Even in the off season, European football is in the news.
The transfer market is abuzz with activity and speculation. It is not big money Real Madrid but English clubs Arsenal and Manchester City that are involved in the biggest suspense stories and football gossip this season.
Will the Gunners’ skipper and playmaker Cesc Fabregas leave and join Barcelona? Will Carlos Tevez stay at Manchester City or get offloaded? These are the two biggest stories so far.
The motivating factors for transfers are varied – survival, success, reduction of debts, offload ageing players or those at the end of their contracts and search for new talent. The transfer business is always cut throat.
Real Madrid have used their financial clout to rope in the exciting Brazilian striker Neymar. The Galacticos have also signed the Turkish whizkid Nuri Sahin from Borussia Dortmund and defender Fabio Coentrao from Benefica.
Liverpool being revamped by Kenny Daglish have made some of the best signings so far. Realising that their talismanic international Steven Gerrard is now injury-prone, they have prudently strengthened their midfield.
Daglish has acquired junior international Jordan Henderson from Sunderland, wily Scottish playmaker Charlie Adams from relegated Blackpool and dashing winger Stuart Downing from Aston Villa.
In the Premiership last season Downing sent the maximum crosses (178) in open play, so can add width to Liverpool’s attack. Also Adams with his visionary passing can emulate Daglish’s role in the 1980s, that of playmaker. If lethal strikers Andy Carrol, Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt are in good form and Gerrard remains fit, Liverpool can be serious contenders for the forthcoming English Premier League title.
In his 25th year at Manchester United, the ageless wonder Sir Alex Ferguson is on the verge of building his fourth great side. Ruthlessness is his forte, knowing when to discard players and when to bring on new talent. This quality has enabled Ferguson win a record 36 titles with United. Defenders John O’Shea and Wes Brown who never lived up to potential have been off-loaded. Chris Smalling noted for his aerial ability has been given a long-term contract and Ferguson has bought the highly rated defender Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers. Manchester United have replaced the retired Edwin Van de Saar, with promising 21-year-old Athletico Madrid keeper David De Gea for £18 million. The purchase of in-form international winger Ashley Young is a subtle warning by Ferguson to both Nani and Antonio Valencia that unless they shape up their days are numbered.
The only missing link for Ferguson is a replacement for the retired Paul Scholes. He bid £25 million for Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur) but with little success. His next target is the Dutch playmaker Wesley Snjeider of Inter Milan.
Porto’s highly rated Andre Villas-Boas has succeeded Carlo Ancelotti as coach of Chelsea’s ageing squad. Villas Boas must re-build gradually. If Chelsea acquire Romelu Lukaku from Anderlecht they will add more width to the attack and this can lead to the exit of players like Salomon Kalou, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda. There is also a £9 million deal for Holland’s right back Gregory Van Der Wiel.
On paper Manchester United and Liverpool look the most settled sides in the Premiership.
This article was also used in The Asian Age