Category Archives: Transfers

Some transfers that went under the radar.

We all know about the big transfers that have occurred thus far into this summer such as Manchester City’s double acquisition of Bernardo Silva and Ederson for obscene money. Or Mohamed Salah’s big money move to Anfield, or even Man United getting Victor Lindelöf’s signature. No doubt there’ll be other huge money transfers between now and deadline day. But some interesting signings have taken place that may have flown under your radar.

AC Milan have been doing some great business of late with the signing of Porto’s Andre Silva and the criminally under-rated Wolfsburg left-back Ricardo Rodriguez. Speaking of left-backs, Real Madrid have signed the phenomenal Theo Hernandez from cross-city rivals Atlético Madrid. Hernandez is often regarded as one of the best teenagers on the planet, while in Belgium one of the most promising young players in world football, Youri Tielemans, was sold to Monaco from Anderlecht for €25 million. He’ll be worth three times that within two years – mark my words.

Bayern Munich will feel the loss since the retirement of club idol Philipp Lahm, as well as Xabi Alonso, but they made some interesting acquisitions in former-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry from Werder Bremen, Niklas Süle from Hoffenheim, as well as getting the supremely gifted French winger Kinglsey Coman on a permanent deal, having previously been on loan for the Bavarian club.

Cristian Tello, once hailed to be Barcelona’s future left winger if it wasn’t for the signature of a certain Neymar, left the Catalan club for Real Betis. He’d previously been on loan to Fiorentina. Speaking of Serie A, Argentine midfielder Ever Banega re-joined Sevilla from Inter Milan for €8 million – the Italian club got him for nothing a year ago. French midfielder Maxime Gonalons spent his entire career at Lyon, having joined as an 11-year-old in 2000 and became a club captain and idol for the fans. He left Ligue 1 for Serie A and joined Roma. A superb signing. And a curious one as they have numerous top players such as Daniele De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan who play in his position.

Some players have been moving about as free agents such as Klaas Jan Huntelaar returning to Ajax, Real Madrid’s Pepe has made Istanbul his new home having joined Besiktas. The man that overtook Iker Casillas at Real Madrid, Diego Lopez has returned to La Liga, having joined Espanyol from AC Milan for precisely €0.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be bringing you more signings – big, small or indifferent, between now and deadline day.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter 

 

The Great Haul to China

So by now you are probably aware of many players jumping ship and heading off to China. The reason, as you can guess, is obviously for financial rather than sporting reasons.

This has me torn.

On one hand, I question the ambition of players in their prime like 25-year-old Brazilian international Oscar, who left Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG for a reported fee of €70 million, where he will earn almost €24 million annually.

Does he really want to win the Chinese Super League? A league that has only been in existence since 2004. I doubt it was his dream growing up in the streets of Americana in Sao Paulo. But for €24 million each year, he can play like it was.

That’s where I am torn. I would do the exact same. Any sane person would I guess. Football is a short career and you are much longer retired than you are playing (unless your name is Francesco Totti). And the only real loyalty in football is fan loyalty. There are exceptions of course – such as true one-club-men for example (see Francesco Totti).

In the last couple of years, a plethora of talent has flocked to the far east. Players such as Robinho, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka have all been and gone. But even more recently, the massive sums of money are luring even more prominent players and managers.

Luiz Felipe Scolari, Andre Villas Boas, Gus Poyet, Felix Magath, Manuel Pellegrini and Fabio Cannavaro are among the name who made China their home. And probably not for the scenery.

But it’s the players who are earning ridiculous money. Aside from Oscar, here’s a list of the annual salaries of some of the league’s most prominent players:

  • Hulk, 30, (Brazil) Shanghai SIPG. €20 million.
  • Ezequiel Lavezzi, 30, (Argentina) Hebei China Fortune. €20 million.
  • Graziano Pelle, 31, (Italy) Shandong Luneng. €16 million.
  • Ramires, 28, (Brazil) Jiangsu Suning. €14 million.
  • Jackson Martinez, 29, (Colombia) Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao. €13.4 million.
  • Alex Teixeira, 26, (Brazil) Jiangsu Suning. €11 million.
  • Gervinho (Ivory Coast), 29 Hebei China Fortune. €9.27 million.
  • Fredy Guarin, 29, (Colombia) Shanghai Shenhua. €7.65 million.
  • Demba Ba, 30, (Senegal) Shanghai Shenhua. €6.4 million.
  • Paulinho, 27, (Brazil) Guangzhou Evergrande. €6 million.

But the biggest earner will be Carlos Tevez, who turns 33 next week, will be earning a reported €38 million annually with Shanghai Shenua. An obscene amount. What would they have to pay to get Messi or Ronaldo to play in China?

While Super League clubs are restricted to four foreign players per team, and only four can be on the field at one time, including one from a different Asian Football Confederation (AFC) country. That said, the massive wave of talent to China shows no sign of slowing down just yet.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

January transfer window opens: let the action begin!

On Sunday morning, as party revellers were celebrating the new year, many agents were preparing to get busy as the January transfer window opens. Love it or loathe it, the system has actually been used in many European leagues before being made compulsory by FIFA during the 2002–03 season. For the past fourteen years, it has been a source of great entertainment with some memorable and forgettable buys.

This transfer window is already full of rumours. There has already been reports of Liverpool being linked with Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk. Benfica owe Swedish minnows Vasteras €250,000 from purchasing Victor Lindelof back in 2012 but the Lisbon could be cashing in to the tune of more than 200 times that figure next month as Manchester United are eyeing up the Swede.

JAMESrodriguezMadrid

James Rodriguez was one of the stars of the 2014 World Cup. His tenure at Real Madrid has been somewhat inconsistent because of a combination of injuries and lack of form. That said, the 25-year-old is still a huge player. Inter Milan have had their eyes firmly on the Colombian international. As has Antonio Conte who is reportedly keen on bringing James to Stamford Bridge.

Because of the increasing strength of Barcelona over the past 10 years, the club always seem to buy decent players who will rarely get a look in (see Ibrahim Affelay,  Martín Cáceres, Alex Hleb, Alex Song). Right-back Aleix Vidal has become one such player, with currently-in-crisis Swansea looking to see if they can snap up the Spaniard.

There’s countless other players linked with countless other clubs. On 1st February, just stay peeled to drama in the Sky Sports News studio.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Transfers and rumours: part one

Well, it’s been an interesting few weeks. Leo Messi retired from international football while his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal (though not in the final itself) to European glory. Ryan Giggs left Man United, Antonio Conte is now Chelsea’s 40th or 50th manager in a decade, while former Limerick player-manager Big Sam is looking increasingly likely to be the next England manager.

