Tag Archive: Transfers

The new Premier Soccer League season may be underway, but South Africa’s elite clubs are still chopping and changing their squads in a late attempt to improve their chances of success in 2012-13. Recent weeks have seen imports from other African leagues, potential exports to Europe and a number of notable transfers between rival PSL clubs.

Perhaps this week’s most surprising story is SuperSport left-back Innocent Mdledle’s pending transfer to Wits University – just one month after signing a two-year deal at SuperSport. The defender only left previous club Mamelodi Sundowns in July but appears to be heading to his third club in two months after realising playing time at SuperSport may be limited. Not-so-innocent Mdledle was shown the door by Mamelodi after being arrested for drink driving.

Mbesuma has admitted he “couldn’t wait to join Pirates” after hearing of the champions’ interest

Another former SuperSport player looking for increased first-team opportunites is 21-year-old Orlando Pirates midfielder Mduduzi Nyanda, who is currently training with Bloemfontein Celtic. Unable to break into Pirates’ starting XI, Nyanda was loaned to both SuperSport and Platinum Stars last term, and has decided that his future lies away from the Orlando Stadium.

Platinum Stars have themselves completed the signing of Botswana no.1 Kabelo Dembe from Township Rollers in the goalkeeper’s homeland. Already his country’s first-choice custodian at the tender age of 22, Dembe impressed several PSL clubs after shining in Botswana’s 1-1 draw with the South African national team in June.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens seems to have closed the door on young defender Siyanda Xulu’s move to Russian outfit FC Rostov by telling reporters there would be no more transfers at the Pretorian club: “I am happy with the players who are here now, so I don’t need any more players and nobody has to go.”

Russian Premier League side Rostov had seen their initial bid of R5 million turned down by Sundowns, much to Xulu’s chagrin: the 20-year-old took to his Facebook page to slate his current employers, sighing “What about my dream; what about my career [?] It is always about money.” Keen to move abroad, Xulu has already enjoyed trials at European giants Barcelona and Arsenal, but looks set to remain in South Africa this season after Neeskens said “He can go if [Rostov] come in with a better offer”, and told the defender’s potential suitors that unless the transfer is completed by the end of the week, the deal is off.

Elsewhere in the league, defending champions Orlando Pirates added Zambian international Collins Mbesuma to a fearsome forward line that already includes ex-Blackburn forward Benni McCarthy – South Africa’s all-time top-scorer – as well as another new signing, Takesure Chinyama, who enjoyed a prolific spell in the Polish top flight, and promising youngster Bongani Ndulula, who is nicknamed “Drogba” by team-mates and coaches alike.

Portly striker Mbesuma, 28, joins on a 3-year deal from Golden Arrows, and Pirates coach Augusto Palacios has confirmed that the transfer marks the end of the club’s summer dealings, calling Mbesuma “the last player [who is] coming to Orlando Pirates to reinforce the squad for the PSL”.

Image: http://www.iol.co.za/sport


Aussie Aaron Joins Gulls

Torquay United have completed the signing of former Chesterfield defender Aaron Downes after the Australian centre-back was released by The Spireites in May. United had been searching for a new defender for almost a month after selling Mark Ellis to Crewe Alexandra in late June.

Beginning his career with the Australian Institute of Sport in 2003, Downes moved into English football with short non-league spells with Hampton & Richmond and Frickley Athletic. Signed for Chesterfield in August 2004 by Roy MacFarland – who had managed Torquay two years earlier – Downes made ten appearances in his first season in League One, scoring twice for his new side.

Downes has plenty of Football League experience, particularly with Chesterfield

The centre-back went on to establish himself as a regular in Chesterfield’s side, playing over 20 times in all but two of his eight seasons – including a 2011-12 campaign in which he joined Bristol Rovers on loan in January. Downes’ downfall is his tendency to pick up injuries – Torquay manager Martin Ling claims “He was going to be a massive product at Chesterfield” were it not for “a couple of bad knee injuries” that have “definitely thwarted his career”.

