Lining up for soccer's summer blockbusters
The threat of recession gripping the United Kingdom does not appear to have extended to its top soccer clubs, with vast transfer fees likely to change hands over the next few weeks.
Although the transfer window slams shut August 31, several clubs are playing a waiting game this year and are backing their boardroom skill and sense of timing to get the right man for the right price.
Here is a break down of the five biggest developing transfer story lines:
Cristiano Ronaldo. This is the biggest transfer tug of war of all time, with the two biggest and most recognizable clubs on the planet – Manchester United and Real Madrid – fighting over a player that neither feels it can live without. After Ronaldo announced his desire to move to Madrid, the Spanish side appeared to have grabbed the ascendancy. However, United is playing the hardest of hardball, and by dragging things out to this point, it will either receive a drastically inflated transfer fee – or keep hold of its top player.
Frank Lampard. Chelsea has already signed its replacement for Lampard, snapping up Deco from Barcelona shortly after Euro 2008. A deal that will reunite Lampard with former Blues boss Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan looks likely to go ahead, unless Roman Abramovich has a sudden change of heart and refuses to part with one of his favorite players.
Andrei Arshavin. Barcelona is still the most plausible destination for the Zenit St. Petersburg playmaker, who is valued at around $40 million. However, Barca has already had one bid rejected and Chelsea and Arsenal are both interested. Arshavin is technical and tenacious enough to perform at a high level in England or Spain. Critics claim he lacks consistency, but the pedigree of his suitors speaks volumes for his ability.
Emmanuel Adebayor. This is a mini-version of the Ronaldo saga. Arsenal wants Adebayor to stay, despite the player’s wish to leave and AC Milan’s $50 million interest. Arsenal may be playing a clever waiting game, hoping to extract the best price for the Togo international striker. But if the Gunners wait too long, Arsene Wenger will have little time to spend his new cash windfall.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Huntelaar could become a hostage to the Ronaldo and Adebayor situations, with United and Arsenal both interested in signing him from Ajax. He did not get much of a chance to increase his reputation at Euro 2008 because of Holland's talent-rich rich squad, but he remains one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe. Wenger sees Huntelaar as the perfect replacement for Adebayor, but United, which is also taking a look at big Russian Roman Pavlyuchenko, will not be shy about flexing its financial muscles.