Of course we are also now in the summer transfer window. Let’s have a look at some done deals, as well as rumours from the press around Europe:

In the Premier League, Liverpool have unsurprisingly bought a Southampton player in Sadio Mané for a mere £34 million. Arsenal have acquired the frankly excellent Granit Xhaka from Moenchengladbach while Man City, under new boss Pep Guardiola, have got their hands on Dortmund’s brilliant (if slightly injury-prone) Ilkay Gündoğan and the hugely under-rated Nolito from Celta Vigo.

Elsewhere in Blighty, more players have left Southampton in Victor Wanyama to Spurs and Graziano Pellé to Chinese Super League side Shandong Luneng – a league worth keeping an eye on for the plethora of talented players flocking there for, I can only assume, the prestige of the league.

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Andros Townsend has left the North East for South London in Crystal Palace, who also managed to get the supremely talented French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from Marseille for just £1.5 million, while Manchester United captured the biggest headlines so far in acquiring Heinrikh Mkhitaryan and a little-known player called Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

There were some massive and interesting signings outside of England too.

In Germany, Borussia Dortmund got the brilliant Barcelona defender Marc Bartra to replace the supremely gifted Mats Hummels who left for Bayern Munich. Carlo Ancelotti also has Portugese midfielder Renato Sanches at his disposal following his move from Benfica.

In Spain, while Barcelona said goodbye to Dani Alves, Bartra and Sandro, they purchased two French defenders in Samuel Umtiti and (just today) Lucas Digne from PSG. Rivals Real Madrid excercised their buy-back clause of Alvaro Morata from Juventus, while Nani just a few days ago became a Valencia player.

There’s also been plenty of rumours.

The biggest name being mentioned by the world’s media is Paul Pogba. The French star has been linked with both Manchester United and Real Madrid and various media outlets have reported different fees – but they are all the nine figures. A great player, but a ridiculous sum for him – even in footballing terms.

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Arsenal have been keeping an eye out for either Gonzalo Higuain or Julian Draxler. Both players could be a bit pricey for Arsene Wenger (the former valued at a staggering €80 million, the latter €50 million), but Draxler (who I’ve written about before) has many of the attributes of a player that Wenger would want.

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Mario Balotelli has more or less no future at Anfield, prompting Sampdoria to take an interest in the former Man City striker. Another striker who could be on his way out is Christian Benteke, who is linked with Crystal Palace for a fee of approximately £30 million.

West Ham could be busy in the striker department too, with Carlos Bacca looking likely to join the Hammers from AC Milan, which could see Enner Valencia leave for Lazio.

Man City have got a firm eye on Schalke’s Leroy Sané and a fee of around £40 million plus has been mentioned a number of times. Pep Guardiola is also keen on Everton’s John Stones, but the Toffees won’t entertain the idea unless £50 million is on the table. Speaking of Everton, they are thought to be interested in Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder. I’m sure they Merseysiders could get the Dutchman at a cut-price given the Istanbul side’s European ban.

Finally, and a little closer to home, Jeff Hendrick is being persued by Burnley following his impressive performances at Euro 2016. The Times reported that Galatasaray were interested in the Dubliner, but wouldn’t pay more than £2 million for his services.

Ireland’s Euro 2016 hero Robbie Brady looks set to leave Norwich with Premier League champions Leicester City, Southampton, West Brom, West Ham, Stoke City and Sunderland all said to be interested in the 24-year-old.

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It’s still mid-July. Plenty more time to go.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

 

Five top players who are free agents right now

The January transfer window is almost upon us and no doubt some big money moves will take place. But, as of this very moment right now, here are five top players that are free agents and can be acquired for absolutely nothing.

Kevin-Prince Boateng
The Ghanaian international was wearing the famous number 10 shirt for none other than AC Milan just two years ago. He left the Italian giants for a return to the country of his birth, when he joined Schalke. His behaviour off the pitch, however, outweighed his performances on it, and the club had his contracted terminated last week. Still a cracking player and only 28 years of age.

Ronaldinho
Is there anything about this guy that hasn’t been written before? Long past his heyday, the Brazilian magician is still box office for football fans and pundits worldwide. Recently playing for Fluminese, the 35-year-old has been a free agent since the end of September. A player of this calibre doesn’t deserve to finish such a remarkable career by being forgotten about. I hope he finds a club soon for one last encore.

Barcelona's Ronaldinho celebrates goal against Sevilla during Spanish first division match in Barcelona

Leandro Damião
Praised just a couple of years ago by the media in Brazil as part of the new generation alongside names such as Neymar and Alexandre Pato, the Brazilian became unattached just days ago. The striker was once decribed as “tall, strong, a very good goalscorer, a threat in the air and skilful with both feet” by none other than Brazilian legend Ronaldo. Only just 26, he will surely be snapped up quickly.

Urby Emanuelson
A product of Ajax’s sublime youth system, the Dutchman has played right at the top. With both his national team (he made his debut against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in 2006), and clubs (he’s turned out for the likes of Ajax, AC Milan and Roma), the winger always seemed to put in some good performances. Now, at 29, he’s currently without a club having last played for Atalanta.

Emmanuel Adebayor
The tall Togolese striker was never far from controversy, but boasts an incredible footballing CV with clubs such as Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham under his belt. Still just 31, Adebayor has the ability to be a constant threat in the opposition’s box. He always did. The striker’s name was always linked with some huge footballing nations, so I’d be surprised if he was finished just yet.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

How did everyone do in the transfer window?

Let’s take a club-by-club look at how each team in the Premier League in England done in the summer transfer window:

Arsenal

  • IN: Petr Cech Chelsea, £10m.
  • OUT: Lukas Podolski Galatasaray, £1.8m; Ryo Miyaichi St Pauli, released; Abou Diaby Marseille, released. Loans: Chuba Akpom Hull City; Serge Gnabry West Bromwich Albion; Carl Jenkinson West Ham United; Ainsley Maitland-Niles Ipswich Town; Emiliano Martínez Wolverhampton Wanderers; Yaya Sanogo Ajax; Wellington Silva Bolton Wanderers; Wojciech Szczesny Roma; Jon Toral Birmingham City; Danny Crowley Barnsley; Gedion Zelalem Rangers