Following his loan spell at Rovers, Downes was deemed surplus to requirements at Chesterfield and released at the 2011-12 campaign. Unsurprisingly, he interested other Football League sides, and ironically, it was during a trial with Yeovil that Ling spotted his new man. As Torquay’s boss says: “I watched him play for Yeovil in pre-season and they wanted to take him, but as a cover player rather than a starter. I’ve told Aaron I’m looking for a left-sided centre-half and he has played 90% of his football in that position, even though he is right-footed.”

Yeovil’s loss was United’s gain, as Ling swooped to sign a defender who had met his criteria set upon selling Ellis: he stressed the need for a replacement with “experience and at least 100 games of professional football under his belt”. With Downes having amassed 174 Football League appearances for Chestefield at the age of 27, the former Australia under-23 international ticks both boxes.

Though Ling had initially promised the new centre-back would be unveiled in mid-June  – a deadline that came and went with little development revealed – most United fans are happy with their new signing. Downes will begin the season as Torquay’s first-choice centre-back alongside the unflappable Brian Saah, with fellow new recruit Tom Cruise and first-year pro Kirtys MacKenzie providing cover.

Thankfully for Torquay, the limited time Downes has to gel with new goalkeeper Michael Poke and form a cohesive defensive unit before the start of the season is compensated by the fact that the two were both on loan at Bristol Rovers last season. Downes’ new Plainmoor team-mates also seemed pleased with the signing, with left-back Kevin Nicholson taking the opportunity to welcome Aaron to the club, saying it felt “good to have another quality player on board”.

Downes himself gushed: “[I’m] really happy to be joining such a great club…can’t wait for the season to start. Thank you to all Torquay fans on Twitter who have already made me feel welcome.”

Meanwhile, former Rushden & Diamonds defender George Artemi continues to trial at Torquay, and could feature in tonight’s friendly against Tiverton Town. The 19-year-old, predominantly a centre-back, could be signed as cover either for that position or as backup to defensive midfielder Damon Lathrope.

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Everton have confirmed the departure of young Portuguese striker João Silva  to Bulgarian giants Levski Sofia on a 3-year deal. The move comes following two years at Goodison Park in which the 22-year-old failed to make any appearances for Everton.

Having joined the Toffees in 2010 from Portuguese second-tier club CD Aves, Silva was hailed as a “starlet” and compared to Pauleta, the country’s all-time scorer at international level. Inevitably, young Silva struggled to displace regular first-team forwards Louis Saha, Tim Cahill and Jermaine Beckford, and soon returned to his homeland with a loan move to UD Leiria.

Silva’s Everton career never took off

Back in Portugal, Silva looked more comfortable, averaging a goal every three games for Leiria and netting twice against national giants Benfica in a 3-3 draw on the last day of the 2010-11 season. The following summer he joined Vitória de Setúbal, scoring 3 goals in 16 league appearances before being recalled by Everton in January.

However, Silva still failed to make the breakthrough at Goodison, scoring two goals in six starts for the reserve team, and few fans will be surprised to see the Portugal under-21 international offloaded in a transfer that probably benefits both parties. What may have come as a surprise, though, is Silva’s move to Bulgaria, rather than back to his homeland, where his talents have already been proven.

Silva will join compatriots Nino Pinto, a defender, and fellow forward Cristovão Ramos at Levski Sofia, who finished third in last season’s Bulgarian PFG. João follows fellow reserve-team players Adam Forshaw, James Wallace, James McFadden and Marcus Hahnemann out of the exit door at Goodison, with Rangers forward Steven Naismith currently Moyes’ only summer signing.

Image: http://onossofuteb0l.blogspot.co.uk


McPhee Moves On

Torquay United have confirmed the release of midfielder Chris McPhee following talks with manager Martin Ling that resulted in a mutual agreement that the player’s future lies elsewhere. The news comes despite BBC Sport reporting that a loan move was on the cards just 24 hours ago.

Having returned to Plainmoor in June 2011, after previously spending a season with the club in 2006-07, McPhee found first-team opportunities limited under Ling. Initially used as a substitute or starting central midfielder, McPhee made 26 league appearances in 2011-12 but gradually fell out of favour as the season wore on, even struggling to hold down a place on the bench after January.

