Maybe the Transfer Market Really Isn’t Overheated

When I heard Sir Alex Ferguson complain about an overheated transfer market because he lost Carlos Tevez to Manchester City (who will also apparently add Emmanuel Adebayor), I thought the remark rung hollow. After all, this United fan correctly notes that the Red Devils have completed plenty of big money moves. And while the blogger is skeptical of Michael Owen at this stage of his career, the deal could certainly be a good one because Owen has proven that he can still score when healthy. Also, the signings of Gabriel Obertan and Antonio Valencia, coupled with the returning Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, and perhaps even a few more gems from Man U’s academy, Owen, Wayne Rooney, and Dimitar Berbatov should get plenty of good service into the box.

Michael Owen in a new shade of Red.

Michael Owen in a new shade of Red.

Speaking of Tevez, footbo takes a somewhat comedic look at his departure from Old Trafford. This move was definitely more about money (which Man City has plenty of through their Middle East-based ownership) than playing time, or even which manager he liked more, which is just how things work nowadays. Also, he may end up buying Cristiano Ronaldo’s old home. Crushed Ferrari not included, I suppose. Phil McNulty says that Tevez’s signing will be worth the millions it cost to buy out the agency which owned his rights, along with the millions in actual salary, because this move, as with buying Robinho last year, is for a player proven to get it done at the highest level and who should have many more great years to come. Good point. It’s way different from signing over-the-hill names just to sell tickets or merchandise. Man City and manager Mark Hughes want to win. Adebayor’s loss may not be lamented by some of my fellow Arsenal fans, but he does score goals when his mind’s on the game. I’m also not so sure about McNulty’s argument that Arsenal’s forwards are good enough right now to fire the Gunners to a league title. They have Andrei Arshavin, but Robin van Persie and Eduardo need to stay healthy, while either Carlos Vela or Nicklas Bendtner has to take a big step forward. I suppose they might bring somebody in, but splashing the cash is not usually Arsene Wenger’s way. Who can argue with his results though! In closing, I hope Mark Hughes can figure out how to divvy up playing time amongst his countless new signings at Eastlands, because failure to do so effectively may see him run out of town almost as fast as not winning enough games.

No pressure, Mark. Really.

No pressure, Mark. Really.

The “overheated market claims” sounded even more absurd when Rafa Benitez complained upon signing Glen Johnson for over $25 million. It may just be that Liverpool are building a strong team overtime, with one or two big additions a year instead of a huge spending spree like Man City or Real Madrid. That being said, is Glen Johnson really the best choice for a top-level team’s defense? Rafa thinks so, and he has gotten some of the bigger moves he’s made right, like Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso. But I’ll respectfully disagree. Chelsea wasn’t exactly in a rush to keep him a couple of years ago.

Robert Burns has a good summary of what’s gone on across the EPL to date.

Karim Benzema

Karim Benzema

And I have little argument with Real Madrid’s big moves. Ronaldo, Kaka, and Karim Benzema went for silly money, but it’s hard to say that they aren’t signing some of the world’s very best players. Of course, off-field considerations may help– as long as they continue to be a soccer team, not a global concert tour.

So far, it seems like most other clubs are buying pretty shrewdly too. I think the global economic crisis is forcing teams to make carefully calculated decisions. It’s a few teams that truly have the money to go big right now- Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Real Madrid, Barcelona (although they haven’t so far), and a couple of others across Europe.

But we’ll really be judging everyone when the primary European window closes at the end of August, and then again when we see the league standings in January (midseason and the second transfer window) and of course at season’s end in May.

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Busy Week

Pleased with the Yankees apparent turnaround in Atlanta and then against the Mets (or is it MASH Unit, or even David Wright and the seven dwarfs?). Congrats to Mariano Rivera on his 500th save. That’s a great achievement, but also hides what he will be remembered for- his postseason track record.

Also proud of what our national team did, despite Brazil’s second-half comeback. And of our soldiers, as they turned over control of Iraq’s cities to an Iraqi military.

Anyway, on to present matters. NBA and NHL free agents to chat about tomorrow, more so with hockey because basketball players can’t sign until next week. Ronaldo and Kaka to be officially introduced at Real Madrid… more big money signings to come?