Aston Villa

  • IN: Jordan Amavi Nice, £7m; Jordan Ayew Lorient, £9m; Mark Bunn Norwich City, free; José Ángel Crespo Córdoba, £500,000; Rudy Gestede Blackburn Rovers, £6m; Idrissa Gueye Lille, £9m; Joleon Lescott West Bromwich Albion, £1m; Micah Richards Manchester City, free; Matija Sarkic Anderlecht, free; Scott Sinclair Manchester City, £2.5m; Adama Traoré Barcelona, £7.1m; Jordan Veretout Nantes, £8m
  • OUT: Darren Bent Ipswich, released; Christian Benteke Liverpool, £32.5m; Fabian Delph Manchester City, £8m; Shay Given Stoke City, released; Matthew Lowton Burnley, £1m; Antonio Luna Eibar, £500,000; Yacouba Sylla Rennes, released; Enda Stevens Portsmouth, released; Ron Vlaar released; Andreas Weimann Derby County, £2.75m; Aleksandar Tonev Frosinone, undisclosed. Loans: Nathan Baker Bristol City Joe Bennett Bournemouth; Aly Cissokho Porto; Callum Robinson Bristol City

AFC Bournemouth

  • IN: Artur Boruc Southampton, free; Silvain Distin Everton, free; Adam Federici Reading, free; Max Gradel St-Étienne, undisclosed; Josh King Blackburn Rovers, free; Tyrone Mings Ipswich Town, £8m; Glenn Murray Crystal Palace, £3m; Lee Tomlin Middlesbrough, undisclosed. Loans: Christian Atsu Chelsea; Joe Bennett Aston Villa; Filippo Costa Chievo
  • OUT: Miles Addison released; Mohamed Coulibaly released; Darryl Flahavan released; Ian Harte released; Josh McQuoid released; Joe Partington released; Brett Pitman Ipswich Town, undisclosed. Loans: Ryan Fraser Ipswich Town

Chelsea

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  • IN: Baba Rahman Augsburg, £21m; Pedro Barcelona, £21.1m; Asmir Begovic Stoke, £8m; Michael Hector Reading, £4m; Kenedy Fluminense, £6.7m; Nathan Atlético Paranaense, £4.5m; Papy Djilobodji Nantes, £2.7m; Danilo Pantic Partizan Belgrade, £1.25m. Loan: Radamel Falcao Monaco
  • OUT: Petr Cech Arsenal, £10m; Thorgan Hazard Borussia Mönchengladbach, £3m; Oriol Romeu Southampton, £5m; Josh McEachran Brentford, £400k; Gaël Kakuta Sevilla, £4m; Filipe Luís Atlético Madrid, £16m; Didier Drogba Montreal, released. Loans: Marco van Ginkel Stoke City; Mohamed Salah Roma; Christian Atsu Bournemouth; Mario Pasalic Monaco; Tomas Kalas Middlesbrough; Patrick Bamford Crystal Palace; Michael Hector Reading; Nathan Aké Watford; Juan Cuadrado Juventus; Marko Marin Trabzonspor; Lucas Piazon Reading; Victor Moses West Ham; Andreas Christensen Borussia M’gladbach; Matej Delac FK Sarajevo; Wallace Carpi; Kenneth Omeruo Kasimpasa; Jordan Houghton Gillingham; Jeremie Boga Rennes; Nathaniel Chalobah Napoli; Alex Davey Peterborough; Todd Kane Nijmegen; Ulises Davila Victória Setúbal; Stipe Perica Udinese; Cristian Maneo Mouscron; Bekanty Victorien Angban, Cristian Cuevas, Joao Rodríguez all St-Truiden; Lewis Baker, Nathan, Isaiah Brown, Danilo Pantic, Dominic Solanke all Vitesse Arnhem

Crystal Palace

  • IN: Yohan Cabaye Paris St-Germain, £10m; Alex McCarthy Queens Park Rangers, £3.5m; Bakary Sako Wolverhampton Wanderers, free; Connor Wickham Sunderland, £8m. Loan: Patrick Bamford Chelsea
  • OUT: Barry Bannan Sheffield Wednesday, released; Kyle de Silva Notts County, released; Stephen Dobbie Bolton Wanderers, released; Owen Garvan Colchester United, released; Adlène Guedioura Watford, £2.5m; Glenn Murray Bournemouth, £3m; Lewis Price Sheffield Wednesday, released; Peter Ramage Kerela Blasters, released. Loans: Jack Hunt Sheffield Wednesday; Hiram Boateng Plymouth Argyle; Ryan Inniss Port Vale; Jerome Binom-Williams Burton Albion

Everton

  • IN: Tom Cleverley Manchester United, free; Gerard Deulofeu Barcelona, £4.2m; David Henen Olympiakos, £500k; Mason Holgate Barnsley, £1m; Aaron Lennon Tottenham Hotspur, £4.5m; Leandro Rodríguez River Plate Montevideo, £500k; Ramiro Funes Mori River Plate, £9.5m
  • OUT: Antolín Alcaraz released; Sylvain Distin Bournemouth, released; Matthew Kennedy Cardiff City, undisclosed; Chris Long Burnley, £500k. Loans: Luke Garbutt Fulham; Francisco Júnior Wigan Athletic; Jonjoe Kenny Wigan Athletic

Leicester City

  • IN: Yohan Benalouane Atalanta, undisclosed; Christian Fuchs Schalke, free; Robert Huth Stoke City, undisclosed; Gökhan Inler Napoli, £5m; N’Golo Kanté Caen, undisclosed; Shinji Okazaki Mainz, £7m. Loan: Nathan Dyer Swansea City
  • OUT: Esteban Cambiasso Olympiakos, released; Paul Gallagher Preston North End, released; David Nugent Middlesbrough, £4m; Gary Taylor-Fletcher released; Matthew Upson MK Dons, released; Chris Wood Leeds United, undisclosed. Loans: Ben Hamer Bristol City; Paul Konchesky QPR; Tom Lawrence Blackburn Rovers; Liam Moore Bristol City

Liverpool

  • IN: Taiwo Awoniyi Imperial Soccer Academy, £400k; Christian Benteke Aston Villa, £32.5m; Adam Bogdan Bolton Wanderers, free; Nathaniel Clyne Southampton, £12.5m; Roberto Firmino Hoffenheim, £29.5m; Joe Gomez Charlton Athletic, £3.5m; Danny Ings Burnley, tribunal; James Milner Manchester City, free
  • OUT: Iago Aspas Celta Vigo, £3.5m; Fabio Borini Sunderland, £8m; Sebastián Coates Sunderland, £2m; Steven Gerrard LA Galaxy, released; Glen Johnson Stoke City, released; Brad Jones Bradford City, released; Rickie Lambert West Bromwich Albion, £3m; Javier Manquillo released; Raheem Sterling Manchester City, £49m. Loans: Luis Alberto Deportivo La Coruña; Mario Balotelli Milan; Sergi Canos Brentford; Ryan McLaughlin, Danny Ward both Aberdeen; Lazar Markovic Fenerbahce; Kevin Stewart, Jordan Williams both Swindon Town; Andre Wisdom Norwich City

