Yet another exhilarating season of football has consummated in Europe. Scouts and managers have now gathered their passports and are on the move to sign talent from around the globe. We, here at TheHardTackle, are as interested as you are and so once again it is time for THT Transfer Watch! We help you keep a tab on the latest transfers across Europe, prior to the 2011/12 season.


64.Lichtsteiner Close to Juventus

Swiss International right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner is on the verge of joining Juventus. The transfer fee is being reported at a region of 10 million Euros.

THT Verdict:
Lichtsteiner has been one of the best full-backs in Serie A for last two seasons and he will be a welcome addition to Juventus. Juventus has struggled with the likes of Grygera, Marco Motta and Zebina on the right-flank and the Swiss will be a huge upgrade.

63. Inter In For Meireles

Inter Milan are considering a move for Liverpoolmidfielder Raul Meireles, according to reports in Italy.

THT Verdict: Doubtful yet plausible.

Raul Meireles has been sensationally linked with Inter Milan, the Portugese midfielder after a successful first season at Anfield looked more than settled and a fortnight ago a move for him would have been least likely, yet given that Liverpool has already acquired Henderson and is courting Charlie Adam, it only makes sense that someone among Meireles, Lucas, Shelvey and Spearing, might leave this summer. Lucas and Spearing have been awarded contract extensions last season and therefore are least likely to leave. Liverpool will have to choose between Raul and Shelvey in that case.

62. El Shaarawy-Merkel between Milan and Genoa

El-Shaarawy has agreed to join Genoa on a co-ownership basis as the club agreed terms with Milan to share the player.

THT Verdict:EL Shaarawy is a good prospect, both for Italy NT and Milan. A product of Genoa youth system, El Shaarawy is a player for the future with pace and passing being the main weapons in his arsenal. Merkel would also get some much needed time on the pitch playing for Genoa. All in all, the romance between  Milan and Genoa continues with this latest piece of transfer.

61. Spurs Turn Down 22 Million Pound Chelsea Bid For Luka Modric

Chelsea FC’s first approach to sign Tottenham’s star player Luka Modric was rejected by the club, according to media giants guardian. The Blues had a 22 million pound bid turned down by the London rivals as Harry Redknapp looks to keep hold of his key player.

THT Verdict: If Chelsea are to sign the Croatian, they would have to pay much more than what they offered last night. It’s a widely accepted belief that the present first team squad lacks creativity in the middle and names such as Sneijder, Pastore, and Modric have been linked. One such player is expected to be signed, however, he wouldn’t come cheap. The move would certainly be a good one for the midfielder as not only he would get Champions League football and a pay hike, but would also be a central figure in the rebuilding process at the Bridge.

60. Liverpool Midfielder Maxi Keen On Return To Argentina

If latest reports are to be believed then Liverpool FC Maxi Rodriguez will be returning back to his home country Argentina before the start of the next season. The player has expressed his desire to finish his career where it started and is hoping Liverpool can make room for his return.

THT Verdict: The 30 year old midfielder has confirmed an approach from his boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys, Argentina. Rodriguez ,although having enjoyed a brilliant finish to the season with two hattricks in last three matches, is likely to join the summer exodus of players from Anfield. Maxi, although effective in positioning, lacks pace and is not a natural left winger, the position he is mostly deployed on, at Liverpool. The departure would not only help to decrease the amortization cost (wages) of the player for the remaining time (18 months) in his contract but also create space for the likes of Stewart Downing or Juan Mata, who have been consistently linked with Liverpool in the last fortnight.

59. Dani Parejo Signs for Valencia for 6 Million Euros

Dani Parejo, the play maker for Getafe has signed for Valencia for 6 million euros. The Real Madrid youth product was linked to Real Madrid as he had a buy back clause but Real Madrid have not exercised and will pocket 30% of the transfer amount.

THT Verdict: Parejo has great potential and skill and he could make his way to the starting XI for Valencia. Valencia look to clear out some of their stars to raise more funds and Parejo could play a very vital role in their fortunes for the upcoming season. But, it’s sad news for Getafe as he has been their star player. They need to find a replacement for him and it remains to be seen if they would go for another Real Madrid youth product.

58. Bayern Calling for Boateng

Manchester City defender Jerome Boateng has stated that he has agreed a four year deal with German giants Bayern Munich. However, City are refusing to let go of the defender for anything else than 20 million euros.

THT Verdict: 2 reasons why this move would benefit Boateng. First is that the player would be deployed in his natural position, which is centre-back, at Bayern; something which he didn’t enjoy at City. Secondly, Germany being his home turf would be a welcoming feeling for the player after a rather quiet season in England. The only drawback in this transfer is that Manchester City hold the upper hand on the player and are at will to quote their price for a sale. What remains to be seen is whether Bayern Munich are ready to shell out 20 million euros for the 22 year old.

57. Manchester United to Snatch Sanchez?

Latest reports emanating from England suggest that Manchester United are lining up a rapid move for Udinese winger Alexis Sanchez before neighbours Manchester City reach him. It is reported that David Gill flew to Spain in order to hold talks with the player’s negotiators who are also looking to propel a deal with Barcelona – the player’s first choice.

THT Verdict: Sanchez’ signing will be a huge boost for the Red Devils and will only make them a stronger force. A player like Sanchez will be a good fit into the team alongside the likes of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Berbatov. Coming under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson is another incentive. This will no doubt be a good signing for the club.

56. Liverpool Set Sights on Korean Skipper And Charlie Adam

Anfield is buzzing with talks of new signings again this week. Last week it was Jordan Henderson and this week two new targets have emerged with strong probabilities. Korean skipper Park Chu-Young and Blackpool skipper Charlie Adam are on Liverpool’s radar.

THT Verdict: Charlie Adam was subject to a transfer bid from Liverpool earlier in the transfer window of the 2010/11 season but Blackpool boss Ian Holloway refused to part with his star player and hence Liverpool had to ebb their interest. But with the club now relegated to the Championship, the skipper would be available at a lower price and this would be the right time for the Reds to capture their target. Adam’s presence, if it happens, will enable Liverpool to alter their game thanks to his long range crossing ability.

Park Chu-Young’s acquisition would basically mean that player would be brought in as an attacking foil for Suarez and Carroll. The player is also looking for an exit from Ligue 1 side Monaco after they were relegated from top flight football last season. This would again be a bargain signing for the Reds if they failed to land their other targets.

55. United finally complete the signing of Phil Jones from Blackburn

Phil Jones finally becomes a Man United player after days of unprecedented drama featuring Man United and Blackburn Rovers. The tug of war finally ended as Jones agreed a 5-year contract with the Red Devils.

THT Verdict: The price tag rumoured to be around 20 million pounds might seem to be on the higher side for a relatively unproven talent. However, Jones has been on the radar of clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal to name a few and the 19 year old Englishmen is a highly rated prospect and could sereve his new club for years to come. Furthermore Jones fits in nicely under the home grown rule as Ferguson looks to build for the future yet again.

54. Hilario Signs a One-Year Extension with Chelsea

 The 35-year-old goalkeeper’s contract would have run out this summer but he will now spend a sixth season at Stamford Bridge, having so far made 33 starts and four substitute appearances in his role as one of the keepers supporting Petr Cech.

THT Verdict: A better option for Chelsea would have been to release the Portuguese keeper. Although both Turnbull and Hilario have failed to inspire any confidence in Cech’s absence, the former at least qualifies as a home-grown player. Considering Cech’s age, no other quality keeper would come to warm the bench. Ergo, the club had two options – release Hilario, thus freeing up a “foreign” slot on the team, and filling the void with someone like Taylor or Walker or to retain the veteran. They have gone with the latter.

53. Andre Linked with Flamengo Move.

Brazilian starlet Andre who arrived in Dynamo Kiev in 2010 after making his name in Santos, is being linked with move back home. Andre failed to make expected impact in Dynamo was benched behind Academy players like Andrei Yarmolenko. With Dynamo looking all set to sign a new striker in Oscar Cardozo, it looks like Andre will return to Brazilian Serie A.
THT Verdict: Andre’s career got stalled in Kiev and he would make a wise choice if he does join Flamengo.

52. Fabio Grosso to Reunite with Fabio Cannavaro?

World Cup winner and current Juventus left-back Fabio Grosso looks all set the follow Fabio Cannavaro into cash rich Gulf football. Grosso has been performing indifferently in Juventus and with the arrival Reto Zeigler it looks like his Juve career is as good as over. Several Dubai based clubs are interested in his services.
 
THT Verdict: A move which will suit all involved parties.

51. Genoa confirm Domenico Criscito joining Napoli.

Genoa CFC president Enrico Preziosi has confirmed the Italian Left Back joining Walter Mazzari’s squad in the summer.

THT Verdict: With their automatic qualification in the Champions League for the next season, the team from Naples is expected to add strength and depth to their squad and sharpen the edges in all departments. Criscito is proven talent and is too mature a defender for his age. His versatility on the Left wing is that of a world class player and Napoli will greatly benefit from his finesse while defending. However, this raises concerns for Genoa as they’ve confirmed the departing of their both first choice full backs in Rafinha and Criscito.

50. Miroslav Klose joins Lazio in a free transfer

Germany’s World Cup star Miroslav Klose has signed a 2-year deal with Roman club Lazio and at 33, appears to have chosen Italy to end his playing career.

THT Verdict: Klose is a proven world class striker. In more than a decade long career, he has been there, done that and seen it all. Lazio have emerged as one of the top teams in Serie A after their brilliant run in the season just concluded. In Zarate and Floccari, they have a decent strike partnership but experience and depth in attack is where they lack, something that is exactly Klose will add. His Inzaghi-esque habit to find goals at will shall add potency in the offense for the side from the Capital. Having fallen out of favour at Bayern Munich, it remains to be seen whether Edi Reja is willing to incorporate Klose in his scheme of things immediately. Nonetheless, a signing that definitely adds value to Lazio’s ambition of making it to Europe next season.
49. Young To Complete United Move

Skysports sources have confirmed that the Red Devils have a bid accepted for Aston Villa winger Ashley Young. The player will complete the transfer after returning from holiday. Young was also a Liverpool target but United seem to have left them in the lurch by quickly moving in for the England international.