I’ll have some thoughts on this stuff later… after dealing with my own business! Damn, the holiday weekend can’t get here soon enough. Should I go out to the beach or hit the city? Your thoughts welcome…

USA-Brazil Second Half Blog

Teams are back out, and the U.S. is set to kick-off the second half. Remember to hit “refresh” to get these updates, because I don’t think WordPress updates automatically.

46th Minute- Goal, Luis Fabiano gets Brazil off to a perfect start, nice ball into him, he turns Jay DeMerit and hits a perfect shot low past Tim Howard. Great play by Luis Fabiano, who is now on course to win the tournament’s golden boot. 2-1 U.S.

50th Minute- Donovan passes to Feilhaber, who dribbles to the goal line, and while his shot is stopped by Julio Cesar, it may have gone out before that.

52nd Minute- Donovan runs it up the field and finds Davies, but his pass to Altidore is knocked away.

53rd Minute- DeMerit is caught out of position but Feilhaber keeps the ball away from Ramires in the U.S. box long enough for Howard to grab the ball.

54th Minute- Feilhaber fouls Kaka, setting up a free kick in a dangerous position. Maicon fires in and Altidore heads away. A subsequent effort from Brazil fails to find Luis Fabiano.

56th Minute- Another foul by Feilhaber on Kaka. Free kick Brazil. It hits the wall and deflects up. Felipe Melo is flagged offside as he jousts with DeMerit for the ball.

59th Minute- Lucio gets a free header off a corner kick, but Howard reacts quickly to palm it away. Gilberto Silva gets to the follow-up but fires high under some pressure. Brazil definitely smelling blood right now.

60th Minute- Whoa! Great cross to the back post finds Kaka. His header is stopped by Howard, but Brazil screams that he and the ball were over the line. Not given, replays unclear at the moment. One replay suggests yes, another indecisive.

63rd Minute- Another Maicon corner is deflected away by Howard. Davies and Ramires scrap for the ball, and Brazil controls.

64th Minute- Some chaos in the U.S. box, but one of the assistant referees flags Brazil for something.

65th Minute- Davies dribbles forward, then passes back to Clark to ease pressure. He finds Donovan, who shoots from outside the box and Julio Cesar makes a decent save.

66th Minute- Dempsey gets a sniff of goal and Julio Cesar palms away. Daniel Alves comes on for Andre Santos. He scored on a great free kick to beat South Africa in the semifinals. Elano also checks in at the expense of Ramires. Brazil thinking offense here for sure. Quarter of the game left to play.

67th Minute- Nice play by DeMerit to beat Luis Fabiano to the ball and draw a foul. He has been really good throughout the tournament.

69th Minute- Lucio booked for arguing with referee Martin Hansson.

71st Minute- DeMerit clears away a cross, but moments later, Luis Fabiano beats everyone and the offside trap, only to see Howard come off his line and smother the ball.

72nd Minute- Davies takes on several Brazilian defenders and nearly prevails with some nice touches of the ball, but Luisao as the last man knocks it away before he can get to Julio Cesar.

74th Minute- Goal and it’s Luis Fabiano again. Robinho heads off the crossbar from a Kaka cross, and Fabiano heads home at the opposite post for his fifth of the tournament. Howard was down in trying to stop Elano and had no chance. Tied at 2. Nice burst of speed by Kaka to set it up.

76th Minute- Bob Bradley brings in Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan. Feilhaber and Altidore exit.

78th Minute- Kaka decides to shoot from long distance. Doesn’t get much on it and it rolls harmlessly wide.

79th Minute- Felipe Melo fouls and he needs to be careful because he was already booked. Good free kick from Donovan, and Julio Cesar grabs it just before Clint Dempsey can pounce.

80th Minute- Bornstein decides to shoot. He’s a bit off-balance, although the technique is good, and the ball flies wide.

82nd Minute- Robinho fires high and wide after a few moves.

84th Minute- Goal.DeMerit stops Luis Fabiano from getting a scoring chance. Elano hits a corner and from it, Brazil scores. Lucio outjumps Dempsey and has what amounts to a free header, which he doesn’t miss, firing into the lower-left corner. The players all mob Lucio but credit also to Elano for a perfect set piece. 3-2 to Brazil, and that is surely the winner. A comeback worthy of the sport’s greatest champions.