Manchester City

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  • IN: Kevin De Bruyne Wolfsburg, £51m; Fabian Delph Aston Villa, £8m; Nicolás Otamendi Valencia, £34m; Patrick Roberts Fulham, £11m; Rubén Sobrino SD Ponferradina, £200,000; Raheem Sterling Liverpool, £49m; Enes Unal Bursaspor, £2m
  • OUT: Dedryck Boyata Celtic, undisclosed; John Guidetti Celta Vigo, released; Jordy Hiwula Huddersfield Town, undisclosed; Frank Lampard New York City, released; Marcos Lopes Monaco, £9m; James Milner Liverpool, released; Matija Nastasic Schalke, undisclosed; Micah Richards Aston Villa, released; Scott Sinclair Aston Villa, £2.5m. Loans: Jason Denayer Galatasaray; Edin Dzeko Roma; Stevan Jovetic Internazionale; Enes Unal Genk

Manchester United

  • IN: Matteo Darmian Torino, £12.9m; Memphis Depay PSV Eindhoven, £25m; Anthony Martial Monaco, initial £36m; Sergio Romero Sampdoria, free; Morgan Schneiderlin Southampton, £24m; Bastian Schweinsteiger Bayern Munich, £14.4m
  • OUT: Ben Amos released; Tom Cleverley Everton, released; Ángel di María Paris St-Germain, £44.3m; Jonny Evans West Bromwich Albion, £6m; Javier Hernández Bayer Leverkusen, £7.3m; Reece James Wigan Athletic, undisclosed; Saidy Janko Celtic, undisclosed; Nani Fenerbahce, £4.3m; Rafael da Silva Lyon, £2.5m; Tom Thorpe Rotherham United, released; Robin van Persie Fenerbahce, £4.7m. Loans: Tyler Blackett Celtic; Will Keane Preston North End; Adnan Januzaj Borussia Dortmund

Newcastle United

  • IN: Chancel Mbemba Anderlecht, £8m; Aleksandar Mitrovic Anderlecht, £13m; Florian Thauvin Marseille, £13m; Ivan Toney Northampton Town, £300,000; Georginio Wijnaldum PSV Eindhoven, £14.5m
  • OUT: Mehdi Abeid Panathinaikos, £1.5m; Jan Alnwick Port Vale, released; Jonás Gutiérrez Deportivo La Coruña, released; Ryan Taylor Hull City, released. Loans: Sammy Ameobi Cardiff City; Rémy Cabella Marseille; Haris Vuckic Wigan Athletic

Norwich City

  • IN: Robbie Brady Hull City, £7m; Graham Dorrans West Bromwich Albion, undisclosed; Jake Kean Blackburn Rovers, free; Youssouf Mulumbu West Bromwich Albion, free. Loans: Matt Jarvis West Ham; Dieumerci Mbokani Dynamo Kyiv; Andre Wisdom Liverpool
  • OUT: Luciano Becchio released; Mark Bunn Aston Villa, released; Carlos Cuéllar released; Javier Garrido released; Bradley Johnson Derby County, £6.5m. Loans: Jacob Murphy Coventry City; Josh Murphy MK Dons; Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe Rotherham; Michael Turner Sheffield Wednesday; Ricky van Wolfswinkel Real Betis

Southampton

  • IN: Jordy Clasie Feyenoord, £7m; Juanmi Málaga, £5.1m; Cuco Martina Twente, £3m; Oriol Romeu Chelsea, £5m; Cédric Soares Sporting, £3.6m; Virgil van Dijk Celtic, £11.5m. Loans: Steven Caulker Queens Park Rangers; Maarten Stekelenburg Fulham
  • OUT: Artur Boruc Bournemouth, released; Nathaniel Clyne Liverpool, £12.5m; Cody Cropper MK Dons, released; Dani Osvaldo Porto, released; Morgan Schneiderlin Manchester United, £24m. Loan: Sam Gallagher MK Dons

Stoke City

  • IN: Ibrahim Afellay Barcelona, free; Moha El Ouriachi Barcelona, undisclosed; Shay Given Aston Villa, free; Jakob Haugaard Midtjylland, undisclosed; Glen Johnson Liverpool, free; Joselu Hannover, £5.7m; Sergio Molina Real Madrid, undisclosed; Xherdan Shaqiri Internazionale, £12m; Philipp Wollscheid Bayer Leverkusen, £2.75m. Loan: Marco van Ginkel Chelsea
  • OUT: Asmir Begovic Chelsea, £8m; Robert Huth Leicester City, undisclosed; Steven N’Zonzi Sevilla, £7m; Wilson Palacios released; Thomas Sorensen Melbourne City, released

Sunderland

  • IN: Fabio Borini Liveprool, £8m; Sebastián Coates Liverpool, £2m; Younès Kaboul Tottenham Hotspur, £3m; Jeremain Lens Dynamo Kyiv, £8.5m; Adam Matthews Celtic, £2m. Loans: Yann M’Vila Rubin Kazan; Ola Toivonen Rennes; DeAndre Yedlin Tottenham Hotspur
  • OUT: El Hadji Ba Charlton Athletic, undisclosed; Connor Wickham Crystal Palace, £8m. Loans: Jordan Pickford Preston North End; Santiago Vergini Getafe

Swansea City

  • IN: André Ayew Marseille, free; Botti Biabi Falkirk, undisclosed; Éder Braga, undisclosed; Ollie McBurnie Bradford City, undisclosed; Kristoffer Nordfeldt Heerenveen, undisclosed; Franck Tabanou St-Étienne, undisclosed
  • OUT: Jazz Richards Fulham, undisclosed; Alan Tate released. Loans: Nathan Dyer Leicester City; Kenji Gorré ADO Den Haag

Tottenham Hotspur

  • IN: Toby Alderweireld Atlético Madrid, £11.4m; Son Heung-min Bayer Leverkusen, £22m; Clinton Njie Lyon, £10m; Kieran Trippier Burnley, £3.5m; Kevin Wimmer Cologne, £4.3m
  • OUT: Étienne Capoue Watford, £6m; Cristian Ceballos Charlton Athletic, released; Vlad Chiriches Napoli, £4.5m; Ryan Fredericks Bristol City, undisclosed; Brad Friedel retired; Grant Hall Queens Park Rangers, undisclosed; Lewis Holtby Hamburg, £4.6m; Younès Kaboul Sunderland, £3m; Aaron Lennon Everton, £4.5m; Paulinho Guangzhou Evergrande, £9.9m; Roberto Soldado Villarreal, £7m; Benjamin Stambouli Paris St-Germain, £6m. Loans: DeAndre Yedlin Sunderland; Grant Ward Rotherham United