THT Verdict: A move to the English Premier League giants is surely a step up for Young and given his age, this is no doubt the right time to make a jump to a bigger team. United stand to gain more options and flexibility on the flanks as Young can switch between right and left side of the attacking midfield. Being a free-kick specialist too, this is another plus point that would have spurred Sir Alex to buy the player.

48. United In For Nasri?

Looks like Sir Alex Ferguson has just shot at Arsene Wenger with a taser. The guardian has published fresh reports claiming that Manchester United are in for Arsenal star Samir Nasri.

THT Verdict: There is a lot more to this rumoured transfer than paperwork, a medical and press conferences. While Nasri will no doubt be a great signing for United, especially now that Scholes has announced his retirement, Arsene Wenger is going to leave no stone unturned in order to hold back the French international from leaving Emirates for his arch rivals.

47. Chelsea Hope To Finalize Lukaku Deal

Chelsea is very close to finalizing the deal to sign striker Romelu Lukaku for 20 million euros.

THT Verdict: Apparently very close. Lukaku is a self-confessed Chelsea fan, and had modelled his game on Didier Drogba. With Drogba set to leave Chelsea next year, if not this, Lukaku is being looked at as a long term replacement for the Ivorian forward. He is one of the most highly-rated talents in Europe, and if Chelsea are to sign him in any case, it would be better to get him now rather than when he has already established himself at another club. The deal for the Belgian centre-forward is expected to be finalised by Monday.

46. Bojan to join Luis Enrique in Rome?

The young striker is rumoured to be joining former Barcelona B manager Luis Enrique, who took over as the manager of AS Roma recently. Bojan was reportedly offered to Udinese as a part of the Alexis Sanchez deal. However, a move to Roma could just be perfect for the youngster, who would definitely get more playing time and also gain a lot of experience by playing alongside the likes of Francesco Totti, De Rossi, Mirko Vučinić et al.

THT Verdict: The move would definitely help the young Spaniard to prove his worth. Moreover, under the tutelage of Enrique – a man who knows the Barcelona philosophy thoroughly, Roma’s playing style is bound to change and that should be a positive influence on Bojan. However, from the Barcelona perspective, a buy-back clause should definitely be inserted in the contract if possible.

45. Ivory Coast Star Seeks Exit

Lille striker Gervinho has informed the French club that he wants to leave and is looking to ply his trade in the English Premier League. The player has been coveted by Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle United.

THT Verdict: A striker like Gervinho has a boisterous presence on the pitch and is no doubt a value-add to any club that purchases him. His partnership with Belgian attacker Eden Hazard has been nothing short of phenomenal and his caught the eyes of several clubs, of which, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle United have shown the strongest interest. However, a move to either Newcastle or Arsenal would be ideal for the striker since both sides are lacking a Drogba-like figure after the pitch.

44. Red Devils Look To Wrap Up Jones Deal

Skysports.com has learnt Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones is at Manchester United having a medical as he closes on a move to Old Trafford. The in-demand centre-half is also a target for Arsenal and Liverpool but it would appear United have stolen a march on their Premier League rivals in a transfer race that could be concluded soon.

THT Verdict: Although United do not need a center back with Smalling and Evans as more than able deputies to Vidic and Ferdinand, Jones’ ability to play as a holding midfielder would be useful for United. Carrick was good in the latter half of the season for the Red Devils in that role, but with Fletcher out injured, Sir Alex struggled to find a replacement for the Englishman. However this transfer in all probabilities means the end of the road for Wesley Brown, after more than a dozen years of service to the club.

43. Liverpool Close In On Henderson

A reported bid of 18 million pounds has created some veracity to the transfer of young Jordan Henderson from Sunderland to Liverpool. The 20 year old has made his intentions of leaving the Stadium of Light clear and manager Steve Bruce is resigned to losing the England U-21 international.

THT Verdict: The hunt of English talent has begun to gather pace at Anfield and Jordan Henderson surely fits the bill. The player easily fits into FSG’s plans of cashing in on potential young talent from within and around the country. With the England U-21 internationals around the corner, Liverpool are hoping to wrap up the deal as soon as possible and if it does happen so, then the likes of Meireles and Gerrard will surely be provided with support. However, if Henderson is bought in as a backup, then the 18 million pound price tag makes very less sense.

42. Cardozo Linked With Dynamo Kiev

Cardozo, top scorer in Portuguese League in 2009/10 is reportedly on the verge of joining Ukraine powerhouse Dynamo for a fee of 18 million E. Cardozo’s current deal with Benfica is valid till 2014 but both player and his current club are willing to part if a good offer comes.

THT Verdict: Dynamo suffered a torrid season – finishing second to Shakhtar Donetsk in both League and Cup. Their inconsistency in striking department has been one of their biggest flaws. Cardozo is a proven scorer in top level football and he will provide a much needed physical presence in Dynamo’s otherwise technically adept frontline.

41. AS Roma Set To Appoint New Manager

Reports from Italy suggest AS Roma are set to appoint Luis Enrique as successor to stop-gap manager Vincenzo Montella.

