It’s TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY! Deals can get done until 11pmBST tonight (= 6pmET), and no doubt there will be plenty of last minute wheeling and dealing. Follow along via the Guardian’s liveblog if you’re so inclined.
Amid all that is some actual action on the field. The European super cup is today–the UEFA Champions League winner vs the Europa League winner, so Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid. A couple subplots: Fernando Torres vs his old club, and Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois vs the club that might call him back next season to finally succeed Peter Cech (both subplots picked up via scanning Guardian headlines:
(the latter being a Sid Lowe interview)).
Other transfer rumors picked up from Guardian Football homepage: Chelsea to add even more attacking talent, in the form of German André Schürrle from Leverkeusen? With potential domino effects of Sturridge off to Liverpool and Andy Carroll to West Ham? Who knows, better to just watch things play out today as deals actually gets done.
Though it seems like Dimitar Berbatov is off to Fulham..or is he?? Now there are reports he may instead be headed…back to Spurs?? All this after deals were supposedly done for the enigmatic languorous Bulgarian to move to Fiorentina and then Juve!
We hope it is Fulham, as they need some good news of the import variety. Dembélé to Spurs is a big loss–Berbatov would be something of a consolation, but to lose him to Spurs as well would be doubly demoralizing. And maybe Demspey will be return to the fold at Craven Cottage? On the other hand, Dembélé does seems like a decent replacement for Modric in midfield, who’s already made his debut for Real Madrid (more on that below).
In the opposite direction, Esteban Granero is going from Madrid to London–QPR, where Mark Hughes has been spending like mad, also signing this week Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar from Inter. We do seem to recall Granero getting some playing time in Madrid last year, and impressing. Madrid had signed him away from local rival Getafe a couple years ago, but (like Nuri Şahin–more on that below as well), Granero got lost among all the midfield talent in Madrid.
Following the Modric-t0-Madrid move, Edhino commented:
WTF is this ‘partnership’ between Spurs and Real Madrid anyway? Jose going to come to White Hart Lane to manage when AVB goes on his annual Riviera holiday? Bale plays for Madrid when Ramos hurts his toe? What??
Yes indeed, reports were that Spurs did announce they now have some sort of “special relationship” with Madrid Though one would think that would have got them inside track on Şahin! That does seem like quite a coup for Brendan Rodgers, to have stolen that loan deal from Arsenal at the last minute.
Was it a matter of Rodgers convincing Şahin of his project, or of Wenger asking for more than Madrid was willing to concede (in terms of wages and/or an option to make the move permanent?) Or maybe even a matter Mourinho preferring to send Şahin to a place where he can’t come back to bite him in the ass (via a Champions League encounter, say?). We really don’t understand how/why these deals go down as they do. In any case, And maybe Şahin will be making his Premier League debut this weekend–vs Arsenal!
On the other hand, Alex Song made his Barcelona debut Wednesday, as a late sub for Busquets in the 2nd leg of that Spanish Supercup. Unfort we didn’t get to see it, but did skim the MBM, which said Barcelona were in shambles for a half (down 2-0 and down to 10 men), until Messi pulled them even on aggregate with a great free kick. But they couldn’t get another goal in the 2nd half, and lost on away goals. Guess a trophy is some consolation for Madrid after their horrendous start to the season domestically: a draw against Valencia at home, and then a loss against Getafe (which is apparently a shabby Madrid suburb). So already 5pts behind Barcelona–La Liga already lost? (Btw, Barcelona-Valencia Sunday!)
But certainly their/Mourinho’s focus this season will be on the Champions League. The “Group of Champions” will certainly make for some interesting group stage viewing. Man City, Borussia Dortmund, and Ajax all get screwed in the draw for the 2nd year in a row. We doubt that Ajax has a chance of competing (as usual, they sold a couple of their best players–Vertonghen to Spurs and midfielder Vurnon Anita to Newcastle), but we could see Borussia Dortmund advancing ahead of City.
I did get to see parts of one match this week: after my first day of teaching Monday, I needed a pint and some time and space, so stopped by Woodwork on the way home and had Ross put on Atletico Madrid-Athletic Bilbao. Watched Falcao score two fantastic goals, while Athletic couldn’t do anything. (I had to leave at halftime, but Falcao added a 3rd, and someone else
scored to make the final score 4-0.)
The Bielsa project in Bilbao is in shambles. The Fernando Llorente (to Juve) and Javi Martinez (to Bayern–for €40m! Apparently Song was Barcelona’s 2nd choice to reinforce their def mf & replace Seydou Keita, but they decided they couldn’t afford Martinez) deals still aren’t done, but does seem like they’re off. How demoralizing. Sid Lowe wrote about that this week as well: