Saturday, September 01, 2007

Truce in Sevilla; Transfer Round-up

1) The pictures of lifelong beticos laying flowers at the makeshift Antonio Puerta shrine at the Ramon Pizjuan is possibly the most moving thing I've seen in football in years (El Pais has a good video here). The Betis-Sevilla rivalry at the same time one of the most passionate and yet completely baseless rivalries in football: two clubs who share the same team but whose animosity is based neither on class (e.g. Torino-Juve), religion (Celtic-Rangers) or city regionalism (Roma-Lazio). It just is. And then suddenly, this week, it wasn't. Beautiful.

2) I clearly suck at predictions. That'll learn me. Back to armchair after-the-fact punditry, I guess.

Almost nothing of note, in fact, happened on deadline day. Milan still have a back four with an age profile that resembles that of the Rolling Stones. Man Utd still have no strikers - maybe they'll be the first to go for the 4-6-0! Man City didn't grab anyone (though they did ship out some Dickov-shaped deadwood out on loan and sold Bernardo Corradi to Parma). Arsenal signed Diarra from Chelsea, bringing their number of first-team midfielders under the age of 22 to approximately 400. And Nobby Solano, age 82, moved from Newcastle to West Ham, apparently of his own free will.

(Question of the week, courtesy of the Guardian's James Richardson: is signing for West Ham the football equivalent of playing drums for Spinal Tap? Ba-ZING!)

In Spain, Sevilla, apparently more worried about scoring goals than plugging holes in midfield, signed Arouna Kone from PSV. Asier Del Horno, after deceiving two real teams that he was a capable right-back, has returned to Bilbao and - shock! - Danny Szetela has moved from Columbus Crew to Racing Santander. This, needless to say, is a significantly more important sign of MLS quality than, say, the Andy Welsh-to-Blackpool transfer. Maxi Lopez decided that freezing his ass off in Russia was marginally better than being the butt of innumerable terrible hair/terrible player jokes as the 13th-choice striker at the Camp Nou, went to FC Moscow. In one of the most brazen pieces of highway robbery seen in years, Barcelona managed to get 2 million euros in return.

Somehow, over the course of the summer, I managed to miss the fact that Alexandre Pato made the jump from Brazil to Milan. How signing a lightweight midfielder came ahead of signing a defender not in imminent danger of need hip replacement surgery is beyond me. Tsk. Tiago continued his somewhat aimless international wanderings by leaving Lyon for Juve. Oh, and Uruguayan crap-merchant Alvaro Recoba has moved from Inter to Torino.

(I think I speak for just about everyone when I say: "Alvaro Recoba was still playing for Inter?")

A host of interesting but obscure transfers this summer involved Aegean teams. LuaLua went to Olympiakos, where he will be put in the unenviable position of trying to make fans at the cauldron-like Karaiskaki Stadium forget about Rivaldo. Tomasz Radzinski chose to sign for no-hopers Xanthi rather than return to Toronto. Kazim-Richards - arguably Sheffield United's only decent young player last year, made the switch to Fenerbahce, Shabani Nonda got shipped to Galatasaray and Gonzalo Higuain's less-talented brother Federico was snapped up by Beisktas.

In France, Lille paid the price for not qualifying for Europe last year by getting absolutely creamed in the transfer market, losing Peter Odemwingie (10 M euros) to Lokomotiv Moscow and Kader Keita to Lyon (18M). In return, they signed....er...Patrick Kluivert. Monaco picked up Adriano on dead-line day. (Not that one. This one.)

Finally, it is a complete mystery to me what the hell Dani Alves and Juan Roman Riquelme are going to do for the rest of the season, given that neither really wants to play for the team to which they are contracted. Or what Eidur Gudjohnsen, who is clearly now ranking about seventh on the Barcelona strikers' depth chart, plans to do for the next four months other than flake out in the city's cafes and enjoy the Barri Gotic.

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