Now that the Champions League final has passed and I’ve had a bit of a break, it’s time for me to get back to work and start monitoring the transfer market. I’ve decided to not post much about rumours, though I will be posting a few articles, as there is already so much written on speculation. I’m going to stick to talking about the deals that actually do take place and this article will take a look at a few of the moves that have already taken place by clubs confirmed to be either in the Champions League or UEFA Cup for next season.
Rafael Benitez has begun his summer overhaul of the Reds’ underperforming squad by bringing in Switzerland right-back Philipp Degen on a free transfer. The Switzerland international defender will move to Anfield on July 1st when his current deal with the German club Borussia Dortmund ends. The move for the 25-year-old may spell the end of the line for Steve Finnan as Degen will likely share the right-back spot with Alvaro Arbeloa.
Degen only made 11 starts this past season as he was bumped from the lineup by the emergence of Antonio Rukavina. Rafa speaking to Liverpool FC’s official website summed up the move this way: “Sometimes you can find these players on the market. When you find a player like him who costs no money it means you can use money for improving other parts of the squad.” Could Finnan be sold to raise transfer funds? We’ll have to wait and see.
On to Spain where Real Madrid have signed Argentine centre-back Ezequiel Garay from Racing Santander. The 21-year-old Argentine, who is recovering from a knee injury, is reported to have cost Real in the region of 10 million Euros. He has played well at Racing since joining from Newell’s Old Boys in the 2005-06 season. He is a quick, decisive defender with a powerful shot from free kicks and penalties. Garay, who many sources say could remain on loan at Racing for another season, was linked with a possible move to Barcelona earlier this year.
Staying with Spain for a bit, Villarreal have signed Brazilian midfielder Edmilson on a two-year contract. The 31-year-old helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup and helped Barcelona win the Champions League two years ago. He fell out of favour at the Nou Camp this season and made only five starts. He will join Villareal on July 1st as his Barcelona contract expires in June.
Barca have made their first signing of the summer by paying the 14 million Euro release clause in Seydou Keita’s contract at Sevilla to take him to the Camp Nou. Keita has signed a four year contract, with a release clause reported to be as high as 90 million Euros. The 28-year-old Mali international becomes the first signing of the Josep Guardiola era at the Camp Nou and is expected to replace Deco. Keita is primarily a defensive midfielder but is regarded as one of the most skillful African-born central midfielders for his passing, control, vision, and shooting skills.
Moving over to Italy, it was announced that both Cafu and Serginho will leave AC Milan at the end of the season. Last season’s European champions are letting the pair go after deciding to bring in fresh blood following a poor campaign, with Barcelona defender Gianluca Zambrotta reported to be one of their main targets. A former World Cup winner Cafu, 37, will return to Brazil but is unsure if he will retire.
Cafu told reporters “I have had five marvelous years in which I have managed to win everything. The moment has arrived to leave. It is sad and hard but I knew sooner or later the time would come to go home, to return to Brazil. I don’t know if I’ll still play when I’m in Brazil.”
Cafu, who joined AC from Roma in 2003, has won a Scudetto, Champions League, two European Super Cups and a Club World Cup among other honours in his five seasons at the San Siro.
Also leaving is fellow Brazillian Serginho, who joined the club in 1999 from Sao Paulo. He has had problems returning to form after suffering a back problem two years ago and will also be heading home to Brazil. Legendary Milan captain Paolo Maldini, 39, is expected to stay at the San Siro for another season with a final decision due soon.