88th Minute- U.S. corner. Conor Casey on for Ricardo Clark in Bob Bradley’s last throw of the dice. Donovan puts it into the box and Onyewu gets to it but heads over the bar. In fairness, not a bad miss, as he wasn’t that close to goal.

89th Minute- Kaka tortures a U.S. defender and then fires just past the far post.

90th Minute- Dempsey stumbles in chasing down a Donovan pass, but it was probably hit too high and far for him to reach it anyway. Three minutes to be added on.

92nd Minute- Quiet injury time so far. Brazil just about keeping hold of the ball.

93rd Minute- Daniel Alves shoots high and wide. Howard restarts quickly but Brazil sweeps it away in midfield. Moments later they win a throw-in. Foul on Bocanegra and that should do it.

94th Minute- And that is it, as Martin Hansson blows the whistle right off the free kick. The Brazilian team races onto the field to celebrate a record third Confederations Cup title. Would defeat have cost Dunga his job? He will never have to find out. The U.S. can be very proud of its performance overall, even if they know they did let the game get away from them in the second half. The lessons of this tournament should serve them well going forward.

USA-Brazil First Half Blog

The FIFA Confederations Cup Final is today, and after several days of hype across the nation, the U.S. gets a rematch with Brazil and the chance to show that beating Spain wasn’t a fluke. It won’t make America a favorite for next year’s World Cup, but it would likely give the players loads of confidence to carry over the next 12 months, and make other countries pause before playing us.

2:08- U.S. players have said in the build-up that all the pressure will be on Brazil. To a certain degree, they are right, Brazil rightly should be considered the favorites to win. Nonetheless, I can’t believe they will take the U.S. quite as lightly as Spain did, even knowing how easily they won the group stage meeting.

2:17- Team sheets in, courtesy of the BBC and their always entertaining live text. But don’t stay there the whole time! Pretty please?

USA- Tim Howard (GK)
D- Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra
M- Clint Dempsey, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Landon Donovan
F- Charlie Davies, Jozy Altidore

So, 4-4-2 again from Bob Bradley, with Davies and Altidore paired up front. Feilhaber, a native of Brazil, replaces the suspended Michael Bradley.

Brazil- Julio Cesar (GK)
D- Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Andre Santos
M- Ramires, Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Kaka
F- Luis Fabiano, Robinho (who will probably be in more of a supporting role)

2:20- By the way, shocking news today as noted product pitchman Billy Mays died this morning in Florida. First, Farrah Fawcett, then Michael Jackson, now Billy Mays?

2:21- Teams come out onto the field with the trophy right in front of them. Dignitaries and national anthems to follow. South African president Jacob Zuma is among those greeting the players.

2:25- Beautiful recordings of the anthems, and it’s almost time to get going!

2:27- FIFA’s world feed graphic suggests Altidore will play in support of Davies at the start, just as Brazil will lineup Robinho a bit off of Luis Fabiano.

2:29- Moment of silence for Marc-Vivien Foe, who tragically died during the 2003 Confederations Cup. His son comes onto the field to speak. Very classy of FIFA.

1st Minute- Here we go!

3rd Minute- Vuvuzelas (horns) blaring as loud as ever in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park. Both teams feeling each other out, but Dempsey does take a shot from distance. A few yards wide.

6th Minute- Onyewu knocks the ball away from Kaka. Off the resulting throw-in, a defender sweeps it behind for a corner. Altidore heads Maicon’s service away but it eventually comes back to Maicon. His third try finally is deflected for another corner.

7th Minute- Kaka is at the near post but heads Robinho’s corner out of play.

9th Minute- Luis Fabiano gets a little bit of space but his shot is well over the crossbar.

10th Minute- GOAL, and it’s Clint Dempsey for the third straight match. Spector crosses from distance and Dempsey hits a half-volley into the ground but it takes a friendly hop and bounds past Julio Cesar’s dive. 1-0 U.S. Another shocker?

12th Minute- This is the first time Brazil has trailed in the tournament. Surely they will respond fiercely at some point, but when?