Watford

  • IN: Giedrius Arlauskis Steaua Bucharest, free; Valon Behrami Hamburg, undisclosed; Steven Berghuis AZ Alkmaar, £4.6m; Miguel Britos Napoli, undisclosed; Étienne Capoue Tottenham, £6m; Adlène Guedioura Crystal Palace, £2.5m; José Manuel Jurado Spartak Moscow, undisclosed; José Holebas Roma, undisclosed; Allan Nyom Udinese, undisclosed; Obbi Oularé Club Brugge, undisclosed; Sebastian Prödl Werder Bremen, free; Matej Vydra Udinese, free. Loans: Nathan Aké Chelsea; Alessandro Diamanti Guangzhou Evergrande; Victor Ibarbo Roma
  • OUT: Jonathan Bond Reading, undisclosed; Fernando Forestieri Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed; Lewis McGugan Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed; Marco Motta released. Loans: Gabriele Angella Queens Park Rangers; Diego Fabbrini Middlesbrough; Miguel Layún Porto; Daniel Pudil Sheffield Wednesday; Matej Vydra Reading

West Brom

  • IN: James Chester Hull City, £8m; Jonny Evans Manchester United, £6m; Rickie Lambert Liverpool, £3m; Anders Lindegaard Manchester United, free; James McClean Wigan Athletic, undisclosed; Salomón Rondón Zenit St Petersburg, £12m. Loan: Serge Gnabry Arsenal
  • OUT: Chris Baird released; Donervon Daniels released; Jason Davidson released; Graham Dorrans Norwich City, undisclosed; Joleon Lescott Aston Villa, £1m; Youssouf Mulumbu Norwich City, released; Kemar Roofe Oxford United, undisclosed; Georgios Samaras released. Loan: Adil Nabi Delhi Dynamos

West Ham

ogbonna

  • IN: Michail Antonio Nottingham Forest, £7m; Stephen Hendrie Hamilton, undisclosed; Nikica Jelavic Hull City, £3m; Pedro Obiang Sampdoria, £4.3m; Angelo Ogbonna Juventus, £10m; Dimitri Payet Marseille, £10.7m; Darren Randolph Birmingham City, free. Loans: Carl Jenkinson Arsenal; Manuel Lanzini Al Jazira Club; Victor Moses Chelsea; Alex Song Barcelona
  • OUT: Carlton Cole released; Guy Demel released; Stewart Downing Middlesbrough, £5.5m; Jussi Jaaskelainen Wigan Athletic, released; Nenê Vasco da Gama, released; Kevin Nolan released. Loans: Matt Jarvis Norwich City; Diego Poyet MK Dons

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

Sterling signs for City, but it won’t be the transfer of the summer

Raheem Sterling has completed his somewhat inevitable transfer from Liverpool to Manchester City today for a fee of £49 million. Many, myself included, believe it’s an incredible amount to pay for the 20-year-old.

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He has an incredible talent, and buckets of potential. But I have always found him to be somewhat inconsistent and, from where I sitting, he seems to have a lousy attitude. And the money City have spent on the England international brings back memories of Andy Carroll – a hot prospect that ultimately failed after huge money was spent.

It’s a big money signing but by no means the best signing of the transfer window so far. Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s move from Bayern Munich to Manchester United is one that utterly blew my mind.

Bastian-Schweinsteiger-590976

Basti is an incredible player. A World Cup winner, he’s been with Munich since 1998 and quickly became a fan favourite after breaking through to their senior squad in 2002. He’s been a prominent and influential player in the Bavarian side for 17 years. Louis van Gaal has acquired a midfielder who is as intelligent as Xavi, as influential as Steven Gerrard and as powerful as Paul Scholes.

Another huge signing that has occurred in the already manic transfer window is the criminally under-rated Arda Turan, who joined Barcelona from Atlético Madrid.

The Turk has, in the past, been linked with various Premier League clubs, but few of the English papers give the former Galatasaray captain the credit he deserves. His touch and his control are sheer world-class and his vision for the predominantly right-sided midfielder was hugely influential in Atléti’s success in recent years.

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Atlético’s loss is Barcelona’s gain, but Turan won’t be able to compete for the Catalans until January of next year after Barça’s transfer ban has been lifted. But I would give up six months of my career to play at Camp Nou alongside Leo Messi, too.

Finally, Iker Casillas‘ move from Real Madrid to FC Porto is obviously a major coup for the Portugese side. Let’s be honest, it is their biggest signing since a then-relatively unknown José Mourinho became manager in 2002. But the move is not without it’s criticism on Real Madrid’s part.

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The club have been accused by many of showing a lack of respect to the World Cup winning goalkeeper. Aside from unfollowing Casillas on Twitter minutes after the move to Porto was complete, Real Madrid were heavily criticised for forcing the player out according to the Spaniard’s family – an accusation Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who is currently unpopular among section of the Madrid faithful, has denied.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Transfer rumours: let the games begin!

Ah, it’s that time of year again. With the season drawing to a close, as always, many clubs will be keen to re-evaluate their squad personnel.

There’s no major international summer tournament in sight, so players will be heavily judged on their club form. Some players are surely catching the eyes of the managers in England’s top tier. Let’s look at some.

Last year, 24-year-old Antoine Griezmann was bought by Atlético Madrid from Real Sociedad for €30 million to effectively replace Diego Costa who left for Chelsea. Well, if the rumours are true, they could be team-mates as José Mourinho is eyeing up a bid for the French international, whose buy out clause is reported to be around the €55 million mark.

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There’s strong rumours doing the rounds that Liverpool’s Rickie Lambert could also be on his way to Chelsea as a replacement for Didier Drogba. It’s news that shocks many – probably even Rickie himself – but seemingly if José doesn’t get Liverpool’s number 9, then he will go for none other than Emmanuel Adebayor. But, we will wait and see.

Mephis Depay enjoyed a wonderful World Cup with the Netherlands last summer and a superb season with PSV, where he won the Dutch title a couple of weeks back. Last month PSV director Marcel Brands confirmed that Manchester United enquired about the availability of the Dutch winger. But of course there’s also the rumours that LvG is keen on Madrid’s Gareth Bale. I know which one is the cheaper option.

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Liverpool are also said to be keen on Depay, but their main priority is to get an accomplished striker. With Sturridge’s injury struggles and Balotelli’s performance woes, next season Brendan Rodgers’ Steven Gerrard-less Liverpool will need lots of goals. Alexandre Lacazette could be just the man. The Lyon striker has enjoyed his best season in Ligue 1, scoring 27 goals this season in 31 games.

