Premier League Clubs in Trading Frenzy as Deadline Nears

September 1st, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Premier League Clubs in Trading Frenzy as Deadline Nears

The last day of summer soccer trading, imposed ostensibly to bring stability to the clubs, has become the circus of the absurd.
As the clock wound toward midnight Thursday - the deadline for transfers in 2006 - players remained in limbo. The day began with an astonishing announcement on the Web site of the Argentine forward Carlos Tevez, that he and his countryman, Javier Mascherano, had quit Corinthians of São Paulo to join the London club West Ham United.
Hours of speculation and denial ensued. Late in the day, West Ham admitted "things are happening" but suggested that there was a problem gaining work permits. Then, around 5 p.m., the club's own Web site stated: "The pair have been signed for an undisclosed fee and put pen to paper on permanent contracts with the club this afternoon. All other aspects of the transfers will remain confidential and undisclosed."
This cloak-and-dagger technique seems designed for sensation. Tevez and Mascherano would be the biggest signings in the history of West Ham, a club that has struggled to survive financially.
Tevez, built like a young bull, tempestuous but gifted, left Argentina for Brazil for $19.5 million in 2004. Mascherano, outstanding as a midfield ball winner in the World Cup this summer, followed for a reported $15 million.
Their contracts are owned by Media Sports Investment, a secretive company based in Britain. MSI's funding has been linked to Russian oligarchs, but Chelsea denies that its owner, Roman Abramovich, is involved in any way. This denial is in response to a theory that the deal would transport the two 22-year-old Argentines to West Ham on loan, and if they made the grade in the English Premier League, they might then move on to Chelsea.
The word "permanent" in West Ham's statement appears to rule out a temporary arrangement, or it could be designed to facilitate getting work permits.
Back in Brazil, Emerson Leão moved swiftly to replace Tevez by hiring Amoroso from AC Milan, which in turn concluded the purchase from Real Betis in Seville of another Brazilian striker, Ricardo Oliveira.
That move completes a circle of Milan's selling Andriy Shevchenko earlier this summer, to Chelsea.
With that clock still ticking, another Argentine player, the cavalier left back Juan Pablo Sorín, left Villarreal to join Hamburg, which also signed Joris Mathijsen from AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands. Hamburg thus recycled the $13 million it got from Chelsea for its destructive defender Khalid Boulahrouz last month.
It sometimes appears that Chelski is the source of all rumor, and all money. Late Thursday, its chief executive, Peter Kenyon, was trying to conclude a deal that had started acrimoniously in January: the purchase of Ashley Cole.
Chelsea was found to have illegally approached the left back, but by this week the haggling was still going on, with the prospect of William Gallas, the French defender, departing Chelsea and joining Arsenal as part of an exchange.
Furthermore, Robert Huth, another defender surplus to Chelsea, was waiting to complete his departure. He had agreed to join Middlesbrough, which earlier Thursday signed Jonathan Woodgate on a year's loan from Real Madrid.
Arsenal was also working more than one deal at a time, with Real Madrid still negotiating to sign José Reyes, reportedly in an exchange deal involving Júlio Baptista.
Moves that definitely went through Thursday included Stilian Petrov from Celtic to Aston Villa pending the takeover by the American Randy Lerner at Villa Park. The new Villa manager, Martin O'Neill, had fingers in many pies, but one player who said no to a move to England, yet another Argentine, was Javier Saviola.
He knows he is at best third choice at his current club, Barcelona, but, knowing his contract has only this season to run, opted to stay and either fight for his place or leave free of contractual obligation.
Thursday's last-minute deals kept on coming. Niko Kranjcar, the midfield creator of Hajduk Split and Croatia, moved to Portsmouth for $5.8 million, Dwight Yorke, the 35-year-old Trinidad and Tobago striker joined Sunderland from Sydney FC, and Giuseppe Rossi, the 19-year-old born in America and claimed by Italy at the Under 21 level, was lent by Manchester United to Newcastle to give him work experience.
One announcement that did come out of East London was that West Ham had signed a goalkeeper, the 16-year-old Marek Stech from Sparta Prague, to a five-year contract.

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