, who is getting to know his seventh club in France after severing ties with relegated Grenoble. In addition, the demoted side have lost Slovenian defender Bostjan Cesar to Chievo, fresh from his efforts at the FIFA World Cup.
Cha Du-Ri advanced as far as the Round of 16 with Korea Republic in South Africa and he can now look forward to a new adventure with Celtic in Scotland, having spent eight years in Germany and the most recent of those with Freiburg.
Finally, Portugal were sent packing from South Africa earlier than many expected and we will never know if they would have fared better had coach Carlos Queiroz found a place for Joao Moutinho in his squad. Porto certainly believe in the midfielder’s talents and have enticed him away from domestic rivals Sporting Lisbon, where he was a key figure and made 173 appearances between 2004 and 2010.