Sunday, July 11, 2010
Top Ten: European transfers so far
The summer has already seen a host of big movers in Europe. Soccernet rounds up the best so far.
Angel Di Maria: Benfica to Real Madrid. The first potential saga of the summer was mercifully short, with the two clubs agreeing a fee of €25 million relatively quickly, though Benfica stand to make up to €10 million in add-ons depending on the Argentina winger's progress. There is no question over Di Maria's talent, but he may have moved too quickly to the wrong club. He only became an automatic first-choice at the Estadio da Luz last season, where Jorge Jesus got the most out of Di Maria by switching him to the left. It is a big step up, and he will need to adapt swiftly to survive.
David Villa: Valencia to Barcelona. The closest there is to a €40 million banker. In his prime at 28, his impressive World Cup has added to his already excellent reputation and his big move is overdue reward for seven relentlessly-consistent La Liga seasons with Real Zaragoza and Valencia. If the move had not fallen through last summer, Barcelona would almost certainly still be European champions. His inevitable departure from the Mestalla has funded a new-look XI for Valencia as Roberto Soldado, Alberto Costa, Ricardo Costa and Mehmet Topal have all arrived for less than half the cost of Villa.
Joao Moutinho: Sporting to Porto. A highly controversial and surprise move with Moutinho long linked to England or Spain, but Sporting president Jose Bettencourt took the risky option of selling to a major domestic rival after branding his former captain a "rotten apple". Moutinho needed a radical change to kick-start his stalling career. He was unsurprisingly left out of Portugal's World Cup squad after a poor season for Sporting, but he has the ability to quickly become a key figure at the Dragao following his €10.7 million move. If he does, Porto have a great chance of reclaiming their league crown and selling Moutinho on for a big profit - there are no shrewder transfer dealers in Europe.
Dmytro Chygrynskiy: Barcelona to Shakhtar Donetsk. Barca could look at this one as the most expensive loan of all-time, having sold Chygrynskiy back to the Ukrainians less than a year after buying him, and at a €10 million loss. In truth, they will have been relieved to have got something back on a disastrous signing. The centre back started just ten La Liga games for Barca and it's hard to fathom what Pep Guardiola ever saw in him. While previously solid enough, Chygrynskiy never looked composed enough on the ball to fit the club style. Mircea Lucescu must hope the mental scars heal quickly.
Cesar Azpilicueta: Osasuna to Marseille. This is an ambitious choice by the right back. He has clearly moved just for sporting reasons as he could have made far more money going to the Premier League, with plenty of suitors poised. Instead, he is going to Marseille to build something domestically and in Europe, which he hopes will build him the reputation to get into the Spain team once Sergio Ramos makes his long-mooted switch to centre back. At 20, Azpilicueta already has a strong pedigree from 100 first-team appearances. He has the mobility and class to quickly become a Velodrome legend after being snapped up for a fee that could potentially rise to €9.5 million.
Sidney Govou: Lyon to Panathinaikos. Govou's mission following his free transfer signing is to prove he is not a spent force after a dire World Cup. His influence had waned at Lyon too in recent seasons, and he has made rather more headlines for off-pitch scrapes than on-field achievements. With a move to England or Spain not materialising, he has the opportunity to reinvent himself in Greece as his international team-mate Djibril Cisse has. Many doubt his motives; initial reports in France had him accepting a staggering €4 million net annual salary to join, though Greek sources claim that this is vastly exaggerated. Either way, he needs a strong Champions League campaign to reassert his reputation.
Marc Janko: Salzburg to Twente. The giant 27-year-old striker has been prolific in five seasons at Salzburg and his move to a higher quality league was sealed in a reported €7 million deal last month. He was Europe's top scorer in 2008-09, netting 39 in just 34 games and has proved he can mix it at the top level already; he single-handedly consigned Philippe Mexes' international career to the scrapheap in Austria's September 2008 World Cup qualifying win over France in Vienna. Janko has a great chance to prove he is a genuine top-class striker in the Netherlands. Despite having big shoes to fill in the shape of the departing Blaise N'Kufo, Twente's counter-attacking style will suit him and he has Champions League football to look forward to.
Leonardo Bonucci: Bari to Juventus. This €14.9 million move could be crucial for the future of the Italian national team, as the partnership Bonucci will form with Giorgio Chiellini could also be the bedrock for Cesare Prandelli's new-look Azzurri. The towering centre back will be under pressure as last season's big signings (Felipe Melo and Diego) flopped badly, but Juve's summer restructure - with winger Jorge Martinez arriving from Catania and goalkeeper Marco Storari from Milan - suggests a more sensible approach. They are doing the right thing in building from the back, and Bonucci will be the key.
Ricardo Quaresma: Inter to Besiktas. At 26, the extravagantly-talented Quaresma no longer counts as a promising young talent. Having flopped miserably at Barcelona and now Inter, he faces permanent exile from the Portugal national team picture. The early signs following his €7 million switch to Turkey are promising. He received a rapturous reception in Istanbul and played well in his second friendly game for the club, against SV Grodig of Austria, where he set up one for Bobo before winning a penalty, also converted by the Brazilian. He started well at Inter too though and this is the season where we find out whether Quaresma has any chance of fulfilling that enormous potential by performing consistently over an entire campaign.
Simon Kjaer: Palermo to Wolfsburg. Still just 21, Kjaer has astonished since his arrival in Serie A with his extraordinary poise and composure helping unfashionable Palermo to the brink of shock Champions League qualification last season. One of Denmark's few bright spots in the World Cup, his burgeoning range of long and short passing convinced new Wolves boss Steve McClaren to part with €14.3 million euros and the former England manager must be applauded for persuading Kjaer to snub a host of Premier League clubs to move to the Bundesliga. Kjaer's partnership with fellow new arrival Arne Friedrich should go a long way to curing last season's defensive frailties, which particularly affected Wolfsburg's home form.