Though Paris St Germain were in a relegation battle last season, they did manage to win the French League Cup, which qualifies them for the UEFA Cup competition. In preparing for their season, PSG has made some bold moves in the transfer market.
Their first signing of the summer was Ludovic Giuly from AS Roma. The 32-year-old left Italy after just one season and returns to Ligue 1 where his career began. He had six productive seasons at AS Monaco before leaving for Barcelona. Giuly’s Champions League experience will prove valuable as PSG embark on their UEFA Cup campaign.
PSG have also managed to sign Claude Makelele from Chelsea. He insists it has long been his dream to end his career in the French capital though he believes he can continue to play for some time yet despite being 35. Makelele’s performances as a defensive midfielder have caused many to label the role of the holding midfielder as the “Makelele role”. He was instrumental in Chelsea’s run to the Champions League final though he started less frequently in the domestic league. He has hopefully been able to successfully retire from international duties (he’d previously attempted to retire on two occassions only to be called up for duty again) and will bring a wealth of poise and experience to a rebuilding PSG team. He has been named team captain for this coming season.
Defender Lilian Thuram had hopes of joining PSG too but the club recently stated that they expect Thuram to announce his retirement from football. A heart condition was discovered while Thuram was undergoing a medical with PSG. Thuram’s brother died from the same condition and PSG president Charles Villeneuve has stated that he believes Thuram should not risk suffering a similar fate.
Villeneuve already has his eyes set on a replacement signing – AC Milan defender Alessandro Nesta. Nesta, who is 32, has three years left on his contract and has spent the past six years with AC Milan.
It’s not all good times for PSG, they have lost two players to different Premier League teams. Bernard Meny has departed for newly promoted Hull City where he will be reunited with manager Phil Brown. Mendy and Brown worked together previously when Mendy had a loan spell with Bolton Wanderers.
Also moving to England is teenage prospect David Ngog, who is the cousin of Olympique Lyonnais defender Jean-Alain Boumsong. Ngog came up through PSG’s academy broke into the first team in 2006-07 appearing four times as a substitute. He played in 14 league games last season and scored one goal.
Meanwhile, in Holland new Ajax boss boss Marco van Basten has told eight first-team squad members they are surplus to requirements at the Amsterdam ArenA. Former Newcastle winger Albert Luque has been told to hit the bricks as have Michael Krohn-Dehli, Edgar Manucharyan, Robbert Schilder, Nicolae Mitea and Leonardo. Mitchell Donald and Vurnon Anita are available on loan. Midfielder Donald, who is only 19, joined Ajax following spells at amateur sides FC Bijlmer and Zeeburgia. He is still in the ‘prospect’ category and will look to gain experience with another club.
Also leaving the club is defender John Heitinga who has moved to Club Atlético de Madrid for a fee of 10m Euros. Ajax have taken that money and put it toward a few new signings.
Their biggest splash was for Serbian international Miralem Sulejmani arrives from Eredivisie rivals SC Heerenveen in a deal worth up to 16.25m Euros. The 19-year-old striker was voted the best young player in the Dutch league last season.
Ajax hit up another Eredivise rival, PSV Eindhoven, to sign U-21 midfielder Ismail Aissati for an undisclosed fee. The 19-year-old joins the Amsterdam-based club on a four-year contract. Also joining Ajax is former Barcelona central defender Oleguer. He will be looked upon to fill the void left by Heitinga’s departure and though no fee was announced it is rumoured to be in the area of 3m Euros and could rise to as much as 5m depending what Ajax achieve during Oleguer’s time at the club.
Finally, one of the busier clubs in the Premier League this transfer season has been Tottenham Hotspur. They’ve just completed the signing of midfielder David Bentley from Blackburn Rovers for a £15m fee that could rise to £17m.
The club has also signed forward Giovani Dos Santos, midfielder Luca Modric and goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes while moving out forward Robbie Keane, goalkeeper Paul Robinson, defender Pascal Chimbonda, midfielders Teemu Tainio and Steed Malbranque. Deals are still rumoured to be in the works for defender Younes Kaboul and striker Dimitar Berbatov, though the latter would be a massive loss for the club. Manchester United have made an official bid for Berbatov but it was quickly rejected.
Tottenham will compete in the UEFA Cup this season thanks to their League Cup win last season and they could certainly use Berbatov’s silky skills and ability to hold up the ball and create for his teammates. However, should he be sold the money will likely be reinvested as Spurs are rumoured to be chasing Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin, who wants to leave Zenit St Petersburg. They have also been linked to strikers Diego Milito and, according to the BBC, have held talks with Spartak Moscow striker Roman Pavlyuchenko.
If Spurs can land either of those two players they should provide a big boost going into the season. I rate Bentley quite highly and combined with the other signings that they’ve made, I am picking Spurs to make a big improvement on their 11th place showing from last year and I also think they will make a good run in the UEFA Cup.