THT Verdict: Under Ranieri, Roma have had an extremely average season and require an overhaul at every possible level. Luis Enrique has had a very successful career as a player in Spain and has been associated with Barcelona’s youth team for last three years. Though he does not boast of any prior experience at managing a club at the senior level, chances are that he may revitalize the Roma game with his Barca ‘mentality’. With the American owners willing to spend, Enrique seems to be the appropriate man to restructure this squad which has been devoid of an inspiring run for quite some time.

 

40. Friedel joins Tottenham Hotspur from Aston Villa

Friedel, 40, is reported to have turned down a move out of the Premier League – having previously played for Galatasaray in Turkey – as well as offers from Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool. There is no transfer fee involved in his move to Tottenham, as he had finished his contract at Villa Park.

THT Verdict: It’s a good move for both the player and club, Tottenham in this case. The goalkeeper still has football left in him, despite touching 40, and Spurs would certainly benefit from having him between the posts, after an inconsistent show from Gomes.

39. June 3, 2011: Hamburg have snapped up Chelsea’s academy product Jacopo Sala on a three-year deal.Jacopo is a player with a bright future. He has gone through all the youth national teams with Italy and has excellent physical properties and skill too.” – Frank Arnesen

THT Verdict: Since joining Hamburg, Frank Arnesen had his sights on Chelsea’s youth products. Having spent a lot of time with the youth team, he had a fair bit of idea about Chelsea’s academy prodigies. Early this week, Hamburg acquired the services of England U-21 member Michael Mancienne from Chelsea and if rumours are to be believed, he is hot on trails of Jeffrey Bruma as well. Following the sacking of fellow countryman Ancelotti, the sale of compatriot Fabio Borini to Parma and a seemingly negligible first team opportunity was motivation enough for Sala to accept this offer. At Hamburg he has a better chance of making it to the senior team and in all possibility a good move for the youngster.

 

38. June 1,2011: Michael Owen has signed a one year contract extension at Man United

Sir Alex Ferguson said: “Michael has proved to be a top footballer. It’s unfortunate Michael didn’t get more opportunities but the form of Chicharito put everyone in the shade and his partnership with Rooney proved invaluable. I am delighted Michael is staying for a further year and we will look to give him more opportunities in the new season.”

Michael Owen said: “I’m delighted to have agreed a one-year extension to my contract. To play alongside so many great players, under an exceptional manager, and in front of so many incredibly passionate supporters, is a real inspiration. I can’t wait for next season to start.”

THT Verdict: This comes as a bit of a surprise to the Red Devils as Owen was used only as a bit-part player this season. Owen played in just 11 league games last season starting just one of those. However, with Owen signing a new contract, the future of Macheda, who is due to return from loan, will be in doubt especially with Welbeck also coming back from a successful spell at Sunderland and talented youngsters – Will Keane and Ravel Morrison looking to make it to the first team.

37. Didac Loaned Out To Espanyol

AC Milan have loaned out Spanish left-back Didac Vila to Espanyol but with no option of buying. Greek side Olympiakos were also rumoured to be interested but the player has chosen his home country for an encore.

THT Verdict: A wise move to say the least. Win-win situation for both the player and the club. With the addition of Taiwo to the squad, the Spaniard was always going to fall behind in the pecking order and it would have made little sense of keeping a young prospect limited to bench. Vila should find the much needed playing time at Espanyol and come back stronger to Milan, should he excel enough. Only one starting appearance for the Rossoneri explains Allegri’s priorities in the left-back position. Moreover, few more Euros from loaning out a player never hurt.

36. Hamburg Make Move for Mancienne

German side Hamburg have made a bid of 3 million pounds for Chelsea youth product Michael Mancienne. The player is set to earn 40,000 pounds per week at the Volksparkstadion starting next season.

THT Verdict: Having failed to make an impact at Chelsea, Michael Mancienne was sent out on a series of loan spells to QPR and then Wolves. The player has notched up just 6 appearances for Chelsea in 6 seasons and featured just 13 times for Wolves under Mick McCarthy. All in all, England hasn’t been the best hunting ground for the England international and so a move to Hamburg would give the defender hope to reset his career and earn a pedigree in the game.

 

35. Monchengladbach Sign Manchester United Starlet

Borussia Monchengladbach have signed Norwegian youngster Joshua King from English giants Manchester United on a year long deal with the option to sign him on a permanent basis the following season.

THT Verdict: Having joined the Red Devils in 2007, Joshua was touted to be one of the brightest talents in the football circuit. The player was sent to Preston North End last season to gain first team experience but having returned from there, he has failed to break into Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting XI. Germany would be the perfect platform for the player to get back on his feet and rediscover his form. No doubt a good signing for Monchengladbach.

34. Rafinha Returns To Bundesliga

Former Schalke 04 right back Rafinha has decided to return to the Bundesliga albeit it is Bayern Munich who have expressed an interest in the player this time. A bid in the region of 4.3 million pounds is said to have sufficed to bring the player back from Genoa.

THT Verdict: At 4.3 million pounds, Rafinha is a good bargain and Bayern would be happy with the deal. Having failed to have made an impact in Italy, the player has wished to return to Bundesliga to start over afresh. Bayern would now be well padded at the back with captain Philipp Lahm moving to a more familiar left-back role while the Brazilian would be deployed at right back.

