Transfer Market Update – AC Milan’s Bargain And Manchester United’s Hypocrisy

r80training.jpgIt’s hard to label any transfer deal that costs 21 million Euros a bargain but considering the numbers that have been thrown around this summer, Ronaldinho’s move to AC Milan looks to be cheap. The former two-time World Player of the Year (2004, 2005) signed a three-year contract at the San Siro after enduring a frustrating campaign with Barcelona. At 28, I think he’s far from being over-the-hill or past his best as many pundits have been saying. A change of scenery and joining up with fellow Brazilians Kaká and Alexandre Pato could be just what he needs to rejuvenate his career.

Milan are hoping to bounce back from last season’s disappointing campaign that saw them finish fifth and miss out on a Champions League spot and are looking for the Brazilian trio to lead their attack. Ronaldinho has payed immediate dividends on the financial front as Rossoneri fans snapped up 5,230 season tickets the day he was unveiled to the Italian media as the club’s latest signing. The club’s official website reported that it received more than 10 times the average daily volume of visitors since news of his transfer.

r80.jpgAs pictured to the left,  Ronaldinho will begin life in Italy with a new number. He will wear the number 80, he was born in 1980, as his number 10 shirt is already taken by Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf.  AC Milan stated on their website that club policy is that they have never and would not demand that any of their players give away their number.

The other big news story coming out of the San Siro these days is that Kaká is a reported transfer target for Chelsea. However, that interest appears to be going nowhere with Milan dismissing reports that they had received a mega offer or were ready to accept one. Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani stated “We will never sell him. Even if we received an offer of 300m from Chelsea. The only way we would ever consider letting him go is if it was his desire.”

Barcelona will look to Alexander Hleb as a playmaking left-sided replacement after he completed a reported £11.8m (according to the BBC) move to the Catalan giants from Arsenal. The deal could rise to £13.5m depending on how well Barca do during Hleb’s stay at the club. Hleb made 129 appearances after he joined Arsenal in 2005 when the club paid Stuttgart £11.2m for his services. Hleb is Barca’s fifth signing of the summer and he joins Seydou Keita, Gerard Pique, Martin Caceres and Daniel Alves in a new-look squad next season.

One of AC Milan’s main rivals for Serie A honors this coming season will be Juventus, who made steps to strengthen their midfield. They agreed on a 10m Euro deal with Sevilla for midfielder
Christian Poulsen, who has signed a four-year deal with his new club. Juve manager Claudio Ranieri’s focus appears to be on defence as he had early brought in former Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg on a free. Poulsen has developed a reputation for crossing the line and it will be interesting to see how Italian fans react to him. He was at the centre of the Totti spitting incident at Euro 2004 (Totti is still upset about it according to this article) and was labelled a “coward” for the treatment he gave Kaka (video link courtesy of during a Champions League encounter in 2006 while he was with Schalke.

The list of departures from Arsenal continued to grow as central midfielder Gilberto Silva leaves to join Greek side Panathinaikos. Arsenal signed Gilberto from Brazilian club side Atletico Mineiro in 2002 after he impressed at the World Cup. Silva was an integral part of the Gunners’ side that won the Premier League in 2003/04 and won the FA Cup in 2003 and 2005. Gilberto was relegated to a few substitute appearances because of the emergence of Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas. However, with Flamini and the 31-year-old Gilberto both leaving the club this summer, Arsenal will have to hope that Abou Diaby can take the next step forward. Diaby has long been touted as the replacement for former Gunners midfielder Patrick Vieira though he could have competion from Denilson and Alexandre Song.

One player not leaving Emirates Stadium, at least not at the moment is Emmanuel Adebayor. Ronaldinho’s capture has put an end to Adebayor’s hopes of moving to Milan. Milan’s vice-president had previously stated that only Adebayor or Ronaldinho would end up at San Siro this summer.

Meanwhile, after all the furor over Real Madrid’s expressed interest in Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United have tabled an official bid for Dimitar Berbatov, offering Tottenham an undisclosed amount for their star striker. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy says he has no plans to sell and has  lodged an official complaint with the Premier League against Manchester United over the comments allegedly made by Sir Alex Ferguson regarding his plans to sign Berbatov.

Levy has called Ferguson a hypocrite in reacting to comments attributed to Ferguson by The Sun, comments which the United boss emphatically denies having made. Spurs have handed the Premier League a dossier of evidence compiled over the last year and I for one tend to back Levy’s claim. If Spurs’ evidence holds up then Unted are likely to be charged with tapping-up Berbatov and the whole deal may fall apart. Ferguson is considering legal action against Levy for defamation and the whole thing is set to get very nasty.

Lastly, Chelsea have agreed to sell defender Khalid Boulahrouz to Stuttgart.  Despite not having a good season on loan at Sevilla, where he struggled with both form and fitness, Boulahrouz’s performances in Holland’s Euro 2008 campaign, has pushed the deal into £4m region according to a number of news sources. Boulahrouz failed to impress during his time at Chelsea and by moving back to the Bundesliga, he hopes to recapture the strong club form he had with Hamburg before making a £10m move to Stamford Bridge in 2006.

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