Another Ligue 1 striker that has been linked with a move to England is Marseille’s André Pierre Gignac, who at one point caught the attention of both Rodgers and Arsene Wenger. But the Arsenal boss is reportedly plotting a bid to bring Yohan Cabaye back to England from PSG. But Wenger is hopeful of landing the signature of World Cup winner and Barcelona star Pedro for just €25 million. The Spaniard has fallen down the pecking order behind Neymar, Suarez and, obviously, Messi.

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But the season hasn’t finished yet. There’s plenty of time until the transfer window chaos to begins.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR – the January transfer window is open

Happy new year, dear blog readers, and welcoem to the first blog post of 2015, which is the fifth year we’ve been active. We’re getting old. Anyway, now that January is upon us, it also means that the transfer window is open. Prepare for weeks of activity.

An already done-deal is the news that Fernando Torres is set to join AC Milan permanently from Chelsea. The Rossoneri will then loan the Spanish striker out to his boyhood club of Atlético Madrid from January 5th. That £50 million transfer seems like a really long time ago now. 

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Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has long been linked with a move to Liverpool now that Thibaut Courtois has overtaken the Czech international as Jose Mourinho’s number one. Liverpool have struggled this season and need to strengthen the team, and quickly. A few wing-backs also wouldn’t go amiss, with Fabio Coentrão’s name having been mentioned.

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Brendan Rodgers insists that Mario Balotelli isn’t going to be pushed out the Anfield door, despite his poor form, but Liverpool need to strengthen their attacking options. Balotelli, either way, needs to find his form, or it could be a long and lonely time on the substitute’s bench for the Italian.

Meanwhile in France, newspaper reports in Italy suggested that Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t happy at PSG, and Roma are lining up a big for the Swede. But with only a year left on his contract, the powers-that-be upstairs may want to cash in on 33-year-old, who has never, so far in his career, spent more than three years at a club.

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Speaking of PSG, Ezequiel Lavezzi has been heavily linked with a move to Inter Milan, with some press even calling it a “done deal”. The truth is that it’s very far from being a done deal, but if Inter can raise the funds to bring the Argentine to the San Siro (along with their other target in Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski), it would be likely Lavezzi would leave the French capital.

Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac seems like a likely candidate to leave Ligue 1. The 28-year-old’s technique and predatory goalscoring makes him ready built for the Premier League, but the Frenchman himself hasn’t ruling out elsewhere, such as “the Turkish and Russian leagues”. (A fine option for Brendan Rodgers?)

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In La Liga, Barcelona have been hit with a much publicised transfer ban. The club have enough players to see the ban through, but with players such as Dani Alves, Martin Montoya and Adriano all rumoured to leave, it could give the Catalans a headache at times.

The ban puts rivals Real Madrid in the driving seat in the race to win Borussia Dortmund’s ridiculously brilliant Marco Reus. While the German international may not move in this window, he has a release clause which kicks in during the next one, which means he can leave Jurgen Klopp’s army for as low as €25 million.

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Speaking of Real Madrid, los Blancos have reportedly told Man United that star player Gareth Bale is not for sale at any price. Louis van Gaal is determined to strengthen his United team, but the Welshman will not be a player that will be joining him. Players who the Dutch coach is highly interested in include Roma’s Kevin Strootman, Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and the currently-unattached, yet highly-decorated goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

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United’s neighbours Man City are keeping a close eye on the Edinson Cavani situation. The Uruguayan has been reported to be in talks with Arsenal in a cash-plus-player deal with PSG, but City will be keeping tabs on the player they’ve been interested in for some years now.

Arsenal have also been linked with Aston Villa’s centre-half Ron Vlaar. The Dutchman was reported to be on the verge with a move to Man United, but Vlaar himself told the Dutch press: “I’ve never heard from them (Man United). If a club had really wanted me, I would have noticed. That has not been the case.”

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There’s endless rumours, reports and chatter going on at the moment, but the next four weeks will be very interesting indeed. As usual at the end of the window, I’ll be doing a round-up of the best, worst, weirdest, talked about and least-talked about transfers in January. So stay tuned for that.

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

Chaos and superstars: A round-up of the summer transfer window

Over the summer, there was an incredible amount of money spent on players shifting clubs. The biggest deals include Gareth Bale joining Madrid (€100 mil), Radamel Falcao joining Monaco (€60 mil), Neymar to Barcelona (€57 mil), Edinson Cavani to PSG (€67 mil), Mesut Ozil to Arsenal (€45 mil) and Peter Odemwingie to Cardiff City. OK, maybe not the last one. But at least he did get transferred this time instead of just hanging around a stadium in the hope that someone signs him.

I’ll start off with Serie A, and Juventus strengthened their strike-force with Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente while the criminally under-rated-on-these-shores Alessandro Matri joined league rivals AC Milan. Speaking of the Rossoneri, they brought Kaka back to the San Siro on a free – four years after they sold him to Madrid for €65 million. Nice!
Roma brought in the likes of Gervinho, Adem Ljajić and Kevin Strootman but lost out on stars such as Marquinhos, Bojan, Erik Lamela and Pablo Osvaldo. Interesting times ahead in the eternal city. Whatever happened Inter? They slipped off the radar in recent times. Didn’t they win the Champions League not long ago?

In Spain, Neymar was dominating all the headlines for months. Until a certain Welshman joined a certain club from the capital. Real weren’t afraid to splash the cash as they also purchased Asier Illarramendi and Isco. City rivals Atlético Madrid got David Villa from Barcelona for the bargain price of around €5 million. They also got Argentine defender Martín Demichelis from Malaga. But he stayed for all of five minutes before departing for Manchester City. Who says loyalty is dead in football?

European champions Bayern Munich signed not only a new coach in Pep Guardiola, but they also acquired the much-sought-after playmaker Mario Götze from rivals Dortmund. Barcelona midfielder Thiago also joined the side, pairing up with his former manager from Barça.
Borussia Dortmund signed Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan last month, but one can’t help but feel there will be a massive Götze-shaped-hole in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield. It’ll still be between the two sides in the Bundesliga, but how will Pep fare? As I said before, the only way is down.

Finally in England, and £624,560,000 later, it was non-stop in the Premier League. Tottenham and Liverpool made some interesting signings with Spurs bringing in Paulinho, Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and (one of my former ones-to-watch) Christian Eriksen. Liverpool brought in the Spanish duo of Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas. Along with the Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure and PSG starlet Mamadou Sakho, Brendan Rodgers’ side will certainly be fighting alongside AVB’s men for a Champions League place.

Transfer deadline day was an interesting one. I believe Arsenal got the star signing in Ozil, but Man United done well bringing Marouane Fellaini to Old Trafford. And £27.5 million is quite an amount for him. But is he worth it? In footballing terms, yes. United however faced some unusual situations – such as getting the signature of Ander Herrera from Bilbao. One minute he was ready to put pen to paper, the next it was all off with various reasons as to why.
This was then followed with news of signing of Real Madrid left-back Coentrao on loan – followed by reports that the deal had not in fact gone through. At least they got Fellaini.