 

33. Arsenal Continue Barca Raid

Arsene Wenger has wasted little time in preparing for next season. And according to SkySports, his latest signings are two La Masia products. Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin, two 16 year-olds, are the new faces at the Emirates. Both the players are highly regarded as the latest hot prospects coming out of Spain and Barcelona are said to be really happy with both the transfers.

THT Verdict: There is no doubt that Arsene Wenger has an eye for talent. He has proved this quality of his time and again with players like Fran Merida, Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and the like. Hence few would doubt the credibility of Toral and Bellerin. Toral is a central midfielder with an eye for a pass whereas Bellerin is a forward with a lot of promise. The player supposedly had offers from Manchester United, Chelsea and Aston Villa but instead decided to take the London Underground. Get ready for another season of beautiful football at the Emirates.

32. Newcastle Sign Lille Star

Newcastle United have made the French Connection. 25 year-old Yohan Cabaye is expected to complete a move to the Tyneside in a 4.3 million pound deal. Cabaye has spent his entire career at Lille but is now ready to take up the challenge of a different league and different ambience.

THT Verdict: Expected to be a good signing for the Toon and exactly what they needed to take the next step. In the prime of his career, the Frenchstar has all the makings of a great midfield general. Typically a box-to-box player with a vision for the extraordinary. With the rumoured departure of Joey Barton, this signing should fill in the void. The rumoured price might be on the higher side, but the Magpies would welcome the player with open arms.

 

31. Atletico Chief Certain of De Gea Transfer

It has taken Manchester United quite a while to zero in on Van Der Sar’s replacement and it looks like Spanish U-21 international David De Gea seems to be the answer to the Dutch void. Conflicting reports emanating from Spain regarding the player’s transfer have left many in a state of confusion. However, a recent statement from Atletico chief Gil Marin claiming that the player has not responded to a new offer from the club is, by far, the clearest indication that  the player could be on his way to the Theater of Dreams.

THT Verdict: De Gea has been creating waves all around Europe Manchester United’s timing couldn’t be more perfect. The right move to fill in the shoes of the famous Van Der Sar.

 

30. Aguero Race Hots Up

After having declared his intention to leave Atletico Madrid, Sergio Aguero has indirectly prodded the world’s biggest clubs to hatch a plan for his signature. Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool have been linked with the player so far and the latest club to join the line of suitors are German giants Bayern Munich. Would Allianz Arena be the ideal destination for the Argentine?

THT Verdict: Given the financial clout and paying styles followed in the Bundesliga, there is a bleak possibility that discussions can hit a roadblock when it comes to the player’s wages. Also, to begin with, Aguero has a 45 million euro release clause and any attempt to price him away from the Vicente Calderon would require a bold move in matching this figure. A move to Premier League may materialize but an amount so huge is unlikely to be matched by a German Club.

29. Arsenal bid for Christopher Samba

After a much maligned season in the Barclays Premier League, Arsene Wenger has decided that the squad needs more than just talented youngsters in order to challenge for trophies. With this train of thought etched in mind, the manager looks to have chosen Blackburn Rovers defender Christopher Samba as his first big transfer target. A bid in the region of 8 million pounds is believed to have been made and Arsenal await a response from Ewood Park.

THT Verdict: Arsenal’s defense received a lot of flak last season for many disappointing performances on the pitch. A signing like Samba will surely alleviate any doubts and fears that fans and critics might have had so far. Overall, it would be a move in the right direction for the Gunners.

 

28. The Ashley Young Saga – Manchester United Stand Favourites

It is one of those transfer see-saws that never seems to rest. Ashley Young has been the subject of a possible summer transfer either to Liverpool or Manchester United. Although Liverpool have the firm backing of FSG to venture out in the transfer market and acquire talented players, Manchester United seem to have taken the lead in signing the England international from Aston Villa.

THT Verdict: Old Trafford seems to be a more likely destination for Ashley Young mainly because of the prospect of Champions League football. However, there would be immense competition for places with the likes of Park, Valencia and Nani all vying for the starting spot.

27. Pardew Eyes Bentley

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew is yet to open the Andy-Carroll-sale chest and with the transfer window finally here, he will look to spend 35 million judiciously. Latest reports suggest that Pardew is looking to sign want away midfielder David Bentley from Tottenham.

THT Verdict: Bentley is one of those players who was held in high regard when he arrived on the football circuit. His career though, hasn’t really taken off following his ill-fated spell at Arsenal. A move to Newcastle will give the player a chance to rejuvenate his career and get try and hold on to a regular starting spot for club and country.



26. Reto Ziegler signs for Juventus

Juventus have signed Swiss international Reto Ziegler on a free transfer. The 25 year old, former Sampdoria left-back signs a four year long deal. Ziegler is a good signing and will add more depth to Juve’s defence.

25. Andrea Pirlo signs for Juventus

Juventus have signed veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo from AC Milan on a free transfer providing him a three year contract. The playmaker spent 10 years with Milan after making a move from rivals Inter in 2001. This move is also an indication of the fact that on-loan midfielder Alberto Aquilani might not be signed on a permanent deal.

