Rafael van der Vaart was officially unveiled as Real Madrid’s newest player yesterday in a presentation the Santiago Bernabéu. As pictured above (photo courtesy of Real Madrid’s official website), he was introduced by Real’s President Ramón Calderón and President of Honor Alfredo Di Stéfano.Rafael van der Vaart is only 25-years old but has been playing top flight football for eight years. He broke into the Ajax first team at the age of 17 and after five seasons with them, he joined German side Hamburg, where he has been for the last three seasons. Van der Vaart, whose mother is Spanish, should have little problems adapting to life in Madrid, at least not culturally as he also has a number of Dutch national team alumni to help him settle in. Real splashed out about 13 million euros to sign him, which is not a bad price for somone his age who is not only very talented but also well-experienced.
van der Vaart tends to be a steaky player and how he will perform in La Liga under the giant spotlight of the Bernabéu remains to be seen but his signing became all the more important following the news of Wesley Sneijder’s injury. Sneijder suffered an horrific knee injury against Arsenal during the Emirates Cup, a friendly pre-season tournament, and reports suggest he could be out until at least November. He was carried off the field after a heavy tackle from Abou Diaby. (video courtesy of our friends at 101greatgoals.com) It was another one of those very stupid scissor tackles that seem to becoming more and more prevalent in the game. A tackle (I hate to even call it that) executed that way can only serve to injure the opponent and I hope that there is a crackdown on that style of tackle soon.
Moving on to France, Bordeaux have completed the signing of Diego Placente from Argentinian side San Lorenzo. The 31-year-old left-back, who can also fill in at centre-half, is a former Bayer Leverkusen and Celta Vigo player and will be looked upon to take over for veteran David Jemmali, who departed after Bordeaux chose not to renew his contract. Manager Laurent Blanc was linked with moves for Toulouse’s Jeremy Mathieu and Manchester United’s Mikael Silvestre but opted for Placente, who has played 22 times for Argentina. Placente will add experience to the side as they embark on their Champions League campgain, as he played for Leverkusen in their 2001 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
Also in France, champions Lyon added some depth to their roster with the signing of Frederic Piquionne. Piquionne was linked with Lyon over a year ago but his move was blocked as St Etienne, his club at the time, did not want to sell their star player to a rival team. He was instead offloaded to Monaco – initially on loan and then on a permanent basis – but Lyon came back in for him this summer and a deal for 4.5 million euros was done. Piquionne has signed a four-year deal with Les Gones.
Liverpool midfield prospect Sebastian Leto has been farmed out on a two-year loan deal with Greek side Olympiacos after he was denied a work permit to play in England. The 21-year-old Argentinian joined the Reds from Lanus in 2007 and was granted an Italian passport last summer only to have it revoked. Leto, who is part of the Argentina squad for the Olympic Games, is predominantly used as a left winger and will add pace to the Olympiacos attack.
Olympiacos also announced the acquisition of Brazilian midfielder Dudu Cearense from CSKA Moscow for the next three years. Dudu, 25, has been capped 12 times by Brazil. Dudu, real name Alexandro Silva de Sousa, is a versatile central midfield player who can slot in either as a holding midfielder or can play higher up the pitch as an attacking midfielder. He was previously linked with a move to Everton but will spend this season with the Greek champions and will get a taste of Champions League football.