Indeed, he last featured for the Gulls on 6 March, in a 1-0 home defeat of Aldershot. Unsurprisingly, both player and manager thought a change of scenery was required, and Torquay transfer-listed McPhee in late May, along with winger Lloyd Macklin.

McPhee struggled to break into United’s starting XI last season

Following this move, it looked as if McPhee would be either sold, or loaned out to a Conference National club for the first half of the 2012-13 campaign, returning in January – or being recalled earlier if required – to assist in what Ling hopes will be a push for promotion. With McPhee having spent most of his career in the South of the country, taking in spells with Swindon and Weymouth as well as Torquay, rumours linking the 29-year-old with loan or permanent moves to Newport County and Hereford United seemed well-founded.

McPhee’s experience in non-league, combined with his versatility – he can play anywhere across midfield as well as up front – would benefit any Conference club, but today’s release scuppers any chance of a temporary move for the ex-Brighton trainee. Ling’s decision to cut McPhee from his now 22-man squad has fuelled hope that the former Leyton Orient chief is about to announce the signing of another attacker, as Ling has previously stated his squad will consist of 24 men – McPhee’s replacement, plus the imminent signing of a new centre-back, would bring the group back up to the requisite number.

Despite acknowledging that there had been “considerable loan interest” in McPhee in recent weeks, a club statement claimed “a permanent departure would be the best option for both parities”. Manager Ling added: “”We have reached an agreement for Chris to leave the club with immediate effect and pursue his career elsewhere. Chris is very much interested in combining a coaching role with his playing duties and sees his best opportunity with a club outside the Football League.”

McPhee now looks set to join a leading Conference side, with the added financial impact of having to pay all of McPhee’s wages (likely to be higher if a coaching role is involved) rather than a propotion, as would have been the case with a loan deal. The 2008 FA Trophy winner is unlikely to be short of offers, though, and could be tempted by a Conference South side if coaching duties are available.

Image: http://www.torquayunited.com


Premier League outfit Queens Park Rangers have completed the signing of experienced South Korean midfielder Park Ji-Sung on a two-year deal. Park leaves Old Trafford after seven successful years at United during which he won four Premier League titles and one Champions League trophy.

QPR will become the fourth club of a brilliant career which has seen Park take in national honours with Kyoto Purple Sanga of Japan, Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven as well as at Manchester United – a trophy haul that makes him the most decorated Asian footballer of all time.

The 31-year-old’s experience at the highest level can only benefit QPR, and the Super Hoops will hope to utilize Park’s hard-working playing style to full effect. Similarly, Park’s versatility in midfield will be able to fill a number of positions in Mark Hughes’ squad: he can play anywhere across the middle of the park and was used as both a defensive midfielder and a winger by Manchester United.

“I’m going to QPR!? YESS!” Park is excited to join the London side

Although Park was clearly more likely to win silverware at Old Trafford than QPR’s Loftus Road – QPR boss Hughes has admitted “Ji has been attracted not to where QPR are, but where QPR are going” – he had fallen out of favour somewhat at Old Trafford during the latter years of his spell with the Red Devils, playing less than half of United’s Premier League fixtures in his last three seasons at the club.

He was often recalled for vital league, cup and European games, but Park is expected to play a much larger role at QPR, where first-team football chances are more assured. Enticed by the London club’s vision for the future, Park said: “The project was simply too good to resist and I am excited about getting started in pre-season and going on tour to Asia in the coming days. I am joining a club that is very much on an upward curve – a club that has a very bright future.”

Similarly delighted were Hughes and QPR owner Tony Fernandes: ex-United forward Hughes gushed “He is hugely respected there because of what he has achieved, his application to his work and the impact he has on games…this is a huge signing for this football club”, while a statement on the club’s official website hailed Park as a “global phenomenon”.

Fernandes, a Malaysian entrepreneur, surely appreciates Park’s value in making QPR a club attractive to the Asian market – the signing “coincides” with the team’s pre-season tour of the region. The AirAsia director said: “I am overjoyed and can’t wait to see him in a QPR shirt. It shows our determination and our ambition to build this club. Ji is a global star with a Champions League winner’s medal to his name, and he is as excited about this move as we all are.”