 

24.Benfica Sign Bruno Cesar

Corinthians midfielder Bruno Cesar has signed on for Portuguese side Benfica for an undisclosed fee. The 22 year-old player will join Benfica after the end of this season’s Championships. The prospect of European football is always hard to turn down and Benfica, having beaten the likes of fellow rivals Porto and Sporting Lisbon, believe that Cesar is the kind of player they need in their ranks to make them a powerful force in Europe and Portugal.

23. Baggies Bag Ipswich Defender

West Bromwich Albion have made their first summer signing by bringing in 31 year-old Ipswich Town defender Gareth McAuley on a Bosman transfer. The Northern Ireland international has penned a three-year contract with the Baggies after featuring in over 100 games for Ipswich Town.

The West Brom defense was abysmal to say the least in their recent Premier League campaign and having barely survived relegation, manager Roy Hodgson knows that his defense needs rejuvenation and McAuley, with his expertise, could be the first missing piece of  the jigsaw.

 

22. Jenkinson Makes Arsenal Move

The Finnish Football Association recently confirmed that Arsenal have signed Charlton Athletic full back Carl Jenkinson for a compensation package of 1 million pounds. The young defender, who can play anywhere along the backline, is contracted to Emirates for four years and had met the eye of Arsenal scouts two months ago when he denied a contract extension at Charlton.

Jenkinson is a life-long Arsenal fan and for Wenger to actually make the move to bring him into the squad would be a dream come true. Carl has represented both England and Finland at the youth level.

 

21. Real Madrid Sign Trio

Santiago Bernabeu is buzzing with new names right from the end of the 2010/11 season and no doubt there is some exciting talent heading towards Spain.

Real Madrid were always the favourites to sign young Nuri Sahin and have been successful in this endeavor by offering Borussia Dortmund 8.8 million pounds for his services. The 22 year old midfielder has had a fantastic season at Signal Iduna Park and his eye-catching performances have prompted Madrid Chief Jose Angel Sanchez to take the flight to Dortmund with the contract in his briefcase.

Madrid’s next acquisition is also a Turk. 28 year-old Hamit Altintop has agreed to join the club on a Bosman transfer since his contract with Bayern Munich expires this summer. The deal keeps the midfielder at the Bernabeu for four years. Having being declined first team opportunities at Munich, the right-footed midfielder found an escape route when Real came calling.

The third player to complete the trio is 24 year old attacker Jose Maria Callejon. Callejon has agreed to join Madrid for a fee of 4.3 million pounds from Espanyol. The player, who started his career as a teenager at Madrid, made the move to Espanyol in 2008. His rise to prominence at Espanyol has paved the way for his return to his childhood club where he will be spending 5 years as per his contract.

 

20. French Defender Joins Valencia

25 year old French international Adil Rami has completed a 10 million pound to Spanish outfit Valencia FC from Lille. Rami, who was a Liverpool target last summer, has been tracked by Valencia this entire season prior to signing a four-year contract at the Mestalla.

Adil Rami, originally of Moroccan descent, now represents France at the senior and is one of the players to become a part of the new look French squad under Laurent Blanc. The player has referred his move to Valencia as his “dream move”.

 

19. Sevilla Land Midfield Duo

The Nervionenses have landed two highly experienced midfielders in Manuel Del Moral and Piotr Trochowski from Getafe and Hamburg respectively. The players’ fees are undisclosed but the buy-out clause is quoted to be 17.4 million pounds for Del Moral and 14.8 million pounds for the German Trochowski.

Both players, well established in their genre, will prove to be the ideal squad additions for Sevilla. The team finished the season in 5th spot, one shy of the Champions League closing bracket and the club is desperately looking for the right personnel who will provide the impetus they need to re-enter Europe at the end of next season.

 

18. Espanyol move for Uruguayan Duo

Soon after losing Jose Maria Callejon to Real Madrid, Espanyol turned towards Barcelona-based outfit Getafe and Defensor Sporting Club to fill the player’s shoes and snapped up deals for 24 year-old Juan Angel Albin and 19 year-old Adrian Luna.

Both players have agreed to sign on for the next five seasons at Estadi Nou Sarria and will provide Espanyol the much need firepower that they initially seem to have lost in Callejon’s departure to Real Madrid. The transfer fees of both players have not been disclosed as yet.

 

17. Bilbao Sign Spanish Sensation

It’s not just the big clubs running after big names. Athletic Bilbao have wrapped a 7.5 million pound deal for one of brightest prospects of Spanish football. 21 year-old Ander Herrera, son of former Real Zaragoza player Pablo Herrera, has agreed to join the Basque outfit from Real Zaragoza starting next season, till the 2015/16 season.

7.5 million is a lot of money for a club like Athletic Bilbao but the talent of Herrera is such that his buy-out clause for his first three seasons with the club is set at 32 million pounds while his last two seasons with Bilbao rate him at 36 million pounds. Herrera is a versatile midfielder who can play in a variety of roles including on the left flank, in the central midfield as well as an supporting striker. These apart, the player also has fantastic dribbling abilities; good enough to compete with the top performers of La Liga. Looks like Bilbao have discovered a real gem.