13th Minute- Quickly, in fact. Robinho cuts in and shoots. Howard knocks it away for a corner. Not too difficult a save though for someone like him. Brazil loses the ball off the corner and Donovan sends it to Davies who streaks up the field. Two Brazilian defenders finally clear it out for a U.S. corner near the edge of the box.

15th Minute- Header deflected for another U.S. corner. This time, Onyewu heads it down but neither he nor Dempsey can get a shot on target.

16th Minute- Ricardo Clark blocks an effort from Kaka and Spector clears. Well done defensively.

18th Minute- Donovan fires in a free-kick. Lucio couldn’t clear it, but a teammate eventually does. Brazil breaks out, and Bocanegra is the first player booked after grabbing hold of Kaka.

22nd Minute- Robinho crosses into the box but it’s headed away.

23rd Minute- A couple of nice tackles by Feilhaber to slow down Brazil. Robinho and Kaka then try a give and go which doesn’t fool either defender whom they took on.

24th Minute- Good idea from Felipe Melo. He gets the ball in midfield and tries to find Robinho on the wing. Hits it too hard though.

25th Minute- Hard low shot from Melo is saved by Howard. Smart, as the defenders were sticking to Robinho and Luis Fabiano like glue. Melo is then booked for protesting about an offside decision.

27th Minute- GOAL, what a 2-on-1 break out by the U.S. They break up a corner, Brazil turns it over, and then Davies feeds for Landon Donovan, who takes one-touch, turns Ramires, and fires to Julio Cesar’s lower-left. No chance of stopping it, and it’s 2-0 U.S. Unbelievable.

30th Minute- Andre Santos couldn’t handle a lateral pass, and it’s a U.S. throw-in. Cross whipped in and it narrowly missed Dempsey, a forward, and Julio Cesar. Wow, Brazil has as much talent as anyone in the world, but they look on edge right now.

32nd Minute- Kaka tries to build some play after a teammate clears the ball from a minor U.S. surge to the box. He eventually gets it again, plays give and go with Andre Santos, passes to Robinho, whose pass is half-cleared by Dempsey. Donovan then finishes the job and wins a throw-in to boot after it deflects off a Brazilian body.

35th Minute- Best chance for Brazil so far. Robinho makes a perfect pass to Andre Santos, whose shot from point-blank range is stopped by Howard at the near post. Robinho’s subsequent corner goes right to Luis Fabiano, but he heads over the bar.

37th Minute- Altidore breaks away from Andre Santos near the box. The Brazilian fullback has to foul him, and it results in a booking. Not to mention a free kick for Donovan. It’s cleared away firmly by Gilberto Silva.

38th Minute- Free kick opportunity for Brazil. 30 meters from goal and Felipe Melo passes to Maicon. His service into the box is tipped away by Onyewu and Davies clears to midfield.

42nd Minute- Howard gets his fingertip to a Robinho shot. Nice job getting Spector to give him some space for the shot. Subsequent corner is basically wasted.

43rd Minute- Maicon tries to catch Tim Howard napping, but his shot is just wide of the post.

45th Minute- Felipe Melo shoots from distance, which is deflected wide for a corner. This leads to a header straight into the air, which Howard catches. One minute of stoppage time. Bocanegra just deflects a cross from Maicon that was just begging to be slammed home.

Half-time– Brazil actually had more of the possession, but few quality scoring chances. The U.S. defended Kaka and Robinho extremely well, and they will have to do it again in the second half if they want to hold on. But they do have a two goal lead. Who’d have thunk it?

USA vs. Brazil Second Half

11:01- Landon Donovan moves to the wing. Conor Casey on for Beasley. Game restarts.

11:04- Best chance from the U.S. so far. Good interplay between Casey and Jozy Altidore leads to a shot which Altidore blazes over. Bornstein then tries to whip in a ball but doesn’t connect.

11:09- Nice passing from Brazil gives Robinho a scoring chance. He tries to lob Tim Howard, which probably wasn’t the best idea- Howard is definitely a good athlete and easily catches the effort.

11:11- Kaka makes space and fires a stinging volley from the edge of the box, but Howard palms it away. Sacha Kljestan takes down Ramires with a late challenge on the ankle after losing the ball and Dunga is fuming.

