Archive for August 21st, 2007

Closing weeks for transfer window: Emerson, Blasi, Zalayeta find a new home

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Only 10 days left in the transfer window… As soccer clubs are trying to squeeze in the deals for their future stars (before the market closes on August 31st), we are rapidly approaching last-minute end-of-the-month frenzy mode. With pre-season training well on its way, most coaches have already their heart set out on an “ideal team” (and squad hierarchies are bing defined) so it’s usually rare to see big surprises at this time. Of course it helps if the seller and buyer are already at an advanced stage of negotiations, such as Real Madrid and AC Milan for the following story.

Emerson, age 31This one has been lingering in newspaper headlines for quite some time now, almost to the extent of reader nauseation (“is he coming? he is not? yes, it’s confirmed… oh no wait, never mind”). Well it seems that now it is confirmed: Emerson will be an AC Milan player for the 2007-08 season. Milan administrator Adriano Galliani flew down to Spain to close the deal earlier this evening, and managed to find an agreement with his Real counterpart. The Merengues initially wanted 11m for the Brazilian midfielder, way more than the Rossoneri were willing to spend, hence the lengthy duration of transfer rumours. Actually, it seemed as if Mijatovic and Galliani had reached an agreement last week, but the Real president Ramón Calderón put a veto to it, effectively forcing the negotiations to start from scratch.

However over the last few days, it seems that the Spanish team finally caved: the transfer amount has been arranged for approximately €5m. AC Milan thus makes a pretty sweet deal, one which received the stamp of approval of former manager of the two clubs Fabio Capello: “I am convinced that Milan made a great purchase. After a long season with highs and lows Emerson has the motivation to rebound, and I’m sure he’ll an important piece of the Milan chessboard this year. Congratulations to the Rossoneri”.

Considering Milan’s current roster, my guess is that Emerson will be starting from the bench (undebatable starters are Pirlo and Gattuso in midfield, not forgetting Ambrosini who’s been in great form in pre-season matches), but he’ll undoubtedly be a very useful player for the Rossoneri (despite the age), especially in light of the Champions’ League season.

Marcelo Zalayeta, age 28In other news, Napoli has just acquired the playing rights of Juve faithfuls Manuele Blasi and Marcelo Zalayeta. Blasi has been contracted to Juventus since 2002 but spent many years loaned out to different clubs, and wasn’t exactly in Ranieri‘s first team plans this year (as can be attested by his modest usage in Juve’s preasons friendlies), so it is no surprise to see him go. Zalayeta is another matter: although he was never really a first team player in his 10 seasons with the ‘Old Lady’ (including a few loan spells here and there), he has been a key player coming off the bench in many occasions (the most memorable of which, his 2003 qualifying goal vs. Barcelona in the Champions’ League) and he always seemed to willingly accept his role as a backup player. This poses serious question on Juve’s remaining fowards’ pool, with only Del Piero, Trezeguet, Iaquinta, and Palladino to pick from. I sincerely hope that Secco or Ranieri have got a surprise up their sleeves, or the future is looking dire for Juve fans…

Manuele Blasi, age 27From Napoli’s point of view, this is a great operation. With Blasi, their midfield is receiving much needed attention, and Zalayeta’s transfer puts the final touch in an otherwise well-tested striking force (Calaiò, Sosa, etc). New signing Ezequiel Lavezzi‘s form notably (3 goals in the last Coppa Italia match) has been a very positive note for the Neapolitans, who have every intention of staying in the Serie A for quite some time.

Cicinho, age 27Meanwhile, it looks that the Roma-Cicinho deal is dead & buried. Everything seemed to have been sorted between Real Madrid and the Italian club, who had sent emissaries to put pen to paper to the agreement. However, the Merengues’ defeat against Sevilla in the Super Cup changed many things in the plans of the Real owners, who suddenly decided their team wasn’t as well round up as they thought (and that they might actually need Cicinho for the upcoming season). That, and oh… they also wanted more money (surprise surprise). A big bummer for Roma, who will have to look for a speedy talented side-back elsewhere.

Edit (22/08): Well, it seems as they can’t make up their minds at Real Madrid. That, or they must have hit their head in the post-SuperCup agitation. Gazzetta dell Sport just reported that the Roma-Cicinho deal has been concluded. The financial details of the operation include a €9m transfer fee for Real, and a €2.2m yearly wage for Cicinho at his new club. That’s a bit more than €40,000 per week.