 

16. Milan Start Rebuilding With Mexes and Taiwo

AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has stuck to his word with regard to bringing in reinforcements to an aging Milan squad by opening the doors of San Siro to French defender Philippe Mexes and Nigerian left back Taye Taiwo from AS Roma and Marseille respectively.

The best part of these two deals is that both players will arrive on free transfers as their respective contracts expire this summer. The Rossoneri’s defensive backline is rich in experience but fragile due to the players’ ages. Mexes is one of the players to have been picked by Laurent Blanc into the national team after Domenech was given the boot. At 28 years of age, he is a good mix of talent and expertise and is more than familiar with Serie A.

The signing of Taye Taiwo solves a huge left back problem for AC Milan. The club has been struggling to fill in the boots of Paolo Maldini ever since his retirement and a host of contenders were given a chance to replace the veteran viz a viz Luca Antonini, Gianluca Zambrotta, Urby Emmanuelson and Didac Vila. However, none could do enough to provide the security on the left for Milan. Taiwo is, hopefully, the answer to their problems. The player, at 26 years of age, also carries loads of experience having spent 6 seasons with Marseille. He has a good left foot and is considered a threat with dead balls.

 

15. Borussia Dortmund Hunt Down Sahin Replacement

Having lost one of their star names to Real Madrid, Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund weren’t going to rest in peace so soon. Enter IIkay Gundogan – a 20 year-old midfielder who has signed on from Nurnberg for a transfer fee amounting to 4 million euros.

The Germany U-21 international moved to Nurnberg in 2009 and since then, has rose to limelight with the talent he possesses at such a young age. Borussia manager Jurgen Klopp, the mastermind behind the club’s domestic success this season is eager to build off the strength of this existing team. This would mean bringing in players who are as good as or better than, the current quality of the squad. Gundogan fits the bill here; a player who can circulate the midfield from the deep end as well as attack. Dortmund are clearly sending out a strong message to clubs across Europe.

 

14. Hertha BSC Complete Duo Signing Following Promotion

Newly promoted side Hertha BSC have moved swiftly to acquire the services of 22 year-old Thomas Kraft, and 26 year-old Andreas Ottl from Bayern Munich on a Bosman. Karft’s signing further paves the way for Manuel Neuer to arrive at Allianz Arena. Hertha first looked to face stiff competition from FC Schalke for obvious reasons but would consider this acquisition a coup considering the talent and caliber of young Kraft.

Andreas Ottl, a Munich native, is the second player to join the Blue-Whites for the 2011/12 campaign. After having spent close to 15 years at the club and over 93 appearances, Ottl has agreed to join Hertha BSC on a three-year deal.

 

13. Stuttgart Sign Traore

VfB Stuttgart recently announced the signing of French winger Ibrahim Traore from Bundesliga side FC Augsburg. The 23 year old defender has will join the club prior to the 2011/12 season on a three-year deal. The transfer fees is undisclosed so far.

Augsburg, who have secured top flight football for the next season, offered Traore a contract extension but the player declined the offer and instead has chosen to join the Swabians following interest from the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

 

12. Bavarian Giants Complete First Summer Signing

Bayern Munich have made their first purchase of the summer in Nils Petersen. The 22 year old striker joins Bayern on a three-year deal after the club paid second division side Energie Cottbus 2.8 million pounds for the player’s services.

Petersen was Cottbus’s leading goal scorer last season with 25 goals to his tally, in addition to seven assists. Petersen’s technique and consistency has not gone unnoticed at Allianz Arena and Munich sporting director Christian Nerlinger has acted quick to snap up this young talent. Petersen will don the famous No.9 shirt at Munich, previously worn by big names such as Gerd Muller and Giovane Elber.

 

11. Marcel Risse Makes Mainz Move Permanent

Bayer 04 Leverkusen loanee Marcel Risse has signed a permanent contract with FSV Mainz 05. The Germany U-21 international will stay at Stadion am Bruchweg till 2014. According to reports, Mainz have paid Leverkusen 800,000 euros for the winger’s services. Risse failed to break into the team at Leverkusen last season and was sent out on loan to the O-Fives. His work rate there has earned him a lot of praise and Mainz wanted to hold on to the player for longer.

 

10. Schurrle Joins Leverkusen

With Risse moving to FSV Mainz 05, the return favour saw Andre Schurrle, regarded as one of the brightest prospects in German football, complete a 7.02 million pound move to the Bay Arena, the third most expensive player in Bayer’s history. The player has supposedly signed a five-year contract for Jupp Heynckes’ side starting 2011/12.

Schurrle was earlier a transfer target for Manchester United but when their interest fizzed out, the door was left open for Leverkusen to make a move for the 21 year old player. Andre Schurrle is a left-footed attacker with tremendous pace and impeccable ball control. He is surely one to keep for Leverkusen.

 

9. Dortmund Enrich Talent Pool

Looks like the scouts at Borussia Dortmund have hawk eyes. The talented scouts have now successfully managed to discover two hot prospects to add to their treasure trove. 22 year-old Chris Lowe has leaped from fourth tier side FC Chemnitz for an undisclosed fee and a three-year deal.

Lowe, nicknamed the “Lynx”, is a technically gifted player who plys his trade on the left side of midfield or defense. Reports suggest that the player has been brought in as a backup to Marcel Schmetzer who, in turn, has filled in the shoes of the departed left back Dede.