11:15- Red Card. Massimo Busacca thinks about Kljestan’s challenge for a bit, and decides that the U.S. midfielder has to go. Bad challenge to be sure, and another red for the Americans after Ricardo Clark was dismissed against Italy- this sending-off was hardly debatable, unlike Clark’s. Once again down to 10 players on the field. Benny Feilhaber, a native of Brazil, is getting ready for a possible appearance. Kaka shouts for a penalty after he goes down, but nothing given.

11:17- Feilhaber on for Altidore. Some American fans may not like this, but the one forward set-up has worked for the U.S. in the past. Either Feilhaber or Bradley could link to Casey up-front, as can Donovan or Dempsey.

11:20- Goal for Brazil. Maicon storms in to the box and scores from a tight angle, which undoubtedly will irk Tim Howard a bit. 3-0 and how many could it be for Brazil with 25 minutes still to play?

11:26- Kaka leaves to a standing ovation, replaced by Julio “The Beast” Baptista. Luis Fabiano goes as well, with Nilmar coming on. Not exactly calling off the dogs- Brazil’s team is usually far too deep for that. Decent free-kick from Donovan narrowly misses Bradley and Dempsey, who were ready to pounce. Brazil ends up making their final change now too, as Luisao replaces Lucio.

11:31- Game starting to peter out with 15 minutes left.

11:38- U.S. nearly scores, but Spector hits the underside of the bar. No protests from the Yanks. Baptista leads a counterattack and his shot is saved by Howard.

11:41- Bradley blocks a Robinho cross.

11:45- A few final thrusts from Brazil, but the U.S. defenders keep them at bay. Three minutes to be added on.

11:49- One last free-kick for Dempsey. He blazes it over the bar. That should do it.

11:50- Full-time. Brazil gets to six points with a 3-0 win, and is definitely in the semis. A win over Italy in the group finale would guarantee them first place in the group. A draw or win for Italy in today’s late game against Egypt would officially eliminate the U.S.; a win would also knock out Egypt.

11:52- Not the worst American performance we’ve ever seen, but arguably a step down from how they played Brazil, especially in the first-half, where they could’ve been 3 or 4 down before the break. That will undoubtedly alarm Bob Bradley, who knows his team should ultimately make it to the World Cup, but really has to step it up (or pray for a lucky group stage draw) if they are going to make any noise.

11:55- That’s it for this morning. If time allows, some deeper reactions on this one later.

USA vs. Brazil First Half

Starting Line-ups:

USA:
GK- Tim Howard
CD- Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit
FB- Jonathan Bornstein, Jonathan Spector
M- Da Marcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Clint Dempsey
F- Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore

Brazil:
GK- Julio Cesar
CD- Lucio, Miranda
FB- Santos, Maicon
M- Kaka, Gilberto, Felipe, Ramires
F- Robinho, Luis Fabiano

9:55- Teams out and the anthems well-played and sung.

9:57- Per Ives Galarcep, Carlos Bocanegra misses out for the U.S. again due to injury. Beasley returns in midfield, while Kljestan is preferred to Benny Feilhaber.

10:00- We’re off.

10:01- Corner to Brazil. USA clears the danger, led by a Donovan header and tackle.

10:04- Kaka steals the ball, but a defender knocks it away for a corner. Robinho takes but it misses everyone and rolls out for a USA throw-in.

10:06- GOAL to Brazil. That didn’t take long. Free kick whipped in, and Felipe Melo gets by Jonathan Spector for a nearly-free header. 1-0 to the Selecao. Dubious foul though in the build-up.

10:09- Spector’s defending wasn’t terrible, but Melo either out-jumped him or had a big height advantage to begin with. Couldn’t quite tell on the replay. Easy finish in the end though.

10:13- Robinho misses a half-chance as Beasley gives away position cheaply just outside the box. The other Americans had trouble defending the bouncing ball, but Robinho didn’t put a ball on target. Corner though, but Lucio puts a tame header into Tim Howard’s gloves. Now the Yanks need to settle things down fast. Bob Bradley clearly looks concerned (as seen on the tube). Not so for Dunga.

10:13- Kaka dribbles in and tries to center, but DeMerit clears it for a corner. Nobody wins the corner, but it’s eventually cleared to center.

