It looked as though this would be a quiet winter transfer market, with very unsubstantial rumors amounting to nothing in the weeks leading up to January’s final weekend. But as the January transfer window was closing, some of Europe’s biggest and most storied clubs decided they needed to make a big splash, which resulted in some big names moving across Europe.
Chelsea’s Double-Dip – Fernando Torres and David Luiz
Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner, is obviously tired of watching his club struggle on the pitch, and he decided to roll the dice in a big way. Abramovich sent shock-waves through the soccer world by spending a reported €83.5 million on two top class players, striker Fernando “El Nino” Torres and centre back David Luiz. On paper, and in Fifa 11, Chelsea made dream signings. In the real world however, manager Carlo Ancelotti will have plenty of headaches in regards to his squad selection. It appears Nicolas Anelka will drop to the bench, even after a dominating display against Sunderland mid-week, with Torres and Didier Drogba forming a potentially dynamic strike partnership. It is assumed Ancelotti will revert to his favored 4-4-2 diamond midfield formation he used at Milan, which would feature either Florent Malouda or Salomon Kalou on the left, Frank Lampard behind the strikers and Michael Essien in front of the back four. Summer signing Ramires or even perhaps the under-rated Yuri Zhirkov (although he prefers the left side) will move to the right side of the midfield, with the defense maintaining the status quo. With Luiz prefering to play as a left centre back, and with Terry entrenched in that role, Luiz will likely ride the bench until he gets more comfortable on Terry’s right side. As long as Torres and Drogba can co-exist up front, this lineup is scary good, but only time will tell, starting with a weekend clash against Liverpool.
Liverpool Hopes Two is Truly Better Than One
Speaking of Liverpool, they came out of a difficult situation with Torres by adding goal machines Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. Suarez, infamous for his red card handball against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, finally makes his long awaited move away from Dutch power Ajax Amsterdam, as the 24-year old looks to replicate his impressive strike rate for his new club (81 goals in 110 appearances at Ajax). As for Andy Carroll, the future of Newcastle United, he is now a Red. The Newcastle native admitted he didn’t want to leave his boyhood club, which was evident after he signed a five year extension with the Magpies in October. Carroll is still largely unproven, although he scored 17 goals in the Championship last season and bagged a hat-trick in the second match of the current Premier League season in a 6-0 win over Aston Villa, but as one of the top ten richest players in the world after his transfer, he and Suarez will face pressure they have never before experienced. The Kop and Anfield faithful expect plenty of goals, and a return to the EPL elite, with their two new strikers leading the way.
Serie A Makes Plenty Moves, but Will Any Matter?
The EPL stole the transfer headlines, but as far as activity is concerned Italy was king. Antonio Cassano left Sampdoria for Milan, while Ronaldinho left Milan for a return to Brazilian side Flamengo. Milan added depth to its backline with Ajax’s Urby Emanuelson and Niccola Legrottagile from Juventus. Giampaolo Pazzini was also sold by Sampdoria, as Inter opened their wallets for the on-form striker (Pazzini scored two goals and earned the penalty in his debut for Inter over the weekend). Roma sold two Brazilians back to Spain’s La Liga, as former Real Madrid men Cicinho and Julio Baptista joined Villarreal and Malaga respectively. Luca Toni leaves Genoa for Juventus, while Amauri goes from Juve to Parma on loan. Italy and Inter’s right back of the future, Davide Santon, was loaned by Inter to Cesena. All these moves make for plenty of old (and young) faces in new places, but other than the departures of Pazzini and Cassano crippling Sampdoria and boosting both Inter and Milan for the stretch run, none of these other players figure to make much of a difference. Serie A is probably the most balanced league in Europe, and these moves don’t appear to really chance that fact.
Americans on the Move
Ever since the 2009 Confederations Cup, the tournament that saw the USA upset Spain and almost defeat Brazil, American players have gotten much more respect from European fans, and more importantly club directors and presidents. Clint Dempsey is having another great season with Fulham, Landon Donovan played like a man possessed for Everton during his short loan spell at Everton in early 2010, while Tim Howard and Brad Friedel are still two of the EPL’s best goalkeepers. A few Americans have new homes after the Winter market, with recently capped defensive midfielder Jermaine Jones making an impressive debut for Blackburn after moving over from Schalke. Michael Bradley, perhaps the USA’s best performer at the World Cup, leaves relegation threatened Borussia Monchengladbach from Germany’s Bundesliga to join EPL side Aston Villa, which is owned by American Randy Lerner. Oguchi Onyewu, probably the best player at the Confederations Cup, has been loaned out by Milan to Dutch champions FC Twente, where his old manager at Standard Liege is now the head man at Twente. Perhaps the most intriguing moves involve Team USA’s starting strikers at the Confederations Cup. First, Charlie Davies, whose career has been derailed since the car accident that left him with major injuries, has been loaned to the MLS and DC United pending a week-long evaluation. If Davies can prove he is healthy or will be in time for the start of the MLS season, it could be the opportunity he needs to rediscover his pre-crash form. As for Jozy Altidore, the next big thing for American soccer is struggling to find a home in Europe. Altidore originally signed with Villarreal, but has since been loaned out to Spanish second division side Xerez where he never made an appearance, then he was loaned to Hull City in the EPL, and while he got a lot of playing time, he scored only one league goal. Altidore got a couple chances with the Yellow Submarines this season, but with more preferred options ahead of him on the depth chart, Jozy is now going to Turkey to try his luck at reigning Turkish champions Bursaspor. With his new club in second place and fighting for a second straight league title, it will be intriguing to see how much he plays, but if anyone watched Bursaspor in the Champions League, if there is one thing they need it’s more offensive firepower.
About the Author
Written by Robert Bode
A sports die-hard through and through. I grew up playing almost every sport possible, and to this day I try to stay as active as possible. However, since I'm not a professional athlete, talking and writing about sports is the next best thing. A University of Florida graduate but living in my hometown of Washington D.C. (well Northern Virginia), my favorite teams are the Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Real Madrid, good up-tempo NBA teams (so not the Knicks), and Washington Capitals.