Klopp’s shopping spree doesn’t end here though. The manager’s next acquisition is the Belgian Footballer of the Year Ivan Perisic. Purchased from Club Brugge for 4.4 million pounds, the 22 year old striker is sure to form a lethal partnership with Lucas Barrios next season.

 

8. Werder Bremen Land Turkish International

Werder Bremen have signed Bayern product and Turkey international Mehmet Ekici for a reported transfer fee of 5 million euros. The 21 year old playmaker is contracted to the Weserstadion till 2015. Many believe that such a move would not be welcomed by Bayern fans; Mehmet being another Bayern Munich talent who rose through the ranks and built a reputation for himself only to be taken away by a rival club.

Ekici spent the 2010/11 season at Nurnberg and notched up an impressive three goals and nine assists in 32 appearances for the club. At 21, he still has a long way to go and Werder Bremen are determined to help the player hone his skills further and provide him with a more fitting platform to showcase his skills.

 

South African Joins Parent Club Ajax

Eredivisie champions AFC Ajax have reportedly signed the biggest deal for a South African player with an overseas club. 22 year-old Thulani Serero has agreed to join the Dutch giants from Ajax Cape Town for an undisclosed fee.

“This is a dream come true for me. I plan to work hard to make an impact in Amsterdam but first I need to listen to the coaches and technical staff in order to learn how they play their football.” – Serero on completing his move.



7. Chelsea Snap up Sao Paulo Star

This summer Stamford Bridge welcomes a new Samba star in the form of Lucas Piazon. The 17 year-old midfielder has agreed terms with the Blues and will complete the 5.3 million pounds move from Brazilian club Sao Paulo in January 2012. Piazon is an attacking midfielder, who can also play further up the pitch in the hole behind the striker(s). For Sao Paulo, this sale will fuel the purchase of Luis Fabiano who, Sao Paulo want to bring back to Brazil.



6. Gilberto Heading Home to Gremio

Ex-Arsenal and Brazil playmaker Gilberto Silva has decided to return to home to Brazil and Gremio have wasted little time in showing interest in the player. Silva has agreed an 18-month deal with the Brazilian outfit and will leave current club Panathinaikos at the end of the current season.

“We are very happy with this signing. Our commitment is to strengthen further our squad so Gremio will have a great campaign in the Brazilian championship,” club president Paulo Odon said in a statement on their website.



5. Ajax Sign Dutch Ace

Ajax fans might still be reveling in joy following their club’s season victory after a hard fought season but Amsterdam Arena is now open to new arrivals for next season. Frank De Boer has identified Netherlands midfielder Theo Janssen as a potential recruit for next season. The club has paid FC Twente 3.2 million euros for the 29 year old player for a two-year deal. Janssen is a player with immense experience, having been one of FC Twente’s top performers in the last two seasons. For a club which is held in high regard all over for their style of football, Ajax deserve to be tough competitors for any team in Europe and for them to do so, adding some firepower would definitely help the cause and Janssen is definitely a value-add in this regard.

4. Manchester City Sign Celta Vigo Starlet

The wheel has been set in motion at Eastlands as Manchester City has already made its first signing of the summer. Spanish U-17 midfielder Denis Suarez has joined the Citizens from Celta Vigo for an initial fee of 850,000 pounds. This figure could further rise up to 2.5 million euros depending on appearances and performances. With this move, City seems to be the latest club joining the line of young-talent-seeking teams from the Premier League.

 

3. Tottenham Sign Barcelona Wonderkid

Harry Redknapp is already on the talent train and has made his first stop at Barcelona to sign 16 year old attacking midfielder Cristian Ceballos. The young prodigy was held in high regard at La Masia right from the age of 12 but slowly fell out of favour with the Catalans. Following a 2 week stint at Chelsea FC, the youngster showed a lot of promise but somehow the Blues also failed to capitalize on his talent. But now the buck has stopped at White Hart Lane and Harry Redknapp has wasted little time in realizing the potential of Ceballos. It is bound to be a busy summer in North London.

 

2. Liverpool Land Irish Left Back

Although they need someone established, Liverpool have nonetheless made the move for a left-back and seem to have unearthed a worthy talent in Alex O’Hanlon. 15-year old O’Hanlon, whose previous employers were St Kevin Boys’ Club from Dublin, is regarded as one of the brightest talents to have emerged from Ireland in quite sometime. Having spent time at Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton, O’Hanlon is likened to the infamous Gareth Bale and if such comparison is taken seriously, then Liverpool have indeed landed a gem.

 

1. Arsenal Back In Business – Alvarez Heading to The Emirates

Arsene Wenger might have decided to spend big but that doesn’t mean he will budge from his forte. The Professor has chosen Argentinean outfit Velez Sarsfield as his first hunting ground. 23 year old Ricky Alvarez has signed a pre-contract agreement with the London club and is set to complete his move across the Atlantic once the Clausura season is over. Alvarez is an attacking midfielder who can also manifest into a second striker. Combined with his technical abilities and a boasting 6”2’ figure, one can expect more creativity in the centre of the park from the Gunners next season.