Manchester City and Chelsea surprised nobody by splashing the cash on Fernandinho, Jesús Navas, Álvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetić (Man City) and André Schürrle, Willian, Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea). But Chelsea did surprise everyone by hanging onto Fernando Torres. Surely he is surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge? The Special One has decided to hang onto for now him anyway. Same goes for the frankly brilliant Juan Mata who was rumoured to be joining either PSG or Liverpool. But he’s still a Chelsea player. For now.

Everton may have lost their star player, but along with the hugely-promising Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Koné, on deadline day they snapped up our very own James McCarthy on a permanent deal as well as Man City midfielder Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku. There is life after the afro’d one, Evertonians.

Other Irish players that moved in the window include Keith Andrews (Brighton), Stephen Ireland (Stoke), Enda Stevens (Notts Co), Noel Hunt (Leeds) and James McClean (Wigan). No move for Robbie Keane to (another) boyhood club then. That joke really is old.

Phew. That’s the transfer news until January.

 

Who were your favourite signings this summer? Tell Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

Transfer rumours and done deals

Ok, so the potential (or even likely) Gareth Bale to Real Madrid saga has been dominating the headlines as of late. But elsewhere there has been some major deals going on. Let’s have a look at some of them.

First off and with the arrival of Belgian ‘keeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers felt that the time has come to offload the club’s long-time first choice goalie Pepe Reina. The Spaniard has been shipped out on loan to Napoli where he re-joins former boss Rafa Benitez.

Napoli themselves have been busy. Star player Edinson Cavani was sold to PSG for a measly €64m. With that wad of cash, Rafa managed to bring in Gonzalo Higuaín, Raúl Albiol and José Callejón from Real Madrid not to mention PSV star Dries Mertens.

Speaking of PSG, they signed 19-year old Marquinhos from Roma for €32m. He played just 26 games for Roma since joining the Italian club in 2012 from Corinthians (whom he made just six league appearances for). An exciting prospect, I hope Marquinhos doesn’t end up being known as “the new Andy Carroll”.

While Marquinhos left, Roma completed the signing of Dutch international midfielder Kevin Strootman from PSV. The Italian side also let Bojan Krkic return to his native Barcelona where he was immediately loaned out to Ajax to restart his career. And also the signing of Neymar means places are very limited at Camp Nou.

One player who did leave Camp Nou was one-time Manchester United target Thiago. He joins up with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, who themselves have also brought in the hugely talented Mario Götze from rivals Borussia Dortmund. 

Cesc Fabregas and Luis Suarez‘s names are coming up a lot in the back pages recently. Cesc is a target for Manchester United, but the Catalan media are now reporting that David Moyes has all but given up on the former Arsenal star and is now looking at Italian midfielder Claudio Marchisio. While Suarez is a £40m + £1 target for Arsenal. Yes – Arsenal! Arsene Wenger! He could well be a Liverpool player still by September 1st, but perhaps selling the Uruguayan wouldn’t be the worst idea if the price was right.

Elsewhere Joey Barton is doing his best to join boyhood club Everton and told the club that he’d take a significant cut in wages. Will he fit into Martinez’s plans? Maybe. QPR will happily play him in the Championship anyway.

Stay tuned for more transfers as they happen.

 

Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

 

The best free agents this summer

The transfer window officially opened last Monday and between now and August 31st, expect a lot of deals to be done and some serious money to be spent. But also as of last Monday, there is a number of players that clubs can acquire for absolutely nothing as some contracts have expired. Yes indeed, let’s take a look at the best freebies in football right now.

Florent Malouda
Since the French international was released by Chelsea, there has been no shortage of enquiries for his services. His style of play has helped the Blues win a Premier League trophy, three FA cups and, of course, the holy grail for Abramovich, the Champions League trophy. A one-time Liverpool target, the 33 year-old still can be a threat and will easily find a new club that can avail of his style of play. Don’t be surprised if he returns to France.

Richard Dunne
Needs no introduction to anyone on this island. Plagued by injuries last season, the Tallaght native will turn 34 next September and many will wonder if his best days are behind him. In all honesty, that’s possibly very true despite it being just a year and a half since his heroic display in Moscow, in which many agree is one of – if not the – finest display in an Irish jersey. Dunne is a strong and reliable defender but may drop to the Championship to find regular football.

Mahamadou Diarra
Diarra was one of Lyon’s most important players during the mid-2000’s. He also played a huge role during his five seasons at Real Madrid, which ended in 2011 after an injury witnessed the club purchase more and more players to fill his position. He last turned out for Fulham, but only made 19 appearances for the West Londoners. Diarra may not be the €26 million player he once was, but can still do damage. The Malian international could return to France.

Nicolas Anelka
Another ex-Chelsea player. He may be 34, but he can still be quite lethal in front of any goalkeeper. Nico last turned out for Italian giants Juventus, but chances were limited given the amount of talented strikers at the Old Lady. The former-French international may play somewhere in the Middle East, though reports suggest that West Brom are keen for him to partner Shane Long up front.

Thomas Hitzlsperger
The former Aston Villa and Stuttgart defender has turned out for four clubs in the past three years – Lazio, West Ham, Wolfsburg and Everton. Despite having limited appearances with each of them, the German defender’s performances were decent. He’s well settled in England and is fluent with the language, I feel that one of the Premier League’s newly-promoted teams could benefit from having him in their squad. He is, after all, just 31.

Yossi Benayoun
The hugely experienced Israeli has plied his trade for clubs such as Racing Santander, West Ham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Despite playing just a handful of games for the Hammers last season, Benayoun’s experience and professionalism would make him a valuable asset to any club. Could end up another Premier League club.

Eric Abidal
A solid left-back, Abidal’s tenure at Barcelona is up after six seasons. Some serious health issues (in 2011, he underwent surgery following a diagnosis of a tumour in his liver then he received liver transplant a year later because of problems which were unresolved with the previous operation) witnessed the Catalans purchase Jordi Alba in his position, Abidal can still play a flawless game as he proved time and time in the previous La Liga season. It’s understood that his former club, the newly-rich Monaco are interested in his services.

 

Who else is a good freebie? Let Rob Smith know on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Beckham's French surprise and Odemwingie's madness

No footballer ever praises the mid-season transfer window. Managers also hate it and even club owners want rid of it. I don’t know if it’s a good idea myself, but I can’t deny how entertaining it can be – especially on January 31st. Last Thursday proved to be extra entertaining.

It all started off fairly regularly. Mario Balotelli finally completed his move to AC Milan after the Italian club’s director leaked details of the transfer earlier in the week. Luchiano Becchio left Leeds for Norwich City with Welsh international Steve Morison heading in opposite direction to Elland Road. David Beckham signed for newly-rich Paris St Germain and the former England captain announced that he would donate his entire salary to a local children’s charity. A nice touch, Becks!

As the day progressed, big moves such as Christopher Samba joining QPR from Russian outfit Anzhi and Nacho Monreal joining Arsenal were the other big headlines. That was until one Peter Odemwingie turned up at Loftus Road all on his own in his Range Rover. His window was down and as he was shaking hands with fans and talking to Sky, but it soon became apparent that Odemwingie didn’t have a deal with QPR. We know this because West Brom issued a statement soon after the striker was seen on live TV: Odemwingie was a West Brom player and no deal had been reached for QPR to sign him.

The Uzbek-born Nigerian was in fact denied access into the stadium by officials of the London club once lawyers were getting involved, as Odemwingie had no permission to speak to QPR. Bizarre? Yes. But there’s more. The 31-year old later said “I came to this club (West Brom) in a wholly unprofessional way. I wasn’t given any permission by Lokomotiv Moscow”. If Odemwingie is going down, it seems he’s taking everyone with him.

I’ve no doubt that a deal had likely been agreed in principle. Only it probably broke down when, if Odemwingie had left the Hawthorns for Loftus Road, it would have left West Brom in need of a replacement striker at the last minute. But for it to be handled so poorly, and in public, is one of the most bizarre things that can happen. Like it or not, the transfer deadline day always seems to create a surprise or two.

Sneijder's Turkish delight and other January movers and rumours

Dutch superstar Wesley Sneijder was, just yesterday, given just 24 hours to decide if he wants to swap the blue and black of Inter Milan for the yellow and red of Galatasaray following the Turkish side’s €10 million bid was accepted by the Italian giants.

“Galatasaray’s offer satisfies us. Now it depends on the player,” Inter president Massimo Moratti told Sky Sports. “We would be happy if he decided to stay on our terms.”

By “our terms”, he means taking a pay cut of about €2 million per season which Sneijder has publicly refused to accept (he hasn’t played for Inter since September 25th of last year as a result of this dispute). The Dutch maestro arrived from Real Madrid for €15 million back in 2009. But unless a late offer comes in (and Manchester United, Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool are reported to be keeping an eye on this situation), then Sneijder could be swapping Milan for Istanbul before the weekend.

Elsewhere in this transfer window, Giuseppe Rossi has left Villareal after six years at the Spanish side. He joins Fiorentina for a fee of about €10 million. Excellent business for such a great attacking playmaker – but one that is, in recent times, unfortunately quite injury-prone.

Meanwhile Tottenham have been eyeing up Brazilian star Leandro Damião from Internacional. With Emmanuel Adebayor’s decision to go to the Africa Nations Cup, AVB is rumoured to be interested in the 23-year-old. Though he won’t come cheap. Then again – talent like this rarely does.

Finally, following his run-in with boss Roberto Mancini last week, there are plenty of rumours doing the rounds that Mario Balotelli is set to leave Man City in this transfer window. His destination: his native Italy. But not to AC Milan if club owner Silvio Berlusconi has anything to do with it, having said that Balotelli is “a bad apple,” and did not want him in the Rossoneri squad. We shall have to wait and see what the predictably unpredictable Super Mario has up his sleeve then.

Keep an eye on the blog in the coming days for the big moves in this transfer window as well as our usual  (and even unusual) content.

Also, the blog has decided to get involved with social media – so do check us out on Faceboook.

 

Meanwhile, all your opinions, questions and general rants about the big moves in this transfer window thus far can be sent to Rob Smith via Twitter (@robsmithireland).

The greatest transfers that didn't happen

Zinedine Zidane. Bordeaux to Blackburn Rovers.
“Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?” was chairman’s Jack Walker’s reason for not bringing Zizou to Ewood Park in 1996. Then-boss Kenny Dalglish had agreed a superb deal in principle to sign the Frenchman, along with Christophe Dugarry. But much to his disappointment, the board refused to sanction his request. Not as disappointed as many Blackburn fans felt as they saw Zidane’s career, talent and trophy cabinet blossom with Juventus and Real Madrid over the years. Oh, what could have been…

Diego Maradona. Argentinos Juniors to Sheffield United.
Yes. Maradona. Sheffield United. It nearly happened. In 1978, Harry Haslam had struck a deal to bring El Diego to Bramall Lane for £600,000. But after being told by the board that there were not enough funds to complete the deal, he turned to fellow Argentine Alex Sabella as his replacement from River Plate. Maradona went on to become the greatest player on earth with Barcelona and Napoli (not to mention becoming a World Cup winning captain), while Sabella soon left the Blades for Leeds United.

Ronaldinho. Gremio to St. Mirren.
The Brazilian genius was, back in 2001, plying his trade with Gremio and fancied a short loan stint in Europe before making his way to Paris St-Germian, as that deal had already been done. Somehow, and for some reason we will probably never know, he chose to play for Scottish club St. Mirren but, unfortunately due to some passport problems, the deal was scuppered at the very last minute and ‘Dinho never got to taste SPL football. A shame. How it could have been all different.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Malmo to Arsenal.
In 2000, Arsene Wenger invited the Swede to a trial for the Gunners. Unfortunately for the French boss, Ibrahimovic, with his infamous ego, reportedly said “Zlatan doesn’t do trials”. Ibrahimovic went on to sign for Ajax before becoming a serial title winner in Italy and Spain while Wenger today shrugs off what could have been, saying “‘He was just 16. I asked him to have a little training session with the first team and he simply didn’t want to do it”. Fair enough. Ibra however (pictured below), would later haunt the North London club a few times later in his career

Roy Keane. Nottingham forest to Blackburn Rovers.
Another one for King Kenny that got away. believed he had completed a deal to sign the Forest midfielder in the summer of 1993. Seemingly, Dalglish tried to tie up the deal late on a Friday afternoon, but was forced to wait until the Monday to complete the paperwork. By then, though, Fergie had rung up his future United captain and changed his mind while Rovers had to sit back and watch the Corkman collect just about every honour in the game as Man United dominated the 90’s.

Paul Gascoigne. Newcastle United to Manchester United.
Gazza, a PFA Young Player of The Year, initially agreed on a move to Old Trafford, but at the 11th hour he went back on his word and joined Tottenham for a then British transfer record of £2.3m. Sir Alex Ferguson, to this day, still recalls the Geordie genius as the player he wish he’d signed more than anyone else.

 
What other football transfers nearly happened? Get Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)