/ 2 September 2008

Ronaldinho and Robinho top summer transfers

Ronaldinho, who left Barcelona for AC Milan, and Manchester City-bound Robinho were the two top names in football to have completed transfers during the summer.

Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Andrei Arshavin of Zenit St Petersburg had been tipped for big-money moves, but they came to nothing.

The transfer deadline passed at midnight on September 1, meaning players cannot now move clubs till the winter transfer window opens in January.

Ronaldinho’s move meant he could leave his wretched season at Barcelona behind him, where he was accused of showing more interest in night-time partying than what he was doing on the Nou Camp pitch.

However, AC Milan’s €20-million purchase of the 2005 European Footballer of the Year could prove a rebirth in the career of Ronaldinho, who teams up with Brazilian compatriots Kaka and Pato at the San Siro.

Andrei Shevchenko has also returned to AC Milan from Chelsea and the club looks set for an upswing in fortunes following a poor 2007/08 season.

Manchester City signed Robinho from Real Madrid for a fee of about €42-million, the English Premier League club confirmed on Tuesday.

Brazilian international Robinho agreed a four-year contract with Mark Hughes’s side shortly before the close of the transfer window.

Juventus contented themselves with the €22,8-million capture of Brazilian striker Amauri from Palermo as their top signing.

Coach Jose Mourinho was the big investment by Inter Milan, who brought him in as a replacement for Roberto Mancini, and their major signing of the season was made on Monday when they took on board FC Porto winger Ricardo Quaresma for €17-million.

Inter also landed Roma’s Brazilian midfielder, Mancini, and Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari.

In Spain, Real Madrid purchased Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart from Hamburg, joining up with fellow Dutchmen Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben, Royston Drenthe and Wesley Sneijder at the Santiago-Bernabeu stadium.

Van der Vaart’s inclusion no doubt consoled the Meringues somewhat, having failed to prise Euro 2008 top scorer David Villa from Valencia.

Barcelona opened their wallet wide to pay for the incoming players of Daniel Alves, Alexander Hleb and Seydou Keita.

Though the top Spanish clubs often get the players they want, Ronaldo did not move to Madrid, although they offered Manchester United a reported €85-million for the player who scored 42 goals on the way to the English Premiership and Champions League titles.

He was involved in a tug-of-war between the clubs with daily updates throughout the summer, though early last month he finally decided to stay with the Red Devils for at least another year, adding he would still like to play for Madrid at some point in his career.

Just after losing in the quarterfinals of Euro 2008 with Portugal, Ronaldo had made clear his desire to move to Madrid, although he had a contract linking him with Manchester till 2012.

Sir Alex Ferguson got his way, and hanging on to Ronaldo was the major task, as far as his squad was concerned, during the summer.

However, United beat the transfer deadline to complete a €37,7-milliondeal for Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov. Berbatov (27) agreed a four-year contract with United and Tottenham confirmed the deal on their website 45 minutes after the transfer window shut.

Manchester City had tried to lure Berbatov to Eastlands after having an offer accepted for the Bulgarian, but he opted to join the European champions following talks with Ferguson at the club’s Carrington training ground.

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger brought in Marseille’s midfield maestro, Sami Nasri, sometimes touted as the new Zinedine Zidane, and defender Mikael Silvestre, also of France, from Manchester United.

Liverpool splashed out €24-million to buy Tottenham striker Roy Keane to create a new strike partnership at Anfield with Fernando Torres.

Chelsea’s new coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to their fifth World Cup title in 2002, brought in midfielder playmaker Deco from Brazil.

Tottenham, very active in the transfer market this season, failed to land their sought-after target of Andrei Arshavin from Zenit St Petersburg.

Arshavin’s superb showing for Russia, as they cruised to the Euro 2008 semifinals, put him nicely in the shop window but St Petersburg’s €25-million plus price tag proved too much for the north Londoners. — AFP