Panic day, as August 31 should be called, was as usual, busy as ever. In England it was Arsene Wenger, pressing the panic button and going against everything he usually preaches regarding players he signs and the Great Plan. Inter Milan were quite busy themselves and in all the past few days were quite hectic regarding fax machines, phone calls between Football directors and contract signings.
As we said, Arsenal and Wenger, bruised and beaten after that 8-2 loss, had to make moves. Maybe to please the critics, maybe to please the fans, and maybe… I don’t know. No real big stars, just decent to good players, all above the ages of 26, to fill some gaps and holes. Will it be enough to put Wenger’s season back on track? I’m not so sure.
South Korean striker Park Chu-Young of Monaco was the first player signed by Arsenal. He scored one goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 12 goals for Monaco, who were relegated last season. Mikel Arteta of Everton was signed for £10 million. He’s already managed to score a goal for Everton this season. The 29 year old has been playing for Everton since 2004. Next up was Yossi Benayoun, who can be deployed at a number of positions. Benayoun’s Chelsea future looked bleaked and he was sought after by a number of teams. He chose Arsenal because it was still London and he had the best chance to get minutes there. What about the defense? Well, Arsenal finally landed Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker, coming in with 75 caps for the German national side. One more? You got it. Brazilian left back Andre Santos was signed from Fenerbahce.
Arsenal weren’t the only ones making moves – Liverpool signed Sebastian Coates, a fantastic Uruguayan from Nacional. who made a real impression in the Copa America. One of the biggest surprises was the return of Craig Bellamy to Anfield. Always a fan favorite everywhere he goes, the Welsh forward didn’t see eye to eye with Benitez back in 2006-2007. Liverpool also found somehwere to dump Joe Cole, shipping him off to Lille on a loan. Liverpool weren’t done with the selling – Raul Meireles (Bad Move…) was bought by Chelsea, David N’Gog sold to Bolton and Christian Poulsen to Evian.
I know Dalglish had to do some trimming in his squad, but Meireles is a fantastic player and Liverpool should have kept him on the team. Back to signings – Newcastle signed Davide Santon from Inter. Considered a wonderkid not too long ago, Inter have quickly changed their mind about him. Young defenders don’t usually fair too well at St. James’ park, but who knows. Scott Dann made the move up from the Championship, leaving Birmingham for Blackburn. Dann was chased by both Liverpool and Arsenal this summer.
Royston Drenthe was loaned out by Real Madrid, again, this time to Everton. Anton Ferdinand returned to London, joining QPR from Sunderland. Alan Hutton left Spurs for Aston Villa, while Manchester City made the shock signing, giving Owen Hargreaves another shot in different colors. We’ll finish with Fulham, who made a bold and big move for Costa Rican striker Bryan Ruiz, scorer of 35 goals in just over two seasons for FC Twente. They signed him for £10.6 Million.
Spanish La Liga
Valencia, who have been mostly sellers in the last couple of years, purchased Spanish defender Victor Ruiz from Napoli for €8 million and later that day another full back, Antonio Barragan from Valladolid, who has Liverpool somewhere on his resume. Other moves? Villareal signed Nigerian Uche from Zaragoza, where the 27 year old striker failed to impress. Atletico Madrid, who sold both Aguero and Forland brough over, on loan, Diego Ribas, who not too long ago was considered one of the best midfielders in the world.
Villareal had more business to do, signing Jonathan de Guzman from Mallorca for €8 million. Mallorca will be our last on the Iberian peninsula, signing Argentinian Fernando Tissone from Sampdoria for €4 million.
Italian Serie A
Inter were the busiest of sides, making two big signings. The fantastic Mauro Zarate was brought over from Lazio on loan for €2.7 million, with the option of signing him for 15 when the season is over. The bigger name, but probably not the better player, was Diego Forlan from Atletico Madrid. He didn’t have the best of seasons for Atletico in 2010-2011, scoring 8 league goals, but his abilities and expereince should prove valuable.
AS Roma made a few big moves – They signed Miralem Pjanic, the Bosnian midfielder from Lyon. The also brought, on loan, Fernando Gago from Real Madrid and Wolfsburg’s Danish centre back, Simon Kjær. The Champions, AC Milan, signed Palermo’s Antonio Nocerino after three very successful seasons in Sicily.
In sort of a negative tone, despite the great fun of having these last two days of August on our computer screen, pressing refresh, following the crazy rumors (Kaka to Tottenham, 87 million for Hulk) and following tweets, this isn’t good for football. Two bad games and teams reshuffle their entire deck of cards. The season has actually begun in most leagues, and a small team that had a nice start after 2-3 games might find themselves torn apart by the Wolves looking for a quick fix.
Solution? Nothing perfect, but two come to mind. Limiting the number of signings each club is allowed, between certain ages. No limit on under 21, or maybe even no limit on old guys as well – 33/34 or up. Or maybe just stopping the transfer market the moment the league begins, until January. That month is crazy enough.