Park’s retirement from international football in January 2011, shortly after winning his 100th cap for South Korea, means that QPR will not face losing their new signing during the Premier League season. 26 of Park’s international appearances came after 2009, representing his country mid-season at the 2011 Asian Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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Ivorian midfielder Jean-Jacques Gosso has expressed his delight at being linked with Premier League club Everton in recent days. Gosso, currently playing for Turkish side Orduspor, has yet to play in England and has spent most of his career outside of Europe.

Beginning his senior career in his homeland in 2002 with Stella Club d’Adjamé, Gosso moved to Morrocan club Wydad Casablanca the following year. Interest from several Israeli sides followed, with Maccabi Tel Aviv and FC Ashdod both inviting the midfielder to discuss terms with them. He signed for the latter club in 2008, ironically making his league debut against Maccabi.

A successful trial in June 2008 at French side Moncaco, then of Ligue 1, Gosso spent three years in France, leaving after Les Rouge et Blanc’s relegation to the second tier in 2011. Turkish outfit Orduspor have boasted the Ivorian international’s talents since, the 29-year-old playing 24 of the club’s 34 Super Lig fixtures last season.

Gosso’s international experience makes up for his lack of European football

After hearing of Everton’s interest, Gosso admitted: “I am very interested if there is an option for me in England. My dream has always been to play in the Premier League and prove myself against midfielders and strikers at the top level”. Gosso described Everton, who finished seventh in the Premier League in 2011-12, as “a fantastic team…one of the biggest club in England.”

Predominantly a holding midfielder, but having also represented Ivory Coast at right-back, Gosso provides vital versatility that could aid Everton’s small transfer budget by allowing Blues boss David Moyes to provide cover for two positions in his squad in one fell swoop.

Gosso also believes his playing style would suit the Everton sides that Moyes has built: “I know David Moyes likes players who put a shift in, so if he is interested in me – like I am hearing – that means I must be doing something right.”

Although the Liverpool Echo have reported that Everton have yet to make a formal approach for Gosso, a move would suit both player and club. The Ivorian would provide cover for, or replace, first-choice defensive midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park, while he could also act as back-up to long-serving right-backs Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert.

Image: http://www.mtnfootball.com

Porto have confirmed the signing of Colombian forward Jackson Martínez on a four-year deal, after paying Mexican side Jaguares £7 million for the frontman’s services.

Martínez joins the Portuguese champions following three goal-laden seasons at Chiapas-based Jaguares, even captaining the side in 2012 despite still only being 25-years-old. Having began his career in his home country with Independiente Medellín in 2004, Martínez impressed sufficiently to earn a move to Mexico in 2010, making his international bow for Colombia the year before.

4 goals in just 9 games in his first season in senior football, aged 18, showed Martínez’s potential, and although his strike rate dropped to a goal every four games in the following four campaigns, the forward netted an incredible 20 times in 25 games in 2009 to secure a move to Jaguares.

Martínez’s international and domestic success has led to bigger and better things

He maintained his strike rate in Mexico’s top flight, with his 28 goals in 58 fixtures for Jaguares – only founded in 2002 – making him the club’s second-top goalscorer of all time. Described by BBC South American football correspondent Tim Vickery as “an out-and-out goalscorer, a front-to-goal centre-forward who can finish off both feet, and with excellent spring that makes him a threat in the air”, Martínez boasts a frightening combination of speed and aerial ability – he is 6 feet tall – that makes him a real handful for opposition defences.

Although Porto are taking something of a gamble by investing in a forward that has never played European football before, they were not the only club chasing Martínez’s signature: Premier League giants Liverpool had been interested in the forward since March, with Martínez also thought to be on the radar of fellow English top-flight sides Fulham, Everton, Sunderland and Wigan.

However, Porto acted quickly, and were aided by the lack of a language barrier facing Martínez in Portugal compared to England. Jackson will join fellow Colombian James Rodríguez at the club, with Porto’s squad containing a total of 15 South Americans, including the side’s Brazilian captain Hulk.

Martínez’s lack of European experience – combined with the quality of the other attackers on Porto’s books – means that he may not start the 2012-13 Primeira Liga campaign in the club’s starting XI: competition for places is fierce, and Martínez is likely to be behind the aforementioned Hulk as well as Portugal international Silvestre Varela and experienced Austrian forward Marc Janko in Porto’s pecking order.

Although Jackson’s nationality and style of play have drawn comparisons with compatriot Falcao, Martínez has publicly disagreedwith the likening, saying “I hope people will not compare me with Falcao. I am a different type of player, but I promise that I will battle to get goals.”

Porto will certainly hope so – the club sold Falcao for £32 million last season, and, hoping to similarly profit should Martínez prove to be just as successful, the Northern giants have inserted a £31.7 million buy-out clause into their new player’s contract. A poor start in the Premier League next season and Liverpool may be left kicking themselves at what might have been.

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Goalkeeper Richard Wright has left League One side Preston North End just six days after signing on the dotted line at Deepdale, without having made a single appearance for the side.  Wright had agreed to join Preston in May after being released by Ipswich Town, but after moving to Lancashire last week, the 34-year-old found living without his young family too difficult to overcome.

Former Arsenal custodian Wright had looked to be an excellent signing for Preston, with club chairman Peter Risdale saying “Richard’s qualities and extensive top-level experience will add a vital ingredient to our squad. He has won major honours at the top level and represented his country. That sort of knowledge and will to win will be an excellent addition to a squad that is starting to take shape nicely.”

A rare shot of Wright in Preston club gear during his six-day spell in Lancashire

Unfortunately, the former England international, who won 2 caps for his country at the turn of the century, failed to settle in his new surroundings, and unable to uproot his family, decided to leave before the season began to give Preston manager Graham Westley plenty of time to find a replacement.

Wright has played just three league games in the last two seasons, and after leaving Preston, his career is once more shrouded in doubt.  The goalkeeper was released by hometown club Ipswich in May, and could be forced to drop through the English divisions to find a suitably-located club.

Recognising the potential reaction to his decision, Wright told Preston’s official website: “It might seem somewhat dramatic, but I have only been away from my home in East Anglia for a few days and I know already that I simply cannot live that far away from my family. I have children settled in school, so moving isn’t an option. I think it is only fair to be honest now rather than down the line when the club may not be able to solve the problem that I am creating.”

Thankfully for Richard, Lilywhites chief Westley was understanding of the situation: “It takes a brave man to be honest in a difficult situation like this. Richard thought that he could handle the separations from his family, but he has found it too much. “He is a good man and I wish him well on behalf of all at PNE.”

Westley has since announced that he has resurrected talks with other goalkeepers who had interested Preston prior to Wright’s signing.  German stopper Thorsten Stuckmann, Preston’s Player of the Year in 2011-12, is currently the only goalkeeper on the club’s books.

Image: http://www.pnefc.net

Uruguay forward Diego Forlan has joined Brazilian side Internacional after his Inter Milan contract was terminated yesterday. Forlan had moved to Italy from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

Something of a flop at Manchester United – his first European club – having cost the Red Devils over £500,000 per league goal at £6.9 million, Forlan has rebuilt his career in recent years, enjoying much more prolific spells at Villarreal and Atletico Madrid after leaving Old Trafford in 2004, as well as winning the Golden Ball at the 2010 World Cup.

Forlan’s move to Milan never quite worked out for either party

Having managed a much-improved strike-rate of around a goal every other league game at each of his Spanish clubs, it was only a matter of time before a European giant such as Inter came calling. Unfortunately, after signing at the San Siro in August 2011, Forlan struggled to emulate this record. Just two league goals all season led to the club tearing up the last year of the Uruguayan’s contract, making him eligible for a free transfer.

Signed as a replacement for Inter legend and Anzi Makhachkala-bound Samuel Eto’o – who had scored 37 times in all competitions in 2010-11 – Forlan was always likely to feel the pressure at a historically expectant club. Despite scoring on his debut in September against Palermo, Diego would find the net just once more in Serie A, having to wait until March for his next – and last – league goal for Inter, against Catania.

A move to Porto Alegre-based Internacional, who finished fifth in Brazil’s top flight last season, represents a chance to move back to his home continent for Forlan. His illustrious career has come the full circle: Forlan’s first club was Argentine giants Independiente; Brazil’s Internacional could well be his last.

The signing is likely to benefit both parties, with Forlan able to escape his Inter nightmare while winding down his career closer to home, while Internacional will likely bask in  increased shirt and ticket sales after the unveiling of Uruguay’s all-time top scorer. Indeed, a club statement read “Diego Forlan is the new reinforcement of Internacional. The Uruguay player is in Milan and will arrive in Porto Alegre on Saturday. The player will be unveiled tomorrow.”, while Forlan himself had earlier this week admitted he was “excited” by speculation linking him with a move to Brazil.

The world’s most casual unveiling? Forlan wears his new shirt

Although Forlan will undoubtedly be the crown jewel in Internacional’s squad – which is entirely comprised of South Americans – he is not the club’s first player to have proved himself in Europe and at international level: Internacional alumni include AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato, World Cup-winning midfielder Dunga, Juventus new-boy Lúcio and Villarreal forward Nilmar.

Forlan becomes the second foreign superstar in the space of two weeks to move to the Brazilian top-flight, following Holland legend Clarence Seedorf’s transfer to Botafogo on 30 June. The pair, who have both won over 80 caps for their country, will join fellow footballing celebrities Ronaldinho, Neymar, Deco and Luis Fabiano in the 2012-13 Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, a league that is growing in stature and appeal to European fans with every marquee signing.


Images: Forlan at Inter Milan – http://www.nuevaeradeportiva.com/; Forlan in Internacional shirt – http://www.sambafoot.com

Ghana international Asamoah Gyan has joined United Arab Emirates side Al-Ain on a permanent deal, following a loan spell at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium last season.

Having signed for Sunderland of the Premier League in August 2010, Gyan enjoyed an impressive start to life in England in his debut season, netting 10 times in 34 league games. However, things quickly turned sour for the striker as he accepted a loan move to Al-Ain in September 2011, infuriating then-Sunderland manager Steve Bruce as well as the club’s fans.

Gyan unsurprisingly proved too much for UAE defences during his loan spell

The loan deal – rumoured to include a £6 million payment to Sunderland, as well as Gyan’s Sunderland wages being quadrupled – led Bruce to express his anger on what he viewed as a transfer made behind his back: “I had a conversation with [Gyan] 48 hours ago and he assured me, he shook my hand, that he wanted to be a Sunderland player…[but] all of a sudden within a few hours it seems things have changed.”

Gyan openly admitted that the financial benefits of the loan had been a key reason in his move, describing the deal as “too good to refuse.” With the United Arab Emirates typically a destination for over-the-hill internationals looking for one last payday, Gyan had moved to Al-Ain aged just 25, prompting Bruce to tell English press: “I don’t think he’s got a future here.”

While Sunderland initially missed Gyan’s goals – Bruce was sacked in November with the club having won just 2 of its opening 13 Premier League games – they soon recovered under new manager Martin O’Neill, reaching the quarter-final of the FA Cup and finished mid-table in the league.

Gyan also enjoyed success, becoming the UAE Pro-League’s top scorer with 22 goals in just 18 games as Al-Ain cruised to the title. With O’Neill also reluctant to welcome Asamoah back into the first-team picture at the Stadium of Light – saying “you wouldn’t really want somebody who is really unwilling to come back to the football club” – the Accra-born attacker has unsurprisingly decided to join Al-Ain on a permanent basis.

The 58-cap Ghana international may be Al-Ain’s biggest star, but he is by no means the first to make the transition from Premier League to Pro League: former Coventry and Aston Villa midfielder Mustapha Hadji joined the club in 2004, while ex-Portsmouth coach Alain Perrin managed The Boss in the same year.

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