Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Window of Opportunity

Rooney to Arsenal? Ibrahimovic to Real Madrid? Thiago to Bayern? Yes folks, it’s that time of year again when the veritable conundrum of “who should my club sign” returns to engage us all once more! Be it frantic negotiations, bloated release clauses, further bloated egos of agents or stoic, non-committal press conferences- we all love the drama, passion, excitement and yes, even the ludicrous nature of some of the outcomes of the football transfer period!

Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente made sure the Italian Champions made their mark. Neymar adds a gentle surplus to Barcelona’s offensive line. Bale, Ronaldo, Cavani, Higuain and maybe even Wayne Rooney hang in the balance. Let’s not forget Thiago Alcantara and Marouane Fellaini- who themselves seem to not have a clue where they’re headed. Lots of activity was predicted, though, and so far, not a lot has happened. Fret not though, because that leaves plenty of room for speculation- and that wins writers like me our daily bread!

Manchester City, predictably, have bolstered their reserves; one could argue that was badly needed. Fernandinho, Navas and what’s now looking like Alvaro Negredo make for major changes in their front line and, presumably, in the way they will play. Wing-play has not been City’s forte (don’t tell Pablo Zabaleta!) but evidently, there are plans to change that.

It may serve to unsettle the fulcrum of the team- Nasri, Silva, Toure, Aguero, Barry (Stop chuckling! He was part of the fulcrum!), Milner- predominantly central, incisive players. Then again, it will most definitely add an element of surprise to what last season became a tried, tested and failed recipe. Wing-play will give them another option in attack and versatility wins you titles.

Chelsea, unsurprisingly, under Mourinho management have been active as well- though not as active as many would have thought! Andre Schurrle is a good signing and Mark Schwarzer is a clever buy as well given the release of their other goal-keepers. Returning loanee Romelu Lukaku will feel he’s earned game-time and Marco Ginkel was one of the best players in the Eridivisie last season. Kevin De Bruyne will not want to be loaned out again but that’s looking increasingly likely given the improbability that Mourinho will deploy Mata, Oscar, Hazard, Schurrle, Lukaku, Torres, Ginkel, Lampard and Ramires and then say “Hey, we have room for one more!” Watch this space because Chelsea look very strong on paper.

Arsenal started out roaring. The Gunners made statements of firm intent. Sadly, statements are all the intent has remained confined to thus far. From courting Wayne Rooney and Gonzalo Higuain (both seemingly unsuccessfully), the Gunners have now turned their attentions to disgruntled Liverpool star Luis Suarez.

While Suarez may be flattered by the bid, one wagers Arsenal fans are not- given his propensity to get hungry when a match is in progress. Marouane Fellaini is another popular name being bandied about, but David Moyes may just have the upper hand if, indeed, Marouane’s departure from Goodison transpires.

Speaking of David Moyes, we come to the Champions. And the dormancy in this transfer window is not surprising. It can be misleading, though. David Moyes took over exactly two weeks ago so it’s not unfathomable that nothing has transpired yet. But, as has been the hallmark of United over the years, there’s always a surprise in store. And I’m reasonably certain we’ll see it soon.

A return for Ronaldo? A swoop for Gareth Bale? An exchange for Wayne Rooney? There’s something about Manchester United that attracts attention in the transfer window, especially near the culmination. History would suggest the Red Devils need to be monitored closely in this month.

So, who will prove to be marquee signings? And who will turn into the Andy Carrolls, Stewart Downings and Andrey Arshavins of the new season? Only time will tell. And there’s not a lot of it left.

Expect the remaining month and a half to fly by. Expect moves to come helter-skelter, players to leave countries, clubs and fans aghast, and most importantly expect football enthusiasts who like to get a word in to opine with much greater frequency! Business, in a footballing sense, will boom in this window of opportunity. 

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