10:21- Goal to Brazil, and it’s that man Robinho. Beasley fails to control a ball near the Brazil penalty area. Brazil goes out virtually 2-on-1 with only DeMerit back and Fabiano crosses to Robinho, who can’t miss this one and indeed fires home to Howard’s right. Good goal, but you really shouldn’t concede from your own corner kick, and Beasley is having a nightmarish first half. Brazil leads 2-0 and that’s probably game over. Now it’s an exercise in damage limitation. Minor scare for Brazil off the restart but Dempsey doesn’t get much of his head to a cross.

10:23- FIFA’s world feed drops out. Probably a satellite issue between South Africa and ESPN HQ in Connecticut. Meanwhile, the US Open is now in a weather delay as some of the course is unplayable.

10:25- Feed restored.

10:28- Fabiano makes some space but fires wide.

10:33- From a USA corner, Beasley crosses in, but it goes out of the box. Donovan finds Michael Bradley, but his feed is headed away. Onyewu hacks down Felipe Melo and is booked.

10:36- Finally an assured moment from Beasley as he knocks away a ball from a Brazilian midfielder. Robinho shoots well wide as the fans start to do a wave. Sambas later? Fabiano shoots low but right into Howard.

10:40- Maicon gets the ball in space as Beasley is caught ball-watching. His cross comes to Gilberto Silva, but he heads over the bar.

10:43- Just heard on air that the USA has attempted the most long balls in this tournament- and hasn’t completed very many. Is it a lack of experience as much as tactical skill? Not sure, but someone’s got to steady the ship and run with the ball a little. Maicon whips in a free kick, the ball falls to a couple of unmarked Brazilians but neither gets anything on the ball and it goes out for a goal kick. Poor defending, to be sure.

10:45- One minute of stoppage time. A couple more minor surges from Brazil but both teams probably pleased to head back to the locker room. For different reasons, of course.

10:46- Halftime whistle from referee Massimo Busacca, who also worked this year’s Champions League Final. Brazil leads 2-0. They deserve their advantage, but Bob Bradley has the right to question the defending and effort of several players in the U.S. squad. This wasn’t Brazil just dancing with the ball right over their opponents. Plenty of miscues from their opponents.

Cristiano Ronaldo Sold

For $131.6 million (not including the large salary he will eventually sign for). AKA “play money.”

Real Madrid already spent another princely sum on Kaka this week, kicking off a new “Galacticos” era over there as they try to swiftly dethrone Barcelona, who just swept aside all before them in Spain (and Europe). They may still need some more defenders though, as goal scoring wasn’t their biggest achilles heel to begin with!

Ronaldo had long indicated a desire to leave. Now, he has his wish. He will be very difficult to replace at Manchester United, yet, as the linked news report noted, his relationship with players and coaches was fraying. And given that he was bought for a fraction of this transfer fee six years ago, it’s certainly terrific business. Even more so considering how much prize money he’s helped Man U claim, and, on a slightly cynical side, the millions of dollars in loans which the Glazer family (no relation to me) has to pay off on their purchase of the team. Players like Franck Ribery and Antonio Valencia will be linked with a move to Old Trafford, but could prove very overpriced in the wake of this deal. But perhaps there is someone already at United who could step in? We have seen that scenario before, with academy graduates like Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and David Beckham replacing the likes of Gary Pallister, Mark Hughes, or Eric Cantona. This blogger is not the only United fan who clearly trusts Sir Alex Ferguson’s judgment on which players can be dispensed with.

As an Arsenal fan, no I don’t think it is a godsend for us. United may drop a little, but probably more in Europe than in domestic soccer. We had better focus on our own needs if we want to crash the title party next year for Man U/Liverpool (who themselves may still need upgrades and a cash injection to that end)/Chelsea. Signing Thomas Vermaelen, if it goes through, sounds like a good start to steady the defense (William Gallas is probably gone, but unlike the linked blogger, I’m not sure he did that well for us). After that, we need another forward since Adebayor clearly wants to leave, and perhaps a new goalie since I am not a huge believer in Manuel Almunia, while Lukasz Fabianski seems a somewhat questionable long-term prospect.

A wild summer of soccer transfers has probably only just begun!