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Friday, December 5, 2008
ESPNsoccernet: December 6, 8:27 PM UK
Transfer talk gathers pace

Jon Carter

This was the week in which Ronaldo got confused as to which game he was playing, but still won the Ballon d'Or, Real Madrid snapped up another injured Dutchman and Rory Delap was beaten for style points.

Friday 28 November: Kinnear signs on, Tosic who?
Finally the wild speculation can end over who will take the helm at St James's Park; but more importantly, we won't have to hear the words 'interim manager' again until Howard Wilkinson makes a return to the Premier League. So, after all that, the new boss of Newcastle is... Joe Kinnear! Oh, well at least most Geordies seem happy with JFK in charge and if it means an end to the even more tedious takeover talk for the time being, I'm all for it.

Meanwhile the first Premier Leguae transfer ahead of the January window appears to have been agreed with Manchester United bringing Serbian youngster Zoran Tosic to the club. A quick, skilful, left-winger, Tosic's arrival may spell the end of Ryan Giggs (or Nani's) United career, unless he turns out to be another Mateja Kezman - in which case he'll probably be gone by July.

Saturday 29 November: Chimbonda upsets Keane-oh!
Not a good day to be a Sunderland fan. Not only does one of your many summer arrivals claim that he's willing to pack up his large selection of gloves and walk, yes walk, to Lyon in order to get a transfer; but your side gets gubbed 4-1 by Bolton too. Usually not one to hide his feelings, manager Roy Keane has not thrown a tantrum about the whole situation. Perhaps he's thinking about the 70 million he's spent on new players since his arrival, or maybe he's just can't find the right expression of distaste for Djibril Cisse's latest haircut. Or perhaps he was just resigned (geddit?) to the inevitable outcome later in the week.

Sunday 30 November: Ronaldo punch, Yak floored
Isn't it embarrassing when you just plain forget what sport you're playing halfway through a game? You'd think with the number of awards containing tiny, miniature footballers that are currently clogging up the Portuguese's cabinets, he'd have some idea. Who knows what Cristiano Ronaldo was thinking when he punched the ball away from his face instead of heading it into the net against City in the Manchester derby. But it wasn't smart and he won't be doing it again, after he got a red card for deliberate handball.

Someone who won't be playing again for a while is Everton's Yakubu. Famous for scoring most of his goals before January, the Nigerian may not be missed that much as he recovers from an Achilles injury; but having been ruled out for the rest of the season, the Toffees are now left with Victor Anichebe as their only fit striker.

Monday 1 December: No money for Blues, 3 and queasy
In this time of global financial unrest, don't we all feel sorry for those billionaires who just can't afford to buy 50 million worth of talent this January for their football clubs? Short of setting up a 'Save a Billionaire' fund and hanging around streets harrassing people with tins full of coins, there's not much we can do. Lucky then that Chelsea's Peter Kenyon isn't that interested in dipping into Roman Abramovich's coffers anyway because ''the type of players we are looking for are not available''. Nothing to do with City buying them all then?

Poor old Paraguayan side 3 de Febrero took a bit of a pasting this weekend, and that was before they even got on the pitch. Blaming their defeat on a bout of food poisoning caused by their vitamin drinks, coach Pedro Nelson Fleitas said: "This needs to be investigated. We don't know if the product was past its sell-by date or if somebody put something intentionally in the juice." Tottenham players may offer some sympathy.

Tuesday 2 December: Ronaldo, again, Real get Klass signing
And the winner of this year's Ballon d'Or is... Lionel Mes... Ok, it's Ronaldo. We all knew the Portuguese puncher would get the gong but it's finally been announced, giving him plenty of time to make himself look pretty for the award ceremony. The funniest thing to come out of the ranking table though, is Franck Ribery, who believes he should have been higher than a lowly 16th. Someone should tell him points don't win prizes and it's votes that count.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid chose to replace their injured Dutch striker, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, with another injured Dutch striker, Klass Jan Huntelaar. The deal will go through in January and the Spanish champions are absolutely sure that he is the man to lead the line and rescue their faltering season. A quick look at the table reveals they've scored 30 (2nd most in the league behind Barca) and conceded 20 (the same as bottom club Recreativo) - might want to buy some defenders instead lads.

Wednesday 3 December: City to sign everyone, RVP denial
It's official, City will sign every single player in the world in January. They certainly have the money, but are actually only targeting the 'superstars' of the global game. Linked this week with a 129 million bid for Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the inflated buy-out clauses that some top players have been forced to sign-up to in order to detract potential suitors suddenly don't look so safe.

Robin Van Persie has evidently been listening to too many Shaggy songs, as he felt the need to say: 'It wasn't me', this week. A player six years younger than William Gallas, with a notorious hot-streak, but apparently blameless of any kind of dressing room unrest. So that just leaves the softly spoken Eduardo, Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Eboue. We may need to employ Columbo to get to the bottom of this one.

Thursday 4 December: Kean-out, Inter warning, Delap move over - there's a new girl in town
The news many had expected for weeks dropped on Thursday - that Roy Keane will become a professional dog walker after leaving Sunderland. The Irishman has been under pressure for a while now and six defeats in seven games is always going to tip you close to the edge in the Premier League. The strange thing is, he resigned, which seems very unlike Keano. Must be getting soft in his old age.

With all the transfer talk buzzing around Europe, Inter Milan President Massimo Moratti felt it was his duty to clear up the future of starlet Mario Balotelli. The powerful youngster has made just three league starts under Jose Mourinho, but Inter are clearly very keen to keep hold of a player they view as the future of the club. So hands off Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Milan, Bournemouth, Skegness, Hamilton Academicals and whoever else is interested. You hear?

Finally, the Women's FIFA U-20 World Cup is currently taking place and offers the chance to see someone throw the ball at least as far as Stoke's Rory Delap. Brazil's Leah Fortune can heave the pigskin a mighty distance, but offers more into the bargain. First up, she's a girl and secondly she performs a handstand flip before delivering the ball. If only Rory could add these extra dimensions to his game he may not get so much criticism. Be wary though, especially if you're trying to defend it - Just don't do this.

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